Lambeth Labour has this week become one of the first councils to sign up to the Labour Homelessness Campaign Group pledge which commits the borough to tackling the hostile environment facing many rough sleepers and homeless people.
There are three pledges as part of the campaign:
- Refuse to embed Home Office immigration officers in council services
- Refuse to pass on rough sleeper’s data to the Home Office without their express consent
- Open Severe Weather Emergency Protocol shelters to everyone, regardless of immigration status.
Lambeth’s cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Paul Gadsby, confirmed to Lambeth’s full council meeting on Wednesday 17 July that the borough already fulfils all points of the campaign pledge. He was answering a request from Cllr Lucy Caldicott, a campaigner on homeless issues, who had earlier raised concerns about the rough sleeping crisis.
Cllr Gadsby said:
“It is disgusting that in a developed nation like the UK, we have an estimated 320,000 people without a permanent roof over their heads either in temporary accommodation or sleeping on our streets. It is even more tragic that around a decade ago the last Labour government had reduced rates of homelessness to historic lows. This achievement has been reversed by a toxic mixture of austerity and the Tory driven housing crisis.
“Lambeth already has no immigration officers in its services and we do not share personal data without consent – that position will not change. Our services were open to everyone who needed them during the cold snaps in the winter and will continue to be so in the future. We spend £4 million, despite drastic government cuts to our budget, every year on services to rough sleepers which includes a range of hostels and support services that includes 500 flats or beds available to those who need them. As a Labour council we’ll continue to fight to protect and help the most vulnerable.
Cllr Caldicott said:
“It is heart-breaking to see more and more people on the streets of London in the past few years. These are vulnerable people who need help, but all too often they are subjected to a hostile environment that directly stems from government rhetoric. I am extremely pleased that Lambeth signed up to this without hesitation and even better is already fulfilling its pledges.”