At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday 20 December, Theresa May gave a kick in the teeth to all children facing homelessness this Christmas. Because May seems to be in denial over the horrific situation that many of them are facing.
It’s OK, they’re not really homeless
May was asked a question about the thousands of children in Wandsworth who’ll be homeless this Christmas. But she responded by trying to subvert the figures:
Anybody hearing that will assume that what that means is that two-and-half thousand children will be sleeping on our streets… It does not mean that.
Can you believe this? In response to the question that 2500 children will be homeless in Wandsworth this Christmas,
— EL4C (@EL4JC) December 20, 2017
The legal definition
But the legal definition does not just mean sleeping on the streets. And May’s assertion that people don’t realise this is patronising. In fact, the legal definition includes and is not limited to:
- Having no accommodation at all.
- Having accommodation that is not reasonable to live in, even in the short-term (eg because of violence or health reasons).
- Having a legal right to accommodation that you cannot access (eg if you have been evicted illegally).
- Living in accommodation you have no legal right to occupy (eg living in a squat or staying with friends temporarily).
A housing crisis
Information released from Wandsworth Council epitomises the housing crisis that the rest of the country is facing. It shows that 2,179 children in Wandsworth will be homeless this Christmas. And a statement by Wandsworth Labour makes clear that the “heartbreaking” situations many homeless families find themselves in are due to being in temporary accommodation. This includes the story of a mother with an autistic son and a ten-month-old baby who are in rat-infested temporary accommodation.
So please take note, Mrs May. We do know what homelessness means. We do know that it doesn’t necessarily mean children sleeping on our streets. But we also know that it includes children living in unsafe, unsuitable temporary accommodation. It means families forced to live in one room. It means children who do not have a bedroom or safety or security.
This government should be utterly ashamed that so many children in just one borough will be waking up on Christmas morning in such conditions. And it is appalling that we have a Prime Minister who thinks she can attempt to spin these figures into anything that isn’t a complete disgrace.
– Volunteer to help feed homeless people this Christmas.
Featured image via screengrab
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?