Friday, May 15, 2009

Repossessions: the quiet National Emergency

At best this is the ugly footnote of Britain's news reports: 13,000 families had their homes repossessed in the first three months of 2009. But you won't hear about it.

Some people are of the opinion that the recent MPs' expenses scandal is a nice distraction from real problems. It isn't. It's a belated public acknowledgement of Westminster's sheer arrogance and contempt for the public - and that applies to all mainstream parties.

And though the scandal also meant official validation for the they're-all-the-same doctrine which defined political apathy in the last decade, it was refreshing to see that it fended off competition from Jordan and Peter Andre's split to seize the front pages.

There is, however, one serious scandal that is being kept conveniently quiet. About 13,000 families had their homes repossessed in the first three months of 2009, 50% more than in the first quarter of last year. That is tens of thousands of people - without counting the rising hordes of tenants who face homelessness because their landlord has defaulted on mortgage payments.

According to the coalition formed by Shelter, Citizens Advice, Crisis and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), there is "a steep increase" in the number of tenants are being thrown out onto the street without notice. Literally. You can hardly imagine how appalling this would feel if it happened to you. Losing your dwelling before your eyes is one of the things that scar people for life, yet this dramatic worsening of the situation is largely being ignored.

Look at BBC News website, for instance. The report is there and it's quite detailed, but it's tucked away in the Business section.

Ask around. How many people are aware of this emergency? Compare it with the numbers who will be able to tell you the name of the guy presenting this year's Eurovision.

Nobody likes to switch the telly on and hear about depressing stories, but the fact that - in 2009's Britain - thousands of extra families each month are forced to look for a hostel needs to become part of the national consciousness and quick. Then, and only then, the Parliament may become aware that it's not just the banks that need bailing out.

1 comment:

Selma said...

Parliament is already aware that its not just the banks that need bailing out but, unfortuanately, corruption is now endemic in our society and the poor folks who will be thrown from their homes cannot afford to lobby as aggressively, if at all, as the bankers and their likes.