Naked Politics Blogger
With over 300,000 homeless people in Britain and rough sleeping up 134% since 2010, the Tory government has laid out plans to end homelessness by 2027, vowing to spend £100m. But is their strategy logical enough to eventually reach their goal?
Firstly, let’s have a look at this plan. £100m is the budget: £30m is purportedly for mental health and addiction support services, £50m for homes outside London to house those ready to move on from homeless shelters, and the rest for “navigators” to point rough sleepers towards services available to them. The aim is to help these people “turn their lives around”, as put by Theresa May, however, with a policy of cure instead of prevention it’s difficult to see this plan working.
Even homeless charities, such as Shelter and Crisis, have their doubts. While they agree that this is a step forward in the right direction, it will not fix the problem, with the chief executive of Crisis stating that the plan does not tackle the root causes, and that “we still need to tackle the chronic lack of genuinely affordable homes, deep instability of renting and problems with housing benefit”.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire admitted that half of the £100m budget had now been “reprioritised”, and denied that government policies were behind the rise in homelessness in the first place, even though homelessness has increased by 54% while the Tories have been in power. The sixth biggest economy in the world currently has councils working to rehouse 79,000 homeless families and 123,000 children. Not only that but there are 4 million children living in relative poverty. This is not only disgraceful but embarrassing and needs to be addressed immediately and with a much larger sense of emergency.
An interesting response to the plan was given by Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey who states that it is a “feeble plan that lacks urgency”. He promised that if Labour were elected that they would end homelessness in their first term by building 8,000 homes. Clearly, Labour seems to have the complete opposite attitude, i.e. prevention not cure.
From my point of view, what the Government is attempting is definitely a step in the right direction, especially with the emphasis on mental health, which is a real problem; however, they are not willing to admit that it is their policies that have caused this issue and that those policies need to change in order to begin eradicating homelessness. Isn’t it odd that most people in relative poverty are actually in employment?
In my opinion, the main causes of homelessness are low wages, a high cost of living, zero hour contracts – which provide uncertainty of income, high rents, an incredible lack of affordable housing and various mental health and addiction issues. These wider concerns are, from my point of view, what needs to be addressed to prevent homelessness at its very core.