Homelessness charity Crisis yesterday called on the government to make public services more accessible to homeless people.
Crisis said: ‘Public services are failing homeless people.
‘Public services should offer advice and support in housing, healthcare, education and work.
‘But for many homeless people, getting the support they need is complicated, confusing and bogged down in red tape.’
Crisis chief executive Shaks Ghosh added yesterday: ‘Today we will be welcoming about 1,400 homeless guests at our Christmas shelters.
‘These are some of the most vulnerable people, clearly with a range of problems.
‘For the next eight days our guests will be able to see a doctor, talk to a counsellor, get housing advice and learn about training and work schemes – all under one roof.
‘But this isn’t good enough. They must be able to get this help in a straightforward way all year round.
‘Crisis is calling on the government to make accessing public services easier for homeless people.’
Meanwhile the government’s own figures have revealed that child homelessness is the worst-ever under Labour.
A record 127,992 children in England will wake up homeless on Christmas day, according to new official figures highlighted by housing charity Shelter.
A staggering 83,962, will wake up in temporary accommodation this Christmas Day in London alone.
Under the Blair government, record numbers of youth end up homeless and in prison.
A fifth of young men in jail in Britain are homeless, a new report published this week warns.
The two-year study from the Howard League for Penal Reform reveals the majority of 18 to 21-year-old men who have been in prison have housing problems.
Seventy-five per cent had already left home by the time they began their jail sentence and many said they had no idea where they would be spending their first night upon release.
The Howard League urged the government to take action, in particular to review housing benefit so that people over the age of 18 are entitled to the same benefits as adults over the age of 25.
Currently, single under 25s renting from a private landlord are only entitled to housing benefit for a single room in a shared house in their local area.
The charity wants the government to impose a statutory duty on local authorities to house homeless young people when they are released from prison.
Report author Finola Farrant said: ‘Many young people will be released from prison this Christmas and will spend the coming weeks homeless.’
Calling for accommodation and support to maintain it, she added: ‘When young people themselves say that having safe and secure housing will help stop them committing further offences the government should sit up and take notice.’