HOMELESSNESS in England is a ‘national crisis’ and the Tory government is ‘unacceptably complacent’ about it, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said yesterday.
The PAC reported that there are more than 9,000 rough sleepers and 78,000 families living in temporary accommodation, including 120,000 children.
The number of people sleeping on the streets has increased by 134 per cent in the past seven years under the Tories, the report says, while those living in temporary accommodation has risen by about two-thirds.
Labour MP Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said: ‘The latest official figures hammer home the shameful state of homelessness in England and the abject failure of the government’s approach to addressing the misery suffered by many thousands of families and individuals.
‘As we approach Christmas there are thousands of children in temporary accommodation – a salutary reminder of the human cost of policy failure.
‘The government must do more to understand and measure the real-world costs and causes of homelessness and put in place the joined-up strategy that is so desperately needed.’
The PAC report states, ‘The government’s commitment to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027 will address only the “tip of the iceberg” and there is an unacceptable shortage of realistic housing options for homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.’
Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey, said: ‘This damning cross-party report shows that the Conservatives have caused the crisis of rapidly rising homelessness but have no plan to fix it.
‘This Christmas the increase in homelessness is visible in almost every town and city in the country, but today’s report confirms ministers lack both an understanding of the problem and any urgency in finding solutions.
‘After an unprecedented decline in homelessness under Labour, Conservative policy decisions are directly responsible for rising homelessness. You can’t help the homeless without the homes, and ministers have driven new social rented homes to the lowest level on record.’