Higher Rents And Less Council Houses: Osborne’s Blundering Cure For The Housing Crisis

chicago-rent-strikeIn under two weeks hundreds of thousands of the least well off people in the UK will find a shortfall in their Housing Benefits due to the bedroom tax.  At the same time the benefit cap will be introduced in three London boroughs, which will see thousands of London families no longer able to pay the rent.  This chaos is to be extended throughout the UK from July.

Changes to Council Tax benefits also come into effect next month leaving people living on as little as £72 a week (or less in some cases) now eligible to pay Council Tax in many parts of the UK.  The Benefits Uprating Bill currently passing through the House of Lords will see Housing Benefit rises capped at 1%, despite rents rising by over ten times that figure in some areas.  Along with cuts to in and out of work benefits, and the public sector pay freeze, many of the lowest income households are due to see that income shrink on an annual basis.

From October this year Universal Credit will start to be expanded across the UK.  Benefit sanctions, meaning people left with nothing and currently running at about half a million a year, are likely to rise due to ever increasing benefit conditionality.  Hundreds of thousands more are being impoverished by the Atos regime for sickness and disability benefits.  A fifth of disabled people are aset to lose Disability Living Allowance over the coming years.

Universal Credit will feature ‘direct payments’, meaning claimants can no longer have housing benefits sent to direct to landlords.  This had led to rocketing rent arrears everywhere it has been tried as claimants already forced to choose between heating and eating are given a large monthly cash payment to pay the rent.  Instead it pays for nappies, or a broken washing machine, or debt repayments to high street loan sharks.  Housing Associations have warned they are cutting the number of new homes available due to stockpiling cash reserves to pay for the inevitable spate of evictions.  So called ‘affordable’ house building collapsed last year.

Even before these changes every measure of homelessness is rising.  Already many councils can’t cope.  Westminster Council is housing families in £3k a week hotels after they have been evicted due to the housing benefit cuts which have already taken place.

Anyone who has been paying attention will point to both the chronic shortage of council housing and soaring rents as two of the key factors behind the housing crisis.  George Osborne’s answer to the problem is higher rents and less council houses.

Osborne yesterday extended the discount for London tenants who wish to buy their council property to £100,000.  What little social housing remains the Chancellor is desperate to sell off.  Once all right to buy houses sold had to be replaced by a new council house.  This rarely happened in practice, but that was the idea.  But even that has been thrown out of the window.  New homes designed to replace those flogged off will have rents set at 80% of the local market and fixed term tenancies.  The long established tradition of genuinely affordable housing on secure tenancies managed by Local Authorities – and often making them a profit – has been glibly demolished by this Government.

Not content with this Osborne has also introduced a series of measures which risk wildly inflating the housing market even further.  Gideon wants to help more people buy houses by making them more expensive.  His Government backed mortgage subsidy, even available for those looking to purchase half a million pound mansions, is likely to lead to a bonanza for landlords.  Whilst he has claimed this new scheme will not be on offer for specifically ‘buy to let’ mortgages, he seems relaxed about it being available to those who already have one or even more houses.  Which simply means a little paper shuffling on the part of grasping landlords and bankers and the scheme will end up being used to buy properties to rent out.  Or leave empty as in the case of some of the most valuable properties in London, bought up as investments with laundered money and then left uninhabited.

The only predictable outcome to Osborne’s scheme is higher rents in both the  social and private sector.  For now Housing Benefits – meaning tax payers –  will pick up the tab for shoveling billions into the pockets of landlords.  The already much maligned housing benefit bill could be set to soar to levels that can barely be imagined now.

According to The Guardian, Osborne’s plan to avoid this could be to cap social security spending if they win the next election.  Should this happen then it seems inconceivable that the current legal protection to prevent children, pensioners and disabled people from street homelessness could be maintained.   It will be just too expensive.  This is the choice the free market offers on housing.  Tens of thousands of homeless children or tens of billions paid to landlords by the state.

Of course this whole tragic mess could be halted overnight if everybody stopped paying their rent.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

94 responses to “Higher Rents And Less Council Houses: Osborne’s Blundering Cure For The Housing Crisis

  1. “Higher Rents And Less Council Houses”
    Wow, hands up all those like me that didn’t see that one coming.

  2. @johnny void everywhere i look i see ‘luxury apartments’ in stupid places..eg right next to a railway line…most of them are practically empty…
    atm in twickenham there is a development on twickenham railway station..however its held up because the council and developers want to build luxury apartments ontop of the railway station..why? TRAG the local tenants association are furious as its not needed..but luckliy the have been given a 2nd judicial review..so there is some hope..mind you there are some residents there who think social housing means scroungers and troublemakers affecting their precious property values..so its a knife edge situation really..i hope to try and support TRAG if i can in some way…
    the information on this item is on twickerati blog site…

    as some of you know i am trying to move..so all this will affect me..eg the PIP no doubt…

    • something survived...

      Crap Places To Live. What if somebody blows up or sets fire to the train station? Or a train crashes?

  3. to be honest this all sounds like maggies right to buy with a dash of homes for votes thrown in for good measure..

  4. ps.. i hope you liked my health work assessment piece i did on the latest govt new dept they are creating…i was up all night trying to put that lot together..showing what a fucking mess it will be, plus a bit more info on the smart card social fund too…

  5. My local Labour-run council, in a rare stand against some of these mad, ideological housing policies, has stated it has no intention of moving to fixed-term tenancies and will continue with lifetime tenancies. Alas, that’s about as far as they seem to want to go, so we can expect the whole gamut of Tory anti-social housing to come down on us like the proverbial ton of bricks.

    Time to fight back – or it’s a return to the Victorian era for the lot of us. Only the Borg think resistance is futile!

    • People had “lifetime” awards of DLA, turns out that means absolutely NOTHING, anything is as the government of the day says it is.

  6. I can’t afford the bedroom tax and I won’t be paying it. I wish everybody would do the same as in Clydeside 1915


    • It has been argued here that all tenants affected by the bedroom tax / under occupancy charge put in writing a challenge to the formal letter and notification they receive of this, as this is your right. It also described how this impacts on the workings of the HB system as it will bring the system to its knees and overload it so much that it will go into meltdown and Liverpool City Council will need 632 staff alone working full time just to deal with these lawful challenges

      Standard Letter
      Dear Sirs,
      I received your decision letter dated INSERT DATE and referenced above that imposed an under occupation charge, or bedroom tax of 14% / 25% (delete as appropriate) on my existing award of Housing Benefit.
      I consider this unwarranted yet in order to challenge this in the correct way and potentially by way of formal appeal I require further information to be sent to me within 7 days of this letter and the urgency of that is to ensure I have enough time to formulate any such appeal and in full knowledge of the facts of my case within the time allowed; OR in the alternative I request the deadline for any such formal appeal be moved to 21 days after I receive the request information below:
      1. A written copy of the Council’s policy and decision-making procedures in relation to referring a socially housed claimant decision to the Rent Officer Service.
      2. A full explanation of how the council decided that (INSERT ADDRESS) was determined to be a 3 bed property for the under occupation charge and this to include what involvement if any of my landlord, (INSERT LANDLORD NAME) in this process.
      Please state by way of covering letter with the requested information any changed deadline date from above with regard to a formal appeal.
      Yours etc

    • Click onto those newspaper pictures in the link above, they will enlarge and you can read them.

  7. http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/legal/bedroom-tax-faces-second-legal-challenge/6526264.article
    Human rights group Liberty is launching legal action against the government’s penalty for under-occupation of social housing.
    The organisation said it will seek a judicial review as it believes the penalty, widely known as the ‘bedroom tax’, breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. Liberty said it will argue that the policy is discriminatory and would infringe on family life.

    • fuckthetories i cannot afford to pay my bedroom tax also, i will be appealing once i recieve the formal letter re housing benefit decision from my local council, i was standing outside my local primary school this morning handing out copies of the standard letter (published by speye) to everyone i know who is affected by the bedroom tax, we need mass appeals to fuck the system up

  8. Thought there was a glimmer of hope on seeing “THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES NOW ON RENT STRIKE” but then I noticed it was an illustration.

    People must be hurting but the dissent is not showing this is not like the Eighties then the dissent was tangible on the streets there is no sense of that today.

    • Divided then conquered.
      I said at the time Labour introduced the smoking ban, that that was designed to hurt pubs, the local, where folk gathered for a social drink and smoke, to gas and let off steam… Churches of christian faiths were on thier knees, pubs where one of the few places left that working classes could gather, and maybe spread dissent…
      Im a lifelong non smoker btw, and i maintain pubs where better when free to smoke in em, the heart got ripped out once people were forced outside every hour or so.

      • Very true.
        What pissed me off were the folks that said once the smoking ban came in they would be at the local all the time and buying food and being social in the pub, once ban came in these people never even went in the pub.

        • My argument exactly, you were either a pub goer or you weren’t, smoker or non smoker made no difference, the number of people who would like to use pubs but didn’t because of the smoke id wager could be counted on the fingers, on each estate the pub served.
          The arguments of staff passive smoking was a nonsense to, hardly insurmountable, my idea, and im no expert, block bar access in the Tap/ smoking/ games room, wall up the bit you used to get served at, and access the “Best” room through a double door arrangement. A decent extractor fan in the tap room, and everyone is happy, unless they were born fuckin stupid and want to sit and complain about the smoking for effect.

          I’m adult enough to decide if i want to sit in a smoking room for myself, thank you very much.
          Remember, im a non smoker, and i can see it clearly…

      • Too right, they don’t want people out and about socialising; they also don’t want the proles travelling about either, that’s why there is so much hassle and agro from the cops. So the proles modify their own behaviour. They want us isolated and atomised. Then the State can talk directly to you.

  9. This is absolutely crazy. Poor people will now have less money to spend in shops on food, clothes, etc. How is this going to help the economic recovery?

    • Landless Peasant

      It’s not. The Tories aren’t really interested in saving the economy, they are simply ideologically driven to dismantle the State, and stick the boot in to the poor in order to maintain the old Class Structure.

    • they do not care people are poor (unless they go on daytime tv and say ‘they should spend there money on fags and booze, my benefit monety I will do what I want with it’ which then plays into the right wing daily mail readers hands who come up with ‘damn bloody scroungers, do not give them any money at all’
      And the carefully staged propaganda works out well.
      Expect lots of these daytime appearances by the poorer folks outraging the sensible aspiring tory loving sheep, each time the DWP gets a hammering in the courts,papers, parliment.

  10. If someone can afford to buy a half-million pound mansion, they’re hardly in need of a mortgage subsidy are they?

  11. The Tory thinking behind all this is that they want people to own their own house, why…

    1: Privatise the NHS.
    2: Make people take out health insurance.
    3: Health insurance will find someway NOT to payout when you make a claim.
    4: You have your house, you will have to sell it to pay for your very expensive health care.

    Big profits for the rich owners of the privatise NHS, they and the insurance companies can’t lose, they are now making sure of that, the Tories call it… forward thinking.

  12. Landless Peasant

    As far as I’m aware I will be required to pay roughly £4 per week Council Tax, which I will do in cash, in person on a weekly basis. It costs my Council £8 to handle any transaction face-to-face. If the other 25,000 affected people in my city do likewise, then the Council will lose £100,000 per week. Unworkable?

  13. this just defies all logic…. it must cost more to keep a familly in 1 room, in a bed and breakfast, than it is, just to keep them where they are and pay housing benefit…the reason why housing benefit is high is because rents are high, very simple.
    i dont understand why no one ever thinks of rent capping, it works in germany (a succesfull economy in knackered europe) it they can do it, why cant we, and i dont buy the argument that the brits are mainly house buyers, and renting is just dead money,, bollocks. renting actually has many advantages and i would suggest more people rent than own a property in this country, and this obsession of wanting to own your own house, is a thing of the past. i wonder how many people under 30 years old have actually have bought a property. i dont know any.

    • Property Developer

      The problem with property (as an asset class) is that it is not as fungible (easier to move from one assest class to another) as say cash, it is also more visible, can’t be secreted as easily as say gold coins.

  14. “Of course this whole tragic mess could be halted overnight if everybody stopped paying their rent.”

    Don’t know about yours Johnny, but if I stopped paying my rent, my landlord would evict me.

    • thats why we’ve all gotta do it

      • @johnn void ok we’ll all come round to your place and you can put all of us up for several nights..oh and feed us too..

      • If we all had the same landlord, yes. But we don’t. 😦

        • there wouldn’t be any landlords if everyone refused to pay rent

          (I’m not suggesting this as a seriously viable proposition at this point in time, just food for thought)

          • If ‘everyone’ – or just ‘enough’ people declined to buy bread and/or other overpriced necessities (for long enough) – prices would fall at some point? This is what was more or less explained to me in the (mid/late 70s) for reasons that were relevant then. The obvious question to ask is why, if the solution is so very simple – even obvious, doesn’t ‘everyone – or at least the vast majority’ – at least try this to see if it would work. The answer as I understand it is exactly that ‘everyone’ doesn’t/won’t – because they will first think about theirs (or their family’s) needs on that day, then continue ‘as usual’ to fork out extortionate prices for essentials. They will perhaps do without /have less for themselves but continue to pay the prices to provide for their children, if they have them), rather than surmising that the power to change the bigger picture is theirs to use. The other answer is I suppose is that no-one has co-ordinated them/us and so a spontaneous mass action is unlikely.

            If someone who went to school only up to the age of 15, with no background in economics/politics, from a household where the main concern very often was putting bread on the table, worked this out, why haven’t ‘enough’ people at the time or since, thought the same? There were strikes and concessions hard-won but if/when the choice is between the threat of hunger/homelessness on a given day or week, wider arguments of common sense get pushed aside by more immediate short-term concerns. (Does anyone know a good place to buy candles these days – not the birthday cake/ornamental kind)?

          • Rents strikes never work, Johnny. The tried it in the 70s. Everyone was pretending that they weren’t paying their rent (at the local office), until they were spotted coming out of the rent office a couple of miles away. Yes, they were still paying their rent all right.

          • Actually my parents were the ones stupid enough to not be paying it, until they realised that everyone else was and it was them that was going to be evicted.

  15. Theo Paphitis on Question Time said the bedroom tax was unworkable, would save nothing and should be scrapped. The Tory (name escapes me) shook his head scornfully for a split second before waking up to who he was telling how to run a business effectively. They can’t help themselves. Funny and telling I thought.

    Government invoke Godwin’s law to refuse to meet disabled people

  17. “Following a briefing from Ed Miliband at Monday’s meeting of the parliamentary Labour party, they had been warned that anyone who stepped out of line would be sacked.”


    • Ian Lavery really laid into the governments proposals last week.
      Looks as though the lords are not happy with the bill either


      Individuals who are able to look for or prepare for work should be required to
      do so as a condition of receiving benefit, and those who fail to meet their
      responsibilities should face a financial sanction. This is known as conditionality.
      We will introduce a ‘claimant commitment’ to clearly set out what is expected of
      each recipient. We will raise the requirements placed on some individuals and will
      introduce tougher sanctions to ensure recipients meet their responsibilities.

      So thats TOUGHER SANCTIONS then is it???

      Click to access universal-credit-chapter3.pdf

  18. Pingback: Higher Rents And Less Council Houses: Osborne's Blundering Cure For The Housing Crisis | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's | Scoop.it

    • I think everyone suspected they did this.
      nasty when you think you could be set a sanction just because a target had not been met 😦

    • I said ages ago we’ll end up with a figure of say, 100,000 ( half a million according to Johnny), being permanently sanctioned at any one time, so saving lots of money, also putting every Jobseeker in a permanent state of fear.

      Can you imagine them getting away with this in the 70s?

      First they had to smash the unions strength, and Thatcher made a great job of that.

      So now they can get away with murder.

      • But that will cause a knock on effect of a possible very large increase in crime as people will start to crumble without any money, which will have a huge knock on effect of costing the country more.
        What a bizarre way of dealing with employment.

        • Don’t matter, commit crime to keep your head above water = make more money for the state apparatus.

          Arresting officers = salaries
          Court = Salaries
          Soliciters/ breifs/ CPS = Salaries
          Prison officer = Salaries
          Probation service = Salaries.

          The Justice system is a massive money spinner.

      • Fear also = (sometimes) paralysis.

  19. We know that it’s going to be nasty, but the only way we are going to beat the bastards is by using the system against them. (Tying the system up with appeals is a great tactic, if enough can be encouraged to do it) It’s pretty certain by now that the Tories, (ably abetted by their Labour cronies) either don’t know what they are doing, or are just plain evil. The Bedroom Tax, along with increasing food and energy prices, a shortfall in income/benefit increases and for those on benefits, being responsible for an element of the Council Tax, is going to cause a crisis in our society – that much we know. Some have lamented the lack of 80s style opposition, but in the 80s there was still the tradition of opposition. Eighteen years of Tory rule, followed by 13 years of Labour spin have had a drip, drip effect on people. We also have to face up to the fact that no-where in the media is this looming crisis being given the priority attention it deserves. However, it’s my belief that there will come a tipping point, as Johnny tacitly suggests.

    We in Wales can at least enjoy some small sense of relief in that our government has agreed to make up the shortfall with the Council Tax, but, even there they had basically to be shamed into it, and it’s still small potatoes, (to them, not those who will be relieved) when they should be engaged on full-on opposition to the present evil bunch in power, and be working to create jobs and develop the economy.

    On a slightly different not, but related, this programme was broadcast this week on S4C, (but made by the BBC).


    It’s in Welsh, but there are subtitles, just click on the S on the interface when starting to stream it. It’s hardly hard-hitting, and doesn’t delve into the causes, but it does make a very real point that it’s not just those on benefits who are affected, and also, refreshingly, makes moves to negate the idea of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. (Though the usual, probably apocryphal abuser of the system tale does crop up) But that aside, (and also the issue of poverty pimps The Trussell Trust involvement in foodbanks) the sheer statistics should serve to at least wake some people up – I live in hope.

  20. How is there a free market in housing when house prices and rented properties are being artificially inflated ? where is the opposition to fight rent increases(i.e. fair rents councils) or government accountability for chaotic policy making?

  21. Interesting article about counctil tax on the no council tax website (not sure if my posted links will show up but here goes)


  22. The housing associations are not responsible for benefit withdrawal for extra bedrooms – the government is responsible. Those who are working and can afford to pay full rent and are overoccupying are not being charged for their extra bedrooms, so this is not a bedroom tax. Those who get mortgage relief are not being charged for extra bedrooms in the form of reduction in their mortgage payments by government.

    The shortage of social housing has been created by both the government and housing associations by selling off social rented stock and not replacing it with new social rented housing, but only the government is responsible for benefit withdrawal for extra bedrooms. Your councillors and MP are the ones you should be writing to regarding this.

  23. What this country desperately needs is for the property bubble to burst which is the major cause of poverty and problems in this country. They are doing all they can to prevent it because they have a vested interest.

  24. The big fat greedy landlords must be salivating at the thought of possible social housing stock entering the market place as people rush to buy their council houses using goverment money and then lose them a few years down the line when they end up heavily in debt,houses will get repossesed by the banks then sold at auction on the cheap,and the vultures will be waiting.Not to mention you can their Tory arses they will find a way to use this handout to buy more houses to rent out at extortionate rates.Maggie would have been proud of this bunch of Tory scum.

  25. *Not to mention you can bet their Tory arses they will find a way to use this handout to buy more houses

  26. The new regulations introduce a regime of fixed period sanctions, which will replace the existing sanction rules and move claimants closer to the sanction regime planned for Universal Credit in 2013.


  27. Atos helpline
    The Atos Healthcare helpline provides
    free advice to clinicians on medical
    matters linked to completing DWP
    certificates and reports and on disability
    benefits. This advice service is strictly
    for healthcare professionals. The
    regional contact numbers for this
    service are available at

    from this document:

    Click to access gp-benefit-guide.pdf


  28. “Atos Healthcare professionals are experts in the functional assessment of disability”

    OH HA HA …

  29. on a blog ste about how sanctions affect lone parents i saw this comment.

    Henry Gurwood says:
    February 11, 2010 at 12:48 am
    “Here’s an idea, why not just abolish sanctions and conditionality??!!”

    No – better to just abolish the benefits themselves. Completely. Private charity can take care of the minute proportion of people who are genuinely unable to support themselves or rely on their families. I know from my own observation that virtually everyone signing on is able-bodied and capable of work, if only the state would stop treating them like vote-serfs instead of allowing them to take responsibility for their own lives.

    The welfare state has destroyed the once-proud and strong working classes of Great Britain. The only way to restore our nation is to leave the EU and tear down the monstrous evil of the welfare state.

    private charity are now like corporations you stupid old fart..

  30. I saw an elderly man in town when I was walking home from the humiliation centre recently, sweeping the streets and picking up litter and he had a big badge on that said “volunteer” on it.

  31. http://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/2010/12/benefit-sanctions-evidence-review

    It finds that the most common use of sanctions is to withdraw benefit from those who left work voluntarily or through misconduct. These sorts of sanctions disqualify people from receiving unemployment-related benefits for a period in many countries, but no evidence was found on the efficacy or effects of their use

  32. How can we stop benefit scroungers from making the UK into a 3rd World Country?


  33. Pingback: OMG, what do they do in Russia? | Lambeth Save Our Services

  34. A frequent response to my Inspectors’ enquiries regarding a reduction in directed surveillance is that ‘overt’ investigations using the Internet suffice. My Commissioners have expressed concern that some research using the Internet may meet the criteria of directed surveillance. This is particularly true if a profile is built by processing data about a specific individual or group of individuals without their knowledge.
    5.18. There is a fine line between general observation, systematic observation and research and it is unwise to rely on a perception of a person’s reasonable expectations or their ability to control their personal data. Like ANPR and CCTV, the Internet is a useful investigative tool but they each operate in domains which are public and private. As with ANPR and CCTV, it is inappropriate to define surveillance solely by reference to the device used; the act of surveillance is the primary consideration and this is defined by RIPA section 48(2-4) (monitoring, observing,
    Annual Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to the Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers for 2011-2012
    listening and recording by or with the assistance of a surveillance device). The Internet is a surveillance device as defined by RIPA section 48(1). Surveillance is covert “if, and only if, it is conducted in a manner that is calculated to ensure that persons who are subject to the surveillance are unaware that it is, or may be taking place.” Knowing that something is capable of happening is not the same as an awareness that it is or may be taking place. The ease with which an activity meets the legislative threshold demands improved supervision.

    Click to access OSC-annual-report-2011-12.pdf

  35. DWP just love chucking money away dont they?

    Businesses are being targeted in a new Government campaign urging them to kick off the new year by taking on a young person.

    Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, challenged businesses as he launched the new ‘Youth Contract: Works for me’ advertising drive on local radio stations. The campaign raises awareness of the £1bn Youth Contract, the Government’s package of support offering nearly half a million opportunities to help 18-24 year-olds into work.

    Mr Hoban is particularly urging businesses to take advantage of 160,000 wage incentives offered as part of the package. These give employers up to £2,275 when they take on a young person who has been unemployed for more than six months.

    Mr Hoban, said:

    “My message to businesses for 2013 is simple: We’ve got up to £2,275 of cash sitting on the table waiting for you to take it up. So take on a young person, who’s been out of work for six months, and the cash is yours.

    “There really is no better time to change a young person’s life and invest in the future of your business at the same time, so snap up the money before someone else beats you to it.

    “With the extra work experience placements and apprenticeships we’re also providing we will ensure young jobseekers have the skills they need to make a real contribution in the workplace. They just need to get their foot in the door so they can prove their worth to local businesses.”

    And revolving door of ministers and companies just keeps on revolving dont it eh??


  36. nothing posts any more on here, so fuck it..

  37. The Forced Labour Convention of 1930 describes forced labour as ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’.

  38. Your comment is awaiting moderation.


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