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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 May 2019
Labour launches homelessness campaign
Tory and Blairite austerity has driven up homelessness, photo by Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
A Unite union housing workers' branch member
An enthusiastic crowd attended the launch meeting of the new Labour Homelessness Campaign. Left opinion columnist Owen Jones expressed anger that people sleep on the streets in Britain, one of the richest countries.
Rough sleeping has gone up at least 165% since 2010 and figures issued on the week of the meeting show rough sleeping in London up 31% in the first quarter of this year compared to last year.
Local authorities have drastically cut the amount spent on services for single homeless people. In 2017-18, £1 billion less was spent on single homelessness services than ten years before.
It is no surprise that numbers dying on the streets are rising - up 24% over the last four years according to official figures.
There were at least six speakers on the platform, unfortunately none of them from a trade union. General union Unite - one of Labour's biggest trade union backers, and which organises homelessness workers - was not invited to send a platform speaker.
Trade union involvement in this campaign is vital, not least to avoid a situation where workers are seen as the enemy.
Speaking from the floor of the meeting, a homelessness worker in the Unite housing workers' union branch, Jack Jeffrey, called for Labour councils to take a stand against cuts.
He argued for them to set legal no-cuts budgets balanced by drawing on reserves and borrowing powers to save jobs and services.
Labour MP Kate Osamor said that although she was sympathetic things were 'more complicated'. She raised the question of Labour councils with no reserves, apparently unaware that there are none without reserves to borrow to avoid cuts.
She also warned of the danger of not setting a budget - a strategy no one had proposed!
A speaker from the floor got a big echo from the audience calling for Labour councils to collectively refuse to make cuts and to launch a campaign including strikes and civil disobedience against cuts.
The new campaign could play an important role in highlighting the issue of homelessness but there will be a need to discuss what programme can really tackle the crisis.
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In The Socialist 8 May 2019:
Socialist Party election analysis
Local elections: Tory meltdown but Labour loses ground
England council elections: socialist anti-cuts message chimes with voters
Leicester elections: "We planted a marker for the future"
Bolsover elections: Labour's cuts councillors punished by voters
Halton Brook election: support for our policies on doorstep
International socialist news and analysis
Spanish elections - new upheavals underline need for a revolutionary socialist alternative
Socialist Party news and analysis
Climate catastrophe looms: we need socialist change
Young and old, unite and fight!
Water bosses plan to undermine nationalisation: no compensation for fat cats!
Northern Ireland: Socialist wins council seat
Them & Us
Workplace news and analysis
Unions must back a general election and oppose bosses' EU
Doncaster NHS pay win shows: strikes can get results!
PCS union: listen to members, link the campaigns - we can win fight on pay
Usdaw union conference demands action on pay, jobs and the right
UCU general secretary election: fight for a left leadership!
Newham gas workers to strike
Hull dinner ladies protest against loss of week's pay
Asda workers protest against attacks on paid breaks and bank holiday working
Woolwich Ferry staff to strike over pay and safety
Radiographers' union slams professional costs
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Labour launches homelessness campaign
Socialist vision at Leeds May Day rally
Alternative housing awards shames bosses
Sequel to 'A Very British Coup' - workers' struggle, not bosses' EU and media, is route to socialism
'Line of Duty' - twists and turns as organised crime meets police corruption
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