Thames Reach has made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission regarding an inaccurate and discriminatory Daily Mail article. You can read the full complaint below:
"I wish to put in a complaint concerning a Daily Mail article headlined ‘As thousands of servicemen are made redundant, how many will be turned away from homeless shelters that are packed full of immigrants’.
I believe this article breaches both section 1 on accuracy and section 12 on discrimination of the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice for Editors. These stipulate that the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information and that the press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to people’s race or nationality.
I strongly support efforts to help British armed services veterans to escape homelessness, but this article misrepresents and distorts what is really happening in respect to the total number of homeless veterans and who is entitled to live in hostels for the homeless, whilst inciting racial hatred.
The article is inaccurate on a number of different points:
It suggests that up to 25 per cent of the homeless were armed forces veterans – the latest data for London compiled by outreach workers across the capital indicates that 6%, not 25% of rough sleepers have a background in the armed forces. Furthermore, approximately half of these rough sleepers actually served in the armed forces of Central and Eastern European countries.
See link for details of the rough sleeping Chain data for London’s rough sleepers which contains this information.
Elsewhere, the article suggests 'the civilian shelters were full of Somalis and Poles'. This is inaccurate as whilst many people from overseas end up sleeping rough, they cannot access homeless hostel bed spaces as they have no rights to the benefits which would pay their rent. Quite simply, unless someone has paid national insurance contributions for over a year, they won't be found accommodation in hostels and other ways of helping them are being sought within the homelessness sector. Hostels are not 'full of Somalis and Poles' as the article’s author states. Indeed they make up a very tiny minority of the hostel population.
The article then states that 'unless you have an address you cannot receive benefits' which adds to the impression that veterans are doubly disadvantaged as they are left on the street and unable to claim benefit. This is an urban myth. People sleeping rough are entitled to benefits if they are UK citizens and can provide appropriate identification.
The article then suggests 'charities are being overwhelmed by immigrant need to the exclusion of our own'. This is simply not the case. Homeless hostels only cater for those entitled to benefits which include British army veterans. Additionally some local authorities such as Southwark, Edinburgh, Wandsworth and Westminster are introducing or have introduced additional clauses to give priority to ex-services personnel which gives them priority to housing.
This article is wholly inaccurate and in my view is intended to create an impression of entitlement to services which benefit some national groups (Somali’s and Poles) at the expense of services personal from the UK. As such it is likely to lead to racial discrimination against non-UK nationals and possibly assaults on people from central and eastern Europe and other parts of the world who are vulnerable through living destitute on our streets."
Jeremy Swain, Thames Reach Chief Executive.