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Tom Chance @tom_chance Tom Chance is the Green Party Spokesperson for Housing and Candidate for Lewisham West and Penge

Homelessness: a moral mission

If the way you treat the vulnerable is the mark of a society’s greatness, then turning homeless people away without help must surely be one of the saddest indictments of our small-minded outgoing government.

The Green Party firmly believes that having a secure, comfortable and affordable home is a basic right. It’s one we should never deny somebody.

But councils are perfectly able to turn people away.

I really cannot understand how anybody can see the heartbreaking stories of hardship in the papers or on the TV and want to cut benefits further. It boggles my mind that any MP can turn a blind eye to their casework files, and support benefit sanctions. Just on a very basic human level, you have to care for these people who are struggling to get their lives together.

In England, if you are single and have no children, you don’t qualify for help from your local council. Without the help of charities, you could be left entirely destitute. We would change this, ensuring that councils have the same legal duty to help you as they have towards others.

If you decide to leave a run-down home or a rogue landlord, or you try to move to an area with better job prospects but struggle to find housing, you may be judged “intentionally homeless”, which disqualifies you from help. Even families with children can be left sofa surfing, turned away by their council. We would scrap this demeaning and inhumane rule.

We also want to patch up our shredded safety nets.

The Green Party would scrap benefit sanctions, reverse many of the cuts to housing benefit that make it difficult to find a home you can afford, improve security of tenure so people don’t get stuck in a cycle of evictions and homelessness, get back to building 100,000 social rented homes a year as we did in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and reinstate £10 billion per year of council funding to help them reverse the cuts to homelessness hostels and services.

Anybody who comes to their council looking for help should get it.

Everybody, and I mean everybody, should get help finding a secure and comfortable home, and an income to keep them going. If they have physical or mental health issues, if they need training and support to find work, if they just need a mentor to help them rebuild their confidence, that should all be available. Services should be centered around people, giving them consistent support and not passing them from one desk to another.

When somebody falls down, we should pick them up and offer them the care and personal support they need to live a decent and fulfilling life. This is a moral mission that Green Party candidates like myself are absolutely committed to.

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  • Alex Wright

    This and the basic income is one of the things that led me to join the Greens 🙂 A lot of people wrongly believe this already is the policy on homelessness.