A Labour London Assembly Member has described Croydon’s growing homelessness problem as “chilling and profoundly concerning”.
Rough sleeping has increased by 17 per cent in Croydon in the past year, according to figures released in the latest series of Greater London Authority CHAIN reports.
The new data has revealed that 274 rough sleepers were recorded in Croydon by outreach workers between April 2018 and March 2019, compared to 234 over the same period in the previous year.
Last year, homelessness charity Shelter reported that the number of rough sleepers in Croydon had doubled since 2014. These latest figures suggest no end to that trend.
The council spent £3million in 2017 just paying rents for private tenants who had gone into arrears because of changes to the benefits system, to avoid them being rendered homeless and therefore becoming the council’s responsibility.
When he was housing minister, Gavin Barwell, the former Conservative MP for Croydon Central, tried to claim that his Government was reducing homelessness. That was a lie.
Shelter says that more than 1million households are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020. Rising numbers of families on low incomes are struggling to pay even the lowest available private sector rents in many areas, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness.
Meanwhile, Croydon’s Labour-run council continues with its policy of building no council homes for social rent, while borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds to fund its in-house house-builder, which is developing homes the majority of which are sold on the private market.
According to the full Greater London report today, the overall number of rough sleepers logged on the capital’s streets rose by 18 per cent to 8,855.
The most recent figures published by the Office of National Statistics estimate that 136 homeless people died in London in 2017.
In the wake of last week’s release of rough sleeping statistics in London, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, wrote to the Prime Minister urging the government to reverse its damaging welfare reforms and significantly improve the support framework available to those with complex immigration cases, who are particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless.
From City Hall, the Mayor has implemented several measures to combat homelessness, including doubling the size of his rough sleeping budget and outreach team.
“It is chilling and profoundly concerning to see rough sleeping on the rise in the community,” said Labour AM Tom Copley, the deputy chair of the housing committee at City Hall.
“The Government’s callous welfare reforms and failure to provide the necessary support to those with complex immigration cases are pushing more of the most vulnerable Londoners onto the streets and into the most desperate situations.
“With the right and robust political will, we can reverse this shameful situation. The Mayor has taken stringent action to reach out to homeless Londoners and lift them out of destitution, but Government intervention and funding has been lacking.
“It’s high time that the Government listened to our calls and invested properly in homelessness services and the delivery of the genuinely affordable housing that the capital needs. They must finally put an end to austerity which has plunged so many Londoners into poverty and exacerbated the levels of inequality fragmenting our society.”
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