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Charities call for manifesto pledges to end rough sleeping

Today Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill becomes an Act of Parliament after it was granted Royal Assent. The Act will give councils a legal duty to give people meaningful support to resolve their homelessness and will introduce measures to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.

The news comes as a coalition of charities including Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Shelter and St Mungo’s is calling on all political parties to pledge to stop the scandal of rough sleeping in their General Election manifestos. Rough sleeping in England has risen by 16% in the last year and has more than doubled in the last five.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis said:

“The Homelessness Reduction Act is a crucial step forward in fighting homelessness. For 40 years we’ve had a system that fails too many homeless people by turning them away from help when they need it most. We’d like to thank the peers and MPs from across the political spectrum who came together to back this bill, as well as Government ministers for their leadership.

“But this Act is by no means a cure-all and, at a time when the number of people sleeping on our streets continues to rise at an alarming rate, we are calling on all political parties to commit to ending rough sleeping in their upcoming manifestos.

“The success of the Homelessness Reduction Act shows what can be achieved when the political will exists to tackle the root causes of homelessness. Whoever wins the general election must make ending rough sleeping a top priority once they are elected.”

Claire McMenemy, a St Mungo's client with experience of rough sleeping said:

“It’s great that the law is being changed to help people who are facing homelessness. It should be a top priority. I slept rough for over thirty years after running away from home and I know the dangers that people face and how you can get stuck on the streets.

“My mental health suffered a lot and I believe more needs to be done to help people like me who end up sleeping rough. For a long time I felt very alone and since having some proper therapy I am in my own flat thanks to St Mungo’s.”