David McElroy interviewed on rough sleeping and homelessness

8 March 2019

Local Campaigner David McElroy was recently on the University of Reading's radio station discussing homelessness.

Rough sleeping

Why do you think the number of rough sleepers has increased so drastically since 2012 in Reading?

Austerity and rising demand. At the same time the councillors cut homelessness money. That said, in the last and for the year ahead the council has won some additional through the government's Rough Sleep Initiative. These funds went a long way to offset the cuts, however there is not even close to a guarantee we'll have them beyond this year. There's no substitute for having a council willing to commit core resource over the longer term.

What are the current Green proposed policies to tackle rough sleeping in Reading?

The council's spend on expensive consultants is out of control. I read in the Reading Chronicle recently that the council has squandered another £500k on consultants and auditors just to try and balance the books from a couple of years ago, along with the near cool million wasted trying to build a road over that big swath of green space down by the Thames. Imagine what could be done with that money. As such, we have been pressing for them to recruit more permanent staff to cut the consultant bill. We would use this money on tackling rough sleeping.

Do you think the negative portrayal of homeless people in the media is the reason the issue hasn’t been tackled sooner?

I think it's a bit more complicated than that. Sure, demonising some of our most vulnerable can have contributed, but really it has been on the rise since 2010 and the implementation of austerity. The problem is funding. I don't know what people expect, keep voting for an austerity government and you're going to keep on getting austerity politics.

You can help support these local organisations working hard supporting our homeless residents and making a difference on the ground. Please do what you can.

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