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General election: not a single issue election?

It’s not all about Brexit – The UK Government’s record on homelessness over the last 7 years

Despite arguments to the contrary, the general election scheduled to take place on 8th June 2017 is not, and cannot be framed as, a single issue election. If the government wanted to make this a debate about Europe, they could have called another referendum?

Should a general election be used as a political weapon to cull your objectors? Or should it be an opportunity for voters to determine what they want out of their leaders over the next five years?

It is an opportunity to consider: what is not working in the United Kingdom and who are the most likely candidates capable of resolving these problems? One of the issues in this country that simply is not going away without urgent action is the homelessness and housing crisis.

State of homelessness in the UK?

Latest government figures suggest that 4,134 people slept rough across England on any given night in 2016. This figure represents a 16% increase from 2015 and is double the amount in 2010 when the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition came to government. Add to that the 57, 740 households accepted as homeless in England, 28,226 applications assessed in Scotland and 7,128 households in Wales threatened with homelessness and you start to appreciate the real scale of the problem. Even the above figures are a rough and almost certainly conservative guess, as many people simply don’t approach their council for help or are ineligible for housing and therefore are not included in the above numbers.

Why?

There are a number of reasons for this crisis but we consider the main factors to be as follows:

The coalition government imposed the bedroom tax on 1st April 2013 and as a result, councils were able to evict more and more tenants who could no longer afford their rent, with a 19% increase in such evictions in the first year alone, following the reduction in housing benefit payments.People evicted in this way would almost certainly be deemed intentionally homeless by local authorities and would therefore not be eligible for housing forcing them to become street homeless, very vulnerable families notwithstanding. Of course they should not be considered intentionally homeless as the property was not affordable and therefore not reasonable.

To exacerbate things, the extension of the disastrously run “right to buy” scheme in 2015, led to the decimation of housing associations’ housing pool, meant many London Housing authorities had to rent their own ex-council homes back from landlords at market price! Has this really taken effect yet? May be better to talk about problems created by council right to buy scheme now exacerbated by this being rolled out to HAs?

Finally our leaders’ continued inability to build enough affordable housing, has pushed rent to ever increasing heights, with Greater Londoners forking out on average £1546 a month (reaching an all-time high of £1572 in July 2016).

What next?

No matter what happens in the negotiation rooms in Brussels, you will still have to pay your rent, too many people will still be faced with sleeping rough on the streets risking violence and abuse, and younger generations will continue to find property ownership but a pipedream… unless we hold our leaders to account and don’t let them get a free pass on issues that affect us all #ukhousing #stopthehousingcrisis