The home secretary, Suella Braverman, is receiving serious backlash after comments made about Britain’s homeless crisis.
Posting on X, formally Twitter, Braverman shared that she plans to crack down on the pitching of tents in urban areas, which she largely blamed on individuals “from abroad”. Her sentiment. is that for “many” rough sleepers it’s a “lifestyle choice:”.
The home secretary wrote, “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.”
Braverman has been met with an immediate negative reaction for these comments, even triggering campaigners to position themselves outside the Home Office, accusing Braverman of “stirring up hatred and fear”.
At least 271,00 people have been recorded as homeless in England, almost half of which are children.
A homelessness charity Shelter said that Braverman’s comments were evidence of failed government policy:
“No one should be punished for being homeless. Criminalising people for sleeping in tents and making it an offence for charities to help them, is unacceptable.”
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner stated that the Tories were “blaming homeless people rather than themselves”, despite being in power for 13 years.
The Liberal Democrats have said that Braverman’s attempt to criminalise charities for “trying to keep people warm and dry” was “grim”.
The comments have even been described as racist: Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up To Racism, said, “We’re here because there’s a racist running the Home Office. [Braverman] is a bigot.”
Furthermore, members from Braverman’s own party are condemning the choice of language used.
Bob Blackman MP, head of the all-party parliamentary group for ending homelessness, said Braverman was wrong to discuss a complex and serious issue in such terms and has advised her to use “wiser” language.
“Homelessness for people from the UK is not a lifestyle choice, far from it. Every case is unique. People would have ended relationships or fallen out with parents – which is why young people end on the streets. They may have made the wrong choices in life or had an accident and be unable to work. I obviously would never use [Braverman’s] words. She should use wiser words.”