William Eichler 25 June 2019

Labour link funding cuts to homeless deaths

Local government funding cuts are hitting areas with the highest levels of homeless deaths, according to a new Labour analysis.

Nine of the 10 councils with the highest numbers of homeless deaths in the country saw cuts of over three times the national average cut of £254 between 2013-2017.

Birmingham, Labour’s analysis revealed, has had a cut in spending power per household of £939.80. It also had the highest number of homeless deaths between 2013-2017.

The secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, James Brokenshire, announced a £30m pot of funding last year to help councils tackle rough sleeping.

However, Labour argue that this was ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to the cuts that councils have faced.

Birmingham, for example, received £405,000 in homelessness support from Whitehall while also having its spending power cut by over £358m. That works out as 0.1p in every £1 cut.

‘These figures show that the areas with the highest homelessness deaths are facing the deepest cuts. This makes the prospect of reducing deaths ever more bleak,’ said John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for housing.

‘The Government’s £30m to reduce rough sleeping number has been pitiful so Britain’s homelessness crisis is set to continue.’

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government defended the Government’s record on homelessness, arguing that they are investing £1.2bn to fight the problem.

They also said the Government had ‘bold plans backed by £100m’ to end rough sleeping.

‘Councils have used this funding to create an estimated 2,600 more bed spaces and 750 additional specialist support staff this year,’ the spokesperson said.

‘We are committed to ensuring independent reviews into the deaths of rough sleepers are conducted, where appropriate – and where this does not happen we will hold local authorities to account.’

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