As we think of those less fortunate than ourselves at this time of year, shadow housing spokesman Grant Shapps is today launching the Conservative blueprint to tackle homelessness.

This time last year, he spent a night sleeping rough and recorded his experience here on ConservativeHome.

The blueprint being launched today aims to go beyond dealing with homelessness purely as a problem of housing, but instead accepting the multi-faceted nature of homelessness. One key point which it aims to address is the way in which some released prisoners quickly re-offend because jail provides a roof over their heads.

Among the measures being proposed by the party, according to today’s newspapers, are:

  • Criminals being made to save part of their prison pay to fund accommodation on their release;
  • Ensuring that troops returning from the frontline are not put at the bottom of waiting lists for housing;
  • Making rough sleeping statistics more accurate;
  • Reforming benefits to make sure people were better off by getting a job.

This is how the Telegraph explains the scheme being proposed for prisoners:

"Under his proposal, most pay for prison work would go into a fund for victims, some kept for purchases behind bars and the rest put in a "trust". That money would partly be used to secure accommodation – probably in the private rented sector."

Mr Shapps was also keen to stress his aim to look after "heroic servicemen" who have served overseas:

"When people have put their lives at risk for the sake of our security it is a national disgrace that they can return from service with no certainty about their living conditions."

I’ll add a link to the more detailed proposals when they are published later this morning.

Update: You can now download the pdf document by clicking here or look at it and other documents about homelessness at Grant Shapps’ website. As Grant points out, there has been a cross-departmental approach on this document, so the sections relating to prisoners, for example, have involved Nick Herbert and the Justice team – some of whose ideas were put forward in their Prisons with a Purpose policy paper.

Jonathan Isaby

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