William Eichler 27 November 2017

MPs to launch inquiry into the Government’s approach to homelessness

MPs to launch inquiry into the Government’s approach to homelessness

Homelessness costs taxpayers more than £1bn per year, MPs say as select committee launches an inquiry into the Government’s approach to tackling homelessness.

A recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) found that as of March this year there were 77,240 households, including 120,540 children, in temporary accommodation.

This costs the taxpayer £845m out of a total homelessness bill of £1bn.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 gave more responsibility for homelessness to local authorities and required them to have a strategy.

However, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) does not monitor these strategies.

The PAC will take evidence from councils and the local government ombudsman about authorities’ progress with combatting homelessness.

The committee will also hear from DCLG about their work in reducing the number homeless households, as well as asking the Department for Work and Pensions about whether benefit reform is contributing to the problem.

‘We're glad the Public Accounts Committee is scrutinising how efficiently public money is spent on tackling homelessness,’ said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis.

‘We know from the National Audit Office that far too much has been spent on emergency homelessness services rather than preventing it in the first place, leaving thousands of people languishing in temporary accommodation and costing huge amounts of money.’

Mr Sparkes welcomed the Government’s Budget pledge to establish a Homelessness Reduction Taskforce and fund vital programmes designed to support homeless people.

‘Now, it's crucial that the taskforce is established urgently, and that it is lead directly by Number 10 to ensure Government departments work together across a coordinated plan,’ he continued.

‘This is key to ensuring some parts of Government aren’t driving homelessness up while others parts are left to pick up the pieces.’

Mr Sparkes added that investing properly in welfare will prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

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