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Helena Brice @hel_b Public Affairs Officer

MPs debate homelessness- so what’s next?

MPs from across the political spectrum debated government support for homeless people last Wednesday. The debate demonstrated that many MPs are genuinely passionate about homelessness. It highlighted that they see first-hand what can happen when their constituents are left with nowhere to turn. This chimes with new polling we released showing that three quarters of MPs are contacted by single homeless constituents who can’t get the help they need from their council.

Time and again MPs used examples from their constituencies to highlight the lack of support homeless people receive. We heard of one constituent who is homeless and has psychosis, yet is still battling to get help from his local authority. We also heard of another constituent who has both substance abuse issues and mental health problems who has been turned away. This echoes with our research, Turned Away, which found that even vulnerable people including those with mental health problems and victims of domestic violence are being turned away from help when they most need it.

The debate also highlighted the links between welfare policies and homelessness. We heard about how changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate and other cuts to housing benefit; benefit sanctions and the removal of Local Welfare Assistance all contribute to people becoming and staying homeless and stop people putting their lives back together.

It was great to see support for our campaign, No One Turned Away, from the three main political parties. The Minister, Kris Hopkins, even suggested that he may be open to a review of the help available to single homeless people- we’ll be following up on this promise. The Shadow Housing Minister, Emma Reynolds stated ‘in my opinion one homeless person is one too many’.

The debate showed that many politicians from all parties are concerned about homelessness and that this is an issue they regularly see in their constituencies. Now we need politicians to translate this concern into action and help do something about it, by making sure their parties make homelessness a priority. We want to see commitments in the parties’ manifestos to carrying out a review of the help available to single homeless people under the legislation and we will continue campaigning until all homeless people get the help they need.