May govt slammed over skyrocketing homelessness in Britain
The Public Accounts Committee report found the number of people sleeping rough has jumped a staggering 134 percent since 2011.
“The Department for Communities and Local Government’s (the Department) attitude to reducing homelessness has been unacceptably complacent,” the report said.
It added that “the limited action that it [the government] has taken has lacked the urgency that is so badly needed and its ‘light touch’ approach to working with the local authorities tackling homelessness has clearly failed.”
According to evidence gathered by the cross-party committee, homelessness has been steadily rising since 2010, with the number of households in temporary accommodation skyrocketing by more than 60 percent.
The report also found that homelessness has an unsurprising, yet significant effect on quality of life. The average rough sleeper dies before the age of 50, and children in long-term temporary accommodation miss far more schooling than their peers.
Cross-party committee chair and Labour MP Meg Hillier said the Tory government's approach to tackling the UK’s homelessness problem has been an "abject 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,” Hillier said, according to Sky News.
"That means properly addressing the shortage of realistic housing options for those at risk of homelessness or already in temporary accommodation. More fundamentally, it means getting a grip on the market's failure to provide genuinely affordable homes, both to rent and to buy," the MP added.
Hillier also suggested action such as providing financial support to local authorities with acute shortages of suitable housing.
Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey described the report as “damning.”
“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,” Healey told the Huffington Post.
“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. Labour will end rough sleeping within a Parliament, and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness with thousands more genuinely affordable homes and new protections for private renters,” he added.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said even those with steady jobs are struggling with homelessness.
“Soaring levels of homelessness have meant even many people in work are now finding themselves on the streets or in temporary accommodation,” Moran said.
“The complacency ministers are showing on this issue is totally unacceptable and must come to an end. Instead of passing the buck to local authorities, the government must take responsibility for ending rough sleeping and building the truly affordable homes the country needs.”