An example of a standard British house Credit Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). CC-BY-SA-4.0.

We have a claim here that there are more than 120,000 children in Britain who are homeless during the school holidays. This is, of course, an indictment of capitalism, The Man and Tory Austerity. It’s also entirely untrue. To a reasonable level of rounding the number of homeless schoolchidren in Britain is zero. Because we have a system which at least attempts to deal with those without a roof over their heads and it’s pretty good, as a system, at providing a roof for children to sleep under.

No, not perfect, nothing done by humans is that and when we add in the joys of bureaucracy then government is worse. But it is still a pretty good system at providing a roof under which children may lay their weary heads. We generally call it the welfare state:

More than 120,000 schoolchildren have been left homeless for the summer holidays. The number of homeless children in the UK is at a record high of 123,000, according to the Government’s latest figures. Shockingly, that’s a rise of 76% since 2011.

Just not true, not in the slightest. Because that’s not the number of children sleeping rough – a number which is going to be pretty close to zero. So, if they’re not sleeping rough then they’re not homeless, are they?

Almost 80,000 families in England were in temporary accommodation during the first quarter of 2018, which is the highest figure for a decade. The Local Government Association (LGA) said the figures underlined the need for both welfare reform and the flexibility for councils to borrow money to fund home-building programmes. Judith Blake, the LGA’s housing spokeswoman, said: ‘For too many families, it (the summer holiday) has been a miserable existence, living in inappropriate conditions as they experience the sharp end of our national housing shortage. ‘Councils are currently housing almost 123,000 children experiencing homelessness,

Just savour that last sentence. Being housed by the council means you’re homeless.

The argument actually becomes quite interesting in a logical sense. The reason we have things like temporary housing is because some people sometimes need it. We also think it something that government should provide, so that those who suffer the misfortunes and ailments of the market do indeed have somewhere to sleep – somewhere not directly under the stars. But once we’ve got that system then the very fact that people use it – use the system we built because we thought people would need to use the system – is proof that we’re not doing something about housing. Whut?

The truth here being that these 120,000 children in temporary housing are the 120,000 children we’ve already saved from being homeless. Sure, their current housing may not be what they’d like to be in, possibly even not what we’d like them to have available. But it’s not homelessness. That’s 120,000 children the system is saving from homelessness.

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Spike
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Apart from Tim’s usual point — that we measure social pathology before counting programs already in place to alleviate the pathology — here we are also lumping in many dissimilar phenomena, and giving it a name (“homelessness”) meant not to be an accurate description of anything but to tug at our heartstrings.

jgh
Member
jgh

If they’re homeless during the summer break, they’re homeless when at school as well; whether it’s school holidays or not is irrelevant.