Labour MP for Reading East MATT RODDA has highlighted the issues of homelessness and supported housing provision on a day which is marked both as World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day 2017.

Mental health services are being cut at a time when demand is increasing, and the need for continued supported housing provision is on the rise. At a time when homelessness, rough sleeping and begging also seems to be more prevalent on Reading’s streets, Matt took the opportunity of bringing these issues in his constituency back onto the agenda for discussion.

Matt said:

Today is World Mental Health Day and also World Homeless Day. In my constituency the two concerns are often not regarded as separate entities but can present themselves together in our town’s most vulnerable people. Never before has there been such a demand for mental health services and supported housing provision in Reading. The current Housing Allowance funding issue relates directly to World Mental Health Day in that it concerns those in our society in need of housing and who live with learning difficulties or mental health issues. I am delighted that a purpose-built development of self-contained apartments was opened in my own constituency of Reading East earlier this year. Phoebe Cusden House accommodates people struggling with a range of conditions and provides them with the opportunity of maintaining their independence. The question of funding directly affects people like the residents of Phoebe Cusden House -; and it is our duty to ensure that we continue to protect those in our society who are defenceless against these cuts and measures, and who have these additional care needs.”

Matt added:

It is barely two months since Jeremy Corbyn came to Reading to discuss homelessness and the ongoing housing crisis in the town. It was an honour to invite Jeremy here, and for him to be able to discuss with the town’s homeless charity, Launchpad, the many complex issues surrounding homelessness in addition to the support services which the charity provides. Colder weather will put an even greater level of stress on homeless people, from those sleeping outside, those sofa-surfing to those in bed and breakfast or hostel accommodation. I applaud the many charity and religious groups in Reading who run ‘Bed For The Night’ and other cold weather shelter initiatives, but I do think we also need to look at permanent solutions going forward, and I believe that one way forward is to make sure we meet our housebuilding needs by being able to build more affordable homes.”

He continued:

As Jeremy mentioned back in the summer, we have to empower our local authorities to ensure that a significant proportion of all new developments are genuinely affordable. We also need more council housing in our area. Reading Borough Council had plans to build 1,000 council homes in Reading; sadly this was cut back to under 100 following the budget delivered by the former Chancellor George Osborne in late 2015. This is despite the fact that there is sufficient brownfield land in Reading to be able to build almost all the town’s projected housing need up to 2036 – so it makes sense to give the power and financial ability back to local authorities in order to be able to meet that need.

Since 2010, homelessness in Reading has spiralled by over 700%. The basic right to have a roof over your head is being denied to many local people. As Labour MP for Reading East I shall be challenging the Government on its decisions to limit funding available to the Borough Council and other local councils, and I will continue to hold the Government to account on its failures to deliver the finances needed to enable local authorities such as Reading to have the necessary means to provide comprehensive supported housing provision for the vulnerable in our society who live with complex learning and mental health needs.”

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