Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Criminalising poverty

Homeless people face being criminalised in a east London borough due to a ban on anti-social behaviour, a charity has warned. Under the new Public Space Protection Order in force in Hackney, police and council officers can order people to stop activities deemed anti-social - including begging and sleeping rough. Hackney Downs, London Fields, Broadway Market, Mare Street and Regents Canal are all covered by the order.

Those who are found to be breaking the rules could be handed a £100 fixed penalty notice, or fined as much as £1,000. Money that they obviously do not possess and therefore face jail time for failure to pay (or perhaps deducted from their already meagre benefits and making them even more destitute.)

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, told The Hackney Citizen: “Any moves to ban and criminalise rough sleeping will be counter-productive and only make it harder for people to access the dedicated support they need to move away from the streets for good.” 

Research revealed that a third of Londoners do not earn enough to afford a decent standard of living, and a person would need to ear £27,000 a year to comfortably rent a flat in the capital. A third of Londoners do not earn enough to afford a decent standard of living, according to new research into the subject. The authors of a new report found that a single person living in outer London would need to earn at least £21,100 a year to be able to pay rent in a shared house and live comfortably, rising to £22,300 in inner London. To be able to rent a studio flat by themselves the figure would rise to £24,500 and £27,100 respectively. Around a third of Londoners earn under their required level and the researchers found that a minimum budget  in London was as much as 50% higher than elsewhere in the country.

Mubin Haq, director of policy and grants at Trust for London, said it was becoming increasingly difficult for many people in the capital to participate in society. “The very high costs of housing, transport and childcare mean one in three Londoners are struggling to live a decent life, especially families with children,” he said. “This is not about just food, clothing and having a roof over your head. It's about the difference between people being able to participate in society or not. It raises important questions about whether London is for everyone or does it become a city for the wealthiest.”

The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said research was evidence that the economic recovery was “only working for the privileged few at the top”.

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