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Monday, 04 December 2017

100 more homeless young 'for each Government announcement on issue since 2010'

Written by Jon Vale

There are 100 more homeless children for every announcement the Government has made on homelessness since 2010, Labour has claimed.

Shadow housing minister John Healey said the Government needed action and "not more warm words" to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government had increased spending on the issue, as he ruled out cuts to women's refuges and other supported housing.

Speaking at Communities questions, Mr Healey (pictured) said: "The Secretary of State tries to tell us the Government's got a good record on homelessness.

"Since 2010, ministers have made 452 announcements on homelessness, but 47,000 more children are now homeless.

"That's 100 more homeless children for every Conservative press release.

"What's needed now is action to deal with the root causes of this rising homelessness, not more warm words.

"So a straight question to the Secretary of State. Will there be any further cuts in funding in this Parliament for homeless hostels and women's refuges under his plans for short term supported housing?"

Mr Javid replied: "We have no plans to cut the funding, whether it's women's refuges or other support we're providing for homelessness.

"Indeed, what we saw in the Budget from the Chancellor just a couple of weeks ago was an increase in spending and resources to fight homelessness."

Campaigners have raised concerns about Government proposals to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.

The system will be managed locally instead, with local authorities receiving a ring-fenced grant and measuring the needs in their area.

"The problem is many of the decisions his Government have taken have made this problem so much worse," Mr Healey went on to say.

"In his consultation document on supported housing, he pledges to protect funding only in 2020/21, which is why homeless charities and women's refuges and Women's Aid are so concerned that this still poses the risk to their future services."

Mr Healey challenged Mr Javid to back Labour's plan to end rough sleeping by the end of the parliament, including 4,000 extra homes for rough sleepers and building more low cost housing.

Mr Javid accused Mr Healey of "being a bit disingenuous with his use of those figures and those so-called facts".

The Communities Secretary went on to withdraw the "disingenuous" comment after a request by Speaker John Bercow, adding: "Let me say (Mr Healey) is not being as clear as he could be if he wanted to be.

"When it comes to women's refuges, we have dedicated £20 million, which will provide some 2,200 additional bed spaces.

"And in future years, it's right to see what demand there is, and make sure we make appropriate resources available."

Tory former minister Andrew Percy also sought assurances from his old department that women's refuges would be safe.

The Tory MP said: "Women's Aid are of course an organisation we all have a high regard for on both sides of the House.

"They have stated that the Government's new model will close refuges. What assurance can the minister give the House that that won't be the case?.

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones said: "Let me reassure him that will not be the case, we will continue the funding at exactly the same level as is currently the case.

"There will be a dedicated amount that will go to local authorities that will be ring-fenced and ring-fenced in the long term and we will also make sure that it means that vulnerable people will not need to deal with the payment of rent at a very, very difficult time in their lives."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jonathan Brady / PA Wire.