By Chris Cornell / Housing / 0 Comments

On the 4th of January, Labour Councillors are planning to ask five simple, and yet, profound questions of Canterbury City Council.

Three questions relate to the frightening rise in homelessness since 2010. This month the city council published a press release congratulating itself that it had provided cold weather shelters for 25 rough sleepers as temperatures reached below freezing. However, they failed to acknowledge that their own figures suggest that the scale of the problem in the district is more than double this.

At the moment, rough sleepers are only offered emergency shelter when it is predicted the temperature will fall below freezing for three successive nights, we are asking what it would cost to make this available every night the “Met Office forecast hits zero or sub-zero temperatures”.

We also want to know what it would take to ensure that the Council provided at least 80% of temporary accommodation for the homeless within the district rather than predominantly outside it, ensuring families are able to stay nearer schools, places of work and support networks when they need them most.

Finally, on understanding that homelessness is a complex issue we will be asking whether “Canterbury City Council will write to Parish Councils within the Canterbury City Council area and ask them to identify suitable sites for building housing for social rent under the Rural Exception Policy?”

On his visit to Catching Lives in December, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister John Healey discussed our parties radical vision for an end to rough sleeping. Labour Councillor Bernadette Fisher, who is working to role out this plan locally, said “at this time of year we are simply seeking to persuade councillors to care for homeless people in a kinder way which would stop them having to sleep rough in cold weather or being separated from their friends and families when in temporary accommodation.”

During December over 12,500 people watched our social media campaign on homelessness in Canterbury staring John Healey, Rosie Duffield and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. We know that this issue matters to the people of Canterbury. We the Council’s answers with baited breath.

By Chris Cornell / HousingJustice / / 0 Comments

Two years after the government made coercieve or controlling behaviour a criminal offence, over 50 members of the Labour Party in Kent have signed an open letter calling on the government to reverse their planned housing benefit cap for domestic violence refuges.

Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. The letter notes that “if Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit – the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.”

In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given. However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator.

If these reforms proceed, Labour is concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence.

The letter was signed Councillor Alan Baldock, Leader of the Labour Group on Canterbury City Council alongside Labour leaders in Dartford, Medway, Thanet and Medway.  Elected Labour representatives from North Thanet, South Thanet, Maidstone & Weald, Faversham & Swale, Rochester & Strood, Gillingham & Rainham, Chatham & Aylesford, Dover & Deal have also made a stand.

The letter asks that the government “reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.”

Signing the letter on behalf of Canterbury Labour Party were Helen Bintley and Mel Dawkins who serve on the Executive as Women’s Officers. In lending their support they said ‘we support this letter and hope those in power consider the effects that these cuts will have on the lives of women and children in Kent; it’s about time the government starts listening to the true stories and how it effects these people on a daily basis.”


By Chris Cornell / Latest News / 0 Comments

At the next election the higher the voter turnout, the greater chance we have of keeping Rosie as Canterbury’s MP.

The tables below from a yougov poll shortly after the last election show why. Those groups in society who are registered and vote in greater numbers are those groups who are more likely to vote conservative. Older, settled, property owning, better off people are nearly all registered. About two thirds of people over 60 vote Conservative. Younger, more mobile, less well off people, those in rented accommodation and more likely to be from ethnic minorities are more likely to be Labour supporters. About 60% of people under 40 voted Labour. But four in ten people under 40 did not vote in 2017 while only about 2 in ten people over 60 did not vote.

We have to make democracy work for the many not just for the few. We can do that by making sure everybody is registered to vote and actually casts their vote on polling day. This way we can massively increase Rosie’s majority.

In 2017 Yougov polled 50,000 adults to understand more about voting behaviour. Age is the new key predictor of voting behaviour (class is less powerful)

Voter participation rates still show sharp age profile despite improvement in 2017.