Tag Archives: evict

Will Bedroom Tax eviction leave this man threatened with a freezing death on the streets?

This is despicable – and shows the depths to which the Tory government sank when it imposed the Bedroom Tax on unsuspecting tenants.

The Bedroom Tax is not extracted from pensioners and Ken May, 65, is due to retire next month.

He had been living with his mother in his childhood home in Gateshead – but her death three years ago meant he became eligible to pay the tax on “spare” bedrooms until the date of his retirement.

He has struggled to do so, and is now £1,200 in arrears – so landlord Gateshead Housing Company has launched court action to evict him.

Mr May says he believes the company is desperate to shift him out of the property before he retires, as the cancellation of his Bedroom Tax and the arrival of his pension could leave him in the building indefinitely.

The company says it has tried to work with Mr May to resolve the problem (although I note that we are not told what it proposed).

I say this would not have happened if the Tories had not imposed the Bedroom Tax, which removes 14 per cent of tenants’ housing benefit for the first room deemed to be spare, and 25 per cent for two rooms.

Labour is promising to abolish the tax, which is unfair because it is levied on people who have been given no choice about where they live.

But even if Labour is elected into government, will there be a chance to repeal the tax before Mr May is thrown onto the streets?

Freezing weather has already killed one homeless person the winter.

Mr May could still end up being one of the Tories’ last victims.

Source: Man faces losing childhood home after bedroom tax plunges him into rent arrears – Mirror Online

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People are brilliant. When a woman who spent years helping vulnerable people needed help – they did this

Charlotte Hughes, author of the Poor Side of Life blog, has spent years offering help, advice and food parcels to people at the mercy of the Department for Work and Pensions in Ashton under Lyne. But today she was in danger of eviction because of a clerical error – and needed help herself.

The reaction has been astonishing and should reaffirm your belief in human nature.

I’ll let her explain the situation:

What could she do? She set up a JustGiving site to try to raise some cash to offset the deficit and stop the eviction:

I was going to beg you to visit that site and contribute.

“If you visit Charlotte’s blog – again, it’s The Poor Side of Life – you’ll be able to read about the huge amount of good work she has done,” I wrote.

“She deserves much better than to be abused by her local council in the way she has described.

“So please visit the JustGiving page and help her, if you can.”

Then I visited the JustGiving page and realised that contributors had already tripled her £1,000 target.

How brilliant is that?

If you can afford to contribute a little, please do – it will give Ms Hughes some breathing room.

And for those who already have: I salute you!

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How Tories have fun: Trying to starve and evict a disabled man

Christopher Brasil: The Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions fabricated reasons to cut off his benefits and have him thrown out of his home, it seems.

This story tells you all you need to know about the benefit system under the Conservative government:

Rachael is right. The story of Christopher Brasil illustrates every cruelty that the Conservative government can inflict on you – and I mean you, because it could happen to anybody, given the fact that the trigger was an accident, and we can all be prey to them.

Check out the details, according to iNews:

Mr Brasil was a lorry driver for 30 years, until he fractured his hip after he was hit by bicycle four years ago. The incident left him relying on walking sticks, and diabetes caused his eyesight to deteriorate, so the DVLA revoked his heavy goods vehicle licence and his employers dismissed him on grounds of ill health.

Now, suffering from blurred vision, vertigo, poor hearing and epilepsy, he says he is “unemployable”.

But the Department for Work and Pensions disagreed.

After three years in which he claimed first Disability Living Allowance and then Employment and Support Allowance, the DWP started messing with Mr Brasil.

First, Job Centre advisors lost his sick note and stopped his payments for four weeks. He says he brought it to the office in January, when staff took it off him and said they faxed it to someone else. But then he was told he had not provided it; it was not recorded on their systems. They imposed a four-week sanction.

The lesson for all benefit claimants who need to hand in sick notes to prove benefit entitlement is: Get a receipt for them, signed by the staff member you are booked to see.

One month later, he was made to take a work capability assessment, told he was fit for work and ordered to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance.

He said the assessment report was “blatant lies.” It said he attended the assessment on his own, but he was with a social worker from a charity. In addition, they report said he did not use walking sticks and was fit and capable.

Then he was told Universal Credit was being rolled out in his area and he was switched to it. This meant he was forced to endure the standard five-week wait for the first payment – meaning Mr Brasil was left without payments for a total of two months.

That is when Mr Brasil, who lives alone and has no family, was forced to go to a soup kitchen and food bank. With his gas and electricity cut off, he had taken out a credit card and considered resorting to pay day loans.

Finally, after his Universal Credit claim began in September, Mr Brasil was told he was no longer entitled to housing benefit. He ran up rent arrears and was served with an eviction notice.

Who’s going to tell me all that is purely accidental?

I think this man was targeted. His sick note was deliberately mislaid; his work capability assessment was deliberately rigged.

The intention was to torment him. It didn’t matter whether he became homeless, starved, succumbed to his illnesses or became suicidal and tried (or succeeded) in killing himself as a result (see this article for information on how this can happen).

The comment the DWP provided is formulaic rubbish. I doubt if anybody checked the details of Mr Brasil’s case; they certainly would not have spoken about it or admitted any wrongdoing.

I wonder, though – what was the name of the Job Centre advisor who took Mr Brasil’s sick note in January? What did they do with that sick note? And can either of them be traced?

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Fears of evictions as councils return money to help benefit cap victims with rent

Residents of Merthyr Tydfil, Anglesey, and Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales have reason to be angry after their councillors sent back unspent money meant to keep benefit cap victims from eviction.

Merthyr Council handed back £40,000 – 19.2 per cent of its allocation – but denied funds to 231 applicants for Discretionary Housing Payments. That’s more than one-third of the total (668).

Councillors seem to be facing in both directions at once with their excuses.

Cllr Andrew Barry said the expected number of qualifying applicants, according to Conservative government policy, did not materialise.

But applicants who were denied the cash were left facing homelessness!

Clearly, something is wrong. If it’s the way councils are enacting the policy, they need to put their house in order. If it is government policy that is at fault, then it’s time to kick up a stink about it.

Three councils have been criticised for handing back money intended for people who are struggling to pay their rent.

Every year councils in Wales receive money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to spend on discretionary housing payments (DHP).

Welsh councils were given a total of £9,749,151 in the last financial year – an increase of 24% compared with 2016/17 – to help people cope with changes to benefits.

Merthyr Tydfil said it was sending back £40,000 (19.2% of their allocation), Anglesey £23,501 (14.4%) and Rhondda Cynon Taf £13,493 (2%).

Merthyr council accepted 437 applications for DHP and refused 231.

Source: Criticism over unspent rent help money


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Council to kick man out of housing because he isn’t ill enough – despite multiple conditions

David Bone may not be ill enough under Lewisham Council guidelines, but the officials’ decision is making him want to be dead. Is that the intention?

Who devises the regulations that dictate whether a person’s physical illnesses are enough to justify assisted housing? What are their qualifications and what criteria do they use?

Or is it just an arbitrary decision?

Be honest – the latter seems more likely.

A man with a lung disease said he is suicidal at the prospect of becoming homeless after the council decided he is ‘not in priority need’ for housing.

Lewisham Council decided to ‘terminate’ David Bone’s place at its hostel in Sydenham Hill because he doesn’t meet the appropriate legal definition of ‘physical or mental impairment’ needed to be listed as in priority need for homing by the council.

Mr Bone previously lived in a van for 10 months after he got divorced. He was given a space in the hostel six months ago and said he will now have to move out on October 26.

The council said he has the option to request a review of its decision.

Mr Bone suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a lung disease that causes breathing difficulties – and has arthritis in both knees, his lower back and his left shoulder. He has Atrial Fibrillation – a heart condition that gives him an irregular heartbeat – and suffers from depression, for which he has been sent for counselling by his GP.

He has been given a disabled blue badge by Lewisham Council that expires next July and he also receives Disability Living Allowance.

The 64-year-old said if he is moved out on October 26, he will sleep rough in his van.Coun

Source: Man ‘suicidal’ over being homeless after Lewisham Council decision | News Shopper


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Are you endangered by the threat of revenge eviction? Then help change the law

141020evictions

A few months ago, Mrs Mike – who is the named tenant of VP Towers – received a communication from our landlord (a housing association).

It was notification that the HA had applied to the Welsh Assembly to set a ‘fair rent’ at about £9 per week more than the then-current level.

Depending on your own circumstances, £9 per week may not seem altogether high but for Mrs Mike, who considers herself to have suffered undue neglect from her landlord (remember the flood last year?), it was the last straw. The notification letter stated that she could appeal against the increase, so she did.

You may be surprised, dear reader, to find that I was reluctant to support her. I feared the possibility of a revenge attack by our landlords, resulting in us ending up on the street.

I was wrong – but the issue took a few months to resolve. At first, the Assembly agreed with the housing association that our rent should be increased and, following representations by Mrs Mike, by more than the HA had originally requested. The landlord promised that it would stick to the original figure but Mrs Mike wasn’t having any of it and took the case to a tribunal, pointing out that our landlord wasn’t comparing our rent with similar houses in the local area (as is necessary) and that calls for repairs were habitually ignored or dismissed by servicers who are based almost 100 miles away.

Now our rent is cheaper – yes, cheaper – than it was before, and it seems our landlord is going to abide by the decision.

But this is a rare case, according to homelessness charity Shelter – and it seems we are safe only because we rent from a social landlord.

Current laws mean it is entirely legal for any private landlord to evict tenants, Shelter says, simply for speaking up about bad conditions going unacknowledged and unrepaired, as Mrs Mike has.

The situation affects no less than nine million UK citizens – and last year, 200,000 of them were thrown out of their homes in what the charity has described as ‘revenge’ evictions.

It seems some landlords don’t like to be embarrassed when their neglect comes out into the public domain.

This means that, according to Shelter, one in 12 private renters have avoided asking for repairs in case they are evicted.

But on November 28 MPs have the chance to end revenge eviction, the charity says.

“They’ll be debating a small change to the law: to stop landlords issuing an eviction notice when the tenant has made a legitimate complaint about conditions.

“For the Bill to pass, enough MPs need to attend the debate and the majority need to vote in favour. You can see more about how the Bill will become law here.

“You can tell your MP to save the date – to attend Parliament on 28 November and vote to end revenge evictions.

“Normally, MPs go back home on a Thursday to do constituency work on a Friday. This time, we need them to stay in Westminster until Friday morning, so they can vote to change the lives of the thousands of renters they represent.”

Shelter has provided a handy system to help you email your MP and ask them to improve the lives of nine million UK citizens. Here it is:

Email your MP and ask them to stay in parliament on Friday 28 November.

In the run-up to a general election, voters will be watching their MPs very carefully. Do they really represent you? November 28 will be a test of their good intentions. If they don’t stay and vote, you’ll know what to do with them next May. But they need to know what you want them to do.

It’s up to you.

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Evictions begin as government starts grabbing your homes

140222evictions

It is easy to get caught up in headlines and forget that the Coalition’s benefit reforms mean people you know will lose their homes.

You know what happens then? PEOPLE YOU KNOW START LOSING THEIR HOMES.

Vox Political was warning the world about this back in 2012 – nearly two years ago – saying the bedroom tax would put people on the streets while homes go empty and warning about the ‘Poll Tax revival plan to take away your home’. It gives me no pleasure at all to report that I was right.

This week I heard about two cases in my Mid Wales town. You may think that isn’t many, but this is a town with a population of less than 5,000 – and I haven’t heard about every case.

The first involves a family that has been living in the same council house for more than 30 years. Sadly the head of the household recently had a stroke and has been forced to move into a care home. In the past, the tenancy would have been handed down to the next generation of the family – two sons, one of whom has a family of his own. The other is a friend of mine, of excellent character. By day he works very hard at his job; after hours, he is a member of a popular local band (along with his brother, as it happens). They are what this government would call “strivers”.

But they are being penalised because they have been told to vacate the only home they have had. Not only that, they are being asked to stump up a small fortune in backdated rent (as their father has been paying for his care, not the house) and another small fortune to dispose of carpets they cannot take with them, which the council does not want.

When I spoke to my friend yesterday, he told me that the council simply does not want him or his brother as tenants because “it is easier to process a large family who are on benefits”. I queried this, and it seems likely that this is to do with the forthcoming Universal Credit system, and with the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (also known as the Pickles Poll Tax); it is easier to handle Universal Credit and council tax claims if the authorities have foreknowledge of a household’s income.

We both agreed that there is a serious drawback to this thinking.

Large families do not want to move into vacant social accommodation because they fear what the government – national and local – will do to them if their circumstances change. Children grow up; adults move out – and that will make them vulnerable to the Bedroom Tax. Suddenly their benefits won’t be enough to pay the rent and they, in turn, will be turfed out onto the streets. They know it is a trap; they will try to avoid it.

My friend agreed. “That house is going to stay empty for a very long time,” he said.

This is madness. Here are two people who are perfectly willing and able to pay the council’s rent, on time, for as long as they need the property but, because of the Welfare Reform Act and the Localism Act, the council is treating them abominably and the house will end up providing no income at all.

If you think that’s bad, though, just wait until you learn about my other friend!

He is an older gentleman who has been disabled for many years. He had been living in a small, two-bedroomed house that had been adapted to accommodate his needs. We know precisely how much these adaptations cost to install at current rates: £5,000.

I believe he needed the extra bedroom to accommodate carer needs but I could be mistaken.

Along came the Bedroom Tax and suddenly he did not have enough income to cover the cost of living there. The council (or social landlord, I have to admit I’m not sure) sent him an eviction notice. He appealed.

Guess what? His appeal was set to be decided after the date he was ordered to be out of his home.

So he had to go. He was lucky enough to find another place to live, and all the equipment he needs to accommodate his disability moved along with him – at a cost of £5,000.

Then he received the judgement on his appeal: He was exempt from paying the Bedroom Tax; he should never have been forced to move.

Is this British justice?

This country was once the envy of the world because we were far more enlightened than any other nation in our policies of social justice and inclusion. Not any more! Now we are regressing into a new dark age in which the squalid Shylocks infesting Westminster manipulate local authorities into performing grubby property grabs for them.

Is the ‘Bulldog Spirit’ that made us famous for standing our ground during the Blitz now being turned to hounding the poor out of their homes?

Are you willing to put up with this?

In Iceland, they marched to their Parliament and set up camp outside until the government gave up and agreed to the demands of the people. Here, an unmandated government rides roughshod over democracy while you sit at home watching The X Factor, Coronation Street and the Winter Olympics.

Nothing will change until you change it – but you know this already. The simple fact is that, if you are reading this article, you probably sympathise with the sentiments it is expressing and are already active in opposing the heinous crimes being committed against our people.

There are not enough of you. People who need to read these words are being allowed to live in ignorance, lulled into inactivity by the right-wing mass media.

It’s time to put an end to that. There can be no excuse for ignorance and inaction while people are being made homeless. Think of someone you know who needs to be shown the truth and make them read this article. Ask them what they think of it and explain the facts of what is happening around them.

Then tell them to pass it on to someone they know.

Spread the word – don’t keep it to yourself. And don’t sit on your thumbs and expect somebody else to do your bit for you. If you don’t act, why should anybody else? What’s the point of me writing these articles if you can’t be bothered to do anything about it? Are you going to wait until someone tells you they want your home?

Then it will be too late.

I’ll know if you succeed because it will be reflected in the number of times this article is viewed. I’ll report the results of this experiment next week.

Don’t let yourself down.

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Housing association speaks out over Bedroom Tax

131222perkins

It seems the chief executive of a local housing association has taken issue with yr obdt srvt over the Bedroom Tax.

Shane Perkins, of Mid Wales Housing, wrote to the Powys-based County Times after I used that paper to expose an illegal action by the county council’s ruling group, aimed at preventing discussing of a motion for the council to adopt a ‘no-eviction’ policy.

The motion asked the council not to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent because of the Bedroom Tax. Councillors who are also private landlords were forbidden from speaking or voting on the motion as they stand to benefit if social housing tenants are forced to seek accommodation with them as a result of the vindictive policy, and this meant 30 councillors had to leave the chamber.

Members of the ruling group, realising there was a real possibility of the motion being carried, then claimed that any councillors who are social housing tenants should also be barred from taking part – a move that is against the law (to the best of my knowledge). My understanding is that a ‘general dispensation’ allows councillors who are council tenants to take part in debates on, and vote on, matters relating to council housing.

Mr Perkins, writing in the paper’s December 20 edition, suggests that it is almost impossible to establish whether or not a tenant has fallen into rent arrears solely as a consequence of the “pernicious” (his word) Bedroom Tax, and claims that the motion was “a meaningless ‘political’ statement”.

He makes the point that it may be possible to apply the policy where the tenant has never previously been in rent arrears, but this would be unfair on other tenants who are similarly affected now but had fallen into arrears for other reasons in the past. He asks why tenants who struggle to meet their rent payments should not receive a financial subsidy or reward for being a good and conscientious tenant; and also points out that the cumulative effect of other regressive changes to benefits is also likely to affect the rent payments of vulnerable people and, to be consistent, Labour’s motion should encompass them also.

He says all social landlords, including the council, will seek to advise and support tenants who are in financial difficulty, but “in the final analysis, if a tenant fails to pay their rent, the ultimate sanction has got to be eviction.

“To do otherwise would be irresponsible, as ultimately the cost of one tenant not paying their rent is borne by all those tenants that do pay, and spiralling arrears will ultimately affect the viability of the council’s housing, which will serve none of its tenants.”

It would be easy to pick holes in his arguments. The whole point of government policy is to make sure that nobody gets a penny more than the Conservative-led Coalition decides they should have – and this government wants to drive people into poverty – so there will be no rewards for hard work. The Labour Party, and non-political groups, has campaigned ceaselessly to force the government into assessing the cumulative impact of its changes to the benefit system, but the government has refused all such calls, knowing as it does that such research would reveal the monstrous truth about its attack on the poorest in society.

If Mr Perkins is really interested, then he should encourage his own MP to support the call for such an assessment in the debate on the ‘WoW’ Petition, due to take place in the House of Commons in the New Year. I helped write that document, which calls for (among other things) “a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform”. Labour is supporting the motion. I would suggest, therefore, that any criticism of Labour for making a “meaningless ‘political’ statement” is unfounded.

As for the difference between tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax who have never been in arrears before, and those affected by it who have – this should be something a social landlord can track, especially if they are actively seeking to “advise and support” tenants. This support should include examination of a tenants income and outgoings, before and after the Tax was imposed.

The simple fact is that Mr Perkins would move offending tenants into smaller houses if he had any, but he doesn’t. He would not be talking about eviction if he did. He never built them and we must conclude that he never saw the need. Perhaps he believed that the welfare state would continue to support his tenants.

William Beveridge, the architect of that system, in the report that bears his name, said the British government should fight what he called the “giant evils” of society, including Want.

How could Beveridge know that, 70 years later, the British government would be actively increasing Want, wherever it could. That is what the Bedroom Tax, and the benefit cap, and all the other cuts brought in by this spiteful Conservative-led Coalition are about.

These measures are crimes against the citizens of this country – citizens who have paid into the State, generation after generation since the 1940s, believing that it would look after them if the spectre of Want cast its shadow at their door.

Mr Perkins describes the changes as “pernicious”, but if he allows a single tenant to be evicted then he will be a willing accomplice.

That is what he is saying when he tells us he is prepared to use this “final sanction”.

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If the economy is in recovery, why does it still feel like recession?

Path to prosperity? If the economy has been growing for the last nine months, why has food bank use tripled during the last year?

Path to prosperity? If the economy has been growing for the last nine months, why has food bank use almost tripled during the last year?

No doubt Gideon George Osborne will spend the next few days (if not weeks and months) crowing about the figures from the Office for National Statistics that say the British economy has grown for a third successive quarter.

He has already tweeted, “This shows that Britain’s hard work is paying off & the country is on the path to prosperity.”

The construction industry has grown by 2.5 per cent on the previous quarter, with house builders buoyed up by Gideon’s Help to Buy scheme, which offers (unsupported) mortgage guarantees to buyers and lenders. He has promised to divert £12 million to this, but has not said where he will find the money.

Critics have warned that this is simply creating another housing-fuelled debt bubble that will burst in a couple of years’ time, leaving even more people in debt than after the financial crisis hit us all.

Has this growth generated work for electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers? If so, are they being paid fairly? These are the people who will take their disposable income back into the wider economy, for the benefit of other businesses.

Production (including manufacturing) and services are both on the up as well. The BBC report says nothing about retail. But if this good news is true, why is the Department for Work and Pensions determined to expand its Workfare scheme, as laid out in a Conservative conference announcement and by an article reblogged here.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls welcomed the signs of growth in the ONS report but warned: “For millions of people across the country still seeing prices rising faster than their wages, this is no recovery at all.”

He is right, of course. Look at the rise and rise of food banks, which have seen a massive rise in attendances from even working people – whose wages simply don’t cover the cost of living. Benefits are, of course, being cut back by our “compassionate” Conservative-led government.

They say there’s no money for it but – if the economy is surging back into growth – where are all the tax receipts from the big corporates that are profiting?

Oh yes – they’re safely closeted in the tax havens that Mr Osborne kindly opened up for them. Ordinary, working, and poor people have to use their own limited funds to pay off a Conservative-run national deficit, presumably because Tories think the rich, who caused the problem, shouldn’t have to pay for services they don’t use.

And the Institute of Directors’ chief economist, Graeme Leach, warned that there are “strong headwinds” restricting the possibility of further growth, including “debt and inflation” which are “rising faster than earnings”.

That’s right. Only yesterday, Yr Obdt Srvt was talking with a gentleman who – despite having a full-time job – has fallen so severely into debt that he has had to cut his expenditure down to nothing but taxes, the vital utility bills (water but not heating), and rent. He has no budget for food and faces the possibility of having his belongings, such as his car, repossessed – and even eviction.

Is he on the path to prosperity, Mr Osborne? Of course not. This report is merely further proof that you were lying when you said, “We’re all in it together” – as you did (again) at the Conservative conference.

It’s prosperity for the greedy few, and austerity for the rest of us.

Maybe you have a different opinion, but ask any average worker on the street and they will tell you that continued wage depression and price inflation, the expansion of the Workfare regime that gives free employment to firms that don’t need it while the workers themselves have to survive on benefits, massive growth in food bank use, and the threat faced by thousands of eviction and the repossession of their belongings are not milestones on the path to prosperity.

Who can afford to buy or rent property in Britain now?

This bubble will burst: The Coalition government has engineered a recovery based on the false inflation of house prices and rents.

This bubble will burst: The Coalition government has engineered a recovery based on the false inflation of house prices and rents. It is bound to burst; the only questions are when – and who will be harmed by the fallout? [Picture: Haynesonfire blog]

Today the BBC reported that average private sector housing rents have hit a record high of £757 per month – just three days after the Corporation told us house prices have also hit a record high (averaging £247,000).

If you are an “average” UK earner (whatever that is), then your income has been cut by almost 10 per cent in the three years and five months since David Cameron became Prime Minister. Who can afford to rent at these prices? Who can afford to buy?

And is this the private rented accommodation that people affected by the Bedroom Tax were supposed to rent instead?

Are these the houses on which the government is going to underwrite 15 per cent of the mortgage in its ‘Help to Buy’ scheme? Already a(nother) huge housing bubble is growing and the debt crisis when it bursts will be appalling.

Meanwhile, everything costs a fortune and you have no money.

But somebody is buying. And somebody is renting.

Somebody rich, obviously.

“Higher rents in almost every region show that, despite government schemes, buying a first home is still a difficult aspiration,” the article quotes David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services.

“This is not only down to low salary growth, but also a general shortage of supply – which is the underlying reason why homes are getting more expensive. The long-term trend to renting therefore looks unlikely to change significantly in the near future.”

So the lack of house-building – either to buy or to rent – has proved lucrative for property developers and landlords. They don’t need to build any more if the value of their current buildings keeps rising. And nobody else can afford to build.

In the meantime, people in social housing are feeling the bite of the Bedroom Tax, with 50,000 families in danger of eviction because of it – putting pressure on local authorities who have to pay through the nose to put them into bed and breakfast accommodation instead.

Was this the Tory plan? To make things – the important things like housing and land – so expensive that only they and their friends could afford them? To push you into dependency by proxy?

And we didn’t see it coming?

Gosh.

At least nobody reading this voted for them. Anyone who did that must feel like a real chump now.