Rishi Sunak branded 'out of touch' as video shows him asking homeless man if he 'works in business'

An ITV News Twitter clip capturing the prime minister serving breakfast to a homeless man at a shelter in London went viral as critics branded it an 'excruciating' exchange

Rishi Sunak has come under fire for what critics have called an “excruciating” exchange with a homeless man.

In footage from his visit to a homeless shelter in London on Friday, the Prime Minister can be heard asking a man he is serving food to: “Do you work in business?”

The man, called Dean, replies: “No, I’m homeless. I’m actually a homeless person.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted the ITV News clip and wrote: “Excruciating.”

The awkward exchange began when the multimillionaire Prime Minister was serving breakfast to the homeless man, who asked him: “Are you sorting the economy out?”

Dean then said he was interested in business, prompting Mr Sunak to ask him what kind of business.

When Dean replied finance, the Prime Minister said: “I used to work in finance, actually.”

Mr Sunak then asked: “Is that something you’d like to get into?”

“Yeah I wouldn’t mind. But, I don’t know, I’d like to get through Christmas first,” the homeless man said.

Mr Sunak asked: “What’s your plan, what are you doing this weekend?”

Dean replied that he was hoping the homeless charity St Mungo’s could help him get into temporary accommodation “so I’m not on the street”.

Mr Sunak had been visiting a homeless shelter in London run by the Passage on Friday, where he praised the “fantastic work” being done to support people at Christmas.

He told broadcasters: “Most of us this weekend, this Christmas, will be inside, will be warm, will be safe, will be with our families. But sadly that’s not true for everybody.

“And that’s why the Government’s investing a significant amount to reduce the number of people who are sleeping rough or are homeless.”

Another Labour MP, Bill Esterson, said the exchange demonstrated Mr Sunak was “out of touch”.

The government yesterday pledged to invest £654 million into preventing homelessness over the next two years.

Councils across England will receive a share of the Homelessness Prevention Grant of £322.8m for 2023-4 and £331.3m for 2024-5 to help vulnerable families and people at risk of sleeping rough.

The allocations for the next financial year will be available to councils from April.

The funds will be used to provide temporary accommodation, help individuals at risk of becoming homeless pay deposits for new homes, and mediate with landlords to avoid evictions.

It also includes £24 million to help provide temporary accommodation for victims of domestic abuse, and their children.

The funding forms part of the Government’s £2 billion package of support to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over three years, first announced in the spring.

Mr Sunak said on Friday: “The government is determined to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness because for too many people, the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a warm and safe environment is beyond reach.

“We know that words alone are not enough. That is why Government is investing £2 billion over the next three years to give some of the most vulnerable people a roof over their heads, along with targeted support to rebuild their lives."

Rishi Sunak speaks to broadcasters at the homeless shelter in London after serving breakfasts to people in need

Chief executive of the Crisis charity Matt Downie said: “These are desperate times for people struggling with rising rents and rocketing food and energy bills, so funding to ensure that local councils can support people facing homelessness is very welcome.

“But housing affordability remains ones of the biggest drivers of homelessness and the ever-increasing gap between housing benefit and rents continues to be one of the main reasons councils are struggling to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Our research shows just 12% of properties were affordable to those on housing benefit this year.

“We need a strategic approach that prevents people being pushed to the brink of homelessness in the first place. Only by investing in housing benefit, which has been frozen for three years, so it covers the true cost of rents can we ensure people have the best chance of finding and keeping a safe, affordable home.”

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