Two Cities MP Nickie Aiken spoke in the House of Commons chamber to champion the success of last year's “Everyone in Strategy” which saw 90% of Rough Sleepers taken off the streets and offered accommodation. She pressed the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP to urge the Government to replace the 1824 Vagrancy Act with more up to date legislation that encompasses the lessons learned from last year's strategy to help protect those who have mental health and addiction issues.
You can watch Nickie's speech above or read a transcript below.
I welcome the incredible work that this Government have done throughout the pandemic to support more rough sleepers, with a staggering £700 million in extra funding for local authorities.
I pay tribute to the local authorities and charities involved in helping rough sleepers off the streets, day in, day out.
Now we must learn from the Government’s brilliant Everyone In strategy, which saw an incredible 90% of rough sleepers taken off the streets and offered accommodation.
As my right hon. Friend knows, I am campaigning to have the Vagrancy Act 1824 repealed. Does he agree that it is now time to learn from what we did with the Everyone In strategy, especially in terms of the reasons people find themselves on the streets in the first place, which are particularly around mental health and addiction issues? Does he agree that we need to learn those lessons and replace the Vagrancy Act?
Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP replied
I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to councils and communities across the country, including her own council in Westminster, led very ably by Rachael Robathan.
Rachael and I have walked the streets of the West End on many occasions over the past year and seen a tremendous reduction in the number of people sleeping rough.
We must build on that and ensure that the progress we have made in the past year is not allowed to slip through our fingers. We will be working across Government to do that because, as my hon. Friend says, homelessness is a housing issue and a health issue. It is about mental health and it is about drug and alcohol addiction, and we need a cross-Government approach to the challenge.