Helping for the homeless.

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Areas with most homeless deaths disproportionately hit by cuts.

Labour analysis finds nine of 10 councils with highest fatalities had cuts more than three times national average.

Local government funding cuts are disproportionately hitting areas that have the highest numbers of deaths among homeless people, according to a Labour party analysis.

Nine of the 10 councils with the highest numbers of homeless deaths in England and Wales between 2013 and 2017 have had cuts of more than three times the national average of £254 for every household.

They are Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Blackburn, Liverpool and the four London boroughs of Camden, Westminster, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets.

It follows rising disquiet about the growing number of deaths of rough sleepers across the UK, including the death of a man near parliament in February.

Birmingham, the seventh most deprived council in England and Wales, has seen the highest number of homeless deaths with 90 people estimated to have died between 2013 and 2017. The city’s council has experienced a cut in spending power per household of more than £939 for every home since 2010, according to Labour.

Camden in north London has the second worst figures, with 89 deaths among rough sleepers and those living in hostels during the same period. During the last decade, every household in the borough has experienced cuts of £980.

Official rough sleeping counts in Manchester have risen from seven people in 2010 to 123 in 2018 and, in common with many other cities, it has become highly visible, with numerous people bedding down in city centre doorways. During the four years examined by Labour, 65 homeless people were recorded to have died in the city during a period in which the city council experienced cuts of £926 for each household.

Blackburn is the only town included in Labour’s list and has the 10th highest number of deaths in a four-year period. The Lancashire town has had an estimated 41 deaths among homeless people up to 2017, while spending power for every household has been cut by £879, according to Labour.

James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, last year announced a one-off £30m funding pot for immediate support for councils to tackle rough sleeping. Birmingham received £405,000 from the government for immediate homelessness support – this compared with a cut in spending power of over £358m, Labour claims.

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said: “These figures show that the areas with the highest homelessness deaths are facing the deepest cuts. This makes the prospect of reducing deaths ever more bleak. The government’s £30m to reduce the rough sleeping number has been pitiful so Britain’s homelessness crisis is set to continue.

“The next prime minister must put an end to this national shame of people dying on our streets and back Labour’s plans to end rough sleeping and build thousands more affordable homes.”

The homeless death figures, which are estimates, were calculated by checking death registrations in England and Wales for indications that a person was homeless at or near their time of death. ONS researchers searched for terms such as “no fixed abode” in records, also checking whether the address included in the death registration belonged to a night shelter or a hostel.

The figures are in contrast with the change in spending power per household in each council between 2010-11 and 2019-20, which come from official government statistics.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Every death on our streets is a tragedy … That’s why we are investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness and have bold plans backed by £100m to end rough sleeping in its entirety. Councils have used this funding to create an estimated 2,600 more bed spaces and 750 additional specialist support staff this year.

“We are committed to ensuring independent reviews into the deaths of rough sleepers are conducted where appropriate – and where this does not happen we will hold local authorities to account.
Rough sleepers denied access to healthcare, pushing them into " Repeat cycles of homelessness ", study says.

One homeless man tells researchers he committed crimes just to go to prison so he could access healthcare. ... 05811.html
Homeless people are being denied access to basic healthcare, according to research which suggests “perceived stigma and discrimination” in health settings are pushing people with no fixed abode into “repeat cycles of homelessness” and causing “unnecessary deaths”.

A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham found homeless people were being denied registration at GP surgeries and discharged from hospital onto the streets with no referral to primary care providers.

Mental health and substance misuse services were also deemed to be excluding those with the greatest need, with entry thresholds to these services said to "actively obstruct" patients who were self-harming, including those with recent suicide attempts.
Homeless man forced on 400-mile round trip to seek support

Krzysztof Pietrzykowski travelled from London to Hereford and back again

A homeless man’s experience has provoked questions about systems of provision after he was forced to travel almost 400 miles from London to Hereford and back again to access services.

Krzysztof Pietrzykowski, 39, said he initially left Hereford when he lost his job and found himself homeless. He went to London because he thought he might get better support there. However, when he arrived, he was advised by the Connection at St Martin’s, a homelessness charity, to go back to Hereford, where he had lived for 14 years.

After he headed back there, Pietrzykowski claims, Herefordshire council told him it could not help because he was registered for assistance with a London charity.

“I find the system so confusing. It’s the same country. I have worked and paid taxes for 14 years. I want to get back on my feet. I do not have a criminal past,” Pietrzykowski told the Guardian.

“All I want at the moment is to get a new passport. My old one has expired. I want a passport so I can get a job in London and then go back to Poland at the end of the year.”

The Connection at St Martin’s said it could not comment on the specifics of the case, but when new clients arrived it assessed them. “For many, the best and quickest way to access housing, health and social care services is to do so in a UK local authority where a person has a ‘local connection’ ie they have links to that area,” a spokesperson said.

“We work with clients to establish their rights and options and to find the best solution for them … We are sorry to hear that someone does not feel we have achieved that. We are very happy to speak directly with the person concerned about the situation to see if there are other options.”

Pietrzykowski said he had come to the UK in 2006 to work with his brother. He held various jobs, mainly in construction and then at a garden centre, before he found a job landscaping for a small business. He had an accident at work, which meant he was unable to work and eventually lost his property.

“I spoke to the council and they said I should try to find a new job but my passport expired so I couldn’t. I was unable to pay rent and so I was kicked out of my home. I eventually bought a Megabus ticket to London, which was quite cheap,” he said.

Pietrzykowski said he had been persuaded to come to the capital after seeing the videos of a YouTuber, Rado, a Polish man who documents his life on the street. He thought it would be easier to be homeless in the capital because of support services.

He said he had told the Connection charity he did not want to return to Hereford. “I said: ‘I don’t want to go there. My life was destroyed there. If I have no bed, then fine. I just want my passport.”

Pietrzykowski said he had struggled to get help at another charity after registering with the Connection, because there are rules about only being helped by one service. He eventually decided to return to Hereford where the council told him it could not help him because he had registered with a London charity. Then he made the Megabus journey back to the capital again. He is now trying to get a passport so he can find a job.

Rules state that a homeless person can apply to any council for help but, if the individual does not have a local connection to the area, they can be referred elsewhere. A local connection means having lived or worked in an area, or having a relative there.

“Krzysztof’s case demonstrates all the absurdity and inhumanity of the current system of homelessness provision, which forces dedicated homelessness workers to close their doors to people they know need help,” said a spokesman from the Labour Homelessness Campaign.

He added: “This is a direct result of political choices – the government cut £5bn from single homelessness services and then offloaded the cost of that on to desperately overstretched local councils, forcing them to vie with each other to drive rough sleepers on to somebody else’s turf. Rather than playing local authorities off against each other, we need a unified national approach.”

Herefordshire council said: “We do not share information specific to individual cases. We suggest that anybody who is experiencing housing issues contact the council’s housing solutions team drop-in service.”
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