Recent government data on homelessness makes for grim reading. The latest official estimate saw rough sleeping numbers rise for the seventh consecutive year. Responding to the increase in Bristol, leader of the Green Group Councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“Given the priority the Mayor gave to homelessness with his City Office, it is very disappointing that rough sleeping has increased so much – in Bristol by 16%, more than the average for England (including London). To give credit where it’s due, the Labour administration have introduced some good initiatives, for example opening up more disused council buildings for the homeless (a policy which began under the previous Mayor after a Green council motion).
“Yet it doesn’t help that the Mayor also made deep cuts to the Local Crisis Prevention Fund last year, voting down a Green budget amendment to protect it. This fund is a crucial last resort for people in the city in moments of extreme crisis, including those at risk of eviction, and this year the proportion of those refused access to funding more than doubled – almost 50% of applicants were turned away.
“This country’s broken economic system, decades of cuts to services, a cost of living crisis and increased workplace insecurity are responsible for breathtaking rates of poverty for those in and out of work, and have led to millions living just a paycheck away from eviction and homelessness. The rollout of the Tories’ cruel and flawed Universal Credit will only worsen the situation.
“In this situation, no one person can hold all the answers, and we hope that this year Bristol Labour will be prepared to listen to a diversity of ideas and really consider amendments to save the council money and prevent further unnecessary cuts, rather than again voting down all opposition amendments on party lines.”
– Green budget proposals from 2017 identified £1.7m of savings to protect vital services (but were voted down en masse by Labour majority councillors).
– In December 2015 Greens tabled a council motion calling for more emergency action to provide shelter for the homeless, including opening up disused buildings.
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