LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer has issued a stark warning the rough sleeping crisis this Christmas is ‘just the tip of an iceberg’ of poverty and destitution ahead of a virtual visit to Worcester.
Starmer has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tackle the looming crisis in rough sleeping and will meet virtually with homelessness projects in the city this morning (Monday).
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Labour leader has urged the Government to work with local councils and mayors to ensure access to Covid-secure winter shelter for rough sleepers.
The Labour leader has also claimed Conservative policies had ‘pushed so many more into hardship’ even before the pandemic.
Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently found destitution increased by 54 per cent between 2017-19, with 2.4million adults and 500,000 children affected.
Last week, Labour revealed thousands of rough sleepers risk missing out on life saving shelter this winter, as Covid restrictions mean drastic reductions in emergency night shelter accommodation.
The party has launched a campaign to ensure everyone has a safe, Covid-secure place to stay this winter.
Starmer’s letter warns the rough sleeping crisis is now affecting towns and cities across the country, including in Worcester. Research from Labour has found rural rough sleeping has risen 60 per cent since 2010.
“Before the Covid crisis, rough sleeping was a shameful sign of Government failure. We went into this pandemic with twice as many people sleeping rough than in 2010, affecting towns and cities across the country.
“Thousands of rough sleepers risk missing out on life-saving shelter this winter unless the Government supports councils and charities to provide Covid-secure shelter.”
He adds: “Rough sleeping is a crisis which you pledged to end for good. But it is just the tip of an iceberg – the sharp end of a broken housing system and a society with gaping holes in its safety net.
“Many more people, many of them families with children, will experience homelessness, poverty and destitution this winter.”