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January 16, 2008 12:00 AM

West Midlands LibDem Euro MP Liz Lynne has joined a campaign in the European Parliament calling for closer EU cooperation by sharing data and best practice to end sleeping rough across the 27-nation bloc by 2015.

West Midlands county registered 1627 families as homeless during the third quarter of 2007*. While government estimates put street homelessness (sleeping rough) in England at 492 people on any given night, it is believed that the actual figure could be five to ten times this.

Speaking today, Liz Lynne MEP, who is Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and author of a recent report on poverty and social exclusion, said:

"Street homelessness is an open sore on the conscience of this country and it can and must be eradicated.

"There are many factors behind homelessness such as a lack of suitable local employment or shortages of affordable accommodation, and these same factors occur in many Member States.

"For this reason, renewed, coordinated efforts across the EU, including sharing of best practice and the latest data with other member States, are vital in the fight to end street homelessness, but often the services which can help turn people's lives around are simply not available.

"I am however pleased that since this declaration was launched an encouraging number of my colleagues have signed up, but I strongly encourage more to do so, so a debate is held in the European Parliament. Getting a formal debate on this subject would be a major step towards helping people turn their lives around and off the streets."


Notes to Editors:

*Latest available figures

The written declaration signed by Liz Lynne (text below), if signed by over half of the 785 Members before the 26th of March 2008, will prompt a debate on the subject in the European Parliament. 46 Members have so far signed.

Written declaration on ending street homelessness - 0111/2007

The European Parliament,

A. whereas homelessness was identified as a priority by the EPSCO Council in 2005, and is a priority under the 'active inclusion' strand of the EU social protection and inclusion strategy,

B. whereas access to adequate housing is a fundamental human right and access to shelter often the first step towards adequate and sustainable housing solutions for people experiencing extreme poverty and exclusion,

C. whereas every winter people freeze to death across the EU because of lack of emergency accommodation and outreach services catering for their needs,

D. whereas street homelessness is the most visible form of homelessness, which can only be addressed effectively as part of a wider holistic strategy,

E. whereas the European Parliament called twice for urgent action to tackle homelessness this year,

1. Calls on the Council to agree on an EU-wide commitment to end street homelessness by 2015;

2. Calls on the Commission to develop a European framework definition of homelessness, gather comparable and reliable statistical data, and provide annual updates on action taken and progress made in EU Member States towards ending homelessness;

3. Urges Member States to devise 'winter emergency plans' as part of a wider homelessness strategy;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council, Commission and the Member States .

Liz Lynne MEP authored a key 2007 joint report for the European Parliament on Social Protection and Social Inclusion which, amongst other things called for increased sharing of best practice among EU Member States in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. The report was overwhelmingly adopted by the European Parliament in November 2007. Please find the report here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A6-2007-0400+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN