Housing minister wanted to hose homeless out of doorways

Kittm

Housing minister's view appears at odds with current role 

11th July 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Teresa May’s new housing minister once claimed homeless people were too comfortable on city streets and instead recommended “hosing them out of doorways.”

Kit Malthouse, a former work and pensions’ secretary, was appointed housing minister after Dominic Rabb resigned this week over his Brexit stance.

As deputy leader of Westminster Council, in 2008 Malthouse boasted: “We certainly instituted a policy of making life – it sounds counterintuitive and cruel – more uncomfortable; that is absolutely right.”

He added: “One of the targets I was set was to remove more than halve the number in Westminster.

“Working with a number of charities and groups across Westminster we analysed the problem, and one of the issues was that in many ways – it sounds counterintuitive – life was too comfortable on the street.

“There were, at the time, plenty, well-funded – we managed to get quite a lot of funding – night shelters and night centres; we managed to extract a cheque for £130,000 for St. Martin’s so it could stay open all night.

“The difficulty was getting rough sleepers into those centres so that they could be interacted with, their needs could be met.”

One tactic saw police officers ask rough sleepers to shift their beds so street cleaners could hose the area. 

Westminster Council at the time said it was aimed at sprucing up the area, but Malthouse later admitted the motive was to make rough sleepers’ lives difficult, and he thought it was “absolutely right”.  

Crisis condemned the operation at the time as “a waste of public money and grossly demeaning to homeless people”, noting: “the vast majority of people who beg are homeless and all are vulnerable.” 

Malthouse has in the past argued that his “zero tolerance” approach to homelessness should be adopted by other local authorities.