Our ideal Queen's speech...

Thursday, 21 May 2015 - 4:07pm

An end to homelessness is only possible with a housing market that works for all. Our ideal Queen's speech would commit to addressing this issue.  

Photograph: Images_of_Money (Flickr)
Photograph: Images_of_Money (Flickr)

Access to genuinely affordable accommodation is one of the main routes towards leaving homelessness behind. Yet it is clear that, for too many people, the housing market is simply not working.

Our recent review of the support available to single homeless people in England showed that a quarter of all people living in homelessness services are ready to move on, yet a lack of suitable housing is preventing them from doing so. The shortage of low cost housing is a major barrier to effectively tackling homelessness.

The simple reason for the current situation is that supply is being far outstretched by demand. Building programmes have not kept up with demographic change and, and there are signs that rising rents, increased living costs and welfare changes are resulting in limited housing options with many people not able to move on from homelessness.

All too many households are being left with little choice but to relocate many miles away from their work and social networks due to a lack of options in their own community. Official statistics for the last quarter of 2014 show a 9% increase in the use of temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs, to house homeless people.

The new government has committed to the building of 275,000 affordable homes by 2020. Whilst this is encouraging, it is still a long way from tackling the chronic shortage we are facing.  In any new housebuilding programmes it is vital that they include all forms of tenure, ensuring  a balance between homes for rent, houses for sale, and affordable social homes, and that the definition of ‘affordable’ should be within the means of all who need it.

Supply is only one part of the solution, and the Bill should also include measures to improve the quality and security of the private rented sector. Many vulnerable individuals are at the mercy of an unregulated rental market and could be forced to accept insecure tenancies in poor quality accommodation.

Recent figures from the Ministry of Justice revealed 11,000 families were evicted between January and March 2015, a 51% increase on the same period five years ago. Landlords ending short-hold tenancies is now the single biggest reason given by those approaching their council for housing help.

Our manifesto to end homelessness includes a series of actions that would make the biggest difference in tackling these issues. This includes a long-term plan to tackle the housing crisis, a commitment to increase the supply of sub-market level housing better quality and security in the private rented sector and investment in innovative new approaches to housing.

Our ideal Queen’s speech would commit to addressing these priorities and the political backing to put them into practice. We welcome the opportunity to work with the new Government in ensuring a decent place to live is not beyond the means of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.  


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Jacqui McCluskey

Jacqui McCluskey

Director of policy and communications

Jacqui leads the externally focused policy and communications functions of Homeless Link, as well as line managing the policy director of the MEAM (Making Every Adult Matter) Coalition with Clinks, DrugScope and Mind.

Telephone: 020 7840 4429
Email: jacqui.mccluskey@homelesslink.org.uk
Twitter: @JacMcCluskey