The beginning of the end of Social Housing?
By Sue Fairweather
I do have a very vested and selfish interest in the outcome of all that we fight for on this page to protect our ‘social’ homes simply because I live in one and passionately believe in Social Welfare. Let’s look at the progression of Welfare Reform that is being implemented in just this year alone.
BT (underoccupancy penalties)
14% or 25%/ Allowance for ‘right to buy’ more than doubled to £75,000/HB under Government/Universal Credit replacing Housing Benefit/Benefit Cap…to name a few!
The Bedroom Tax
However we are directly ‘taxed’ or not we are all personally affected, it is a reform that is openly going to cost much more than it saves and will hit the unemployed, the disabled, the vulnerable and ultimately the tax payer (inland rev type)…those tax payers are beginning to realise this and ask why?
- Working families are becoming increasingly dependent on state benefits to avoid eviction due to a soaring housing market, a report has said.
- A failure to build enough new homes in recent years has pushed rents and house prices up, and led to an 86% increase in housing benefit claims since 2009 by those in employment, according to the National Housing Federation (NHF) report. Homeless Bound
- The study revealed 10,000 more working families now need housing benefit every month to help pay their rent, with 417,830 more workers claiming it over the past three years.
(Sky News, Click image for video clip)
Housing Benefit is no longer paid by Councils, it has been taken into the hands of Central Government and the DWP.
Councils/Housing Associations however, unfunded and unsupported, will have to face the cost of appeals,court actions, possible evictions and subsequent homelessness. They also should they take any measures against this happening as Knowsley on bedroom size and Councils/HAs refusing to evict, finance this alone…a sure way to lose their own financial backing!
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) is not a solution. It may even be a huge governmental publicity stunt! If every affected household gets an award it would be only a little more than a couple of quid per week; it is short term; it is administered by the Councils who in this small area hold the funding. It is a divide and rule measure as Councils will decide priorities differently. Who will we blame?
For all of the above reasons I urge caution when you consider your way forward as your Social Landlord could crash and fail very soon …privatisation of your houses would follow. Strike one.
Right to buy
We all know of the Thatcherite initiative and many have benefited and live happily in their own homes. Let’s look at some details past and present. In the past the monies from those sales have gone directly to the Inland Revenue; now this will be put to building ‘affordable housing’; it nowhere says Social Housing SH will simply not be replaced.
- Right to Buy Allowance went down from its initial 50% to a varying up to £33K,the new maximum is £75,000. It will tempt many and that’s what it’s there for…get them locked into a mortgage and they will accept any work conditions.
- 1 in 22 social house tenants who have exercised their right to buy have defaulted on their mortgages and lost their once secure homes as compared with 1 in 77 in the private sector.
- What happens to that once social housing? In some areas up to 50% is sold on to private landlords…this has been happening since the Thatcher years.
This is already a great loss to social housing stock and with the recession will increasing lead to a private ‘buy to let’ market. Strike two.
This is the decider for the fate of Social Housing! Who amongst you will be able to bear the increasing costs of food and fuel this year and then be hit by the change to monthly payments and budgeting where you will have to sign up to a ‘contract’ of conduct and pay your own rent from that budget? Who will pay their rent first? Add the Benefit cap which will affect mostly larger families with children to feed, who wouldn’t feed their kids first?
Social Landlords, I believe will face rent arrears on a monumental scale which they cannot survive…Strike 3 and you’re out!
I will return…but it is worth noting that any future social housing to come onto the market (new builds or newly bought) will carry an 80% of local private sector rental! My house rent as an example would then be £240…doubled!.
- Shelter: 2013 Changes to Housing Benefit
- The unnatural death of affordable Housing. Think Left
- This isn’t Dickens, it’s today – Winter’s Cold, Homeless and Hungry, Think Left
- Softly, softly into slums, New Law gives councils the right to turn homeless away. Think Left
- Guardian, Polly Toynbee 2013 Boom for Slum Landlords
- Sky News , with video clip: Workers need Benefits to avoid eviction
- 24Dash: Homelessness soars from Wirral to London
Indeed but, as I keep trying to point out, Universal Credit is the impossible dream of a madman. It can’t happen as the tech to make it happen doesn’t exist and can’t be manufactured at whim, no matter how inappropriate the status of the dreaming madman in question. Don’t worry about it!
Capitalising on the “Bedroom Tax” to the tune of £6.4 billion from a Socialist perspective.
Let me say from the outset that, as a Socialist, I am all in favour of Cameron’s Bedroom tax. The problem is that it is the wrong people who are being made to pay it.
Government figures estimate that the full tax will bring in revenues of £480m annually which given that this is fully in line with Thatcherism’s desire to make the poor and vulnerable even more destitute and poverty stricken is small change for such a vicious tax.
What we should be seeing is a broadening of the tax base with its extension to all owner occupiers especially those in the greedy middle classes and the super-rich who have benefited out of all proportion by Tory and New Labour benevolence over the past three decades.
Given that there are approximately 17.5 million owner occupiers in the UK and using a government comparison some 50% have at least one room under occupied and based on £14 per week, the government’s own estimate, such figures would give a tax take increase to the Treasury of some £122.5 million a week
Such a figure would then produce some £6.4 billion in additional tax take if this iniquitous tax were to be applied to all householders including both owner occupiers and those who choose to rent.
In fact it could then be argued that instead of hitting the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society the imposition of this tax on them could be offset from the funds raised from the greedy middle classes and the super-rich and the Treasury would still be in receipt of nearly £6 billion.
So pleased Think Left reposted this excellent piece – Fantastic work Sue x
a good artical, well written and thought out, as a disabled soical tenant, im frightend by this goverments attiude ..when will the camps open,with work houses..
Tell me Labour,s record on Social Housing and particularly Council Husing, the word “fantastic” wouldn’t remotely figure. Truth is none of the three Tory Parties want CH, cant give us plebs rights, so throw them unto Housing Associations who like Private Landlords are a law unto themselves.
Hi Teddy…I was born at the very beginning of the Welfare State when the ‘Spirit of 45’ came into play. That era gives Labour’s ‘fantastic’ record on Social Housing that we must consider. Socialism has to progress so I’m not asking that we all go back to ‘the good old’ yet many of us realise that New Labour was a wrong path losing it’s core values so I have some sympathy for your point of view. I was born and bred a socialist; I hope I can end my days as an active Labour voter…still in an HA home. xxsue (Fairweather)
Sue that of course was the Labour era, there is no Labour today, they left 13 years of outdoing the Tories with a council housing deficit of 46,000, so I cant fathom what a socialist is doing in a party that’s nothing more than closet Tories, I haven’t voted Labour since 1998 and I never will again. Middle class upwards who have hijacked the Party. My usual question to those in the labour party are which, posh, privileged, careerist, elitist, self-serving, out of touch, [ if ever in touch] millionaire, Paedo PIE apologist, tax dodger, expenses thief, fingers in every pie “socialist” do you like the most. As for Loach he is an oxford boy, just like rhetoric boy owen jones, getting like celebrity squares, who never experienced anything like those they talk of…..
I seem to have misled you Teddy and would echo a line when Prescott said after the ‘return’ of New Labour upon being taken to task by Blair for his lack of humour ,”I told a joke, I said you were a Socialist”. Please look at the word I use, ‘hope’ for the Labour Party. I am a Socialist (albeit a very Red/Green variety)… I will almost certainly die a Socialist…
You could be forgiven for NOW thinking that the conspiracy theorists are right when they say Agenda 21 is real and is now being implemented by a whole host of governments.Lokk it up on google and it does have some elements that seem to back up some of the gist of the above story……social engineering to cement a ruling elites policy’s. Meanwhile in the more real world…..this govt knows it will lose the next election but its doing all it can to make sure they are still ruling no matter who we vote for .its a land and asset grab by them for them and their rich corporate henchmen. Remember this…..fascism at its very worst and done oh so subtlety. Take the welfare emergency fund which is now in the hands of a company owned by AMERICAN billionaires . Talk about cynical . We will now have to pay them a fee if we need that fund,and many soon will, and I bet if we look at who is involved we will not be too surprised to see some Tory mp own the board or involved with the lobbying that got this bloody American firm the contract.All done on the at behind closed doors. What else have they sold off that we don’t know about????? Google agenda 21…they could be right…
Think Left has been exploring/ warning about the underlying agenda (which first emerged in the ’94 Uruaguay round of the GATS)since its first posts and most recently in:
Thanks for the link to Agenda 21 – I’ll check it out 🙂
Chris Kitcher.. Are you for real….you agree with the bedroom tax but everyone should pay it.NOBODY should have to it. The whole bloody point to the media campaign to demonise certain parts of our society it to divide and conquer.To set people against each other so we fight amongst ourselves and engage in the politics of envy so we no longer take any notice of what the mad men in power are really doing.And you’d know what it works on most. We should be demanding and end to this madness NOT agreeing with it as long as some of the others get hit too. Don’t you see if you play along they have got you……we need a fairer society NOT one where you are ok as long as you are in the club, as long as you don’t rock the boat and let the madmen get on with it. Believe what you will ,it’s still a free country isn’t it? BUT don’t believe their lies.The bedroom tax is unfair on so many levels and what it does do is set people against each other as it worms its way in to the SCROUNGERS …they are all scroungers mentality put out by the likes of IDS and co.Thats what they want.Agree with them on this and you should take of your socialist gown mate…oh hang on you WERE joking right!!!!!?????
What aload of old bollocks. Don’t you recall Marx’s creed of ” from each according to his means to each according to his needs”? We currently have loads of middle class and super rich people who could afford such a tax and should be paying it. By doing this there is no need to tax the people on housing benefits as my calculations show.
Why be a dinosaur and claim that no one should pay this?
Who you calling dinosaur .Stick your calcs. My point is it is a tax too far …end of..and even by agreeing to it in any form is playing their game mate but spout all the Marx you want makes no difference to me .The whole idea from start to finish is bloody wrong and just because YOU think it should also apply to all says more about you so fffff you and your name calling son I don’t have to be a Marxist to be a socialist in fact I don’t even have to be a socialist to know that this policy is bloody wrong and you saying it should apply to anyone else will not make it any more right.
What sickens this 76 year old radical poet is the deafing silence of the Labour Party, all of which were party to the dismanling of of the wealfare state when that santanic creature Tory Blair and Peter Mandleson took over the riens of the workers party.A purge of our party is now called for to root out the Tory scum who now rule, starting with the Miliband brothers and the deselection of many of the MP’s who pose as socalllists, but in truth are closet consrvatives
Couldn’t agree with you more. Perhaps us wrinklies should be the new revolutionary force? In fact we need to be the new revolutionaries.
Hello Peter ,old friend and Chris, ‘new friend’. Worth note that during the Pole Tax ‘riots’ Pensioners were the age group most represented. If you can get to see Ken Loach’s film ‘Spirit of ’45’ you will see why…as children we were part of the socialist political revolution! There must now evolve ‘a better way’ than is offered by all present Parties…
I have two sons who believe passionately that they have to be ruled by this rotten government and the posh boys in it,that we currently have. Sadly most of their friends believe the same.
It seems that us wrinklies have to take up the cudgel and smash this upper class government and not fail as we did in the eighties.
The Labour Party are living in a cloud of their own and all that I can hope is that people like us can get together, as per the 5 Star Movement in Italy, and once again make the UK a decent place to live
Copycat Australia will no doubt follow slavishly on the coat tails of mother UK Thanks for the tip off.
There is an all out attack on social housing by this Government just as there is an all out attack on the Welfare State. I need a million people to join my Facebook page so that we can organise a co-ordinated defence. http://www.facebook.com/groups/We.Will.Not.Stand.Idly.By/?notif_t=group_r2j
With you already ‘oldhat’…and Chris, I’ve just returned for a brief while from helping out my true blue child (only one of three) who in other ways is a credit! Love ’em, Tory warts ‘n all. I did manage to enjoy my birthday when I caught the end of ‘anti eviction’ talks in the Bethnal Green Road. A young activist from Barcelona and three from Berlin talked of how they were banding together to stop the horrendous evictions happening in both cities. I was shocked to hear that without social housing, Spain has 80% of their homes on mortgage…the banks have been foreclosing since 2006 and the groups ,donning green ‘stop evictions’ t-shirts, fill the streets,stairwells and apartments of threatened people. Successfully 300+ times! In Berlin (Germany is mostly rented housing) they are experiencing spiralling rents and takeovers of once poorer parts of the city and have based their very new movement on Spain…time we had some ‘Guardians’ (Islington style) available throughout the UK? I went on to see ‘Don’t mention the 47’ about the renegade Liverpool socialist councillors…it amazed me the amount of housing they built in their time by simply borrowing the money from abroad at the close of business one Friday night! I believe it was Harry Smith, one of the 47, talking after the film. He rightly said that when governments say that laws take ‘too long to change’, he remembers that by Monday morning preventative measures went through Parliament so that no more Councils could copycat Liverpool…politicians got the 47 out of office,not the people; the people had more than 5000 new homes and a new public park 🙂