… whenever Tories want to indicate that they pay no heed to the bleeding hearts of any Lib Dems, they continue to yelp about the need for more "welfare cuts". (Do not forget: George Osborne has floated another £10bn off the benefits budget, opposed by both the Tories' coalition partners and even IDS himself.) To be blunt, this is a war on the poor largely waged by the very rich, and shame on the Labour party and the wider Labour movement for not making nearly enough noise about it.Would those 'very rich' include the likes of Polly Toynbee, John? Or all those fakecharity bosses?
One statistic makes all coalition claims of a meaningful social conscience look risible. Figures published by the National Housing Federation show that, between 2011 and 2012, the number of homeless families forced to live in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation increased by 44%.Yes, we should clearly bewail the fact that people haven't got a roof over their head. Even though they aren't on the streets and do, in fact, have a roof over their head. One paid for by everyone else.
As has been well documented, all this is disproportionately a London problem, evidenced by the people at its wretched heart: those identified in officialspeak as families with dependent children and/or a pregnant woman who, in breach of government guidelines, have been in B&Bs for longer than six weeks. The stats contain spikes in predictable boroughs: Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Westminster, Tower Hamlets.Can anyone else spot something else that unites those boroughs, other than their capital location?
For the details of what this actually involves, read Living In Limbo, a landmark report by Shelter published eight years ago…Oh, yes, I’m sure I’m going to read an objective, impartial account of the situation there!
… which describes realities little changed since then. Rooms are cramped and often damp. Bathrooms are frequently unsanitary. People regularly pushed from one temporary redoubt to another are often left depressed and unstable. It is standard practice for families to be shut out of their accommodation during working hours, meaning that children must somehow kill time elsewhere. There is usually no provision of an evening meal: if you're lucky, you make do with takeaways.Which, I'm pretty sure, puts you a fair few steps higher than homeless people in other countries, who'd consider a bed and breakfast paid for by everyone else a luxury.
But to soften your hearts, here's that ploy which never fails in the 'Guardian' - do it for the chiiiillldreeeen!
Please: no more talk from this government about aspiration and opportunity, the imperative to help those at the very bottom, or Britain somehow becoming the most family-friendly society in Europe. When you hear anything like that (and, with conference season looming, there is going to be a lot of it), picture a disorientated child, trying to do her homework amid the clattering noise of a McDonald's, and dreading the evening's return to what passes for home – a cramped and smelly room, with anxious shouts ricocheting around the corridors – until morning once again arrives, and with it the daily lockout.Or they could take up the offer of a move to less-expensive places to live.