Chaos In Supported Housing: Almost Half A Million Homes Under Threat As Ministers Dither

George-Osborne Social housing providers are warning that up to 440,000 homes are potentially at risk due to George Osborne’s plans to slash benefits intended to pay the rent of those living in supported housing.

In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor  announced that Housing Benefit for tenants living in socially managed housing would be capped at the same level as payments for those renting privately.  This cap is to include those living in some form of supported accommodation where high rents are charged to cover the additional costs of providing care or supervision.  With weekly Housing Benefit awards capped at less then £50 a week for single people under 35 in some parts of the UK, this will mean the potential closure of every women’s refuge and homelessness hostel along with supported housing schemes for pensioners and those with acute physical or mental health conditions.  The combined financial loss to social housing providers could be as high as £400 million according to housing industry spokespeople quoted in trade magazine Inside Housing recently – and this is assuming that those over pensionable age are excluded from the cap.  To date no-one from the Treasury, DWP or Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) appears to have said they will be.

The DWP have said that any shortfall in payments to cover rents will be made up by Discretionary Housing Payments.  This is money given to local councils which can be used to top up housing benefits of those affected by cuts already introduced such as the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap.  Osborne himself has claimed there will be an additional money for these payments, believed to be around £70 million a year, but this will not come close to meeting the funding gap.  Just as importantly these payments are not ring-fenced and are discretionary – there will be no requirement by law for local authorities to meet people’s rents.  The implications are chilling  Without central control then any old swivel-eyed Tory Council could close a homelessness hostel or drug rehab project in their constituency simply by cutting off their income stream.

Perhaps most astonishingly – given that it is only now that the social housing sector has taken notice – is that this is a problem which is four years old.  Way back in 2012 the charity for domestic abuse survivors Women’s Aid warned that a combination of benefit caps and the reforms being introduced under Universal Credit would ‘decimate’ the women’s refuge system.  This led to Lord Fraud, the comedy toff brought in on the cheap to oversee welfare reforms, quickly pledging that payments for supported housing would continue under the current system.   Then followed a bitter row about what exactly the government means by supported housing, as well as concerns raised over funding for emergency temporary accommodation such as B&Bs.  Neither of these matters were ever fully resolved as DWP ministers dithered and dodged questions whilst homelessness charities and housing associations were too busy looking to profit from lucrative government contracts to pay attention to their impending destruction.

And so here we are again, except now homelessness has soared and over 100,000 children are living in expensive and insecure temporary accommodation.  These bed spaces are also under threat with DWP documents suggesting that housing benefit payments for temporary accommodation will now also be capped.  Previously the solution to temporary housing – which doesn’t have the same costs as supported housing but is more expensive than mainstream accommodation – was to allow an additional weekly payment of £40 to be added to housing benefit.  In the latest guidance aimed at social landlords explaining benefit changes however it states that homeless Universal Credit claimants in temporary housing will have their rents capped at the same level as those in the mainstream private sector.  There is no mention of additional funding.   So it is not just homelessness hostels, refuge’s and other supported housing that is under threat, but possibly B&Bs and private sector emergency accommodation.

Whilst these changes are terrifying and if implemented could lead to a street homelessness crisis that has not been seen before in a so-called developed economy, the DWP has a long way to go if this is truly what they want.  The cuts to housing benefits will not be implemented until 2018 and will only apply to tenancies signed after April this year.  This will prevent, at least for a couple of years, mass evictions.  But the biggest problem is that almost all of the people eligible for both supported and temporary accommodation would be classed as ‘statutory homeless’ if they were unable to find a roof over their heads.  This means that local authorities are bound, by law, to house them – there and then if they have nowhere to go that night.  There just won’t be any money to pay their rent.

In short, it’s a giant fucking mess and one the DWP have been trying to sweep under the carpet ever since Iain Duncan Smith’s half-baked reforms to the benefits system were first announced.  Expect another bodge as the realities of a modern social security system clash once again with the delusions of a Secretary of State who thought he could fix poverty by making people poorer.  The truth is this has probably only dragged on so long because no-one really believes that Universal Credit will ever be fully implemented anyway.  It sill might not be.  The tragedy, as Inside Housing reveals, is that this shambles is already having very real consequnces.  Social housing providers say that schemes to provide desperately needed new supported housing are currently on hold until the government makes it’s mind up about whether they should condemn everybody officially classed as ‘vulnerable’ to street homelessness or not.  Decisions, decisions.  What a bunch of cunts.

A march against the housing bill, which will decimate social housing, is taking place in London on Saturday January 30th.  More details on facebook, please spread the word.

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They Are Coming For Our Kids! Jobcentre Harassment To Start From 12 Years Old.

ids-dead-teddySchool-children as young as 12 are to face Jobcentre harassment coercing them to join unpaid work schemes when they leave education the DWP have announced today.

Jobcentres busy-bodies are to be sent out into schools in a chilling move that  Iain Duncan Smith has pledged  will have a ‘dramatic’ impact on the nation’s children and encourage social mobility.  Yet this, of course, is a bare-faced lie.  There is no mention of going to college, university, or even starting a real job in today’s gushing DWP press release announcing the scheme.  Instead children will be encouraged into unpaid Work Experience, unpaid traineeships, or poverty paid so-called Apprenticeships which are little more than an excuse for companies like McDonalds to dodge paying their workers the minimum wage.  This scheme is merely the latest shabby attempt to indoctrinate young people into accepting the life of low paid, insecure, shitty jobs – or unpaid workfare – that the Tory Party have planned for the working class.

The good news is that only one school has agreed to take part so far, the Holy Trinity Catholic School in Birmingham who can be found on twitter @HolyTrinityCol. The scheme will be overseen by creepy Jobcentre district manager @NigelKimpton who seems to spend half of his time squandering tax payer’s money by posting happy-clappy ‘inspirational’ garbage on twitter.  Like the tweet below where he thinks he’s fucking Einstein.  Do you trust this man with your children’s future?

This ideological campaign comes in advance of plans to force all young people into unpaid work for private companies if they are unable to find a job.  From 2017 policies aimed at compelling those under 21 to ‘earn or learn’ will mean vicious benefit sanctions for those who refuse to work for free. And when the Tories talk about learning what they mean is stacking shelves in Poundland for no wages.  Despite their name, Traineeships contain no training beyond basic Maths and English.  They are a workfare programme, designed to prepare young people for being an Apprentice where they will be paid as little as £3.30 per hour.  And once they’ve done that they will probably be slung back on the dole, where they will face yet more workfare.

With the welfare state being weaponised against the very people it was designed to help there can be no tolerance of Jobcentre propaganda in schools – especially when benefit sanctions may be putting parent’s lives at risk.  It is beyond vile, and teachers and school kids alike should tell them in no uncertain terms to fuck off.  As for the rest of us, with mass workfare back on the cards for the young, then it’s time to tell the grasping corporate sector that if you exploit our kids, we will shut you down.

To join the fight against unpaid work visit Boycott Workfare’s website or follow them on twitter @BoycottWorkfare.

Above pic amended slightly and (I think) from here.

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Same Old Fucking Tories: Government Pledges Millions To Support Traditional Family Values

Cameron goes Back to Basics

Cameron goes Back to Basics

It is genuinely astonishing that a man who fucked a pig’s head and left his young child alone in a pub thinks he can lecture the rest of us about being a good parent.  But that is what David Cameron plans to do as his increasingly desperate government launches a back to basics style campaign based on traditional Tory family values.

The government has announced that an additional £35 million is to be spent on guilt-tripping unhappy couples into staying together for the sake of the kids.  Alongside this there wil be increased access to parenting classes.  This will stop people being poor according to David Cameron who is expected to say in a speech today that “families are the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.”  Which they are if you stand to inherit a multi-million pound fortune like him and all his chums.

The funding will be spent on relationship counselling run by organisations such as Marriage Care, a Catholic charity who say they “embrace and uphold the Christian vision of marriage as an example of a vocation of life and love. In Christian marriage this vocation is shaped by the whole-life commitment of a man and woman, whose love is open to embrace family life.”    God fucking help us.

dad-infoThe government already funds a Sorting out Separation website which claims to provide support for couples who are thinking of splitting up including a section where you can find help in your local area.  Almost at the top of the list of support services, seemingingly wherever you are in the UK, is a website called dad.info. This is sort of online softcore lad’s mag where angry men call women bitches in the forums and whinge about a feminist conspiracy.  Despite the website’s embarrassing attempts to be edgy and butch it is actually run in partnership with the Department of Education and also receives funding from the DWP.

If this isn’t the kind of help a women seperating from the father of her kids is looking for then the next orgaisation on the list of local support groups is Families Need Fathers.  You can see where this is going.

The Sorting out Separation website also contains information on managing conflict, featuring a yotube video of another angry man who has been taught to control his temper by mediation.  The small section on domestic violence merely advises women who are being abused to call 999, talk to their doctor, or ring the helpline run by Women’s Aid and Refuge – who provide far more adequate advice on their own website.  Men experiencing domestic abuse are not excluded, however of the two helplines the government advises them to call, one has shut down and the other closes in March due to lack of funds.

Real tax payer’s money has been spent on this shambles, although admittedly not much of it.  The additional £35 million pledged by David Cameron this weekend is only slightly more than the total of George Osborne’s estimated inheritance.  It would still have gone a long way towards housing the 100,000 children currently homeless and living in temporary accommodation however.  But then that’s real poverty, and this government has no interest at all in fixing that.

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To The Fucking Streets – Protesters Bring Traffic To A Standstill In Spontaneous Housing March

rich-graveyard

Whitehall was briefly blockaded and a smoke bomb let off outside Downing Street today as over 100 people took to the streets in protest at the Housing Bill being debated in Parliament.

The new laws, which will mean mass social housing sell offs, vicious rent hikes for families on even modest incomes and the scrapping of lifetime tenancies have been called the end of genuinely affordable housing in the UK.  Tenants, housing workers and campaigners have vowed to fight the bill which will lead to growing numbers of people living their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have a secure home.

Today’s protests began early this morning when the vile Policy Exchange and Localis were evicted by housing activists who blockaded their offices preventing staff from entering.  These two so-called think tanks – both stuffed with chinless fucking Tarquins – were responsible for proposing several of the measures in the housing bill.

Later in the day over 200 people gathered outside Parliament in a protest that was well-attended despite coming so soon in the new year.  After an hour or so of speeches many of those present occupied the road and then began a spontaneous march through the streets of central London accompanied by a sound system.  As police scurried to keep up traffic was brought to a standstill by the boisterous crowd who defied attempts to herd them off the streets and onto the pavement.

A place to live and sleep is the most basic human need and now the bastards even want that.  The time for politeness and asking for permission to protest is long over.  Disobedience, disruption and disorder are all that governments understand – and for all their bluster they are fucking terrified of it.  So that is what it will take to smash this new bill and every other attack on our homes.  Anything else is just consent to carry on as usual.  Don’t consent.  Fuck shit up.

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Some Homelessness Charities Are Not What They Seem. Make Sure You’re Not Killing With Kindness.

killing8

You could be killing with kindness if you give money to some homelessness charities.

Many well-meaning people donate spare change to homelessness charities without realising they might be supporting policies which harm, and could even kill homeless people.

Several homeless charities use workfare staff who face benefit sanctions if they refuse to work for free.  These sanctions have been linked to suicides, homelessness, ill health and desperate poverty.  Both the Salvation Army and the YMCA are heavily involved with workfare.

Despite many tragic deaths on the streets many homelessness charities oppose help being given directly such as soups runs.  One organisation (Thamesreach) even supported a Tory council’s failed attempt to make it illegal to give food to homeless people.

Thamesreach, again, and St Mungo’s carry out a racist repatriation scheme on behalf of the Tory government in which workers are sent out to coerce homeless migrants to go back to where they came from. Thamesreach have also been involved in ‘supporting’ squat evictions.

Many homelessness charities have co-operated with the police to run anti-begging campaigns which stereotype homeless people as drug addicts or criminals.  Homeless people already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public – these campaigns make that more likely.

Most homelessness charities which beg for money aren’t really poor.  Chief Executives are often paid huge sums whilst the homelessness industry holds regular conferences in swanky hotels where tickets can cost as much as £600!

By giving money to homelessness charities you are encouraging behaviour which often harms homeless people.  Give responsibly and give direct to the homeless this Christmas.  If you are concerned about rising homelessness then contact a local housing campaign and get involved.

Happy Christmas folks – jv

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Worse than the worst case scenario, £300 Million workfare scheme is a disaster

boycott-workfare-real-jobsThe DWP have finally released some scant information on the performance of  George Osborne’s Help To Work scheme – the £300 million workfare programme announced at the 2013 Tory Party conference and then quietly scrapped in last month’s Autumn statement.

Those sent on Help To Work can be expected to sign on everyday at Jobcentres, face intensive and mandatory ‘interventions’ supposed to help them find work or in many cases be sent on an unpaid ‘Community Work Placement’ for six months.  Previously published statistics revealed that such is the unpopularity of workfare amongst charities and community organisations that these placements could only be found for half of those referred to the scheme.  What they didn’t tell us is how many people had found jobs.  It is only now, 20 months after Help To Work began and in a week when most journalists are pissed or on holiday, that the DWP are admitting just 1,670 Job Outcome payments have been made to the welfare-to-work companies running the programme.

These payments are only made once someone has been in work for six months, meaning many on the scheme have not had long enough to qualify.  Despite this, of the 67,000 people referred to Community Work Placements, around half began on the scheme long enough ago to have possibly found long term work.  The DWP’s own far from optimistic minimum expectation was that 1,860 people would have found jobs so far.  This is not a target by the way, it is a worst case scenario.  Whilst the department are not telling us how they came to this figure it is usually judged to be the number who would have found work without any so-called help at all.  So far this flagship scheme is performing worse than the worst case scenario.

It seems likely that bullying people into full-time unpaid work actually makes it harder for them to have the time, energy and confidence to go out and find a real job.  Meanwhile the brutal benefit sanctions that the scheme is backed with force claimants into a desperate hand to mouth battle just to eat and stay healthy.  As dismal as they are today’s statistics only tell one side of the story.  We do not know how many people referred to Community Work Placements have been sanctioned and as a consequence possibly lost their homes, had their health demolished (as benefit sanctions are intended to do) or even been driven to their death.  The DWP are investigatng 60 suicides which may be linked to Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.  They are refusing to tell the public the results of these enquiries.

Referrals to Community Work Placements are due to end in April next year.  Until then many more people will be forced to work for free.  This is not going to ‘help’ them to get proper work – today’s statistics prove that.  It may even make it harder for them to get a job.  But that was never the point.  Community Work Placements were introduced as nothing more than punishment for being poor.  Well that and to line the pockets of the grasping welfare-to-work industry who are being paid millions to continue this shambles.To join the fight against workfare visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

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Over 100,000 Homeless Children – and the number living long-term in B&Bs doubles in a year

The number of homeless families with children who have been living in a B&B for over six weeks has leapt by 106% in just one year statistics released by the government reveal today.

The shocking report, which both charities and the Office for National Statistics say woefully under-estimates the scale of the problem, shows that over 100,000 children were homeless in the latest period with 68,560 households currently living in temporary accommodation.

Every single measure of homelessness is up, with the total number of households accepted as homeless between July and September this year hitting the highest levels seen so far under this government with a rise of 6% on the previous quarter*.  The most common reason for families becoming homeless was the ending of a tenancy by a private landlord.  A new benefit cap – meaning more housing benefit cuts – plus huge cuts to household incomes when Universal Credit is fully introduced mean the homelessness epidemic is only just getting started.

*These figures only include households accepted as homeless by local authorities.  In practice that means only those with children, over pensionable age or people with a serious health condition or disability.  They do not include nearly 2,500 households judged to be ‘intentionally homeless’ by councils, or the number of families who are homless but not in ‘priority need’ – just under 500o households.  The figures do not include single people sleeping on the streets – also at record levels – or the potentially hundreds of thousands of people sleeping on a friends sofa, squatting or living in an over-crowded family home.  You can view the statistics at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statutory-homelessness-in-england-july-to-september-2015

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