Today Theresa May has unveiled plans for a £40 million fund to prevent homelessness.
At first glance this seems promising and of course after years of rampant austerity and cuts to vital services under David Cameron’s government, any amount of additional funding for vulnerable people is welcome. Essentially we will have to wait to see what really comes of this funding and how it is applied, but I can’t help some doubt creeping in here.
“We know there is no single cause of homelessness and those at risk can often suffer from complex issues such as domestic abuse, addiction, mental health issues or redundancy.
So I believe it’s time we changed our approach. We can no longer focus on tackling the symptoms and immediate consequences of homelessness. We need to put prevention at the heart of a new approach.”
But chucking a small amount of money at homelessness is ultimately still dealing with the symptom and not the cause. The bottom line is that if Theresa May was serious about tackling the causes of homelessness, the Conservative Party would have to completely change their party ideology. The cause of homelessness, poverty and inequality is an obsession with ‘free market’ capitalism, neoliberalism and, of course, austerity.
If you have a society dependent on inequality, such as the Conservatives aspire to and create, you will always have inequality, regardless of how much money you put towards it at the raw end.
Rising homelessness and the soaring use of foodbanks because over a million people can’t afford to feed themselves has not happened out of nowhere. This situation in our society has come about because of a Conservative government led by David Cameron and George Osbourne… Of which Theresa May was in the cabinet in a the very senior position of Home Secretary!
So has Theresa May had a sudden change of heart? Was she keeping silent about her real feelings in the last Conservative cabinet? Or has she in fact realised that as the left gains momentum, through the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, and actually begins to cover the real reasons for this great inequality, that she has to do something about the image of the nasty party?
I suspect that the £40 million from May won’t do a whole lot in reducing the great divide that has grown in the UK. A sticking plaster is still a sticking plaster, no matter how big it is. And in relation to these serious injuries I expect this plaster isn’t nearly big enough.