We are the sixth richest nation in the world, yet according to Government-collated local authority figures, we have almost 5,000 people sleeping out on the streets. Across the West Midlands, the number of people rough sleeping increased by 42% between 2017 and 2018.
Since 2010, the number of households in temporary accommodation due to homelessness has steadily increased from 48,000 to just shy of 85,000. This is a staggering number which has grown consistently year upon year.
It is an absolute travesty that, in a developed country, levels of homelessness and dependence upon food banks are rising. Over 120,000 children do not have a home to call their own.
These numbers of course only tell part of the story, given that those staying with friends or sofa surfing will not be included.
Out on the door step and at our street stalls, this issue comes up a lot. It is heart warming to hear the concern and empathy people in the constituency of Stafford have for those who are struggling. That does not belie the fact that this is a problem that needs to be tackled, to the benefit of all in our society.
As your Labour MP for Stafford, I will call for an end to the policies that have deprived so many people of a permanent home and put so many other peoples’ housing situations in jeopardy. I will advocate for more affordable homes, with infrastructure and services to support them. I will support legislation that reshapes the private letting industry to help ensure people have stable accommodation.
We need a welfare system that protects the most vulnerable in our society, fairer taxation, a realistic living wage and sensible housing policies in order to end both homelessness and reduce reliance on food banks. We also need to ensure young people growing up in Stafford can find skilled jobs and affordable homes locally.
Homelessness is an issue that needs addressing now.