Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage is absolutely right when she says on page four it is ‘entirely unacceptable’ that in modern Britain people are faced with the fear of sleeping rough.
Yet that is the daily reality for growing numbers of people across the Portsmouth area as homelessness reaches what those who try to help people with no roof over their heads describe as a problem that is ‘completely out control’.
The picture is certainly a stark one. In Portsmouth, the number of people sleeping rough has trebled, while in Havant the figure has doubled. In Fareham and Gosport anecdotal reports suggest the problem has also worsened.
Today we report how one man lives in a tent on a roundabout off the A27 and relies on people leaving bags of food next to his tent to survive. Because he is under 35 and has no children, Phil Hancock is not considered a top priority to be housed.
It’s no way to live. But he is far from the only one in such circumstances. Tim Dawes of Havant Community Homelessness Trust says: ‘We are increasingly seeing people having to stay for long periods in tents.’
If we are a civilised society, then the time has surely come when more must be done to get people off the streets and find them proper accommodation.
But the problem is that a lack of affordable housing and cuts to services and benefits have left charities and the voluntary sector trying to plug a gap in provision.
The government cannot simply stand by as more people are forced to sleep on the streets. So we urge Chancellor George Osborne to act when he receives Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond’s letter asking for extra funding to help rough sleepers in the city.
It’s just too big an issue to ignore.