Councils failing homeless people 'too often' - MPs
Homeless people are too often treated badly by local councils which offer “ineffectual and meaningless advice,” a committee of MPs has said.
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee said it was “not acceptable” that the support offered to vulnerable people “varies significantly across the country”.
In a new report it urged ministers to revamp the plan of action as homelessness reaches worrying levels.
“The scale of homelessness is now such that a renewed Government strategy is a must,” committee chair Clive Betts declared.
“It needs to not only help those who are homeless but also prevent those vulnerable families and individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless from joining them.”
The Committee noted the pressures on local authorities, but lamented that many homeless people are given little more than a list of local letting agents by councils.
“Vulnerable people are too often badly treated, being made to feel like they are at fault, and offered ineffectual and meaningless advice," Mr Betts said.
“We want the Government to monitor local authorities and help them achieve best practice.”
According to the report, rough sleeping increased 30% by autumn last year compared with a year before, with the impact of welfare reforms a contributing factor.
Total figures from councils in England suggested 3,569 people were on the streets on a single night in 2015, up from 2,744 in 2014.
Meanwhile some 14,780 households were accepted as being statutorily homeless and in need of housing between the start of January and the end of March 2016 - up 9% on the previous year.
However the committee said the Government must improve the recording of homelessness “as a matter of urgency”.
The report calls for more secure tenancy agreements from landlords, more social housing provision and a review housing benefit so it more closely reflects market rents.
The committee is sponsoring a Private Member’s Bill presented by Tory MP Bob Blackman, which will seek to improve the support and advice offered to homeless people.