Minister denies council cuts and homelessness link

Heather Wheeler, the government’s new Homelessness Minister, has told the Guardian that council cuts are not to blame for the increase in rough sleepers across the UK.

Having pledged to resign should she fail to meet the Conservative manifesto commitment of halving rough sleeping by 2022, Wheeler said that she remained ‘totally confident’ or eradicating rough sleeping, but conceded that she does not know why rough sleeping has increased, dismissing council cuts and welfare reforms and contributory factors.

Official figures show that 4,751 people slept outside overnight in 2017, meaning rough sleeping has increased in England for seven consecutive years.

Wheeler has visited Turning Point Scotland’s Housing First project, which is part of an internationally successful model that places the most entrenched rough sleepers in permanent housing before they deal with addiction, mental illness or other challenges.