The number of homeless people in the UK has increased by a staggering 134 percent since the Tories came into government in 2010, according to the government’s spending watchdog.
A damning report by the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals that the number of households in temporary accommodation has increased by 60 percent in the past six years, affecting 73 percent more youngsters than in March 2011.
It prompted accusations by the NAO that the government has proceeded with a “light touch” approach to tackling the crisis which cannot be considered efficient.
A snapshot of last autumn also revealed that 4,134 people were recorded as rough sleepers, a 134-percent hike since the Conservatives gained power, while there was an increase of 48 percent in the number of families being assessed as eligible for temporary accommodations by councils.
Following the findings, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey said the government should feel ashamed, and accused its policies of being “directly responsible” for the rise in homelessness under the Tories.
“When this government fails, rising homelessness will be on its political tombstone.
“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,” he said, according to the Independent.
“After an unprecedented decline in homelessness under Labour, government policy decisions are directly responsible for the rise in homelessness.
“You can’t help the homeless without the homes, and ministers have driven new affordable house building to a 24-year low.”
According to the report, the spike in homelessness was mainly triggered by the ending of private sector tenancies, but the government’s local housing allowance reforms are also “an element of the increase in homelessness.”
Another factor contributing to the unaffordability of homes is that rents are three times the amount of wages across most of England.
Local councils are now having to “plug the gap,” with most of the £1.1 billion (US$1.46 billion) spent on housing people in 2015/16 going on temporary accommodation, up by 39 percent in real terms since 2010/11.
The Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, Councillor Martin Tett, shed some light on the strain local councils are going through as they try and tackle homelessness in their areas.
“Homelessness is a tragedy, as a settled home is crucial to health and wellbeing for individuals and families, and is a central cornerstone of successful communities,” he told the Independent.
“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.
“The net cost to councils of doing this has tripled in the last three years, as they plug the gap between rising rents and frozen housing benefit.”
A government spokesperson said it is investing £550 million up to 2020 to address the issue.
He added the government is committed to “eliminating rough sleeping entirely,” and that is it implementing what it describes as the “most ambitious legislative reform in decades,” namely the Homelessness Reduction Act.
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