Like many of you who visit this site, my blood boils when I see massive houses being paid for on my taxes for large families who have no intention of getting a job and contributing towards the community.
With this in mind, on the face of it the recent government initiative to limit housing benefit to a maximum of £400 per week seems reasonable, and will help to reign in the freeloaders and the feckless who milk the system to the detriment of decent, hardworking people. That was my initial thought, until I had an in depth conversation with a member of the The English Democrats, who through no fault of his own and due to disability cannot work at the moment, and is dependent upon the benefits that his taxes have paid towards throughout his working life. He has pointed out the way that this legislation could be used to punish those who are genuinely in need, and he has very kindly contributed the following article that outlines the underlying can of worms that this could open.
Most of you reading this website will be aware of the recent financial announcements from HM Government. Many of you that find yourselves on this site are here for a reason, driven by the appalling decisions taken by the current government and the last one, and a need for a real change from their view of what is best for us all.
While most people are aware of the total criminal mismanagement of the economy by Labour, how many are aware of the mismanagement of the DWP (Department of Work & Pensions) and housing by the current government?
A government headed by another Scot who is a self proclaimed admirer of Tony Blair and his policies?
How will this affect me?
If you are in receipt of incapacity benefit, housing benefit, or council tax benefit no matter how small; If you are disabled and receive DLA (Disability Living Allowance) or are simply on a council or social housing list, this will affect you.
A number of recent reports have all come to the same conclusion – It will be women, low paid people and those in the above groups with children that will bear the brunt of Chancellor George Osborne’s cuts.
The much trumpeted £400 a week cap on housing benefit in the London area will have the knock on effect of moving people out of London and in to smaller towns and villages. This is actually the idea – Once people are out of London, it becomes a local council problem.
Councils in neighbouring areas such as Hillingdon will be facing a major financial problem with this – Not only are they being told to expect less from the LAG (Local Authority Grant) under the Government’s austerity measures, they will be expected to deal with an influx of people all wanting housing or emergency accommodation because the government has implemented yet another idea without thinking it through (Did I mention that Cameron is an admirer of Blair?)
Where do they expect displaced families to go? These people will not be classified as “intentionally homeless” because money has been taken from them, so local councils will be obliged under law to displace local people who have been waiting quite legally on housing lists in favour of those intentionally displaced by HM Government.
Furthermore, those who have been waiting for housing in our local area who are currently deemed too ill or sick to work will, under government plans, be re-assessed and most likely told they have made a complete recovery and are now fit to work. In simple terms, if you are a local resident in receipt of any benefit or not, you are likely to find your position on any housing list secondary to those displaced from London, and your entitlement to help with housing downgraded at the same time as ATOS Origin (A French medical contractor working for HM Government) decides to overturn the most demanding medicals for illness and sickness in the Western World and declare you fit for work.
Is this fair? Is this the English way? NO!
It is the work of people who have grand ideas that they do not think through (Did I say that Dave is a Blair policy admirer?)
This is the work of people disconnected from reality and what matters to those who have to live with the consequences of such appalling decisions.
If you want to get results that are different from the former (and current) Blair policy era, then you cannot contemplate Labour, Tory or LibDem as there is no difference between them.
If you want a common sense approach to local problems, the English Democrats welcome activists and donations from all who would see a fairer community that puts local people first
Further Questions that this legislation poses
My colleague poses some serious questions in his letter above.
We already suffer from a housing shortage in the Borough, brought on by our proximity to the airport and the mass immigration of the last fifteen years that has seen demand outsrip supply, and now we may see another influx in to the borough from West London. This has already been hinted at in the local press by Hillingdon council, but no-one has outlined how either the influx can be coped with, or what strategy is in place to resist it if we do not have the resources to cope.
Even more worrying is that rents are already at a dangerously high rate on 3 and 4 bedroom properties – With demand increasing, will we see the £400 per week benefit ceiling becoming a standard rate for all 2 & 3 bed properties in the Borough, pushing up the cost of living for those in work to match those due to arrive whose rent is paid entirely by benefits? Will the ‘market rate’ now be set by a combination of government caps and short supply?
One thing is for sure – The ill thought out policy of the Con-Dem government will not affect the political classes who sit on its front benches and are insulated from the realities facing the people of Hillingdon.
What do you think? Let us know – Is the Housing benefit cap the only way forward, or a disaster waiting to happen?