HOMELESSNESS has risen every year since 2010, with 78% of them being evicted from private tenancies. Furthermore, homelessness has increased by 75% of people who suffer from mental and physical disabilities. Largely abandoned by the government, it takes people within society to step and try and make the lives of those with less that little bit better.

Whilst Buzzfeed lift the lid on abuse of vulnerable homeless people by companies for cheap labour, Conservative run Northampton County Council have been forced to make £40 million worth of savings due to government cuts, this will mean the reduction of services.

Emergency spending

Northamptonshire County Council have agreed to impose emergency spending measures, the first to do so in over 20 years, and make savings of £39.2 million. This comes after a minor rebellion amongst the council, but the budget was put through 35 votes to 12. Furthermore, council leader, Heather Smith, has previously lost a vote of no confidence from the Conservative group but failed to step down from her role.

There are also allegations of financial mismanagement within the council and they are currently facing a government inspection. But the budget imposed highlights the clear failings of the council after last week auditors claimed a proposed budget was “potentially unlawful” due to lack of efficient savings.

The budget itself will close 21 libraries, cut bus services and freeze staff pay, however, there is little knowledge on whether the budget for the councillors themselves is affected.

Modern slavery and human trafficking

Slave gangs operate mercilessly in Britain yet there is little done about it and Theresa May signed off on a flagship policy in 2015, which enacted the Modern Slavery Act.

But there are huge gaping holes in the policy that expose the vulnerable to traffickers and slave rings. Buzzfeed has been investigating slave rings on British streets, where people in vans pick up groups of homeless people and use them as cheap labour, usually denying them pay and only giving them food, which keeps them on the streets and cheap labour for the companies involved.

One individual known as Kredens, worked dusk till dawn after being promised a better life in Britain rather than his native Poland, falling into the hands of brutal traffickers, he was a slave, until the act passed by May meant that there was hope. He duly came forward told the government his story and was granted victim status, however, he later denied the right to live in Britain because he couldn’t prove that he had been employed during his time in Britain because he was a former slave. This meant he wasn’t entitled to state help, meaning he no longer had a roof over his head and once again he was in a vulnerable position.

Buzzfeed revealed that data showed hundreds of homeless people captured by slave gangs, but this is likely to be a fraction of the reality due to government failings.

There is a trafficking network that controls over 250 slaves, they are often kept in caravans that are rat-infested, without heating, running water or beds. Not to mention being chained up and beaten, their IDs having been stolen by their captors to commit fraud. Seven hotspots in London, Birmingham and Bradford have been identified. Due to the high number of migrants being exploited, those victims who do contact the Home Office for help are often rounded up and deported due to Government Policy and sent home with nothing leaving them vulnerable to human traffickers once again.

Whilst the two stories about modern slavery and Northampton council aren’t directly linked, there is an intrinsic link from government cuts, forcing councils to make cuts to public services, which leave the vulnerable at the mercy of those who operate outside the law and human traffickers.

Especially when government policy deters people from coming forward.

‘I am not lost’

The citizens of Bristol are showing what a community banded together can do, whilst the government oversee the increase of homelessness, which is only set to rise after failings of the Universal Credit scheme. The people of Bristol have been leaving warm clothing tied to lampposts, on bollards and even entire clothes racks, with a note saying “I am not lost. Take me if you need me”. The idea was done by Keep Bristol Warm and want to challenge the perception that homeless people are different.

They have also launched two other initiatives, Street Paws, which provides veterinary services, dog coats and dog food to dogs of rough sleepers and Pending Coffee, which encourages people to pay for an extra coffee at cafes that are participating, which can be served to a homeless person on request by them. Whilst the initiatives are positive, and it is fantastic to see, it does however, highlight the failings of the government.