THIS YEAR an estimated 4,677 people a night are sleeping rough on the streets of Britain, a figure that has increased for the past seven consecutive years.
In 2017, nearly 600 rough sleepers died on the streets of England and Wales up from 482 the year before.
The housing and homeless charity Shelter estimates that there were 320,000 homeless adults and children living in temporary accommodation, hostels or sleeping rough at the start of 2018, a figure that Shelter admits could be a gross underestimation of the true extent of homelessness.
These appalling figures are the direct result of the Tories’ vicious attacks on the working class, the systematic destruction of council housing with entire estates bulldozed to make way for luxury flats that are then left empty and treated as ‘financial assets’, land banks for the filthy rich.
At the same time, the Tory policy of Universal Credit has cut housing benefits and heaped misery and poverty on millions of working class families which, along with massive rent increases in the private sector, has made evictions commonplace.
While the working class has been savaged, driven into insanitary bed and breakfasts, at the mercy of slum landlords or forced onto the streets, the ruling class is wallowing in the luxury of land wealth.
The extent of their land wealth has been revealed in a recent book ‘Who Owns England?’ by Guy Shrubsole which shows that about 250,000 landowners control over half the country.
Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population!
Shrubsole writes that land ownership concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite has not changed for centuries: ‘A few thousand dukes, baronets and country squires own far more land than all of middle England put together. Land ownership in England is astonishingly unequal, heavily concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.’
While the old aristocracy and gentry account for 30% of land ownership, they are outdone by giant corporations, oligarchs and city bankers who own 35%. People who own their homes account for a miserly 5% of total land ownership.
With the giant, and mainly off-shore, corporations owning 18%, Shrubsole estimates that ‘a handful of newly moneyed industrialists, oligarchs and City bankers’ own about 17%.
While the old aristocracy stole the land from the peasants and small farmers through land enclosures hundreds of years ago, the corporations, oligarchs and bankers are ‘stealing’ land courtesy of Tory privatisation that stretches back to the days of Margaret Thatcher.
Since Thatcher and the Tories started a mass privatisation programme of every publicly owned asset, 10% of Britain’s publicly owned land has been sold to private companies.
70% of the land owned by the NHS for hospitals and medical purposes has been sold – local authorities have been selling off parks, playing fields, community centres, libraries, youth clubs and any other land they own in order to balance the books in the face of Tory austerity cuts to their budgets.
Entire blocks of council housing have been sold for the privateers to make billions out of what is publicly owned land while academy schools have flogged off school playing fields to bolster the profits of the academy chains that take over not just schools but ownership of the land they stand on.
The working class can no longer tolerate being driven back to conditions of poverty and homelessness last seen in Victorian times by a ruling class that makes its profits from their misery.
The only way to put an end to homelessness and the obscenity of a tiny ruling class claiming to ‘own’ the country is to put an end to this weak Tory government by bringing it down through industrial action and bringing in a workers government.
A workers government will expropriate the bankers, corporations and oligarchs, abolish the aristocracy and take back all the land stolen from the working class and use it to build affordable homes for all and provide for all the social amenities that publicly owned and controlled land will make available for everyone.