Posts Tagged ‘Bed and Breakfast’

Private Eye Tackles Government Lies on Homelessness

April 1, 2015

This fortnight’s Private Eye also takes issue and pulls apart Kris Hopkin’s recent remarks boasting of the coalition’s achievement tackling homelessness. The Eye reveals that the stats actually show that the situation has got worse.

The number of children in temporary accommodation was 90,000 in the last quarter of 2014, a 25 per cent increase from 2010. The number of families with children living in Bed and Breakfast accommodation is 2,040. 780 of these unfortunates were there for longer than the legal limit of six weeks. This is five times the number than in 2010 when the Coalition took office. The article notes that when local councils allowed this to occur in 2012 and 2013, they were told that this was illegal by the government, which also promised extra funding to make sure it didn’t happen again. Now Hopkins is again telling the world that the government is ‘being clear that the long term use of bed and breakfast for families with children is both unacceptable and unlawful’.

The Eye’s article is based only on the published stats. I reposted one of Johnny Void’s article’s from a few days ago yesterday, which severely criticised them. Mr Void stated that they are only based on those homeless cases that the local authorities are statutorily required to help, such as families and children. They do not take into account single people, while local authorities used a number of informal methods to assess which people they help. They also don’t take into account the ‘hidden homeless’ of people living with friends, who nevertheless don’t have their own accommodation and whose residence is therefore extremely insecure. The Void revealed that there may be as many as 263,000 + of these. The situation is so bad, that the homeless charities themselves have condemned the government’s stats as useless.

So, basically, the government has failed by the standards of its own statistics. These have been doctored so much, that the real situation is much worse. And Hopkins is, in unparliamentary language, a liar.

The Types of People Sleeping Rough according to Labour 1998 Report

February 22, 2014

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.

Christmas Private on the Massive Increase in Homelessness

February 7, 2014

The Christmas edition of Private Eye, for the 21st December 2013 – 9 January 2014 also carried a story about the massive increase in homelessness under the Coalition, and the problems this poses for Grant Shapps’ policy of having local authorities house them in the private sector.

‘Room At The Inn

The housing charity Shelter has been telling anyone who will listen that around 80,000 children in England will spend this Christmas homeless and in temporary accommodation. Some 2,000 of those families with children are in bed breakfast hotels (for which local authorities pay through the nose), 790 of these families beyond the six-week legal limit.

In 2011 Grant Shapps, then housing minister and now Conservative Party chairman, announced the solution to this problem: give local authorities the flexibility to offer homeless families a tenancy in the private rented sector.

Alas, the number of families accepted as homeless since the election is up by 34 percent – a rise fuelled by the shortage of social housing, cut in housing benefit and, er, the high cost of private rents. The private rented sector is in fact the fastest growing source of homelessness. The number of families becoming homeless after losing a private assured shorthold tenancy has more than doubled in England in the past three years, and more than quadrupled in London.

With the supposed solution to homelessness itself fuelling homelessness, the effects of the coalition’s latest wheeze are likely to be bleak: an extra £100m announced in the autumn statement to spend on increasing Right to Buy sales – which will get rid of any remaining social housing even faster.’

But perhaps we shouldn’t expect anything less from Grant Shapps. This is the man, who has repeatedly shown his complete indifference and contempt for the poor, the homeless and the unemployed. He is only interested in them if a private company can make money out of them. And he doesn’t seem too scrupulous in the realm of business morals. He did, after all, set up one of his companies under a false identity, which constitutes fraud.