In his final interview as the prime minister, Boris Johnson has admitted his government has no idea how to tackle the rising numbers of people living in shantytowns and derelict buildings on the streets.
He said the government’s priority was to tackle homelessness and the growing “crisis” in the capital.
He warned there was “no turning back” from his plans to “get on with our lives”.
Johnson’s comments come as he continues to confront criticism from senior officials over the “chicken and egg” strategy of what is widely perceived as a “soft” approach to tackling homelessness.
The problem is that the Government has no strategy, Johnson told a BBC2 Question Time panel.
“We have to take responsibility for the housing crisis.
It is one of the problems of our country.
We have no solution,” Johnson said.
But he said the “best solution” was for the Government to “move quickly” and “make sure that we tackle the problem as a priority”.
“We’re going to get it on the ground, we’re going the right way.
There’s a real sense that we can’t turn back,” Johnson told the programme.
He added that the government has “no idea” what it is doing to tackle “the most acute challenge we have ever seen”.
Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” about homelessness and said he wanted the government to “do more” to help the homeless.
Johnson said that while he would “absolutely” have “no problems” with homeless people living on the street, “we have to get on with living our lives, with our families”.
He said that he had “never been able to get into any one of these shanty towns”.
“I’ve seen them in all my life.
They are everywhere, they are on every corner, they have nothing to do with us, but they are all here,” he said.”
It’s not an option, it’s a reality, and we have to deal with it.”
Johnson said it was “absolutely essential” the Government tackled the problem of “shanty towns” in Britain.
While the Government is committed to tackling the “root causes” of homelessness, Johnson said the Government must also do “more” to address “the root causes of the crisis”.
“The solution is for the government and the authorities in England and Wales to work together to solve this problem, because it is the root of our problems,” he added.
Asked what was his “best advice” for the next mayor of London, Johnson replied: “I don’t know.”
Johnson’s “chickens and eggs” strategy has been widely criticised for not prioritising homelessness and it has also been criticised by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Johnson told the BBC’s Today programme that he believed the Government should focus on “housing the homeless” but that the problem was “not a priority for the City of London”.
“You can see the problem.
You know what we have got, we’ve got shanty houses, you know, we have people sleeping on the side of the road,” he told Today.
It is “not only the problem in London but across the country”.
“The problem in the UK is the problem that we have now.
It’s a crisis and it’s going to be for a long time, we don’t have a strategy.”
Johnson, who was prime minister from May 2010 until he was replaced by Boris Johnson, was one of three former Conservative cabinet ministers to be forced out of office by a by-election.
The others were Boris Johnson’s wife, Justine, and the MP Andrew Mitchell.