Sociology Essays – Exclusion Deprived Sleepers
Sociology Essays – Exclusion Deprived Sleepers

Sociology Essays – Exclusion Deprived Sleepers

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  • Pages: 5 (1309 words)
  • Published: August 6, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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Evaluating the Impact of Policies on Rough Sleepers and Social Exclusion

While poverty was traditionally considered as the most disadvantaged category in society, social exclusion has emerged as a more recent recognition of individuals facing severe disadvantages. This process involves being partially or completely excluded from societal, economic, cultural and political systems that contribute to integration into society (Haralambos et al., 2000). Nolan and Whelan (1996) argue that referring to social exclusion instead of poverty highlights the gap between active members of society and those who are forced towards its margins. Homelessness is one extreme example of social exclusion in British society, with local governments reporting around 125,000 registered homeless people in 1995; however, this number excludes those living on streets or sleeping rough without registration. Despite numerous policy initiatives aimed at reducing rough sleepers - indiv


iduals who sleep outside because they have nowhere else to stay - they remain a significant challenge for concerned individuals and societies alike. This article evaluates current beliefs surrounding rough sleeping while highlighting deficiencies in existing services and social security policies that exclude rough sleepers.The policy context discloses a significant increase in unemployment levels over the past 35 years, resulting in heightened long-term unemployment and an exacerbated wealth gap between the rich and poor. Field (1996) contends that Thatcher's government intentionally widened the class divide during the 1980s, leading to an underclass without social and citizenship rights. Conflicts within social security policy persisted until John Major's ousting from power in 1997. Field (1996) maintains that Conservative Government efforts to decrease benefits led to increased dependence on agencies, creating a poverty trap challenging to overcome. Craine (1997) an

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Blackman (1997), however, dispute this lower class theory. In 1987, welfare underwent reform aimed at discouraging reliance on state aid while changes in housing policy resulted in a decline of council house building and one-third rent increases impacting society's poorest members simultaneously. Alcock (1997) states that Conservative policies from 1979-1997 actively promoted inequality ultimately leading to increased homelessness, social exclusion, and poverty. These issues contribute to rough sleeping among those aged 25-44 who are at risk due to factors such as low income, drug addiction or alcoholism, mental illness or unemployment.Within the population of rough sleepers in London, approximately 15% are female adults without citizenship while an increasing number of young people who have left local authority care are also affected. Homeless youths tend to be predominantly white, with black or Asian individuals making up around 10%. In response to this issue, the government committed ?250 million in 1990 towards establishing the Rough Sleeper Initiative. This initiative utilized outreach work, resettlement projects, hostels and day centers that focused on providing accommodation and employment opportunities specifically aimed at addressing homelessness in central London. The report "Coming in From the Cold" revealed that across the country roughly 1,600 people sleep on streets each night which includes 635 individuals located within London alone. A range of agencies such as police, social services, health professionals, local authorities and voluntary organizations share responsibility for helping rough sleepers; however, previous studies found fragmented efforts lacking effective communication and coordination between agencies resulting in unmet needs among those seeking assistance. Randall and Brown (1996) discovered that previous attempts to help rough sleepers had failed due to a lack of continuity among different

authorities. Even with the first Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI) being evaluated positively by decreasing half of Central London's rough sleepers back in 1995 still leaves around 40% requiring specialist support for drug/alcohol-related problems or mental health issues today.Winter night shelters were introduced in 1994/5 to assist those who refused hostel accommodation due to its restrictive nature. Although RSI 2 showed some progress, with a decrease in the number of rough sleepers complaining about inadequate relocation support from 40% to only 11%, issues remained regarding inter-agency cooperation and decision-making for rough sleeper needs. According to Randall and Brown (1996), lodging associations and referral agencies faced challenges providing sufficient support and services. However, during phase 2, various consortia were established among local governments and police to address clients with complex demands such as mental health and substance abuse problems. These agencies worked together efficiently with mental health services to meet hard-to-reach clients' needs while bureau members conducted rough sleeper counts in different areas, obligating local governments to reduce their region's number of rough sleepers (Randall and Brown, 1996). Despite these difficulties, Bramley et al.(2005) reported that the Rough Sleepers program has been highly successful, enabling the government to achieve its two-thirds reduction target ahead of time. As demographics change, lodging must consider supporting groups with specific needs or vulnerabilities appropriately.Bramley et al. (2005:5) broadened the definition of homelessness in the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act of 1977 to encompass individuals residing in emergency accommodations such as hotels, shelters, and bed and breakfasts alongside rough sleepers. These modifications reflect demographic shifts, de-institutionalization policies, community care focus, and equal opportunity provisions that have resulted in a more diverse range of

help-receiving groups. Non-priority sectors like battered women who didn't seek refuge were only given emergency accommodation or advice under this act. The Housing Act of 1996 decreased the obligations of local authorities resulting in homeless persons no longer being deemed priority recipients for local government housing allocations; this additionally restricted asylum seekers' access to aid limiting minority rights. However, the 2002 Homelessness Act helped counteract these negative impacts by making local governments responsible for securing lodging for priority groups such as homeless individuals and reducing homelessness within their regions. To support these changes further, The Allotment of Housing (Reasonable and Additional Preference) Regulations 1997 SI 1997 No.1902 expanded precedence categories for housing needs to include various age groupings and those with institutional backgrounds due to the Conservative Government's Back to Basics moral campaign and an increase in homelessness caused by government policy.The Labour Government established a Rough Sleepers Unit in 1998, with the aim of reducing rough sleeping by two-thirds before 2002. The unit was integrated into the ODPM, which aimed to decrease negative societal effects while increasing employment opportunities. Additional resources were allocated for outreach workers and specialized support services for those with mental health or substance abuse issues. Despite debate over rough sleeper counts, objectives were met by 2002. Local authorities' budgets rely on government efforts to reduce rough sleeping. Various policies have had both positive and negative impacts on homelessness. The RSU intervention has been successful despite controversy, but concerns remain regarding measures taken to remove homeless individuals from the streets due to an anti-begging campaign led by the RSU. The government continues to prioritize this issue but now relies more heavily

on local governments and service delivery organizations for implementation.Various sources like "Understanding Poverty" (Alcock, 1997), "Youth, the Underclass, and Social Exclusion" (MacDonald, 1997), and "Sociology: Themes and Perspectives" (Haralambos et al., 2000) have extensively discussed poverty and social inequality. Additionally,"Stakeholder Welfare" (Field, 1996) explores different parties involved in social welfare provision while "Resources: Want and Poverty"(Nolan & Wheelan, 1996) examines how people acquire resources to meet their needs. Several publications assess the evolution of housing policies and initiatives aimed at addressing homelessness in England. Bramley et al.'s (2005) study titled "Evaluation of English Housing Policy 1975-2002 Subject 1: Supply, Need, and Access" provides an overview. Randall and Brown's evaluations-"From Street to Home: An Evaluation of Phase 2 of the Rough Sleepers Initiative"(1996)and"Homes for Street Homeless People - An Evaluation of the Rough Sleepers Initiative"(1999)-provide specific assessments on these initiatives.RobsonandPoustie's(1996)"HomelessnessandTheLawinBritain"examines legal aspects surrounding homelessness.The Rough Sleepers Unit published several reports including a progress report in 2000 titled "Coming in from the Cold: Progress Report on the Government's Strategy on Rough Sleeping," a second progress report under the same title in 2001,and also released "Coming in from the Cold: The Government's Strategy on Rough Sleeping"(1999).Moreover, the Social Exclusion Unit of London published a report entitled "Rough Sleeping - Report by the Social Exclusion Unit" in 1998. To learn more about these materials, please visit

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