This sounds about right actually

Finally the figures are being exposed. Spending on welfare has risen by 40 per cent in real terms over 10 years of unprecedented economic growth. In that time the number of people claiming disability benefit has trebled and housing benefit doubled. This week, the loudest voices are warning that Mr Osborne’s cap on housing benefit could be devastating, especially in London, where rents are high. But do not underestimate the effect on the silent majority of the news that we spend £21 billion on housing benefit — more than on the police.

The Times reported yesterday that parents may face “eviction” from council houses when their children leave home under new “draconian” laws. But local authorities have queues of families waiting for houses because retired couples refuse to move. People who are scraping together their own rent wonder why anyone feels that they have a lifetime “right” to a council house. Ordinary people regularly make distinctions, not always correctly, between the “deserving” and the “undeserving” poor. Politicians cannot continue to treat these views with contempt.

It isn\’t that people are uncaring bastards who want the poor (and or the chavs) dumped into the streets to starve. It\’s rather that scales are falling from certain eyes.

What? They get that much?

Have a look at the comments to this typical Grauniad piece. Limiting housing benefit to only £400 a week, to only £20,800 a year, might mean that some poor families cannot live in central London. Oh Woes!

Then look at what the people who have to pay for this are saying: You What? They get more in rent than I earn in a year? And yet I have to pay tax for them?

Why can\’t they just move 5 miles east? Why can\’t they live in the suburbs, like I have to? What God given right do the unemployed or low paid have to live in Belgravia?

Bugger that for a game of soldiers.

I\’ve no doubt that part of the political fight back against these cuts will be a series of sob stories about who is actually carrying the pain of them. And I\’ve no doubt that there will be people who suffer pain.

But the best response from those in favour of the cuts will be to keep shining the light on what these benefits are actually paying for. Yes, you really do have to keep paying tax in order that….well, depending which side you\’re one, make your pick.

Yes, you have to pay tax so that we can subsidise this numpty to the tune of £20,800 a year to live in Westminster…..yes, you have to pay tax so that the kids of this unemployed single mother can eat.

My own guess about my fellow Britons is that the latter will get people quite happy to have the State in their wallets: the former not so much. And the more that the former is held up to the light, the more there will be a general agreement that the system needs to be changed.

And then, of course, we can point to Lee Jasper, Baroness Uddin and the rest who, despite high incomes and professional careers, still have their housing costs subsidised by the rest of us.

Depending upon how the same information is laid out, how the PR is done, these cuts could well actually be very popular indeed.

14 comments on “This sounds about right actually

  1. The problem is:

    1) because housing is done on a council-by-council basis, there isn’t really a mechanism by which someone for whose housing needs Kensington & Chelsea Council is responsible can be put up in Newham or Barking instead.

    2) because of the last 30 years’ policies regarding council housing, K&C have to pay ridiculous private rents for mansions rather than building basic flats that would be much cheaper.

    It would be sensible to build a few large blocks of flats in Thamesmead to house K&C’s social tenants. It’d be sensible to build a few more to house the people for whom London councils are paying insane short-term rents for squalid hell-holes. The reasons why that isn’t currently possible are far more interesting and relevant than saying “OMG T3h SCROUNGERS!?!?!?!?!”.

  2. “because housing is done on a council-by-council basis, there isn’t really a mechanism by which someone for whose housing needs Kensington & Chelsea Council is responsible can be put up in Newham or Barking instead. ”
    But why can’t K&C* rent flats in e.g. Glasgow and offer them to people who are e.g. single mums and can’t work? It would save K&C a fortune and mean that workers could live nearer their work.
    (* or most councils in the south east).

    “It’d be sensible to build a few more to house the people for whom London councils are paying insane short-term rents for squalid hell-holes”
    Why should people who don’t work live in London? A lot of people who work in London don’t live in London.

  3. Also worth noting that this used to be both possible and The Case – hence the various prewar City of London council blocks dotted around middle-to-inner suburbia…

  4. “Why should people who don’t work live in London?”

    Why should people who don’t work be allowed to get away with not working?

  5. I’ll take your hundred year olds who can’t walk and have two kids under four, JB. But what about the vast numbers of able bodied young people who could work?

  6. And while john b is trying to think his way out of that one, haven’t all the recent examples of mansion-squatting in the ‘Daily Mail’ had an extra dimension?

    Let us say, an exotic flavour..?

  7. Apart from the complete lack of reasoning and stringing two points together by the Grauniad Author (who’s irrational dribblings matches the smug, “oh, I am so nice cos I love strangers using other peoples money” picture above her piece), there is the point that all this money keeps rents up either by the ability of landlords to access this pot of other peoples money or by maintaining demand in an area they would otherwise not afford.

    Just East of Shoreditch should be gentrifying rapidly, but it does not because there is a mass of people who are subsidised to live there, lots of ghastly council properties that in any real world would have been bulldozed or, more truthfully, never built in the first place. Whitechapel, so close to Canary Wharf and the City, with some great old buildings needs some serious bulldozing of postwar shyte. It will not be pretty until the dead hand of the State is removed.

    To be honest, there has never been a reason for people to remain in taxpayer-funded housing in central London since, erm, 1865, when the railways were booming and so the price of the Omnibus came down. The State has distorted the market, held back gentrification and I would not be surprised if it has been highly inefficient.

    p.s. “social housing” is an absurd term, in Roger’s bin along with “social justice”, “deprivation” and “progressive”.

  8. I posted OT on an earlier thread here, and later on LibConspiracy, after almost suffering an aneurism while watching C4 news two nights ago (incidentally, I’m sure C4 news all part of a conspiracy to keep the NHS in business).

    The C4 piece (still available here: http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/domestic_politics/budget+cuts+will+aposhit+the+poorest+hardestapos/3689527) was about a woman in Islington.

    She lives in a four bedroomed townhouse and is currently in receipt of slightly more than £30,000 pa to pay her rent (despite this, she is still ‘behind with her rent’ – this did not stop her having the [cliched, but true] literally enormous flat widescreen TV, and using pre-sliced emmental to make sandwiches. Pre-sliced emmental is not a necessity – paying your rent is).

    In order to have £30,000 pa to spend on rent, I would need a salary of £50,000 pa.

    This is just to pay the rent, mind: it would leave me nothing for food, clothing or bills, never mind TVs.

    Even if her payments are capped at £400 a week, she will still receive £20,800 pa (after tax, effectively).

    To have this much to spend on rent only, I’d need to earn around £30,000 pa (and still have nothing left for food etc).

    Let’s say you need, at minimum, £1,000 a month to keep body and soul together. This means she is living a £70,000 a year lifestyle on the backs of taxpayers.

    Is this what the founders of the Welfare State wanted?

    The woman has five children; what is the father doing to support them? Nothing.

    Meanwhile, my brother lives in a two bed flat in Briston which he shares with two other people, working his backside off, constantly in debt and dreaming of living in a four bed townhouse in Islington.

    Please excuse me if my heart doesn’t bleed for people who might have to move to a slightly cheaper area.

  9. This is spot on – i’m in the same position to Dan’s brother…if you do something right you get shafted.

    What needs pointing out, loud and clear, is that housing benefit, the subsidies that go into building social housing of all types and the extras that go alongside are all paid for by other people.

    It’s not Government money it’s our money. Essentially i am payinig tax so that i can pay for her to live in a much nicer house in a nicer area than mine. Lots of people won’t have any shame but it would be nice if occasionally it could be pointed out to the hoardes of angry people who demand social housing (and the champagne socialists who love it) that everyone else is having to pay for it.

    Of course, if you accused them of living off charity they’d be indignant but it’s the truth. (notwithstanding poor “control” over the housing market, supply of housing and of credit which creates unaffordability.)

    Oh, and another thing…i KNOW that i can’t afford to have ONE kid and wouldn’t dream of having one unless i could provide for it myself.

    Yet she pops 5 out and wants a house for them (and it’s not like contraception isn’t free). It sounds harsh but that sort of breeding is only going to create future generations who expect the hand-outs, people like me will have fewer kids and the imbalance will grow until there WILL be real social breakdown.

  10. Simple solution – time limit all benefits to say 6 years of your working life. Thats long enought to have 2 kids on benefits (or at least get them to school age) or retrain in a new career if you lose your job and can’t get another in a similar profession. Beyond that, you are on your own. You want to spend your first 6 adult years on the State teat, fine. You won’t get another penny until you are 65 (or 70 soon), when you get a pension.

    It would concentrate minds very rapidly, I guarantee.

  11. John B? Oh, John B? Any chance of a reply to the question above? John? Anyone seen John? He was so keen at first.

    Tim adds: John B is in Oz. Give him time zones at least…..

  12. At the risk of pointing out the bleedin’ obvious, if Belgravia Social Services moved their clients to somewhere cheaper, there wouldn’t be any Belgravia Social Services clients left, and Belgravia Social Services would be closed down. Which would be a bad thing from the point of view of Belgravia Social Services. So they’re not moving anyone anywhere.

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