Tag Archives: rent

Tory ministers silent as they’re urged to prevent ‘wave of evictions’

Homeless: this man was photographed living on the streets in Birmingham before Covid-19. Who knows how many more will be living there – prey to the virus – after August 23?

The government’s moratorium on evictions ends this week, putting tens of thousands of people in danger of eviction – in the middle of the biggest recession the UK has ever experienced.

The Tories have been urged to safeguard the people under threat – but they are strangely silent. One wonders whether they would be so quiet if their fellow Conservatives were being turfed out of their stately homes for any reason.

So when the ban on evictions in England and Wales ends on August 23, it seems likely to signal a wave of homelessness, with people forced onto the streets to face joblessness (as a result of the Tory recession), illness (because of the Tory failure to fight Covid-19) and the cold (because winter is coming).

Landlords in England have been able to issue notices of eviction three months in advance of taking possession; in Wales, the Labour government has ordered that they cannot take possession before six months have elapsed.

No reason need be given for them to take possession. Boris Johnson has promised to end “no-fault” evictions in a new “Renter’s Reform Bill” – but he has shown no inclination to bring such legislation to Parliament.

Previous prime minister Theresa May had made the same promise, but she never brought such a Bill to Parliament either.

And there really are a lot of private landlords stuffing the Tory benches in the House of Commons.

Of  course, evictions and homelessness will have a knock-on effect on the economy – at a time of recession – as it costs the government and the emergency services more to help homeless people than it does to keep them housed.

The Tories know this because they’ve seen the same evidence I have.

And yet they are silent.

It seems they are more keen to inflict cruelty on others than to do their job – which is to run the country efficiently. Wasn’t that always the way with the toffs?

Source: Ministers have just seven days to prevent a ‘wave of evictions’, MPs and charities warn | The Independent

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How many people does the government owe because of Universal Credit payday prejudice?

Let’s answer the question in the headline straight away: it seems 85,000 people may be able to claim compensation because the government deliberately failed to stop people getting less Universal Credit if their payday comes early because of a weekend or bank holiday.

Judges at the Court of Appeal have ruled that it was “irrational” for the Department for Work and Pensions – and the Secretary of State in particular – to ignore the fact that computer systems would assume that claimant had received double the money expected and cancel their payments.

The Conservative government has spent two years fighting this court case – indicating that, despite being well aware of the issue, Tories were determined to continue depriving some of the poorest workers in the UK of vital benefits.

Are they sadists? Or perverts?

Certainly perverts, it seems. In her judgment, Lady Justice Rose described the situation as “perverse”.

But decide for yourself.

The three judges at the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the Work and Pensions Secretary acted irrationally and unlawfully by making Universal Credit regulations which fail to take into account that the date monthly salaries are paid can vary because of weekends and bank holidays.

The Government had taken the case to the Court of Appeal after single mother Danielle Johnson, along with three other mothers supported by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), won a High Court legal challenge.

They said the Government’s interpretation of regulation 54 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 meant some months she would receive much less in universal credit than in others.

Ms Johnson is paid on the last working day of each month and her benefit assessment period runs from the last day of the month to the penultimate day of the following month. When a weekend is at the end of a month, this means her wages go into her bank account earlier than in other months.

The Universal Credit computer system interpreted this as Ms Johnson having earned twice as much in one month and none in others, so her payment would be calculated accordingly.

It resulted in extreme fluctuations in her income and – in several months – she lost the work allowance part of the UC payment, meaning she was around £500 per year worse off.

If 85,000 people lost the same amount, that means the government was stopping them from receiving £42.5 million a year – not a lot in terms of a national government’s budget.

So why did the Tories create a system that forced this hardship on vulnerable women (among others)?

Why spend more money defending this irrational persecution of vulnerable women?

We can only conclude that this is yet more evidence that the Tories simply enjoy making poor people suffer.

And it worked: Ms Johnson suffered severe cash flow problems and between them, the four mothers fell into rent arrears, defaulted on council tax, incurred bank overdraft charges, borrowed money and even become reliant on food banks to make ends meet.

Lady Justice Rose commented that Ms Johnson “expresses her doubts whether she will ever be able to get back on top of her finances and worries that cash flow problems will mean she is unable to pay her rent, jeopardising her tenancy”.

We should also discuss the Tory government’s defence, which seems to be that changing the system would cost too much. It’s always about money with this mob, isn’t it?

So the court was told that any change to the computer system would cost at least £7.35 million – a fraction of what the government has saved each year by withholding money from 85,000 claimants.

And the Tories said there would need to be a wholesale move away from automation back to manual calculation in order to accommodate the changes demanded by the judges.

This would be an admission that the whole Universal Credit project – that was intended to be “digital by default” – is a failure.

And it’s doubtful that there’s any truth in the claim. Computer programs can be quite adaptable – or at least, they can in the hands of people who don’t have an agenda that involves the persecution of the vulnerable.

Of course the question arising from this is: what happens next?

Will the government automatically calculate the back payments owed to many tens of thousands of UC claimants and pay them?

I think we all know the answer to that!

Will the Tories change the law to ensure that this situation is not allowed to arise in the future?

Or will they try to find another way to contest the ruling? Delay any payments resulting from it? Otherwise try to ignore the decision of the court?

What do you think?

Source: Four Single Mums Win Court Of Appeal Universal Credit Case | Leigh Day

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Tenants in London go on rent strike so they can afford food. How do you think this will end?

Almost 19,000 families became homeless after being evicted by a private landlord in 2015-16. A rent strike may provoke even more – but what else can people do when the alternative is to starve?


It will end badly, of course.

Here’s the story:

It states: “More than 2,000 London tenants whose incomes have been hit by the coronavirus crisis are refusing to pay rent as part of a growing rent strike movement.

“The “Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!” campaign, organised by the London Renters Unionc (LRU), comes after hundreds of students across the UK began withholding their rent because of the crisis.

“The LRU say 2,500 people have pledged online to withhold enough of their rent to meet their basic needs including food and bills during the pandemic.

“It comes after the New Economics Foundation thinktank recommended that private rent should be suspended for three months from May to help around 1.2 million at renters at risk of losing their jobs during the pandemic who could miss out on government support schemes.”

Now consider this:

Even if the title is a joke, it symbolises an attitude.

Private tenants are disposable.

Landlords don’t care if they’re starving.

And if they withhold their (overpriced) rents, they’ll be out on their ear, to be replaced by someone who can.

Landlords never seem to care that sometimes nobody can afford their rents; eviction is the threat they hold over tenants to make sure they pay up, no matter how harmful the cost.

Will the Covid-19 crisis, and the fact that nobody has much cash, make a difference?

Watch this space.

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There may be fewer private landlords – but they are fleecing us more than ever

The number of private landlords in the UK has shrunk to a seven-year low, according to The Independent.

But that just means that the millions of privately-rented properties are in fewer hands – so those who are left can charge more, it seems to me.

The evidence seems to prove this assumption correct, as private rents have risen to £998 per month.

That’s a lot of money, considering most of us only earn around £12-13,000 a year.

Oh, and do you get more for your money, in terms of repairs and upgrades to the quality of the property?

No. 

Figures from the English Housing Survey in 2017 showed that private landlords letting homes that contain a serious hazard or have fallen into a poor state of repair trouser £2.3 billion in housing benefit annually.

Repeated attempts to pass legislation forcing such landlords to honour their responsibilities have failed – and it has been suggested that this is because many Conservative MPs are themselves private landlords.

Source: Number of private landlords ‘shrinks to seven-year low’ | The Independent

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Poverty, rough sleepers and food bank use ‘getting worse’ – but hey, it’s what the UK wanted

Poverty: It’s weird to think of spiralling destitution and homelessness in a rich area where many dwellings are second homes. But that’s what we all voted for – right?

This sums up the state of the UK at the end of 2019:

NEARLY a quarter of children in ‘wealthy’ South Lakeland are living in poverty while rough sleeping is also on the rise, a council meeting has heard.

And there are fears that ‘social inequality’ could get worse across the area in 2020 with Universal Credit being extended and rents for housing association tenants set to rise for the first time in five years, councillors were told.

This Christmas, some people in Kendal are having to make the choice between ‘heating the house or buying food’, according to the King’s Food Bank.

Poverty, homelessness and increasing dependence on food banks, in an area where around 4,000 dwellings are second homes. That’s Tory Britain!

And voters love it. That’s why they brought the Tories back into government with an 80-seat majority. Right?

What? They thought they were just calling for a quick end to Brexit?

More fool them, huh?

… Brexit won’t be over for years to come.

Source: Poverty, rough sleepers and food bank use ‘getting worse’ | The Westmorland Gazette

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Family can’t afford one-bedroom flat despite full-time work in Tory Britain. Time for a change

Tory tragedy: The Conservatives have created a housing crisis. Can Labour end it?

The Conservatives keep telling us work is the way out of poverty, but in the run-up to the election, let’s remember that they have put an end to all that.

Consider the plight of Penny Sterling, who lives with her husband Garrett and 8 month old baby, Daniel in a one-bedroom flat in Richmond.

They privately rent a one bedroom flat but struggle to cover the rent and have had to borrow from family members, despite Garrett’s full time job at a major UK airport.

She says the rent takes up most of the family income and says she “hasn’t got a clue how people worse off than us even feed their families”.

So much for the Tory claim that they’ve been “making work pay”!

Oh, and Penny had to give up her own job in a care home because the cost of child care in Tory London would have put her in even deeper financial trouble than her family is already suffering.

The Tories have said they will make £1 billion available to fund affordable childcare places – but this is over several years and they do not say who would qualify or whether it would be paid to local authorities or individuals.

So much for the Tory claim to be improving access to child care!

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Shelter has published research showing that families are paying £11 billion more than they can afford on rent.

This indicates that Tory “social cleansing” – forcing poor people to move out of areas by making it unaffordable for them to stay – is still in progress.

The Sterlings have said they would consider moving as far as Bracknell – but this would trigger high commuting costs.

And it is possible that they would move into a situation that is just as bad, if they end up renting from another private landlord.

Their current property is in extreme need of repair, and so could any other privately-rented abode.

Labour is proposing a scheme to stop landlords from forcing tenants to pay extortionate rents while refusing to carry out repairs – under it, they would have to sell properties to tenants.

So, if you’re a private tenant, it seems clear that Labour is the party for you in the general election. Right?

Source: Family who can’t afford 1 bed flat show bleak reality of Britain’s housing crisis – Mirror Online

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Tory wage and benefit cuts mean millions are struggling to pay essential bills

Money: Boris Johnson is rolling in it but his policies have starved the UK of the cash that is the lifeblood of the economy.

Nearly 2.2 million people in the UK are struggling to pay council tax, rent and utility bills because they aren’t paid enough, according to research by two universities.

The reason is Conservative restrictions on pay rises since 2010.

So much for the “trickle-down” economics of neoliberalism, beloved by Boris Johnson and his cronies.

The research by the University of Birmingham and the University of Lincoln shows that nearly 1.6 million people have fallen behind with council tax payments.

Nearly a million people are behind with their rent and more than a million are in arrears over their water bills.

Nearly 2.2 million people have been contacted by bailiffs over failure to pay (which suggests that many have multiple bill-related problems), and nearly one million have said bailiffs have broken the rules.

These findings make a nonsense of claims that average wages are rising.

Perhaps those figures have been skewed by huge increases in the amounts paid to top earners, while those of us who do the work are left to struggle?

Experience shows that higher pay for workers results in increased productivity and market dominance – as Henry Ford learned when he doubled the wages of employees at his motor company in the early 20th century.

He called it the best cost-cutting measure he ever made.

Conversely, as workers struggle to survive real-terms wage cut after wage cut, productivity in the UK has suffered its worst drop in five years.

We have nearly a million people struggling to cope with zero-hours contracts in which they don’t know whether they’ll be working (and therefore earning) from one week to the next.

Average weekly real-terms earnings are not as high as they were before the 2008 financial crash, while bills have increased.

Poverty is particularly high in accommodation and food services; agriculture, forestry and fishing; administrative and support services; and wholesale and retail.

Few households have any savings worth mentioning – the rate is lower than the EU average and far lower than many of our largest and closest European neighbours.

Oh, and Boris Johnson is determined to force us into a “no deal” Brexit, creating even harsher economic conditions.

Considering the situation now, it seems this would be a huge mistake.

He would literally run the entire country into the gutter.

Source: Millions struggling to pay council tax and other essential bills, finds study

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‘Universal Credit added so much stress that I did not need… It was at times unbearable’

More than half of Universal Credit claimants – and nearly half of those on ‘legacy’ benefits frozen by the Tories – have struggled to pay for essentials like food, or have gone without altogether, new research shows.

Citizens Advice has found that 55 per cent of Universal Credit claimants have gone without essentials such as food, and 51 per cent say they have lost sleep because of their finances.

The charity found 49 per cent of claimants affected by the benefits freeze struggled to meet essential costs such as rent, household bills and food while 40 per cent lost sleep due to money worries in the past 12 months.

Disabled people and people with children were more likely to have gone without essentials such as food and toiletries. Around 44 per cent of disabled people’s households and 45 per cent of households with children went without in the past 12 months.

If you thought This Writer was making up all those stories about sick and disabled people being pushed towards death by benefit deprivation, now you know better!

And just remember: One in every six UK households claims income-related benefits.

The charity is calling on the government to end the freeze on benefit rates that has been ongoing since April 2016, and reduce the five-week wait for Universal Credit claims.

It wants payments uprated by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus two per cent for four years, the Local Housing Allowance recalculated to at least the 30th percentile of local rents and the link with rental prices re-established.

And it wants the first non-repayable payment of Universal Credit brought forward to no later than two weeks into a Universal Credit claim.

Fat chance of that happening under a Boris Johnson government!

And it is important to bear in mind that, while BoJob is botching up Brexit and boring even his own MPs with dull demands for a general election when he can’t get his own way, the Tories are still bringing agony to millions of people with their benefit denial system.

Citizens Advice quoted Danielle, a mother-of-two who said: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through chemotherapy and now I am in remission and health-wise am doing so much better.

“Universal Credit during this time added so much stress that I did not need. My payments were delayed when I went from being self-employed to being off due to needing chemotherapy.

“Thankfully I have family who were able to help me to make sure my rent was paid. And I repaid them when I received my Universal Credit payments. But the stress of thinking I might not be there for my children and how I would pay my bills was at times unbearable.”

The stress was at times unbearable.

The whole point of social security benefits is in the second word of the title: Security.

Only the Conservatives could take something that was intended to make people feel safe while they look for a new source of gainful income, and turn it into a threat against their mental health, and indeed their lives.

But that is what they have done. They’ve been doing it for more than nine years, since they came into office, and they’re doing it as you read this. They will continue doing it until they are stopped.

And the only person who can stop them is you.

Read the full Citizens Advice report, Achieving income security for all here

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Half of private landlords have tenants on Universal Credit who are in rent arrears

We already know social landlords have been complaining about tenants falling into rent arrears because of Universal Credit.

This site has already commented on the Northern Housing Consortium, which warned that two-thirds of members said rent arrears were increasing, with 73 per cent of them blaming UC.

And of course the Financial Conduct Authority has said UC claimants have been turning to loan sharks because the so-called benefit does not provide enough money for claimants to pay their bills.

This means they must pay back the loans at enormous rates of interest, putting themselves even deeper into debt and putting all their possessions at risk.

Now we find that private landlords – who traditionally rent at higher prices than their social housing counterparts – are also concerned about tenants falling into arrears.

So not only is Universal Credit a failure because it pushes tenants into debt rather than ensuring their financial security, but it also pushes landlords into financial difficulty when claimants are unable to pay the rent.

Who, exactly, is it supposed to be helping?

More than half of private landlords say their tenants on Universal Credit have fallen behind on their rent payments in the last twelve months.

A survey by the Residential Landlords Associations (RLA) found that 54% of private landlords have tenants in receipt of Universal Credit who have rent arrears, putting them at increased risk of potential repossession.

Of these, 82% said that the arrears only began after a new claim for Universal Credit or after a tenant had been moved to the Credit from housing benefit.

And 68% of landlords said that there was a shortfall between the cost of rent and the amount paid in Universal Credit.

Landlords can ask the Department for Work and Pensions for rent to be paid directly to them, instead of to the claimant, but the RLA says it takes an average of 8.5 weeks for this to be set up.

The problem have become so dire that 62% of landlords fear their tenants won’t be able to afford rent payments when they are moved to the new benefits system, which is expected to be completed by December 2023.

Source: Half of private landlords say tenants on Universal Credit have rent arrears

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Ministers line their pockets as landlords while claiming public money to pay their own rent

Eight of Boris Johnson’s cabinet ministers are leeching money from the public to pay their own rent while acting as landlords themselves, renting out properties to others.

Last year they claimed a total of £145,838 back from taxpayers for ­properties they live in while in London.

While there is nothing illegal in what these people are doing, let us remember that they belong to a party that has consistently filibustered attempts to reform the private accommodation rental sector.

So, for example, Tories talked out a private members’ bill to prevent so-called “revenge” evictions (and the MPs doing the talking were themselves landlords).

And the same landlords also blocked plans to force landlords to ensure their properties are fit for human habitation.

So the following people are living it up, having co-operated in forcing tenants across the country to put up with substandard living conditions or be evicted.

Here’s the list:

Defence secretary Ben Wallace claimed £27,550 for rent in 2018/19 but lets out a flat in south-west London.

Minister without portfolio and Tory Party chairman James Cleverly billed taxpayers £14,400 while letting out a house in Lewisham, south-east London – just seven miles from Westminster.

Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry claimed £13,050 for rent while getting income from three houses in Anglesey.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns claimed £18,900 for rent but let a ­property in Cardiff to tenants.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed £11,310 while earning income from two cottages in his Dumfries and Galloway constituency.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis charged £21,795 while renting out his home in Essex.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox charged £22,680 while letting a property in London and farmland in west Devon.

And Chief Whip Mark Spencer claimed £16,153 for hotels while pocketing rent on a farm.

On top of their £79,468 MPs’ salaries, ministers receive at least £31,680 for extra responsibilities.

Source: Eight ministers in Boris Johnson’s cabinet lining their pockets as landlords – Mirror Online

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