Homelessness minister is wrong about rough sleeping

By Mike Barrett

19 March 2018

The UK’s homelessness minister does not believe welfare reform and council cuts are to blame for the rise in rough sleeping.

They are.

We work with many vulnerable people who ended up homeless because the support that should have been there for them has simply disappeared.

Cuts in housing benefit and welfare reforms are slowly but surely reducing the help that is available. With these vital safety nets gone, we’re seeing more and more people facing the misery of life on the streets.

At the same time, local councils are being forced to cut back homelessness services as a result of funding reductions imposed by central government.

And the problem is being further exacerbated by a shortage of realistic housing options for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.

Here in Kent and the affluent south east, even ‘affordable’ rent properties - made available at 80% of market rent - are simply out of reach for the people we support.

Of course, we welcome the government’s target of eliminating rough sleeping by the year 2027 and will gladly work with them to make this happen.

But in order to do so, the government needs to stop punishing poor and vulnerable people with ill-thought out policies, welfare reform and benefit cuts, and start to address the woeful lack of social housing. Then, and only then, will it begin to make any headway against the homelessness crisis.