Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has today written to the Mayor for the West Midlands Combined Authority calling for a fresh initiative to tackle homelessness as figures reveal an increase of nearly 60% in rough sleeping in Birmingham.
The figures released today by the Office of National Statistics show a rough sleeping head count of 91 in 2018, up from 57 in 2017, a stark increase of 59.6%.
Rough sleeping is becoming an epidemic in Birmingham and needs urgent action if it is to be addressed. The increase shows that the Government’s reliance on the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, which was a Private Member’s Bill, is not sufficient in itself to tackle the problem of rough sleeping which is in danger of becoming a deeply ingrained feature of our society. The sharp rise in the Birmingham figures demonstrates that existing measures are not adequate for the scale of the problem and that we need a fresh initiative and much more urgent action. The figures only represent a snapshot of the number of people sleeping on the streets on one night of the year. Those working with homeless people claim the real figure is likely to be much higher.
The Government is relying too heavily on the generosity of charities and volunteers to help the homeless and while these organisations make a tremendous contribution it is obvious that they do not have the resources to cope with the growing scale of this problem. Councils are struggling with budget cuts because the Government will not fund them properly and those without a roof over their head are falling through the welfare safety net.
Commenting on the figures, Steve McCabe MP said:
“The number of people sleeping rough in Birmingham is a disgrace. Only this week a homeless man tragically lost his life on the streets of Birmingham. The Government is failing too many people, especially those facing poverty and homelessness and we simply can’t turn a blind eye to this devastating problem. I have written to the Mayor to ask for talks to see if we can develop a fresh initiative designed to urgently tackle this appalling situation.”