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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Agency appeals for compassion in dealing with 'neighbours from Hell'
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¬† CHAS, the Catholic Housing Aid Society, has voiced concern about the current debate over withholding benefits from people convicted of anti-social behaviour, and called for a more thoughtful discussion of the root causes of anti-social behaviour. In a statement it says: The arguments have been raging over the ethics and the practicalities of cutting the Housing Benefit of so-called 'neighbours from hell'. The Prime Minister repeated his backing for Frank Field MP's private member's bill in an interview last week, and Benefits Minister Alistair Darling hinted at the possibility of linking the criminal justice system to benefits across the board. As an organisation with Christian foundations, CHAS believes that the most vulnerable in society and those on the margins need our help. They do not need to be forced into further poverty and possible homelessness by having their benefits cut. Aside from driving them into greater deprivation, such measures penalise members of the household who might not be perpetrators of the behaviour, and fail to address the deeper issues. Sarah Williams, CHAS Education and Media Officer, commented: "MPs and Ministers have spoken of the large increase in problems relating to anti-social behaviour that they come across in their constituencies. But no one is asking why this is the case, and what can be done to change this. "Is anti-social behaviour a symptom of a wider malaise? Of community breakdown; of the isolation and lack of support for people living on the edge? If these proposals do go ahead, will the money saved in docked benefits be used to improve support services for families, and youth services for alienated teenagers, for example?" CHAS is disheartened at the dehumanising of often extremely vulnerable members of our society. Far from being naÔve, we recognise the awful stress that anti-social behaviour can cause, but would urge politicians to look for genuine solutions. A more humane, and more responsible approach would be to tackle the root causes of the problem and not to create more homelessness and deprivation for some of the most deprived people in the country.
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