Last year nearly 600 dogs died on the streets on the UK, whilst the number of dogs sleeping rough has increased by 168% since the tories took office in 2010.
Once a rarity, it is now common to see dogs sleeping in doorways, their fur matted, exposed to the elements and to see them searching through bins looking for discarded food to eat. Lacking means to seek somewhere to live, these dogs, some little more than puppies often suffer from terrible health issues – both physical and mental and without major changes to the system it is hard to see how their situation can improve.
Can it possibly be right for any dog to be sleeping outside? Is it not shameful to imagine them being taunted, attacked and ridiculed as they attempt to sleep on our filthy streets up and down the country? Most police authorities do not record data on attacks on dogs, but a recent study by The Guardian gained data from nine forces in the UK which found there were 4,940 attacks recorded against homeless dogs increasing from 493 in 2014 to 1,259 in 2018.
The information in the paragraph above is all accurate…but… you need to replace the word ‘dog’ with the words ‘homeless people’ for it to be true!
I wrote the first section above in that style because I wonder if, the people discussed above were, infact, animals, if their would be a stronger outcry and a more active response would be generated than it is for humans.
Despite the massive rises in homelessness since the tories came to power in 2010, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire recently said that government policies were not to blame and that homelessness is the result of ‘complex factors.’
While no one disputes that there can be complicated reasons why someone can find themselves on the streets it make no sense why these complexities would have somehow disappeared under the previous Labour administration, only to return on an upward gradient upon the tories regaining office.
Could the rise be the result of cuts to housing benefit and reduced funding for homelessness services, as well as a lack of affordable homes and regulation in the private rented sector, perhaps?
In 1999 the Labour government announced its’ intention to eradicate the ‘scandal’ of homelessness. Beneath that objective, the government had put in place the right policy making apparatus to ensure it was delivered.
The highly effective Louise Casey was appointed head of the Rough Sleepers Unit In December of that year a major report, Coming in from the Cold, set out the measures to reduce rough sleeping by two-thirds by 2002 – which it achieved.
It is nothing short of tragic that all the good work has been undone, not least for those who find themselves sleeping on the streets, but also for what this state of affairs says about us as a society.
Aside from rough sleepers – the visible sign of our failed society – there are all the other people for whom their housing situation continues to ruin their lives. Having a job no longer insulates you from such problems – indeed the gentlemen who was rough sleeping who died just before christmas had a job!
82,310 households were in temporary accommodation in England, in December with more than 123,600 minors, marking 70 per cent increase since Conservative government came into power. Shelter claim that 78% of the rise in homelessness over the last six years was due to people being evicted from privately rented homes, leaving them to try to find money for deposits and the other costs associated with moving with little warning or opportunity to save.
We can only speculate at the impact their circumstances are having on the health, educational attainment and morale of these children.
It is often said that a society should be judged on how it treats those most in need, most vulnerable and the weakest – there can be no doubt that this country must be judged wanting.