Housing Benefit Reform: A Further Squeeze on Britain’s Young People

Stephen Donnan 

Image © Kymberly Janisch

As a man of 24 who has experienced homelessness first hand, you will forgive me if I find George Osborne’s sustained and prolonged attack on the young and vulnerable insufferably despicable. I had decided not to watch the Tory Party conference, as my blood pressure is rather high enough without the added smug grin of Osborne and his Conservative party cronies adding to my systolic pressure. However I was unfortunate enough to learn, as had been rumoured, that the current Government is planning to axe housing benefit for those under the age of 25, because in Cameron’s World, everyone gets along great with their non-deceased, wealthy parents who live just round the corner in a five bedroom house.

For me, and I suspect for many others my age, this is one of the many issues that has proven to me over and over again that the Conservative Party are out of touch to the point of delusional malice. A cut to the housing benefit for under 25’s flies directly in the face of the previous Labour Government’s National Youth Homelessness scheme to provide temporary housing to homeless young people in England, a move that was welcomed by charities such as YMCA England and Centrepoint back in 2007. The statistics back then demonstrated that around a third of people who had been declared homeless were under the age of 25, and around a quarter of those young people were homeless because their parents were no longer able or willing to accommodate them.

Five years on and the current administration is planning to push those same people to the brink by removing the one safety net that many young people feel stands between them and living on the streets. When I was homeless for a short time it was not because I wanted ‘more independence’ as Cameron and his Eaton chums would try to depict, nor was it because I fancied the student life or more freedom from my parents.

I was voluntarily homeless because I had no choice, the relationship between my parents and I had broken down so irrevocably due to my sexuality that I felt that running away at the age of 20 was my only option. I was lucky enough to have a few friends that had taken me in for a time, but there were nights that I spent in the January cold in Belfast thinking that my life was over. Eventually, and painfully, I managed to repair the broken relationship with my family and I am grateful that I now have a roof over my head.   Read more of this post

Guest Blog: Occupy Oakland battles police

Richard Mellor

The video above is from the events surrounding Occupy Oakland’s attempts to take over an empty public building. The cops used tear gas and other weaponry to prevent the comrades from taking over the Henry J Kaiser Convention center and making it the OO headquarters. Occupy folks were also kettled at the YMCA where many were arrested and others brutalized.  Another group also got in to City Hall as well. From what I can gather, some 400 people were arrested last night.
This blog has defended the Occupy Movement from criticism from the right and from the left including an article in the International Socialist Organization’s paper that basically blamed the Occupy Movement’s “mistakes” for an attack on a discussion panel it organized about the ILWU and the Longview WA events. The meeting was broken up by right wing thugs under direction from the ILWU International, who, like every member of the AFL-CIO executive board are terrified of the influence the OWS movement might have on the ranks of organized Labor.
We have pointed out the great achievement of the Occupy Movement in shifting the debate in the US on the nature of the crisis and who is to blame for it.  OWS has put Wall Street and its two political parties on the defensive and forced the politicians of the 1% to debate the nature of the system publicly to the shame of the heads of organized Labor who say next to nothing and offer Barack Obama and the Democrats as a way forward. The OWS movement has shown through the courage and tenacity of its activists that defiance of the law and direct mass action—— an example of the best traditions of the US working class—– is how we throw back the attempts of the 1% and its armed thugs to put the US working class on rations.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,363 other followers