Government cuts rough sleeping fund by up to £80 million by scaling back tax on foreign home buyers


‘The government has been accused of slashing homelessness funding by up to £80m after scaling back proposed taxes on foreign property investors. 

Theresa May last year announced plans to charge overseas buyers of UK homes up to 3 per cent more stamp duty in a bid to stop them driving up British property prices. 

The prime minister said in September the surcharge could raise up to £120m, to be spent on tackling rough sleeping. 

But a consultation launched by the Treasury proposes only a 1 per cent tax hike, capping the potential fund at £40m. 

Labour accused the government of “backtracking” on vital funding to help people of the streets despite soaring homelessness. 

The number of people sleeping rough in the UK has increased 165 per cent since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, according to official figures. A snapshot of a single night in autumn last year found 4,777 were sleeping on the streets, and charities believe that figure to be a significant underestimate. 

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, and Annaliese Dodds, the shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, this week wrote to chancellor, Philip Hammond, to express “dismay” over the decision to cap funds raised by the stamp duty hike. 

In the letter, seen by The Independent, they said: “The backtracking on this proposed surcharge means much less funding for tackling rough sleeping compared to the maximum surcharge at the time of the prime minister’s speech. 

“This money is badly needed given rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010.” 

Mr Healey told The Independent: “The prime minister now appears to be scaling back the extra cash she promised last year. 

“It’s vital that Conservative ministers now back Labour’s plans to end rough sleeping, starting with a guarantee of emergency accommodation for every rough sleeper when the weather gets cold and 8,000 homes to keep people off the streets for good.”’ 

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