Homeless Young People — [John Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:06 pm on 21st January 2015.

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Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth 3:06 pm, 21st January 2015

I will give way when I have finished making this point.

As a Cornish MP, I have seen first hand the coalition Government deliver real improvements in services for homeless people. Before I was a Member of Parliament—I came into the House in 2010—for a great deal of my life I volunteered in charities looking after and seeking to help homeless people, whether in New York, where I lived in my 20s and ran a shelter for homeless men, or in my home town of Truro, where I volunteer with Truro Homeless Action Group and help with the excellent work of St Petroc’s Society.

Before I was elected, I participated in the rough sleeper counts. However, the guidance given by the Government of the day made it so difficult to count the number of homeless people that Cornwall was deemed to have a rough-sleeping population of two. Since the coalition came in and properly opened up the rough sleepers count, we have been getting much better data on the scale of the problem. Sadly, although it is no surprise to any of us who live there, Cornwall is now deemed to have the second largest homeless population outside London. Without that honest collection of data, we will never be able to take the steps needed to tackle these issues.

Those reforms were brought in by this Government, which underlines the fact the issue has all-party support. We all understand that nothing could be worse than being homeless. We may not always agree on every measure, or on how to tackle the issue, but turning it into a party political football does no service to the debate.