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I am knackered, I walk round like a zombie, and it’s hard but there’s nothing I can do.
These are the words of Danny, a young man from Wrexham who is forced to live in a tent – despite having a job.
One of the main reasons for Danny’s plight is because, like 910,000 other workers in Britain today, his employment contract does not guarantee him any hours.
Speaking to Channel 4 news, Danny explained:
I normally work three to four nights per week, but I’m off next week because there’s no work… If I can work seven nights a week, I’ll work seven nights a week.
As well as being on a zero hour contract, Danny is also paid the minimum wage – a miserly £7.50 per hour. In the context of sky-rocketing rents, is it any wonder that Danny is unable to afford temporary accommodation?
But nor is Danny alone. Nick Claffey from Humanity 4 Homeless describes the “disgusting” situation of workers being forced to “sleep in a tent in a ditch… [They do a] full nights work after that and then sleeping rough in the day in a tent.”
As well being subjected to sub-zero winter temperatures, which have already led to a spate of deaths around the country, night workers are also unable to access basic services. Claffey continues:
Because obviously you’re sleeping through the day, that’s when any food services are offered. This lad, for example, he’s not able to access any of the services, if there’s breakfast offered in the mornings because he’s either coming home from work or he’s sleeping.
The scenes depicted in the Channel 4 report would not be out of place in Victorian Britain.
Whilst Danny may be worse off than some, there are increasing numbers who are at risk of falling through the cracks into rough sleeping.
You can watch the Channel 4 video below to find out more about Danny’s story:
According a parliamentary report published in September 2017, there are now more than 78,180 households currently living in temporary accommodation. Across Britain, 39% of these households are in employment. In London this figure rises to 47%!
It is a stark reminder of our times that even those in work can fall into rough sleeping. But this is the reality of Tory Britain. Ordinary working class people driven into poverty and despair whilst the rich continue to get richer.
And this is partly why Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto proved so popular at the 2017 General Election.
The manifesto pledges to raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour, ban zero hour contracts, and embark on the “biggest council building programme for at least 30 years.”
Each of these policies has the potential to lift people like Danny out of his dire situation!
But it is also clear that people in Britain cannot wait for a Corbyn government. Decisive action should be taken now to put a stop to the Tories’ austerity agenda – in reality it is “economic murder”.
Britain’s Labour councils should follow the example of Liverpool City Council who recently “ignored government policy” in setting up a new £250,000 homeless shelter.
But they should go further. A recent report issued by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) states that the combined spending power of Labour councils is “greater than the total state budgets of 16 EU member states”.
This money could be used to temporarily halt the government’s austerity programme in the formative stages of building a nationwide fightback. The Tories are already weak and wobbly – but what is becoming clear is that they could limp on for some time longer.
But if enough Labour councils were to stand up and fight, instead of dutifully carrying out the Tories dirty work, they would save lives by speeding the collapse of this hated government.
This is the Christmas present we all so badly need.
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