We must not demonise the poor

You printed a letter on Friday May 8 with the title Our Town is not a Dumping Ground under the heading “Housing” referring to the policy by some London boroughs to re-locate tenants outside the capital when they are unable to fulfil their obligation to provide suitable housing.

Statistics provided which suggested that the author has prepared some research, and by the tone and wording - was anticipating a change in both our government and our MP on Friday.

Whilst they were able to provide general figures, they didn’t provide the relocation figure for Hastings, which is, I understand, very small at this time (I’m sure it’s around the 50 mark) and just left us with the rather more frightening general totals.

The author is right identifying government policy as the key driver for these relocation, which is almost certainly going continue and get worse now that housing association tenants have the right to buy their properties and almost no real affordable or social housing is being built in London.

The author is also right to state that ‘we remain obliged to house the homeless’ which is, last time I checked, one of the things that makes us a civilised society and a very good thing.

What makes me angry is the use of the phrase ‘dumping ground’ - we are not talking about ‘rubbish’.

These are people, real people with no control over their lives who who find themselves shunted away from their families, friends and city that may of them grew up in to a town they had probably never even heard of before.

This is the kind of terminology that has demonised the poor, the sick and the old over the last few years and turned our society into a much crueler, colder place.

I have only spoken to two people so far in this situation - and despite their initial fears they have found Hastings a warm, welcoming and brilliant place to live.

These is no mass influx of ‘others’ flooding our town, unless you count the weekend hipsters and second home owners, or the students from the University of Brighton, all of who pump considerable revenue into our economy.

Focusing on a handful of frightened people in real need isn’t helping.


Offa Road