It only took one sentence for the BBC’s Justin Webb to tear the government’s new rough sleeping plan to shreds

Justin Webb and James Brokenshire

On 13 August, the government announced a new funding boost in its plan to end rough sleeping in England by 2027. Yet the Today programme’s Justin Webb tore it to shreds in one brutal line.

Elephant in the room

The secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, James Brokenshire, described rough sleeping as:

unacceptable in our modern society.

To counter this, the government has announced a £100m fund to increase support services and housing options for people forced to live on the street.

Yet Webb questioned why the government is continuing with welfare cuts if it wants to tackle rising rough sleeping:

What about cuts to housing benefit then – that have particularly affected single people in private housing? And of course, planned next year, they are going to come in in social housing as well.

Brokenshire refused to say that the government would abandon these cuts:

Webb then proceeded to tear apart the government’s plan:

If you’re creating the conditions for people to be out on the street, having any number of outreach people going and talking to them on the street isn’t getting to the nub of the problem.


As the BBC reported, the National Audit Office states that rising homelessness is “likely to have been driven” by this government’s welfare reforms. In 2016, the government froze housing benefit for four years. Meanwhile, housing charity Shelter has expressed “grave concerns” over this policy, arguing it’s:

pushing hundreds of thousands of private renters perilously close to breaking point at a time when homelessness is rising.

It seems odd that top Conservatives such as Sajid Javid are tweeting the government is doing “everything we can” to end rough sleeping:

Thankfully, Labour MP David Lammy put this assertion right:

New money?

Webb’s interview revealed that the government’s proposal doesn’t actually constitute any new funding:

Brokenshire confirmed it will instead involve “re-prioritising” existing funds:

It’s no wonder grassroots group Streets Kitchen is far from confident this initiative will see the government meet its target of eradicating rough sleeping by 2027:

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is far more ambitious:

Window dressing

The revelations that the government will not reverse its punitive welfare cuts or, apparently, commit any new funds to rough sleeping are damning. It’s not doing everything it can to address England’s truly shaming homelessness crisis. Instead, it’s doing the bare minimum to keep up appearances in a bid to deflect from the fact that its own policies are driving homelessness.

Get Involved!

– Support housing campaigns like Focus E15London Renters UnionGreater Manchester Housing ActionACORNStreets KitchenBalfron Social ClubSave Our Homes LS26Ledbury Action Group, and Generation Rent.

Featured image via Conservatives/YouTube and TheUpdate/YouTube

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