Homeless Link has launched a 10-point manifesto calling on the next government to end homelessness within 10 years.
The umbrella charity, which represents 500 frontline organisations, wants to build on “two decades of progress” through its new plan, Ending Homelessness Together: 10 Years, 10 Steps, 1 Ambition.
This sets out an ambition of a long-term housing solution that ensures that vulnerable people will not have to return to the streets or “sofa-surf”, focusing on cost-effective preventive measures and greater levels of joint working between agencies.
It builds on existing good practice in place across the country and was launched with cross-party support. Homeless Link is also currently encouraging homeless people to register to vote as a means to influence the agenda.
Chief executive Jenny Edwards said the current economic environment might appear an unsuitable time to be launching a new strategy, but she said: “You won’t see unrealistic demands for money. What we’ve learned is that when there’s not much to go around if you’ve a real focus on an issue, you can make real progress on an issue.
“It costs sadly ridiculous amounts of money not sorting out this problem. The recession is just the time to invest in prevention.”
The strategy builds on successful measures already taken to tackle rough sleeping in London, which has led to 140 out of the 205 most entrenched rough sleepers coming off the streets using methods that focused on better care and support.
The steps Homeless Link wants government to take are to:
• Build on the ambition to end rough sleeping by 2012.
• Develop a national picture of 21st century homelessness and create the strategy to tackle it.
• Ensure a well promoted, effective and welcoming housing options and advice service for all who need it in every area.
• Prevent homelessness during life transitions.
• Ensure that no-one is left destitute and excluded from basic support in 21st century Britain.
• Tackle the deep social exclusion of people with multiple needs.
• Deliver top-class access for homeless people to the right mental health, drug and alcohol support.
• Extend support for positive activities, learning, skills and employment.
• Reform how housing benefit, tax and other benefits work to support the journey into work and prevent homelessness
• Increase housing supply and make better use of existing accommodation.
The manifesto has received backing from all parties. Government minister Ian Austin said: “Let’s pledge that we will put homelessness at the centre of the election so we can end the scandal of homelessness for good.”