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2018 National Delegate Conference
26 February 2018
Carried as Amended

Conference recognises the increase in homelessness in recent years. This is most readily seen by the increasing numbers of rough sleepers in all parts of the country. However, the number of people living in over-crowded conditions, ‘couch surfing’ and in inappropriate and often unsafe situations has also increased.

The UK government has no credible homelessness strategy and whilst the numbers of recorded people who were homeless increased in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it has decreased in Scotland. However the levels of homelessness in all areas of the UK are a concern.

Conference recognises that the causes of any individual being homeless can be multi-faceted but believes that Tory government policies have exacerbated the circumstances that contribute to the problem. Welfare reforms, a shortage of adequate and affordable housing, reduced provision of women’s refuges, cuts in mental health services, failures to control escalating rent levels in the private sector and pressures on council budgets are all factors that lead to homelessness.

Conference recognises that this is an issue that affects those UNISON members who work in housing, benefit and homelessness services but that all UNISON members and their families can be directly affected and at risk of homelessness. It is therefore an issue that UNISON must take up.

Conference calls on the National Executive Committee to:

1)Challenge all political parties and interest groups to establish a coherent core policy position to tackle homelessness and to develop a consensus around a national strategy to address homelessness (including rough sleeping) that:

a)Considers the structural causes of homelessness;

b)Considers homelessness from a health perspective;

c)Recognises the impact of welfare reforms on homelessness;

d)Ensures cross-departmental consistency in the approach taken;

e)Considers placing non-statutory homelessness services on a statutory footing;

f)Considers a range of housing solutions including the building of council and other social housing that is affordable for the homeless and low income households;

g)Considers funding;

2)Continue to call for an end to welfare cuts and to income austerity;

3)Support the campaigning organisations that highlight the plight of homeless people and call for an end to rough sleeping.