Theresa May’s claim to lead a government that protects the most vulnerable is undermined by figures showing that families and disabled people have been disproportionately hit by increasing homelessness, Labour has said.
John Healey, the shadow housing minister, said on Friday that while homelessness generally had gone up 41% since 2010, people who might expect extra care from the government were doing even worse.
Healey based his claim on figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government showing that from 2010 to 2016 the overall number of households accepted as being homeless by local authorities in England went up from 42,390 to almost 60,000.
But the increase was disproportionately high for homeless households classed as vulnerable through mental illness, where homelessness went up 53%, and for those classed as vulnerable through physical disability, where it rose 49%.
And there was a particularly sharp increase in the number of homeless households with vulnerable children, up from 25,350 in 2010 to 41,010 – a rise of 62%.
Healey said the figures undermined the claim in the Conservative party 2015 manifesto that “we measure our success not just in how we show our strength abroad but in how we care for the weakest and most vulnerable at home”.
He added: “It’s a scandal that after six years of failure on housing, falling homelessness under Labour has turned into rising homelessness under the Tories.
“Since 2010, homelessness has risen dramatically on all fronts with almost 60,000 households becoming homeless last year. These figures show that some vulnerable groups have been particularly hard hit.
“Ministers urgently need to get a grip, back Labour’s plans to end rough sleeping and build thousands more affordable homes.”
Labour wants to revive the rough sleepers initiative, which it says was successful at tackling rough sleeping in the 1990s.
A spokesman for the communities department said the government was committed to supporting the most vulnerable.
“That’s why we’re investing over £550m to tackle and reduce homelessness, on top of supporting Bob Blackman’s homelessness reduction bill to prevent more people from becoming homeless in the first place,” he said.
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