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'Local homelessness requires stringent action'

SPEAKING OUT: Unmesh Desai AM (Photo credit:

LOCAL LONDON Assembly Member, Unmesh Desai AM, has urged the Government to take more stringent action to tackle homelessness.

His call comes after recent figures revealed that 1 in 16 families in Tower Hamlets are homeless, and that it also features in the top ten London boroughs for rates of family homelessness.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister set out her proposals to tackle the shortage of affordable housing and the rising rate of homelessness in the UK, referring to it as a source of ‘national shame’. However, Desai said the real source of shame was the Government’s willingness to let homelessness and rough sleeping to ‘spiral out of control’ and 'their lack of real help and support for those affected'.

He said: “I am incredibly concerned about those who are in the vulnerable position of sleeping rough on our capital’s streets. We should also be aware that homelessness is not always visible. It is shocking to see the high rate of local families who are stuck in temporary accommodation that is often unsuitable for themselves and their families.

“Tragically, this is what happens when you’ve got a government so intent on delivering huge cuts to council budget and slashing welfare, and not so intent on delivering the genuinely affordable housing we desperately need or tackling insecure tenancies. This was always going to be a recipe for disaster and the real shame is that they’ve allowed homelessness and rough sleeping to spiral out of control.

Government data shows that since 2012, the number of families in temporary accommodation in London has risen by 46% to 44,260. This equates to 1 in 24 families without a permanent, stable home.

Rough sleeping has also sharply risen across the capital, with figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA) showing that last year there were 8,000 Londoners sleeping rough. The StreetLink app, which enables members of the public to alert services to rough sleepers they are concerned about, reports that Londoners have made 23,465 referrals since its launch.

Help has been made available through City Hall, with the Mayor of London’s ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce which has, so far, secured £4.2 million of funding from the Government to help rough sleepers. Londoners have donated £135,000 to the Mayor’s wider rough sleeping campaign, with Sadiq Khan also calling upon the housing sector to make a contribution.

“It’s fantastic to hear that Londoners are looking out for one another and using the StreetLink app to ensure rough sleepers receive the support they need, but the Government must take more stringent action to help," affirms Desai.

"I want to see the Government committing the funding to build much needed social houses, consideration given to capping rent increases and an end to punitive welfare”.

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