In one London borough 1 in 25 people are homeless. It's a crisis the government did nothing to stop.
A staggering 307,000 people are homeless across Britain — equivalent to one in every 200 people. Tory cuts and a failure to act on the housing crisis are directly to blame.
The numbers of people rough sleeping and living in temporary accommodation has grown to over 300,000, up by 13,000 in the last year alone, a report from homeless charity Shelter showed today.
The levels of homelessness are highest in London — one in every 59 people in the capital are homeless. In the London borough of Newham, one in 25 people are registered as homeless.
Shelter, who analysed government data after submitting Freedom of Information requests, said the information was patchy and the real number of homeless people is likely higher than 300,000.
The government claims it’s taking action on the crisis with the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will come into force next year — but the Act lacks detail and ignores the underlying issues.
Theresa May said in June “I was proud to vote for the landmark Homelessness Reduction Act… we will implement it in full – ensuring that local authorities take seriously their duties and have the resources they need to provide the right support.”
Councils who are expected to implement the Act, however, have pointed out that they’ve received no information from the government on how to deliver it, nor received the necessary funding boost to do it, whilst having had their funding cut since 2010.
Sir Steve Bullock, mayor of Lewisham explained to Inside Housing: “from 1 April 2018, boroughs will need to provide higher levels of support to a broader number of people at risk of homelessness”. He went on:
“We are seeking to make this step change despite having experienced a 60% reduction in our funding since 2010, which has had a very significant impact on existing services.”
The Act is a piece of spin with no real substance — it seeks to place the blame for homelessness on local authorities, deflecting attention from Tory austerity and a national cost of living crisis.
The real responsibility for the growth in homelessness falls on Tory cuts to the local housing allowance (LHA), a benefit that helps tenants pay private rents.
LHA was frozen for four years in April 2016 despite rising rents in the private sector.
So, whilst market rents are predicted to rise by at least 5 per cent in the next two years, and the cost of living increases with inflation, low-income families will get no extra support.
Families across the country, who can’t afford the growing cost of rent, have been forced out of their homes because of the cuts — and many more will face a similar fate if Tory cuts continue.
Council leaders have warned the government that homelessness will only continue growing unless LHA cuts are lifted. Judith Blake, spokesperson for the Local Government Association said:
“Without addressing the gap between private renters and LHA, the number of homeless families and children that councils will need to house in temporary accommodation will continue to increase, and our hopes to make a success of the Homelessness Reduction Act will fade.”
These LHA cuts are “too deep for renters to work their way out of”, a Shelter report said in September.
The National Audit Office added its voice to a growing list of those concerned, saying that the growth in homelessness was a direct result of Tory cuts to LHA, and the government were taking a “light touch” approach to homelessness.
The shambolic rollout of Universal Credit, where many have been left without any welfare payments for up to six weeks, has also reportedly put families on the street.
Don’t believe the Tory spin — the government’s policies and poor management of the economy are directly to blame for the shameful growth of homelessness in the UK.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.
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