Fringe Box



Opinion: We Must Not Ignore the Homeless In Our Midst

Published on: 21 Dec, 2017
Updated on: 30 Dec, 2017

Guildford’s Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson, Zöe Franklin, has spoken out in response to national newspaper stories on the government’s “unacceptably complacent” attitude towards tackling homelessness.

By Zoe Franklin

Over the past few weeks I’ve observed, as I’ve been out and about in Guildford, that there appear to be more people who are homeless visible on our streets.

I know from my time as a councillor on Guildford Borough Council that council officers do an incredible job trying to ensure that as many as possible get the support they need to keep them safe and off the streets. However, the reality is that we are seeing increasing numbers of homelessness applications in Guildford and across Surrey.

Inset article and photograph by The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

Government benefit cuts and sanctions, plus the changes related to universal credit are all contributing to this resulting in even those who are working finding themselves on the streets or in temporary accommodation.

We also have the issue that while official figures show a certain level of homelessness this is based on a very narrow set of criteria which simply masks the real numbers.”

This week’s report from the Public Accounts Committee reveals that more than 9,000 people are sleeping rough on the streets of England at any one time – up 134 per cent since 2011. Over 79,000 households, including 120,000 children, are meanwhile homeless and living in temporary accommodation – a rise of 65 per cent since 2010.

The report also backs up the fact that hidden homelessness is a growing issue with the report warning that official figures do not show people who are housed by family and friends in shifting circumstances.

Frankly I find it appalling how the Government allows itself to let down the most vulnerable in our communities again and again. Theresa May and other government ministers tell us that they care about everyone in society, not just their high earning mates. However, evidence suggests otherwise.

Rather than taking responsibility for this growing issue – one that should not exist in 21st century Britain – the government is passing the buck to local authorities. It must finally take action to end homelessness; review the real impact of universal credit and other benefit changes on families and individuals; and ensure truly affordable homes are built rather than the homes desired by developers.

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Responses to Opinion: We Must Not Ignore the Homeless In Our Midst

  1. Shirley West Reply

    December 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    While I was in town today it seems that there is not only one homeless person but three. I feel this is so sad to see.

    I really hope that the Salvation Army open their doors to them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

  2. Mike Gibson Reply

    December 23, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    On Christmas Day, a traditional lunch for the homeless will be served free of charge at [Guildford Action’s] Beverley Hall (next to Waitrose car park, Guildford town centre) by the Footsteps charity.

  3. Shirley West Reply

    December 24, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Congratulations to Footsteps, a charity helping the homeless on Christmas Day.

    It’s really good news reading this heart-warming reply.

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