Category Archives: Housing and Homelessness

Beggars To Be Grassed Up To DWP On New Scheme, Can The Salvation Army Sink Any Lower?

jesus-beggar3

The entire homelessness industry has questions to answer about how they are treating those they claim to support, but none has sunk so low as Jesus’ little fucking helpers in the Salvation Army.

A local paper in York reports that the Salvation Army are now teaming up with the police in a scheme which will could see homeless people grassed up  to the DWP if they are caught begging.

According to the paper, Salvation Army members, along with the police and local council busy-bodies will be patrolling the streets of York hunting for beggars.  The charity claim they will provide housing advice whilst the police will be ‘reminding people’ that begging is against the law, no doubt by arresting them.  Not to be outdone, representatives from York Council say they will inform the DWP if people found begging are receiving any benefits.  Which means their benefits will be stopped.  And they’ll have to beg more.

None of this will trouble the Salvation Army, who are quite happy to have people’s benefits sanctioned themselves should someone refuse to work without pay in one of their shit charity shops.  Some charities have warned that benefit sanctions are causing people to beg just to be able to buy food.  This latest initiative will ensure that in York at least, anyone sanctioned by the Salvation Army and forced to beg will now face harassment and possible arrest under a scheme part run by the same Salvation Army.  A vicious noose is being tied around the neck of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the UK.  And everyday some of the UK’s best known charities help pull it a little bit tighter.

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DWP And Homelessness Charities Link Up To Bully Homeless Benefit Claimants

HomelessThe homelessness industry is today welcoming an upcoming change in the law which could see homeless people forced to live in unsuitable or unsafe accommodation or face losing eligibility for benefits.

Homeless Link and St Mungo’s Broadway have published a gushing press release cheering amendments to the rules for Jobseeker’s Allowance set to come into force next month.  The changes mean that newly homeless people may only be considered meeting the criteria for benefits if they take “such steps as are reasonable for him (sic) to take to find living accommodation.”

Homeless people will have an easement of jobseeking requirements if they follow these conditions, but this will usually only last four weeks, despite the average length of hostel stays being significantly longer than that.  The minimum length of stay in one of St Mungo’s Central London hostels is eight weeks, with most residents staying an average of six to nine months.  The so-called easement period will be granted only at the discretion of Jobcentre busy-bodies and will not apply to people who have been homeless for a long time.

This trivial concession has been won by the homelessness industry in exchange for a yet further extensions of Jobcentre powers over the lives of some of the most marginalised claimants.  Overpaid charity bosses have been working for a long time with various government bodies and local authorities to establish the homelessness industry as a sort of soft police force aiming to clear the streets of those destitute.  Instead of analysing why mass homelessness exists, which is first and foremost an economic problem, it has been assumed that there must be something wrong with homeless people, something that can be cured.  This is no different to the current thinking at the DWP which blames unemployed people for unemployment and it is vile.

The main way to cure people of homelessness, charity bosses believe, is to move everyone off the streets into one of their hostels. Of course they will still be technically homeless but at least the charity gets a huge Housing Benefit cheque every week. These hostels have slightly improved over recent years but they can still be dangerous and hostile places.  The rules and regulations are endless, bullying can be rife, they are often riddled with heavy drug use and evictions can happen at the drop of a hat and for the most trivial reasons.  Yet under the new regulations a newly homeless claimant who turns down a hostel place will now not be considered for the easement period.  If they are then judged unable to meet benefit conditions, which could include workfare, they will face sanctions or possibly even be disallowed benefits completely.  Homelessness charity bosses are either extremely fucking naive or have quite another agenda if they honestly believe this will be better for homeless people, who do not appear to have been consulted about the changes.  They never are.

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Housing Minister Encourages Landlords To Breach Discrimination Laws

no-dssThe invisible Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has said it is “perfectly legitimate” for landlords to refuse to rent to people on Housing Benefits despite serious doubts about the legality of this practice.

Hopkins was being interviewed by Panorama, who this week revealed that the number of people who have become homeless due to a private tenancy coming to an end has trebled over the last five years.  The investigation featured buy-to-let scum Fergus Wilson who earlier in the year announced he planned to evict all of his 200 Housing Benefit tenants due to concerns about rent arrears related to welfare reforms.  This is just fine according to skiving Housing Minister Hopkins who said:  “If they actually decide they don’t want to have somebody on housing benefit in the future, that’s a perfectly legitimate thing for them to do.”

The problem is that it almost certainly isn’t under the Equalities Act – not that anyone seems to care.  As the Legal Director of Human Rights group Liberty explains here, if it can be shown that disabled people are more likely to be on benefits than non-disabled people then the policy of ‘No DSS’ is almost certainly illegal.

For those on out of work benefits due to sickness or disability then this becomes easily proven.  It is hopefully only a matter of time before someone claiming Employment Support Allowance brings a case against a landlord for this form of economic and disablist discrimination.  The landlord’s defence is likely to point out that the government’s Housing Minister said this practice was just fine.  Hopkins was once called Parliament’s ‘nastiest slimiest MP’ by one of his former colleagues.  If this is the sort of shit he comes out with when he can actually be arsed to show up for work then the cunt should stay in bed.

HT – Landless Peasant

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Hundreds of Thousands Of Households Staring Homelessness in The Face

neighbor-homelessHundreds of thousands of households, many of them with children, are staring homelessness in the face as a direct result of Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled welfare reforms.

Recently released figures show that just under 400,000 households received Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) in 2013/14.  These payments are the sticking plaster used to cover up savage cuts to housing benefits and prevent soaring homelessness in  the run up to the election.  Many of the payments, which are administered by Local Authorities, are being used to meet rent shortfalls due to the Bedroom Tax.

The figures do not show how long people have been given awards for, other than around 15,000 ongoing payments being granted to foster families and disabled people in adapted accommodation hit by the Bedroom Tax or other cuts.  They do show however that over 100,000 families were given short term help until they ‘move into alternative accommodation’.  These represent people forced out of their homes due to Welfare Reforms.  How many have had to uproot children from school and move to new cities is not recorded, and neither is whether they actually secured alternative accommodation or are now living in temporary housing.

Over 20,000 households have received DHPs due to the impact of the Benefit Cap.  This is almost half the total of families affected by the cap on Housing Benefits which makes much of London and the South East unaffordable for those out of work.  The main reason the Benefit Cap has not yet caused the exodus from London, and the expected spike in the number of homeless families, is because lots of people’s benefits haven’t actually been capped yet.  Instead housing costs are now being paid in the most complicated and precarious way possible by Local Authorities.

This makes a mockery of Iain Duncan Smith’s claim to have simplified the benefits system.  Every local authority has different rules about who and why someone can receive DHPs creating a postcode lottery for claimants.  As this week’s figures show, some Councils have massively overspent their DHP allowances, but several others have underspent.  Some twat with a clipboard now makes a decision on whether to condemn people to homelessness, based on the whims of whichever bunch of bastards happens to be running the council at the time.

One thing is for sure which is that this mess is costing a fortune.  Whilst lying bastard Lord Fraud desperately tried to mangle the figures, almost £200 million has been spent on DHPs in the last year.  That’s on top of the huge costs administering the sweeping changes to Housing Benefits which ran to approaching £50 million for the Benefit Cap alone.  This figure also does not include Housing Benefit now being paid out to people forced out of social housing due to the Bedroom Tax and into the vastly more expensive private rented sector.  And of course no-one’s really counting the cost of housing people in temporary accommodation, such as hostels or B&Bs after they have been made homeless by Housing Benefit cuts.

Once again the facts are as stark as they are unarguable.  Changes to Housing Benefits have led to desperate housing insecurity.  What this means is in practice is families unable to plan for the future, children going to bed at night frightened of losing their homes or desperate stress and worry for disabled people receiving help with the Bedroom Tax and knowing that support could be removed at any time.  It is utterly inhumane, breath-takingly inept and costing the tax payer a fortune.  Just another day at the office then for the fucking idiots currently in charge of the DWP.

You can view the figures at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments-2013-to-2014

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MP’s Scrounging Is Out Of Control: Cap Esther McVey’s Housing Benefit

generation-rentMPs are being handed huge subsidies to rent second homes in London whilst thousands of the capital’s poorest residents are being socially cleansed due to slashed benefits and soaring rents.

Unemployment Minister Esther McVey claimed a whopping £17,227 last year to rent a swanky central London pad whilst invisible Housing Minster Kris Hopkins trousered £18,045.

The total bill for MPs languishing in luxury properties at our expense came to over £5 million says pressure group Generation Rent who compiled the figures.

The maximum Housing Benefit available in London is just over £250 a week for a single person, around £100 a week less than McVey scrounges.  This benefit goes to people in and out of work alike and was capped shortly after the current government weren’t elected.  Soaring rents in London have meant that many new housing benefit claimants are working full time but still cannot afford the eye-watering cost of living in the capital.

Previously ministers, including Iain Duncan Smith, have claimed that there are plenty of properties still available in London to those affected by the cap.  So why can’t McVey live in one of those instead of living on hand outs?

McVey earns far too much already to be eligible for housing benefit and in any case it is not payable for second homes, even if you claim you need them for work.  She can easily afford to pay her own rent and if not then any state support she receives should be capped at the same level she expects everyone else to survive on.  It’s about making the system fair after all, and it might even incentivise McVey to get a real job for once in her miserable life.

Above graph taken from an infographic produced by Generation Rent, for the full image visit their website

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The Private Rental Sector Is Out of Control And The Solution is Obvious

landlordsFor millions of the UK’s poorest people, the biggest weekly expense by far is the cost of buying someone much richer than them a house.  Almost 4 million people now rent privately and many will live their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have a secure home.  The gradual demolition of the social housing sector combined with buy-to-let vultures gobbling up low cost houses will only entrench this monstrous future.

No-one was ever asked whether this is a future anyone wants.  Instead it is presented as inevitable – this is just something the free-market is doing to us that we have no control over.  This is neo-liberal ideology at its most insidious.  The only ones who benefit from the majority of the population living in insecure private rented housing are landlords and property investers.  Therefore no alternative can even be imagined.  It is a done deal and so the rich get richer and our lives get shitter.

This illusion is constantly re-enforced by those who benefit.  Landlords will pull out of the market if tenants are given more rights they shrilly proclaim – as if buy-to-letters are all going to start paying their own mortages for a change.  To back this up new laws are created, such as the ban on squatting in abandoned residential properties.  If this law was removed then landlords leaving thousands of homes empty would almost certainly lead to the kind of squatting movement that was seen both after the second world war and in the 1970s when entire streets were squatted by homeless families.  That is why no major political party opposed the squatting ban, the free-market must be protected with laws as well as lies.

The Labour Party is happy with this consensus.  Ed Milliband talks about flimsy rights for private tenants, but never council houses for everyone that needs one.  That even these wet proposals were met with howls of outrage from landlords reveal a private rented sector that is now out of control.  Buy-to-let landlords even complain that the money they make from rents barely even allows them to make a decent profit, nimbly forgetting that they are not only also being bought a property, but that someone is paying them to live in it and look after it for them.  These parasites seem to think that houses are free, probably because they are if you’re rich and immoral enough to convince a bank to give you a buy-to-let mortgage.

In truth nothing shows up the failure of the free-market run rampant then the private rental sector.  Rents are now so high that the tax payer spends billions each year topping up the rent of even those in work via Housing Benefit. We are paying a fortune to keep landlords rich, whilst thousands still go homeless.  The idea that a competitive market leads to the best for consumers is rendered laughable by the private rental sector.  It is the customer, the tenant,  who has to compete, jumping through endless hoops and shelling out a fortune just to get a roof over their heads.  Landlords don’t increase profits by improving the service they offer, but by failing to carry out repairs, hiking rents and evicting anyone who complains.  On some of the many internet forums devoted to landlords the contempt they hold for their tenants is staggeringly apparent, especially if they happen to rent to people on benefits.  No other business would dare treat their customers this way.

Landlords discriminate at will.  The vile No Blacks No Irish No Dogs of the past has been replaced with No DSS, which in practice means no lone parents, no disabled people, no unemployed people, or put more simply no-one poor.  This is probably illegal, but no-one seems to care how landlords behave.  A survey carried out by the government in 2010 found that almost half of private rental sector housing failed to meet the Decent Homes Standards.  Many did not even meet the very minimum health and safety standards required for housing.  Don’t expect the Government to do anything about this, they believe that ‘peer pressure’ is better than regulation to manage private sector landlords.

From shortly after the second world war up until 1980  millions of council houses were built in England, Scotland and Wales.   The answer to the housing crisis is boringly obvious.  But instead of low cost secure social housing we get offered hugely expensive  ‘affordable rents’ that no-one can afford.  The so-called Living Wage isn’t even enough to pay Affordable Rents in many parts of the UK where they can run as high as several hundred pounds a week.  The situation would be laughable if it wasn’t such a fucking disgrace and didn’t cause such acute suffering.

And yet not one of the politicians who claims to represent us will even consider any alternative to this profit-crazed exploitation of our most basic human need – a safe, secure and genuinely affordable home.  This is hardly surprising.  Around a third of MPs are landlords themselves.  They really are all fucking in it together.

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One Million Housing Benefit Claimants Who Are Officially ‘Employed’ Makes A Mockery Of The Fall In Unemployment

housing-benefit-graphThe number of people with jobs forced to claim Housing Benefit hit record levels according to the latest figures making a mockery of the so-called fall in unemployment.

The number of in-work Housing Benefit claimants now stands at over 1.049 million, the highest figure on record.  In May 2010, when this Government weren’t elected, the number claiming this benefit was just over 650,000.

Housing Benefit is probably the best indicator of how many people in the UK are poor.  Available to those in or out of work, as well as pensioners, the only criteria are being a tenant on a low income and having low, or no, assets or savings.  Even those with jobs on Housing Benefit will have a disposable income little higher than someone on out of work benefits, as the benefit is reduced as earnings rise.  All of the Housing Benefit bill goes to landlords, and the rates are capped at the bottom 30% of properties in the local rental market.

Both the press and politicians are finally questioning whether the fall in unemployment is masked by a huge increase in the number of self-employed people who are barely scraping an income.  People are known to have been encouraged to come off unemployment benefits and claim the lower rate of  Working Tax Credits by companies running Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare-to-work schemes.  These firms receive huge pay outs if they can persuade a claimant to take this risky move, which involves declaring themselves as working at least 30 hours a week towards self-employment.

If this was happening on a large scale then you would expect the number of in-work Housing Benefit claimants to soar.  The same would happen if many of the people now officially ‘employed’ are actually on workfare, or zero hours contracts with sporadic and precarious incomes.  That is exactly what’s happening.  The number of people overall claiming housing benefits hit 5 million households last February and has more or less stayed there ever since.   This is a quarter of a million more than in May 2010 and the figures were at record highs then.  The rise is almost entirely down to claimants who the Government say are working.

If these claimants were actually earning any money, then this would be seen in the average weekly Housing Benefit claim for those in work.  As previously mentioned, the benefit is cut as incomes rise, so it could be that people are only claiming a few pounds a week to top up meagre incomes and pay soaring rents.  The figures show however that this is far from the case.  The average weekly Housing Benefit claim for those in work also hit a record high in the latest period and now stands at £90.44 a week.  This is only just under £3 less than the average claim for those out of work.  What this suggests is that most of these working Housing Benefit claimants have full awards, meaning they are only earning a few pounds at most above current unemployment benefit rates.

No matter how much the Government  try to claim that official unemployment has fallen, the number of people who have incomes around the current level of out of work benefits is higher than ever. This is the reality of the recovery for those not enjoying George Osborne’s house price bubble.  And with both in and out of work benefits being haphazardly slashed, not only are more people poor than ever before, but they are getting poorer.

Above graph from the latest DWP Quarterly Statistical Summary (PDF).

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