May 05, 2010
How the “Big Society” works
Johann Hari reports on David Cameron’s “model borough” of “compassionate Conversatism.” Meals on Wheels charges, he learns, have increased by £527 a year (to put this figure in context, the savings from all the council’s sell-offs and increased charges amounts to £20 per year for the average resident). ASBOs are up since the council closed down the youth club to try to sell it off. The council is trying to sell off people’s homes to property developers. A polo consortium has ripped out a local park’s running track, and denies locals access to it for a month every year. “Does it look like we need a polo pitch around here?” pleads a local 17-year old.
And then there is this: “The Conservatives… immediately sold off 12 homeless shelters, handing them to large property developers. The horrified charity Crisis was offered premises by the BBC to house the abandoned in a shelter over the Christmas period at least. The council refused permission… We know where this ended. A young woman… turned up at the council's emergency housing office one night, sobbing and shaking. She was eight months pregnant. She explained she was being beaten up by her boyfriend and had finally fled because she was frightened for her unborn child. The council said they would ‘investigate’ her situation to find ‘proof of homelessness’ – but she told them she had nowhere to go while they carried it out. By law, they were required to provide her with emergency shelter. They refused. They suggested she try to find a flat on the private market. For four nights, she slept in the local park, on the floor. She is still traumatised by the memories of lying, pregnant and abandoned, in one of the wealthiest parts of Europe.”
Long quote, so here’s the shorter. The “compassionate Conservatives” gave an woman who was eight months pregnant a choice of sleeping on the streets or going back to the guy who beat her up. And they actively interfered with a charity that tried to ameliorate the situation.