Government cash to help the homeless and rough sleepers has been shelved during the worst weather conditions on recent record. The decision comes at a time when a ministerial task force created to tackle the problems has revealed it has never met.
It will meet for the first time next week, three months after it was set up. A £28 million fund to provide accommodation for the homeless, established at the same time, has yet to distribute any money. Three pilot areas have been earned but no grants have been made during a crisis period in which street temperatures fell to minus degrees throughout cities and towns.
The government inaction also coincided with the death of a rough sleeper in the Commons tube entrance, yards from MPs’ offices and the debating chamber.
The cold spell, dubbed the “Beast from the East” because of its ferocity and Siberian roots, has heightened public concern as pressure on agencies and homeless charities has mounted.
Heather Wheeler, the minister with prime responsibility, told MPs the Government would have a new strategy in place by July this year.