New Labour and Street Homelessness: Forgotten triumph of social policy or failed experiment?

Online - a link will be sent to you before the event
Thursday 21 January 2021 (12:00-13:30)

Helen Harris -

Speaker: David Christie, Doctoral Researcher investgating homelessness under the New Labour governments (1997-2010) at the University of Birmingham’s History Department.

This event is part of CHASM’s Housing and Communities Research Group Seminar Series. 

In the 1990s the numbers of people sleeping on the streets reached unprecedented levels and was considered a national scandal. From the beginning of New Labour’s term in office it gave the issue of street homelessness a high priority, and by 2010 street homelessness figures had been reduced to the lowest on record. However, since 2010 the number of rough sleepers has rapidly increased once more.

David’s research seeks to investigate the motives, methods, efficacy and consequences of Labour’s intervention in street homelessness, with a view to determining whether it was a rare example of the successful implementation of social policy or a flawed programme that failed to sustain its apparent early successes.

The research is currently in its second year, and oral testimonies from 50 key decision-makers and practitioners in central and local government and the voluntary sector have so far been obtained. This seminar intends to explore the significance of the mechanisms of governance employed by New Labour in delivering their programme, its balance between a crisis response and long-term strategy and the relationship between street homelessness and broader housing policy. It is hoped that this will elicit debate on the relevance of New Labour’s programme to contemporary housing and homelessness policy.

Watch David’s full presentation: