Dr Alf brings us an issue described as ‘SLS’(‘shitlife syndrome‘, which in reality has always been with us. Now because of UK homelessness and a failure to do anything to educate people, or control some of the worst excesses, is now out in the open, where it can be ignored no longer. The homeless used to be a tiny minority of people and blue-collar workers, on relatively low incomes, such as my former POW stepfather, but they could buy houses if they worked hard and were careful with their money. Today to buy a house in Cambridge, UK, or the house he bought, you would need to be earning GBP£125k a year and have a GBP£75K deposit.
Since 80% of people in the UK with bank accounts have less than GBP500 in them at any one time (the same figure as prevailed in 1990 when GE Money surveyed the marketplace for secured loans and impaired life annuities), it is easy to see that the great unwashed mass of the public is getting poorer. They are also getting lazier, less productive and are overeating, drinking double the world average for alcohol, vaping, smoking, leading sedentary lifestyles, gambling on smart phone applications, failing to observe proper hygiene, engaging in risky liaisons and bizarre and unusual practices, failing to follow enabling personal philosophies, and engaging in self-pity, nihilism and imagining that the world owes them a living. In addition, they fail to cook or eat properly, eating junk food and eating too late at night, whilst drinking on an empty stomach. In short, they are committing suicide by stealth, and when on this journey to perdition they get depressed, about 6 million of them take drugs or are prescribed opiates.
With the lack of housing representing a shortage of 14 million, we now have communities of homeless people living in public parks and on the streets in tents in such numbers that they are no longer out of sight. My own Masonic Lodge in Cambridge has raised money for two vans to travel around Peterborough and Cambridge, providing the homeless with meals three nights a week, plus providing tents and ground sheets. This, of course, is sticking plaster and fails to deal with the fact that 50% of rough sleeping is ex-miltary men, traumatized by their experiences, left to rot and die on our streets by local authorities who ignore the military covenant and the debt of blood and honour we a owe them. In this overall sense, the responsiblity for lower mortality is shared between government, local authorities and the public.
There is a vociferous minority of abusive pensioners, hypochondriacs, drunks, recreational drug users, PIP benefit recipients, benefit recipients not on PIP, the mentally ill and the very poor, 1 million or so people who have been “sanctioned” by the DWP, or have had to wait up to 12 weeks for Universal Credit to come through, who abuse or overuse the NHS and local authority services.
Both these services have become unreformable as Dr Alf and I have said many times in his “Hard Look,” series of blogs in which the state of the NHS and Adult Social Care were each dissected with surgical precision by Dr Alf, who has lost none of his forensic ability to look dispassionately at numbers and root causes.
The levels of inequality of outcome are now far too great for a healthy society, as we now face the prospect not only of homeless people defecating in the street (there are no toilets in tents) and there are too few open public conveniences per head of population but also the prospect of contagious diseases of the kind that existed in the time of Charles Dickens. In addition, if we are serious about trying to attract legitimate inward investment having our streets full of beggars, living in tents makes us look like third world banana republic, not a modern country where you would want to invest your money. Saying that, it is all up to the individual is not enough, when boardroom pay keeps rising at 11% per year to the point where for failing to deliver exports, sales or optimised shareholder value or even delivering huge losses, directors can earn up to 450 times average pay if bonuses and other emoluments are factored in. High pay has to be earned and must be seen to be earned. This must apply both in the private sector and the public sector where we can now see with the example of Northamptonshire County Council, new instances every day, such as the private Rugby box purchased by that authority which must have known it was going bankrupt, of financial incompetence and irregularity.
The fact that the Phoenix 4, the directors of Equitable Life, the worst of the investment bankers, the Carillion directors, the malefactors at Northamptonshire County Council and others are permitted to walk the streets freely, whilst others live in tents and shop doorways, ought to make us angry, the rest of the self-inflicted harm, shortening lives, should be a cause for alarm, yet the politicians and media sit silent, washing their hands, just as Pontius Pilate did 2018 years ago.