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Labour’s “Third Way”: Newham Council: Stealing From the Homeless?

January 6th, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last year an acquaintance found himself homeless and destitute. Falling on his knees before Newham Council’s Homeless Persons Unit he begged and was eventually offered temporary accommodation.

At first he was in a hostel surrounded by crack-cocaine addicts. However, he had been told that Newham Council had £25 million of ring fenced money from central government to pay for temporary housing for the homeless. He looked forward to getting somewhere better.

It took a while but he was offered a one bedroom flat and went to sign the tenancy. The tenancy was for a studio flat and was at a rent of over three hundred pounds a week. Regretting that he would be locked into benefits for the length of his stay because of the extortionate rent he nevertheless signed.

He moved into the flat and soon met the private landlord it had been rented from. He was wondering how the man had convinced Newham to pay such an incredibly high rent for a 10? x 15? room which looked out on a toilet so he asked. “The rent is a ton a week”, the landlord said (a ton = £100). The next day they looked at each others contracts and confirmed the discrepancy.

It took him a while to work out what was going on but eventually he realised. It seemed like Newham had worked out a neat little plan to un-ring-fence the money.

Newham had rented a load of hovels, at one hundred pounds a week, shoved the homeless into them, then rented them back to themselves at over three hundred pounds a week – charged to the ringfenced account.

A nice little earner, cash strapped Newham seemed to strip two hundred a week on each rental from the ring-fenced homeless budget to bolster their always flagging general finances. Brave Mayor Sir Robin, otherwise known in Newham as “Sir Robin everyone blind” is a New Labour man through and through. Now “The Third Way” is becoming clear: If you can’t take it legitimately, call it an administration charge. Nice one.

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