0740 GMT January 23, 2019
There is already a severe weather emergency protocol, under which local authorities are meant to provide extra assistance for homeless people during cold snaps and other weather events such as heatwaves and floods, theguardian.com reported.
Labour argues that this does not always translate into a place being available for all those in need. Under the party’s plan, councils would have to work with charities and others to make sure there is enough accommodation when temperatures are forecast to fall below freezing.
The party said the government did not know properly which areas have sufficient provision, and that since October last year an estimated 484 people had died homeless.
Labour’s plan would put initial one-year funding of £100 million into a new rough sleepers cold weather fund, which would also find staff to connect them with support workers, with the longer-term aim of helping them stay off the streets permanently.
The funding would come from a levy on second homes previously announced, which would involve an average additional payment of £3,000 a year. Labour has promised to try to end all rough sleeping within a first term in government.
The Labour announcement came as the government made its own pledge on homelessness, promising to spend £4.8 million on 11 new centers across England with the aim of taking rough sleepers off the streets.
The “rough sleeping hubs”, announced as part of the government’s £100-million strategy, should be up and running by spring 2019 in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cheshire West and Chester, Derby, Gloucestershire, Lincoln, Liverpool, Medway, Nottingham, Preston and west London.
The shadow housing secretary, John Healey, said, “To our national shame, thousands of people will sleep rough on park benches and shop doorways this winter. It beggars belief that there is no guarantee of basic emergency accommodation for these people during cold weather.
“Rough sleeping has risen every year since 2010 as a direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers and the problem is getting worse. Labour’s plan will save lives and needs to be put in place now.
“Labour will give every rough sleeper a roof over their head, and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness with an end to the freeze on benefits, new rights for renters and a million low-cost homes.”