MP reveals plight of people affected by 'appalling' homelessness increase

A teenage woman "sleeping with different men every night" to avoid being on the streets is among those affected by the UK's homelessness problem, MPs have heard.

Labour's Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) added he has also met a 65-year-old woman who works as a cleaner but sleeps on night buses and carries her belongings with her.

He shared the cases of those who visit him at his advice surgeries before accusing the Government of having "abdicated its responsibility" to help.

Speaking during a departmental spending debate, Mr Coyle said homelessness has risen every year since 2010, labelling it "avoidable and appalling".

Labour MP Neil Coyle addresses the Commons during a debate on homelessness
Labour MP Neil Coyle addresses the Commons during a debate on homelessness

He told MPs: "It is now estimated 8,000 people slept rough in London alone last year.

"Shelter estimate over 300,000 people were in temporary accommodation last year including, as we've heard, 120,000 children waking up on Christmas Day often in unsuitable places, perhaps sharing a bathroom or kitchen with strangers."

Mr Coyle blamed Government policies for contributing to the increase, including council funding cuts and drug and alcohol cessation services being "decimated".

He went on: "Costs are rising, Southwark Council spent £3 million tackling homelessness last year, both upfront help to prevent people from losing their homes and tackling rough sleeping.

"But still in my surgery sessions I see the problem every week.

"I've seen a 65-year-old cleaner sleeping on night buses, in work but carrying as many of her belongings as she could carry.

"I've seen a 19-year-old woman sleeping with different men every night rather than go back on the streets.

"And a working family with three children under 10 falsely denied the right to continue working in this country by the Home Office and put on the streets by a private landlord until a local church stepped in.

"As in so many other areas where the Government has abdicated its responsibility, we see people and charities stepping in."

Mr Coyle later criticised the "broken Britain" 2010 election slogan, adding: "Little did we know that (David) Cameron's soundbite was a destination and not a description.

"Because nothing highlights how badly broken our country is than people freezing to death on our streets in the face of, and as a direct consequence of, a cold-hearted Government ignoring what worked, denying culpability and refusing to fund and implement sufficient viable solutions today."