Homelessness on the rise

The National Audit Office found there had been a 60 per cent rise in households in temporary accommodation
The National Audit Office found there had been a 60 per cent rise in households in temporary accommodation

The Government has failed to do enough to tackle the rocketing homelessness that has been partly fuelled by its welfare reforms, according to the public spending watchdog.

Over the last six years there has been a 60 per cent rise in households in temporary accommodation, the National Audit Office (NAO) found.

An overnight count last autumn recorded 4,134 rough sleepers, a 134 per cent hike.

The NAO found the ending of private sector tenancies had become the main cause of homelessness in England.

Rents had gone up at the same time as household incomes from benefits had been cut, it said.

Local housing allowance reforms were “likely to have contributed” to making tenancies for claimants less affordable, according to the report.

Auditor General Sir Amyas Morse said: “Homelessness in all its forms has significantly increased in recent years, driven by several factors. Despite this, government has not evaluated the impact of its reforms on this issue, and there remain gaps in its approach.

“It is difficult to understand why the department persisted with its light touch approach in the face of such a visibly growing problem. Its recent performance in reducing homelessness therefore cannot be considered value for money.”

Last month, the Post reported more than 500 people in Wigan had no fixed abode in the past 12 months.

Stuart Cowley, director for adult social care and health at Wigan Council, said: “Our work to prevent homelessness has been recognised as one of the best in the country, having achieved the Government’s gold standard in homelessness prevention.

“Once a year we do an exercise with statutory and partner organisations to estimate the number of rough sleepers and this year 10 organisations fed into that exercise, compared to only two last year. We need as much information as possible about rough sleepers to make sure people are getting the right support.

“We have recently been successful, as part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, in receiving some of the Government’s Entrenched Rough Sleeping Social Impact Bond funding which will allow us to refer rough sleepers for personalised support tailored to their needs.”