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Homelessness 'a national shame'

TV presenter Richard Madeley has said levels of homelessness in Britain were a "national shame" and benefit cuts would make the problem worse.

He spoke after sleeping out on Thursday night in London in an event organised by the charity Centrepoint to raise awareness of the issue and funds to help alleviate it.

He told ITV1's Daybreak programme: "It's disgusting that there are 80,000 young people sleeping out rough."

Asked what he would take away from the experience, he said: "A sense of shame that we live in a society that allows this to happen.

"I'm not going to go on a political rant about benefit cuts and the fact that kids under 25 aren't going to be getting housing benefit quite soon, but that's going to have a major impact, that really is. I know cuts have to be made, but it is going to make the problem worse."

He said Centrepoint, for which he is an ambassador, was founded in 1969, and added: "Here we are in 2012 still talking about half a football stadium of kids sleeping out on the pavements, it's a national shame."

Madeley was accompanied by his daughter Chloe Madeley, also a TV presenter, and disc jockey Sara Cox, who is another ambassador for the charity, plus cast members from Downton Abbey.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "It's completely misleading to suggest there are thousands of young people sleeping rough. Richard Madeley has misunderstood the facts.

"This country has one of the strongest homelessness safety nets in the world and the bigger picture is that homelessness is actually lower than for 28 of the last 30 years.

"But there is always more that can be done. That's why we have recently set out a cross-Government approach to ensuring that anyone at risk of homelessness gets help at the earliest possible stage to prevent them from losing their home. The Government is also investing £400 million in homelessness prevention over four years and last year provided an additional £70 million."


From Belfast Telegraph