The false econ­omy of aus­ter­ity

The Guardian - - OPINION -

The Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice re­port into home­less­ness lays bare the legacy of hu­man waste caused by the cal­lous in­dif­fer­ence and in­tel­lec­tual vacu­ity of Com­pas­sion­ate Con­ser­vatism, a Tory creed – pro­moted by David Cameron – where re­spon­si­bil­ity shifted from the state to in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.

Look­ing at the NAO’s as­sess­ment of the cack-handed way that the hous­ing safety net was han­dled, this “phi­los­o­phy” ap­pears an empty po­lit­i­cal slo­gan de­signed to shield the Tory party from the charge it was bal­anc­ing the bud­get on the backs of the poor. It’s no sur­prise that a mix­ture of high rents and wel­fare cuts put peo­ple out on the streets. Rough sleep­ing more than dou­bled since 2010. The num­bers of house­holds in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion rose by 60%.

It is shock­ing that min­is­ters were not cu­ri­ous about the ef­fects of their poli­cies and did not com­mis­sion full im­pact assess­ments. Noth­ing but the slo­gan has changed with Theresa May. Her Home­less­ness Re­duc­tion Act will give coun­cils re­spon­si­bil­ity for pre­vent­ing home­less­ness but of­fers very lit­tle cash to help them to do so. The legacy of Com­pas­sion­ate Con­ser­vatism is the very wealthy be­ing cast as vic­tims of gov­ern­ment tax col­lec­tors while poorer vot­ers are ex­ploiters to watch out for.

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