Homelessness Crisis – Why They Don’t Care Part 2
The implementation of the Conservatives cuts in housing support, especially for low-income working families, has sadly as predicted led to an increase in homelessness.
Fortunately for many of us homelessness is an experience that we will never have to face, but the impact on those we know and their friends and families is something that in the 21st Century we should all be ashamed of.
Last year there were 53,450 acceptances of ‘Homelessness and in need’ which was a 10% increase on 2011.
But what does it mean?
In effect the 53,450 families were placed in Temporary Accommodation many in Bed and Breakfast for over 6 weeks which means that over 250,000 mums, dads and children found themselves without a home.
To put it in simple terms over the Christmas period last year 53,130 families were in temporary accommodation.
The impact on families and the community should be obvious to everyone not the least being the anguish of the parents not being able to provide a home for their children and the lasting impact on the children whose education is disrupted.
I have recently had to deal with a homelessness case of a man with a young son who, through no fault of his own following redundancy and cuts to housing benefits, found themselves homeless and relying on friends to provide shelter.
After a number of weeks of trying to establish, in reality prove, that he was homeless and in need they have been put on the emergency schedule and provided with temporary accommodation.
The problem is that this isn’t an isolated case and is in fact only the tip of a burgeoning problem.
In the last quarter (1 October to 31 December 2012) of last year homeless and in need acceptances across the country was 13,570 families but this was out of 29,060 decisions that were taken by Local Authorities.
The other 15,490 decisions on applications were rejected as not being homeless, many of who are what is euphemistically called ‘sofa surfing’ (living with a number of friends sleeping where they can), homeless but not in ‘priority need’ (no children) or unintentionally homeless and not in priority need.
Where the problem arises of course is that, even though not in priority need, those applying for assistance are still homeless with the impact of not having an address which is essential to accessing employment.
Northampton homeless applications have reflected the increases across England and the accompanying problems that the Borough Council Housing staff have in trying to help people.
I have written before about the fact that we should be embarrassed that between August last year and February this year families accepted as homeless and in need have spent on average over 6 weeks in Bed and Breakfast which is one of the poorest records amongst all of the Local Authorities.
The cost to the Northampton tax payer being over £300,000.
It isn’t the fault of the staff dealing with homeless applications who do an excellent job but if homes aren’t available!!!!!!
Across the country the number of families in B & B at the end of December was over 4,000 an increase of 26% on the same time in 2011.
The Conservative – Lib Dem coalition cuts are almost certainly going to lead to an even greater strain on the homelessness staff, demands on temporary accommodation and increased costs to the Local Authorities.
Of course all of this will be used as evidence by those who peddle the myths that the housing issue is all down to ‘Eastern Europeans’ taking the social housing and coming to the country and immediately being given benefits.
The reality in terms of homelessness and in need is that in the last three months of 2012 of the 13,570 successful applications less than 390 were from Europe.
The problem facing Northampton and the country is not only the increase in homelessness, due to the Government’s determination to continue with their failing economic policies, but also the chronic lack of housing and in particular affordable social housing for rent.
It is amazing in the face of the evidence that the homeless crisis isn’t being taken seriously by the Conservatives either in Westminster or locally.
Perhaps the reason is simple.
The homeless are isolated and therefore disengaged from society which means they are unlikely to vote, and where there are no votes there is little or no interest with the Conservatives preferring to concentrate on giving ‘more to those with’ rather than ‘supporting those without’.
It is a return to the selfishness that bred an “it’s me and only me” generation many of who are now the politicians of today who base their ‘principles’ on their heroes of the 1980’s .
It is a problem that is going to get worse and especially with the recent statement from the Chancellor that Local Authorities are facing cuts of up to 20% in funding.
Cuts that will impact on the essential front line services being provided to the vulnerable which includes homeless families.
It is why Northampton Labour supports the proposals to boost the economy by implementing a major house building programme.
Sadly it is a call that the Conservatives and Lib Dems are ignoring.