Figures released this week by the Government show that 597 deaths in 2017 related to street homelessness. Manchester, with 21 deaths, had the highest number. Birmingham (18) and Bristol, Lambeth and Liverpool (all 17), also registering more than one death a month.
Our view is that the fact that nearly 600 people died on our streets in 2017 is not just a tragedy, but a national disgrace of which we should be deeply ashamed.
These figures show that all over the country, our homelessness crisis is at epidemic levels and people are indefensibly losing their lives. Liberal Democrats want the Government to be building up to 100,000 affordable social homes a year and to provide accommodation and support to those in need.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, prior to his election, promised to “end rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020”. This is only 10 months away, and we need to hold the Mayor to account for his promise.
A Freedom of Information request by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has shown that 6,518 ‘offenders’ were found guilty under the Vagrancy Act (1824) between the years 2014 to 2017 in England and Wales. Greater Manchester Police made 441 prosecutions in the four year period.
“The Government, and local authorities, should be ashamed that they have continued to allow the use of a law that makes rough sleeping a criminal offence, and for it to be used so prolifically with little regard for the people afflicted.This law was controversial 200 years ago, and it has no place in a modern, compassionate society.I call on the Government to back my cross-party campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act, a Bill which criminalises and degrades the most vulnerable, and should bring shame to those who allow its use.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran is campaigning to scrap the 1824 Vagrancy Act.