Mike Lane | 23.08.2003 09:55 | Liverpool
Trying to get exact figures from the Liverpool City Council pertaining to the issue of homeless people is very difficult. Anything that can be used to constructively criticise Liverpool’s local government is kept out of the public realm. The only time the city council uses figures to illustrate the problems connected with poverty and homelessness is when it is trying to get funding from central government or the European Commission. The Liverpool City Council has always been mired in a culture of silence. According to the Liverpool City Council’s Homelessness and Supportive Housing Unit there are annually:
· 600 to 650 families homeless in Liverpool
· 1,200 to 1,300 single men homeless in Liverpool
· 600 single women homeless in Liverpool
We must look suspiciously at the above figures, which are probably very conservative. Liverpool recently became the capital of culture 2003 and as such is trying to portray the best possible image nationally and internationally. The situation of homelessness in Liverpool and across the whole region of Merseyside is probably much worse than the above figures illustrate.
It is claimed that Liverpool will benefit immeasurably through winning the capital of culture. But in reality the only people who will benefit will be the rich property developers and existing homeowners. Already house prices have risen considerably right across the whole region of Merseyside making it more difficult for first time buyers. The dominant culture, supported by selfish homeowners who care only about the price of their houses, strive to gentrify inner city areas and to socially cleanse those areas of the poor and socially excluded, who local government call the benefit culture.
Smithdown’s Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Makinson, who is a board member of the Kensington New Deal for Communities infinitive and lives in a prosperous Liverpool suburb which is a million miles away from the poverty that exists within the Smithdown ward that he represents, recently sent me an email in reply to an email I sent to him expressing my concerns about the issue of “social cleansing.”
The email from Councillor Makinson illustrates the fact that middle class folk see things from a different perspective than us poor working class folk. In Councillor Makinson’s eyes there is a need for more new build for sale rather than houses for rent. Councillor Makinson said in his email to me:
I am sorry if you think my reply was flippant, but I was trying to point out
that the situation is not as black and white as you were portraying it.
There are more empty houses in Kensington Fields than you would think, they
may not all be boarded up, but if you look through the letterboxes you will
see several months worth of mail there.
I did not say there are not many people on C7's waiting list, but there is
an oversupply of social housing across the city, and if every RSL property
that is demolished in the city is replaced with a new RSL property we will
not solve that problem.
There is a desperate need for new houses for sale in Liverpool, and until
that is addressed we will never stop the decline in population, and stop
people moving to Knowsley, Sefton and the Wirral.
I agree that there needs to be more information and communication, and I
know that even KR have raised this with C7.