‘Total rubbish’: Sajid Javid rebuked for falsely claiming homelessness is falling under Conservatives

‘Total rubbish’: Sajid Javid rebuked for falsely claiming homelessness is falling under Conservatives

Sajid Javid has been accused of spouting “total rubbish” after claiming homelessness numbers were falling as he sought to shift the blame onto the last Labour government.

In a series of media interviews, the chancellor said homelessness levels had soared in 2008 under Labour and claimed that the numbers of homeless people had fallen by nearly half since the Tories entered government in 2010.

Labour immediately rubbished his figures, while the charity Shelter said any assertion that homelessness was going down was “not true”.

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Figures from the charity show homelessness soared to a peak of 101,300 in 2004 before falling to 48,010 in 2010, increasing steadily under the Conservatives over the past nine years to more than 84,700.

The row comes after Mr Javid also came under fire for incorrectly suggesting the UK “already” has the outline of a trade agreement with the EU, when those talks have not started.

Mr Javid made the claims in a broadcast round on Thursday, when he sought to criticise Labour’s new proposals to combat rough sleeping.

He told Sky News: “Homelessness reached its peak in 2008 under the last Labour government. Since then it’s down by almost a half. 

“There is a still long way to go, we still have got work to do but it’s Labour that was responsible for the massive rise in homelessness.

“It was the last Labour government that was responsible for that.”

The former housing secretary said his party had implemented “many measures” to end homelessness, such as regional housing pilots aimed at tackling rough sleeping.

But John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, tore into his Conservative counterpart, saying: “What total rubbish. There was an unprecedented fall in homelessness under Labour, but since 2010 rough sleeping has doubled and homeless deaths have risen too, as a direct result of decisions the Tories have taken.”

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Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Any assertion that homelessness is going down is not true. A toxic combination of spiralling rents, a freeze on housing benefit and nowhere near enough social homes built by successive governments has led to a situation where more and more families find themselves homeless.

“Shelter’s own research this week revealed a staggering 135,000 children are homeless this Christmas which is a national scandal. The only solution to tackling homelessness and ending the housing emergency is homes people can afford. Whoever forms the next government must urgently get on with the job of building the social homes this country clearly needs.” 

FullFact, the independent factchecking charity, posted on Twitter: “Today Sajid Javid claimed homelessness is down by half since 2008. This seems wrong.  

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rightCreated with Sketch.

“Homelessness rose between the end of the last Labour government and 2017 by the main measure, and is about the same level as in 2008.”

It comes as Labour set out its plans to end rough sleeping in England within five years, saying it would become a “moral mission” for the party if it wins next week’s election.

Over five years, Labour proposes a £600m “modern hostels fund” with 5,000 extra bed spaces and a £200m fund to upgrade existing hostels.

The party would use £100m for emergency winter shelter and £1bn earmarked from council budgets to pay for staffing, support and funding to relink local housing allowance with local rents.​

Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 while the number of people dying while homeless increased to 726 in England and Wales last year, according to official figures.

All three main parties have pledged to end rough sleeping by the end of the next parliament, but their means differ.

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