MPs speak out after death of home­less man near Com­mons

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Alexan­dra Top­ping

MPs have ex­pressed their sad­ness after a man be­lieved to have been a rough sleeper died a stone’s throw from the en­trance to par­lia­ment.

Po­lice were called to an un­der­pass at West­min­ster tube sta­tion just after 7.15am yes­ter­day fol­low­ing re­ports of some­one “un­re­spon­sive” in an area where home­less peo­ple gather, just out­side a Com­mons side en­trance. The am­bu­lance ser­vice at­tended, but the man was pro­nounced dead at 7.33am.

MPs high­lighted the death on Twit­ter, and crit­i­cised poli­cies they said had con­trib­uted to a sharp in­crease in rough sleep­ers in the UK.

Home­less­ness has in­creased for six years, with a record 4,751 peo­ple recorded as sleep­ing rough last au­tumn, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures. The num­ber has dou­bled since 2010, with a 73% rise in the past three years.

The num­ber of chil­dren stuck in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion has risen by 70% to more than 120,000.

The shadow ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, An­gela Rayner, tweeted: “A home­less man seen fre­quently at the tube en­trance to Portcullis House has been found dead. What­ever the cir­cum­stances, it’s a ter­ri­ble tragedy that some­body ends their days like this, the govt must do more to com­bat home­less­ness.”

The Labour MP Neil Coyle said: “I’ve been told that the man who died on par­lia­ment’s doorstep this morn­ing was home­less. What an ap­palling in­dict­ment of gov­ern­ment fail­ure.”

Ear­lier this month, Wind­sor coun­cil was ac­cused of pun­ish­ing peo­ple for be­ing home­less after it an­nounced that it would fine rough sleep­ers £100 as part of a new “sup­port strat­egy”.

Scot­land Yard said the death of the un­named man is be­ing treated as un­ex­plained, but not sus­pi­cious. A Com­mons spokesman said: “We are sad­dened to hear of the death of an in­di­vid­ual this morn­ing at West­min­ster tube sta­tion and of­fer our con­do­lences to friends and fam­ily.”

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