Last week in Big Issue we revealed findings of our investigation into potential massive rises in homelessness and rough sleeping. We discovered that due to the government’s acceleration of processing of asylum claims, thousands of people granted leave to remain in the UK were having support withdrawn. Booted over to the responsibility of local authorities who are barely keeping the wolf from the door, people were being left with nothing. And the outcome for many was bleak.
Being charitable, you might claim this was an unintended consequence of Westminster’s desire to help people move along. Being less charitable you could see a callous disregard.
Whichever lens you view through, there is an inevitability to the result.
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It’s not clear if Suella Braverman’s remarks about the lifestyle choice of rough sleeping was a cynical attempt to get ahead of what is coming, to pre-emptively point the finger at those left on the streets and make them, many from overseas, look like they are responsible and should take the blame.
That suggests incredible Machiavellian forethought and a dark reading of the reaction of the British people to the poverty of others. Only she could tell you if that is the case. What is clear is this was one of the most wrongheaded, ridiculous and lamentable things a senior minister has said during the lifetime of this parliament. And that includes some of Boris Johnson’s prize remarks coming to light in the Covid inquiry. It feels like the outcome of a culture war-loving pressure group, keen to hammer home a new wedge issue.