Slamming Tories for “sitting on their hands”, the Lib Dems say they can get to grips with homelessness over five years.
The party’s plan to do so spans social housing, welfare, local authority funding and legal changes.
“Nobody should have to spend a night sleeping on the streets. It is the most shameful example of the failure of this Conservative Government to provide a safety net for those who need it,” said shadow Housing Secretary Tim Farron.
“The Conservatives are sitting on their hands, failing to protect the most vulnerable people in society.
“They haven’t built enough social housing, their benefit cuts have made poverty worse, and they blocked Liberal Democrat efforts to repeal the cruel, Dickensian law that criminalises people just for sleeping rough,” he said.
Initiatives included in the five-year plan are:
• Scrapping the Vagrancy Act
• Introducing a “somewhere safe to stay” duty on local authorities to provide immediate emergency accommodation
• Abolishing Section 21 “no fault” evictions
• Increasing Local Housing Allowance payments
• Providing accommodation and support for survivors of domestic abuse
• Extending the “move on” period for refugees from 28 days to 56
The government’s own figures show that, under the Tories, the number of rough sleepers in England on a single night has risen by 31% since 2015, to 4,677.
In 2018, 1,320 people were prosecuted under the Vagrancy Act, according to the homelessness charity Crisis.
“The plan we’re setting out today will build a brighter future by ending rough sleeping within five years. We will make sure that everyone has a decent home so they can live with dignity,” said Farron.
“The other parties pay lip service to this goal, but only the Liberal Democrats have the clear and credible policies to actually achieve it,” he said.