(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 29th September 2016)
People living in tents in Brighton town centre should come as no surprise to anyone. It is a direct consequence of the housing crisis we are experiencing, not least in the south east.
The cost of renting a one bedroom flat in Brighton is now, on average, a little short of £1000 per month, well above the Local Housing Allowance of £612 per month, the amount that people on benefits can claim towards the rent of a one bedroom flat. The LHA has been frozen by central government making accommodation even more unaffordable
The rough sleeping situation in Brighton is more visible than ever before and, notwithstanding the excellent work of the City Council, several charities and others, the numbers on the streets can be expected to increase, an obvious and direct consequence of austerity.
Safety nets are under threat, and many have closed across the country. While those that remain work well for the lucky few, even they are now at risk from cuts and a government imposed cap on charges.
In the past I have been accused of scaremongering. However, the number and high-profile of those on our streets lends support to previous warnings regarding cuts to services and welfare benefits.
Needles in the parks is not something that should be confused with rough sleeping. Drug use impacts on people of all classes, housed or homeless, but needles disposed of carelessly should be condemned by all, as they pose a danger to all, not least rough sleepers.