The new Tory Housing Minister once claimed that homeless people in the UK are “too comfortable” sleeping on the streets and suggested that “hosing them out of doorways” was the right policy approach, it has been reported.
Kit Malthouse, a former work and pensions minister, was appointed as Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by Theresa May, after Dominic Rabb was announced as the new Brexit Secretary in the wake of a rebellion over the Prime Minister’s approach to leaving the EU.
But anyone hoping for a softer and more humane approach to Britain’s homelessness crisis are likely to be disappointing, because Mr Malthouse has a shameless history of hatred and animosity towards the homeless.
As Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, Mr Malthouse was accused of being “ruthless” towards homeless people and rough sleepers, including supporting the idea of “hosing them out of doorways”, according to Mirror Online.
In April 2008 he 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.
“I know that sounds an awful thing to say but let me finish the argument, OK?
“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.”
He has also been reported as saying: “The idea that everyone begging is down on their luck is a fantasy”, and claimed in the run up to the last General Election that people who are forced to visit foodbanks do so because they cannot properly manage their finances.
After 27 homeless people were arrested by police 2004, Mr Malthouse argued that his “zero tolerance” approach to homelessness should be adopted by other local authorities.
Alexandra Morris, Managing Director of online letting agent MakeUrMove, said: “It is hugely disappointing that the housing brief is once again the poor relation. We’re staring down the barrel of a very real housing crisis.
“The Government needs to make housing a priority, and this starts with appointing an expert on housing with a firm commitment to the role.”
This article was last updated at 07:55 (GMT) on 11 July 2018.