We can end rough sleeping within the next five year. We cannot wait for the constructions of a new generation of social housing to be built before we do so, and we do not need to wait. Building social housing is only part of the answer to ending rough sleeping.
It is possible to end rough sleeping without greatly increasing social housing and we cannot wait for new social housing to be built before we end rough sleeping.
As the chart below shows, New Labour made significant progress in reducing the number of people sleeping rough in England.
At the same time that there was a decline in the number of social housing units.
This was achieved through a series of measures including the Rough Sleepers Unit, and Supporting People funding.
The picture was reversed following the change of government in 2010. Under the coalition and then Conservative governments the number of people sleeping rough has increased dramatically.
This has happened at the same time as the number of social housing units has remained stable.
From this it’s clear that it’s possible to reduce the number of people sleeping rough without a programme to build significant amounts of social housing. This can be done by increasing social security payments so that they cover rent and having well resources and incentivised homelessness prevention and outreach teams.
It takes several years to build new social housing units (including land assembly and planning permission). We should not wait that long to end rough sleeping and we do not have to wait.