Nothing for me shows the failure of this current Government’s policies than that aimed at those who are homeless and/or sleeping rough.
We have all seen them huddled in doorways on bitter cold nights with their sleeping bag and few belongings in a carrier bag or two and wondered how we have got to this low point in our City and Country.
We are forever being told that the economy is doing well and there have never been more people in work than there is now etc, but we have not seen so much poverty in many a long year either. Even people who are working cannot make ends meet and need to rely on food banks to feed themselves and their children.
Its unclear what the homeless and those needing food would do without the support and generosity of public and our churches, who provide money, food, support and even shelter to those in need. Many volunteers will go out on dark and cold nights on soup kitchen runs to offer food and a friendly ear to those who find themselves on the street.
But what of the Government response to this housing and homelessness crisis, don’t worry they have a strategy to end rough sleeping by 2027, yes those in need now will only have to wait another 8 years for their plight to finally end. Every year local Councils must supply the Government with the number of rough sleepers in their area. Guess what they have even changed the method for collecting this data, those on private land cannot be counted(ie: those sleeping in multistorey car parks for example), nor those who are not actually asleep when the count takes place, so the true figure is much higher than reported. The other element that has added to homelessness and poverty is the Government’s roll out of universal credit, on the face of it this policy makes sense; but the Tories have cut billions from the programme and are making those on very low incomes with no savings wait 5 weeks for their money. This has let to real hardship and has even seen parents go without food so their children can eat. I myself have worked at a food bank and seen first hand the misery low income people are suffering from this and other Government spending cuts. More money must be put into the universal credit system and the 5 week wait abolished. The current home Secretary Mr Javid(who was born in Easton and should know something about those on low incomes) declared a state of emergency for a few desperate people crossing the Channel, I think the Government should declare one for housing and homelessness crisis we are facing. Those in need should not have to wait until 2027 to see this shameful situation resolved.