The Benefit Cap Would Not Be Popular If People Knew The Truth About The So-Called Safety Net

IDS-homeless-children“Another characteristic of support for the Benefit Cap was that many who knew little or nothing about the policy before completing the survey still expressed an opinion (largely in support of it).”

The Benefit Cap: Public Perceptions and Pre-implementation by Ipsos Mori (PDF).

A lack of understanding of the harsh realities of the so-called safety net of social security is not confined to those who are privileged enough to never have had to make use of it.  Even those who have depended on social security of some form in the past are often not aware of just how much things have changed for the worse.

This is why the myth persists of people lazing around on the dole picking up vast cheques every fortnight.  In reality benefits have shrunk far faster than even the lowest wages over the years and now barely pay for a subsistence lifestyle.  Far from sitting around at home, unemployed people are now forced into endless and often demeaning ‘job seeking activity’ or workfare, not to help them get a job, it rarely does, but designed to make life on the dole as unpleasant as possible.

The idea that someone made homeless can seek help from the council is another common misconception.  Only those with children or deemed ‘vulnerable’ are eligible for help, which in practice means only people who are seriously unwell, over pensionable age or who are severely disabled.  Even parents will only usually be offered support if they are actually on the streets or there are bailiffs at the door ready to evict them.  And only then if they are judged unintentionally homeless.

If the council decides their homelessness is their own fault, due to rent arrears for example, then they have a duty of care towards the children only – which could mean the threat of an interim care order or other social services intervention unless the parents can find a home.  Even those who are accepted as ‘priority homeless’ may merely find themselves referred to a slum landlord, a B&B, hostel or nightshelter for months on end.

Often people believe there must be other forms of support for people facing homelessness or destitution.  This is the UK after all, a supposedly civilised place where welfare spending is not just comprehensive, but out of control.

Yet the reality, for someone on benefits, who does not have hundreds or even a couple of thousand of pounds to spend on a deposit, a tenancy coming to an end for any reason can mean homelessness.  And those who can manage to beg or borrow the required cash, are still a long way from secure.  They are unlikely to have any money to move their possessions to another property and no money to furnish a new property.  No money to pay for fares to go looking for a new home.  No phone credit to ring potential landlords.  No money for the reference checks some letting agents ask for just to accept potential tenants on the books or the eye-watering fees many of them now charge.

And that’s even if they make it through the front door.  The vast majority of landlords and letting agents have a policy of No DSS.  This ludicrous phrase – the DSS hasn’t existed for over a decade – means no-one is accepted on any form of benefits whatsoever.  That can include disability benefits – possibly rendering this policy illegal but no-one seems to care –  or in-work benefits such as Housing Benefit.  If you are poor you are fucked when it comes to the UK rental market.

And throughout this process, if the Jobcentre find out you are looking for a home, rather than carrying out jobseeking activity, you might find your benefits stopped altogether.

So the idea that people on low incomes can easily just move, as if all that is required is nipping into Foxtons and then ringing a removal firm, is nonsense.  That is why there are homeless people.

It is in this context that Iain Duncan Smith’s gleeful announcement that 65% of people think someone should move to a cheaper property if they are affected by the benefit cap should be considered.  IDS was referring to a survey carried out by Ipsos Mori before the Summer which questioned the public on the benefit cap.

The question however did not reveal the whole story.  Move somewhere else could mean move next door.  It could mean move into a Local Authority property, or five miles down the road.  But that is not what will happen to most families hit by the Benefit cap.

When people were asked should a someone be forced to move to a ‘different area’ due to the benefit cap, only 44% agreed.  Had they been asked should people move to a different city it is likely support for the cap would evaporate.

The question that should really have been asked is should families affected by the cap have to run up rent arrears and risk harassment and illegal eviction, and then, when the landlord finally kicks them out, go down to the council and spend the whole day in a housing office arguing over whether they are intentionally homeless or not.

If they manage to convince the council they have a case then the public should have been questioned whether they and their children should be put up in a grotty B&B for six months until they are finally socially cleansed to a cheap private sector property 200 miles away from friends, family, school,  job prospects and even their job if they work part time.  Because that is what is happening now to many families hit by the cap.

The number of properties affordable to low income families on out of work or in-work benefits – and the benefit cap applies to part time workers  – is vanishingly small in many parts of the UK.  Just like for those affected by the Bedroom Tax, there is nowhere for people hit by the benefit cap to move to.  The cap is set so low that it is not just Central London that is now unaffordable to families on benefits, but Greater London and increasingly the entire South East of England.  As Osborne’s house price bubble swells this problem is likely to be exported further and further afield.

The Tories have convinced themselves that the Benefit Cap is a popular policy and on the surface that seems to be the case.  But this cap has been introduced without any real alternative for the families currently losing their homes.  Rent caps would almost certainly have been equally popular, as would a massive extension of social housing.  And unlike the Benefit Cap, these two measures might even have saved some money.  Already the benefit cap is costing a fortune to administer and homeless families cost much more money in the long term than allowing people to stay in their homes.  It was reported earlier in the year that families evicted from their homes due to the first cap on housing benefits were being placed in hotels at the cost of £3000 a week in some cases.

Until something is done to rein in the out of control private rental sector then any cuts to Housing Benefit mean homeless children.  In the case of the Benefit Cap that could, by the DWP’s own estimate, mean 200,000 homeless children.  It would be interesting to know what those surveyed would have answered had they been asked “Do you support a cut to the welfare budget that will not save any money and could lead to up to 200,000 children becoming homeless?”

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

92 responses to “The Benefit Cap Would Not Be Popular If People Knew The Truth About The So-Called Safety Net

  1. joshuachristian19691

    Reblogged this on THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN and commented:

  2. Pingback: The Benefit Cap Would Not Be Popular If People ...

  3. If this keeps on, rents in Britain could get to be so high, some of these families will end up having to be sent to live abroad. This doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone yet…

  4. Even before the benefit cap, having to rent privately could mean moves of great distances … due to the limited availability of private landlords/agencies that would take benefits (severe disability in our case), my family and I ended up moving through 4 different towns (thankfully within the same council district, so we were able to stay on the social housing list) before getting social housing (only through a homeless threat though, otherwise we’d still be queuing). Each move meant losing support networks and friendships (I have no-one now), and the children having to move schools etc each time – my eldest never got into a nursery, and had three different primary schools before he was 10 … and as a SEN child with socialisation issues, you can imagine the damage that has done to his education and him personally. The debt created by each move took over a year to pay off, causing great hardship in the process, and the stress and threatened instability each time a tenancy renewal came up was awful. Our last move was just over 2 years ago, before most of the current changes hit the fan. I dread to think what it would be like now with all the extra pressures and reduced options there are.

    • Justme75

      What a terrible state of affairs for you to end up in, the whole national housing policy is disgusting. Private landlords because of their short term leases and expensive letting requirements towards people on benefits are unreliable at best and illegally prejudice at worst, that is the reason that more social housing should be built and pronto, not a mixture of social housing to rent and low cost housing to buy or a combination of both.

      This government is trying to pit the young against the old, the homeless against the under occupied, we even have tristram hunt talking of social entrepreneurs and communal living for the elderly to end loneliness was offered up on Sunday Morning live by Samira Ahmed who appears to be obsessed with giving muslims rights over christian British people.

      Not all elderly are lonely or want communal living arrangements but they certainly have more to worry about than that, trying to make ends meet on a lowly state pension for one, wanting to prevent loneliness by having an extra room for friends and grandchildren to stay or some storage space, all disallowed by the fascist housing policy.
      If families have not got a home in a sea of a private rented sector then start prosecuting them for both discrimination against those on benefits and deliberately pricing them out of the equation or start building cheap rent good quality social housing and drop your fascist ideology.

  5. This comment >>> a policy of No DSS (then surely it means “ABSOLUTELY NOBODY” considered for private rental if receiving DSS benefits – e.g. How many working families surrendered their right to CHILD BENEFIT). In fact, most of those against the Welfare Benefits system should add up all the child benefit(s) they ever received over approximately a decade and a half for each child and return the sum to the state forthwith – this would be justice.

  6. I don’t know what this country is coming to. It is a horrendous state of affairs, and these Tories couldn’t give a damn because whatever happens they’ll be ok. New Labour started this slide into the abyss letting housing go out of control. Tories are keen for that to continue it’s good for their banker pals keeps everyone chained to the treadmill. What a life?!

  7. Reblogged this on The Pua Melia Clinic and commented:
    This is what is happening now in my country!

  8. “The Tories want to increase rents for council tenants to the same level as private rents. The average council rent in England is £61.63. The average private rent is £132.46.

    They also want one form of tenancy, meaning that no matter how long you have lived in your home, your tenancy could be ended with just two months notice and the landlord wouldn’t have to give a reason.” Council Housing

    What Dave Anderson MP doesn’t want to tell you is that Labour would like to do the same, can’t at the moment, they need the votes. Its only a matter of time before the above comes into being, God help us!!!.

    • The above link not working, try this link.

      • overburdenddonkey

        recently i was drawn to compare the labour structures, used to build the pyramids, which is remarkably similar to the capitalist system in use today..what leapt out is the way human vitals were used, to encourage “betterment”..the main weapon as i see it being, cause the lowly to fight for energy…

      • Annos what the tories are proposing for council tenants is above and beyond criminal so too are judgements in the magistrates court if you read the article I posted a little further up – family man killed by faulty boiler, where the landlord was let off with just a fine for causing a death.

        • PS our mp who was shadow junior housing minister presided over bedroom tax and was missing from discussions related to it, now he is business minister but for once is drawing the line at forcing the unemployed to work for benefits, much to the dismay of mainly right wing townspeople or it could be the Johnson press who run our local mail, who seem to be the only ones posting with their work ethic suggestions for the unemployed, I seem to stand alone in opposition.

  9. Unfortunately, the response to this situation from the sort of people who support government policy is that the poor shouldn’t have children. You hear the expression, in regard to food banks, ‘If you can’t feed them, don’t breed them’. In this case it would be ‘if you can’t house them’. Combined with Cummings’s pronouncements on unequal intelligence, plus calls for ‘licensed parenthood’ (which would inevitably involve earning capacity as well as social conformity), and IDS’s proposal to cut benefits for the third and any further child, eugenics is raising its ugly head.

  10. Wiggan, J. (2012) ‘Telling stories of 21st Century Welfare: the UK Coalition Government and the neo-liberal discourse of worklessness and dependency ‘, Critical Social Policy, pp 383-405, Vol. 32, No. 3.

  11. This country is tearing its self apart, what happens then ????


  12. overburdenddonkey

    it is a bit like people when questioned, say that benefit fraud is 27%, ( it is actually, 0.7%, more is lost through official errors, many underpayments take place, and £12bn/pa unclaimed), and think that all welfare money is spent on jsa/esa benefit entitlements, when this is only a fraction of welfare spend/budget figure, that tax credits et al are not benefits, when in fact they are…misinformed/misinformation/propaganda, feeds many opinion polls, many people walk on by.
    opinion polls also suggest, that only those who like doing opinion polls, take part in them…

  13. I want to know why the general public haven’t worked out what the Tories are up to yet. The Royal Mail was deliberately undervalued so that Osborne’s hedge fund mates could make even more millions. This is a criminal government.

  14. Iain Duncan Smith is a CUNT!!


  15. A lot of people think the benefit cap is the actual benefit rate- that all couples get £500 a week!

  16. Very well-written. Powerful must-read. Tweeted. Words fail me too, but not my tears for our most vulnerable fellow-citizens. Roll on 2015.

  17. I hate to do this guys but have you seen this:

    there’s no words left to describe what is happening hee

    • Npthing wrong with benefits being stopped if you refuse a job…as long as the job on offer is full time, living wage at the very least, not zero hours/commission only bollocks etc., etc….and as long as you’re not at fucking death’s door but declared fit to work by some unqualified cunt at ATOS! So come on Mrs. Reeves…..where are these fucking jobs??!!!!!!

      • And, Mrs. Reeves…..when I was unemployed I applied for over five hundred jobs and received a reply to only four of my applications! Also, Mrs. Reeves…when you go home at night, do you take your work home with you? Unemployment is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, constantly gnawing into your brain….never bloody ending, no respite….not one bloody hour is free from unemployment and the never ending search for a job.

      • … what about a 12-hour shift sticking pigs in the abbatoir… I mean a job is a job is a job, isn’t it Max? Or am I going to have to refer you to a ‘decision maker’, Max? 🙂

        • Sounds like a shit job mate, what’s the remuneration?

          • National Minimum Wage – no knock-out factor there! And under the recently revised terms of JSA entitlement you are required to take ANY job! No ‘conscientious objection’, so you can Ignore what lucozade is saying! So it is a referral to a ‘decision maker’ then, Max?

            • You’re talking bollocks of course. Let’s see them make a muslim work in a pig slaughter factory!

            • And here is the actual wording of the UC Regulations 2012:

              “there will be other particular circumstances where an adviser may decide a claimant is not required to look for work of a particular nature. For example where the claimant has a sincerely held religious belief.”

              Apology accepted fuckwit!

        • Easily avoided by saying you have a sincerely held conscientious objection to killing animals – the DM would find it hard to argue with that!

          • something survived...

            Wrong, I had my benefit stopped for refusing to work once in an abattoir and carcass hall, once in a meat packing factory. I told JobShittre that I’m a vegetarian pacifist into animal rights. They sanctioned me.

            • That’s down to your lack of ability to argue your case. The rules are clear, conscientious objection is a valid ‘good cause’ and I know people who have successfully argued against a placement on MWA using this.

            • Jeez, lucozade, not everyone is a ‘Philadelphia lawyer’ and as such able to ‘argue their case’ and why the hell should jobseekers have to anyway for the pittance that is JSA?

    • Landless Peasant

      The myth persists that unemployed people are offered jobs, that they have the luxury of refusing to accept an offer of employment, when the reality is that’s never happened to me once in all the time I’ve ever been signing-on. You may be required or invited to apply for a particular job, and you may or may not be successful.

      • LP, you beat me to that one. I’ve never had any job ‘opportunities’ offered via the JCP btw….they don’t really give a shit about anything apart from dishing out sanctions. Managed to find myself a job (by sheer fluke/good fortune) no thanks to anything to do with DWP and thank God no profiteering bunch of Work Programme Provider uselsess wankers involved either!!

      • Forgot to say, the job is going great……and I do feel like the luckiest bloke alive. Shouldn’t be this way, should it? I can remember a time…….
        bla….bla……you know what follows this don’t you(?), but I’ve started jobs
        without even having had an interview (early 1980’s)

    • Landless Peasant

      It’s more bullshit. How can Labour (or anyone) “guarantee” to employ someone? Having gone to the expense of creating a job, – let’s assume, can they then guarantee that the person they’re employing has the necessary experience, training, aptitude, health/fitness, P.P.E. , CSCS Card, CRB Check, References, required to do the job? How much will that cost and who will pay for it? Who will pay the wages that will be “guaranteed” for those “guaranteed” to work? What work will they do? I’ll believe it if it happens, but think at this stage it is yet more political diarrhea, just this time from the so-called Left.

      • It will all be ‘outsourced’ to a useless bunch of twats such as G4s, A4e,…make up your own acronym for a fleecing, profiteering scumbag company with a few MPs on the Board of Directors/major shareholders.
        It will cost a bloody fortune, of course….far more than letting the real ‘shirkers’ sit on their collective arses. In the meantime we, as a nation, could busy ourselves in creating jobs for the millions of people who want to work, but are currently demonised as ‘work shy scroungers’.

  18. With policies spouted by Racheal Reeves it doesn’t sound like the labour party want the poisoned chalice of running the country after the next election. Unless she is providing jobs that pay a LIVING wage I think anyone should have the right to refuse.

    • Hiya gf….told you I wouldn’t forget! Work is going great (which goes to show we’re not the scroungers we’re portrayed as) but I still observe with complete disbelief what is happening to demonise and punish the unemployed. When will the fuckers realise that it’s not our choice, and it’s not our fault??!!

  19. I think the only spark of light is that very slowly people are waking up to whats happening, Capitalism is out of control and the extreme right are taking full advantage of that. I believe Its the duty of every person who opposes whats happening to do as much as possible to counteract the propaganda in “anyway” possible, this situation must be stopped before this country self destructs.

  20. This is all leading to the return of the workhouse. They won’t be called that, it will be vehemently denied they are that, but you know the old saying about if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck ….etc.

  21. Hi Max,
    glad to hear your still in GAINFUL employment, what is it you’re actually employed as, not the job centre is it?
    I was too busy watching the re-run of inglorious bastards last night so have only just got your message.
    In our local rag the commentors don’t care if your unemployed by choice or through no fault of your own, as far as they are concerned you should work for your dole, I don’t think anyone unemployed has a mobile phone or computer where I live because I was the only one fighting back against what are probably workers from the job centre or the newspaper itself.

  22. The whole system stinks. It would not be any better under Labour either. I do so hope people do not run away with the belief that Miliband has a different agenda. Oh and by the way, it seems the Chinese are moving in and likely to be the biggest movers and shakers. If the yuan takes over from the US Fed being the reserve currency, we may yet find ourselves living in cages, like a helluva lot of folk do in the poor areas of China!

    What cost a dog cage (well certainly not much bigger) per person? We have all heard about shoe box cities (smart cities) with hardly enough sq footage to swing a cat (not that you could afford a cat) so it isn’t too big a leap of the imagination to consider the real Agenda behind all of this spite.

    • The last time the chinese came to the North East the bosses ate in the same canteens as the workforce and were more than polite to them, your just scaremongering. The only way a sweatshop would be run like a sweatshop in England would be if the British were managing it.

  23. The biggest joke is that those who support the benefit cap the most were the first to bleat when their “entitlement”, (child benefit) was taken off of them. Bloody hypocrites.

  24. Kittycat58

    Your right and they didn’t need the benefit in the first place – silly Gordon Brown was the one to propose universal benefit for the rich.

  25. Rachel Reeves website has gone down

    message reads: “An unexpected error has occurred!”

    They are very good at protecting themselves aren’t they? – pity about the protection we expect though!

    • Who the hell is Rachel Reeves, I’ve never heard of her until now and why is Miliband using such a tyrant, haven’t they learned that unless they convert to real socialism nobody will vote for them?

    • Another Fine Mess

      “An unexpected error has occurred!”
      Said Ed, as he realised who he’d promoted.

  26. overburdened donkey

    Thanks for that link, the problem with disabled children being awarded dla is that a lot of people are claiming their children have hda hyperactivity i forget the technical name for it’s syndrome and are claiming from the dla fund, thus depeleting it for those that are inactive in so much that they cannot get around without help.

    I was really interested in the other articles on your link, especially the one about the European Commission demanding that the tories justify their claim of benefit tourism. The European commission wants to be discussing the disgusting propaganda that has surrounded the sick and unemployed in this country, also other countries in the EU have a different benefit set up than us, so if anyone from this country wants to work in Spain etc they would have to have private sickness insurance and a different benefit system to ours, who are the fools here?

  27. To return to the original article….
    I do have sufficient funds to pay extortionate agents’ fees & deposits etc, but I still can’t get any of them to consider me, as I get some LHA. I’ve been trying for months now, as my private landlord put my rent up by £150 a month & I can’t afford this in the long term… he won’t fix any of the things that are wrong in the flat, but he’s quite happy to hike the rent up!
    Also, even if you do have the wherewithall to rent a place privately, you’ll never find one that the LHA covers completely – there will always be at least £50 pm to cough up over & above, due to the way housing benefit is calculated. We’re all fooked.

  28. It should be as illegal to discriminate against people on benefits, as it is against black or Asian people.

  29. Thomas M

    Exactly. A gay couple sued a hotelier because he had a sign saying no gays, so it seems that only leaves benefit claimants to suffer discrimination not only in housing but also from the slanted propaganda aimed at them which is also discriminatory.

  30. Anyone checked out the guardian? A whole bunch of lone parents n pregnant mums to b forced out of their hostels in newham due to benefits cap n could b relocated up to 200 mmiles away. Newham changed housing policy anyway to favour working families n ex service ppl. Like these lone parents aren’t raising next generation of workers? This government is sick sick sick!

    • One woman said her family had lived in Newham for 100 years! How is forcing these ppl from their support network helping them? Was it scameron who called Britain broken? Well him n his r bloody destroyers then…..

  31. Pingback: Now Is The Time For Pointing Fingers – One Man’s Arrogance Is Behind The Foodbank Explosion | the void

  32. Let’s not forget anyone who rents in the private sector, they have had to endure bedroom tax for ages, it introduced in 2008 by labour?. It’s curious only now that because it applies to social housing which is by far much cheaper rental rates than private sector renting that it’s made the news and people are up in arms over this. It’s still wrong be I social or private housing, many people will never know what it is like to rent a council house except maybe in their childhood with their parents… who maybe could afford to buy their council house thanks to thatcher and today we turn full circle and there is a shorted of affordable social housing and still it’s going on!. It seemed a good idea at the time and I doubt if anyone here took up the offer or begrudge their parents being able to do it at the time.

    I seem to remember you still had to be in a reasonably well paid job or have some money sloshing around or maybe be retired with a good pension to take advantage… some did, many could not afford to do so. Today with this deal for first time buyers is another folly that on the face of it looks like a good idea, but then when it comes to how much… how many first time buyers can afford to buy a house over £600,000?… we can see who these deals are really for and it’s not the average hard working man or woman this government seems to constant yap on about… it’s for those who have more than above average incomes and see themselves maybe one day even wearing a Tory Rosette.

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  34. Pingback: Poorest Pensioners Could Be Made Homeless By Osborne’s Benefit Slashing | the void

  35. Pingback: How The TUC Always Planned To Abandon Out of Work Benefit Claimants | the void

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