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Undercover - Britain's Homeless Scandal

(16 Posts)
Pemba Tue 14-Feb-17 01:50:36

Did anyone see this Dispatches programme on Channel 4 tonight (well, yesterday now really). About homeless women sleeping rough. It was very worrying. Apparently local councils are supposed to prioritise vulnerable women, but in fact they are routinely turning them away with no help.

By far the worst case was that of 'Sarah', a heavily pregnant woman in her thirties sleeping on the streets (in Manchester if I remember right). Jesus Christ, I knew there was a homelessness crisis , but I never thought that would be allowed to happen. You saw her clutching her scan of the baby. At the end of the programme we were told her unborn baby had died. Just shockingly awful.

PausingFlatly Tue 14-Feb-17 01:59:41

It's bloody awful.

Sunderland have recently cut their housing support to homeless people by 100%. Ie there's none left.
www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/21/uk-council-cuts-more-people-sleeping-rough-charities-warn

That's what austerity cuts mean. Central government has massively cut funding to local councils, which provided social care and local services.

It's having a huge knock on to the NHS, too.

bloodyteenagers Tue 14-Feb-17 02:05:20

It's only going to get worse what with local cuts and caps to housing benefit that are not inline with the real cost of housing.

PausingFlatly Tue 14-Feb-17 02:07:28

From that article:
"Local authorities are putting the final touches to budgets for 2017-18, which will herald another round of cuts. They follow £20bn savings made between 2010 and 2015, a 40% real-terms reduction to their core government grant, according to the Local Government Association."

The Tory's promised £12 bn of cuts to welfare in their 2015 election manifesto.
www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-conservatives-unveil-manifesto-that-showcases-right-to-buy-gets-tough-on-crime-10176820.html

This is what slashing the welfare state looks like.

Paperthinspider Tue 14-Feb-17 09:25:10

It is unbelievable that women are homeless in our society today, in a so called civilized society. I watched the programme last night and found it shocking, I can't believe there aren't more comments on this. It raises many uncomfortable questions which, I guess, no one has the courage to tackle.

MrHankyTheXmasPoo Tue 14-Feb-17 09:33:37

I think churches should allow people to sleep in the. I kmow some open as emergency shelters in winter but why not all year round. At least it would be somewhere dry and safe.

FriendofBill Tue 14-Feb-17 09:38:38

it is not feasible that churches can house hundreds of homeless people with complex needs. A lot of people need specialist help.

expatinscotland Tue 14-Feb-17 09:43:40

Tories cut the councils' budgets and then put the onus on them for all this. There simply isn't the money to provide what needs provided. Suggesting churches open up because they are dry and 'safe' is ridiculous. Many don't have toilets, and then you'd need staff because many homeless have complex needs and the church can become very unsafe quite rapidly unless appropriate staff is in place.

PausingFlatly Tue 14-Feb-17 09:52:02

There was another thread not long ago, and people were talking about the fact that it's people who have vulnerabilities who are failing to cope as the benefits system is made deliberately more punitive.

That and people who are hard to help because of addictions and serious mental health issues. It's not that they can't be helped, it's that helping them takes work, and that's being cut.

Families and disabled people 'hit worse by rising homelessness', Guardian, 23 Dec 2016

Rough sleeping on rise in Birmingham after cuts to services for homeless Guardian, 2 Dec 2016
Previously the organisation was funded to help rough sleepers with addictions, but cuts have made that difficult. “We could have taken people like this man in before. Previously, if he had been given a place, he would have had a key worker who would have got him to a treatment programme. But people like that, with drug problems, we are now – even us – having to say we can’t take the risk, we can’t risk our safety, their safety and the safety of other residents,” Fraser said.
...
Fraser said the notion of ending street homelessness had felt “tantalisingly close” in 2009. “It is really bleak because we felt as though we had made vast strides. I wouldn’t say we had solved homelessness, but we had got it to manageable levels and made huge progress until 2009. Then the cuts started and since then homelessness has increased,” he said.

“I’ve been in this area 25 years. It feels worse now than I have ever seen it. What is all the more depressing is that we know what works and we were doing it and it was having a positive impact. We had got it sussed.”
...
Hostel workers are clearer about the reasons. Cuts to homelessness services have come at a time of wider welfare reform, and increased used of benefit sanctions – which can push people into debt, and make paying bills impossible – cuts to housing benefit, and the introduction of the bedroom tax and overall benefit cap have all contributed.

Soubriquet Tue 14-Feb-17 10:00:40

I watched it and was shocked

I've been in this position where I've been homeless. Me and dh with our 8 month old baby.

At first the council refused to help us. They didn't see the need despite me having our baby with us.

That night I had to stay at my mums. It was extremely stressful and I was sick under the stress.

The next day, they offered a small house 30 minute drive away. We couldn't take it! We don't drive and my dh has to get to work.

Again they turned round and said we can't be desperate if we wasn't taking the first house offered.

Eventually they offered one 5 mins away from DH's work and we stayed there for a couple of months

But it was seriously like getting blood out of a stone

Their excuse was that there was no housing yet when we got to the house, their entire housing department in that area was empty!! hmm

It cost a fortune too. No discount rate for being there. £125 a week.

expatinscotland Tue 14-Feb-17 10:10:09

Since it's all been spun off to private, it costs more for less.

Mommawoo Tue 14-Feb-17 10:12:34

The council turned me away at 8 months pregnant with 2 year old dd sad We spent the night in a 24 hour cafe. The next day we went to shelter who were absolutely amazing and forced the council to find us emergency accomodation.

The council said because I had lived abroad that I was no longer considered to be 'habitually resident' so had no duty to house me despite the fact i'm English, was born here and spent the first 24 years of my life here.

Most councils will now look at ways to turn people away rather than ways to help. I realise that they are under pressure but young children and pregnant women should be a no brainer surely?

Pemba Tue 14-Feb-17 13:42:52

You would think it would be a no brainer, Mommawoo, that's why I was so horrified. Can't believe that nobody helped that poor woman, what about the Channel 4 crew? - not that it should be their responsibility, of course.

I am also shocked at what happened to you, are you OK now?

Have we really come to this as a society?

Twogoats Tue 14-Feb-17 13:45:03

How awful, I don't think I could watch that. Did the woman get housing in the end?

Pemba Tue 14-Feb-17 13:51:33

If she did, they didn't mention it I think. Just that the baby died.

Mommawoo Tue 14-Feb-17 14:14:51

I'm ok now thanks smile Really cannot praise shelter enough though. The lady that took on my case fought like a tiger for us and thanks to her we are moving into our own place from emergency accomodation next week.

She also helped us with food bank vouchers and fuel vouchers as we were not entitled to any benefits because I had been out of the country. Even the NHS tried to turn me away!

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