The independent London newspaper

Cost of housing the homeless on Holloway Prison site is minimal

16 March, 2018

Campaigners who want the prison site to become a community space

• THE suggestion that part of Holloway Prison be used as a temporary shelter for the homeless seems to have exposed some confusion and muddled priorities on behalf of the government (No shelter for homeless on prison site, March 9).

If the Ministry of Justice “always seeks best value for taxpayer money” then just who is it that prioritises the search for justice? Many of us played at keeping shop when we were children but it seems that our neoliberal governments never grow out of this and behave as if government is just a grown-up’s shop and as if we are all (except for the homeless, of course) merely “customers”.

There seems to be no understanding that the rules concerning shops cannot sensibly be scaled up to apply to a country. When playing “shop” all the money is provided with the game. There is no such thing as “taxpayer money”. Taxpayers no more create the money that they spend than children do.

Both citizens and government create wealth, but the country’s money only has credible value because it is underwritten by government as symbolised by the sovereign’s image on coins and notes.

A sovereign state can create as much fresh money as it sees fit, providing it quenches inflation through taxation. It can then focus expenditure on democratically identified priorities.

A civilised society would make its first priority the provision of shelter for the homeless, printing the money to pay for it. When, as in this case, the accommodation already exists the cost would be minimal.

Tollington Park, N4


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