Since the Tories took power in 2010, the number of rough sleepers has increased nationwide by 169%. In Kent, the situation is far worse, with numbers rising by 264% in the past seven years. This is the situation according to the government’s own figures, released on Thursday, which two years ago the UK statistics authority called “untrustworthy and vulnerable to political manipulation” – so the real situation is possibly far worse.
These numbers go to show that even Kent, even one of the the richest and most stable part of Kent, is suffering from the disastrous effects of seven years of Tory austerity.
Rough sleeper numbers are collected on a snapshot basis on one night by local authorities. Here in Sevenoaks, the district council recorded four rough sleepers last autumn. Though this is the lowest number of any authority in Kent and one of the lowest figures nationwide, four people sleeping rough in one of the richest districts of one of the richest countries on earth is four too many. At the start of Tory austerity in 2010, the number in Sevenoaks was zero. At the start of Tory austerity the number for the whole county was 61, and now stands at more than 200. Nowhere has the number fallen. In Thanet alone it has risen from one to 46.
The solution? Genuinely affordable housing, provided via public works. As Jeremy Corbyn says,
“The Conservatives need to get out of the pockets of property speculators and rogue landlords, and on the side of those without a home to call their own.”
Our manifesto promise, Secure Homes For All, makes provision for 100,000 new, affordable homes per year during the new parliament.
But most of all, the solution is a party and a leader that puts ending the scourge of homelessness at the absolute forefront of policy. When John Bishop asked Jeremy Corbyn the one thing he’ll do as Prime Minister, Jeremy replied without hesitation – “nobody’s homeless”. There is no excuse for our neighbours to be sleeping outdoors amidst such wealth and plenty. A vote for Labour is a vote to ensure nobody’s homeless.