Reforms to housing benefit and social housing

The Social Liberal Forum welcomes the Coalition Government’s commitment to building 150,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament, which goes some way to benefiting some of the 4 million people on social housing waiting lists. However the SLF remains concerned that the proposed changes to housing benefit, announced by the government as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, are likely to impact particularly on vulnerable families in inner-city areas across the country.

The SLF is particularly concerned over the following aspects of the government’s proposals:

* cuts to housing benefit for the long-term unemployed receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance
* raising new social housing tenants’ rents to up to 80% of the market rate
* bringing the Local Housing Allowance into line with the bottom third of rents (not the bottom half as currently) and
* linking social rents to CPI and not rent inflation.

It is vital that the Coalition Government takes an holistic approach to policy, ensuring that excellent progressive policies such as the Pupil Premium and the higher ‘Citizen’s Pension’ are not counter-acted by changes to housing benefit.

The SLF are also troubled by the use of insensitive and unhelpful language – from the Labour party and the Mayor of London – referring to ‘cleansing’ in criticising the government’s proposals, particularly given that the former’s General Election manifesto contained plans to cap housing benefit.

There is a clear need to reform social housing, to both end the subsidy of extortionate private-sector rents and to provide as much affordable housing as possible; the SLF insists that in doing so, the government ensures that the most vulnerable are not priced out from inner cities by commissioning an independent impact assessment of their proposals.

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10 comments on “Reforms to housing benefit and social housing
  1. Alex M says:

    Absolutely! Much of the current agenda on cutting housing-related benefits is just plain spiteful. The move of the single room rate up from 25 to 36 years is going to have a significant negative impact (and says a lot about what the government seems to think appropriate living conditions are).

    The daft things about all this is that it probably won’t save much public money in the longer term because it will just generate problems under different policy headings.

  2. prateekbuch says:

    @Alex M: your latter point is salient, there’s little point in policies which save a little here if costs pile up there…

  3. Stephan Toth says:

    The governments proposed reforms to social housing are a direct attack on the working classes and in particular the indigenous people of Great Britain. They have only gained the confidence to do this because of all the working class voters who acted as traitors to their class by voting Liberal and Conservative at the last election.

    The fact of the matter is simple, white British people for over fifty years have been socially programmed to be responsible parents and limit the number of children that they have to one or two. These parents have been slapped in the face by this fascist coalition government that is now hell bent of chucking them out of their homes. The reason for doing this is so simple and obvious. Immigrants from Africa and Asia irrespective of whether they are legal or illegal are out breeding us at a ratio of 6 and 8 to 2 and are slowly taking over the country. Apathetic white people are becoming increasingly marginalized as they try to avoid conflict and like the red squirrel are being forced into ever decreasing oasis as the flood of immigrants take over.

    It is common knowledge throughout Europe that Britain is the stupid nation that still thinks its an empire and not only accepts but stretches out its arms for every bleating heart-throb excuse to get around our immigration laws. It could be considered a tragic error of government policy if it was not also commonly known that this is a policy of deign in order to maintain Maggie Thatcher’s magic 3 million unemployed in order to keep pressure on wages by making people afraid to lose their jobs.

    The main cause of the housing problem is directly attributable to the above stated conservative policy, which is a long-standing strategy to keep the working classes in their place. The fact that these immigrants are having 6 to 8 kids and demanding single dwelling homes means that local authorities will now have to kick white families out. Local authorities and city councils have to either knock two three bed roomed flats or three two bed roomed flats into one 8 bed roomed residence for each irresponsible immigrant family with 6 to 8 kids or more.

    The fact of the matter is, this government s*** is the tip of the iceberg on what is coming down the pipeline and the only questions us working class people have to make is.


    Alternatively, we can sit back like good little citizens and tug our forelocks in submission as we bend over while they shaft us time and time again at will.

    You decide!!!!

  4. Stephan Toth says:

    When it comes to the coalition governments proposal to scrap secure tenancies and kick people out of their homes into the private sector is purely because many of the major private sector landlords are in fact Liberals or Conservative profiteers.

    By forcing people out of social housing will put pressure on the private sector housing stock and force rent prices through the roof and these people will make a killing at the expense of the working classes.

    Add to this the fact that the coalition government wants to cap housing benefits for people out of work, sick, old and on low incomes means that the worst off society will actually have a drastic reduction in their meagre standard of living.

    These two policies will have three additional major money spinning effects for the Liberal and Conservative landlords.

    1) People chucked out of their social housing and desperate for a roof over their head will be forced to accept substandard and often inhabitable rooms, flats and houses.

    2) With such an increase in housing demand people will become afraid to complain and have to put up with all sorts of illegal threats and bulling by unscrupulous landlords.

    3) In order to be able to afford liveable accommodation the worst off in our society will have to take on two or three jobs just to be able to afford the rents, which again will be good for Liberal and Conservative bosses.

    What I would like to know is this, what will the Liberals and Conservatives think and do when the TV and news media start live reporting the first enforced evictions under these new regulations. Further, as the evictions escalate, what will they say and do when people out of desperation start to retaliate and take to the streets.

    And finally, and this does not require a great stretch of the imagination when you are familiar with risk management, what will the Liberals and Conservatives do if this becomes the catalyst of an English form of the IRA. Remember, one countries terrorist is another countries freedom fighter that was born out of oppression.

    All in all, the way the government is giving away our money hand over fist to foreign countries on the one hand and telling us the working classes that we have to tighten our belts and suffer the consequences of the banks mismanagement and frauds is outrageous.

    Finally, my favourite quote from Oliver Cromwell is pertinent here.

    “When Parliament does not reflect the will of the people, the people shall rise up and inflict their will on Parliament”.

    I personally give it a year before this quote comes true.

  5. Stephan Toth says:

    I had shut my comp down for the night but this consideration is too important to miss so I started it up again. No, its not a political dig or gripe, is strategic advice based on cost benefit analysis considerations relating to the proposed housing policy changes.

    In 1965 when I did my five year apprenticeship with the GLC, every four to five years local authorities used to send every trade into a property to do all the necessary repairs and decorations in order to bring it up to an acceptable standard of repair. Later in the early seventies they began cutting back on this service until now they hardly do any repairs at all and what they do, do is of a pathetic quality that is an insult to the people paying the rents.

    This change of repair policy in large was due to people being life long tennants who in many cases took on the responsibility of looking after their own homes, hence the right to improve legislation.

    Now, by taking away the secure tenancy agreement and only issuing 2 year contracts is going to have several major effects on people in social housing.

    The first will blow away the attitude “this is my home, look after it”, why should any tenant who in effect does not have security of teenier invest in maintaining the property at all, why should they bother to decorate, fix things that go wrong or bother with looking after or even reporting defects to the council whether this in their flats or the common parts. This lack of commitment on the part of the tenant will have a direct cost to local authorities who will have to take over these repairs and decorations or the properties will very quickly fall into ruin.

    The next major effect is going to be on the working classes wages. Imagine that you are on benefits and you are offered a job that is just above the social housing rents threshold, do you take it only to receive a possession notification from the local authority or housing association to quit your home. No way, you are now limited for life to accepting only jobs that pay below the social housing rents threshold that secures your home for another two years. Even if you are in a bottom paid job and you receive a pay rise that takes you over the rents threshold, you have to quit that job and go on benefits or take a lesser paid job just to keep your home over your head.

    Maybe, your married with kids and as the husband you get a reasonably paid job that is over the rents threshold, do you refuse the job or do you move out of the family home placing the wife and kids on benefits while you have to live in a room somewhere else and just visit two or three times a week.

    What if you’re a disabled person due to an injury or accident and you get awarded a payout that is above the prescribed amount to remain in your home. Will the council then kick you out into private accommodation, then, what if the private accommodation does not have or the landlord wont install disabled facilities.

    What do you do?
    What does the council have to do?
    How much will it cost the ratepayer?

    What if you’ve worked all your life and your health has deteriorated so that you can no longer work and your on benefits and have happily lived in your council home for say 30, 40 or 50 years. You have spent tens of thousands of pounds over this time and up to your illness in keeping up to a decent standard. Then after a few months or years on incapacity benefits your old company pension scheme kicks in and takes you over the rent threshold and out of the blue comes a notice to quit.

    Is the local authority going to find you suitable accommodation or are you just going to wake up one morning to see the bailiffs and two policemen at the door with a council flat back truck to take your furniture away in.

    All of these scenarios are plausible and all have cost and consequences and responsibilities that need to be addressed in a democratic society.

    But under the Liberal Conservative coalition we no long seem to live under a democratic society do we.

    The problem with politicians with their half baked wouldn’t it be nice ideas is that they don’t do their homework on the what if scenarios and therefore make ill informed decisions that do not reflect the full financial or social cost.

    Either this, or they really just don’t give a damn.

  6. Stephan Toth says:

    Consider this:

    People are blind fools, they believe as the Americans do that democracy is ‘for the people’, ‘by the people’, ‘through the people’, this is absolute bull and marketing hype to keep us placidly in our place.

    Regardless of country or political system the true principle of democracy is as follows.

    Democracy is the right of control ‘by the money’, ‘through the money’, ‘for the money’ and the money is owned by the super rich and banking families who through its power controls the world’s stock exchanges, politicians and people.

    And in my opinion, all of the world’s recessions were not misguided accidents but carefully orchestrated strategic plans to systematically milk the financial system and bankrupt the working classes to keep them in their place.

    If you have any doubts as to this basic truth just look at the way history repeats itself every 25 to 30 years.

  7. Stephan Toth says:

    To support this assertion, imagine there is a company, its share price has reached say £10 a share and as a super rich person I own say 49 percent of the shares. I decide that I want to make a killing so without any notice I sell at the £10 value. Now, immediately the share price of that company takes a nosedive plummets £5 then £4 then £3 right down to £0.50p a share. All the pension funds and small investors are wiped out and bankrupt. The government go on telly and declare that it was un avoidable and due to the market losing confidence.

    Then me being a smart b****** when the price is just right, I buy up all them $0.50p shares and instead of having just 49% I have all that is available. I now have total control of the company and because I bought the shares, the share price starts to rise again and all the little investors and later the pension funds also start buying again. The share prices recover and the government gleefully go on telly with a great smile on their face to reassure the gullible public that everything in the garden is rosy again and the market has regained its confidence.

    Never mind that the small investor and the working classes who lost their pensions are totally screwed and sit back in their easy chair pathetically saying well it could have been a lost worse.

    Now multiply this system over thousands of companies all around the world and you have a major orchestrated world recession and we are all screwed and told by governments that we the working classes have to pull in our belts and bail out the markets.

    Still think I am talking BS, then use common sense and logic and look at the way boom, bust, recessions, depression, civil unrest followed by a major war has happened throughout history on a 25 to 30 year cycle.

    Still not convinced, then you must be a true blue blooded tory.

  8. Stephan Toth says:

    What does this have to do with the governments change to housing policy? Simple, in the above scenario I being one of the elite super rich have milked the financial market cow for all that I can get out of it and there is no money left to pay for social services. So the government has to convince everyone that there has to be drastic cuts in government services in order to get the country out of debt. They can’t come to me for money because as the super rich I control them, don’t give a damn and wouldn’t give them a penny piece out of my profits.

    So if you people want services, you have to find the money and pay for them yourself or do without.

    But don’t worry, in another 25 to 30 years the financial market cash cow will be nice and fat again and my super rich mates and me will milk it again.

    Like it or not, that’s how we survive and keep our power.

  9. Chris Holman says:

    Whilst having concerns I do not totally oppose the proposal to raise the rent for social housing to 80% of market rates.

    They may be a small proportion but there is no doubt that there are tenants in social housing who are working and the family has a level of income which would easily enable them to pay market rents or buy their own property but are very happy to continue to live in soial housing at rent which is effectively subsidised.

    If rent levels were raised significantly this might just be the spur for them to move into private housing, rather than have to wait to be assessed every 2 years and given notice to quit as the Govt are proposing.

    For those tenants on lower incomes, an increase in rent levels would mean that they became eligible to claim Housing, and possibly, Council Tax benefit.

  10. Stephan Toth says:

    The on thing that Chris Holman has not considered in his reply is the cyclical escalation effect.

    What this means is that as more council tenants get moved out to the private sector housing, supply and demand dictates that the private sector rents will escalate proportionately in response to demand.

    This will highlight three significant problems:

    1) As government physical policy bites in and the average wage rate across all sectors is either cut or diminished due to inflation.

    2) Due to government cost reduction policies the amount of rent and rate subsidies are cut or capped.

    3) Most acceptable private sector housing stock will eventually be priced outside the reach of the working classes.

    The sum effect of this will mean that families will have no choice but to agree to live in overcrowded sub standard properties or as they do in America live out of cars or on the streets.

    Though the government want to have the capitalistic attitudes and practices of the Americans. The British social question is, “Do we as the people that are affected want to live the American poor”.

    On the other hand, why not take Chris’s idea to the extreme as they did in Victorian times and allow landlords to stretch rope across the room and rent out hanging space for poor people to sleep on the line.

    The thing is as a society we can either spiral upward whereby life is continually improving for everyone or we can spiral downward in to mayhem and misery for all.

    The fact is, if we spiral downwards then people will shed societies principles and responsibilities and become self-interested predators. And the cost of catching and locking them up in cells far exceeds the meagre benefits being paid to keep them placidly in their place as they are at the moment.

    Simplistic assumptions and solutions to complex problems is no way to run a country.

    Stephan Toth

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