The wrong claim could contribute to more hostility towards EU citizens in the UK. It must be corrected.


First published in December 2019.


Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, told Sky News’ Adam Boulton this morning that “about 60% of the people you see sleeping rough in the street (in Westminster) are non-UK citizens and we have sought a derogation from the EU to ensure we can provide support to those individuals.”

He also added that “none of us want to walk around our towns and cities, and see people sleeping rough.”


Jenrick correctly stated that 60% of rough sleepers are non-UK citizens, however, he then insinuated that the 60% are also EU citizens by adding “We sought a derogation from the EU to support those individuals.”

This is misleading and should have been corrected on air at the time.

Indeed, according to the most recent figures from the Combined Homelessness And Information Network (CHAIN), which monitors levels of rough sleeping in London year round, only 43% of rough sleepers (440 individuals) in Westminster – in the period July-Sept 2019 – actually came from the European Union, whilst 41 % (418) were British and the others (121) from outside the EU.

CHAIN Quarterly Report, Westminster, Jul-Sep 2019. / Rough Sleeping in London Report
CHAIN Quarterly Report, Westminster, Jul-Sep 2019. / Rough Sleeping in London Report

Robert Jenrick’s claim is therefore highly misleading and, whether intentional or not, it can only contribute to more of the same hostility we have already witnessed towards EU citizens in the UK in the past three years since the EU referendum, whether in the political arena, in the media or in the streets of Britain.

Jenrick’s department’s own Rough Sleeping Strategy report, from August 2018, itself stated that there were big differences between London and the rest of England – a statement that helps to have a better reading on the number of British and EU rough sleepers. Thus, whilst “less than half (40%) of the people sleeping rough in London were from the UK, [this compares] to around four fifths (82%) in the rest of England.” Also, although “almost a third (30%) of people found sleeping rough in London were from EU countries, [this compares] to 12% in the rest of England.”

Rough Sleeping Strategy, August 2018. / Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Figures that the minister did not quote, preferring to focus on an erroneous figure instead, which obviously fits the narrative of the Conservatives and Brexiters that EU citizens are a burden on the UK society, and that Freedom of Movement must end as well as other benefits too.

Coming from a Government minister, such a wrong claim must be corrected.

Finally, we have now sent a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to get some clarification on what Robert Jenrick actually meant when he told Adam Boulton, “We have sought a derogation from the EU to ensure we can provide support to those individuals,” and whether that would actually mean that the Government is looking to deport homeless EU nationals back to the EU.

We shall keep you updated on that story...🔷


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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com on 16 December 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Gif of Robert Jenrick on Sky News.)



     

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Editor of PMP Magazine • British Author & Journalist • Celt ☘️ • Also writes in HuffPostUK & Byline.com • Book: http://bit.ly/Brexit-Populism

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