Damning Report Reveals Government Has No Plan To Tackle Skyrocketing Homelessness

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Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey said the report should “shame” ministers

PA Archive PA Images Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey said the report should “shame” ministers

"This reports illustrates the very real human cost of the government's failure to ensure people have access to affordable housing".

There were 77,240 households in temporary accommodation in March 2017, an increase of 60 per cent since March 2011.

The spending watchdog said it was "difficult to understand" why the Department for Communities and Local Government had persisted with its current approach to homelessness "in the face of such a visibly growing problem".

Auditor General Sir Amyas Morse said: 'Homelessness in all its forms has significantly increased in recent years, driven by several factors.

Reforms to the local housing allowance are "likely to have contributed" to making it more expensive for claimants to rent privately and "are an element of the increase in homelessness", the report added. Despite this, government has not evaluated the impact of its reforms on this issue, and there remain gaps in its approach. Incredibly, the department with responsibility for preventing homelessness has not yet produced a plan for preventing homelessness.

Commenting on the report, Labour's Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said the findings "should shame ministers". When this Government fails, rising homelessness will be on its political tombstone.

The ending of private sector tenancies - rather than a change in personal circumstances - has become the main cause of homelessness in England, with numbers tripling since 2010/11, said the NAO.

"The increase in homelessness since 2010 is visible in nearly every town and city in the country but today's report shows ministers haven't even bothered to draw up a proper plan to deal with it".

"The National Audit Office fully acknowledges what we already knew, that homelessness has got drastically worse since 2010-11", said Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs.

Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens want to see more social housing built.

Local Government Association housing spokesman Martin Tett said: 'Rising homelessness is a huge challenge for councils, which are having to house the equivalent of an extra secondary school's worth of homeless children in temporary accommodation every month. More than three-quarters of this - £845 million - was spent on temporary accommodation.

"This is a damning indictment of the Government's approach to tackling homelessness", she added.

The estimated cost of tackling this increase in homelessness is more than £1 billion a year.

It called on the government to support councils by allowing them to invest in building affordable homes and "provide the support and resources they need to help prevent people becoming homeless in the first place".

"Welfare reforms announced by the government in 2015 included a four-year freeze to housing benefit - which was implemented in April 2016", the BBC says.

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