A HOMELESS man has been found dead in a tent after sleeping rough in the snow in freezing temperatures. The man, named locally as Ben, had been sleeping near St Swithun’s Church in Retford, Nottinghamshire. Nottinghamshire Police said they were made aware of a ‘sudden death’ at 8.40am on Tuesday 27 February.
Two weeks before, a 35-year-old Portuguese man, Marcos Amaral Gourgel, died in freezing temperatures in an underpass at Westminster Tube station. He is one of four rough sleepers to have died on the streets of London in the first six weeks of this year.
His body was discovered about 7.15am on Wednesday February 14 after temperatures plunged to -2.1C the night before. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those who sent flowers to the underpass along with a card which said: ‘This should never have happened. As a country we must stop walking by.’ Quite. Westminster tube is just a few steps from the underground entrance to the Houses of Parliament. Politicians must have walked by Marcos Amaral Gourgel every single day.
But this is not, however, passive neglect. Homelessness is booming under the Tories. The body count is booming with it. 141 homeless people died on the streets of the UK last year alone.
People are being driven onto the streets by the Tory policies of freezing housing benefit, forcing unemployed people onto Universal Credit, systematically destroying council housing, privatising entire estates, while encouraging Rachman-style landlords to run amok. All this has created the situation where there are now more homeless on the streets then ever before.
Heather Spurr, the policy officer at homeless charity Shelter, said: ‘After successive years of caps and freezes, the current housing benefit rates are well below the amount landlords would charge even for the very cheapest homes.’ Rough sleeping in England has increased for seven consecutive years, with official figures showing 4,751 people slept outside overnight in 2017. In the last year, the figure has increased by 15%. Homeless charity Crisis’ own research finds the number much higher with more than 8,000 people currently sleeping rough across England.
Chief Executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said: ‘It is truly a catastrophe that in a country as prosperous as this, more and more people are finding themselves forced to sleep in dangerous and freezing conditions which are potentially deadly.’ Previously, if temperatures drop below zero for three nights in a row, councils are legally obliged to find a homeless person a room, even if the hostels are full. Changes in policy mean that councils are now obliged to open emergency shelters to homeless people as soon as the temperatures drop below zero. This is all well and good. However, as soon as they rise above zero, the homeless are then turfed back out onto the streets!
You only have to look at the way in which the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have been treated to see this government’s complete contempt of the working class. The Grenfell survivors have been homeless for the last eight and a half months. The government originally promised to re-house the survivors and their families ‘within weeks’, however three quarters of a year later and they are still languishing in hotels and living out of suitcases.
Meanwhile, the super-rich and wealthy elite from all over the world ‘land bank’. That is they buy up expensive empty tower blocks, along the river Thames and central London and keep them empty, simply as a way of holding their wealth in bricks and mortar. The way to put an end to homelessness is for the working class to put an end to the system which creates it. There must be a general strike to bring in a workers government that will decree: ‘Fill the empty properties with the homeless!’ It will continue to nationalise the banks, the building industry and the land to speedily build the millions of council houses that are required.
Labour thought it had solved the housing problem with council housing. Thatcher, however, sold it off! Now the time has come to build millions of council homes and to expropriate the bosses and bankers to put an end to capitalism with a workers state that will create the conditions where the capitalists and landlords can never come back!