Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker - Councils hit homeless people with up to £1,500 in charges

Issue No. 2618

Homeless people face charges from some councils to store their possessions

Homeless people face charges from some councils to store their possessions (Pic: Maureen Barlin/Flickr)


Homeless people face being charged up to £1,500 a year by councils to store their possessions. Fees are imposed on rough sleepers who have turned to local authorities for help.

Tory-run St Albans Council uses a storage company and charges £6 a week to store possessions for homeless residents.

Liberal Democrat Kingston Council, in west London, also charges £6 for removals and a delivery fee of £30.

The bill rises in Lib Dem/Conservative-controlled Hillingdon Council, west London, where it costs £12 to £18.50 per week depending on location.

Lib Dem Watford Council charges a flat fee of £300. Five Labour councils revealed their levies.

Birmingham charges £15 a month. Kirklees, west Yorkshire, demands £5 a week and £15 each time possessions are moved in or out.

Bill

A typical weekly bill in Croydon, south London, is £15.58. Slough charges £11 plus VAT a week, while in Hackney, east London, it is £10 per week.

The highest charges are in Richmond, west London.

Local Tories revealed plans for an instalment system of £10 to £30 a week–£1,500 a year.

Other councils charging ­include Cambridge, Stoke, Ealing, Worcester and Ipswich.

Greg Beales from Shelter said, “People will greet with disbelief the idea that homeless people face the added worry and strain of paying to keep belongings safe.”

Maeve McGoldrick from Crisis said, “Losing your home is a devastating experience and having to pay to keep your possessions safe is an added and painful hardship.

“The real issue here is the huge number of people finding themselves homeless in the first place. If we build the right number of homes each year and ensure there is a strong safety net homelessness can be ended for good.”


Drones bring coffee to make you work harder

Drones carrying cameras and sensors could buzz around offices of the future delivering coffee to workers who appear to be waning.

The technology has been patented by IBM under the title, “Drone delivery of coffee based on a cognitive state of an individual.”

IBM does not simply want to deliver coffees to those who order them. It wants to use biometric sensors and data from other sources to identify people who would benefit from a caffeine fix before they know it themselves.

The patent envisages drones delivering coffee in a “large office complex” based on assessments of workers’ electronic calendars; their movements as recorded by their mobile phones; readings such as blood pressure from wearables; and camera footage.

The software may determine that you woke at 5.30 am and started work at 7am, for example. Based on a late night the day before, facial analysis showing that you look groggy and deadlines in your calendar, it could dispatch an urgent double espresso or sack you.


Hologram to speak to Tory conference

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright is being lined up to give his speech to the Conservative Party conference as a hologram to make this year’s event “less dreary”.

The idea was hatched by his predecessor at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, before he was promoted to health secretary.

Hancock, who has been ridiculed for launching his own app, told friends he was keen to use hologram technology in his conference speech and had discussed the plan with Brandon Lewis, the Tory party chairman.

Lewis is planning some surprises for this year’s conference and apparently wants the event to be “less boring and corporate.

“Instead of there being long-winded speeches from every cabinet minister, some will be invited to hold question and answer sessions instead. We are trying to make conference less dreary.”


Volkswagen boss knew of scandal

The boss of car giant Volkswagen has admitted he knew his firm was fiddling diesel exhaust emission tests before the scandal was exposed.

Herbert Diess was told about the existence of rogue software in cars two months before US regulators blew the whistle.

The scandal has cost the company about £22 billion in penalties and fines.

Volkswagen’s engineers designed a system to switch on emissions controls when the cars were being tested in the US and turn them off during normal driving.

Senior management had denied wrongdoing.


Tories U-turn on women’s refuge attack

The Tories have abandoned plans to change the way that women’s refuges are funded.

Ministers had proposed to remove refuges’ last secure form of funding —housing benefit—and devolve housing costs to local authorities.

This would see hundreds of refuge beds permanently removed.

The Women’s Aid charity had warned that as many as 600 beds in refuges across England could be at risk and that more than half of all refuges would be forced to scale back their services or close.

 


MPs scoff sugar while lecturing the rest of us

MPs who have called for a crackdown on crisps and fizzy drinks are not leading by example.

According to the House of Commons catering service, MPs and officials guzzled 19,000 cans of full-sugar Coca-Cola last six months.

They also got through 15,000 cartons of Ribena, 6,000 packets of crisps, 5,000 Twix bars and 2,400 Victoria sponges. Somebody bought one packet of raisins.


We pay billions to protect Donald Trump

We face a policing bill of more than £3 million for Donald Trump's visit. The Metropolitan Police spent £2.87 million guarding Trump.

The figure does not include his red carpet night at Blenheim Palace, his trip to his Scottish golf course or the cost of policing the huge protest in Trafalgar Square.


Know your enemy

No. 7652, Leo Goodwin, TransPennine Express

  • His firm was called the worst train operator in Britain by Network Rail
  • Goodwin received a £275,000 basic salary, plus £49,000 in pension contributions and a £36,000 bonus last year
  • That was £16,000 more than he received the year before

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