The Types of People Sleeping Rough according to Labour 1998 Report

This is a response to Mike’s blog piece reporting the eviction of two of his friends in the Welsh town in which he lives, which I’ve already reblogged from Vox Political. 16 years ago in 1998 New Labour attempted to tackle the problem of homelessness and other social problems through their Social Exclusion Unit. This produced a report identifying the types of people forced to sleep rough. In his foreword, Blair stated that

It is a source of shame for all of us, that there are still about 2,000 people out on the streets around England every night and 10,000 sleep rough over the course of a year.

That number has almost certainly increased since then. One of the homeless charities, according to Private Eye, has said that this Christmas (2013), about 60,000 children would be homeless due to government cuts. These would not be sleeping rough, but housed in Bed and Breakfast after their families were evicted from their homes. Even if these children still have some kind of roof over their head, this is still very definitely not unacceptable. If the situation was shameful in the last years of the 1990s, the government’s attitudes seems positively shameless in the way they have massively exacerbated the problem.

The report gave the following information

Chapter 1: Who Sleeps Rough?

1.6 The information we have tells us that:

* There are very few rough sleepers aged under 18;
* around 25 per cent are between 18 and 25;
* six per cent are over 60; and
* around 90 per cent are male.

1.9 The single most common reason given for the first episode of rough sleeping is relationship breakdown, either with parents or partner:
* research by Centrepoint with homeless young people across the country found that 86 per cent had been forced to leave home rather than choosing to…
1.10 Older homeless people also identify family crisis as key with the main factor being widowhood and marital breakdown, as well as eviction, redundancy and mental illness…
1.11 A disproportionate number of rough sleepers have experience of some kind of institutional life.
1.12 Between a quarter and a third of rough sleepers have been looked after by local authorities as children.
1.13 Unlike other young people leaving home, many care leavers lack any sort of on-going parental support which can act as a back up when a first attempt at independent living goes wrong …
1.14 Around half of rough sleepers have been in prison or a remand centre … Those who have been in prison typically experience serious problems obtaining both housing and jobs, frequently exacerbated by the problems of relationship breakdown, drugs etc ….
1.16 Repeated studies have found that between a quarter and one fifth of all rough sleepers have been in the services …
1.17 Some 30-50 per cent of rough sleepers suffer from mental health problems. The great majority (88 per cent) of those with mental health problems became ill before they became homeless.
1.18 Research does not support the widespread belief that the closure of long-term psychiatric hospitals has resulted in former patients sleeping rough…
1.19 As many as 50 per cent of rough sleepers have a serious alcohol problem and some 20 per cent misuse drugs…
1.20 Rough sleepers are disproportionately likely to have missed school…
1.21 Generally, single people will only get assistance under the homelessness legislation if they are unintentionally homeless and in priority need…
1.22 Researchers … agree that a number of changes in social security policy … in the late 1980s were closely associated with a squeeze on the ability of single people on low incomes to gain access to suitable housing…

From Rough Sleeping Report by the Social Exclusion Unit, CM4008, July 1998, pp. 1, 4-6, 16, in Margaret Jone and Rodney Lowe, From Beveridge to Blair: The First Fifty Years of Britain’s Welfare State 1948-98 (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2002) 189-91.

Mike’s friends have not been institutionalised, nor, as far as I know, do they have mental health or drug problems. They are ‘strivers’, similar to those made homeless according to paragraph 1.22: Researchers … agree that a number of changes in social security policy … in the late 1980s were closely associated with a squeeze on the ability of single people on low incomes to gain access to suitable housing….

And with the bedroom tax and caps on Housing Benefit now in place, there are going to be many more of them. All so the Tories’ friends in the housing sector can get richer.

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4 Responses to “The Types of People Sleeping Rough according to Labour 1998 Report”

  1. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN POLITICAL JOURNAL.

  2. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  3. Helen Maddock Says:

    The changes in law now requiring children to stay at school until they are 18 now instead of 16 will exacerbate and escalate those troubled youngsters running away and ending on the streets as they are no longer capable of escaping through work and personal income …the very few jobs that are available.
    Not to mention it helps to mask the really high figures of our country’s unemployed youth 16-25 many of which have never had a job or opportunity to train…..just a thought.

  4. jaypot2012 Says:

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    I’m so sick of this unelected coalition, and I’m so sick of the “supposed” opposition!

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