Letter: Clarke's cuts a blow to homeless

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: While I broadly agree with Andreas Whittam-Smith's comments on homelessness ("At last, homeless people find a place on the agenda", 13 January), he omits to mention one critical factor in shaping current housing provision: in this 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

(Christchurch, Lib Dem) Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Housing

House of Commons

London SW1

Comments