Metropolitan Police make people homeless for profits
The homeless charity Shelter reported that the number of people homeless had risen 18%, last year. This is linked directly to the impact of the government’s cuts on public service provision and the destruction austerity is causing to the economy. It is causing massive increases in the gap between the elites and ordinary people; a recent study published by the University of Birmingham noted “the wealthiest 10 per cent of households [are] more than four times wealthier than the bottom 50 per cent in 2008/10.”
Empty homes, a campaign group that push for houses not to go to waste, report that there are over 710,000 empty homes in Britain. This seems criminal: abandoned building sitting idle that are owned by property investors. Buildings that lay bare and derelict as a financial investments, to be sold if – and when – the housing market raises in value. Also this system, of keeping some building empty, pushes up rents and house prices. In supply and demand terms, it is in the property investment industry’s interest to reduce the supply of available homes, thus creating a scarcity that drives up prices. In human terms, this is a tragedy that will impact on more and more people if austerity continues.
Furthermore, the government has already made it illegal to recycle these buildings, and squat in residential buildings – it now has plans to make it illegal to live in derelict unused commercial properties too.
Squash Campaign, who represent squatters have called for people to sign a petition against the new squatting laws. On the grounds that
- pushes more people onto the streets,
-criminalises the recycling of unused buildings
- encourages landlords to keep empty buildings, pushing the price of rents up for everyone else
- increases the cost to the taxpayer of keeping empty buildings unused
and it is legislation that was widely unpopular, through the government’s consultation period.
A letter, included below, shows how the Metropolitan Police are throwing council house residents onto the street, to sell a property for “developers”. The speech marks indicate the looseness I attach to the phrase develop, maybe in this case they should be could gentrifiers. This action contradicts the first stipulation for a police officer, in their duties it asserts how they should focus on the protection of life and property. The Metropolitan Police’s own website continue, “One of the key principles of modern policing in Britain is that the police seek to work with the community and as part of the community.”
So how have we got to this situation? It seems inhumanely, the police are working to serve the property moguls and not the people.
It is easy to argue it has always been this way, our laws are based on Roman laws where property counts more than people, yet this situation seems even more extreme.
This policing policy – to sell properties – is influenced by the cuts the government is enforcing on all services. Public authorities are now looking to sell, close or even demolish what they can: to reduce their budgets, which are being slashed year on year. Ultimately, this comes down to the national excuse: the government’s get out clause for all its policies. Of course, their narrative ignores the billions and billions that went to the bankers, and blames the public sector so in its own twisted logic- it excuses any cuts.
The letter below shows the human cost of the bailout. It highlights one impact of a systemic crisis within our economic direction. An ethos represented by ideas like the banks were too big to fail, where corporate power and profits far outweigh human beings and society at large, who in the eyes of neoliberals are too small to count.
Dear Sir / Madam