Sajid Javid is under fire for “not true” claims that homelessness has fallen under the Tories... when it has actually gone up.
During an interview with Sky News presenter Kay Burley, the chancellor was asked to defend the government’s record and he claimed that homelessness had “peaked in 2008” and since “fallen by half”.
He went on to say that “Labour that was responsible for the massive rise of homelessness”.
Housing charity Shelter has intervened to debunk a number of the claims, pointing out that the number of homeless households has jumped 9% since 2008, not fallen.
Chief executive Polly Neate also highlighted figures showing homelessness peaked in 2004, not 2008, and then continuously fell for the rest of Labour’s time in power.
“Homelessness reached its peak in 2008, under the last Labour government, since then it’s down by almost a half,” Javid claimed.
“There’s still a long way to go. We’ve still got work to do, but it’s Labour that was responsible for the massive rise of homelessness. It was the last Labour government that was responsible for that.”
Homelessness did in fact peak in 2004, when Tony Blair was prime minister, at which point there were 101,300 households living in temporary accommodation. Rough sleepers are counted separately but the figures are much lower.
Between 2004 and 2011, which was the year after Labour lost power to the Tory-led coalition, that declined to 48,010.
It is a fact that the number of families living in temporary accommodation has risen steadily since then, standing today at 84,740 households. The figure represents a 77% increase on 2010, the year David Cameron took power with the Conservative-led coalition.
Focusing specifically on 2008, which was the year in which Javid wrongly claimed homelessness had peaked, the number of households living in temporary accommodation was 77,510. Today, it is 84,740, which represents a 9% rise.
Rough sleeping, which is counted separately, has also increased (by 165%) since 2010, despite a slight reduction in the last year due to specific initiatives in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
The causes of homelessness are complex, with the austerity squeeze and welfare reforms alongside a drastically short supply of social homes likely among the main factors.
Javid has made the claims after Shelter revealed that 135,000 children will be homeless this Christmas.
Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity, told HuffPost UK: “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.”
The Conservatives later told Channel 4′s Fact Check team that the chancellor “misrembered” the data, but did not withdraw the claim about Labour.