Working as a junior psychiatrist, I saw first-hand how policies that fail to protect the disadvantaged lead to ill-health, stress and reduced life expectancy
A tragedy as gut-wrenching as Grenfell Tower has scarcely been seen during peace time in the UK. The negligence and cruelty of the decisions that caused it have sparked justifiable outrage. Concerns raised by residents were ignored and there are allegations that dangerous materials were used to cut costs and make the building look nice for the rich folk. People understandably take to the streets to protest and seek justice.
Related: The Grenfell Tower tragedy should see off austerity. But don’t hold your breath | Patrick Butler
Poverty is a cause and consequence of accidents and ill-health
As affordable housing in Britain’s capital is replaced by luxury towers, people on middle incomes are being priced out, while the poor are forced to pay extortionate rents for shocking conditions
The first time I met Ian Dick, the head of private housing at Newham council in east London, he took me on a walk to look for “beds in sheds”. It was 2011, and alongside criminal levels of overcrowding in private rental properties, there was a growing problem of people living in illegal structures in back gardens. It was not uncommon to find 10 or 20 people living in a room above a fried chicken shop, in a basement, or in ramshackle outbuildings. When we met again, five years later, he was happy to talk to me, not because these problems had disappeared, but because he was proud of the council’s private rented sector licensing regime. Introduced in 2013, it was the first such scheme in the country and had led to 800 prosecutions and 28 landlords being banned from renting property to tenants.
This time we met in Forest Gate, traditionally one of the most deprived parts of Newham. “This is an area undergoing the most dramatic change – the council doesn’t use the term ‘gentrification’, they use the term ‘regeneration’,” he said as we strolled down a pleasant high street in the sunshine, looking up at Victorian facades renovated by the council. Along the road, hipster cafes and pubs were interspersed with clothing retailers, halal butchers and phone shops. To show me the reality in some of the flats above, he took me around the back, where an entire street was accessed by a badly maintained private alleyway, with a huge pile of mattresses dumped at one end.
We paused to look at the ‘to let’ signs in the newsagents. One offered a room share for four people for £160 a month
Related: Stop spending money on avocados? Good idea, I’ll have a house deposit by 2117 | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
There are more requirements to run a cattery than to rent out a home
In the run-up to the general election, six Guardian reporters are writing from constituencies across the country to find out what matters to you and in your area. In the second of a series of dispatches from Erdington, Birmingham, Nazia Parveen and photographer Christopher Thomond meet church leaders helping those in need – and struggling with the question of who is responsible
In 2010, when David Cameron launched his “big society” project in Liverpool, he talked a lot about empowering communities. The idea, he said, was “a deep, serious reform agenda to take power away from politicians and give it to people”. But then austerity took the big society’s place as the government’s defining idea, and the phrase disappeared from the party’s literature. It was dismissed as an “enormous failure”.
Seven years on from that launch, on a sunny afternoon 100 miles south of Liverpool, Cameron’s big idea is reluctantly being reheated in a Labour heartland. Today’s “empowered community”, as Cameron would have it, are the leaders and volunteers of the many churches and mosques in Erdington, a Birmingham suburb. They might wish they didn’t have to, but they are helping to meet the needs of some of the most impoverished people in society.
Any alterations to the supported housing rules that force disabled people to either live with family or in an institution would be a huge step backwards
I have Down’s syndrome and I live in supported housing. Today a parliamentary select committee has put out a report on the government’s planned changes for supported housing that could force people such as me with a learning disability out of our homes.
Last year the government said it wanted to make changes to funding for supported housing that would limit payments to the local housing allowance rate and let local councils have control over the extra money needed to give people supported housing. This would mean people such as me could lose our right to have our housing paid for and that there could be a lot less supported housing available.
Related: Abandon damaging government changes to supported housing | Clive Betts
I make my own choices and I get to live the life I want, something everyone has the right to do
Andrew Dilnot says current adult social care system is ‘most pernicious means-test’ in the British welfare state
Andrew Dilnot, who carried out the government review into the funding for care and support in England, has condemned Britain’s social care system as “the most pernicious means-test in the whole of the British welfare state” and called for a new tax to fund adult social care for everyone who needs it.
The chair of the Dilnot commission on funding of care and support said a tax was needed to provide lifelong adult social care that was not means-tested.
Related: ‘We all like to feel special’: hairdressers style a revolution in care homes