Housing for the Homeless - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 14th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Harries of Pentregarth Lord Harries of Pentregarth Crossbench 4:45 pm, 14th May 2020

My Lords, I warmly welcome the Government’s initiatives in this area—both the £3.2 million allocated recently to councils as a special response to the virus and the previous money made available. In their 2019 manifesto, the Government pledged to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament. An unlooked-for benefit of this terrible virus, and the toll it is taking on lives in causing distress, is that it gives the Government a real window of opportunity to make that pledge a reality. I very much hope that the Minister will be able to address the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, of how many rough sleepers have still not been housed; it is very important to get an accurate figure.

However, the point is that this valuable initiative now needs to be built upon to find permanent places for rough sleepers to live. I will make two brief points on this. First, charities and faith groups are usually to be found on the front line of this work. It is essential that the cells or hubs that the Government recommend setting up include not just council departments and NHS staff, but those who are, day by day, in touch with rough sleepers and know their needs and problems. I believe I have come to the end of my minute. I end by saying that I very much welcome the Government’s initiative and hope that we will see the end of this blight on our society very soon.