Tag Archives: Street Homelessness

Numbers Sleeping On The Streets Soar By Almost A Third In Just One Year

rough-sleeping2015The number of people sleeping on the streets has soared by 30% in just one year figures from the Department of Community and Local Government reveal today.

A total of 3,569 people were found to be sleeping rough in Autumn 2015 –  the highest number since records began for the second year running.  The shocking figures come after five years of cuts to vital housing benefits combined with vicious welfare reforms that have left many destitute due to punitive benefit sanctions.  The number of people forced onto the streets because they cannot find a home has more than doubled since reforms began in 2010.

Tory politicians have brushed off the problem of rough sleeping claiming they are all just immigrants from Eastern Europe nnd so don’t matter.  Figures produced by charities show that only a third of rough sleepers come from the recently admitted EU countries however and that street homelessness is rising amongst all nationalities.

Today’s figures are just a snapshot and are taken from a combination of street counts – where outreach workers go out and physically record the number of people they see bedding down – and estimates by local authorities in areas where the problem is not so acute.  Homelessness industry insiders have long warned that the problem is woefully under-estimated and even raised fears that police usher people away from common street sleeping sites before counts are due to take place.  Today’s figures are horrifying enough but the sad truth is they only tell half the story.

The response from the government towards the growing homelessness epidemic has been more cuts with another benefit cap on the way likely to put 120,000 homes at risk.  This, combined with freezes on Housing Benefit rises despite soaring rents and the willful destruction of social housing in the UK, mean that street homelessness is a problem likely to become much worse.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Begging Is A Lifestyle Choice Says Leeds Councillor As Homelessness Charities Launch The Nastiest Campaign Yet

think-before-you-give

Leeds City Council have teamed up with the police and so-called charities, to come up with the nastiest campaign yet aimed at discouraging the public from giving a bit of spare change to homeless people.

The above poster has been placed at key sites across the city warning people not to give money to beggars because it may help fuel their addictions.  As ever the homelessness industry demands that people give the money to them instead so they can spend it on drink soaked conferences in posh hotels that cost £700 quid a ticket.

No thought at all seems to have been given about how this campaign will further stigmatise homeless people who already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public. Those attacks will now be more likely as homeless people are smeared as addicts or drunks by the very organisations that claim to be on their side.  The dehumanisation of the very poorest is no longer just coming from the pages of the right wing press.

The truth is that the homelessness industry’s own figures show that only around half of street homeless people have a drink or drug problem.  And even these people still need to eat.  All that campaigns like these achieve – if they are successful – is that homeless people who do have drug or alcohol dependencies are forced to beg for longer.  No-one is going to give up smack because some bunch of fucking idiots have put a few posters on the walls after all.  Meanwhile those forced to beg because their benefits have been sanctioned are left to go hungry.  But then this is just a lifestyle choice according to Leeds Labour Councillor Mark Dobson.

What people in poverty need is more money, however it comes   There is plenty of research which shows this.  Yet this research is repeatedly ignored, not just by politicians obsessed with cutting benefits, but also by charities whose bosses are currently doing very well out of poverty and homelessness.  To attempt to smear and impoverish one of the most marginalised groups in society with campaigns like this is bad enough.  To do it to further line the pockets of overpaid charity chief executives is beneath contempt.

This is far from the first initiative aimed at stopping the public helping homeless people directly, but it is one of the most of unpleasant.  Luckily it has been a dismal failure, with just £50 raised according to the justgiving website. The people of Leeds have shown they are better than this.  It’s time these organisations realise that if they continue to attack homeless people then they won’t see a fucking penny of our money.  Give a beggar a quid instead.  At least you know it won’t be spent on campaigns like this.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Homelessness Epidemic Gets Worse, Highest Number Of Rough Sleepers Since National Count Began

rough-sleeping-graphThe UK’s homelessness epidemic is growing worse as statistics show there are more people sleeping on the streets in our city centres than at any point since national records began in 1998.

Rough sleeping has leapt by over 50% across England since the current Government weren’t elected going from 1,768 people in 2010 to an unprecedented 2,744 in 2014.  Despite Boris’ claim he would end rough sleeping in the capital by 2012, the number of street homeless people in London has almost doubled from 415 to 742 people between 2010 and 2014.

The first national street count was carried out in 1998 when 1,850 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in the UK according to homelessness charity Crisis.  By 2002 it had fallen to 585.  Since then it has more than quadrupled and the rise shows no sign of slowing – rough sleeping in London jumped by 37% in the last year alone.

The Tories have been quick to blame immigrants for the rise, as if no-one ever came to London from overseas and ended up homeless prior to 2010.  In truth the CHAIN figures (pdf), collected by charities and published alongside the government’s estimate, show that rough sleeping has risen in London amongst both UK nationals and those from Central and Eastern Europe who only make up 34% of the total.

Even these figures, which are based on a physical count of people sleeping rough in just one night, only show the tip of the iceberg – not least because there are persistent rumours of police operations clearing the streets of homeless people before the count takes place.  In addition the count does not include people squatting in abandoned buildings, sleeping in locked public parks, living in vehicles or hidden away outside city centres.  The true extent of rough sleeping in England is far higher than these figures suggest – and this is just the most acute form of homelessness.   There are tens of thousands of single homeless people living in hostels or nightshelters who are not recorded in any figures.  There may be as many as 400,000 hidden homeless, staying temporarily with friends and relatives or living in B&Bs.  The number of homeless families is also steadily rising with 60,000 families currently living in temporary accommodation.

Homelessness charities have blamed both soaring housing costs and welfare reforms for the homelessness epidemic.  Chillingly we are not even close to seeing the real impact of the Bedroom Tax, Benefit Cap and slashing of Housing Benefits for those under 35.  Many people are having shortfalls in their benefits made up by ‘Discretionary Housing Payments’ – which can be removed at any time by local authorities.  Others are surviving for now, or haven’t yet fallen into high enough arrears to face eviction.  The Benefit Uprating Bill, which pegs rises in Housing Benefit at 1% no matter how much rents soar, will place further pressure on those struggling to keep a roof over their heads.  The Tories have pledged to remove Housing Benefit from the young completely if they win the next election.  Labour are threatening yet more benefit sanction based forced work schemes – the cause of the ‘massive’ rise in street homelessness in Manchester according to local charities.  Several London Labour MPs want more laws to criminalise squatting.

Mass homelessness is set to be one of the most visible legacies of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.  How bad things are going to get is the only real question left and not one politician, of any main party, seems to give a shit.

You can read the latest Rough Sleeping Statistics at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/homelessness-statistics#rough-sleeping

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

‘Massive’ Rise In Street Homelessness Blamed On Benefit Sanctions By Charities

sanction-sabsThe Manchester Evening News (MEN) has reported a ‘massive’ rise in street homelessness with benefit sanctions singled out as one of the main causes.

The paper carried out an investigation into rough sleeping in the region claiming that people are living in ‘caves, old air raid shelters and under a supermarket.’  Two charities working on the frontline told the MEN that benefit sanctions are to blame for the rise in homelessness, with one citing the case of a man who had been sanctioned seven times and left unable to pay his rent.  One charity worker told the paper: “Whereas before, most homeless people had benefits, now they have nothing.”

Officially the number of people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester is just 24.  One local charity however claims there are around 60 street homeless people in Stockport alone, whilst local councillor Daniel Gillard told the MEN he believed around 150 people were now sleeping rough in Manchester City Centre.

National statistics on street homelessness are based on little more than a guess and the government is determined to keep things that way.  Previously local authorities who believed they had more than ten rough sleepers in their jurisdiction were required to carry out an annual ‘street count’ and report their findings back to the Department of Communities or Local Government (DCLG).  Following changes made last year they are now only required to provide an ‘estimate’ of the number of street homeless people.

The DCLG used to provide some monitoring of the procedure for recording rough sleeping figures however that responsibility has now been passed onto the charity Homeless Link who will rely on volunteers to do the work from their “member agencies and interested faith groups”.

Even when councils can still be bothered to carry out a street count the true number of homeless people is likely to be woefully underestimated – sometimes perhaps even deliberately.  When the first street counts were carried out in London they were largely believed to have been fixed with widespread stories of the police clearing the streets of homeless people before the count took place.

Street counters are warned not to venture anywhere they feel unsafe and not to record people living in squats, on camp sites, organised protest sites or travellers.  Unlike homeless people, street counters do no break into parks or other areas which may be closed to the public at night and therefore safer to sleep in then on the High Street.  Only those spotted asleep, or in the process of ‘bedding down’ are included in the count, ignoring the large number of homeless people who wander the streets at night and try to sleep in the day time.  Few street counts extend far out of city centres and therefore miss the people hidden away in local communties, or camping, or sleeping in cars and other vehicles because they have nowhere else to go.

Despite all of this, the number of street homeless people that do get recorded in the figures has still soared under this Government, by around a third between 2010 and 2013.  The figures for last year are set to be publised next month and are unlikely to be worth the paper they are written on.  But as the Manchester Evenings News found, and we can see all around us, this most damaging form of homelessness is becoming much worse and it is far from just a London problem.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation, and many thanks to those that did over Christmas!

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Street Homelessness Soars … and we haven’t seen anything yet

The number of people sleeping rough in London has soared by 43% in just 12 months latest figures reveal.  Homeless Charity Broadway said 5,678 people slept on the streets between March 2011 and April, up from 3,975 the previous year.

This shocking rise has happened in the year of the sacred Olympics despite Boris Johnson’s pledge to end rough sleeping in the capital by the end of the year.  Boris has also previously claimed that he ‘wouldn’t allow Kosovo style social cleansing on his watch’ and then proceeded to do fuck all as the housing benefit caps were brought in, creating an exodus of the lowest income families from central London.

Some homelessness project workers have reported a huge rise in those under 35 unable to find homes.  Under new Housing Benefit rules, those under 35 are only eligible for a room in a shared house.  No assessment was done to examine whether their were enough properties of this type, at an affordable level, to ensure this brutal change did not force people onto the streets.

The tragic reality is that these figures represent the tip of the iceberg and there is far worse to come.  The figures are based on a ‘street count’ by outreach workers and at best represent a rough guess of the minimum figures.  Those sleeping rough outside of Central London, in parks, derelict buildings or anywhere else hidden from view are not included in the figures.  The tens of thousands of people in hostel, night-shelter or B&B accommodation, in squats or sleeping on friends sofas are also not included and reveal that the homelessness and street homelessness crisis is only just getting started.

The Housing Benefit caps have still not been fully introduced for existing tenants, whilst even those who have faced the cut will not necessarily become homeless overnight.  The number of households applying for Local Authority support due to becoming homeless has risen recently by 16%.

Homeless Link, an umbrella organisation of homelessness charities, also report that 4000 emergency bed spaces for homeless people have been lost due to government cuts.

But still this toff Government aren’t happy.  The overall benefit cap, which will see London as a whole become unaffordable for larger families, will not take effect until next April.  Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit, set to be introduced in 2014 in his dreams, will reduce protection for owner-occupiers who find themselves unable to work, by stripping back support for help with mortgage interest payments.  The new sanctions regime could see hundreds of thousands of people, many with children, plunged into levels of poverty not seen in generations in the UK.  Next year the squatting ban will begin to take effect, whilst Cameron’s intention to cut Housing Benefit for those under 25 will create unprecedented youth homelessness.

Meanwhile rents are rising as no-one can afford to buy a home anymore.  It is possible that the influx of Housing Benefit claimants into less expensive areas is further driving up prices as demand for cheaper properties soars.  The Housing Benefit bill keeps getting bigger despite the savage cuts.  This Government seems intent on driving the low waged, disabled, unwell or unemployed from their homes whatever the cost.

A demonstration has been called by the Right To Work Campaign (I know) against the proposed Housing Benefit cuts for those under 25.

Bring placards and cardboard boxes and meet opposite Downing Street at 11am this Wednesday 4th July.