Survivor Blog

Brighton and Hove City Council: Crackdown On The Vulnerable

ETHRAG Press Release 27th November 2017

Brighton and Hove City Council residents living in temporary accommodation confirm they’re being made homeless and forced to decide whether to sleep rough or move into the private sector.


ethrag-logo-brighton-hove-temporary-accommodationDistressed residents have contacted ETHRAG claiming that Brighton and Hove City Council are breaking the law and removing there housing duty, which councils are required to provide accepted homeless households.

For sometime now the Labour Group have been warning things need to change in Temporary Accommodation, which they blame on government cuts. ETHRAG have been contacted by concerned residents who claim they are victims of lies from bad landlords and the council and are being forced to choose between living on the streets, or being moved into the ever increasingly insecure private housing sector. 


One resident who wishes to remain anonymous has said

I’ve been to the Council and they are not helping me, I’ve been told I’ve got a be out of my accommodation in matter of weeks. I have nowhere to go, the council aren’t helping me,  I ‘am 23 and have depression and anxiety, I’ve got a try find somewhere and fast they say.

The concerned resident also explained:

Brighton Council placed me in long term temporary in 2015 but now I have been told I am being evicted. They have discharged duty of care for me they told me I’ve got a find private.

The minority Labour council led by Warren Morgan recently reported a 1 million pound overspend in temporary accommodation budgets, which is the plausible reason as to why this is happening, but is this right?


Another young mother confirmed:

Brighton Council housing department passed my details to social services because I have two children and they simply said they cant help, and that I need to go private

With rents in Brighton and Hove well above the Local Housing Allowance maximum payment rate, our residents feel like they are being socially cleansed from the city they were born.


Finally another resident contacted us today to confirm:

I’m not sure if you can help me but I’m in temporary accommodation. I received a call from the Housing Acquisitions Team yesterday.

They had called to arrange a meeting between the landlord, a council rep and myself this morning. The call was very vague but basically the council are attempting to make my contract a private one between the landlord and myself. I don’t want this.

I’m now terrified that I’ll become a private tenant and removed from the housing register. I’ve got an appointment at my local MP’s surgery on Monday and I’ve made my mental health team aware. I’ve managed to put the council meeting on hold. Do you know of anyone else who has been in this situation?

ETHRAG have referred residents to the newly Elected Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle for help. We urge Lloyd and other MPs to stand up for vulnerable constituents and speak out in parliament against these draconian policies, which are leaving our residents at breaking point.


Have You Been Affected By This Issue?

If so we want to hear from you! Right now we know the council are doing this in phases, gradually removing their legal duty to house you, this is potentially putting your household through more upset as the number one reason for homelessness applications is because of private landlords evicting tenants.

We urge you to take a stand and speak out; this is your future and the council are messing with it.


Who are ETHRAG?

ETHRAG (The Emergency And Temporary Accommodation Residents Action Group) represents 4,000 people living in emergency and temporary accommodation in Brighton and Hove.

Formed in 2016 to fight back against cuts, bad landlords and a council-housing department, which is not fit for purpose, we are the UK’s first residents association for people living in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation.

We provide a voice for the vulnerable.


CASH STRAPPED AND TRAPPED: Growing Concern for Brighton Residents

Brighton and Hove have a housing crisis and its about to get exposed, last year I was the first campaigner locally to highlight the fact that 10,000 people locally were culled from the council housing waiting list, and just last weekend a senior council executive admitted the council are at a loose end with the cities Emergency and Temporary Accommodation.

I’ve recently been contacted by concerned residents living in temporary accommodation in the city, it turns out there are hundreds of vulnerable people currently in arrears due to the high cost to sub-contract out temporary accommodation to private companies.

One concerned mother has reported being told she would need to find an extra £175 per week toward her rent, not only was she forced to move out of the city, she is today in debt of over £1500.


Residents are at breaking point, not only with threat of eviction but they are also reporting being ‘overlooked’ for council housing due to the arrears. One mother described “being trapped” with high rents, often unaffordable.

This is a growing concern because under the Housing Act Part 7: Homelessness Councils have a duty to provide accommodation to families which are suitable for there needs, however if they are unaffordable they are certainly unsuitable.


Emergency and Temporary Accommodation: FACTS

  • MORE than a third of the city’s 2,200 temporary accommodation residents are in rent arrears with debts of up to £22,000, as revealed in the Argus earlier this year.
  • Almost 900 families and individuals housed by Brighton and Hove City Council in bedsits, hostels, flats and BnBs had rent arrears totalling £1.4 million in March.
  • 64% Rise in the number of Children in Brighton and Hove without a home. Now almost 2000 children are living in emergency and temporary accommodation, second only to London. (For Sussex it is 2700, a rise of 33%.)
  • There were 24,000 people on the council housing waiting list until Band D was removed, I believe 12k people have been removed, with no hope of a secure home for themselves.
  • For every 100 people who present as homeless to the council, just 35 or 35% are accepted with a priority need housing duty. The national average is 52%.

Join ETHRAG: Emergency and Temporary Housing Residents Action Group


Have you been affected by arrears?

If you have contact me below with details.


If you enjoy my blog feel free to donate, I often fund things out of my own pocket.

£5 can part fund a residents meeting for those in emergency and temporary accommodation, vital for uniting people to stop conditions like these!

£5.00


 

Community Pledge Support for Callum King Who Died After Falling From Eastbourne Pier Last Weekend

Callum King 19 Eastbourne Pier Drowning
Remembering Callum King, Lost But NOT Forgotten!

Callum King who would have been 19 today died last weekend after falling from Eastbourne Pier, as reported in The Argus, the article details the incident, but not the facts or history of Callum, who was a popular resident and member of ETHRAG. Callum drowned and The East Sussex coroner’s office has been informed and an inquest will follow.

How I Met Callum King

I first came across Callum last May when I was living in Percival Terrace, which is unsupported emergency accomodation, I remember seeing him outside with residents who were not the type he should’ve been hanging around with.

He would be outside a lot because he used to use the wifi, which some residents had access to, although the provider was not keen to give out the code. I remember thinking he looked really young, much younger than the 18 years he was at the time.

It was only a little later when I was in another residents room that I got to talk to Callum, he was quite shy but took a shine to another resident and former teaching assistant who often looked after some of the most vulnerable residents, he often chilled out with the elders who would look out for him.

He told me he was under the care of social services and explained he was placed in Percival Terrace by Social Services, he also told me he was a care leaver. He didn’t have a huge amount of money so residents would often band together and cook for him, I asked if he wanted help moving somewhere with more support and he said yes, so I contacted his ward councillor and Lead for Children’s Services

A Request For Help

In the email which I sent on 09/06/2016 to Cllr’s Tom Bewick and a Former Cllr for the East Brighton ward, I pleaded for help saying

Hi Tom,

Its been a mad few weeks but being a care leaver no one can say we
aren’t resilient. Anyway there is an 18 year old vulnerable care leaver in
percival terrace and i am worried about his safety.

I really this under gvmnt leglislation we should be helping this young
man get back on track, i cant allow him to slip through the net, he has
no idea what his rights are which is sad.

Tom Responded by saying

Hello Daniel,

Good to hear from you.

I’m asking Faye to set something up with me and Maggie.

I don’t like what I’m hearing about Percival Terrace and I’d like to
understand more.

Also, if the care leaver you’re assisting wants to share any details,
I’m happy to see if I can do anything.

Go well.

Tom

In a reply I provided contact details and advised

He’s got a section 17, he has a probation officer, who is putting in an
appeal to get him a duty of care until 21.

He shouldn’t be in here and we can save him.

Tom then Replied

Thanks Daniel.

Maggie and I are in close touch on this.

I did a couple of months later meet with Tom, although not much came from the 20 minute meeting, I understand that Pinaki Ghosal Director of Children’s Services was also aware of Callum’s case, however Callum was evicted from Percival Terrace for bringing friends back to his room.

There is a No Visitor Rule in place, which he breached and therefore the manager at the time called Phil ended his licence, even after we pleaded to allow him to stay.

Callum was moved to Grand Parade which was a much worse accomodation, he hated it there. After then Callum sadly like many others fell off the radar.

Moved To Eastbourne

Callum was then moved to Eastbourne, a tactic often used for residents with difficulties, as I said previously Callum wasn’t difficult, he was hiding pain which I will not go into.

Sources in Callum’s family said Callum made friends in Eastbourne, but the events surrounding his death will come out, but thats is not for this blog post, that is for later. He was not rough sleeping, he was sofa surfing due to previous evictions from emergency accomodation with a friend.

He was loved and often supported by family, he was NOT neglected by his family and he certainly DID NOT commit Suicide. The Truth Will Come Out!

Community React and Pledge Support

I have been so affected by Callum’s passing, that I thought it would be a nice touch to honour Callum and help his family during this difficult time, they are firstly wanting answers around what happened on the day of Callum’s death and obviously need to grieve.

I have set up a Crowdfunding campaign to help toward the funeral costs and the local community and donors from across the country have acted pledged support.

If you knew Callum or want to help his family you can do so by going to Callum’s JustGiving page.

Did You Know Callum?

If you want you can like and comment on a Memorial Facebook page which has been set up by family here.

You can also leave your messages of goodwill below in the comments section below.

Happy 19th Birthday Callum, your cheeky personality, smile and kindness to others will be remembered by your friends at ETHRAG. Your Family loved you loads and loads and I truly hope the answers everyone seek are provided.

Sleep tight young man xx

 

 

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