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PA Wire / Jonathan Brady
Homeless credit Jonathan Brady and PA Wire.jpg
PA Wire / Jonathan Brady
UK News

Salvation Army urges immediate Government action to end homelessness

by Ruth Sax

Thousands of The Salvation Army members, officers and supporters are joining forces to warn the Government that, unless urgent action is taken, it is on course to break a manifesto pledge on rough sleeping. 

The Government has promised to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament but since 2010 there has been a 165 per cent increase in people on the streets. 

The church and charity has called on its members, officers, employees and supporters in England to ask their local MP to lobby Government to prioritise funding to tackle homelessness. 

The campaign coincides with a recent poll which found that 68 per cent of the public did not think the Government would deliver on its commitment to end rough sleeping.

Dr Matthew Sowemimo, Head of Public Affairs and Social Policy at The Salvation Army told Premier, elimination of homelessness is possible: "It is a matter of will and if there is the will and resources it can be achieved. 

"Approximately 15-years ago, rough sleeping was virtually eliminated in England, not only because there was a focused plan, but because resources were protected at local authority level. So the money that the Government gave to local authorities could not be spent on other things. So, yes, this is something that is absolutely achievable.

"What the Salvation Army is calling on the government to do is to bring forward its updated rough sleeping action plan, because that will indicate what needs to be done by whom, and it will also ensure that the Government can be held to account for the delivery of its own target."

The Salvation Army's Assistant Secretary for Homelessness Services, Major Hilarie Watchorn said: "Unless urgent action is taken, the Government is not going to meet its commitment to end rough sleeping. 

"Rough sleeping used to be considered an inner city problem but the issue is creeping out of city centres and into suburbs and towns. No-one should be forced to sleep rough whether in a city or elsewhere but we are hoping that because it has become so visible, local MPs will be forced to acknowledge the scale of the problem and lobby Government for essential action. 

"Homelessness kills - an estimated 726 people who were without a permanent place to live died in England and Wales in 2018 - the highest year on year increase (22 per cent) since records began.

"In their election manifesto, the Government committed to eliminate rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament - the latest this would be is 2025. The most vulnerable people in our communities need action now, not tomorrow, not next year. I urge our members, officers, employees and supporters to call on their MP so that, with our collective voice, we can ensure ending rough sleeping doesn't fall off the list of Government priorities."

Listen to Dr Sowemimo speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe on News Hour here:


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