Letter: Clarke's cuts are no way to help homeless

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Sir: While I broadly agree with Andreas Whittam-Smith's comments on homelessness ("At last, homeless people find a place on the agenda", 13 Jan), he omits to mention one critical factor in shaping current housing provision: in last year's Budget, housing did find a place at the top of Kenneth Clarke's agenda - for cuts.

As a result, the National Housing Federation estimates that the Government will not even come close to building the modest 60,000 new social lettings planned for 1997 - there will be a shortfall of 26,000 affordable homes for rent.

This myopic move, so typical of a government which sees housing as a safe area in which to trim public spending, will have a doubly damaging effect. Not only will more vulnerable people be unable to secure a long- term tenancy, but these same people will create more of a drain on housing benefit - by close on pounds 11m a year, according to DSS estimates.

So, predictably, this supposed "saving" adds up to more deprivation for the homeless and a waste of precious benefit resources.

DIANA MADDOCK MP

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Housing

House of Commons

London SW1

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