“Cruel and Heartless” – UK’s Homelessness Bill Sparks Anger

A new bill aimed at reducing homelessness in the UK has been criticized for being cruel and heartless. Elements of the Criminal Justice Bill have come under fire from various angles, including MPs and charities.

Bill First Introduced by Suella Braverman

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The Criminal Justice Bill was introduced to Parliament by former home secretary, Suella Braverman. She had controversial views on the homeless, once branding rough sleeping as a “lifestyle choice”.

Not All Tory MPs Agree With Braverman’s Comments

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Education Secretary Gillian Keegan does not agree with Braverman’s comments, saying “Normally people have had a lot of hardship before they got to that point.”

Bill Designed to Modernize the Law

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The bill is designed to replace the 1824 Vagrancy Act, bringing into the modern era. The 1824 Vagrancy Act makes begging and rough sleeping a criminal offence.

New Measures Change Policing Options

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The Criminal Justice Bill would give the police powers to move on “nuisance” rough sleepers. To where, remains unknown. However, if the rough sleeper doesn’t abide by this, the police can then issue a fine or even arrest them.

Guidelines Are Too Vague – Critics

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Many critics of the new bill argue that the definition of nuisance behavior is unsuitably vague. It includes ‘causing excessive noise or smells’. How can too much noise, or too much smell be quantified fairly?

Tory MPs Want to Amend Bill

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Tory MP Bob Blackman has put forward an amendment to the bill. The amendment would require the government to issue guidance to councils and police forces about the appropriate use of powers in the legislation.

Amendments Designed to Remove Vagaries 

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The particular details of Blackman’s amendment state that policing “should balance protection of the community with sensitivity to the problems that cause people to engage in begging or sleeping rough”.

Amendment to Proposals Winning Some Support

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Sir Iain Duncan Smith and 10 other Tories are backing Blackman’s proposals. There are also 21 opposition MPs who are in support of the changes.

Heavy Rebellion Mounting Against the Bill

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So far reports are saying there are 40 Tory MPs who are set to vote against the proposals. Some of these are claiming the proposals are unfair and unnecessary. It’s doing very little to help the Tories lose their ‘nasty party’ tag.

Number 10 Has Their Say

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A spokeswoman for number 10 said, “We are clear that nobody should be criminalized for being homeless and having nowhere to live, but at the same time our legislation has provisions in place which are designed to assist the police with addressing behavior that could make the public feel unsafe or intimidated.”

Lib Dems Leading the Fight Against the Bill

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Liberal Democrat Layla Moran is leading a cross-party campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act. She has said that the government’s “heartless proposals” risked bringing back the act “by the back door”.

Moran Urges the Government to Show Compassion

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Moran went on to say, “the government should listen to their own backbenchers and take a compassionate approach to tackling homelessness, instead of stigmatizing and criminalizing rough sleepers.” 

Homeless Charity Crisis Want the Government to Rethink Passing the Bill

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Homelessness Charity Crisis have called upon the home secretary to listen to MPs and “drop these cruel and unnecessary measures”.

Homelessness on the Rise

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Research by homeless charity, Shelter, has shown that at least 309,000 were homeless in the UK in 2023. This figure had risen by 38,100 (14%) in a single year.

Government Policy Called Into Question

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Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said “The housing emergency is out of control. Chronic underinvestment in social homes has left people unable to afford skyrocketing private rents and plunged record numbers into homelessness.”

Clumsy Bill Indicative of Government Attention

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Rather than trying to fix a social problem at the root cause, this bill feels like it’s punishing the symptom of the issue. It’s making those who are already struggling a potential victim of heavy-handed policing. 

Government Attention Better Spent on Fixing Social Housing Problem in the UK

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There are over 1,000,000 households on waiting lists for social housing. Councils countrywide are seeing their housing stock fall thanks to lack of investment. The overspill leads to people on the street. 

Government Urged to Build More Social Housing

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Various experts say the answer to this issue is to increase investment into social housing. The UK has had a housing crisis for years, and the government has done very little to fix this. Major investment in the UK social housing stock will go some way to help fixing the problem.

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Stranded: 15 Worst British Cars in History

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“Britain Will Become Unrecognizable” – Suella Braverman Spells Disaster for UK Amid Steep Rise in Visas Issued

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The post Dubbed Dubbed “Cruel and Heartless” by Critics, the UK’s Barbaric Homelessness Bill Sparks Anger first appeared on Edge Media.

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