I share many of my constituents concerns about private renting.
While the number of people sleeping rough fell by three-quarters from 1997-2010, it has doubled since 2010, and across England homelessness has risen by 50% in the last two years. These figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of the Government's seven years of failure on housing: ending investment in new affordable social rented homes; taking £5 billion from housing benefit and payments; inaction on short-term lets and soaring rents in the private rented sector; and overseeing deep cuts to funding for vital homelessness services.
I am aware of the Crisis report, 'Home: No less will do', published in July 2016, which examines the barriers single homeless people face accessing the private rented sector. The report helped to inform a debate in Parliament on private renting solutions for homeless and vulnerable people, which took place in Westminster Hall on 8 February 2017. I support projects such as 'Help to Rent', which assist tenants and landlords to set up, de-risk and sustain a tenancy, and I agree excellent initiatives such as these need support and funding.
I believe the Government should be setting out how it will end the national disgrace of rough sleeping, starting by doubling the number of homes reserved for people who have slept on the streets. Instead, the Government's housing White Paper, published in February, contains unconvincing measures that will do nothing to reverse the seven years of failure on housing since 2010. I believe we need to legislate for long-term tenancies if we are to stop insecure accommodation. I am therefore disappointed that the White Paper contains very little detail regarding the private rented sector, and I am concerned that plans to simply encourage landlords to have longer tenancies will fail.
As you may be aware, the Homelessness Reduction Bill is currently progressing through Parliament with Government support. I spoke in the debate on the second reading of this bill. I believe it is vital that the Government honours its promise to fund the costs of this Bill in full, and that this forms part of a wider strategy to reverse rising homelessness.
I will continue to press the Government to support those who rent privately and to do more to tackle rising homelessness.