“We have pledged to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027,” says government minister David Lidington, before not adding, “Actually, we’ve just kicked this into the long grass because it will be tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping paper.” He might as well have done. The Tories really don’t care.
Prime Minister Theresa May basically admitted as much recently when she explained that actually everyone who was homeless was not actually sleeping rough. Many of those without homes were actually living in filthy, squalid overcrowded flats or poxy bed and breakfast establishments. They’ve never had it so good. Given her tin-eared responses to just about everything, she might as well has told them to thank their lucky stars about how lucky they were.
The attitude to homelessness is unforgivable. Not from the people May refers to, in her smarmiest, most patronising manner as “ordinary working people”, as if she is much better than ordinary. The people I know are appalled by the thought that homelessness, virtually eliminated by Tony Blair’s governments, is back with a vengeance. Not only that, the evidence has been there ever since the Cameron/Clegg led Tory government from 2010 onwards. It is almost as if it was deliberate government policy, to pick on the very weakest.
Homelessness and housing are definitely the big issue. Perhaps someone could start a magazine to say just that? It is not just the sheer numbers of rough sleepers and homeless people, it is also the many millions who are being denied the opportunity to own or rent their own homes. This is not a minor issue. The only type of housing that gets built in Bristol is student housing, because there is plenty of money in it for all concerned. Homeless people and those who can’t even get on the housing ladder don’t matter because they don’t have enough money. What a time to be alive.
Ending rough sleeping by 2027 sounds all right, as long as it’s not you that’s going to be sleeping rough for another decade. It’s no kind of ambition at all. Any government, any human being worthy of the name, would be looking to end rough sleeping within months, perhaps within weeks. But this government doesn’t care and don’t we know it?