A new report by the Public Accounts Committee makes clear the immense human cost of government policyby Meg Hillier / January 4, 2018 / Leave a comment
Back in 1994 when B&Bs were routinely used as temporary accommodation for homeless people I thought it could not get any worse. But in 2018 the reality of homelessness is even more disgraceful.
The cross-party Public Accounts Committee, of which I am chair, has been examining the government’s approach to housing and homelessness. Our recent “Homeless Households” report highlights the folly of policies which do nothing to solve homelessness, ramp up human misery—and still end up costing more money. The government’s approach to tackling this crisis quite simply makes no sense.
The rise in rents in the south east and the introduction of the benefit cap means that it is practically impossible for many families to afford a suitable home. There are now over 9,000 people estimated to be sleeping rough. But the focus of the committee’s work has been the human cost for those who have no home but are not so visible.
Any frontline social or charity worker in London—or any other expensive part of the country—will know a family living in another family’s sitting room. They will know the family that rides the night bus to stay warm while waiting for temporary accommodation and, increasingly, the family for whom the one room in a mixed hostel is home for a year or two.
Homelessness charity Crisis estimates there are 160,000 households living in acute homelessness—just under a quarter of a million people in total. This includes people in emergency accommodation and those who are “sofa surfing.” Since 2010 the number of households in temporary accommodation has increased by a staggering 60 per cent—and 120,000 children now call this accommodation home.