Councils moving homeless with one-way train tickets

Wide angle image of a young homeless adult male sitting on the hard floor of a subway tunnel. He is holding a paper cup and begg

Councils in England are getting rid of homeless people by buying them one-way train tickets out of town.

An investigation by the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show found that 10 out of 11 councils had bought tickets to ship the homeless out, with some spending more than £1,000 a year.

SEE ALSO: Homelessness on 'shocking' scale amid surge in households with nowhere to live

SEE ALSO: Bournemouth Council pays homeless to leave

And while most people are being given tickets to places where they have family or friends, at least one man said he'd been offered a ticket to Manchester, a city that he'd never even visited before.

"It made me feel sick. I've lived here all my life. It's soul-destroying," rough sleeper Gareth Glendall-Pickton, from Bournemouth, told the programme.

"I think what they want to do is to get the homeless people out of Bournemouth, because all the new people coming to the area are seeing all those homeless people sitting there."

A Freedom of Information request from the show revealed that 10 councils had bought 'reconnection' tickets for homeless people between 2012 and 2017.

Bournemouth council said it had bought 144 tickets during the last three and a half years. Last year, it recruited a member of staff specifically to 'encourage' homeless people to leave the town, as part of a £200,000 crackdown.

"Obviously if someone is starving we will help, or if they need accommodation for the night, but certainly the next day we would encourage them to get the train and pay for their fare," councillor Robert Lawton, cabinet member for housing, told the Telegraph at the time.

Meanwhile, Manchester City Council admitted spending almost £10,000 on in the past six years, Bristol City Council said it had moved 167 homeless people on in this way in the last three years, and Exeter City Council admitted spending £4,651 'reconnecting' 107 homeless people in the last two-and-a-half years.

Despite Mr Glendall-Pickton's claim, it says it only offers tickets to people without a local connection, and that it only sends them to places where they can be reconnected with family.

Official government figures say there were 4,134 people sleeping rough last year, 130% up on six years ago. However, homelessness charities say there are far more than this.

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