Despite the widespread problems being experienced by Peterborough as a result of the large influx of migrant workers into the city, many of whom have become unemployed and homeless, Government has cut funding designed to address the issue. Broadcast at 08:11 on Wednesday 11th August 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PS: Oh yes. Peterborough on the front of the Daily Express. Aren’t we proud? No. Because it’s under the headline “Britain’s migrant squatter shambles.” and refers to the story we had on the show yesterday about migrants sleeping on Boongate roundabout. And the news just gets worse, because more money set for Peterborough has been cut by the Government. This time. the Migration Impact Fund has been scrapped, which is not good news for any migrants sleeping on Boongate roundabout, or anywhere else in Peterborough. It means Peterborough will lose a hundred and sixty eight thousand pounds that was meant to ease the pressure on public services. Anthony Davis is the Programme Director for the Migrantion Impact Fund at Peterborough City Council. Morning, Anthony.
AD: Good morning.
PS: This is a huge blow for the city, isn’t it?
AD: Yes. It means for this year we’ve actually had a fifty per cent cutback of what we expected to be doing this year. So yes, it’s quite dramatic.
PS: So when you see headlines like “Britain’s migrant squatter shambles” referring to the story we broke yesterday, and Look East did, about migrants sleeping on Boongate roundabout, this isn’t going to help alleviate those headlines, is it?
AD: No. Quite. We have a couple of, well actually one, particular project to do with rough sleeping in the city, and that’s due to finish over the next couple of months now. But yes, it’s not really going to help a great deal, this kind of cutback we’re getting.
PS: As we said, fifteen squatter camps around the city. It’s bad enough now, so this year’s funding’s fine, but next year, you’re going to receive half, so ipso facto it’s going to get worse.
AD: Well the fifty per cent cut is actually for this year, it’s actually in year. We were promised for the city three hundred and seventy thousand pounds for this year. That was promised back in March, it was confirmed, and it’s just been announced that we’re going to have a fifty per cent cutback for what we expected this year.
PS: It’s this year? Right.
AD: This year. And there’s nothing for next year.
PS: Nothing at all. So how are you going to cope? How are you going to cope with the level of migration in the city, and how are you going to help?
AD: Well some of the projects, they were basically one-off, to actually invest in areas that we could actually save money. So for example we’ve got a couple of bilingual recycling officers that go around to improve levels of recycling, and so far this year they’ve saved about forty eight or fifty thousand pounds. So we’re looking at ways, the lessons that we are learning and the things that we are doing, that we can integrate those into standard Council practice. So over time we essentially are investing to save money in the future.
PS: Right. So you’re saying there won’t be any cuts here?
AD: There will be cuts. Some of our programmes we’re cutting back. Some of the projects are under review at the moment. So some of the projects will be cut back this year. But we were aware that there could be a possibility of cutbacks, so in some areas we’ve been really focusing on what it is we’re doing, making sure we’re being the most efficient. the most effective we can be, and looking at the ways of working that we can actually improve, and overall actually save money.
PS: So what are you cutting then?
AD: Some areas we’re looking to cut back on would be particularly English teaching. We’re providing about three hundred places for English forSpeakers of Other Languages. Possibly you’re looking at cutting back those for this year.
PS: Well that’s not going to help people integrate, is it?
AD: But on the other side of that we are investing in looking at coordinating all the ESOL provision across the city so we can actually improve the quality of that, and have it more .. make sure it is exactly appropriate for the people that are looking for .. wishing to learn English in the city.
PS: So where are you prioritising? Where are your priorities here?
AD: Particularly in education, particularly in housing, where we’ve got an HMO licensing scheme in which we’ve been revisiting so far this year about three hundred hundred properties which are in multiple occupation. So looking at those to license those to reduce overcrowding in the city. Particularly in those particular homes.
PS: When you heard the funding was being cut did you let out a sigh and just think, how the heck am I going to do my job, prevent rough sleeping, when I’ve got no money to do it with?
AD: That was the first reaction. The second is, Ok, we are where we are, so how can we be creative with the money we actually have got, to make the most of it? And so there are some areas that we could .. some of the work we’re doing is particularly it helps at the national level. So we’re developing school curriculum materials for people who turn up midway through the term, through the academic year. Those academic materials will be made available nationally. So that possibly could raise the profile of the city. Ok, Peterborough takes the lead in that particular area, so we put money nationally into Peterborough so it can develop.
PS: Rough sleeping’s going to get worse in the city though, isn’t it?
AD: It could get worse, or it could get better. The scheme we’ve got at the moment is particularly targetting those A8 nationals who are homeless, and providing them with an option that either if they wish to stay then support them into actually integrating back into the community, or secondly, if they do wish to return home then actually providing them assistance to go home.
PS: I almost scoffed, Anthony. I almost scoffed when you said it could get better. We’ve got fifteen camps around the city at the moment. Did you know there was somebody sleeping on Boongate roundabout at the moment?
AD: No I didn’t. That was news to me. I don’t deal directly with the rough-sleeping type projects.
PS: No no no. But what I’m saying is this is where the money’s being targetted, to help these people, and it’s pretty bad at the moment. We’re on the front of the national papers this morning as a city. How can it get better with less money? I don’t .. it doesn’t seem to square the circle to me.
AD: Well the idea is in the short term we actually put the most resources we can into that. There are two bilingual rough sleeper workers who started last month. So if we put a really concentrated effort in, then we can tackle this. And as I said in the short term it could get worse, but putting in focused resources things actually can improve.
PS: Yes. I know you don’t deal directly with the rough sleepers, and particularly the one on Boongate roundabout. Do you know if anybody has got any plans to move these people to a safer area? Is anybody working on that from the Council at the moment?
AD: There would be. The rough sleeping team would be dealing with that. So yes, they would be working on that.
PS: Anthony, good luck with the next twelve months in making five loaves and a fish feed the five thousand.
AD: Thank you very much.
PS: Anthony Davis, Programme Director for Impact Migration Fund at Peterborough City Council, hoping things will get better with less money.