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I commend Grant for this. Stunt? Yes, but only in that it relies on getting media attention to make the point.

Politicians can be criticised for being aloof, so it's unfair of the Telegraph to mock them when they forego their privileges once in a while.
(I wonder if we'll see "Oddball" pop up on here again saying how much of a "star of the future" Shapps is!)

Extra special commendation to those who did the CSJ programme.

Last comment from me this year - Happy Christmas everyone!

MP sleeping rough?

This 10% pay increase is coming in the nick of time then!

The fact that people will be talking about homelessness means that the sleep-out will have served it purpose. Having done security work, walking through the streets and even less glamorous canal banks and graveyards at three o'clock in the morning I can assure Mr Shapps that it gets bitterly cold. So a few tips from me, a third of body heat is lost through the feet and head so wear a balaclava and two pairs of socks. The homeless often put vaseline on their face and paper inside their clothing for insulation.

I'd also advise Mr Shapps to chose an isolated place to sleep. Many of the homeless suffer attacks by people who have been drinking, I've seen this several times, this could especially be a problem being so close to Christmas. So Mr Shapps needs to watch his back the streets can be pretty rough at night, which goes to show what the homeless have to contend with.

People may be critical of what they term token acts of poverty but if these efforts get people talking that is the main thing. The very poorest sections of our society may exist and be able get by but they don't have a life. In the 21st century poverty is unacceptable.

Initiatives like this are double edged. It's true that many voters see that the Tories are aloof/ out-of-touch. These initiatives attempt to address that sense but also remind voters of the underlying problem. The CSJ weeks are probably harder to dismiss than a 'one night stand'.

Good luck with it Grant! Well done on highlighting the problem of the homeless. Some may call it a "stunt" but if it takes that to draw people's attention to a problem that the Government pays lip service to but doesn't do much more, then that has got to be a good thing!

P.S. I hope once you have thawed out and had a good meal you will write something for CH outlining your experience of what it was like!

I've always wondered why our churches don't do more to help the homeless. Maybe I'm being naive but wouldn't it be a good idea to open up a section of the church to provide shelter?

Best of luck to Grant.

I suppose on the pittance they earn, it's about what you'd expect. No wonder really bright talented people opt for the City, law, business rather than being a glorified social worker.

Good Luck Grant, but dont get hypothermia for your pains. I am assuming that you have already aquired a selection of arctic expedition underwear? I have always relied on Damart when I was a Health Visitor in the snow/hail/frost. Keep your legs warm as well as feet.
My worst time was a frosty winter as a midwife,in the 50s, sans car, sans thermals, clad in a cotton uniform dress, gaberdine mac, and STOCKINGS for Chrissake!!!! I pulled on a cardigan over my feet, up my legs, and tied it round my waist. Effective but I just hoped I didnt get knocked down by a bus.
So, Grant, Long johns are a must!

Pointless stunt. Dear Olga Maitland did this donkeys' years ago and then old Portaloo lived as a single-mum-in-slum a bit back. It has no effect, except to swell said individual's ego.

Two reports that I've published on rough sleeping and homelessness are available from here for anyone interested:



Grant --

Our housing policy is a complete trainwreck. I can only assume that some troublesome Lib Dems guessed the password to your website and changed your policies to get you into trouble, those sneaky little buggers.

First, the economically illiterate cut in stamp duty for first time buyers. Who the hell designed that?

Second, your peculiar pronunciations on gazumping is of a similar league. You are trying to redesign an auction process, so get a game theorist - not a sodding TV presenter.

Third, it's clear that the biggest problem in UK housing is undersupply. George Osborne said this ages ago, but we're against higher density housing, against building on the green belt or farmland and against filling-in sideplot gardens in urban areas. Where the hell are these new houses going to go?

Just exactly what policy is shapps proposing here? does he have a solution? or is this just and ego driven "look at me caring, look! LOOK!! No, not at them, AT ME!" stunt.

He is of course sleeping out in WESTMINSTER, one of our flagship councils that has worked the hardest with the rough sleepers. Wonder if they are happy about it?

I wanted to do this in Croydon though the Croydon Council has been praised by the London Mayor for for building enough houses (thanks Cllr Mead).

I am not sure if I need Police permission? And also I may end up homeless as my wife may not let me back in for Christmas.

Well done Mr.Shapps let us highlight the problems the homeless people face.

I understand that homelessness in London has fallen significantly, though it still exists. I think official numbers said it was 100. I know a report came out slamming those very statistics but if we dont accept those statstics as having some basis then how are we to judge homelessness policies?
I agree with w9 tory. All too often these are just stunts to grab attention and most often the attention isnt at the supposed subject matter but as the person courting the attention.

For one example of the CSJ's scheme - read Ed Vaizey's four-part diary of his time at a night-shelter on the Platform - http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/ed_vaizey_mp/index.html

It is silly stunt really. His intention is no doubt honorable however. Stay safe Grant!

However sincere Grant may be, such acts are generally and cynically referred to as publicity stunts and do little to endear the Conservative Party to the under-privileged. Those who have truly lived through adversities and know intimately life in all its diversity, rather than the privileged spending a few days stacking shelves in Asda, or attempting to live on state hand-outs, or living rough for a couple of nights, are those who have unrivalled empathy with the less fortunate.

When the Conservative Party anoints candidates who have come from every background, especially those from humble origins who have achieved their success through industry and fortitude, and withstood the vicissitudes of life, it will truly become a political party for all of Britain.

I agree with you, Tony, at 10.36:

"I've always wondered why our churches don't do more to help the homeless. Maybe I'm being naive but wouldn't it be a good idea to open up a section of the church to provide shelter?"

Perhaps it should be the other way round: Christian churches and IDS with his policies for mending a broken society share common ground on homelessness. So, too, do other charities (Shelter, the Salvation Army etc).

I believe that a truly compassionate tory party would harness all the forces for good (thus including other faiths than just the good old C of E) in an attempt to eradicate this blight on our society.

Government can provide the resources that the others cannot (at least not in sufficient measure) but the faiths and charities have their networks to reach the people in need. Every town should have sufficient hostel accommodation, so that no person should have to sleep rough.

David Belchamber, good points. I find it hard to believe that in the 21st century we cannot organize shelter for the homeless in our towns. I remember from my time living in Denmark that the Danish government under Poul Schluter used to let the homeless sleep in train carriages in the dead of winter. There was a particularly severe winter in 1986 with temperatures of minus 25c and I remember this happening. How much could it cost to have a communal sleep-in centre in each major town?

As much as I commend this fantastic move, both the Observer and the Telegraph have been quite late in pikcing up this story - it was first reported in the Times on Monday.

Good luck tomorrow night, though, Grant - rough doesn't just describe the way you'll be sleeping...

Unfortunately, the facts contradict what most people lazily believe. There is a one in 730 chance of helping the homeless having any success - they need all help removed to force themselves to improve their performance.

It is also a serious cause of crime, and we need tougher penalties to deal with it.

Bring back the stocks.
Bring back the pillory.
Bring back the stockory.
Bring back hanging.
Bring back the Scavenger's Daughter.

This from the 'Derby Gripe' is a damning rejection of modern society by those old enough to have lived through the 1950s and today's world. Very interesting I think.

Everything was better in the 1950s, except washing machines, central heating and inside toilets, according to a survey of people aged above 50. The 3,000 seniors found modern society crime-ridden, sleazy, promiscuous, foul-mouthed, noisy and second-rate. And they strongly disliked its greed, selfishness, unfriendliness, ill discipline, bad manners, easy credit, drug culture, TV sex and violence.

In the 50s people seemed kinder and had more time for each other, they said. People were neighbourly, public transport was good, music was better and housing more affordable. And they missed the slower pace of life, job security, and the way families had lived closer together and society valued housewives. With an average age of 69, 89% of those asked said they were glad they had been young in the 50s and not now, as children had been more innocent and allowed to remain child-like for longer.

Children had been safer then said 88%, with more freedom to play outside, 85% felt. But most said it was better to be a pensioner now, with 70% saying they lived healthier, longer and more active lives and people no longer considered 60 to be old. Four out of every five said mobile phones had made life worse, only 14% felt the internet had improved it, and 92% said they had been "happy in the 50s without any of these modern things".

They missed respect for authority, said 93%, bobbies on the beat, 91%, and the pride people used to feel in being British, 81%. People had been more innocent according to 86%, and seemed kinder, 72%, with less crime, 85%. Barbara Windsor, who was born in 1937 and first appeared on the acting scene in the 50s, said they "were happy days because everything seemed so much more affable, honest and direct".

Singer Val Doonican, 78, added, "It was a gentler, somehow less competitive world." The editor of Yours Magazine, which commissioned the research, Valery McConnell said it shows most people are happier when they have a simple life rather than a complicated one.

She said, "Everything about modern-day society is complex and stressful - automated answering machines, mind-boggling car parks and road systems, endless traffic, 50 different varieties of everything, bank managers you cannot talk to, high crime levels and aggression on the streets. More has been lost than gained. Material possessions designed to make our lives easier also have a downside. Modern communication means people speak on mobiles, not on the street corner or at the bus stop. Increased mobility means we no longer know our neighbours or live near our families."

Ms McConnell added, "Cars have driven children off the streets. Large out of town supermarkets mean many High Streets are deserted. People no longer feel at home in their communities. No wonder many older people miss the simplicity of the 50s and wish their grandchildren could experience the same. The 50's was a gentler era when manners and people mattered. People were more important than possessions and had time for each other... knew their neighbours and had a sense of belonging."

I would agree that the cause of homelessness is a shortage of supply. Increase supply, and prices will drop, making it easier to buy/rent a home.

However, I would put much of the blame at the government's door. The revenue funding system punishes local authorities that have high housing growth rates. Their per capita funding is reduced if their housing growth is much above the national average. This makes it much harder to provide public services, and to garner public support for further housing growth. Also, government funding for infrastructure is sparse (only 2-5% of what is needed).

It's no good the government proselytising about housing growth unless and until they are prepared to put their money where their mouth is and:
1) remove the damping function from the RSG funding formula, and
2) fund infrastructure at the level required.

If neither happens, then I can foresee the current low housing growth rate slowing still further.

BBC report on Grant's sleep-out.

Whenever I see discussion of homelessness (in this context the narrow definition of people sleeping rough not the wider definition of people who are not sleeping rough but don't have a permanent home) I wonder what my taxes are being spent on.

I mean - I pay my taxes so that there won't be any people sleeping rough. That's why we have a welfare state with income support and council housing isn't it?

I already know the answer to this question though. I used to know a homeless bloke who told the story of how he was sat homeless feeling sorry for himself and somebody suggested to him that he should contact the council. He freely admitted that he had never actually tried this and when he did two weeks later he had a house to live in - because homeless people go to the top of the waiting list.

I don't agree with Roy Meadow's tone above but he is right in a way. The trouble is not lack of accommodation or because people don't care. The trouble is that homeless people have low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem don't feel that they deserve to be helped and it's difficult to help people who don't want to be helped.

Wow... a wholen24 hrs. Please get this mp a life someone.

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