The Liberal Democrats have committed to ending the scandal of rough sleeping in Britain, as the Homelessness Reduction Bill enters into force today.
Following a campaign visit to the Hundred Houses Society, a charitable housing association in Cambridge, Tim Farron announced a series of measures the party would put in place to help end rough sleeping.
These include introducing a Housing First provider in each local authority, to put long-term homeless people straight into independent homes rather than emergency shelters. Other policies include increasing funding for local councils for homelessness prevention, reinstating housing benefit for under-21s and reversing planned cuts to Local Housing Allowance rates.
The number of people sleeping rough rose to 4,134 in 2016, up 16% on the previous year. The Government has estimated that homelessness costs the state up to £1 billion a year.
The news comes as a coalition of charities, including Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Shelter and St Mungo’s, have called on political parties to commit to end rough sleeping in Britain.
Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said: “It is a national scandal that so many people are sleeping on the streets in 21st century Britain.
“By increasing support for homelessness prevention and properly funding emergency accommodation, we can end rough sleeping across the country.
“We will also ensure each local authority has at least one provider of Housing First services, to allow long-term homeless people to live independently in their own homes.
“The evidence suggests that supporting people and giving them long-term, stable places to stay is far more successful in tackling homelessness than constantly moving them to different temporary accommodation.
“Under this government, homelessness has soared and the stripping of young people of housing benefit threatens to make matters even worse.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of this country and stand up for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united."