A SHOCKING rise in homelessness will be on the Tories’ political tombstone, Labour blasted yesterday after the publication of a damning National Audit Office report.
Auditors found that Tory and Lib Dem benefit cuts have helped lead to a doubling in the number of people sleeping rough since 2010. Over 4,100 rough sleepers were recorded last autumn — a 134 per cent rise from 2010.
And there has been a 60 per cent rise in the number of families made homeless and forced into temporary accommodation — including more than 120,000 children — the auditors said.
High rents and the slashing of housing benefit were fingered as the major culprits, with the end of private tenancies now the main reason why people in England are made homeless.
“When this government fails, rising homelessness will be on its political tombstone,” Mr Healey said.
“The increase in homelessness since 2010 is visible in almost 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.
“It is one thing to try and fail, ministers are not even making a serious attempt to get to grips with rising homelessness and the National Audit Office are clear that their ideological ‘light-touch’ approach is hurting efforts to help those without a home.”
All forms of homelessness have increased “significantly” and are costing more than £1 billion a year to deal with.
And yet Auditor General Amyas Morse said that the Tories’ hadn’t bothered to check what effect their cuts were having, and nor had they bothered to come up with a plan to stop the crisis.
“Homelessness in all its forms has significantly increased in recent years, driven by several factors. Despite this, government has not evaluated the impact of its reforms on this issue,” he said.
Housing charity Shelter has urged the government to end the housing benefit freeze in the Budget and build homes people can actually afford.
“For many families, our housing market is a daily nightmare of rising costs and falling benefits which is leading to nothing less than a national crisis,” chief executive Polly Neate said.