“Homelessness reached its peak in 2008 under the last Labour government. Since then it’s down by almost a half”

Sajid Javid, Sky News

December 5, 2019

Claim

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid repeated the claim in an interview BBC 5 Live on the same day.

Facts

There are different ways of measuring homelessness, however, none match Javid’s claim that homelessness reached its peak in 2008 and since fell by almost a half. 

The UK statistics authority made clear in a statement that, according to government statistics, “statutory homelessness in England peaked in 2003 before falling to a low of around 42,000 households in 2009.” 

Unlike other dubious Tory figures put out over the general election campaign, in this case the party rowed back on Javid’s claims, telling Channel 4’s Fact Check that the chancellor had “misremembered the years, he meant the peak in 2003 under Labour.”

The Conservatives added that the “down by almost a half” claim was based on official figures from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government: “Applying the statutory definition of homelessness, the number of homeless people in England has fallen 57 percent from 135,590 in 2003 to 57,890 in 2017.”

This may be true, but it was still misleading as it neglects to make clear that Labour oversaw the majority of the fall in homelessness from 135,590 in 2003 to 43,490 by the time they left office in 2010. 

In fact, the UK Statistics Authority point out that in the period between 2009 and 2017, which mostly fell under a Conservative government, “statutory homelessness then increased from this low point to around 58,000 households.”

Verdict

Sajid Javid’s original claims on homelessness were totally untrue. The Conservative Party’s later use of government statistics was also misleading.

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