As the UK prepares for the General Election this week, our Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Rory Weal, takes a look at the commitments that each of the four largest political parties in England have made to tackle homelessness in their manifestos.

You’re unlikely to have missed that there is a general election happening this Thursday. It’s dominated the airwaves over the past six weeks.

But you’d be forgiven for having missed what the parties have been saying about homelessness. With so much airtime going on other issues from Brexit to the NHS, it’s been easy to overlook that the major parties have been talking more and more about homelessness. This has stepped up in recent days with both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson publically condemning rough sleeping, saying they’ll end it within five years if they win on Thursday.

But at St Mungo’s we want politicians to move beyond soundbites, we need real action to tackle rough sleeping. The number of people on the streets has risen 165% since 2010, and last year, on average, two people died every day while sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation. This is nothing short of a national disgrace that needs urgent action, not lip service.

That’s why we teamed up with five other homelessness charities – Centrepoint, Crisis, Depaul UK, Homeless Link and Shelter – to form the End Homelessness Now campaign. Together we are calling on parties to ensure everybody in our society has a safe and stable home, by putting in place a clear plan that commits to:

Last week at the national housing hustings we had an opportunity to put these messages to senior figures from each of the largest parties in England. Former St Mungo’s client and campaign champion Kevin Farrell made a powerful case for action when he said that the support he relied upon when he slept rough 10 years ago is no longer available: “Enough is enough. What are your concrete plans to end rough sleeping?”

Now with all of the manifestos published, we can outline what those concrete plans are. Below is a summary of the relevant commitments in the manifestos of the four largest parties in England, based on the number of MPs elected at the last election:

Conservatives

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Greens

We didn’t get everything we wanted from all parties, but with a range of clear commitments to end rough sleeping and many welcome policies to achieve that aim we have something to hold each of them to account on.

We believe we can continue to urge whoever wins on Thursday to step up efforts to tackle the homelessness crisis. We are encouraging our supporters and clients to vote on Thursday, and ensure that the next government’s acts to End Homelessness Now. The costs of not acting are too high.