The National Audit Office criticised government ‘light touch’ for costs taxpayers more than £1bn a year.

The Guardian has reported:

“The number of people sleeping rough increased by 134% between 2010 and 2016, the NAO said. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer

A sharp rise in homelessness over the past five years, fuelled by increasing private sector rents and cuts in housing benefit, is costing the public purse more than £1bn a year, according to a report by the government’s spending watchdog.

Homelessness has increased every year since 2010, with rises in rough sleeping and households living in temporary accommodation, but ministers have been slow to understand the problem or take a strategic approach to tackling it, the National Audit Office (NAO) says.
It criticises ministers for taking what it calls a “light touch” approach to dealing with homelessness. “It is difficult to understand why the Department [for Communities and Local Government] persisted with this approach in the face of such a visibly growing problem,” it said.

Ministers have no grip on the causes or costs of rising homelessness, and have shown no inclination to grasp how the problem has been fuelled in part by housing benefit cuts, the NAO says. It concludes that the government’s attempts to address homelessness since 2011 have failed to deliver value for money.

More than 4,000 people were sleeping rough in 2016, according to the report, an increase of 134% since 2010. There were 77,000 households – including 120,000 children – housed in temporary accommodation in March 2017, up from 49,000 in 2011 and costing £845m a year in housing benefit”