Local Housing Allowance and Homelessness — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:16 am on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy) 10:16 am, 24th July 2019

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship this morning, Mr Bailey.

A stone’s throw from St Philip’s Cathedral, on the steps of the House of Fraser, in the heart of Birmingham’s business district, there is a shrine. It is marked with flowers, photos and expressions of feelings. Here, in the wealthiest quarter of the second city of the fifth richest country on Earth is the latest memorial to a man who has died homeless on the streets. “You are unforgettable, Miguel”, reads one dedication. That is right. It is right that we remember this man in our city. It is right that we hear and remember his name in the House of Commons. And it is right that we remember the names of the 90 people, along with him, who have died homeless in our city since 2013, many on the streets of the second city in this country.

Those people are the citizens who we collectively have failed, so I congratulate my hon. Friend Mr Sharma. I personally believe that we should be debating every day the deadly doctrine behind this death toll, because be under no illusion: this is now a moral emergency and it requires from the new Prime Minister today an emergency response.

In Birmingham, rough sleeping has now risen by almost 1,000% since 2010, yet that is just the visible crisis that we can see. The invisible crisis is just as bad. In total, 20,000 people—the size of a small town—along with 5,000 children are now lodged in temporary accommodation. They are cursed to move every couple of weeks, when it is time to rebook. Be under no illusion: these are futures that are now being sacrificed, as every single one of us who has had to support children taking their GCSEs from a Travelodge will now know.