In a recent announcement, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has stated an intent to ban homeless people from using tents for shelter and fining charities who provide homeless people with tents to discourage them from doing so. Via a number of posts over the last couple of days, Braverman shared her plans to ban tents and, after being called out on the app formerly known as Twitter, and her reasoning for bringing in the new laws.
Removing tents from those who have no choice but to live on the streets does nothing to address the issue of homelessness and why people are there in the first place, it just makes it more difficult for them to survive, especially as we come into the colder and wetter months of the year. It doesn’t address why people are living on the street or help people get off the street.
Homelessness is a Growing Issue
Homlessness and rough sleeping has been on the rise since 2010. When the Conservative Government were first voted in back in 2010 there were an estimated 1,768 people rough sleeping in England. In 2022 that figure was 74% higher and, as of June 2023, the number of people rough sleeping in England was 2,893.
Through austerity, covid, inflation and extortionate energy prices, it should be no surprise that homelessness is on the rise. People rough sleeping, living in shelters or temporary accommodation has sky-rocketed. And rather than actually address homelessness and providing support for those most at risk, the Government continues to vilify and make it difficult for those just to keep warm and dry when there is little other choice than to sleep rough.
Rough Sleeping is not a Lifestyle Choice
I’ve probably not even mentioned the worst part of this. Trying to defend her plans to remove tents from rough sleepers, the Home Secretary suggested that this rough sleeping were doing so as ‘a lifestyle choice’, very quickly drawing criticism from homelessness charities and much of the British public. She also looked to blame the increasing number of rough sleepers on an increasing number of people from abroad; much more restrained than the dogwhistles we’ve become used to hearing.
It doesn’t take a sharp mind to understand that those rough sleeping aren’t doing it because it’s preferable to having a solid roof over their head. If you offered a bed and a warm room they’d probably be incredibly grateful and take you up on it, the street isn’t where they want to be, it’s not where any of us would want to be. Numbers of homeless people will reoffend because they know that at least in prison they would get a bed, a roof over their head and a hot meal!
Every time this Conservative Government stoops to a new low on how it treats some of the poorest and most marginalised in UK society it announces a new way to make their lives harder. Removing the very small amount of shelter those that rough sleep have does nothing to address why people are rough sleeping nor get them help that is needed. Removing tents from those living on the street and the small amount of shelter they have is inhumane and is rightfully being called out as such.