I saw your eye catching response to the Welfare Reform Bill in Parliament on line (Below)
You raise some very valid points but as usual fail to identify the root causes of the issues in our area.
As UKIP’s Hayes & Harlington spokesman and effectively the opposition party in the constituency, here is my reply to your speech.
1 – Lack of Council and affordable Housing
We are all aware that ‘Right to buy’ was badly mismanaged – Funds raised by sales of Council Housing should have been ringfenced and ploughed back in to building replacement properties for those that had gone. However, your own party in 13 years in Government continued the right to buy policy inherited from the previous Tory administration so you are as much to blame as they are. Indeed, construction of new affordable housing fell to record lows in the Blair/Brown years – Labour put the brakes on whilst population rapidly increased, swelled by the open door migration policies of your party.
Labour’s pledge to build 200,000 new homes by 2020 at this year’s general election would make little difference with a population increase last year through immigration alone of 318,000.
You are right about the long term empty properties across the country being part of the solution, though – Part of UKIP’s housing policy at the General Election was to increase council tax by 50% on properties that had lain empty for 2 years or more to get them back in to the market (With exemptions for members of HM Armed Forces).
We would also identify long term dormant land that is central and local government owned and release it for affordable development, whilst funds would be made available to detoxify land on brown field sites so that it becomes attractive to developers (Also ensuring that they don’t go after our green belt due to cost benefits)
Finally, by controlling the numbers of people arriving in the UK via an Australian style points system then we could address the demand issue, allowing supply to catch up – Something that your party have buried your head in the sand about and dismiss discussion of as somehow being xenophobic or insular. (More about this later)
2 – Rents are too high and people rely on housing benefit to pay it
I agree with you on this John – Unfortunately, we can’t keep paying out benefit money to enrich private landlords whilst our economy is in such a mess.
Lack of supply and the sale of council properties has given the whip hand to private landlords, some of whom have scooped up homes for buy to let and are now charging sky high prices to line their own pockets at the taxpayers expense. Also, due to the oversupply of unskilled workers in the UK jobs market, big multinationals are now paying such low wages that people in our constituency have to have the in work benefits to survive – Effectively, we are subsidising big business profits at the expense of our society.
So, what is the solution? Whilst the unscrupulous landlords know they can get away with it they will continue to do so, but putting rent caps on will discourage people from providing properties to let in the first place – They will just look at a different investment that will yield a higher return.
We need a good mix of council owned and privately owned rental properties alongside a healthy private purchase market – In the long term the only way to get this is for supply to improve, making it a more competitive market from the tenant’s point of view.
In the here and now, the housing benefit cut needs to come in but should be offset by raising the threshold where people start to pay tax to the level of a proper minimum wage (At least £13,000 per year). By doing so, you are putting more money directly in to the pockets of the lower waged, they are not dependant on handouts and the unscrupulous landlords can’t inflate the rents knowing that they can effectively demand it straight from local government in housing benefit.
If done properly, it also means that small businesses can hire people without swingeing tax hits that put them off generating the new jobs that Hayes so obviously needs whilst assisting those workers who are exploited by the big multinationals.
3 – Pay is too low and there are not enough people in trade unions
You are right again there too, John – In general, rates of pay are too low. However, most bosses I have worked for want to pay you more but have to weigh up the financial conditions surrounding their business and the state of the market in general – Going bust because you are paying good wages means no jobs and no wages at all!
I have worked for small businesses, multinationals and ran my own company so I have got to see this one from all angles.
But, again, there is a contradiction in you attacking low rates of pay. A few years ago, the RMT Union (Who you represent at Westminster) ran a campaign and a series of demonstrations about what they termed ‘social dumping’ – That is, the undercutting of their members by cheaper foreign workers. When UKIP have raised this point, we have been attacked by the Labour Party as being anti-immigrant and ‘racist’, despite the fact that those workers are being exploited too. So why is it that when the Trade Unions point out that an uncontrolled supply of cheap labour hurts UK workers from all backgrounds they are championing the rights of the common man but when UKIP convey the same message we are pushing division and ‘xenophobia’ ?
The Governor of The Bank of England, Mark Carney, recently stated that wages were being compressed by uncontrolled immigration from the EU, echoing the concerns of the RMT. Yet you have said nothing about this when complaining about low pay in much the same way as you refuse to mention the housing crisis being fuelled by unprecedented numbers of people arriving on our shores. You have all the complaints but refuse to address some of the main root causes.
Regarding Trade Union membership, many workers are no longer joining because they feel that the Unions no longer actually represent their interests. You have made speeches, most notably to the Occupy Movement outside Westminster last year, where you have been critical of some of the activities of these unions. If somebody with your background sometimes feels alienated and let down by the movement then it is hardly surprising that the average man no longer feels that he can trust them to do what his subscriptions are supposed to pay for. Locally, we have Unite and the Union umbrella body, the TUC, backing Heathrow Expansion. I know that you, like me, passionately oppose a Third Runway – Why would I want to join an organisation that is looking to devastate our area for the benefit of big business backed by overseas investors? Unions are there to represent the best interests of their workers, not to play Politics – Too many of them have forgotten that and we are all the poorer for it.
4 – Opposing Cuts to support allowances for children of asylum seekers
You have a long record of championing the rights of asylum seekers, which is no bad thing. I saw your recent participation in the demonstration about the backlog of asylum seekers at the Harmondsworth detention centre which was obviously done from the best intentions but, once again, you miss the vital points.
UKIP support the speeding up of the asylum claims system and would fully comply with 1951 UN Convention relating to the status of refugees – However, many who are detained at Harmondsworth are illegals, some of whom have destroyed their passports at Heathrow to deliberately slow down the possibility of deportation. The reason we have so many people in the system is because the UK is seen as a ‘soft touch’ – You only have to look at the current situation at Calais to realise that the current system is not working. Our migration spokesman, Steven Woolfe, has visited the Calais camp twice and was struck by how many of these ‘asylum seekers’ are young men and how many speak of coming to the UK for the purposes of housing, education and jobs. See for yourself on the video below
Many of these people are not genuine asylum seekers as those in the past such as the Hugenots, European Jews and the Ugandan Asians were, who were in fear of their lives – These are economic migrants, lured by the stories of a better life and preyed upon by criminal trafficking gangs.
You have singled out in your speech the children of asylum seekers, yet we have real issues surrounding child poverty across ALL of our society. It is the policies pursued by this government and by your own party when in power that have led to this situation and have also encouraged the increase in asylum cases, many of whom under the UN Convention on refugees should have sought asylum in the first safe country they came to but instead have crossed continents to get here.
I have also seen first hand the distribution of asylum seekers in the Heathrow Villages, especially Longford. You speak of cuts to benefits for the children of asylum seekers, but we have seen cuts affecting existing members of our community that have led to them losing homes and ending up in B&B’s whilst those asylum seekers are given emergency housing ahead of local people who are in need. Some of these local people have contacted our party for assistance when going through regular channels have failed.
I would also point out that maybe we would have more money to assist not only our own community but genuine asylum seekers as well if we were not committed by Parliamentary vote to spend 0.7% of our GNI in foreign aid, some £12 billion per year and rising. The majority of that does not go where it is needed but to quangoes, corrupt governments and ridiculous projects with no tangible benefit to the needy of the world. You voted for this increase in foreign aid and as such are directly responsible for the squandering of money that could go to assisting the people you have spoken of at Westminster.
UKIP policy is to cut foreign aid to 0.2% of GNI in line with the USA and target it on clean water facilities, inoculation against preventable diseases and disaster relief. Currently, only £1 billion of the overseas aid budget is directed to these areas – Our policy would more than double the amount spent on these vital aims and in the case of disaster relief would directly help many of those seeking asylum in the first place, taking pressure off of the benefits budget and addressing the problem at source.
I applaud your passion on social issues John, but without any real answers to the questions both yourself and your party are a hindrance to improving the future of our country. With Labour becoming more irrelevant by the day, many people are waking up to the solutions put forward by UKIP – The only party that Believes in Britain and ALL of her citizens.