There is NO new money behind the Government’s flagship £100m strategy to tackle homelessness, minister admits
There is no new money in the Government’s flagship £100million fund to tackle homelessness, a minister today admitted.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire toured the TV and radio studios to plug the new fund, which he said would give significant help to rough sleepers.
But under questioning he admitted that none of the cash announced today was new money for the problem.
Mr Brokenshire said half the money was taken and ‘reprioritised’ from other areas of the housing budget while £50m has already been announced
The number of rough sleepers in England has risen every year for the past seven years and now stands at 4,751 people.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire (pictured on Sky News today) toured the TV and radio studios to plug the new fund, which he said would give significant help to rough sleepers
Questioned by the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Mr Brokenshire said: ‘Yes, some of this is reprioritised… reprioritised from within existing budgets where we have underspends and issues such as that.
‘There are significant sums of money being focused and targeted.
‘Half of that has already been committed to homelessness and rough sleeping.
‘The other remaining half of this is money that’s new to rough sleeping and homelessness, reflecting and recognising the priorities and importance of taxes.’
Mr Brokenshire denied Government policies were behind a rise in homelessness, as identified by independent organisations such as the National Audit Office.
Alarm at the number of people sleeping rough on England’s streets has been growing after figures show the numbers have been spiralling in the wake o the economic crash and the years of austerity.
Figures released in January by the Government this year showed that the numbers reached a record high of 4,751 in the autumn of last year, new data reveals today.
It was up 15 per cent from 4,134 in 2016 to the highest point since comparable records began in 2010.
The Government has faced fierce criticism for failing to do enough to tackle rough sleeping – and Labour has accused the party of bringing in policies that have pushed people into homelessness.
Last year the the National Audit Office – the national spending watchdog – tore into ministers for not assessing the impact on welfare reforms on homelessness since 2012.
But Mr Borkenshire today suggested that he would now start carrying out the assessments.
He said: ‘I’m not going to be sitting here blindly ignoring further evidence that comes to sight.
The number of people sleeping rough in England reached a recorded high of 4,751 in the autumn of last year, new data reveals today – with almost a quarter in London alone
‘The strategy today includes a new commitment for the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and my department to look at the way new policy may impact on homelessness.
‘We’re looking at new modelling and analysis to better inform further changes we may make in the future around welfare and around other legislation so we’re getting the best information we possibly can.’
Shelter chief executive Polly Neate had welcomed the strategy with the caveat more must be done to tackle issues around housing benefit and lack of housing.
She said: ‘This strategy is an important step forward in the fight against the rough sleeping emergency that’s led to people dying on our streets.
‘But let’s be clear, this is a step forward and not a total fix for homelessness.
‘We still need to tackle the chronic lack of genuinely affordable homes, deep instability of renting, and problems with housing benefit that are leaving so many without a home.
‘If the Government wants to eradicate rough sleeping for good, this strategy must be quickly followed by a new plan to build many more social homes and efforts to create real security for those struggling with their rent.’