Number of homeless beds plummet as cuts cripple councils

New findings a further blow to the credibility of homelessness minister Heather Wheeler.

Homeless (6)

Council cuts have hit areas of high homelessness the hardest, according to analysis by Labour.

And that analysis shows that of the top 10 highest, nine have councils controlled by Labour and one by the Tories.

The findings are a further blow to the credibility of homelessness minister Heather Wheeler, who is on record as saying she has no idea why homelessness is rising – while dismissing council cuts and welfare ‘reform’ as a cause.

A series of subsequent reports strongly suggested otherwise.

Labour’s analysis says that, on average, the hardest hit councils will have budgets cut by nearly £800 per household by the end of the decade.

The analysis names Newham – which has the third highest level of homelessness in the country with 1,206 accepted as homeless and in priority need – as seeing the second largest cut in council spending of any area by 2019-20.

Labour is due to launch its social housing review with hints at a ‘housebuilding revolution’ as part of a local election offer.

Against this background, further research reveals the number of beds in homeless shelters has plummeted since the Tories took power – as homelessness soared over the same period.

Bed space for single homeless people in England alone has dropped by almost a fifth since 2010.

The number of rough sleepers has risen by 169% and number of households declared homeless by councils is up 48%.

Research by the charity Homeless Link reveals more than 8,000 fewer bed spaces for single homeless people in England than there were in 2010.

The fall from 42,655 to 34,497 equates to a 19% reduction – and a 3% drop in the last year alone.

With around 77,000 single people estimated to be homeless on any given night, it means there are now only enough beds for less than half the people who need them.

Homelessness charities say the decrease in bed capacity is direct result of government cuts.

To Labour it is “shameful”.

The Homeless Link stats show the government’s Supporting People programme – a major source of funding for homeless shelters – has been slashed by 59% since 2010 as council saw budgets cut by an average of 40%.

In the last year alone, 39% of homelessness providers said their funding had decreased – with 38% reporting no change in funding over the past year.

Just 15% of providers reported an increase in funding.

Government has set up a cross-departmental taskforce to try and tackle homelessness – that took four months to hold its first meeting.

Government also stands by its Homelessness Reduction Act – which forces cash-strapped, cuts wracked councils to prevent households becoming homeless.

But councils say the act has to be backed by a big funding increase to be anywhere near effective.

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