Large swaths of southern England will become off limits to housing benefit recipients in a little more than a decade because of the government\’s proposed plans to cut welfare bills – triggering a huge migration of the poor to the north – according to a study by housing experts.
The work, by the Chartered Institute of Housing, shows that before 2025 rents on most two-bedroom properties in the south will become unaffordable to those claiming local housing allowance.
Within 15 years, much of London\’s commuter belt will become too expensive for the state to pay for the poor to live in. Towns such as Chelmsford, Newbury, Bath and Maidstone would be no-go areas for those on benefits and all of Hertfordshire would be out of bounds. The capital would be unaffordable within a decade.
Gosh, that\’s wonderful! The poor will all live Oop North, with their barms and cobs and flat capped whippets while we middle class types can enjoy the South. And of course this will lower the streesses and strains of society: comparisons are always made against those you live cheek by jowl with. Being away from the Jones\’ means you don\’t try to keep up with them, reducing that appalling status anxiety that The Spirit Level identifies as the major problem our society faces.
However, there is a fly in the ointment, a block on this path to an ever more perfect world.
Because rents rise at an average of 5% a year,
That\’s the assumption that they have made. And it\’s a wrong \’un. It may well be true that rents have risen at that rate: wouldn\’t be all that surprising that as capital values of housing have risen then the returns available from renting them out have risen. Also wouldn\’t be all that surprising the other way around: that rising rents have led to rising capital values.
But there\’s nothing in the economists\’ secret decoder ring that says that rents will always continue to rise at 5%.
For example, no one predicted the 80% growth in housing benefit over the last decade
Well quite: we would expect a rise in subsidies to rent to lead to an increase in rents. We\’d also expect to see the reverse: a fall in such subsidies leading to a fall in said rents.
Which means that the basic calculation they\’ve done is false. Which then, sadly, means that we will still have the poor, dropped aitches n\’all, around us in the south of our green and pleasant land.
Didn\’t they nail some bloke to a tree years ago for saying you\’ll always have the poor with you?