Recorder letters: Rough sleepers, World Cancer Day and election leafleting
PUBLISHED: 12:30 26 January 2020
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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.
'Cash for rough sleepers' nothing more than spin
Cllr John Gray, cabinet member for housing services, writes:
Regarding your story, "Council to receive £10.7m in government funding for homelessness services (Recorder, January 8, 2020).
The government press release which announced the £10.7 million payment to Newham Council implies both that this is new money, and that it amounts to extra funding for the council to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
Neither is true.
The bulk of this payment from the government has had to be used to fund the cost of housing people placed in temporary accommodation. Governments had previously made this payment through housing benefit paid to individual households in temporary accommodation but changed the funding basis in 2017 and at that point broke the link between the level of funding and the numbers housed.
In the same year this government introduced The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) which when introduced from 2018 increased the number of households that councils have a duty to accommodate.
The impact of the HRA has seen the numbers in temporary accommodation in Newham increase from 4457 in March 2017 to 5,392 at the end of November 2019 - but with the link between numbers housed and the grant awarded severed - Newham Council has seen its gross spend for temporary accommodation balloon from £65m in 2016/17 to a forecast of £80m in the current financial year.
In addition the suggestion this money is an extra payment to help tackle rough sleeping is at best misleading. The majority of Newham rough sleepers do not meet the government's own definition of entitlement to housing (often referred to as No Recourse to Public Funds) and therefore this funding is of little or no help to the majority of our rough sleeping community.
Rather than spinning headlines to give an appearance of action on homelessness and rough sleeping, the government must recognise the severity of the housing crisis, support councils to build affordable social housing, end the sell-off of social housing and increase funding to councils to allow them to properly house and support their residents.
World Cancer Day 2020
Helen Lam, CLIC Sargent Fundraising & Engagement Manager, London and Middlesex, writes:
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I want to let readers know that World Cancer Day 2020 is fast approaching on February 4, which is a great time to raise funds and vital awareness locally for children and young people with cancer.
Cancer doesn't care about your education, your plans, your future. It can turn up at any time. That's why CLIC Sargent is here to stop it destroying young lives.
With your support this World Cancer Day, CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading cancer charity for children and young people, can reach more families and help minimise the damage
cancer causes to young people.
We need volunteers to help collect donations in Stamford Hill and Stratford Morrisons from February 1 - 4, 2020.
Doing bucket collections is fun and rewarding - especially when you do it with friends. Show your support and sign up here: clicsargent.org.uk/WCDVolunteer or call our supporter engagement team who will be happy to help on 0300 330 0803.
You can also make a difference by donating £2 and getting your very own special Band Against Cancer wristband. They come in three limited edition colours and are available from clicsargent.org.uk or your local Morrisons store and JD Wetherspoon pubs.
Making a small donation, wearing your wristband and telling others about it is such an easy way to start a conversation on the impact cancer has on young people and their families.
I hope that everyone gets behind this and we see the bands all over town!
Labour activist broke the law
Leonard Ives, Plaistow, full address supplied, writes:
I noticed online a video showing a Labour activist handing out leaflets outside a polling station.
The same thing happened to my wife and I, and I suspect many others, outside New City Road primary school on election day. We were approached by an older person who tried to hand us a Labour leaflet with Lyn Brown's name on it.
I said "I don't think so" and he replied "that is your right".
I would like Lyn Brown to answer me as to why an activist was handing out her leaflets,which is illegal and unlawful. I wouldn't mind but they do not need to do this as they have a majority of over 30 thousand. Also some voters might have been intimidated by this.