Photo Paul Mattsson

Photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Beth Sutcliffe

The number of people sleeping rough in England has risen by 30% in the last year, according to new government figures. This confirms the suspicions of many of us who have noticed a rise in homelessness in our own towns and cities across the country.

The ruthless benefit sanctions that have come in to effect under the Tory government are one of the causes for this increase. Even if claimants miss only one job centre appointment, they can have their payments stopped.

People end up struggling to pay for essentials like bills, food and a place to live. The severe lack of council housing worsens the problem, as the extortionate price of renting privately makes it so much harder to make ends meet.

The security of owning your own home is also increasingly out of reach. The National Housing Federation found that Londoners would on average need a 266% pay rise in order to think about buying a home in the capital! This makes the recent minimum wage increase for over-25s to £7.20 look even more laughable.

Homelessness disproportionately affects those with mental health problems. Four in ten rough sleepers now have a mental health issue.


This has coincided with cuts to NHS mental health services and supported accommodation. Vulnerable people have been left unable to access the support they desperately need.

The Socialist Party demands cuts to homeless support services be reversed. We call for a massive building programme of publicly owned housing with democratic rent controls, affordable for everyone.