Last night Centrepoint took part in the National Housing Hustings, a Question Time style debate where people with experience of homelessness had the chance to quiz the main political parties on how they would tackle the housing crisis and end homelessness. Current and former Centrepoint residents were among members of the audience, putting hard questions to the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.
For anyone passionate about ending homelessness, this was the main event of the general election, featuring:
- Conservative Homelessness Minister, Luke Hall
- Labour Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey
- Liberal Democrats spokesperson, Tom Brake
- Green Party Co-Leader, Siân Berry
Stacy, a former resident and current staff member at Centrepoint, put her question on the Chance to Move On campaign to each of the parties:
"As a young person, I found myself up against the odds when it came to finding somewhere to call home. Private renting was completely out of reach as Local Housing Allowance was nowhere near enough to cover the cost of rent. What made it particularly difficult was the treatment I received because of my age. Young people receive the lowest rate of Local Housing Allowance and that doesn’t change even if they’re homeless... Will you give homeless young people a fair chance to move on by raising their rate?"
See Stacy take the mic at 41 minutes and 30 seconds.
This is what each of the parties had to say:
Conservative, Luke Hall: Committed to ending the government freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates in April. Stated that half of the money saved from this freeze had gone towards helping the most vulnerable people through the discretionary housing funding. Highlighted the £9 billion Affordable Homes Programme which would include social rented housing.
Labour, John Healey: Pointed to benefit cuts since 2010 as the root of the problem - LHA fell from a rate equal to 50 per cent of local rented properties, to a lower rate of 30 per cent, before being entirely delinked from rising rents and then frozen. Committed to restoring the link between LHA rates and the actual cost of rent, then raising LHA rates, meanwhile building 150,000 council and housing association homes per year.
Liberal Democrat, Tom Brake: Acknowledged that LHA wasn’t even enough to cover the cheapest property available in his local area. Committed to investing £6 billion per year to strengthen social security, including LHA. Recognised the need to increase the supply of affordable housing, in order to lower rents. Committed to building 100,000 social rented homes per year.
Green, Siân Berry: Condemned age discrimination in the social security system. Criticised the freeze on LHA and the introduction of the benefit cap. Committed to restoring the link been LHA and housing costs, then increasing the amount of LHA. Highlighted hidden homelessness and young people forced to sofa surf because they can’t find an affordable place to live.
Whoever forms the next Government, Centrepoint will hold them to account for delivering on these commitments. On 16th December we mark our 50th anniversary as a youth homelessness charity. We cannot wait another 50 years to end youth homelessness - now is the time to change the story and the Government has the power to do so. To get involved, please sign and share our petition to be presented at 10 Downing Street in the New Year.