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General Election 2019 - a round up of the party commitments towards ending homelessness in Scotland & across the UK

Camille Furtado, Senior Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer - Scotland

It’s almost time for voters across the UK to elect MPs to represent them in Westminster.

At the beginning of this election campaign, we set out what actions the next UK Government needs to take to end homelessness. Whilst the Scottish Government and Holyrood have a responsibility for housing and homelessness in Scotland, decisions made on other related issues by the UK Government can hinder or help these efforts.  That’s why we’ve published our Manifesto to End Homelessness in Scotland calling on all parties to commit to investing in Local Housing Allowance so that it covers the cost of rent and ensuring that people with migrant status can access the support they need.  

So what have the parties said they’ll do?

Across manifestos, commitments have been made that have the potential to move the UK towards ending homelessness. Crisis has long campaigned for housing benefit to truly #coverthecost to ensure thousands of families are not being pushed to the brink of homelessness.

The Scottish Labour manifesto includes a pledge to restore housing benefit to cover the cheapest third of local rents. The Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens Party manifestos also include reference to housing benefit, with commitments to connect housing benefit to average rents in an area. The Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour manifestos also support the introduction of rent controls to give fairer footing to renters. The SNP manifesto contains a commitment to ensure an end to the bedroom tax and uplifting benefits to at least inflation.

Our manifesto also urged all parties to provide greater support for non-UK nationals at risk of homelessness. The SNP’s manifesto committed to stronger housing rights for people seeking asylum and said they were strongly opposed to the ‘hostile environment’ policy of the Home Office. The Scottish Liberal Democrats pledged to make providers of asylum support accommodation subject to a statutory duty to refer people leaving asylum support accommodation who are at risk of homelessness to their local housing authority. We know that the solutions to homelessness for people with migrant status are essentially the same as for all other people, but non-British nationals face an additional and complex set of barriers which push people towards homelessness. 

There has also been a commitment by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to develop a cross-Whitehall plan to end all forms of homelessness and Scottish Labour have articulated the need for a duty on all public bodies to prevent homelessness and need for appropriate funding to make this possible.

The variety of commitments across manifestos are all positive steps in the right direction, but we need to see all parties fully commit to ending homelessness, and to make sure our future leaders know what policies need to be in place to make this a reality.

Take action on Twitter:  

Can you help us reach as many people as possible before polling day so people know how we can end homelessness for good? Share some of our messages below. 

When some of us struggle, it affects our whole society. And right now, people needing support are being forced into homelessness. All #GE19 candidates should back @CrisisScotland call for housing benefit to #coverthecost of rent to #EndHomelessness in Scotland

Rising housing costs are pulling people into poverty. Housing benefit needs to #coverthecost of rent and prevent homelessness. When some of us struggle, it affects us all, so for #GE19 all parties must commit to raising housing benefit to #EndHomelessness

Homelessness hurts us all. We all see the human cost and we know it takes a toll on our society. But it doesn't have to be this way. Together, we can end homelessness in Scotland and Britain. Read more about #GE19 on the @CrisisScotland blog. 

Whoever forms the next Government in Westminster has the power to put in place policies and approaches for the whole of Great Britain that can end homelessness and make sure we all have a safe place to call home. We’ll keep working with governments and parties across England, Scotland and Wales to make sure this happens. 

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