UK govt faces homelessness row as poverty grows


The UK government is facing a backlash after a senior minister said some people were homeless out of choice, and as one charity said its distribution of emergency food aid has hit record levels.

A cost-of-living crisis in the G7 nation and the world’s sixth-biggest economy, fuelled by high inflation, has left many Britons struggling to make ends meet, as bills for food, energy, rent and mortgages increase.

But Home Secretary Suella Braverman sparked outrage and claims of being tone deaf to the issue, after saying she wanted to stop homeless people pitching tents on public streets.

“We cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has since appeared to distance himself from his hardline interior minister, while other colleagues condemned her language.

According to government figures published in October, 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation in England in the year to March 2023 — up 10 percent on the same time in 2022 and the highest since records began in 1998.

A report on homelessness by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh said 290,000 eligible households nationwide sought help from local authorities for homelessness between 2021 and 2022.

Figures released in August by the London Assembly, meanwhile, recorded 3,272 people sleeping rough in the British capital between April and June 2023 — nearly half of them on the streets for the first time.__Daily Times