AS TEMPERATURES plummet and the cold weather sets in, homeless charity Shelter calculated that over a quarter of a million people will wake up this Xmas homeless.
This includes thousands of people sleeping rough – 160 have died on the streets of London this year alone. The quarter of a million homeless people include families forced to stay in B&Bs or hostels, where families and children have to share kitchens and bathrooms with other homeless people who are suffering from severe problems including drug and alcohol dependency and mental illness.
Shelter found the worst affected area was the borough where Parliament itself is situated. In the City of Westminster an extraordinary one person in every 25 was homeless, followed by the London boroughs of Newham and Haringey – on 1:27 and 1:28 respectively. Outside London, Luton had 1:63 people homeless, Brighton & Hove 1:69 and Birmingham 1:119.
Just last Wednesday, the coldest day of the year so far, a 30-year-old homeless man froze to death on the streets of Birmingham. Tent communities have started to spring up under bridges and in parks, not made up of unemployed people, but those with jobs whose wages are simply not enough to pay rent.
This is a direct result of seven years of Tory cuts. Since 2010 homelessness has more than doubled. Responding to the new report on homelessness, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said: ‘Councils need powers and funding to resume their historic role as a major builder of new affordable homes. This is the only way to deliver our ambition to end homelessness.’
Spiralling rents, the destruction and privatisation of council housing, the savage cuts to benefits, in particular the banning of anyone under 24-years-old from receiving housing benefit and the rising cost of living alongside falling wages, have created a perfect storm, throwing millions of families into poverty. The Just About Managing, or ‘Jams’ as the government call them, have now been thrown to the wolves.
Conditions have emerged in Britain that have not been seen since the Victorian era, a Dickensian Christmas nightmare. Over four million UK households are in fuel poverty, unable to afford to live in a warm, dry home, the National Energy Action campaign group reported.
Actor Dave Johns, who plays the lead in Ken Loach’s new film ‘I, Daniel Blake,’ about a man who is thrown off disability benefits, is backing the campaign. He said: ‘It is a complete scandal that people die because they can’t afford to heat their homes.’
Compounding this problem is debt. The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has given a warning about the extremely high level of debt in UK households. In particular, he said that consumers were borrowing more on their credit cards and other unsecured debt.
Figures from the Bank of England this week showed that credit card lending is at a record level, up by £571m in the last month. It is true that a lot of families are taking out credit cards, pay-day loans or Higher Purchase (HP) to buy the children Xmas presents. However, many families are doing so simply to stave off eviction, pay their gas or electric bill or to buy food.
As a result foodbanks are preparing for their busiest December ever, with a big surge in demand. The Trussell Trust said new figures showed its network of foodbanks provided almost 134,000 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis last December, 45% more than the monthly average.
In his Autumn Statement, Tory Chancellor Hammond’s message was absolutely clear: permanent austerity for working class families to pay for the economic crisis – your children will have an immeasurably worse standard of living than you.
It was Karl Marx who established that a system which can no longer provide even the most basic requirements of life, namely shelter, food and heating is a system that deserves to perish. Capitalism is driving society backwards, it is a bankrupt system and has to go.
However, the working class is being driven forward and is determined to win a future for its children. To secure that future a revolutionary party is being built capable of leading the working class to take the power. That party is the WRP. Make sure that you join it today.