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Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
UK News

Churches seek assurances from government after homelessness "failure"

Pledging to do what they can for those across the country who don't have a proper home to live in, they're also calling on the state to develop a "comprehensive, long-term" plan to wipe out homelessness across England.

Ask how he has witnessed the impact of homelessness, the chair of Housing Justice and Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, told Premier: "If you are a parent with a children and your accommodation is insecure, that has a huge effect on your children's schooling.

"If you have to move every few months to a new school, if your local authority suddenly rehouses you - as some are having to do - in a city miles away from your networks of support and your family, it's devastating."

Rex

Following a one-day summit, representatives from churches and Christian groups have released a statement committing to be "united together" in doing what they can to tackle the blight on homelessness.

It's thought nearly half of the estimated 250,000 people without access to a proper home are children, while the number of rough sleepers in England has more than doubled since 2010.

Bishop James said churches are already making a difference, explaining: "For example, there are 12,000 people working as volunteers in church-run winter shelters right now.

"We also have a great history of churches initiating housing associations and other responses to housing need."
 
The churches and Christian groups also want the government to commit to regular meetings with them to discuss homelessness, as well as ensure every local authority has a strategy to tackle the issue in their area.

Identifying the cost of housing as one issue, Bishop James added: "In some places, the cost of housing, particularly in the South East, is so high that more and more people just seem to be excluded from access to decent housing and secure housing. That's something we can tackle together as a society."

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman told Premier: "This Government is committed to supporting the most vulnerable in our society and ensuring our country works for everyone.
 
"Statutory Homelessness is less than half the 2003 peak, but we know that one person without a home is one too many.
 
"That's why we're investing over £550 million to tackle and reduce homelessness, on top of supporting Bob Blackman's Homelessness Reduction Bill to prevent more people from becoming homeless in the first place."

Click here to listen to Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff speaking with Premier's Alex Williams:

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