There is no new money in thegovernment’s flagship £100mfund to eradicate rough sleeping within a decade, the housing secretary has admitted - writes independent.co.uk
Charities had welcomed the fund as a significant step towards helping the estimated 4,751 people sleeping rough on English streets on any given night.
But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, James Brokenshire said the cash had been“reprioritised” from existing budgets in his department.
“Yes, some of this is reprioritised... reprioritised from within existing budgets where we have underspentand issues such as that,” he told the programme.
”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.”
Announcing the government’s homelessness strategy on Monday , Theresa May said it wouldoffer help to those with mental health problems and addictions, domestic abuse victims and those leaving prison.
But Labour described the prime minister’s plan as “feeble”, claiming it lacked the “urgency” to tackle the rise in rough sleeping while charity Shelter said the plans were not a “total fix” for homelessness.
Earlier this year, official statistics revealed that rough sleeping in England had increased for a seventh consecutive year – up 169 per cent since 2010 when the coalition government came to power.
Mr Brokenshire denied government policies were behind a rise in homelessness, as identified by independent organisations such as the National Audit Office.
But the minister did appear to commit to reviewing the impact of welfare policies, such as the Universal Credit system, on homelessness.
“I’m not going to be sitting here blindly ignoring further evidence that comes to sight,” he said.
“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, but admittedmore 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.”
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