Councils accused of “passing the buck” on homelessness

Several councils in England are being accused of dodging their responsibilities by giving homeless people a one-way train ticket to other towns and cities.
 
The initiative is supposed to help reconnect homeless people with their families, but it has been found that the strategy has not been strictly used in this way. The BBC has reported on one man being offered a train ticket to a city he had never even visited before.
 
The man in question – Gareth Glendall-Pickton – grew up in Bournemouth and claimed he was offered a one-way train ticket to Manchester.
 
“I think what they want to do is to get the homeless people out of Bournemouth, because all the new people coming to the area are seeing all those homeless people sitting there,” he told the BBC.
 
Half of the councils asked via the Freedom of Information request confirmed that they indeed have participated offering the “reconnection” scheme between 2012 and 2017.
 

Local councils are shipping homeless people away on one-way train tickets // Source: Jack Taylor, Getty Images

 
The reconnection scheme is part of the government’s Homelessness Reduction Act, of which it is spending £550 million to tackle rough sleeping by 2020, but some are dubious about local councils’ behaviours with the reconnection policy. Claire Matthews, of local soup kitchen Hope for Food, declared it as “social cleansing, and an abdication of any responsibility on [the council’s] part”.
 
There has been a 130% increase in the amount of people sleeping on the streets in England in the last six years and charities such as Crisis say that this could be a huge underestimate.
 
The actions of these councils reflect the growing hands-off approach to homelessness and the increasing desire for a quick fix. Other acts like this were the implementation of anti-homeless spikes in London back in 2015, as well as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics attempt to “clean up” their homeless people for the event.

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