Homelessness News – Mass Eviction Of London Homeless As Police Swoop again In Operation Encompass

Police and immigration officials swooped on London’s homeless hotspots this morning in a clamp down on rough sleepers and beggars.

Officers descended on popular sleeping points, including Marble Arch, at around 4am this morning in a joint operation with the UK Border Agency to target those in the country illegally.

Dubbed Operation Encompass, the officers and border officials “processed” 37 people and made scores more leave.

Of the 37, there were 35 who were given “cease and desist” notices, one will be removed from the country and another agreed to return to Romania.

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The operation was also intended to enforce new EU regulations, which state anyone who abuses the right of free movement between EU countries can be removed from the UK and banned from returning for 12 months.

Commander Alison Newcomb, the police officer who led the operation, said: “”Officers work with immigration partners to utilise legislation launched in January regarding removal from the UK, where the grounds exist. They also make referrals to outreach projects in order to help vulnerable individuals break the cycle they find themselves in when sleeping rough, while taking affirmative action against persistent offenders who break the law or cause intimidation to passing members of public.

“Begging will not be tolerated in the City of Westminster or any other London borough. Wherever possible people begging will be arrested and ASBOs sought where appropriate.”

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Vulnerable Man evicted by Private Landord in London. What follows is shocking.

 

FOURTEEN people were arrested at the eviction protest.

An estimated 40 police officers broke up the demonstration in Lymington Road after a stand-off began at around 3pm.

The campaigners said a tenant had been ordered to leave private rented accommodation after a council inspector had ruled that the room he was renting was too small to live in.

Pamela Aukle, 45, from the KUWG, who was arrested during the protests, said the man – known as Mark – had “no money” and the “council have nothing for him”.

“Anything they offer is outside of Camden,” she added.

Police described the high-level presence as a “proportionate response”.

The landlord was not available for comment.

Homelessness news – Romford ‘hero’ unearths bedroom tax loophole which could see 40,000 receiving a refund

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Up to 40,000 people will receive a refund thanks to a Romford “hero” after he discovered that the government have wrongly assessed who is liable for the bedroom tax.

A conservative estimate puts the cost to the government at £26million.

Peter Barker, a freelance benefits specialist, of Hillfoot Avenue Romford, discovered the loophole in December but last week the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed his analysis.

By his estimations, up to 90 tenants in Havering could be eligible for an average refund of £770.

It has also been reported that the suicide of the woman from Solihull who, in a note, blamed her death on the financial strains aggravated by the bedroom tax would have been exempt and, if she was still alive, eligible for a refund.

Mr Barker, 53, spotted the oversight made by the DWP in legislation they drafted in 1996. Housing benefit regulations from 1996 were not updated when the coalition created the bedroom tax.

He said: “I just put my findings onto an online discussion forum. I just expected people to find it interesting but instead in went viral.

“There was such a twitter storm over this. Until December I had just one follower and that was my sister-in-law. Now I’ve got people contacting on me on there hailing me as a hero.”

He explained that the area of legislation had become far to overcomplicated and described it as “an accident waiting to happen”.

The bedroom tax sees working age council and housing association tenants with spare bedrooms lose up to 25 per cent of their housing benefits.

It affected 660,000 claimants meaning they either had to move homes, find a way to pay the deficit or downsize to a smaller property.

Peter Barker on his revelations BELOW

In December, I suggested that council and housing association tenants getting housing benefit for the same home since 1996 are exempt from the bedroom tax. Last week ministers acknowledged that my analysis is correct. Councils are now indentifying tenants eligible for refunds.

The refund is available to people whose housing benefit is reduced by the bedroom tax and who have been on housing benefit for the same home since January 1996 without a break. One break of up to four weeks is ignored and a longer break is ignored if you started work after being long term sick and then became sick again within 52 weeks.

In some cases, the exemption can be passed from one person to another.

Some councils are finding that their records as far back as 1996 are not easy to search and in some cases have been destroyed completely. So if you think you qualify for the exemption contact the council’s benefits department.

If the council does not agree that you qualify, you can appeal as long as the council receives it within 13 months of the original bedroom tax decision last year. For most people this will be around the end of March so there is still time.

Homelessness news – Council ‘to use all available bylaws’ to ban Croydon soup kitchen

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I was out with the homeless last week in Croydon and Bromley and I found out that council leaders want to use “all available bylaws” to ban a soup kitchen for the poor and homeless.

The kitchen, run by volunteers and set up by charity Nightwatch, provides food and drink for sometimes up to 50 people an evening in Queen’s Gardens. But a secret council report says the soup kitchen is causing antisocial behavior in the town center and affecting nearby businesses.

The charity received the council’s Voluntary Organisation of the Year Award last year.

Efforts to prevent it from using Queen’s Gardens, which it has done for more than 30 years, are detailed in a yet to be published report entitled Town Centre – Food Provision. The document was discussed at a meeting of senior councillors and council officers. It said the soup kitchen ban is part of a wider effort to tackle antisocial behaviour in the town centre specifically aimed at “street drinkers, beggars and other rowdy behavior”..

The soup kitchen is held every night of the year on the upper level of Queen’s Gardens.

It sees volunteers from churches across the borough give out donated food and drinks – as well as toiletries, duvets and clothes – to the homeless and destitute, and can attract up to 50 people a night. But the council believes its customers are a public nuisance.

Nightwatch were informed of the plan to ban the soup kitchen and wrote a letter to the council stating there were not any issues. However, the report said: “Police do not agree and the data supports the police view”. “The soup kitchen attracts individuals that we are actively targeting into the area,” it adds.

The report details a number of bylaws covering Queen’s Gardens which could be used to stop the soup kitchen, and notes that people who breach them are liable to be fined up to £50.

The report also says the soup kitchen could be moved to a different location, but adds the preferred approach is to close it down “utilising all available bye laws and preventing the use of Queen’s Gardens for this activity”.

Statutory homelessness in Croydon is at an eight year high and, during a count completed last Tuesday, rough sleepers were also found to be at record levels.

We have to work together to face these challenges in society, not attack each other over different manifestations of the problem.

Homelessness news – Homeless man loses benefits after police return money he found on street.

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Am sorry but this as shocked us.

A homeless man who handed in a wad of cash he found on the street has been stripped of his benefits.

James Brady had no place to live when he found £530 after leaving a local shelter in April but immediately turned the cash over to police.

He was allowed to keep the money six months later after no one came forward to claim it, but his good deed has proved costly.

Mr Brady, who has recently found housing, had his government benefits suspended when he failed to report the new income.

Number of homeless families with children in B&Bs highest in a decade

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New research also shows over a third of the 2,090 families living in B&Bs have been doing so beyond the legal limit of six weeks.

More families with children are living in bed and breakfast accommodation in England than for almost 10 years. There are 2,090 families living in this form of emergency housing, an increase of 8% on 2012, government figures show.

Homelesness legislation stipulates that bed and breakfasts should be avoided for families, but their use has been rising since 2009. The legislation also states that families should be in B&Bs for no longer than six weeks, but 760 of the 2,090 families had been living there longer at the end of June – a 10% increase on last year, according to research published by the housing charity Shelter.

More than 43,000 homeless households with children were living in other forms of emergency temporary accommodation – usually privately rented short-term flats, which are expensive – an increase of 9% on last year. Homeless families in this kind of emergency accommodation fell between 2005 and 2010, after a government commitment to halve the number by 2010, but they have been rising again since June 2011.

Research by Shelter, based on interviews with 25 families who were, or had recently been, living in B&Bs, found that most felt unsafe. Almost half said their children had witnessed disturbing incidents, including threats of violence, sexual offences and drug use and dealing.

“One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine,” a mother of three told the charity.

Most of the families lived in one room, and half said their children were sharing beds with their parents or siblings. Twenty-two said it was very difficult to find a safe place for their children to play, 12 had to share kitchen facilities, and three had no cooking facilities. One family reported sharing a cooker and a fridge with 22 other people.

Two-thirds of the families interviewed said their children had no table to eat on, more than half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, and 10 families shared with seven or more other people. Schoolchildren found it difficult to do homework.

Most said their children’s health had suffered through living in B&Bs. “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here,” a mother said.

“I try to cook because it’s cheaper. but I can’t put stuff in the fridge because it’s too small so I can’t use fresh stuff. I’m using stuff in tins all the time,” said another.

The cramped nature of the accommodation was difficult for most families. “It was so unbearable eating on our beds, we had to go out a bit and obviously that is very expensive,” a mother said. A father told the charity: “You have 12 square metres, and have to spend all your time in this space. We didn’t want to open the door because the house was full of strangers.”

Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our shocking findings have uncovered the shameful conditions homeless children will be living in this Christmas. Parents and children sharing beds, children forced to eat on the floor and being threatened with violence in the place they live. This shouldn’t be happening in 21st-century Britain.”

The housing minister, Kris Hopkins, said: “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms, so I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.

“Families should only be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation in an emergency, and even then for no more than six weeks. The funding we’ve given, and our change in the law to enable families to be placed in suitable, affordable private rented homes, means there is no excuse for councils to breach this.”

Campaign the government to match the total Christian raisies while bringing awareness to homelessness here in UK

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Christian is walking the whole of the coast of the British Isle, sleeping rough each and every night. He is raising funds for ‘Help for Heroes’ the UK Military Charity and bringing awareness of homeless ex servicemen & woman and some of the UK’s most vulnerable people on our streets of Britain today.

Please go to the petition website link posted below and sign up so that Christian’s final total raised at the end of his walk and of which he has already broken his own personal target of £100.000 will be matched by the government.

Thanks very much.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK

Boris Johnson is creating a new homeless london underclass causing more homelessness

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Back in 2008, as Boris Johnson was entering the final month of his race to become London mayor, he pledged to end rough sleeping in the capital by 2012. Imagine that – no one sleeping on the streets, in one of the biggest cities in the world. Sounds kind of utopian, doesn’t it? Somehow, however, in between all of the falling over in ponds and zip wire ordeals that have characterised his time in office, his thirst for this quest seems to have deserted him. In fact, the number of people sleeping rough has pretty much doubled since 2008, to the point where 6,437 people did so in London last year.

The Mayor would argue that we’ve simply become more aware of the true extent of London’s homelessness problem. That – thanks, in part, to him – there are now better support workers out there, collecting more accurate data. But the point remains that there are A LOT of people sleeping rough in our capital. And, given further austerity cuts, a clampdown on squatting, soaring rent prices and the despised bedroom tax, you can’t imagine things looking any less dismal when the figures come in for 2013.

Of course, the problem isn’t confined to London. Nationally, 53,540 families are homeless – a five-year high that should make you feel pretty low. New figures show that the number of families shelved away into emergency, council-funded B&B accommodation is the highest it’s been for ten years. And the whole of Manchester and Salford, a place with a homelessness problem so bad that people have been found living in caves, went without a shelter for a while due to funding cuts. (It’s now back, thanks to a large donation.) Nationwide, the picture is one of homelessness shooting up while funding for homeless charities is shot down

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Back in London, whenever another depressing round of stats emerges, Boris points to his ;No Second Night Out’ (NSNO) project. His argument is that the number of people who end up spending just one night on the street has increased from 62 percent in 2010 to 75 percent in 2012. This sounds like progress, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

NSNO is the Mayor’s attempt to end rough sleeping in London. The scheme pays for charities to employ foot soldiers, as well as running assessment centres and a hotline for the public to call if they’re worried about someone they see on the streets. However, NSNO only offers to help rough sleepers the first time outreach workers meet them. If NSNO workers already know you to be homeless – if they know you’ve been sleeping rough for a couple of nights or, say, three years – they won’t help you again.

The Pilion Trust do run their own projects through funding that doesn’t come from the Mayor’s office. However, like many other anti-homelessness organisations in London, it’s tough for them to resist adopting NSNO policies when tens of millions of taxpayer pounds are being poured into the scheme.

Essentially, that lack of funding shuts down the alternatives, leaving NSNO as rough sleepers’ only chance of getting a bed for the night. If you’ve been homeless for a while, this isn’t going to be an option for you.

“It seems like every year there are more homeless people and fewer resources. And fewer resources for people who fall through the cracks. If you screw up, it’s, ‘Sod ya,’ you know?”

 

Private rented sector still most common way to solve homelessness, figures show

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Less use was made of landlord incentive schemes to get people at risk of homelessness into private rented accommodation last year, but it was still the most common solution, official figures released yesterday show.

Statistics issued by the Department for communities and local government (DCLG) show in 2012/13 a total of 202,400 cases of homelessness intervention for households and individuals took place outside the current legal framework.

Under the Homelessness Act 2002, local housing authorities must have a strategy for preventing homelessness in their area. Such action plans must cover non-priority cases as well as incidents where people make themselves homeless intentionally.

The overwhelming majority (90%) of such actions were some 181,500 preventions by helping people find alternative accommodation or aid to stay in their own home.

In addition, 21,000 instances of relief support, where authorities cannot prevent homelessness and have no legal obligation to do so, made up the remaining 10% of help offered.

More than half (53%) of all help given was in the form of helping households find alternative accommodation, a 4% dip in the proportion the previous year. However, the share of help which involved helping households stay in their existing homes increased by the same proportion, from 43% in 2011/12 to 47% in 2012/13.

The most common preventative action to prevent homelessness was the use of landlord incentive schemes to secure private rented accommodation. Around 26,2000 cases, some 13% of the total were dealt with in this way, although this was a decrease of 5% compared to the 18% proportion in 2011/12.

But on posting this today on my WordPress blog, Facebook and Twitter I decided to dig a little deeper and figures show that Nine million people now pay rent to private landlords in the UK after the reckless expansion of the buy-to-let market, with too many stuck in expensive, substandard homes and desperately insecure tenancies. The sheer number of recommendations for sweeping reform in a House of Commons select committee report this week is itself testament to just how deep the problems are in this sector.

Letting agents should face far tougher rules, says the committee. The worst should be banned. Tenants need to be protected from the appalling rise in letting agency fees, with the committee proposing that adverts for properties reveal every add-on fee. Councils should have new powers to weed out rogue landlords who soak up billions from housing benefit but leave their tenants in dirty, damp and overcrowded homes.

The committee also recommends a reform of letting contracts to remove the constant threat of eviction for families forced into renting long term. The report highlighted one tenant, Carl Thomas, whose 10-year-old daughter had already moved seven times.

But two words are conspicuously absent from the long list of recommendations: rent control.
Conservatives reel in horror at the idea of rent control, which they blame for the dilapidation and collapse of the rental market in the 1960s. Landlords, unable to put up the rent, simply let their properties (and tenants) rot. A return to rent control will strangle supply, returning us to the bad old days, they warn. Yet the same people used the same economic theory to oppose minimum wage legislation – and were wrong then, too.

I would just point out and its the bedroom tax which is what I blog about a great deal that wasn’t included and the cuts to housing benefit will certain bring a big increase to the homelessness figure.