‘Chilling and concerning’ rise in number of rough sleepers

A Labour London Assembly Member has described Croydon’s growing homelessness problem as “chilling and profoundly concerning”.

There are twice as many people sleeping rough in Croydon today than in 2014

Rough sleeping has increased by 17 per cent in Croydon in the past year, according to figures released in the latest series of Greater London Authority CHAIN reports.

The new data has revealed that 274 rough sleepers were recorded in Croydon by outreach workers between April 2018 and March 2019, compared to 234 over the same period in the previous year.

Last year, homelessness charity Shelter reported that the number of rough sleepers in Croydon had doubled since 2014. These latest figures suggest no end to that trend.

The council spent £3million in 2017 just paying rents for private tenants who had gone into arrears because of changes to the benefits system, to avoid them being rendered homeless and therefore becoming the council’s responsibility.

When he was housing minister, Gavin Barwell, the former Conservative MP for Croydon Central, tried to claim that his Government was reducing homelessness. That was a lie.

Shelter says that more than 1million households are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020. Rising numbers of families on low incomes are struggling to pay even the lowest available private sector rents in many areas, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness.

Meanwhile, Croydon’s Labour-run council continues with its policy of building no council homes for social rent, while borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds to fund its in-house house-builder, which is developing homes the majority of which are sold on the private market.

According to the full Greater London report today, the overall number of rough sleepers logged on the capital’s streets rose by 18 per cent to 8,855.

The most recent figures published by the Office of National Statistics estimate that 136 homeless people died in London in 2017.

In the wake of last week’s release of rough sleeping statistics in London, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, wrote to the Prime Minister urging the government to reverse its damaging welfare reforms and significantly improve the support framework available to those with complex immigration cases, who are particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless.

Tom Copley: government’s ‘callous’ austerity policies need to be reversed

From City Hall, the Mayor has implemented several measures to combat homelessness, including doubling the size of his rough sleeping budget and outreach team.

“It is chilling and profoundly concerning to see rough sleeping on the rise in the community,” said Labour AM Tom Copley, the deputy chair of the housing committee at City Hall.

“The Government’s callous welfare reforms and failure to provide the necessary support to those with complex immigration cases are pushing more of the most vulnerable Londoners onto the streets and into the most desperate situations.

“With the right and robust political will, we can reverse this shameful situation. The Mayor has taken stringent action to reach out to homeless Londoners and lift them out of destitution, but Government intervention and funding has been lacking.

“It’s high time that the Government listened to our calls and invested properly in homelessness services and the delivery of the genuinely affordable housing that the capital needs. They must finally put an end to austerity which has plunged so many Londoners into poverty and exacerbated the levels of inequality fragmenting our society.”

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to ‘Chilling and concerning’ rise in number of rough sleepers

  1. We have created a society where there is a free for all in the housing market. Firstly, social housing housing has been curtailed to the point of non-existence. ‘Welfare Reforms’;saw the withdrawal of housing benefit for single people under 35 years old, rent ceilings were abolished and now we se land that was actually in Council ownership sold off for nothing to allow soeculators to almostexclsively build homes for wealthy people, who did not want homeless anywhere in Iheir vicinity, so even hostels, with all the problems these presented for vulnerable residents, were demolished and the land sold off. All of this against the backdrop of drug, alcohol and mental health facilities being starved of cash and unable to deliver prompt or local services. By no means all homeless people have these added burdens but many do. There has been 10 years austerity and homelessness is a major consequence. However the statistics show here clearly indicate that Croydon Council have not been effective in the road they have gone down and they need to seriously think about their housing policy, as some other Councils have done, even in the face of austerity. I use the word policy advisedly when it comes to Croydon. The Councillors, Chief Executive and others on £100 k plus a year need to just take a walk through the town to see the extent of the misery caused by homelessness and the vagrancy that goes, too often, hand in hand. Can they honestly wake up each morning and say they are doing a good job?

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