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Rough sleeping soars as the Tories prepare to cut services

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Troublemaker looks at the week's news including a rise in homelessness and a rise in oil profits
Issue 2829
The number of people sleeping rough in London is on the rise Picture: St Mungo's

The number of people sleeping rough in London is on the rise (Picture: St Mungo’s)

There are new­ warnings over a significant increase in rough sleeping in London, as the cost of living crisis is forcing more people on to the streets. The numbers sleeping rough in the capital have increased by 21 percent on a year ago. Between April and September this year, 5,712 people were seen sleeping rough in the capital, according to the Combined Homelessness and Information Network.

This comes as the Tories are planning massive cuts in the Autumn Statement set for 17 November. London has always been the main location for rough sleeping, but other cities have reported similar issues.

In Greater Manchester, there were 223 employed people referred to its “A Bed Every Night” scheme for emergency accommodation from January to September. That suggests cost of living issues are hitting those in work. Annual London rental inflation had risen to almost 18 percent by July. Earlier in October, ­thousands of food bank ­volunteers warned they were having to ration ­provisions as their services had become “overstretched and exhausted” because of an influx of people needing help.

“People who were already unable to afford food are being hit the hardest by relentless rises in energy, food and travel costs,” said a letter compiled by the Trussell Trust, Feeding Britain and the Independent Food Aid Network. “Every day we meet people who are skipping meals so they can feed their children and turning off their cooker or fridge so they can cover other essential costs. People who used to donate to food banks now seek our support. And the next 12 months look bleaker still.

“Many of our teams are struggling to cope as demand for our support outstrips our food and financial donations and we are forced to make difficult decisions about how we operate. We are ­overstretched and exhausted. Many of our organisations are at breaking point.”

They cited the decision to cut universal credit in October last year as one of the drivers of increasing need, with the country now entering a period of even higher inflation.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)  unlawfully prevented the release of secret reports into the deaths of at least 20 benefit claimants, the information commissioner has ruled. The commissioner found that the DWP breached the Freedom of Information Act by blocking documents that would have showed recommendations made by its own civil servants to improve safety and reduce the number of suicides and other deaths.

Liz Truss was ‘stitched up’ by bankers…

A hastily-published book on Liz Truss’s rise and fall has detailed about what happened at the heart of the government after the mini-budget.

“On October 13 and 14 we were being briefed that the UK was about to become a Third World country by the Treasury,” a Downing Street source says.

“All the Treasury officials all sat around the Cabinet table and said to the PM, ‘Unless you junk your plans for corporation tax, we are going to have the most catastrophic meltdown. It will take 20 years to recover’. They scared the shit out of her basically.” Truss initially greeted the warning with incredulity, and “railed against” what she considered a Bank of England and Treasury “stitch-up”.

One Number 10 aide involved in the discussions recalled, “Thursday 13th was terrible. They said the Pound was basically going to crash to such a level that we would struggle to sell our debt, in the way a Third World country does.

“Basically, Britain was going to become like rubble. It was impossible to know who to believe at this stage.” Truss confessed privately that, despite her scepticism, “the problem is that the last time I ignored all these people they were right.”

…then gave them our money

The government is set to transfer more than £11 billion of public cash to the Bank of England (BOE) this fiscal year to cover projected losses in its bond-buying programme. The capital transfer was detailed in an update to the “Central Government Supply Estimates” published recently by the Treasury. The new £11.175 billion injection is listed under “assistance to financial institutions—payment to the Bank of England.”

Bloomberg analysts’ calculations suggest the BOE’s annual loss could top £20 billion as soon as next year. The shortfall stems from the design of the BOE’s bond buying under its quantitative easing program. The central bank bought bonds in financial markets to stimulate the economy and limit interest rates.

The US has accelerated plans to deploy an upgraded version of its primary nuclear gravity bomb to Europe. And RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk could be one of the bases receiving them. US officials told Nato allies in Brussels in October that they will send an upgraded version of the B61-12  air-dropped gravity bomb to Europe by December. The upgraded bomb was originally set to arrive in Europe next spring.

A SERVING Met Police officer is accused of hoarding thousands of indecent images of children, a court heard. PC Darren Hourigan was charged with three counts of possessing the pictures. He was arrested in March 2020.Appearing at Wimbledon Magistrates Court, the cop denied possessing still, moving and manipulated images including 2,253 of the most serious kind.

British aid to sell off Brazil energy market  

The British government will be upset that Brazil’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro lost. Declassified UK revealed last week that a major British aid project focused on “opening up” Brazil’s energy markets to provide “opportunities” for British business.

The £56 million project began in 2018. It was divided into four parts but the “energy” plank was budgeted at £25 million, close to half the total. Its aim was “opening up Brazil’s energy markets”, project documents note, with a focus on oil and gas. “Opening up” is a euphemism often used to describe privatisation.

The British money was designed to create a “more competitive and efficient energy market” in Brazil, and push for “gas market liberalisation”, again euphemisms for privatisation. “The UK is well-placed to respond to the expanded opportunities that are likely to emerge,” the British documents note.

Shell doesn’t pay any tax on super profits

Shell not only announced massive profits last week but also said it had paid no tax as a result of the Tories’ levy on “excess profit”.

The oil and gas giant reported its second highest quarterly profit on record. Globally it grabbed a profit of £8.2 billion between July and September, more than twice what it made during the same period last year.

But Shell said that because it had made large investments in Britain it meant it had made no profit here. It also does not expect to start paying windfall taxes until some point next year.

The Energy Price Levy—or windfall tax—on the profits of energy firms was announced by Rishi Sunak in May, when he was chancellor.

At the time he said it would raise £5 billion in its first year.

But the Energy Profits Levy has a measure that allows energy companies to apply for tax savings worth 91p of every £1 invested in fossil fuel extraction in Britain. It means Shell avoids tax by accelerating North Sea destruction.

Things they say

‘Migrants set to share hotels with public as Channel crisis worsens’

The Telegraph is worried migrants might come into contact with those the paper considers people

‘When I ring my wife, maybe there’s some little man in China listening to my conversation’

The Tory minister Mark Spencer is not a racist, apparently

‘A massive shot in the arm for British business’

New work and pensions minister Mel Stride on what the result of cutting maternity leave would be

‘You need to pay them. You’re not trying. You need to try harder’

77 year old patient Catherine Poole confronted Rishi Sunak over NHS pay when he visited Croydon hospital

‘New member states must legally commit to join the euro single currency’

The European Union makes clear that an independent Scotland would have to sign up to a currency that would greatly limit its policies

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