>Housing Minister reveals true extent of homelessness

>The coalition’s housing Minister, Conservative MP Grant Schapps, has revealed that the previous Labour government grossly undercounted the level of homelessness. For example, councils were not allowed to count people that were sitting up in sleeping bags as homeless. Furthermore, they did not include councils reporting less than 10 vagrants in their calculations. This led to the official records saying that there were only 440 rough sleepers across the whole of England and, according to the minister, the “ridiculous situation where the third largest city in England, Manchester, had officially no rough sleepers “

Unlike the government who count the number of people on the street on one night, the Combined Homeless and Information Network (Chain) tallies the homeless throughout the year. They calculated that 3,673 people were sleeping rough in London alone last year. While Schapps doesn’t advocate using a Chain type system, describing it as too bureaucratic, he wishes to emulate Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s target of nobody spending a second night sleeping rough by 2012. 

Prime Minister David Cameron has recently announced that he is looking into ending tenure for life in council houses, but this is just wallpaper over the cracks. There simply seems to be not enough housing that people can feasibly afford, and not enough help for people when they fall through the net. The coalition government should be judged on tackling this social deficit, as much as dealing with the financial one. Doing what the previous government did, and just pretending the poorest in our society are not there, is simply not good enough. 


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