A number of local residents have raised their concerns about people rough sleeping during this exceptionally cold spell, and of course amidst the pandemic.
Like many, I believe the Government’s delay in housing rough sleepers during this third lockdown was completely irresponsible and lacked basic human compassion. In London alone, the Office for National Statistics estimates that 1 in 30 people have coronavirus, and we know that sleeping rough - without adequate shelter or access to basic hygiene facilities - leaves people more exposed to the virus.
Today, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced that councils will collectively receive an additional £10 million in funding to house those currently sleeping rough, as well as an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions. Whilst I welcome this much-needed funding, this money will not help get everyone off the streets, and the ban on bailiffs fails to sufficiently protect renters.
Many residents have contacted me with concerns for those who are sleeping rough outside Tooting Broadway tube station, Buzz Bingo and Sainsbury's. I want to reassure residents that I have recently written to the Head of Wandsworth Neighbourhood Policing Team to ensure these people are supported in the best way possible.
Beyond the coronavirus emergency, there can be no return to business as usual. It is paramount that Ministers end rough sleeping for good. In a country as well-off as ours, we need to ensure that everyone has the right to a safe place to live.