How to Create Mass Homelessness the George Osborne Way

Cardboard2This week’s move by George Osborne to cap benefit rises below inflation at 1% is the final deadly touch in a toxic series of measures likely to lead to unprecedented homelessness in the UK.

The Chancellor’s decision came in the same week that Crisis released a report warning that street homelessness has risen by a shocking 23% in just one year.  Every other measure of homelessness has also soared recently with the numbers of homeless families in temporary accommodation up by 44%

These steep rises in numbers of those without a home have come before the impact of coalition cuts to Housing Benefits have largely been felt.

There will be a considerable lag before people made homeless end up either on the streets or presenting as homeless with local councils.  Many local authorities will not even accept a homelessness application until someone has been formally evicted from their home.  This means many of those affected by the last year’s Housing Benefit cap will be waiting to be evicted before they can get help from the council – and no doubt building up significant debts whilst they wait.

The Housing Benefit cap was implemented depending on when claimants made their initial claim for the benefit, meaning some people will only have seen benefits slashed in the last couple of months.  It is likely that virtually none of the recorded rises in homelessness seen so far are due to the vicious cuts to housing benefits, but simply the predictable consequences of a fucked economy.

The new rules for those under 35 – which mean that Housing Benefit will only pay for a room in a shared house – are likely to have now come into force for most claimants.  Once again there will be a lag before many affected are picked up in the homelessness figures.  Younger people make up one of the largest groups of ‘hidden homeless’, generally those sleeping on friend’s sofas or squatting.  For some this temporary support is enough, but for others it can be the start of a decline which ultimately leads to the streets.

Squatting recently became illegal in even abandoned ‘residential’ properties, so this vital lifeline has been cut short.

Next April the overall benefit cap of £500 a week is introduced – no matter where someone lives or the size of their families.  This will make much of the South East of England unaffordable for those on benefits with children.  If this wasn’t enough the Bedroom Tax, to be introduced at the same time, will see housing benefits cut for people who have a spare room for a carer, or happen to have children who have just left home.

For those hit by this measure, the path to finally losing homes will be long and drawn out.  Claimants living on just £70 a week unemployment benefit could find themselves paying £10, 20 or even more each week towards their rent.  Few will be able to manage without falling into arrears.

Many people are already paying a significant amount towards rent out of meagre benefits after the Government down-rated Housing Benefit payments to the bottom 30% of the housing market.  Just three out of ten properties in any local area are now affordable to those on benefits. Previously Housing Benefit would cover the bottom 50% of rents in the market, so some claimants are stuck in properties which housing benefits won’t pay for and are desperately trying to cover the shortfall themselves.

It is impossible to predict how many people may find themselves homeless over the next two or three years due to the Government’s cuts.   The Government themselves estimate 50,000 families will be affected by next year’s benefit cap alone.  According to the Children’s Society this could mean 80,000 more homeless children from next April.

It will not just be those on benefits affected by the changes.  Housing Benefit is an in work benefit and an increasing number of claimants have full time jobs.  The so called fall in unemployment has really just been a rise in workfare, sanctions and part time work.  Economic conditions alone would be enough to trigger a housing crisis in an increasingly unaffordable rental market combined with sky-high unemployment.

But the Government aren’t content to stop there.  George Osborne’s latest cuts will ensure that the mass exodus into hostels and B&Bs or onto the streets, is now enshrined within the welfare system.  Housing Benefit will no longer be pegged to the local rental market, or even inflation as had been first announced in 2010.  Despite rocketing rents in some parts of the UK,  Housing Benefit will now only rise at a rate of 1% a year.

To place this in context, it has been estimated that London rents soared by 32% in the last three years.  A property which cost £200 a week in 2009 now costs on average £264.  Under Osborne’s new measures,the amount of Housing Benefit available for that property would have risen by just £6.  Even outside of London rents have risen 7% over three years, so someone in a £150 a week property would need to find an extra £6 a week out of their benefits.

This is £6 a week is on top of the shortfall many people already face due to the cuts and before the benefit cap/bedroom tax have been introduced.  Crisis estimate the average shortfall facing many Housing Benefit claimants is £23 a week.  When Universal Credit is introduced, those on benefits or low incomes may also lose some  Council Tax benefit .  In the worst case scenario, people on Job Seekers Allowance could find themselves paying out almost half of their £70 a week in rent and Council Tax.

Half a million benefit sanctions were handed out last year, which leave  claimants forced to live on £42 a week ‘Hardship Payments’ – and only then if they qualify.  When Universal Credit is introduced the number of sanctioned claims is expected to rise.   Rent payments are usually still covered during a sanction, but housing benefit often needs to be re-applied for.  This can take considerable time and lead to arrears and even eviction.  As Housing Benefits increasingly don’t pay the rent, claimants living on £42 a week, could see the bulk of it swallowed up by trying to keep a roof over their heads.

And even those paltry benefit rates are to face a cut in real terms, along with in work benefits such as Working and Child Tax Credits.

It is scandalous that so much of the benefits bill ends up in the pocket of grasping landlords.  It is a tragedy just how much social housing provision has been eroded by successive governments. But Housing Benefit is the most vital and life-saving part of the benefits system – keeping a roof over the heads of low paid, sick, disabled, unemployed or retired people alike along with millions of children.

It is not our fault the housing market is so fucked and that rents are unaffordable.  Whilst the pampered middle classes gushed about their property prices in the house market boom and buy to let landlords pushed up rents to new heights a social time-bomb was being created which housing benefit ended up paying for.

The victims of rampant property speculation and soaring rents are now to be punished again as Housing Benefits are stripped away.  For every latte slurping Tarquin’s property portfolio, there is now a family of homeless children whose lives have been destroyed before they have barely even begun.

86 responses to “How to Create Mass Homelessness the George Osborne Way

  1. Pingback: How to Create Mass Homelessness the George Osborne Way | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  2. When do they start giving you your rent money in with your benefit?

    If people are going hungry there’s the answer, you live off that.

    Thus going into massive debt, which you are not able to pay off and so you end up onto the streets.

  3. This is all so sad, I won’t put it into words but I know what I would do to these empty properties residential empty 2nd homes or otherwise. The homeless are now forced to use their imagination – there is more than one way to tackle a problem especially in the winter.

  4. He doesn,t care at all !!! rich toffee nosed, arrogant slug !!! low life uncaring scumbag.

    • The tories have never been a caring party, now they have more fascists in their cabinet they might simply start wearing black shirts and goose-stepping during public holiday functions. They only serve the rich, they even consider the working middle classes with no greater respect than the mentally and physically disabled or Unemployed. Ironically people who are in work and law abiding, paying tax and so forth may deeply begrudge doing so for this party who has no respect for the citizens of the UK, people bust their humps to pay tax so they can live better, not help this country run better.

      Check this out…..

  5. We are not talking evictions here we are talking pogroms, this is social manipulation by all parties who are still trying to resurrect a defunct housing market by manipulation. Guess who will be suffering the worst possible scenario?

  6. You’ve missed out the changes to Council Tax, which may be dealt with differently from Council to Council, but as an example where I live it will mean that people on benefits will have to pay a minimum 25% of Council Tax

  7. The bedroom tax will have a particularly cruel effect on sick and disabled people, 420,000 of whom are likely to be affected. See our work on this at and the comments below the line. This and all the other changes, reforms and cuts will cause untold suffering and misery – see also I am so, so angry and feel so utterly powerless to do anything to help.

    • I agree 100% on this one it will have to be scrapped because it does indeed breach peoples human rights, much of this is still very much in pencil rather than ink and should some of these crazy reforms happen there will be an absolute riot and if the government are too stupid to not understand people can only be pushed around so much then they will clearly learn the hard way without doubt, they cannot be immune from the decisions they make. This one would be aboslutely unworkable and unacceptable on too many levels, there is much scare-mongering and much speculation at this stage, i do suggest people who are worried to contact their local CAB, many have drop-in days through the week even if they cannot get a voice on the phone, a messaage and number can be left and they will get back to you.

  8. Can’t pay. Won’t pay. Get ready to fight. Chip pans at the ready for the bailiffs. Fuck ’em. They want it? They got it.

  9. What does anyone expect from people who gain pleasure, fun and gratification from hunting down and torturing harmless defenseless animals, they call it sport, I call it sadism. What does all this tell you as to how they see us, we are just sport to them…

    “Sadism is the derivation of pleasure as a result of inflicting pain, cruelty, degradation, or humiliation, or, watching such behaviors inflicted on others.”

  10. Johnny what was this ‘bond’ intiative in november to deal with rough sleepers and problem families. It would save tax payers money and it was a pay by results scheme where voluntary charity philanthropic persons or companirs can help rough sleepers in some way. It didnt explain how. But i did read that last year that housing associations were taking over refuge and shelters and hostels.
    It means more business for them and more income for the bosses.

    Where i am the hostel has been taken over by housing association. The hostel administes care to residents , something this new housing association who now runs it have no experience of , and so have cut the staff numbers. Leaving residents without care.

    The destitution market.. Dont you just love it?

  11. Many people just don’t know what is going to hit them next year and by then it will be to late.I know i am unemployed and our children are buying their own homes i have 2 bedrooms according to the council,really only one spare due to various conditions we sleep in different rooms.
    I don’t know what we can do nobody seems to care so we are on our own as a previous comment says “can’t pay,Get ready for a fight Chip pans at the ready for the bailiffs”etc
    I know have to fight! we have no more money spare for these extras unless i don’t pay the water bill.gas and electric, perhaps this is the way, hit the private sector so they start bitching and when they bitch they Bitch.

  12. This is not their final throw of the dice.
    Already they are talking about the next round of cuts.
    This is the end of the benefits system. The end of the nhs. The end of social progress.
    The survival of the greediest.
    The end.

    • Try and avoid scare-mongering, there may be some rather sensitive people who come here maybe thinking they can get empowerment but may not be able to take the speculation and negative anticipations of individuals thinking, it can be the difference between a mother smothering her kids and killing herself out of sheer hopelessness, or hoping for a brighter day tomorrow.. just one potential scenario. Some people when they stare into the abyss and see nothing but blackness may at times make irrational decisons such as that. Nobody wants these scenarios and be buggered if anyone should allow the sick government to induce a climate of hopelessness out of people who become victims of circumstance.

  13. I am serious. Pay nothing. Fight back. A roof over your head is not a luxury.
    It is a basic right. Basic.
    Boil the oil.

  14. ” When you got nuthin’
    You got nuthin’ to lose. “

  15. This isnt just an argument about left or right or whether corporation tax avoiders have contributed to this austerity. Its the poverty pimp and destitution ‘market’ . A system whereby people are profiteering from the misery and distress of others.

  16. Homelessness and poverty are breeding grounds for disease. Viruses don’t discriminate between rich and poor they just kill both. America is just finding this out with incurable TB among the homelessness; you reap what you sow.

  17. If housing associations are supposed to be charities let them take the slack of rent arrears once the 1year discretionary payments (if there are any)
    that govt. is supposed to be providing runs out.

  18. It is still soooooooo sad, just remember if you are homeless and on the streets this winter, stay warm – there is a way!

  19. Who profits from charities? certainly not the people they were designed for.
    Mickj like jv says it will be a long drawn out process before eviction starts, they will send in the baliffs for the rent arrears or your belongings before they turf you out with nothing, while these ex council working government lackey’s in the housing offices feather their own nests.

  20. The only contacts they have is in their eyes. Perhaps sibrydiomawr’s guardian readers with come up with the charity donations!

    • The above is just a variation of “Workfare”.

      • So what are the pretend jobs about?
        Workfare behind closed doors?

        • bobchewie,

          Its all about the mindset of they who rule us, let me explain the mindset to you…

          They would NEVER have gone to war with Germany in 1939, they thought that Hitler was one of them, they thought that he could be controlled, a few others like Churchill also thought what Hilter was doing was “absolutely fantastic”, but, they had realised that Hitler was not one of them, they knew he was the ultimate loner and wanted to be ALL powerful (read up on what Hitler done to his brown shirts when they wanted more say and power). Churchill and a few others knew he could not be trusted, that one day he would turn against the UK, and when he did the first to be put against the wall would have been them. Even when it became apparent that Churchill and a few others were correct there were some that would not believe it was so, Halifax was one of those, another was King Edward VIII. Also read up about Rudolf Hess, “flew to Scotland”, what was that really about, to this day no one really knows ?.

          “Halifax’s friend, Henry (Chips) Channon, reported: “He told me he liked all the Nazi leaders, even Goebbels, and he was much impressed, interested and amused by the visit. He thinks the regime absolutely fantastic.”

          bobchewie, its their mindset, they hate and want to destroy anyone who is not off their mindset.

  21. “Cartoon depicting capitalists and landlords versus workers”

  22. “The Shettleston eviction case
    Wild scenes – factor’s house stoned – women pickets – eviction not yet attempted : But Kitchener refuses assistance”

  23. “Cartoon comparing the fate of politicians and working men”

  24. Thanks for those links annos, the ILP brought the plight of those facing homelessness to the forefront of govt. New labour of today have joined in with the tories in condemning unemployed people or wanting to divide them into the deserving or undeserving poor.

  25. something survived...

    Rent £65 per week, JSA £71 and HB was £38 now £25. Total £96 per week.
    Leaves £31p/w for all bills and everything else (good job I have disability bus pass as a weekly ticket now £20). After paying bills I’ve a notional £5-£10 per week left for food. Without putting myself in debt each month I was on £10 actual money left monthly for food, but that was about 4 years ago. Now in debt each month as I have to hold back rent in order to pay bills and buy food. Fucking government ministers probably think £10 is fine for a drink or dessert…JUST paid my rent in instalments, that was the remainder. But owe college fees, and some debt company wants money for stuff I never got sent…
    Just to say the government are clueless wankers with no idea how much things cost. They don’t know how much a pint of milk is because somebody buys it for them. _I_ don’t know how much it is because I can’t afford to buy it any more. Tossers!
    On starvation diets how are we to find the energy to jobsearch?

  26. Click onto any picture on this site and it they will enlarge…

  27. Bob Chewie

    Your links to inside housing and social housing asking the public to report any comments as unsuitable or offensive is offensive in itself – it does not ask do you agree with the comments, which are from people complaining about the system and the charities themselves, which are actually promoting the intervention of social teams whether justified or not, labelling the said victims and disrupting their lives by mental health sectioning, removing children from parents who have been made homeless through no fault of their own and putting elderly into bedsits. These charities need boycotting and closing down along with the so called social services that are helping them with their negative agenda’s.

    • Sure i agree there i didnt get to the comments bit sorry.

      But two bits i wanted to draw attention to was:
      Corporation watch item last year.

      Which was about who profits from homelessness.

      Re housing assoc bosses and my concern about housing assocs taking over hostels etc

      Next as i havent totally explained its what i cal these ‘pretend’ jobs i came across. Which i shall explain for anyone. Ive already posted wuotes about it already.

    • Sorry but i have to interject there. You see you have touched on a matter i am familiar with re social services. Because where i am they have been replaced by housing assoc.

      The original social services was about care.
      But since its linked to hostel ie homeless. Thats why its been taken over by housing assoc. and the care bit left out or dropped.

  28. Sorry about the pretend jobs bobchewie but I don’t know anything about this subject so cannot comment, but I have always believed there were made up jobs going back under Blairs new deal rules. I believe such bogus companies were being used to keep the unemployed on the hop under the guise of teaching them interviewing skills – as for a job from the employer, there wasn’t one.

    • No guy fawkes this is much more cleverer than that. Ok here it goes. Just think of a ‘virtual job’ ok?

      That is ( i kid you not) a mock up of a real workplace ( no cost to the employer at all!)
      Whereby candidates can play at being at work, thing is this.. Are they doing real work ie are they in fact actually carrying out the companies actual business but not on the actual premises.. If so then you got workfare all nicely hidden away out of sight.

  29. ps I telephoned corporation watch a couple of months back about my illegal detention in a mental hospital and they asked me would i like to relate my tale in their magazine, I declined as I’d already plastered it over the internet anyway – again these are charities set up to highlight issues but as far as I can see do nothing except keep themselves out of the dole queue – I will apologize if I am wrong about corporate watch but they offered me little practical help.

    • Thats a pity because that and other items were bang on the money when it came to situation familiar to myself. The clue is the reduction in staffing levels. 4 ppl doing job of twenty odd. And yet when they bidded for contract they included care as part of the deal. That seemed left out of the equation after they got it.

      • Funny that one of the oldest tricks to destroy a countries economy is to “parachute” in money (even the Nazis tried this).

  30. Probably care was left out of the equation because as you say hostels and social services, are all centralised around social housing now. From a personal point of view I am not looking for care, I am looking for justice against detentions, false medical reporting about me, the cuts in benefits causing homelessness etc., the care sector of it wants to label you VULNERABLE, INCOMPETENT, LEARNING DIFFICULTIES, SOCIALLY CHALLENGED, all derogatory terms and in my case were totally untrue. What people are is FINANCIALLY CHALLENGED due to marriage breakdown, homelessness due to direct benefit cuts and justifiable anger at patronizing charities and it’s exponents.

    • Sure cant argue with that. Having said that there are residents who sadly are mentally ill.
      They are on meds and believe me there behaviour is very far from normal. Eg shouting out loud gibberish all night. And deranged laughter etc etc to name but a few symptoms.

  31. I am well aware there are those termed mentally ill, I met some of them while detained in the so called hospital, but I think they were more angry and frustrated human beings hitting out against a system that works against them. I most certainly would not want to diminish the faith some people put in psychiatry if they consider it to be helpful towards them or their conditions, but as far as I am concerned they and the system made me ill, not the other way around. Using the mental health services to lock away and silence those that have legitimate grievances, I consider to be an abuse of power and is to be condemned, not supported.

  32. ok chewie by name chewie by nature.

  33. This video gets more and more interesting and depressing, you have to watch until the end…

  34. Fucking hell, Is guy fawkes actually me posting in my sleep?
    My story strikes tear jerking parallels to yours by the sound of things.
    Except now i actually AM mentally ill. – Oh no, im not, i forgets, my probation officer kindly argued that to me one day, according to the ministry of justice- or more likely the definition concocted solely by this educated beyond their intelligence twat- mental illness is defined by the sufferer being treated by medication. If you ain’t medicated, you ain’t ill.
    Hmm, if you read my medical notes, you’d find that the meds were actually sending me doo-fucking-lally, leading to the act that got me arrested and sentenced – and a real life medically qualified and certified psychiatrist suggested cessation of medication unless absolutely necessary in favour of other treatment.
    Anyhow, i got out the nuthouse and a place in a Hostel was arranged.. £27 per week “Service Charge” out of your pocket, and a fucking eye watering charge of £275 P/W, paid for with housing benefit.
    Fuck me, HB wouldn’t pay above £81 per week for the house i lost that sent me on my downward spiral.

    Anyhoooooooo despite the single plastic bed, living in a box where you couldnt swing a cat, no vistors, 2 abysmal meals per day, ridiculous invasions of privacy i conducted myself rather well in the hostel, never missing a payment of ” Service Charge” despite the DWP finding numerous creative ways not to pay me, never taking the piss with meals or laundry, never causing trouble, and sometimes being the voice of reason and calming down fights among other frustrated inmates in a regime that was tantamount to open prison, but with worse food, I got myself sort of off my arse and found myself a Neo-Rachman private rental dump to try and rebuild a life from.
    Hmmm whats this in the post? A bill for £68? From Stonham group? Why, goes out the question.
    For a whole TWO days while i got the flat, housing benefit wasn’t paid to Stonham group.
    Well, Stonham, you can kiss my fucking brown eye if you think your getting a brass centime from me. And trust me, ill not wipe beforehand…

    • The trouble with the hostel thing is that hostels are now being taken over by housing associations where the directors are awarding themselves huge salary increases as they hace gained more contracts. However ‘care’ has dropped out of the equasion as part of tge contract. Whether deliberate or not i am not sure. But staff cuts have been happening as result thats for sure. To them care has merged with homelessness so now part of tge destitution market as its now referred to.

  35. I left Stonham and took the trouble to nip in and pay off the £11 or so of service charge i owed, i thought “well, don’t burn your bridges over a few quid, i never in my wildest imagination concieved id ever end up in here, it happened once it could happen again”
    Well, i coughed up, gathered up my meager possessions and went to the office expecting the proffered “Food Parcel” you was promised upon leaving.
    Nada. Zip. Fuck all.
    So i was cast adrift with 11 quid less from a paltry sum the DWP deemed i was entitled to ( I seem to recall having £80 or so for 2 weeks ) in to an empty, furnitureless, foodless flat. I wasn’t entitled to the grants that are offered to some for basic furniture etc, but hey ho, i have a roof, i had a doss bag id used in the hostel so as not to stick to the plastic mattress. Im a resourceful fucker when allowed to be, on the next benefit payday i secured a bed, sofa and chest of draws for the princely some of £20 delivered. Cushty.

    So i aint got much, but what’s mine is mine, and im fully prepared for the eventuality of losing it all again.
    And, if i do, i promise you.
    Never again will those cunts profit from my misfortune. I’ll sleep in a cardboard filled skip before i lower myself to that level of indignity again

    • Its called the destitution market sadly. Housing associations taking over hostels licence to print money. Scam jobs fake jobs nonces pretend jobs you name it. So far this is the only growth that has been noticed.

  36. Ulysses

    You don’t say how old you are, but I know the under 35’s only get a percentage of their housing benefit paid under present rules and that the under 25’s are going to have all of their housing benefit withdrawn both of which is absolutely disgraceful, where are they supposed to go? Not only can a lot of them not go home, at 25 years old, they want their independence anyway. This government is depriving them of the independence of a decent paid job and a safe secure place to live the sicko’s.

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    The misery poverty and homelessness that the Welfare Cuts will and have caused are nothing new to the Welfare system ,but what of those that are of No Fixed Abode already within the system .Unbeknown to the public all claimants claiming of NFA were paid on a daily basis over the counter these payments where to pay for daily living expenses .Part of the Salvation Army went PLC some years ago and is run on a commercial basis .Now you have to make an appointment during weekdays to be admitted if you fit certain criteria and pay on a daily rate unless accepted and become long term .
    In these weather conditions how many die through hypothermia ,where is the so called safety net for these people .The new system is so flawed it is beyond belief ,the dire consequences of implementing this system has far more reaching repercussions than just reducing benefits .

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