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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

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

To register for this online seminar please email Helen Harris -  
(Please note that Helen will be out of the office until Monday 4 January 2021. However, a place at the seminar will be allocated to you and she will respond to all emails when she returns).


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.

About the speaker

David is currently an AHRC M4C funded PhD candidate in the University of Birmingham’s history department, researching homelessness under the New Labour governments (1997-2010). He completed his MA (Modern British Studies) in 2019 with dissertation on squatting in the 1970s. Before returning to academia, David spent ten years (in the late 1980s and 1990s) running projects for rough sleepers in London and Bristol. His academic concerns included taking history beyond the academic and utopian thought and he published a work of utopian fiction in 2017. David is the founder and chair of ‘Pandemic Perspectives’, an interdisciplinary group debating the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

More details at:

About the Housing and Communities Research Network

Housing and Communities has long been a key area of interest at the University of Birmingham, both in the School of Social Policy, building on the 40 year tradition of housing research in the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, and now as part of the research agenda of the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM)The Housing and Communities Research Group develops research, policy and practice in relation to housing policy, welfare reform, third sector and hybrid housing models, homelessness, the role of the private rental sector, community investment, social impact, and the role of community-led housing.

As ever, in our 2020 - 2021 Seminar Series 8 we are keen to involve housing policy makers, practitioners and activists in debates informed by academic research on key current housing issues. For more information about our research network or to get involved contact Dr Halima Sacranie  -

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