'˜Catastrophic' welfare cuts have hit Portsmouth's most needy says homeless charity

A homeless person sleeping rough in a doorwayA homeless person sleeping rough in a doorway
A homeless person sleeping rough in a doorway
'˜CATASTROPHIC' welfare cuts have forced more people onto the city's streets, the head of a homeless charity has said.

Trevor Pickup, chief executive of the Society of St James, has said more and more people have been hit by government-led cuts to local council services.

The charity, which runs rehab services for the homeless in Portsmouth and supports thousands of people county-wide, is now demanding more is done to tackle the crisis.

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It comes as a public spending watchdog said the number of homeless people had soared since 2011 – with the body claiming welfare reforms were to blame.

Mr Pickup said: ‘The cuts have been catastrophic.

‘Ten years ago things were going reasonably well. Now we’ve seen so many cuts to services that it does feel like it’s all unravelling at he minute.’

His comments come after a report by the National Audit Office (NAO). The public spending watchdog said there had been a ‘significant rise’ in homelessness.

It accused the government of not doing enough and having a ‘light touch’ when it came to combating the problem.

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Since 2011 there has been a 60 per cent rise in households living in temporary accommodation, the NAO said. Its latest found rents in England have risen at the same time as households have seen a cut to some benefits.

The NAO’s auditor general Sir Amyas Morse said: ‘It is difficult to understand why the department persisted with its light touch approach in the face of such a visibly growing problem.’

Labour MP Meg Hillier, chairman of the public accounts committee, said the news was a ‘national scandal’.

The government said it will be investing £550m by 2020 to address the problem.

As previously reported, the Portsmouth area has seen a rise in the number of homeless people.