Labour will tackle the causes of homelessness and get people off the streets
A number of people have contacted me about the Care2 campaign to end homelessness. I fully support their campaign and in Plymouth we have an issue which already is seeing more people having to be put in to bed and breakfasts for temporary accommodation and there is the hidden homeless of young people sofa surfing. I am on the board of Plymouth Community Homes which is the largest social housing provider in Plymouth and totally understand why we need to build more social housing that is affordable and to help get more people off the housing waiting lists into a decent home.
The Tories have broken their promise to tackle homelessness. Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 according to government figures, rising from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,134 in 2016 after an unprecedented decline under Labour. Almost 60,000 households were accepted as homeless and in ‘priority need’ in 2016 which is an increase of nearly half since 2009/10. There are now over 100,000 homeless children in temporary accommodation.
Labour will tackle the causes of homelessness by building more affordable homes. In addition we will produce a new national rough sleeping strategy to end rough sleeping with the next Parliament, which will provide 4,000 extra homes ring-fenced for people who have been sleeping rough. Labour is committed to tackling poverty and inequality. Britain does better, as a society, when poverty and inequalities across people and regions of the UK are reduced. We will have the ambition needed to tackle regional disparities across the UK. We will deliver investment across the whole country and create decent, well-paid jobs so that people in every part of the UK can live richer lives.
Under the Tories, too many people are struggling to make ends meet and living standards have fallen sharply. There are now 19 million people living below a minimum income standard and the number of people relying on foodbanks has risen sharply. Meanwhile, levels of disposable income and average earnings differ drastically across the country. The last Labour Government lifted half a million children out of poverty between 1997 and 2010. Under the Tories, that progress has been set in reverse. The number of children living in poverty has increased by 400,000 since 2010, now at four million. At a time when child poverty is rising, it was irresponsible of the Tories to abandon Labour’s child poverty targets. The next Labour Government will work to alleviate child poverty. That’s why we will reinstate these crucial targets to ensure policies are tailored towards reducing the number of children growing up in poverty in Britain. Two thirds of children who are growing up in poverty live in working households. It is no longer the case that work necessarily provides a route out of poverty and the Tories’ cuts to in-work support risk exacerbating levels of child poverty.
While Theresa May and the Tories stand up for a privileged few, the next Labour Government will reverse cuts to Universal Credit work allowances, boosting in-work support for millions of low-paid families. Instead of a country run for the richest, Labour wants to see one in which all of us can lead richer lives. That’s why we will also abolish the Tories’ Bedroom Tax, which continues to unfairly penalise more than 400,000 people across the country, almost two-thirds of whom are disabled. The Tories’ own evaluation into the Bedroom Tax found that three-quarters of those affected say they have cut back on food in order to help pay the rent. That’s why the next Labour Government will abolish it.
Standing up for pensioners Labour will build a Britain for the many to ensure older people have security and dignity in retirement. The last Labour Government lifted 900,000 pensioners out of poverty. However, under the Tories, pensioner poverty is increasing, up by 300,000 since 2010. We will protect pensioner incomes by legislating to keep the Triple Lock on the state pension over the lifetime of the next parliament. Legislating to keep the Triple Lock means that state pensions will be uprated by the highest of earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent. The Triple Lock will mean Britain’s twelve million pensioners are hundreds of pounds better off over the next parliament.
The next Labour Government will also protect pensioner incomes by keeping Winter Fuel Allowances and free bus passes, which were introduced by the last Labour Government and which have proven invaluable to millions of older people. Hundreds of thousands of women have had their retirement plans scuppered by the Tories’ speeding-up of increases to the state pension age without adequate notice. To tackle this injustice, Labour will extend Pension Credit to help those who were due to retire before the Tories’ chaotic changes. We will also unfreeze the pensions of UK citizens living overseas and ensure carers are properly supported by raising Carer’s Allowance to the same rate as Jobseekers Allowance.