James Heappey weekly column

Since becoming your Member of Parliament one of the most challenging local problems that people have sought my help on has been people sleeping rough in our towns and villages. It is far less common than in our big cities of course but it is all the more striking in places like Wells or Burnham-on-Sea because, frankly, you just don't expect to see it.

Hidden from public view are some amazing charities like the YMCA, the Elim Centre and Hands of Change who do life changing things pretty much everyday to help people living in these most dire circumstances. Often their work is contributed to by the Government or local council but there are plenty of people out there who would not unreasonably say that the Government needs to do much, much more.

That's why I enthusiastically supported the Homelessness Reduction Act as it went through Parliament with its aim of ending homelessness by 2027. It's also why I welcomed news in June that Mendip was getting an extra £150,000 to help the immediate challenge of homelessness. And it's why this week, I'm welcoming the announcement of £50 million more from the Government to build supported living accommodation for those ready to move on from the hostel or refuge that first helped them from the streets.

It's not enough to say that homelessness is falling (although with house prices and rents still sky high that's not yet the case anyway) and it's not enough to say there's only a few people in our area sleeping rough. There shouldn't be any. I'm pleased to have supported a Bill in Parliament to end homelessness and I'm delighted to see the Government now resourcing this mission with cash.