02/12/2018 18:28 GMT

Andrew Marr Makes Plea To Help The Homeless On Flagship Politics Show

'If we don’t notice rough sleepers then there’s something deeply wrong with us’.

Andrew Marr has made an impassioned plea not to ignore the growing homelessness crisis in the UK during Christmas as he cited a damning report about poverty in the country.

The TV presenter opened his eponymous Sunday morning politics show with a short monologue about sleeping rough on the streets - but insisted he was not getting “party political”.

He referenced a recent damning UN report on poverty in Britain which condemned the UK government’s spending cuts.

During The Andrew Marr Show, the former BBC political editor said: “The countdown has started. No! Not to that.

“Today is the first day of advent. It ought to be a time when we are reflecting on those worse off than ourselves, and after a withering, controversial UN report on poverty in Britain, it’s hard to avoid the subject.

“I’m not getting party political, but if we don’t notice the rough sleepers all around us at this time of year, as the sleet comes down and the Christmas lights go up, then there is something wrong with all of us.”

Homelessness charity Shelter last month found that the number of homeless people in Britain has risen to 320,000, half of them in London.

The total increased by 13,000 in the past year and means one in 200 people are sleeping on the streets or in temporary accommodation.

Last month, a UN investigation into poverty in Britain found that Government cuts inflicted “unnecessary misery in one of the richest countries in the world”.

Professor Philip Alston, a United Nations special rapporteur on poverty and human rights, spent 12 days investigating the impact of austerity measures, Universal Credit and Brexit.

At a conference, he said: “In the fifth richest country in the world, this is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one.”

United Nations
Prof Philip Alston visiting North Belfast

Alston lambasted government cuts, saying few savings had really been made, instead exacerbated serious social problems in communities, families and emergency rooms.

“During my visit I have spoken with people who depend on foodbanks and charities for their next meal, who are sleeping on friends’ couches because they are homeless and don’t have a safe place for their children to sleep. Who have sold sex for money or shelter, [and] children who are growing up in poverty unsure of their future,” he said. 

“I’ve also met young people who feel gangs are the only way out of destitution, and people with disabilities who are being told they need to go back to work or lose benefits, against their doctor’s orders.”