Squall 7, Summer 1994, pg. 31.
Every month sees the publication of another batch of Government consultation papers. The official purpose of such exercises are for the democratic sounding of groups relevant to the specific Government proposals. It is billed as a chance for groups working in relevant areas to help the politicians stay in touch. But does the Government take any notice of the opinions it receives, or do these consultation processes simply inform them of the arguments to be defeated in order to get the proposals through with the least public outcry?
In the last edition of SQUALL we quoted some of the strong opposition voiced as a result of the Government consultation paper on squatting; opposition from SHELTER, the AMA, the Metropolitan Police Federation, the Institute of Housing and the Law Society amongst others. What difference did it make to the legislation resulting from the consultation process? None
In this issue, we publish some of the responses to the recent Government consultation paper on removing the statutory right of ‘priority need’ homeless families to permanent accommodation.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS
The proposals “will completely fail to meet the Government’s professed aim of making the system fairer. Changing the definition of homelessness will not make the problem go away.”
LONDON HOUSING UNIT
“Pregnant women and poor families are being forced to chose between paying their rents to avoid harassment or eviction, or buying food, fuel or clothes. The numbers caught in the vice could increase if proposals from the Government go ahead.”
“We have grave fears that the proposals contained in the consultation paper would worsen the position for many vulnerable families and young people, by removing the statutory guarantee of a secure affordable time.”
THE CHURCHES NATIONAL HOUSING COALITION (CHNC)
The proposals are “a deliberate distortion of homeless people’s experience” and “hopelessly out of touch”. We are “disturbed by a document which appears to ignore the realities of homelessness”. The proposals have “damaging implications for homeless families and vulnerable single people”.
ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY COUNCILS
“We regret that the consultation paper, dealing as it does with a major concern of public and social policy, is so weak in its objectivity and scientific analysis. There are not 'vast hordes of homeless people abusing the system'. There is no examination in the consultation paper of the human consequences of homelessness such as physical and mental ill health, suicide and family breakdown. The likely consequences of the Government’s proposals include a significant increase in street homelessness, an acceleration of the physical and mental health problems of homeless people and an increase in the number of children and young people looked after by local authority social services departments. The long term cost to local government, the health service, the taxpayer and to society are potentially enormous.”
THE ARCHBISHOP OF LIVERPOOL - RIGHT REV DEREK WARLOCK
“We are dismayed that the Government should have chosen the International Year of the Family in which to put forward proposals which, if implemented, would clearly marginalise still further the members of those families. The consultation paper inflames populist prejudices against the homeless, misrepresenting people who are subject to acute physical and mental strain”.
ASSOCIATION OF LONDON AUTHORITIES
“The proposals, if implemented, would leave many of the most vulnerable people in desperate situations. We believe that the most appropriate solution for homeless families is the provision of social housing and that homelessness is the most immediate manifestation of a nationwide housing shortage that can only be addressed by increasing the supply of good quality affordable, secure housing.”
ROYAL INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED SURVEYORS
“The removal of the right of homeless people in priority need to be offered permanent and secure accommodation would have unacceptable detrimental consequences for those affected. We doubt whether these heavy handed proposals will 'ensure fairer access to all parts of the rented housing sector’ (as the consultation paper claims). To make social housing equally available to all who genuinely need it, much more weight should be given to increasing the supply of available rented housing, particularly in areas of acute housing shortage.”
Consultation Exorcise - Who did the Govt listen to when drafting the new CJB squatting legislation? Squall 6 - Spring 1994.