Tag Archives: St. Mungo’s

DAFT POLICY ON ROUGH SLEEPER ENCAMPMENTS

Camp

The recent EVICTIONS of homeless people living in vans and caravans from Greenbank, Easton and an ENCAMPED PROTEST in July on the council’s doorstep on College Green has focused attention on BCC’s homelessness prevention and provision services. As well as its new draft policy proposal on van dwellers and rough sleeper encampments.

As The BRISTOLIAN recently highlighted, a private for profit company, Social Impact Bristol Ltd is to commodify and make a profit from homeless people through a SOCIAL IMPACT BOND.

So it may not entirely be a coincidence that the recently launched DRAFT POLICY ON ROUGH SLEEPER ENCAMPMENTS is proposing to wholly outsource homelessness provision to St Mungo’s. An organisation that is intimately involved with Social Impact Bristol Ltd. and will be paying interest to the ‘high net worth individuals’ that have invested in it.

Bristol is seeing increasing numbers of people BECOMING HOMELESS, with some taking control of their own living conditions by squatting, living in vans, caravans and tents and refusing to pay exorbitant rents to landlords.

Sadly far too many are falling through our social safety net and ending up on the streets. Against this backdrop, a policy proposal that would seem to originate from the DEPUTY MAYOR’S OFFICE seeks to coral all rough sleepers into a ‘pathway’ through St Mungos. Encampments, even if deemed “low impact” with no anti social behaviour complaints, are only going to be tolerated for a maximum of 3 months and then dwellers will be forced into a “pathway”.

Whilst Marvin has been jetting off to Asia to seek international finance at a Green Growth seminar, there are people who are living environmentally LOW IMPACT LIFESTYLES that are going to be directly affected by the Draft Policy proposal on Rough Sleeper Encampments. A policy headed by Tom Gilchrist, BCC Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer, who has publicly stated he “wants to see everyone in bricks and mortar”.

How does this draft policy proposal fit in with Marvin and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig’s public statements about inclusivity, sustainable living and other corporate drivel?

Many homeless people refuse to engage with St Mungo’s, citing reasons of chronic drug dealing, serious substance misuse issues, violence and theft within St Mungo’s hostels. St Mungo’s own outreach workers state that they don’t have the capacity to deal with the number of homeless people, and admit that St Mungo’s hostels are DANGEROUS AND UNSAFE for those that do use them.

We ask why would a draft policy proposal that comes under the remit of the Deputy Mayor be calling for all homeless people to be CORRALLED into St Mungo’s when St Mungo’s doesn’t have the capacity or the safe conditions to properly assist some of the most vulnerable people in our city?

It wouldn’t have anything to do with providing a financial investment return to those high net worth individuals that have invested in Social Investment Bristol Ltd would it?

WEALTHY CASH IN ON THE HOMELESS

WEALTHY CASH IN ON THE HOMELESS

The SICKEST PLAN YET for helping the street homeless in the city has been quietly launched by the Reverend’s ‘Housing Czar’ Paul “Wolfie” Smith and the team of bureaucratic scumbags running the council’s housing department.

We hear that the council has quietly handed a contract called a SOCIAL IMPACT BOND to a brand new consortium – Social Impact Bristol Ltd (SIB Ltd) that’s been set up by charities, St Mungo’s, Second Step and Bristol Drugs Project – to support 125 street homeless over the next THREE YEARS.

The devil, however, is in the detail. Because SIB Ltd is funded with a LOAN from Resonance, a “social impact investment company” and Resonance, in turn, obtained the cash for their £112,500 stake in SIB Ltd from “HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS” seeking a return on their investment.

These investors will get this return when SIB Ltd achieve certain carefully listed “OUTPUTS” or targets from their homeless clients and are rewarded with CASH by the council. SIB Ltd then use the cash to repay Resonance’s loan with interest. This will be passed on to the “high net worth individuals” so that they receive the all-important “RETURN ON INVESTMENT”.

This sicko scheme, marks the start of the financialisation and securitisation of street homeless people for profit in Bristol. It has already been tried by St Mungos in London and been deemed a “SUCCESS“! For who?

Will it be a similar “success” in Bristol and usher in a new golden age of PROFIT to local high net worth individuals directly from homeless misery? And how many homeless clients/victims will be FORCIBLY MANIPULATED through this system designed to make a profit for the wealthy?

Is this the best we can do?

FILM FLAM

City office movies

A dull photo-op last month of old men in suits vacantly sat around in an open plan office while the Reverend Rees waffled aimlessly to journalists about homelessness signalled the launch of the Reverend’s big idea – THE CITY OFFICE.

The ‘BIG IDEA’ is to get bosses from business, public services and the voluntary sector together to solve the city’s problems. So 75 bosses gathered at the Counts Louse on 29 September to have their photo taken in front of the local press while pretending to listen attentively to the The Reverend as he tried to convince us all that this was all terribly exciting and the whole world was watching and waiting on his initiative with baited breath.

The City Office, itself, we were told, would be focusing on homelessness and rough sleeping to start with. However, the noticeable absence of any CASH TO SPLASH or even any new policy to launch meant we had to settle for a PR RELAUNCH of the ‘Bristol Street Aware’ campaign. An initiative started by corporate retailers in Broadmead last year to clear rough sleepers off their doorsteps by ‘signposting’ them into unpopular homeless hostels run by the charity St Mungos.

This lack of money and ideas for the homeless starkly contrasted with the Vicar’s decision five days later at his cabinet meeting to hand over £692k to a Southville-based consultancy firm to continue running the BOTTLE YARD FILM STUDIOS in Hengrove. This is the film studio that’s already receiving about £1m in public money every year according to the council’s published expenditure accounts. The studios appear especially popular with BBC producers looking for cheap, publicly subsidised deals.

The Reverend and his Cabinet decided to HAND OVER MORE PUBLIC MONEY – grabbed from a restructured loan deal relating to the shadowy Hengrove Park housing development – to the city’s creative industries despite this council owned film studio and its firm of consultants providing NO MEANINGFUL ACCOUNTS or BUSINESS PLAN to support their large financial demands on the public purse.

The Rev and his cabinet have therefore handed over money earmarked for one of the city’s most deprived areas on the basis of UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS by council bosses that this studio will make a £100k surplus next year and – an even more UNLIKELY CLAIM – that it is generating £16m for the city’s economy every year.

Naturally The Reverend’s house-trained Cabinet agreed to this nonsense with no questions asked. HRH Helen of Holland, the cabinet member responsible, gushed that the EVIDENCE-FREE PIFFLE supplied by senior council bosses was “A GOOD NEWS REPORT“. While Deputy Mayor Estella “Tinkerbell” Tinknell only seemed bothered about “developing our media profile as a VIBRANT FILM AND MEDIA CITY“. Presumably regardless of the cost or the fact most of us couldn’t give a toss about “media cities,” whatever they are?

Moreover, the true cost of the council’s latest publicly funded creative industries VANITY PROJECT was carefully hidden by the Rev’s senior bosses who neglected to explain properly that a further £0.6m is also required to buy the studio’s FREEHOLD. That’s a total of £1.3m being poured in then. The same senior bosses also forgot to explain if there’s any RISK attached to their expenditure, projected to gain a paltry income of £100k a year from the studios. Is this the world’s first risk-free business?

The average whelk stall wouldn’t be run like this, let alone a MAJOR PUBLICLY FUNDED PROJECT. But who cares if we’re keeping creative industries bigwigs in the style to which they’ve become accustomed and we’re “developing our media profile as a vibrant film and media city”?

Meanwhile, as the Vicar shovels our cash into creative industries vanity projects, the homeless can make do with a grotty little PR relaunch and photo op can’t they

MAYORAL ELECTION: HUSTINGS FARCE

The absolute fiasco of SECRET and CLOSED hustings featuring only carefully selected candidates from the establishment political parties continues to blight the mayoral elections.

We have already reported in The BRISTOLIAN how BUSINESS WEST invited just the Tories, Labour and George Ferguson to some very hush-hush hustings at their Leigh Court Mansion in March where, no doubt, the Merchant Venturers issued their orders to candidates.

We also reported how, at least, one hustings on housing run by crappy homeless charity, ST MUNGOS, was kept secret to keep independent candidates and their opinions out of the way and tricky questions at bay.

Now we’ve uncovered a whole series of hustings where independent candidates, UKIP and TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Colaition) have been DELIBERATELY EXCLUDED by the organisers.

Among these was a hustings instigated by the TUC at the Unite Union HQ, Tony Benn House, on Victoria Street in early April. This turned into a major humiliation for the TUC, however, when the excluded candidates organised a PROTEST outside Tony Benn House (pictured).

tu protest web

“Who made the TUC gatekeepers of democracy”

Surely this protest marks a significant NEW LOW in this city’s fine trade union tradition? And maybe it’s something the union bureaucrats and bosses responsible need to think long and hard about. Once ordinary people are protesting about you isn’t it time you carefully considered your position?

Especially after the TUC’s shitty little BIASED and MANIPULATED hustings only managed to attract about 30 people from a trade union membership in the tens of thousands in Bristol. Are these self-appointed trade union bosses in touch with anyone in the city outside their FRIENDS in the local Labour Party?

On the plus side, it seems the teachers union, the NUT, learned from the TUC’s huge EMBARRASSMENT and avoided a further HUMILIATING protest against trade unions. They hurriedly arranged invites for ALL the candidates for their hustings at Tony Benn House a few weeks later.

Not so, however, from other so-called progressive organisations in the city who seem desperate to control any political debate and EXCLUDE any troublesome views that might fall to the left of Labour’s right wing candidate Marvin “Luther” Rees.

Hustings organised by the CREATIVE YOUTH NETWORK for young people; VOSCUR for community and voluntary organisations; ACORN, the direct action tenants organisation and even hustings on disabilities organised jointly by The National Autistic Society, Royal National Institute for the Blind, Mencap and the Bristol Centre for Deaf People all EXCLUDED legitimate mayoral candidates.

In the case of the disability hustings, it’s nothing short of extraordinary that organisations supposedly dedicated to preventing exclusion should OPENLY EXCLUDE people! The other organisations involved are, mainly, thinly disguised LABOUR SUPPORTERS obviously petrified of giving a platform to any of the many left wing critics of Marvin “Luther” Rees among the mayoral candidates.

Mayor Loser’s supporters appear to have been getting in on this act too. A hustings at the Analphoney art gallery organised by the RIDICULOUS POSH BOYS running the POINTLESS Bristol Pound project also FAILED to invite most candidates because there wasn’t “enough time”. Although it looked more like a last ditch effort to keep the wheels on Mayor Massive Defeat’s car crash campaign by banning all his more open and aggressive critics.

Welcome to progressive politics in Bristol where dissent will be quietly suppressed and democracy overlooked due to time constraints.

RED PANTS INVESTS IN SURREAL ESTATE

Rough SleeperBCC offers venture capitalists 3-6% profit out of its Property Fund for the homeless

Bristol’s homeless are now so thick on the ground that you can’t go past a public park without seeing shabby tents inhabited by those turfed out by housing cutbacks and ever-rising rents.

HRH Lord Ferguson’s response to this is to hand £5m into a joint property purchase fund with an organisation called Real Lettings – consisting of Resonance (a fund/asset management company), and St. Mungo’s housing association/homeless charity.

Big Society Capital, the government’s private investment fund will then invest a ‘matching’ £5m into this property fund’s purchases. These homes will then be rented out to 70-80 households of the ‘unintentionally homeless’, consisting of 80% families and 20% singles.

These new deserving poor are given no more than 2-3 years with St Mungo’s to “move up through the homelessness pathways” and earn the ‘privilege’ of renting independently in the private sector. Their progress presumably being sustained on zero-hours minimum wage jobs?

All this is contained in a public document, ‘Executive Summary of Agenda Item 7’, signed off on 3 November by HRH and rubber stamped by his ‘cabinet’: court flunky councillors Gollop (Con), Cook (LibDem), Radice (Green), and Massey (Lab). The Council’s intention – as written – is to ‘support homelessness’ (sic), by joining the Real Lettings’ national scheme as outlined above.

Much of the document is filled with cost projections, risk management tables and colourful graphs, with sub-headings such as ‘sensitivity analysis’, ‘capital appreciation’ and ‘cash yield’.

And a ‘net target return’ of 3% plus profit is anticipated for the investor, even after the Council, Resonance and St. Mungo’s have taken their cuts. It is explained that this route will be ‘significantly cheaper’ than lodging the homeless, as at present, in private B&Bs.

It is also disconcertingly stated that The Fund is an ‘unregulated collective investment scheme’, which disqualifies it from protection normally offered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Big Society Capital is chaired by Ronald Cohen of pensions collapse fame, who along with hsome friends in 2000 disappeared with the pensions of 544 long service workers from British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM). In total, £81 million vanished from three pension funds: Dexion, BUSM, and USM Texon… All faster than you could say Abracadabra.

A comment by Ashok Kumar MP on the unresolved scandal involving Big Society Capital’s chairman is worth quoting in full: “I think these people need flogging. I feel so angry on behalf of decent upright citizens robbed of their basic human rights… These are greedy, selfish capitalists who live on the backs of others.”

But of course, having such a person at the helm investing in a local homeless fund for profit will not be bothering Lord Red Pants or his sycophantic team.