Homelessness

The council has to house anyone who is homeless, in priority need, has a right to reside in the UK, and is not “intentionally homeless”. The problem is that they do not have the housing available to fit this obligation. So they play games, in order to avoid their obligation.

One game is the definition of  “In priority need”: “vulnerable” people are in priority need. A man with a broken leg in plaster was found not to be “vulnerable”. If you have a child under 16, you are always “vulnerable”. Locally, they are given a double room in a hotel at a cost of £80 a night. My friend visited an offered room, and found it disgusting. This is not suitable for a couple with two children, even for a night. They might be there for weeks, with no cooking facilities. So only the most desperate will stay. If they do not accept this offer, the council has fulfilled its obligation and they have no further rights. They might stay there for weeks or months before social housing becomes available.  A quick Google finds 3* hotel double rooms for £50 a night locally, without the guarantee for the hotelier of a steady stream of customers, or long term residency: this is not a place where people go for holidays.

Either there is incompetent negotiation of prices on the part of the council, or corruption: the hotel belongs to a former Tory councillor.

The Tory government felt the need to limit the housing File:Cruikshank - Fagin in the condemned Cell (Oliver Twist).pngbenefit bill. This is a commendable aim. So they assessed rents in particular areas, and set the “local housing allowance” at a level which would pay for 30% of the lets offered. Because the areas were badly defined, in some parts of Manchester according to CAB research the LHA would only pay for rents of 2% of houses offered. They then failed to increase this amount, even by the rate of inflation. The result is that benefit payments of rent decrease in real terms year on year.

To house vulnerable people, we had council housing, at much cheaper rents. However the Tory government destroyed this national asset, by forcing its sale. Worse still, they stoke up the housing market. Currently there are Government schemes giving money to potential first time house buyers. The result is to inflate house prices, and housing costs generally, beyond what the market will bear. The government creates a pyramid scheme inflating house prices.

So, while taking action to push up rents for those who cannot afford to buy, they are also taking action to reduce the help the most vulnerable people get for their housing. The two policies together are wicked.

20 thoughts on “Homelessness

  1. The system is appalling. People who genuinely need help sometimes don’t get it whilst others abuse the process. I guess it mirrors real life. Every single day I see people who deserve a break not getting one and others who don’t making their way.

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    • “People abuse the process”. What mistake do you want to make? With asylum claims, a foreign government will not admit it is oppressive: with only the word of the claimant there are mistakes both ways.

      I worked in benefits. When I started a parent could claim income support as a lone parent with a child under 16, and now it is under 5. I met a woman who was pregnant just as her youngest child was 15- she got drunk at a party, twice- and when the age dropped to 7 I met a woman who was pregnant just as her youngest child was 6. Such cases are rare. When non-claimants complain about complainants “abusing the process” the wrong mistakes get made more.

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      • I don’t think people claiming benefits should have more children, for one. People certainly shouldn’t receive a prize for behaving irresponsibly. People earning above a certain amount should also not receive housing assistance because they chose to have more children.
        I know it’s a minority, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take away credibility from the system.

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        • I met a man who had never had a job, but who had one achievement in his life of which he was proud enough to boast to me: when the DHSS struck so that staff could have protective glass screens between them and the claimants, he believed it was his assault on a civil servant which had provoked that strike.

          Still my question is, what mistake do you want to make? From statistics on fraud and take-up: 2.2% of benefit paid is overpaid, 0.7% because of fraud; £10bn of means-tested benefit, about 20%, is not claimed by those entitled– due to ignorance or the hostility directed at benefit claimants.

          Jobseekers Allowance claimants are “sanctioned”, that is their benefit is withdrawn, in certain circumstances. Withdrawals get more and more draconian: in 2000 there were between 17,000 and 26,000 a month; in 2013 it was between 61,000 and 84,000.

          In 2012/13, 257,147 of these sanction decisions were challenged. 133,345 were mitigated: they were wrong, but the claimant still suffered them while the challenge procedure ground on. The DWP response is to make challenging more difficult, and consider charging claimants for a challenge.

          The system is harsh. The system is getting harsher. The average person believes 35% of JSA claimants are claiming falsely, because of relentless demonisation.

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  2. Not everything is beautiful is it?

    However, here in Gib, if you are a Gibbo you have a fine chance of getting government housing at around £20 a week in a very large flat. As with everywhere, some estates are better than others. If you come out of work, you don’t pay rent and you get welfare. People haven’t paid their rents for years, but haven’t been evicted. I think the recent story was £5M of unpaid rent over the years. The current (left) government has introduced the pernicious idea of making pensioners pay rent. They also used not to have to pay.

    On the other hand, an English neighbour of ours had to wait 7,8 or 9 years to get govt housing. Our Indian neighbour upstairs, who is on some 20 or 30 or 40 tablets a day and struggles to get up the stairs (and is too independent to let me take his shopping) is on the list but doesn’t seem to have been allocated a flat yet. It’s all in a name. Gibbo surname and you are laughing. British or other non-Gibbo name and you could be waiting a very long time.

    I assume the theory about the plaster incidentally was that he wasn’t permanently vulnerable.

    My MiL bought her council house. The she decided to move to Wales and got council housing. Then she moved areas and got another one. Then she moved back to Herts and got another one. No idea where she is now fortunately, but she would always be housed due to her disability (arthritis). She probably wouldn’t be classified as disabled these days but she’s had some 30 or 40 years of it, so a bit hard even for this govt to take that away from her.

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  3. Councils are so corrupt! Hotel owned by former councillor, what a surprise. Here they were giving all the statutory order work to a business with links to councillors. Maybe we’re not so different from Italy or Argentina. On the bright(er) side at least people can find somewhere to stay in this country, even if it’s not desirable …

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    • That hotel is only for those “in priority need”. And the housing benefit areas are too large: someone in Northampton has to move to Wellingborough, ten miles away, for housing, as HB no longer pays rents in Northampton.

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  4. Much wickedness in these policies, indeed! Australia is no different, motels on the outskirts of big cities are filled with temporary accommodation of the homeless and get shifted around at the turn of every wind…beside the soaring housing prices we have the foreigners buying and they bump up the prices hundreds of thousands of dollars above reserve – the young have almost no chance at a stab into buying a home … Hm, economic liberalism is starting to show its ugly head…individuals and vulnerable suffer …

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  5. I liked your article and agree with what you are saying. I think the problem is for a lot of countries nowadays, the political parties are so complex in their policies and what they say so that most people don’t realise what voting for them actually means. A Conservative Government does not serve the poor, disadvantaged or even the working class, that is not its intention, it’s intention is to make the rich richer and if we continue to have a Conservative Government in the UK, the divide between rich and poor will continue to widen and we will go backwards rather than forwards. The problem is not even voting for most socialist parties now seems to make any difference. The previous Labour Government fell for capitalism hook line and sinker like most political parties and countries. What happens in a capitalist society was written by philosophers hundreds of years ago, but still it seems to have come as a shock to everyone and again, a capitalist society is not one that serves its fellow human beings, it is every man for himself, look at the state of America if you want to see the direct result of capitalism gone mad.

    I think as soon as people realise that things such as “the economy” and “interest rates” and to a large extent in the way it exists now “money” or most definitely “credit” are illusions that were created by people who wanted to take all the power and wealth in the world for themselves while making the rest of the world work for it, and they have achieved that, they have created terms such as economy and made the masses believe that they are responsible for whether it is good or bad ha! What a feet! HOWEVER – what I am saying is not that all governments are corrupt and serve the rich (although that is largely true in my opinion) and that you should lose all faith. What you should do is acknowledge them for what they are and who they are and acknowledge what they are trying to do and call them out on it (like what you are doing) speak out about the things that are WRONG that they are getting away with because that is the way to shatter all of these illusions and take away their power, and the only way for it to stop is if the masses do that, by not believing the crap that they print in the newspapers about all of these millions of people who are defrauding the benefits system and how we are all paying for people who are laying about doing nothing. People actually believe that most people on benefits are doing that – when anyone who actually researches it away from the newspapers that serve the people in power will see that the truth is very different.

    As difficult as it seems to be for me, people need to keep it simple – question everything, make your own mind up and decide – do you want to live in a society that helps the poor and disadvantaged or not. Do you care more about having compassion for other people or having wealth for yourself.

    For myself – I like to point out the false truths in the world, I like to say “aha. I see you there, all dressed up as something you are not – this is what you really are” and I am one of the compassionate people. I like to help others, I like to give to charity, I give money to homeless people, I feel compassion for them, I believe that as a society we should help our fellow human beings, because that is what we all are, and I have needed help and will need it again.

    Sorry – got a little carried away there!

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    • Welcome, Verity. I am delighted to have you here. Rant all you like. Inequality increased under the last Labour government as well as the Coalition, though, and the unpopular M. Hollande presides over increasing inequality too.

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      • Yes I agree it’s difficult because as I say it’s more to do with the global capitalism than which political party is in power – that’s what has created such apathy in our country for anything political. To change that requires a bigger change than just choosing one political party over another it means realising that it’s the system that is wrong and not just one party or another. I am not sure that will ever change but it’s not what other people do that matters, it’s what we do as individuals and speaking out about what we think is part of that is what we are doing to try and make things better. Great post though I agree with what you’re saying because as I say a lot of people only see what the mainstream media put out x

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  6. Everything connected with the system here and there is subject to question: the process, the apportionment system, shifting people around according to changing family size, etc. Running an equitable society appears to be something that even after many millennia we are unable to accomplish.

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