He's only mentioned homelessness once in Parliament
All across the UK, people will have been shouting at their TVs as Tory MP Stephen Crabb turned up on the BBC’s News at Ten.
“When we leave here in the evenings, he told Laura Kuenssberg, “we’re stepping over sleeping bodies at Westminster tube station. There are so many pressing issues for this government to tackle and yet all of energies are being sucked up not only by Brexit but now by an internal row.”
Of course, he’s not wrong. Homelessness is a massive issue. According to Homeless Link, the number of people sleeping rough has increased every year since 2010. When the Tories first came to power that year, there were 1,768 people sleeping rough. In 2017 there were 4,751.
Many more than this are the homeless who we don’t see as homeless – sleeping on friends’ sofas, in squats or in other insecure accommodation.
Stephen Crabb has been an MP since 2005. In this time, what has he done to campaign against homelessness?
In thirteen years in Parliament, he has said the word ‘homeless’ in the chamber only once and this was to say that food bank usage can’t be blamed on the Conservatives because many of those who use them are homeless people.
How about on Twitter? A search of over 3,200 of his tweets since 2013 shows he has used the word ‘homeless’ only once. To put this in context, the word ‘rugby’ has been used 110 times.
According to a 2017 survey, 61% of local councils and 49% of housing associations said the fact a prospective tenant is unlikely to receive enough in welfare payments to cover their rent is now the most common reason for someone being turned away for a home.
Stephen Crabb has been an active participant in making that happen – he was even Work and Pensions Secretary briefly, before the EU referendum.
Crabb has also voted for the successive budgets which have slashed the amount of money central government gives to local authorities by up to 50%. This has led to councils having less money to house homeless people, despite their legal obligation to do so.
Finally, the people Crabb steps over after work could be safer and warmer in an abandoned building if he hadn’t voted to criminalise squatting in a residential building in 2011.
Stephen Crabb did not immediately reply to a request for comment.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.