Tag Archives: Jeremy Swain

Housing Crisis, What Housing Crisis? Says Homelessness Charity Boss Jeremy Swain

killing-with-kindnessAn astonishing post from the boss of one of London’s largest housing charities shows how those paid a small fortune to represent homeless people are completely out of touch with the reality that their so-called ‘service users’ face.

Jeremy Swain is the boss of Thames Reach, one of the largest providers of emergency and temporary accommodation for single homeless people in London and the South East.  Recently he attended a meeting with Unemployment Minister Esther McVey, along with other highly paid charity chief executives and civil servants.

In his write up of this cosy affair you might have thought that the boss of a charity which works with the homeless people would tear into the Minister about the bedroom tax, the benefit cap or the current brutal benefit sanctioning regime. Possibly he might have mentioned that Boris Johnson’s housing strategy for London contains virtually no provision for desperately needed social housing.  He might even have offered a vicious condemnation of the current appalling policies aimed at people sleeping on the streets which amount to little more than police harassment of those without a home.  Surely at least he would mention soaring rents which are currently making much of the South East unaffordable for people on low incomes, or changes to housing benefits which force people under 35 to try and find a room in a shared house rather than self-contained accommodation.

But instead of this Jeremy writes on the Inside Housing website* that he is  concerned that parts of the homelessness industry “doggedly refuses to acknowledge successes” or makes it an “an article of faith that these are the worst of times” which may even “lead us into unquestioningly believing this to be true”.   There is no mention at all of the vicious welfare reforms which have already taken place, or of the carnage that is yet to come.

The latest rough sleeping figures show a shocking 37% leap in the number of people on the streets since this Government weren’t elected.  Statutory homelessness, which in practice largely means homeless families, remains at a relentlessly high level, despite changes to the law which means families can now be fobbed off into the expensive and insecure private sector rather than qualifying for social housing.  Jeremy is right that the number of families in temporary accommodation has fallen slightly since the obscene highs that were seen at times under the Labour Government.  But really, so fucking what.  As the Bedroom Tax begins to bite, and Discretionary Housing Payments run dry then things are set to get much worse, possibly even than we can yet imagine.

For those on low incomes, who are often in insecure housing to begin with, a crisis is taking place, but not one that will ever affect Jeremy’s pay packet.  Benefits are being stopped or sanctioned for the most trivial of reasons.  Atos assessments are driving people into both desperate poverty and ongoing despair.  Plans to strip Disability Living Allowance from a fifth of disabled people will only make things far worse, as will further cuts to housing benefits which will now shrink on an annual basis.  And throughout this onslaught a hate-filled campaign has emanated from the DWP and Esther McVey herself which has led to the most marginalised groups – exactly the type of people Thames Reach work with – being abused in both the national press and the streets.

The sad truth is that at heart Jeremy Swain and Esther McVey are both committed to the idea that poverty is a personal failing rather than a structural consequence of a capitalist economy.  That’s why Swain has remained obsessed with making Special Brew or cider more expensive, rather than tackling the causes of why so many people are drinking themselves to death.  Just like Iain Duncan Smith, Swain believes making poor people even poorer is the only way to bring them into line.

This is why he was also happy to lend Thames Reach’s name to the Killing With Kindness campaign which re-emerged last year and warned “well meaning people” not to give money to beggars because they might spend it on drugs.  In a breath-takingly nasty move, this campaign was launched over the Christmas period.  Give the money to us instead said Thames Reach, so Jeremy Swain can continue stuffing vol-au-vents down his neck and sucking up to murderous monsters like Esther McVey.  There’s a good living to be made from homeless people for charity chief executives after all.  And no need to derail the gravy train, and risk those lucrative Government contracts, by telling DWP ministers what you really think of their vile behaviour.

*you need to register to read it, but it’s free.

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The Shame of Poverty Pimp Jeremy Swain

Homeless charity Thames Reach’s supremo Jeremy Swain has shown that with friends like him homeless people really don’t need enemies.  By supporting Westminster Council’s draconian bid to ban people from giving food to homeless people Swain has revealed the nasty side of some within the homeless industry.

Leading poverty pimp Swain has concerns that not toadying up to the Tory run council might affect the huge salary funding his organisation receives from them.  On twitter yesterday he claimed that soup runs were ‘Disconnected,ineffectual’ and only offer ‘tea and sympathy’ … and soup presumably.

Swain believes that any street based services not run by Thames Reach themselves may affect his salary cause life on the street to become too easy.  He complains that soup runs and other smaller charities rarely refer the people who use them to other services such as night shelters and hostels.  Swain knows this is because most of those services are run by Thames Reach and other homeless industry monoliths like them and they do not offer referral rights to anyone outside their club.  Swain also knows that many hostels charge huge rents (usually at cost to the tax payer), offer poor standards of accommodation and in the worst cases are dangerous and more akin to open prisons than a real alternative to life on the street.

Presumably Swain also realises that people handing out food, sleeping bags and sympathy keeps some people alive.    Still an outcome’s an outcome.  Death is well known as a tried and trusted mechanism to keep the street population down.

It’s not just free food that get’s Swain’s goat.  One of his greatest concerns is the price of strong lager.   We’d be inclined to agree, except Swain thinks it’s too cheap.  Good little homeless people aren’t supposed to drink and, instead of questioning why so many do with angels like Thames Reach to protect them,  Swain insists on making life that little bit more difficult.  Even Christmas spirit should offer no relent to this torment according to Swain and the gang.  Thames Reach released a statement urging people not to give to beggars this Christmas because they’ll only spend it all on booze or drugs, the bastards.  Instead the likes of Thames Reach and notorious charity muggers St Mungos (who regularly beg on the street themselves) insist that people give money to them so they can continue to maintain their salaries end street homelessness.

Strangely back in December Thames Reach advised people to buy homeless people food instead.  What a difference contract negotiations two months can make.  Now they want people fined for carrying out their advice.

Thames Reach have been ending street homelessness forever and fully intend to continue doing so.  Many executive salaries depend on it.  Meanwhile the number of homeless people is set to soar as a result of the Government’s benefit cuts and housing policies.  Some housing organisations such as Inside Housing and Shelter have rightly condemned the measures being proposed (even if they haven’t gone far enough).  Poverty pimps like Thames Reach and  St Mungos  have been conspicuous in their absence from the debate.  They would probably argue (behind closed doors) that they need to urgently preserve executive salaries budgets and as they are dependent on government and Local Authority funding they are unable to challenge government policy too vigorously.  Anyway Swain has described the very real threat of mass homelessness as ‘tosh’ and warned on twitter that people should not join the ‘bangwagon (sic) of the apocalyptic’.  If it looks like a tory and sounds like a tory …

This Government is set to devastate the lives of the very people these charities were established to help.  It’s time that the service users that keep these charities in business, and the front line staff currently facing redundancies, turn to their self-elected leaders like Swain and ask precisely whose side are you fucking on.