THE MPs’ Communities and Local Government Select Committee has said that homelessness is ‘undoubtedly increasing’ and that the scale is greater than statistics suggest.
The Committee considered that homeless people are too often given meaningless and ineffectual advice by councils in England, and urged ministers to back a private members’ bill that would force councils to provide homeless people up to two months emergency accommodation. This however is obviously just sticking plaster and not a solution to the crisis.
Councils have responded that they needed more funding and powers to tackle the issue since official figures show that local authorities approved 14,780 households’ applications for homelessness assistance between 1 January and 30 March 2016 – 9% up on the same quarter in 2015.
The MPs’ report warned that the statistics did not capture the full-scale of homelessness. The report urged the government to support the Homelessness Reduction Bill to impose much tougher conditions on councils, such as providing emergency interim accommodation to homeless people for up to two months. More sticking plaster!
Other findings in the report include that recipients of housing benefit should get the option of having their money paid directly to their landlord to avoid getting into arrears. However, this would mean that while the landlord got his rent, the family, including children, would go hungry!
Committee chairman Clive Betts spoke about the scale of the crisis saying that: ‘No-one should be homeless in Britain today, but the reality is that more and more people find themselves on the streets. In fact, some homeless people risk their lives every night by sleeping in supermarket bins!’
Nick Forbes, a vice-chairman at the Local Government Association, said ‘councils cannot tackle this challenge alone’, and that they needed to be given funding and powers to bring together ‘local housing, health, justice, and employment partners’ to tackle the issue.
This is an approach to the real issue. This is that governments, namely the Thatcher and Blair governments, caused the housing crisis and now there has to be a revolutionary socialist government to resolve it.
The building of millions of council homes under Labour governments solved the housing crisis in the UK, post-1945, by the mid-1970s, and then along came Thatcher with her prize policy of privatisation, the selling off of council homes on the cheap, a policy that was carried on by Labour governments.
The Tory idea was to implement Tory Harold Macmillan’s policy to create a ‘property-owning democracy’, to be the backbone of Conservatism. Its outcome was the current housing catastrophe, a desperate housing shortage driving the UK back some 50 years.
However, in many UK cities, construction is taking place on a massive and record scale. In London, there is rapid construction, in record time, of glass tower block luxury housing, that is being bought up by the Gulf bourgeoisie as investments. It is all lying empty!
Meanwhile, workers are being forced out (decanted) of central London since they cannot afford to pay rents of around £800 a week in areas like Clapham Junction. They are being run out of town!
This is the situation that has been engineered in London by Boris Johnson and has now been taken over by the Labourite Sadiq Khan, who wants the city of London to have a special relationship with the EU! The housing crisis has now reached the point of revolutionary explosion.
The answer is for the millions of the working class to mobilise to force the TUC to call a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government. Then all of the luxury properties in the capital and in the main provincial cities that are lying empty must be expropriated and handed over to working class homeless families.
The banks, the building industry and the building land must be nationalised under workers’ control and workers given jobs building new council homes at a minimum rent. This is the only way to provide both millions of jobs and millions of required homes!