Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Is it all just a game?

The story about London councils preparing to move “thousands of London’s homeless families” to Wales has provoked an entirely unsurprising response of outrage in Wales – and probably also in those areas of England which the London councils have singled out for similar attention.  I found myself wondering, though, whether the story has been over-hyped somewhat.

Partly, that’s simply because I find it hard to believe that any part of the UK state could really, in the twenty first century, be planning to uproot families and move them hundreds of miles into areas where it is highly unlikely that they will stand any chance of finding the employment which is ultimately the only way of improving their situation. 
I can’t think of many parallels for such a forced movement of people in any democratic state.  Families have been forcibly moved en mass for projects such as slum clearance, but have almost always been rehoused either close by or else in the new homes constructed on the site.  Children were evacuated from London during the second world war; but it was done for their safety, and was always understood to be a temporary measure.
But thousands of families given the choice of homelessness where they are or moved hundreds of miles to the cheapest housing which can be purchased, purely on economic grounds?  I can’t think of a parallel in recent times which comes close.
Then I wondered whether this might not be more of a political game than a real prospect, and from two different aspects.  The first is that it’s far from unheard of, sadly, for local authorities to propose something outrageous, either to attract such opposition as to persuade the central government to back down on some policy or other, or else to enable it later to propose something not quite so outrageous so that people accept the lesser of two evils.  Either seems possible in this case.
The second is, of course, that offering a London family a house in somewhere like Merthyr might well lead to a refusal; and people who refuse the offer of ‘suitable’ accommodation can then be deleted from the waiting list.  And that’s just another way of making homelessness someone else’s problem, even though some of us might think that there’s rather more to the definition of ‘suitable’ than having four walls and a roof.
I’m not sure which is worst – seriously proposing such a policy, or unseriously suggesting it in order to achieve other aims.  In either case, they’re treating those families unfortunate enough to be homeless in London in an utterly shameful fashion; more as commodities or problems than as people with human needs. 


Anonymous said...

Its been happening by stealth for years. 'Problem' tennents have found their way from English cities to Rhyl, Llanelli, Barry and dozens of other communities accross Wales.

The only difference now is scale and the fact that it has caught some media attention.

It will happen and anyone in Wales who objects will be branded a racist and ignored.

G Horton-Jones said...


Swansea post war was politically split Swansea East Labour and Swansea West Conservative at the parliamentary level but the Borough Council was Labour controlled so to solve the post war housing crisis they built a massive council housing estate in West Cross where there was absolutely no employment and hey presto two problems solved.
Benefit claimants not in employment could possibly be the new victims aka the Jews of the Reich the poor of Mumbai, China etc etc- releasing sink areas of London for redevelopment on an Olympic scale.
Who cares where they go if they are off our patch -- a mass transfer to Wales cannot be opposed and will alter the political balance and unite this Kingdom --God save King Charles
I forgot there are possibly as many as 4000 people on Pembrokeshire County councils housing list for social housing

Spirit of BME said...

Mr Dixon,
I think you have been watching too much state TV as they always sell the British State as “democratic”.
In the USA they regards the current regime as a “qualified democracy” as our Head of State ( Dear,dear Betty) is not subject to democratic process as is the majority of sets in Westminster.

Anonymous said...

Check out Jac O'North blog!