I am a housing officer in an inner city London borough and your feature on homeless people in lockdown struck a chord (Socialist Worker, 6 May).
On Friday 27 March the government advised homelessness managers and rough sleeping teams to accommodate the homeless within 72 hours.
Given that homeless offices had closed their doors at 4pm until Monday morning this was never achievable.
Your article rightly notes that the closure of day centres and hostels has increased daily living problems for the homeless.
Placing homeless people into a B&B is never going to work if other support services are not linked in and are in short supply.
Hotels and B&Bs are run by reception staff, not specialist workers.
Placing people with—or indeed without—complex needs into this type of accommodation guarantees high levels of abandonment and evictions.
From the onset there has been a lack of clarity and an ad hoc approach in communicating provision of emergency accommodation from the government and some local authorities.
It took weeks after 27 March before a clear instruction was issued to ignore procedures which normally deny whole swathes of the population access to emergency accommodation
Many people are accommodated for the duration of the lockdown only.
Where are they expected to go afterwards?
The pandemic has provided respite for some single and childless couples.
But their only route is into the private sector, out of borough and into long term poverty.
These are the same people losing their jobs as agency workers or risking their lives as key workers on low pay, zero contract hours.
We cannot go back to the same old housing crisis—something has to change.
Name and address provided
“We’re following the science” has become a favourite Tory mantra. This is hard to believe as the political machinations on the Sage Pandemic committee come to light.
There is no such thing as “the” science. This is particularly true when it comes to a new virus, where new discoveries are made every day.
Science is not “pure” but always influenced by society. So it is difficult to weigh up from initial scraps of evidence what requires most attention, and what will be subject of argument.
That is the purpose of scientific advisory committees to government.
They consist of independent academics and experts trying to establish a scientific consensus.
I sat on one in the early 2000s. We were subject to close scrutiny.
We had to declare the slightest self-interest and leave meetings when there might have been a conflict of interest.
Now we find that Dominic Cummings attends the Sage Pandemic committee.
Cummings is the prime minister’s chief adviser, with a reputation as a ruthless enforcer and bully.
His presence is bound to have an effect on committee members and decisions.
The full minutes need to be published. The suspicion is that currently we are hearing more politics than science.
With one of the world’s highest Covid-19 death rates, the government needs to hide its negligence in order to shift the blame.
Dr Charles Clutterbuck, Author ‘Bittersweet Brexit: Future of Food, Farming, Land & Labour’ Chap 9 ‘Pesticides’
What attitude should we take to union leaders?
I found the article on union leaders’ inaction (Socialist Worker, 6 May ) too negative.
If you are going to quote Tony Cliff how about, “The bureaucracy is like a rusty wheelbarrow—it moves if it is pushed.”
Some union officials tried to stop activists making public calls for personal protective equipment and testing.
But that shouldn’t stop activists including these among our central demands.
On a brighter note, in a recent issue of Socialist Worker, someone suggested refusing to work under section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act which deals with “serious and imminent” danger.
As with all legal “fixes”, though, there is usually more safety in numbers.
What do other readers think?
Dave Lyddon, Keele
Ugly truth of ‘rally around Britain’ logic
Former Labour MP Ian Austin used to say Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t in touch with working class people who love patriotism.
Last week he said the patriotic thing for workers to do is risk their lives and get back to work.
Austin moaned in the Daily Mail that union leaders were “betraying” workers by raising some health and safety concerns—so stopping them returning to work.
Instead they should be more like Ernest Bevin, the right wing union leader turned Labour politician, who backed Winston Churchill in the “national interest”. The weird thing is, most union leaders are helping the Tories.
They also think it’s in the “national interest” to get business moving again.
They’re just not doing it fast enough for Austin.
Austin’s argument is contemptible.
But it’s just the ugly, naked face of an argument many Labour MPs and union leaders have already accepted.
Melisa Timms, Carlisle
A great lesson from history
Fantastic article on how the Bolesheviks dealt with typhus (Socialist Worker, 13 May).
Incredibly specific about how to fight a pandemic effectively.
And one of the most cogent and urgent arguments for the general “socialism from below” tradition I have ever read.
Michael Szpakowski, Twitter
Don’t blame each other
You were right to warn against blaming ordinary people for getting public transport to work (Socialist Worker, 13 May).
This is the plan—make it so we all start blaming each other and not the real culprits.
Andrea Eccleston, Facebook
Homeless can be housed
It was shocking to read of homeless people being charged for not going home (Socialist Worker, 13 May).
This government has so many houses amongst them. Shame they have no compassion for the ones that have nothing.
Lorna Thomson, Facebook
Don’t let them end lockdown
Please oppose relaxing the lockdown. My Mum is in a care home and has Covid-19. This is definitely not over.
Julia Heggie, Facebook
It’s ok for Boris to say it’s safe to go back to work—he’s not working in a cramped shop or distribution centre.
Lanson Thompson, Facebook
When you see the House of Commons stuffed to the rafters then you might consider work and school.
Jon Kirkham, Facebook
Excellent front page headline last week (It’s a death sentence, 13 May). Don’t die for their profits! We need mass resistance to #KeepTheLockdown.
Fiona Edwards, Twitter