Felicity Buchan MP
Minister of State,
Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities
7 September 2023
I am writing to you about the ongoing homelessness crisis, both in my Brighton Pavilion constituency and across the country. As you may be aware, a new report from homelessness charity Crisis illuminates the shocking reality that nearly a quarter of a million households in England are suffering homelessness, which includes:
- sleeping on the streets;
- spending every night on friends' or families' sofas;
- or being confined to inappropriate and unsafe temporary housing.
As you will be aware, the Conservative Party made a pledge in their 2019 manifesto to “end the blight of rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament” yet Government data in fact shows a 74% increase, compared with the 2010 count data (the first year the Government started measuring rough sleeping with an annual snapshot count).
It is profoundly regrettable that the positive steps to tackle rough sleeping during the pandemic have been reversed, and that the number of people experiencing street homelessness has risen again. As you must be aware, data for 2022 shows a 26% increase when compared with that for 2021.
As the MP for Brighton Pavilion, I am frequently and repeatedly contacted by people in dire housing need. Homelessness and temporary housing crises are a huge part of the casework that I receive, with my caseload reflecting the dire housing pressures in the city. Just yesterday I was contacted by a constituent who received an eviction notice from a well-known local landlord, telling the family to vacate their property the following day without providing them with an explanation - leaving them at risk of homelessness. The nature of housing pressures in the city makes it possible for landlords to evict tenants for no good reason, this needs to be addressed – and I trust there will be no further delays delivering your commitment to ban no fault evictions.
Sadly, it is not a surprise that recent data from the homelessness charity Shelter shows that in 2022, excluding London, Brighton and Hove had the third highest rate of persons living on the streets or in temporary housing, and also the second highest number of individuals sleeping on the streets at any given time. In Brighton and Hove, 3,538 people, including 1,300 children, were found to be residing in temporary housing provided by our local authority.
To address this, immediate and long-term action is needed from Ministers. The Crisis’ ‘Future Fee from Homelessness’ manifesto includes important recommendations and proposals. I urge you to take close account of these, and I would be grateful for your response to the following four specific proposals:
- a new ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ duty for local authorities to provide emergency accommodation to people who are sleeping rough or in other temporary forms of shelter, and those at risk - this new duty should be fully funded;
- a significant increase in the supply of social rented homes in the long-term, including short-term measures to rebalance investment in housing and prioritise spending on homes for social rent;
- restoration of Local Housing Allowance to cover at least the bottom third of local rents in order to stimulate the supply of private rented homes to people on the lowest incomes;
- an expert review of homelessness legislation in England, to ensure that everyone facing, or at risk of, homelessness gets the support they need to move into a safe and settled home, including considering how legislation and guidance can promote early homelessness prevention.