More must be done to tackle homelessness

The government has not evaluated the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, or the impact of the mitigations that it has put in place, according to the National Audit Office (NAO) which scrutinises how public money is spent.

The number of people sleeping rough on the nation’s streets has more than doubled in recently years whilst there were over 77,000 households in temporary accommodation in England in March 2017, an increase of 60% since March 2011.

These households included 120,540 children, an increase of 73% from March 2011.
The report by the NAO says that homelessness at present costs the public sector in excess of £1 billion a year.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:

“This report tells us what we expected. The Government are failing to tackle the homelessness crisis in our country.

The NAO have said that the Department for Communities and Local Government does not have a published cross government strategy to prevent and tackle homelessness. This just isn’t good enough”.

In addition, although the report states that whilst DCLG is responsible for tackling homelessness, during its increase, the Department took a light touch approach to working with local authorities. This contrasts with the more interventionist approach that it has taken during previous periods of high homelessness.

Today Portsmouth churches came together at an event hosted by St. Mary’s Portsea to discuss how the city can respond to growing homelessness on the city’s streets. Stephen Morgan MP attended the event which saw presentations from the city council and local voluntary sector.

Stephen added:

The ability of councils to respond to increased homelessness is constrained by the limited options they have to house homeless families.

With the significant reduction in social housing over the past few decades, we must see more homes built for local people”.

While spending by local authorities on homelessness services such as temporary accommodation has steadily increased since 2010, spending on overall housing services has fallen by 21% in real terms over the same period.

Concerned about the impact the introduction of universal credit will have on homelessness Stephen added:

“The government must finally evaluate the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, and there remain gaps in its approach which must be addressed.

Homelessness in our country isn’t inevitable, it can and should be prevented”.