UK Gov't Has No 'Proper Solution' To Housing Crisis Amid High Homelessness Rates - NGO

UK Gov't Has No 'Proper Solution' to Housing Crisis Amid High Homelessness Rates - NGO

LONDON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 23rd August, 2019) Claims of the children's commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, that the UK government's inaction is the prime cause behind hundreds of thousands vulnerably housed children across the United Kingdom were in fact unsurprising for those working to alleviate homelessness, given far-reaching policy failures and a fixation on Brexit, Nick Roberts, project manager at the Windsor Homeless Project, told Sputnik on Friday.

On Wednesday, Longfield released a report, titled "Bleak Houses," that claimed that as many as 585,000 children across the United Kingdom currently live in vulnerable conditions, such as in office blocks and shipping containers and in areas where they could potentially be exposed to criminal activities and violence. Another 210,000 children count homeless, the report claimed.

"To me it is nothing new. Everything we are doing as a country, it is almost like we are just putting plasters on things. They have come up with shipping containers as they are quick to erect and with the promise that these people will be into proper housing within a certain amount of time, but in some cases people have been told they would be there for just a couple of months and then it has been two years. So to me that just says we do not really have a proper solution to housing in this country," Roberts said.

In her report, Longfield also argued that government policies relating to a lack of genuinely affordable housing were the prime causes behind the situation, given that rent levels in the private housing sector had consistently outpaced either frozen, capped or otherwise inadequate benefits. A lack of social housing was also said to have directly forced many families into the private housing sector, itself a difficult situation given rent rates in the country were claimed to have risen sixty percent faster than wages between 2011 and 2017.

"They [the government] have given local authorities a certain amount (of cash) but no real thought has been going into how much should be spent on relieving homelessness in that particular area, and then you have got local politicians which make claims about doing X, Y and Z about homelessness but then do not consult with local charities," Roberts argued.

He added that Brexit was "sapping" attention away from other urgent issues, such as homelessness, claiming that there was a lack of organizational will on the part of government authorities at both the central and local level.

"So you have got people trying to make decisions that have no understanding of what is going on, so you end up with the situation we are in. So if it is not being discussed at the higher levels there is no way it is going to filter down to the local authorities. That is what we are finding, as in there is an awful lot on paper but not a lot that is actually being done," Roberts said.

The UK government has, however, previously vowed to end rough sleeping, specifically, within the next decade, having allocated around 100 million Pounds to such efforts last year. Although homeless charities initially welcomed the move, doubts are still in place as to whether such a goal is achievable.

He concluded by expressing doubts that the UK government would succeed in its promise to eradicate homelessness by 2027 but added he was hopeful that the election of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson might herald a change in policy.

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