The homelessness industry is today welcoming an upcoming change in the law which could see homeless people forced to live in unsuitable or unsafe accommodation or face losing eligibility for benefits.
Homeless Link and St Mungo’s Broadway have published a gushing press release cheering amendments to the rules for Jobseeker’s Allowance set to come into force next month. The changes mean that newly homeless people may only be considered meeting the criteria for benefits if they take “such steps as are reasonable for him (sic) to take to find living accommodation.”
Homeless people will have an easement of jobseeking requirements if they follow these conditions, but this will usually only last four weeks, despite the average length of hostel stays being significantly longer than that. The minimum length of stay in one of St Mungo’s Central London hostels is eight weeks, with most residents staying an average of six to nine months. The so-called easement period will be granted only at the discretion of Jobcentre busy-bodies and will not apply to people who have been homeless for a long time.
This trivial concession has been won by the homelessness industry in exchange for a yet further extensions of Jobcentre powers over the lives of some of the most marginalised claimants. Overpaid charity bosses have been working for a long time with various government bodies and local authorities to establish the homelessness industry as a sort of soft police force aiming to clear the streets of those destitute. Instead of analysing why mass homelessness exists, which is first and foremost an economic problem, it has been assumed that there must be something wrong with homeless people, something that can be cured. This is no different to the current thinking at the DWP which blames unemployed people for unemployment and it is vile.
The main way to cure people of homelessness, charity bosses believe, is to move everyone off the streets into one of their hostels. Of course they will still be technically homeless but at least the charity gets a huge Housing Benefit cheque every week. These hostels have slightly improved over recent years but they can still be dangerous and hostile places. The rules and regulations are endless, bullying can be rife, they are often riddled with heavy drug use and evictions can happen at the drop of a hat and for the most trivial reasons. Yet under the new regulations a newly homeless claimant who turns down a hostel place will now not be considered for the easement period. If they are then judged unable to meet benefit conditions, which could include workfare, they will face sanctions or possibly even be disallowed benefits completely. Homelessness charity bosses are either extremely fucking naive or have quite another agenda if they honestly believe this will be better for homeless people, who do not appear to have been consulted about the changes. They never are.