The Shuttle is presently running a story on a BBC Report which reveals that Wyre Forest is 5th in a list of shame on homelessness in the West Midlands. Worse, we’re in the top third of local authorities for homelessness nationally.
It seems that The Shuttle has approached Tory MP Mark Garnier for a comment about it but none is quoted at this time. By contrast, there is a quote from the Tory in charge of housing at Wyre Forest saying it’s not as bad now because of new regulations (really?). Notably, there has been no request from The Shuttle to Labour for a quote. So, we thought we’d help The Shuttle out a bit with some background about why the crisis has arisen and why Mark Garnier’s embarrassment explains his silence.
Labour’s Stephen Brown said “Homelessness is a national crisis bought about by Tory austerity. Its welfare cuts, Universal Credit, Govt reductions in the availability of mental health services, NHS cuts, and a lack of building enough social housing that is for rent and affordable, aided and abetted by greedy private landlords propped up by Govt policy, and with tax bungs given to the very rich, has bought us here. Further, austerity means wages remain at 2008 levels and Tory attacks on worker rights facilitates insecure low paid work. If you ‘work’ just ‘one hour’ in a two week period you’re counted as ‘employed’ and are off the official unemployed statistics. Is it any wonder our communities are in crisis?
The basis of the Tory economic model is designed to protect the rich at the expense of the poor. It is about false accounting, so they can proclaim falling unemployment whilst glossing over the casualties who are the left behind people, like the homeless, the Foodbank users, and the physically and mentally unwell. So, If The Shuttle is wondering why Mark Garnier has not provided a quote, it is because he is the cause of the problem and should be downright embarrassed about his votes in Parliament. No wonder Garnier is instead currently banging on about supporting Theresa May’s Brexit deal, it’s a convenient distraction and probably because he wants another Ministerial job. Let’s remember, his support for his Government’s austerity made crisis and Brexit plan, also sharply highlights what I believe are the real reasons Wyre Forest voted to Leave the EU, especially as it is clear we are suffering more than most communities under his Tory Government. It’s why he continues to use Brexit to gaslight these issues because it’s easier to talk about that, to deflect from his own actions, and whilst much of the the media offers it’s slavish assistance in blaming the EU, their nasty negotiators, or scapegoating foreigners for our problems rather than focusing in on the fact that our problems are actually made in Westminster – thanks to heartless Tory policy and incompetence.”
Labour believes that Homelessness is not inevitable in a country as well off as ours. Since 2010, the number of people sleeping rough in shop doorways and on park benches has more than doubled. This shames us all. There can be no excuses – it must end. Full stop.
More families are living in temporary accommodation, meaning 120,000 children spent last Christmas without a home to call their own.
This growing homelessness shames the Conservatives. The spiralling rise in street homelessness results directly from decisions made by the Conservatives on pay, housing, mental health and social security. Much of the homelessness is getting hidden with more and more families in temporary or hostel type accommodation, or even sofa surfing with friends or neighbours.
Labour will set out a new national plan to end rough sleeping within the next Parliament, starting by making available 4,000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping. We will also take action to tackle the root causes of homelessness, including safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing from crude Conservative cuts to housing benefit.
Wyre Forest has 3,500 on its housing waiting list. Labour will prioritise affordable social housing for rent, building on brownfield sites and offer everyone the opportunity to have their own home. Nationally, we have a costed programme that will see at least 100,000 affordable homes for rent built every year with a similar number to buy. It’s why Labour is for the many not the few.