Cameron’s benefits bungling could cost you your home

When Mr Cameron’s housing benefits cap takes effect, along with the increased council tax bill for those on benefits, how long will it be before working-class Tories find their representatives have forced them out of their homes?

It’s the kind of ignorance that could kill off the Working-Class Tory.

We all knew David Cameron had his head in the clouds (or where the sun doesn’t shine) when he asked what hard-working people were meant to think when they see individual families getting up to £60,000 of housing benefit. I believe the Conservative Party has yet to provide proof of the claim.

The fact is that a huge amount of new housing benefit claimants are in work themselves – so Mr Cameron’s argument was utterly defeated before he had even uttered a word of it.

Today (Monday) the National Housing Federation has stated that a failure to build new houses has led to an 86 per cent rise in working people claiming housing benefit between May 2009-2012, as rents and mortgages have soared.

An extra 10,000 new claims are being made each month.

The solution is simple; I’ve pointed it out in this very blog, many times – cap rents.

Instead, Mr Cameron said he was capping housing benefit, meaning hard-working families will have to tighten their belts and cut back even further on their other outgoings, just to keep a roof over their heads. They might not be able to afford to heat their home as well as last year (I doubt a working family qualifies for the Winter fuel allowance). They might not be able to eat as well as they did last year, as food prices are rocketing. But don’t worry – their landlords will carry on doing just fine, thank you very much!

(Until the family’s earnings can’t be stretched any further and they are forced out and – because the rent is too high for anyone else, the property becomes vacant and derelict. Landlords: Isn’t it wiser to make rents affordable and at least have some regular income from your property?)

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference, Mr Cameron said: “Because of our welfare cap, no family will be getting more in benefits than the average family earns.”

But it seems the average family doesn’t earn enough to stay off benefits! So what, exactly, was Mr Cameron saying, there? That he’s putting the average British family into an ever-decreasing recursive benefit loop?

The worst nonsense was the choice he said we give our young people today:   “Choice one: Work hard. Go to college. Get a job. Live at home. Save up for a flat […] Or: Don’t get a job. Sign on. Don’t even need to produce a CV when you do sign on. Get housing benefit. Get a flat. And then don’t ever get a job or you’ll lose a load of housing benefit.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Since people with jobs are on housing benefit, we already know this was a pile of hooey, but we also know that he’s capping that benefit, so people with jobs are going to lose a load of housing benefit as well!

“And we’re going to look at ending automatic access to housing benefit for people under 25 too.” So, if you’re aged under 25, Mr Cameron is pulling the ground out from beneath your feet, before you’ve even got on your feet!

And let’s not forget the threat of the Localism Act, which will add to the council tax bill payable on your home. If you are in a working family that receives housing benefit, you will most likely be in receipt of council tax benefit as well, and this means even more money will have to come from your tight budget, as of next April.

So here’s my question, for anyone who still thinks they’re a working-class Tory: When all these cuts and new taxes have done their worst to you, and you’ve moved back to live with mum and dad (or gran and grandad) simply to have a (rather overcrowded) roof over your head, and the next election rolls around, are you really going to tell me that you think David Cameron’s Conservative Party is your best choice?

9 thoughts on “Cameron’s benefits bungling could cost you your home

  1. kelpiemare

    Another aspect of coalition Britain? As Cameron and co go about killing off the welfare state for the poor and fabricating a welfare state for private companies and the rich, as the coalition (HA) trample over every statute designed to protect the ordinary public, as he and his bestest buds decrease police numbers, they are creating a criminal underclass.
    Rehabilitiation he bawls to the media…..his millionaires row of a government needs rehabilitating….before they kill off this country.

  2. kelpiemare

    Anyone else see a resemblance between drunks in the pub curing the nation’s ills….and the manner in which Tories devise their schemes?
    Except the drunks make more sense.

  3. Mike Sivier

    @Labourmatters, on Twitter, tells me: “Liked your blog post on HB except claim pricey housing would stay empty. It won’t, those not on HB will rent it instead.”
    This seems entirely likely. To me, it seems that a consequence of that will be to push prices up in the immediate vicinity – to bring in more people who aren’t reliant on benefits. Trouble with that is, sooner or later you run out of people, and you create a chasm between what particular salary levels can afford, that could become unbridgeable.
    Thoughts?

    1. leestarburst

      If local housing allowances (LHAs) are reduced, the local market rent will fall.
      Currently non HB recipients can offer higher than LHA rents if they so wish and price those on HB out of a market. Where they don’t do this it’s because current HB rates are at or above realistic market rates for that type of property in a particular area. I see LHA rates as being effectively a ceiling on rents.
      If LHA rates get cut to the point where landlords fed up with non-paying tenants who can’t make ends meet at current contract rent levels fail to reduce rents to something that is affordable on HB, there are three options open to them. The first is to leave the house vacant or accept long voids which seems an imprudent course of action. Secondly, they can sell the house which adds supply to the market driving ‘for sale’ prices down, but rental prices up as the number of local rental properties is reduced, unless the house is bought by a BTL spiv. Thirdly, they can try to rent to non-HB recipients. I suggested in my second sentence that these prospective (non-HB) tenants are unwilling to pay above current LHA rates or they would already be doing so. They may however be prepared to pay above the new reduced LHA rates. In that case more people not reliant on benefits enter the local market but at lower rents. This of course increases the supply of houses elsewhere as the new tenants have vacated somewhere to make the move.

      There may be some ‘gentrification’ rent rises once an area has had enough HB recipients move out to be replaced by higher income ‘full rent’ payers, but I’d imagine these effects to be small and take a fair while to set in.

  4. Alexander Martin

    If they wanna cut Housing Benefit….cut rents! The nation’s housing stock should not be seen as an investment opportunity for ‘landlords’. How about a purge? How about windfall taxes on any private inividual or company that rents out more than say 2 houses?
    Bringing back the Fair Rent Tribunal may not go amiss either.
    If families ARE receiving £1200 a week Housing Benefit, lets name and shame the ‘landlords’ who have the nerve to charge these ridiculous amounts!
    Indeed how about making the term ‘private landlord’ as ‘demonised’ as the term ‘benefit claimant’ is?

  5. Smiling Carcass

    How about public ownership of all housing? What is more important (besides food) than an affordable roof over your head? Make rents say, 10% of income on a sliding scale to represent both your income and property size and guarantee homes for life, with the option for surviving residents to remain there?

    1. tanith

      the bloke s loopy as well as cruel and sadistic he needs to be got rid of and fast never known of such a heartless person since hitler cant bring myself to use the word man

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