Posts Tagged ‘Centrepoint’

RTUK on the True Scale of Hidden and Rural Homelessness in the UK

September 30, 2017

This is another excellent piece from RTUK. And it shows why we’re better off looking at alternative sources of news on the Net than relying on flagrantly biased BBC. Even when those alternative sources are owned by Putin’s Russia.

This report discusses the true scale of hidden and rural homelessness in the UK, which is much bigger than previously considered. Among the chilling statistics, it reports that 1 in 10 people experience homelessness every year, and that homelessness has increased 50 per cent since the Tories took power in 2010. In London, 12,500 people are forced to sleep on sofas or the Tube every night. Nationally, 70,000 people were sofa surfing, 20,000 people sleep in unsuitable accommodation, 12,500 living in squats, 9,000 living in tents. A spokesman for Centrepoint states that the statistics are patchy and unclear, and that homelessness is often unreported by the general public, because they don’t know the homeless people they see sleeping rough. This prevents it from gaining the attention it needs to attract proper political action.

Not all towns deal with the problem in the same way. While most councils try to get the homeless into a hostel or similar, Carlisle is trying to solve the problem by giving the homeless tents, toiletries and other things they need, a policy which is praised by one homeless man, a Mr. Dubka, interviewed on the programme. The programme does report the government’s response, which says that it is committed to tackling homelessness and has devoted £550 million to this goal by 2020. The government is also about to pass the Homelessness Reduction Bill intended to force council to act in cases where people are about to become homeless.

But councils are still finding it difficult to cope, as budgets have been slashed by 70 per cent from 2014, councils are forced to concentrate on the urban centres, a point supported by a spokesman for another charity, Porchlight. The programme also cites statistics collected by Herriott Watts University. It concludes that on the one hand, it’s good that the figures for rural homelessness are finally being included and pressure is being placed on the government to include them in its Homelessness Reduction Act, but on the other funding is still being reduced.

I am not surprised that there are a high number of ‘hidden homeless’ in London and around the country. A little while ago I found a study of homelessness in New York, written by an American social scientist and based on his doctoral research in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was briefly a major issue in American politics. It’s actually more difficult to define the scale of the homelessness problem in New York, because many of the homeless aren’t living on the streets. They are sleeping on friends’ couches, or in basements or closets or other areas given to them to sleep in by kindly janitors. And although the problem is much bigger in the 21st century than it was twenty or so years ago, it has practically disappeared as a political issue.

Many of those homeless in New York are graduates. I wonder how many are also people with university degrees in this country, who can’t find accommodation in the cities in which they moved to attend uni, because of a shortage of affordable housing.

The report also makes another excellent point, though one by tacit demonstration rather than open statement. The government has said that it’s devoting £550 million to the problem by 2020. This looks impressive, but as the programme shows, this is actually a cut of 70 per cent. It shows why you should be always very careful about accepting the government’s stats when they are given in isolation without corresponding data to compare it with.

Also, whatever they say, this government will do the barest minimum to tackle homelessness. Due to Tory policies, the wider British economy depends on house prices remaining high. And they can only remain high if there’s a demand for them.

In the ‘I’ Today: One Fifth of Young People Have Been Homeless

November 6, 2014

Today’s I newspaper has a truly shocking story: ‘One Fifth of Young People Slept Rough’. This reports the findings of a survey conducted by ComRes for Centrepoint, a charity dealing with homelessness amongst young people, that in a poll of 2,000 15 to 25 year olds, 18 per cent had slept rough. They had been forced to sleep on the streets, in night buses or in cars due to the fact that they had nowhere else to go. A third of this group said that they had been homeless for up to a week. A third of those sampled generally also said that they had been homeless at some point in their lives. The report ends with a quote from the charity’s chief executive, Seyi Obakin, 6that ‘Our poll proves the issue of young people sleeping rough is huge and nobody else is giving an accurate picture of the problem.’

This is chilling, and should frighten everyone concerned with this country’s future. The same newspaper a few pages before that article also reports that today’s young people are far more likely to be ‘downwardly mobile’ due to there being less opportunities available for gaining middle class jobs. That article seems to regard the expansion of the middle classes in the 1960s as a blip that has now decreased as fewer of these jobs are created than lower skilled jobs.

Together these article paint a very bleak future for today’s young people, where there are few well-paid, professional jobs available and a far greater risk of becoming homeless. It’s certainly not the kind of situation that would encourage anyone from a working or lower middle class background to go to university and become saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of student debt.

The Tories and their Lib Dem collaborators have explicitly advocated their policies of dismantling the welfare state and forcing Britain’s workers to accept pay freezes and cuts on the grounds that this will make Britain better able to compete with the low-paid workers in the Developing World. Unsurprisingly, this is leading to a massive increase in poverty. I wonder how long it will be before we have the same Third World conditions in Britain, complete with mass famine, malnutrition and shanty towns full of the poor and the desperate. We are already like them in having a polarised society with a vast gulf between rich and poor. If this survey can be believed, we may be well on the way to a situation where London is now different from Calcutta, where a vast section of the population lives on the streets, occupying an area about the size of the average school desk.