Cllr Lucy Caldicott is the Vice Chair of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee, and a councillor in Stockwell ward. Cllr Caldicott gave a speech in support of a Labour amendment to a motion on homelessness at Lambeth’s full council meeting in October 2019.
On New Year’s Day 2018, my next-door neighbour was walking his dog in the park up the road from where I live and came upon a man who’d spent his New Year’s Eve night sleeping rough there. Tragically, the man had died in the night.
I wasn’t a councillor yet, but I resolved that day that if I did get elected, homelessness would be an issue I’d focus on.
Rough sleeping has more than doubled in a decade. Those exploited by modern slavery account for 1 in 10 of these. And across London there are over 50,000 households in temporary accommodation, 2,000 of those here in Lambeth.
These numbers provide proof of a dysfunctional housing system, designed to extract maximum profit out of something that should be a human right, exacerbated with cuts and delays to benefits and lack of protections from unscrupulous landlords.
This is shameful, but it is a choice. A political choice.
Labour administrations put the most vulnerable in our communities first and I was proud that under the last Labour government, through a combination of clear policy framework, ambitious targets, and priority setting, rough sleeping was dramatically reduced.
I’m also proud that Lambeth has protected £4 million a year to invest in its support to homeless people in a combination of hostels, medical and mental health advice to help people get back on their feet. Plus an outreach team helping rough sleepers to connect with the help they need.
I’m proud that Lambeth is doing what we can with less, but I call on the government to do their bit too; undo the cruel policies that have so disproportionately harmed the vulnerable and favoured the wealthiest, end right to buy, and support councils to enable us to build.
We want to ensure that the voices of people experiencing homelessness are heard in the halls of power.
I urge my colleagues to stand in solidarity with those experiencing homelessness.
Cllr Lucy Caldicott