Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Social Justice & The Failure Of Capitalism

(Left) Issue 2 of Liberty & Nation – the voice of the National Liberal Party – described homelessness as a ‘National Disgrace!’ and advocated short, medium and long-term measures to tackle this problem. (Right) The logo of Shelter – the housing and homelessness charity. A report issued by Shelter revealed that there are currently around 320,000 people homeless in England and Wales.

NATIONAL LIBERALS believe that everyone – regardless of wealth or social background – has the right to decent housing, proper medical care and generous provision for old age. With this in mind, we feel that one of the greatest failures of capitalism is its inability to deliver any meaningful form of social justice to our people.

This failure of capitalism was brought into sharp focus when the housing charity Shelter recently revealed that there are around 320,000 people homeless in England and Wales today.

According to an article in the Guardian– from late last month, this figure included rough sleepers and people in temporary accommodation. However, the real figure is likely to be higher because of the plight of the ‘hidden’ homeless. This would include people ‘such as sofa-surfers, and others living insecurely in sheds or cars, for example.’

The estimate provided by the housing and homelessness charity Shelter suggests that nationally one in 200 people are homeless. Worryingly, this figure sky-rockets in London. For instance, in Newham, East London, at least one in every 24 people are in a position of housing insecurity.

The Guardian article of 22nd November also noted that:

‘In the capital as a whole, 170,000 people – equivalent to one in 52 – have no home. Westminster had the most rough sleepers, 217, followed by Camden, with 127. In Kensington and Chelsea, the UK’s richest borough, there were over 5,000 homeless people – equivalent to one in every 29 residents.’

Whilst homelessness is at its highest in London, other areas also suffer. Indeed, high rates of homelessness rates were recorded in Birmingham, Luton, Brighton & Hove, Slough, Dartford, Milton Keynes, Harlow, Watford, Epsom, Reading, Broxbourne, Basildon, Peterborough and Coventry.

The article also noted that this ‘is Shelter’s third annual analysis of homelessness. In 2016, it estimated there were 255,000 homeless people in England alone, a figure it subsequently adjusted to 294,000 for Britain. This rose to 307,000 in 2017.’

Sheter’s chief executive, Polly Neate summed up the findings when she noted:

“Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room. We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.”
National Liberals would agree with her view that “spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing” are to blame for the housing crisis. However, as we indicated above, we would go much further than that and blame the capitalist system itself. This should come as no surprise as capitalism is a ‘dog-eat-dog’ system based on greed and exploitation, which views humans as mere economic pawns.

On saying this, we don’t have any confidence whatsoever in socialism to solve the housing crisis. Socialists of various hues – in the shape of successive Labour governments – have had numerous chances to put things right.

It seems that homelessness in England & Wales is a problem that neither capitalism (represented by the Tories) or socialism (represented by Labour) cannot – or will not – solve.

Therefore, we believe that we need a system that is neither capitalist nor socialist (indeed, a system which goes way beyond these old positions) to bring about change. And such a system must have true social justice – and, in particular, the right to own property, at its core.

O THE NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY would urge its members and supporters to get involved in local charities and initiatives that seek to tackle social problems – such as homelessness – at grass-roots level.

O CHECK OUT issue 2 of Liberty & Nation – the voice of the National Liberal Party – which looks at the ‘National Disgrace’ of homelessness. To get hold of your FREE pdf copy, simply e-mail
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