Demanding an end to homelessness: expectations from the general election


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1 in 4 voters are affected by the housing emergency. So in the run-up to the general election on 4th July 2024, political leaders need to show their plans for tackling the crisis and prioritising ending homelessness in all its forms for good.

In the last 10 years, persistent cuts and changes to funding have left local authorities struggling to meet the demand for housing support. That’s despite the cost of living skyrocketing, private rent soaring, and social housing being demolished or sold all over the country, leaving 33% more people sleeping rough now than 10 years ago. 

Britain now has by far the highest rate of homelessness in the developed world, with 1 in 200 households living in temporary accommodation. The best time for the government to tackle the housing emergency was years before it reached this stage. The second best time is now.

Here are some of the commitments we need to see from political leaders if they want our votes in the upcoming election. 

More social housing

Our current social housing system is broken. 250,000 social homes were sold or demolished in the last 10 years, leaving 1.2 million households stuck on waiting lists and 17.5 million people living in dangerous, unstable, or unaffordable housing. 

Not only would building more social housing protect families from long-term stays in unsuitable temporary accommodation, it could save the UK government as much as £1.5 billion per year by reducing spending on unemployment, the criminal justice system and children’s lost education. 

Fairer renting system

The devastating loss of social housing over the last decade has led to an increase in the number of privately rented homes, which reached 4.6 million in 2023. But prejudice in private renting is rife, meaning that many landlords refuse to rent to people who receive benefits, or put unjust barriers in place like asking for extortionate upfront payments. 

Even for those who do manage to secure a privately rented home, the situation remains unstable. Between April and June 2023 alone there was a 37% increase in the number of Section 21 (no-fault) evictions, leaving people at serious risk of homelessness. 

While the Renters (Reform) Bill would provide a positive step towards a fairer renting system if passed, we stand by Shelter’s call for the government to strengthen the Bill and provide more protection for private renters.

Increased funding for support

Not only should the next government do more to protect people from homelessness by providing more social housing and a fairer, more affordable private renting system, they need to invest more in supporting those already facing homelessness, either sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation. 

Every individual who finds themself facing homelessness has a unique story that requires personalised support. The one-size-fits-all approach to homelessness support that many local authorities are forced to offer due to limited resources will not work.

The recent Housing First pilot in the North West led to 92% of service users living in long-term accommodation after a year, as well as huge positive impacts on loneliness, safety, wellbeing and health. The impact of the pilot in the UK and the success of the Housing First model in other countries shows what can be achieved with person-first, long-term support. 

Homeless Link perfectly sums up our stance on homelessness support: “Ultimately, the system should be designed so that everyone can access a solution that works for them, with every case of homelessness treated as the emergency it is.”

What can you do?

You can let politicians know what you expect from their policies by:

  • Contacting your MP and telling them what commitments they need to make to receive your vote.
  • Signing the Shelter and Crisis open letters to political party leaders.
  • Voting in the general election by post, proxy, or in person to have your voice heard.

We believe that, together, we can influence policy and end homelessness. But we wouldn’t be able to do any of our vital work without your support, and we’re hugely grateful to everyone who donates, volunteers, fundraises and shares our work. Let’s keep campaigning for a better future.

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