By Anna Ellis • 08 March 2023 • 13:42
Mayor activates emergency severe weather plan to protect homeless Londoners. Image: NEW HOPE / Shutterstock.com.
SWE ensures councils open additional emergency accommodation for people sleeping rough.
It comes as the UK Health Security Agency issued a level three cold alert, which will remain in place until Thursday night, March 9, with freezing weather set to continue throughout the week.
The Mayor activated SWEP for the first time this winter on December 7, when overnight temperatures in the capital dipped below freezing. As London was blasted by snow and endured icy conditions, SWEP was in action for 12 days – the longest continuous period since 2017.
During this 12-day period, councils and charities helped more than 600 Londoners off the streets and into emergency accommodation. This is almost five times the number of people accommodated during any of the periods of SWEP last year. It’s also more than three-quarters of the total accommodated across all the SWEP periods in the whole of last winter.
Sadiq is warning that rising bills and housing costs are forcing growing numbers of people to sleep rough on London’s streets. Recently released Government figures showed rough sleeping has increased in every region of England year-on-year, with the biggest rise in London (34 per cent).
There were 858 people in 2022 estimated to be sleeping rough in the capital on a single night compared with 640 people in 2021, an increase of 218 people. The Mayor’s rough sleeping services are helping more people than ever before, with more than 13,500 rough sleepers supported off the streets since 2016.
In response to the housing crisis and the soaring cost of living the Mayor has repeatedly called on Ministers to immediately freeze private sector rents and reinstate the social security net which prevents people becoming homeless.
This would include lifting the benefit cap and unfreezing Local Housing Allowance. He’s also calling on Government to deliver the promised reforms to the Private Rented Sector, including ending Section 21 evictions and to suspend the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition, which puts many people with NRPF status at serious risk of destitution and homelessness.
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Originally from the UK, Anna is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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