Government plans to reduce homelessness will fail, the Commons public accounts committee warned yesterday, because it does not address the root cause driving thousands of people from their homes.
This is the lack of affordable and secure housing, the committee said before publishing its report today.
It described the extent of homelessness across England as a national crisis, referring to new figures released last week.
The latest figures by charity Shelter show that as many as 9,100 people are sleeping rough on the streets of Britain at any one time, a rise of 134 per cent since 2011.
More than 78,000 households, including over 120,000 children, are homeless and currently being housed in temporary accommodation.
The number of households forced into temporary accommodation has shot up by more than 60 per cent since 2010 when the Tory coalition government took office.
The committee, which is looking into government efforts to tackle homelessness, said that the Tories’ new Homelessness Reduction Act is doomed to failure unless the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also tackles both the supply and demand of affordable and decent housing.
Committee chair and Labour MP Meg Hillier 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.
“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.”
She urged the DCLG to heed the committee’s recommendations, including publishing a cross-government strategy by the end of next June with clear targets and actions.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the report confirms ministers have been ignorant to the causes and effects of homelessness.
He said: “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.”
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