The Conservatives have pledged £100 million to “end rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2027” after the number of people left homeless due to austerity cuts has soared.
Last year, around 4,800 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in England. This is 15 per cent higher than in 2016, and more than double the estimate of 1,800 for 2010
The pledge comes as communities secretary James Brokenshire acknowledged that efforts to tackle homelessness had “not been good enough”, adding that homeless people should be supported rather than punished by the government.
But Brokenshire failed to touch on the role of his party in creating such extreme levels of poverty in one of the richest nations in the world.
Just last month a Freedom of Information Request revealed that there has been a 73 per cent increase in the number of homeless families who are in work.
A separate study by Homeless Link found Universal Credit payments have had a huge impact on youth homelessness, removing a safety net and giving youngsters no option but to sleep on the streets or in refuges supplied by charities.
It all makes the governments attempts to apply a plaster to the wound they created a little futile. Would prevention not have been better than digging around the back of the sofa to fund a cure?
That was certainly the mantra adopted by Portugal when faced with economic uncertainty in the wake of the European debt crisis. Rather than piling misery on the country and burdening the most vulnerable in society with the mistakes of the well-off they reduced austerity cuts and have prospered on the back of it.
As Prime Minister António Costa told the New York Times, “What happened in Portugal shows that too much austerity deepens a recession, and creates a vicious circle. We devised an alternative to austerity, focusing on higher growth, and more and better jobs.”
Unfortunately for Britain we cast aside Labour’s like-minded policies and instead adopted a crippling austerity agenda that has left us shelling out hundreds of millions of pounds for a problem our government created. And what’s more, our public purse is no better off for it. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently found spending is no lower as a share of national income than it was after 11 years of a Labour government, but the country as a whole is significantly worse off.
So while we watch the MSM applaud the Tories for tackling homelessness let us remind ourselves of who created the problem in the first place. We are in debt because of the Conservatives, not indebted to them for trying to bail us out of their mistakes.