Homelessness is up 16% - lives are on the line
By Mike Barrett
26 January 2017
There's been a 16% rise in the number of rough sleepers across the UK, according to new government figures.
But the figures don't reveal the full picture. Thousands more people are sleeping on the sofas and floors of friends and family members, but they’ll eventually be asked to leave and will have nowhere to go.
We're facing a national homelessness crisis and people's lives are on the line. What makes this even more shocking is that the main reason we're in this mess is the total lack of sensible housing policies by successive governments, along with the breakdown of our mental health services.
And there's more to come as the government forges ahead with plans to overhaul housing benefit for people in supported accommodation over the next two years. The capping of rents coupled with vicious and unnecessary cuts to council budgets will see housing projects close and many hundreds more single homeless people forced onto the streets.
In fairness, the government does support the homelessness prevention bill which could see councils given a duty of care to everyone in need of housing, not just those in priority need. Unfortunately, if the bill becomes law it will place huge responsibilities on cash-strapped councils who are already struggling to house the most vulnerable including families, and people with severe disabilities and health problems.
Until the government begins to understand the awful consequences of existing and proposed legislation, and starts to invest properly in real solutions to the homelessness crisis, the situation will only get worse.
More to do...
Unfortunately, rising homelessness across Kent means our work is far from over. A small monthly donation could ensure our services (some of which will suffer funding cuts) continue to be there for anyone who needs them in 2017.