The CEO of a Christian charity tackling rough sleeping has described Suella Braverman’s latest comments on homelessness as “too simplistic”.
On Sunday, the home secretary posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) that she wants to restrict the use of tents by homeless people in the UK, arguing that many of them see it as a “lifestyle choice”.
She said: “We cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice."
"What I want to stop, and what the law-abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering and blighting our communities," Braverman added.
These plans, expected to be addressed in the King's speech on Tuesday, propose the implementation of additional penalties in England and Wales for homeless individuals whom authorities believe have declined assistance offers.
Speaking to Premier, Jon Kurt, CEO of Hope Into Action, said that while he agrees that tents can lead to broader behavioural issues such as dangerous drug use and antisocial behaviour, her comments fail to consider the broader context of homelessness.
He said: “The availability of cheap, affordable tents being given out has led to many people who are homeless using them. And they become centres of real challenge in terms of behaviour. It is tough for a business that has people on their doorsteps.
“But the thing is that making quite cruel, callous comments just doesn't help. In fact, it polarises everything further. Sometimes, there does need to be some tough talk but what needs to go alongside is an offer to get them out of those tents into somewhere safe. And that's what seems to be lacking from what's being said. Just describing homelessness as a lifestyle choice is far too simplistic.”
According to the Financial Times, the plans would insert two clauses in the new criminal justice bill, and would target tents that cause a nuisance - such as by obstructing shop doorways.