London Elections 2024: Sadiq Khan vows to end rough sleeping by 2030

London Elections 2024: Sadiq Khan vows to end rough sleeping by 2030

With just over two weeks till polling day, Sadiq Khan has livened up the campaign trail with an ambitious pledge to put an end to rough sleeping in London by 2030.

Speaking at St John’s church in Waterloo, Khan backed the vow with a promise of £10 million extra spending over the next three years on top of City Hall’s current annual homeless budget of some £36 million, itself up from £8.45 million in 2016.

The cash would expand the mayor’s network of “ending homelessness” hubs from three to six, and boost work with councils and charities to see an additional 1,700 people a year helped off the streets by the end of the next mayoral term, he said.

The venue for the announcement had been deliberately chosen. The church, opposite the site of the notorious “cardboard city” of rough sleepers living in underpasses between Waterloo station and the South Bank in the 1980s and 1990s, had played an important part in providing homelessness support throughout that period, Khan said.

Since that time the Labour government from 1997 had “all but eradicated” rough sleeping, he continued. But it had then doubled from 2010 despite a 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge to tackle it, with government cuts to council budgets and “skyrocketing” rents and mortgage payments exacerbating the crisis.

His City Hall tenure had seen more than 16,000 people helped off the streets, three-quarters of them permanently, Khan said, but added: “I am the first to admit, though, that our efforts haven’t been enough. There is a conveyor belt of more people coming onto the streets every day. This time we will see it through. Homelessness has been too easily accepted as regrettable but inevitable. But the situation is simply not compatible with the values London holds. We don’t step over our fellow citizens. We will lift them up. A vote for Labour is a vote to end the indignity, fear and isolation felt by those forced to endure a life on the street once and for all”.

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Khan confirmed that it would take longer than the next mayoral term to meet the full pledge, which he said was “synched” with the next government’s five-year term. The prospect of a Labour government and a Labour Mayor at the same time, he reiterated, was a “big opportunity” for the capital. His said his forthcoming manifesto would detail which commitments might need support from a new government.

The £10 million homelessness investment would be fully met within existing City Hall budgets, alongside his wider housing pledges to deliver 40,000 additional council homes and 6,000 “rent control” homes affordable to key workers and middle-income earners, he said.

Khan criticised his Tory opponent Susan Hall’s claim that he had fallen short on providing family-size homes. He had actually delivered four times as many family homes than his predecessor, he told On London, while Hall’s low-rise housing plans would mean 12,000 fewer homes overall. And London’s Green Belt would continue to be protected under a Khan third term, he underlined.

He also confirmed again that there would be no “pay-per-mile” road user charging system introduced “as long as I am Mayor”, as well as no changes to Ultra-Low Emission Zone requirements or criteria. He had formally instructed Transport for London not to work on any pay-per-mile proposals, and his next transport strategy would not include any plan for doing so.

X/Twitter: Charles Wright and OnLondon. Support and its writers for just £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE. Image from Labour campaign film of Waterloo speech.

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