'National reset' needed in fight against rough sleeping

“Unprecedented” emergency housing during the coronavirus crisis has shown homelessness can be tackled and there is “no need” for it to return after the pandemic subsides, Telford and Wrekin’s council leader has said.

Telford & Wrekin Council leader, Councillor Shaun Davies.
Telford & Wrekin Council leader, Councillor Shaun Davies.

Speaking at Telford and Wrekin Council’s annual general meeting, Councillor Shaun Davies said “a solution is there”, but “resource and investment” would be needed to maintain it.

The borough’s rough sleepers task force, comprising the council, Maninplace and STAY Telford, began providing the emergency housing in late March, and guarantees were agreed with landlords accommodating rough sleepers.

Cllr Davies said a “national reset moment” would help continue work like this.

“Eradicating rough sleeping by 2023” was a Labour party manifesto pledge, made ahead the last year’s local election where the party increased its seat share on Telford and Wrekin Council from 28 to 36 out of 54.

Cllr Davies paid tribute to key workers and council staff for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic and sent “love, best wishes and support” to the families of the 95 people who had died after contracting the virus.

Conservative leader Andrew Eade and Liberal Democrat leader Bill Tomlinson echoed these sentiments.

Cllr Davies added: “I think we need to understand how we reform, as an organisation. Indeed, I think there is a massive opportunity to ‘reset’, not just as a council and a borough, but to reset nationally.

“In my opinion, and I’m sure this is agreed across the party divide, that we do not want to see a return to rough sleeping.

“This pandemic has meant we were able to offer unprecedented support to people who are street-sleeping. A solution is there, and we don’t need to see a return to street-sleeping, if the resource and investment is there, and we need to make sure that that is there as part of this reset moment.”

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