Following the Conservative Manifesto, Heather Wheeler, the minister for homelessness, is committed to solve the problem of rough sleeping by 2027.
Still, she has no clue as to why the number of rough sleepers arose significantly in the last few years.
In 2017, a report funded by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that in London only, rough sleeping more than doubled between 2010 and 2016.
In England the change resulted in a 134% rise from 2009 to 2016.
Why is the problem growing?
It is not easy to pin down a singular factor on why homelessness is a problem in our society. Most people out there still believe that homeless people are lazy and unwilling to find a job when they forget that homelessness is caused by more than one factor.
Individual problems – economic, social and political issues, as well as health, whether physical or mental – interact with interpersonal and structural factors.
The same report by Crisis and JRF shows that “Loss of a private tenancy accounted for 31% of those accepted as homeless in England.” The introduction of welfare policies is another main cause. With cuts on benefits, it became harder to solve homelessness.
Instead of addressing the faults of the government, Wheeler blamed immigrants, saying that people coming over represent a real problem, apparently stealing houses and jobs.
Meanwhile Scotland is successfully dealing with the problem in the way that rough sleepers are first given permanent housing and then helped to overcome any addiction or illness, as a stable home provides more stability and helps dealing with their problems.
Wheeler seems to be sceptic, thinking that England is more cautious and, unlike Scotland, is not easy to supply affordable housing here.
Wheeler seems to be clueless about the problems around homelessness, maybe unaware that she should be communicating with rough sleepers and understanding their point of view.
Is she the right person for the job when she can not name the causes, while most of the country understands that benefit cuts, amongst other policies, deeply affect the conditions and quality of life of the working class and more unfortunate people?
Why are we still perpetrating the myth of rough sleepers being lazy? There are many questions to be dealt with, but there only so much charities and individual people can do if the government does not understand the problems of its citizens.