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UK councils try to get rid of rough-sleepers: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A rough-sleeper is seen in this December 27, 2018 file photo near Leicester square in central London. (AFP photo)

A new report shows that city councils in Britain try to get rid of the homeless and rough-sleepers by giving them single tickets.

The Guardian newspaper said Saturday that thousands of rough sleepers and homeless people had been given one-way train, bus and flight tickets by UK councils in the last four years.

The report said the destinations chosen for the homeless people by the councils showed they were seeking to have them leave areas and sometimes even leave the country.

Some campaigners and MPs have criticized the councils for their “reconnection policies” in which they allegedly seek to encourage rough-sleepers to voluntarily return to areas where they have family and support networks.

They say the policy is a form of “street cleansing” by the councils as they struggle to reduce homelessness and rough-sleeping rates in their areas.

Rough-sleepers have also challenged councils’ notion that the tickets are voluntarily accepted and given when authorities make sure that there are offers for accommodation and support at the destination. They say that tickets were chosen against their wills and pushed them to places where they had never been.  

“There was nowhere for me to go. They tried looking for hours and hours and said the only thing on offer was a train ticket to get me to Birmingham. I said: ‘I just need somewhere to live. This is supposed to be a first-world country,’” Philip Sempers, 35, told the Guardian.

Homelessness and rough-sleeping is at its peak in Britain as hundreds of thousands were forced to spend the Christmas holidays on streets or on public transportation.

A series of austerity measures and changes to the government’s social welfare policy have been blamed for the surge in homelessness although the ruling Conservatives have mostly rejected their cuts have played a role.

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