Picture this. A scared and vulnerable 20-something man is sitting in a cold, damp and dingy flat. He’s watching the front door in fear, as his neighbours pass on the other side, oblivious.
He’s also waiting because he knows they’re coming. He has packed all that he holds dear into two plastic bags which sit ready at the front door. He thought plastic bags were better. They’ll keep the rain out and protect the few photographs he has left.
You might imagine that this is a man preparing to flee a war-torn country, forced out through terror. You’d be wrong; he has already experienced that trauma before.
He’s actually in Glasgow, just one of hundreds of men and women preparing to spend this weekend knowing it will be his last with this particular roof over his head.
From Monday, hundreds of asylum seekers will face eviction after housing provider Serco announced it will restart a programme of lock change evictions. This will leave up to 300 people with no recourse to public funds destitute on the streets of a city which, like so many across the UK, is already facing a homelessness crisis. Serco, which lost the Home Office contract in Scotland earlier this year, said it was “not a step we have taken lightly”, but one they have taken, nonetheless. A final, tragic, hurrah.
There has been some outrage, as you’d expect, but not nearly enough considering the human tragedy that is about to unfold. Local government and charities alike have warned of ‘mass destitution’ and the possibility of vulnerable people being ‘man-handled’ into the streets, but still the general population remain oblivious to the fact that this can – and is – happening in our country.
The feeling of hopelessness is overwhelming, not only amongst those threatened with eviction, but for the people of Glasgow and beyond.
But there is something we can do to help – even if it’s as simple as sharing this briefing or telling someone you know about what is happening.
In the absence of a halt to the evictions and in a desperate attempt to mitigate the looming crisis, groups are urging Serco staff in Glasgow to revise their eviction letters to include emergency contact details for organisations such as Positive Action in Housing. The charity says they want Serco’s help in getting the word out to those affected that they’re on hand to help and advise accordingly. Surely this is the least that can be done.
In the meantime, an appeal is lodged with the Court of Session, but the decision won’t be known until July – far too late for those facing eviction in the coming days.
Charities such as Positive Action in Housing have already faced an increased demand from destitute people seeking emergency grants and spare rooms in the homes of volunteers. The demand on their resources is about to skyrocket, but still most people will remain oblivious to what is happening.
As we go into the weekend, lets count ourselves lucky that most of us will never experience the distress and trauma that awaits some on Monday.
Matt Hancock is considering pulling out of the race to be the next Tory leader according to reports, after receiving just 20 votes in the first ballot. The health secretary was in sixth place, well behind current favourite Boris Johnson, who received 114. The former London mayor and foreign secretary was “delighted” with the result but warned that his campaign still had a long way to go. The next round of voting is scheduled for Tuesday.
The number of abortions has reached a record high, allegedly fuelled by older women and changes to the benefits system. Some 200,608 abortions were carried out in England and Wales last year, a four per cent rise on 2017. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the growth in abortions among women who were already mothers could, in part, be a result of changes to the benefit system that capped child tax credits and universal credit at two children. (£)
Former Labour and Change UK MP Chuka Umunna has joined the Liberal Democrats. In an interview with The Times explaining his decision, he said he was wrong to believe that the UK needed a new party in the centre ground.
Business & Economy
Gender stereotypes in adverts have been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog, as they could play a part in “limiting people’s potential”. Adverts deemed “harmful” or those likely to cause “serious or widespread offence” – for example, a man relaxing with his feet up while a woman cleans, or a woman failing to park a car – will be covered under the ban.
Facebook has hired senior British bank lobbyist Ed Bowles as its London-based director of public policy, after 12 years as Standard Chartered’s European head of corporate and public affairs. The social media giant is bracing for greater political and regulatory scrutiny in Europe over its plans to launch a digital currency and other financial services to its 2.4 billion users. (£)
Troubled contractor Kier is planning to offload its housebuilding division as financial pressure on the group grows. The company has consulted investors about the potential to sell the division, which is understood to be valued at between £100 million and £150 million. The plans to bolster Kier’s finances come after Euler Hermes and Tokio Marine HCC, the trade credit insurers, withdrew cover insuring suppliers from any potential losses earlier this week. (£)
What happened yesterday?
Shares on the FTSE 100 remained flat yesterday, while the FTSE 250 – which is generally thought to be more representative of the UK – had its worst day in a week. The index sank 78 points to 19,172 as Boris Johnson emerged as the clear favourite to succeed Theresa May. Johnson has refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit, a move which analysts see as potentially catastrophic to the UK economy.
Meanwhile,retailers have expressed concernover the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, just before the busy Christmas shopping season. Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis, explained that, ahead of 29 March – the original Brexit date – Tesco spent £200 million on stockpiles of long-life food to help it cope with disruption, which was later sold when the departure date was delayed. To do the same again in October would be impossible, as logistical networks are at full capacity.
On the global markets, stocks had a comparably better day, advancing when the incident involving oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman sent oil prices up. In the US, the rally took centre stage as both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate jumped as much as 4.5%. Wall Street’s S&P 500 ended 0.4% higher, with energy stocks the biggest winners.
On the currency markets, the pound edged up 0.01% against the dollar at $1.26. Against the euro it was down 0.05% at €1.12.
What's happening today?
Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom Neft ADR
M.P. Evans Group
OJSC Rostelekom ADR (level I)
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Wholesale Price Index (GER)
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)
(15:00) Business Inventories (US)
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (Prelim) (US)
Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times
Columns of Note:
Writing in this week’s Spectator, Ross Clark explores the strange triumph of eco-Toryism. Given the changing public mood around the climate emergency, the Conservative leadership hopefuls have been quick to pledge their green credentials: Sajid Javid will fight it like terrorism; Rory Stewart has upgraded it to a “climate cataclysm”. But, according to Philip Hammond, the target to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions will cost the economy £1 trillion. So, with even hardline Brexiteers joining the climate crusade, how can we be sure that new environmental policies are getting the scrutiny they deserve? (£)
Matthew Taub examines new evidence of marijuana’s ritual role in ancient lifein the Atlantic, after incense burners unearthed in western China were found to contain cannabis residue. And not just that: they contained unusually high levels of THC, the compound that gives cannabis its psychoactive, mind-altering qualities. It is thought the plant played a role in funeral ceremonies, was specifically sought out for its potency and could potentially have come from further afield, shining a light on the regions’ role as part of the Silk Road.
Cartoon source: The Times
Did you know?
The British monarch still has a ‘champion’, to fight anyone who challenges their right to the throne. Queen Elizabeth’s current champion is a 64-year-old chartered accountant.
House of Commons
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House of Lords
Access to Palliative Care Bill [HL] – Second reading – Baroness Finlay of Llandaff
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