New Tory housing minister – a shameless history of hatred and animosity towards the homeless
The headline from Welfare Weekly last week about the new Tory housing minister shows the trajectory of right-wing policy in modern day Britain. The report itself went on to describe how the new Tory Housing Minister once claimed that homeless people in the UK are “too comfortable” sleeping on the streets and suggested that “hosing them out of doorways” was the right policy approach.
One should not forget that there’s a legal duty for the state to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Councils are responsible for this in England, Wales and Scotland, while Northern Ireland has a single organisation responsible for housing.
We should also remember some hard facts here. Homelessness has risen by very nearly 50 per cent since 2010 and whilst the government promised £73 million to local authorities to meet the new requirements the situation has only got worse. A new code of guidance for local authorities has been published as well – and yet homelessness numbers continue to rise. Those in temporary accommodation has also increased every year since 2011 with 1 in 4 in bed & breakfast, the worst affected are families with children. Rough sleeping has doubled since 2010 and through all of this, waiting lists for council accommodation have shot up.
In the meantime, Kit Malthouse, a former work and pensions minister, was appointed as Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by Theresa May, after Dominic Rabb was announced as the new Brexit Secretary in the wake of a rebellion over the Prime Minister’s approach to leaving the EU.
But anyone hoping for a softer and more humane approach to Britain’s homelessness crisis is likely to be disappointed because Mr Malthouse has a shameless history of hatred and animosity towards the homeless.
As Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, Mr Malthouse was accused of being “ruthless” towards homeless people and rough sleepers, including supporting the idea of “hosing them out of doorways.”
As Welfare Weekly reports – In April 2008 Malthouse boasted: “We certainly instituted a policy of making life – it sounds counterintuitive and cruel – more uncomfortable; that is absolutely right. One of the targets I was set, was to remove more than half the number in Westminster. Working with a number of charities and groups across Westminster we analysed the problem, and one of the issues was that in many ways – life was too comfortable on the street.”
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He has also been reported as saying: “The idea that everyone begging is down on their luck is a fantasy”, and claimed in the run-up to the last General Election that people who are forced to visit foodbanks do so because they cannot properly manage their finances.
After 27 homeless people were arrested by police 2004, Mr Malthouse argued that his “zero tolerance” approach to homelessness should be adopted by other local authorities.
And so to repeat – this man now heads up the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.