Speeches recovered from the Conservative party‚Äôs online archive More…

David Cameron: Launch of the Homelessness Foundation

Speaking at the launch of the Homelessness Foundation this morning, David Cameron said:

"I'm really proud and excited to be standing here today to launch the Conservative Party's Homelessness Foundation.

I'm proud because it's the Conservative Party that is taking the lead in the fight against homelessness - that is saying we can build a fairer society and make a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our country.

And I'm excited too.

We've got the best minds in the business - all the leaders of all the major homeless charities in our country - to work with the Foundation so that when we come to government we have a real, proper and serious plan to deal with this social evil.

Let me tell you why this is so important to me.

I've put tackling poverty at the heart of my mission for the Conservative Party.

It's just frankly unacceptable that in a society such as ours - one of the richest and most developed in the world - that some people live in truly dire and degrading poverty.

I want to give everyone - no matter what their background or their circumstances - the chance to lift themselves up and make the most of their lives.

And an important part of that means tackling homelessness - giving everyone the security that a roof over their head brings.

The problem today is that we're going backwards, not forwards.

Forty years on from 'Cathy Come Home' -when one generation opened their eyes to homelessness - our generation is in danger of ignoring the problem.

Because of the way the data is collected, with numbers rounded down instead of up, according to the Government, there are just 500 rough sleepers in the whole of England - and just seven in Manchester.

We all know, from personal experience walking down our streets and in our neighbourhoods, the figure is likely to be much, much higher than that.

But homelessness isn't just about literally having no roof over your head.

We're also ignoring what's called the 'hidden homeless'.

That's the people who move from one sofa to another, night after night, with no stability and no security.

And it's the families who are forced to live in crowded conditions in hostels and B&Bs while they wait to be re-housed.

Last December, 130,000 children woke up on Christmas Day without a stable roof over their head.

That's more than double the figure for 1997.

That's twice the number of kids who will then go on and fail at school, twice the number of kids getting caught in a cycle of deprivation, twice the number of kids whose opportunities and hopes are dashed because they don't have space to grow and develop.

We've got to be better than this.

We've got to be honest about the scale of the problem and acknowledge all those who are homeless - hidden or not.

And we've got to be honest about saying that it's no use just tackling the symptoms of homelessness - but address ourselves to the long-term task of removing its causes.

Causes like family breakdown, because when families fall apart it can often leave a parent and their child in severe poverty.

Causes like personal debt, and the fact that every seven minutes someone in our country declares themselves bankrupt.

Causes like prison rehabilitation, because as long as 12,000 prisoners - every year - are released with nowhere to go, then of course many will return to the street and a life of crime.

And causes like the severe lack of affordable housing in our country.

Taken year on year, there's actually been less social housing built in the last decade than in the two decades before.

Family breakdown, personal debt, prison reform, affordable housing - the Conservative Party has already laid out extensive plans in each of these areas.

The Homelessness Foundation will now take this work on and see how better we can build on these plans so we can - once and for all - end homelessness in our country.

We're the fifth largest economy in the world.

We know how to create wealth and spread opportunity.

We have some of the most compassionate and caring people in the country who know how to get results and get peoples' lives back on track.

We can tackle homelessness.

I mean it.

And this Homelessness Foundation will help show us the way."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech