Home News Rough Justice: social policies creating homelessness
Scales and woman statue © Michael Coghlan

Rebecca Dillon

Rough Justice: social policies creating homelessness


Scales and woman statue © Michael CoghlanThe origins of the word ‘Democracy’ stem from the Ancient Greek words dēmos meaning ‘the people’ and kratia – ‘power, rule’. So it stands to reason that government policy should be designed in a way that values and aids these very ‘people’. Whilst we should live in a society where all people matter, where everyone is treated fairly and the vulnerable are not penalised – the stark reality is that this is not the case.

What happens when the very system that is supposed to be helping becomes the reason individuals are made to suffer? Throughout our work at Commonweal we have seen many instances where public policy is itself making it difficult for people to live a dignified life. Whether intentionally or not, creating a system where the very safety nets that are meant to protect individuals are taken away,
is neither fair nor democratic.

Commonweal and many of the charities we work with have come up against policies
that make the job of helping vulnerable people to move on with their lives more difficult.
This cannot be ignored – attention must be drawn to these injustices. So Commonweal is launching a report in July, in which we highlight the clashing public policies that inadvertently impact upon and create homelessness, we also look at how solutions are being found.
With contributions from organisations that have first-hand experience of the unfortunate human impact of such policies.

The report – ‘Rough Justice: uncovering social policies that create homelessness.’ explores some key issues – for example:

  • How immigration policy leaves vulnerable individuals, granted permission to stay in the UK, without the access to vital public funds needed to survive.
  • How tough new job sanctions and the Job Centres’ focus on penalising people who do not follow rigid guidelines can hinder long-term well-being and sustainable job prospects.
  • How changes in Housing Benefit rules are making it impossible for many to afford decent accommodation in London’s expensive rental market.
  • How unfair compensation policy inflicts a double injustice on those wrongfully imprisoned through a miscarriages of justice. A policy that led to an early close-down of a Commonweal project designed to help house and support these individuals.

In what is a democratic society, elected by and for the people it serves, social policy
should not penalise people at difficult times in their lives, exactly when State support is
most needed. This is not a one way system – policy that takes the well-being of people as a leading factor in policy formation will lead to a happier, better functioning and more economically sound country for all.


Free report launch event: Rough Justice: uncovering social policies that create homelessness
Wed 9 July, 3 – 5pm, Central Westminster Hall #RoughJusticeCH
If you would like to attend or for more information email info@commonweal.org.uk

Ambreen Ahmad
Communications Coordinator

AA photo

(Top blog image © Michael Coghlan)