Sitting at the door of Church House, Westminster begging for the street homeless and homeless families in temporary accommodation

4 February 2020


On Thursday 13th February I will spend all day sitting at the door of Church House, Westminster begging for the street homeless and homeless families in temporary accommodation in England. It is a way of supporting the motion from the Leeds Diocesan Synod to be moved that day at the General Synod, of which I am not a member.

The motion asks why, in contrast to Jesus, the Church of England is generally less effective in communicating with, and attracting people from, more disadvantaged communities? To the thoughtful papers backing the motion may I add the conviction that all land is the gift of a generous and loving God intended to provide shelter food, fuel and clothes for all.

In a speech to the House of Commons on the 29th January David Lammy summed up the English problem with land; 

"When a deprived area is “redeveloped”, are we not meant to improve the lives of deprived people who already live there? Why does it take an influx of wealthy new people to an area before anyone bothers to invest in it? Should we not bring the existing communities along with the redevelopment, rather than kick them out? Is the purpose of redevelopment social cohesion or social cleansing?".

In another debate on the same day MPs from all sides spoke with compassion about the plight of homeless individuals and families in their constituencies. 

Fighting as a Christian, without allegiance to any political party, with and for the tenants and small businesses of deprived areas, which are threatened with demolition, is made even more difficult by reasonable complaints from local people about how the Church Commissioners and some dioceses manage their land, too often teaming up with the developers to the detriment of the existing tenants. Complicity with developers kicking the existing tenants off the land is read into the silence of Church leaders 

At the door of Church House in Dean's Yard my hand will be out for the family and street homeless of London. 

Rev Paul Nicolson, 

Taxpayers Against Poverty Partnered with Compassion in Politics.


Some quotes from the speeches in the House of Commons Homelessness Debate on the 29th January

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab)  Shadow Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government

This House notes with concern that number of people sleeping rough on streets of England more than doubled since 2010 & number of #homeless #Children in #temporaryaccommodation risen to 127,000; people dying homeless in England & Wales risen to 726 a year;

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Luke Hall)

#Temporaryaccommodation means people are receiving help & support, but of course we want to see those individuals & their families moved into settled accommodation as soon as possible, and on a permanent basis.


The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Robert Jenrick)

We are fortunate to live in a country that is widely and rightly regarded as one of the most fair, prosperous and advanced in the world. It is, therefore, a serious moral failure that we still have people sleeping on our streets and struggling to secure something so basic as a roof over their heads. That feels especially poignant at this time of year, when most of us take for granted a warm bed on a cold night. The deaths of people sleeping rough right here on the doorsteps of Parliament in recent years have been a sobering reminder of the challenges we face.   Initiatives such as Housing First give us all some hope.


Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)

I thank the Secretary of State for giving way; he has been very generous. I have had constituents living in tents, cars—one even in a cave. All those cases—I have many more, and I am not just talking about street homelessness—were related to problems with social security. Two thirds of local authorities predict that the roll-out of universal credit will increase homelessness. What are the assessments of both the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.


The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 

I speak regularly with my colleagues at the DWP, including the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Will Quince), who is sitting beside me... the figures that I have seen most recently show that for individuals who come on to universal credit with pre-existing rent arrears we see a one-third reduction in rent arrears after four months. 

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con)

First, the Homelessness Reduction Act is very welcome, but to achieve its objectives local authorities need to be adequately funded and housing associations need to be more fully involved in its delivery. Secondly, we need to look closely at the impact of universal credit on homelessness. To my mind, the five-week wait for the first payment is making the situation worse and does need to be changed. Thirdly, at the forthcoming Budget, the Government need to consider seriously restoring the local housing allowance rates to at least the 30th percentile of the local market.   


James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con)

...there has undoubtedly been a significant increase in the number of people becoming statutorily homeless because they have reached a certain point in an assured shorthold tenancy and been unable to renegotiate it, the rent has then been pushed up, they cannot afford it, and the property has been re-let. That is incredibly worrying, because more and more families are now in rental accommodation because of the affordability crisis

Mick Whitley (Birkenhead) (Lab)

Birkenhead Park, a proud reminder of Birkenhead’s prosperous and industrious past, now regularly hosts rough sleepers seeking sanctuary and a safe night’s sleep. As a volunteer at Charles Thompson’s Mission every Sunday, helping to serve hot breakfasts to homeless people and families suffering in-work poverty, I see at first hand how homelessness devastates people’s lives.

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con)

It is ridiculous that we release prisoners at 4 o’clock on a Friday and are surprised when they find themselves on the street. We must expand social impact bonds, deliver a proper empty homes strategy, and scrap the blunt instrument that is the Vagrancy Act 1824. There is no place in our modern society for criminalising those who live on our streets. Most of all, however, we need compassion, co-ordination, and to tackle the root causes of homelessness if we are to end it in all its forms, and we need to do that now.

Fleur Anderson (Putney) (Lab)

There are families criss-crossing London, with children sleeping on their mother’s laps. Parents are having to wait near their children’s schools because they do not have time to go home and come back again, so they cannot seek work. That means they cannot save money for a deposit, so they cannot get out of this cycle.Temporary accommodation is a symptom of a failing housing and benefits system, and the details of it really matter to parents. They need storage and they need funding for school journeys, and they should always be a priority. There should be a duty to place families closer to their children’s schools.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op) 

In January, 50-yearold died in #temporaryaccommodation. Year before: in March, a man in his 50s and a 33-year old-man died; in April, a 45-year-old man died; and in July, a 36-year-old man died. Just the people who have died in Brighton up til July 2019

Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab)

Southwark Council deals with the highest number of homeless applications in London. It has 11,500 households on the waiting list and nearly 2,500 households in #temporaryaccommodation

David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)

The Housing First model derives from Finland, where it has delivered significant positive outcomes for people, so it is not hard to see why Social Bite threw its weight behind it. The Scottish Government have backed Social Bite’s Housing First programme, which is now starting to bring welcome results. Between April and December last year, 186 people were housed through the scheme, 91% of whom continue to sustain their tenancies. That is a remarkable figure that speaks for itself. It must be highlighted that this model truly shows that there has to be a different way of doing things to break the cycle of homelessness.

Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)

..about invisible homelessness: those living in temporary accommodation or relying on families & friends and sleeping on sofas. Many, including in my local authority, are in #temporaryaccommodation far away from their families, their work or their school


Ben Everitt (Milton Keynes North) (Con)

There are 48 rough sleepers in Milton Keynes—that is, of course, 48 too many—but the really shocking statistic is that there are 2,244 people in temporary accommodation.

Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab)

The numbers forced to rely on #temporaryaccommodation are stark, but it is the stories behind the statistics that are truly heartbreaking: the family placed in accommodation two train journeys from their children’s #school travelling for hours to and from  The latest figures show that 3,070 children are living in temporary accommodation in Wandsworth—just one London borough —and that 35% of them, meaning nearly 700 from my constituency, are housed out of borough.




From the Reverend Paul Nicolson

Good health and wellbeing of all UK citizens in or out of work must now become a national priority.

Taxpayers Against Povert Partnered with Compassion in Politics

No citizen without an affordable home and an
adequate income in work or unemployment.