Tag Archives: Housing Benefit caps

Watch Out Surrey, Here Come The Benefit Claimants!

flat-surreyThe Home Counties could soon be swamped by tens of thousands of families fleeing London due to this months benefit changes.   With almost every London borough set to become unaffordable for families on benefits, many people will be sensibly looking to the surrounding areas to escape imminent homelessness.

The cap begins this months in Croydon, Bromley, Enfield and Haringey, meaning Surrey and Kent in the south and Hertfordshire and Essex in the north of London could be first to take the hit.  Luckily the leafy home counties still have some reasonably priced  accommodation for those on benefits who wish to remain within commuting distance of friends and family in London.

Take a look at this delightful 2 bedroom house in Mertsham, the perfect starter home for a young single mum looking to start a large family.   Two single claimants wishing to escape London’s housing benefit caps could try this cottage – unsuitable for children due to ongoing renovations nearby – but ideal for a group of young unemployed friends who like the country air.

In reality Surrey residents should not be overly concerned about the upcoming influx.  Far from the lurid tabloid portrayals, the vast majority of claimants are thoroughly decent people.  Statistics show that those on sickness benefits are no more likely to commit crime than any other sector of the population.

Whilst claimants are no more likely to commit crime than anyone else, they are often high users of public services and so can be expensive.  Despite this Government’s lies, many people on sickness and disability benefits are subject to the Benefit Cap and will need to leave the capital.  GPs and hospitals across the South East are likely to see a surge in demand as a result.  Some large families leaving London may not speak English as a first language, but Surrey’s excellent schools system should soon help clear that up.

The first mass influx will begin over the next few months as an estimated 40,000 families affected by the Benefit Cap will be forced to seek housing outside the capital.  This is only likely to be the beginning however as soaring rents and shrinking benefits could mean soon almost all private sector tenants on benefits will be priced out of the capital.  Hundreds of thousands of claimants could soon be making a move to Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Kent over the next few years.

Boris has been only too aware of the impact of the radical changes to Housing Benefits.  Back in July 2010 he wrote to Iain Duncan Smith (tif file, spotted by @AnitaBellows12)  about the likely impact of the unprecedented cuts.  According to the Mayor, quarter of a million Londoners could be affected by the changes with many moving to ‘fringe’ areas of the capital.  Since he wrote that letter the situation has become far worse, with the emergence of the Benefit Uprating Bill which will cap annual Housing Benefit rises at 1%. London rents rose by 7.9% over the last year.

Boris has spotted it will not just be poor inner Londoners affected but those in the leafy commuter belt, where some people actually voted for the clown.

And Tory voters in the Home Counties will only have themselves to blame as public services are overwhelmed and unemployment is exported out of the capital straight into their backyards.  So desperate have they been to punish London’s poor with the badly thought out Benefit Cap, they have cut off their noses to spite their already chinless faces.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Meet the Counihans – The Human Face of Welfare Reform

Suicide, homelessness, ill health and despair are to be the true legacy of the London Olympics as more people are forced out of there homes due to this Government’s vicious welfare reforms.

The Counihan-Sanchez family is just one story that highlights the human cost of Welfare Reform and the shameful connivance of the Labour Party in Tory led social cleansing.

The family of seven have already been shunted out of their home borough in Brent into temporary accommodation in Ealing.  They now face further eviction after Brent Council have refused to accept that Anthony Counihan’s bus driver’s salary is not enough to pay the soaring rents in the capital.

At a meeting with their MP, the millionaire Glenda Jackson, the family were told to move to Wales, where they have no work and know no-one.  Like thousands of other families in the capital they are now in limbo, facing an uncertain future of forced relocation, unemployment and isolation.  Despite the lurid claims made in some newspapers of families living in housing benefit funded Kensington mansions, the Counihan’s story is one of an average working class family living in one of the less well off areas of London.

A protest is being held tonight to support the family who have vowed to fight for their right to remain in the borough in which their children go to school and is their rightful home.  The protest will also raise the case of Kilburn resident Nygel Firminger, who’s recent tragic suicide is believed to be directly related to the vicious benefit cutting regime that has already claimed too many lives.

The mood amongst local people is militant with a call for “urgent radical action” in support of the family and all those facing eviction not just from their homes but from Greater London.

The clown mayor, Boris Johnson claimed he would not allow Kosovo style social cleansing on his watch in the capital and then proceeded to sit back and do fuck all as it took place.  Labour Councillors in Brent have offered little in support other than mealy mouthed excuses.  It is clear that we cannot rely on politicians, Councillors, or Mayors to support those who pay their wages.

Homelessness is already soaring not just in the capital but across the UK.  It will not just be London residents who face a housing crisis as rents soar, wages stagnate and benefits are slashed.

Areas of the country already facing poverty will see huge influxes from those socially cleansed from London and other cities placing intolerable pressure on public services and housing.  The Housing Benefit caps, which lying Tory filth told us would force down rents, have done quite the opposite.  The benefit cap, to be introduced next year, will make almost the entire South East of England unaffordable for large families, whether they are low waged or unemployed.

The right to a home is more than a Human Right but a basic reality of existence.  People need somewhere to lay their head at night, to keep warm, to cook and to keep their families safe.  Yet even the most meagre council accommodation is fast becoming little more than an aspiration for millions of people.  That one of the richest cities in the world cannot house not just disabled, unwell or unemployed people, but bus drivers, nurses, care workers or classroom assistants reveals the inhumane failure of both this Government and the current model of naked capitalism.

Protest outside Brent Town Hall tonight (Monday 20th August) at 7pm and share, tweet, blog and spread the word about the plight of the Counihan family and the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people they represent.

http://familyonthestreet.posterous.com/housing-for-the-counihans-housing-for-all

Street Homelessness Soars … and we haven’t seen anything yet

The number of people sleeping rough in London has soared by 43% in just 12 months latest figures reveal.  Homeless Charity Broadway said 5,678 people slept on the streets between March 2011 and April, up from 3,975 the previous year.

This shocking rise has happened in the year of the sacred Olympics despite Boris Johnson’s pledge to end rough sleeping in the capital by the end of the year.  Boris has also previously claimed that he ‘wouldn’t allow Kosovo style social cleansing on his watch’ and then proceeded to do fuck all as the housing benefit caps were brought in, creating an exodus of the lowest income families from central London.

Some homelessness project workers have reported a huge rise in those under 35 unable to find homes.  Under new Housing Benefit rules, those under 35 are only eligible for a room in a shared house.  No assessment was done to examine whether their were enough properties of this type, at an affordable level, to ensure this brutal change did not force people onto the streets.

The tragic reality is that these figures represent the tip of the iceberg and there is far worse to come.  The figures are based on a ‘street count’ by outreach workers and at best represent a rough guess of the minimum figures.  Those sleeping rough outside of Central London, in parks, derelict buildings or anywhere else hidden from view are not included in the figures.  The tens of thousands of people in hostel, night-shelter or B&B accommodation, in squats or sleeping on friends sofas are also not included and reveal that the homelessness and street homelessness crisis is only just getting started.

The Housing Benefit caps have still not been fully introduced for existing tenants, whilst even those who have faced the cut will not necessarily become homeless overnight.  The number of households applying for Local Authority support due to becoming homeless has risen recently by 16%.

Homeless Link, an umbrella organisation of homelessness charities, also report that 4000 emergency bed spaces for homeless people have been lost due to government cuts.

But still this toff Government aren’t happy.  The overall benefit cap, which will see London as a whole become unaffordable for larger families, will not take effect until next April.  Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit, set to be introduced in 2014 in his dreams, will reduce protection for owner-occupiers who find themselves unable to work, by stripping back support for help with mortgage interest payments.  The new sanctions regime could see hundreds of thousands of people, many with children, plunged into levels of poverty not seen in generations in the UK.  Next year the squatting ban will begin to take effect, whilst Cameron’s intention to cut Housing Benefit for those under 25 will create unprecedented youth homelessness.

Meanwhile rents are rising as no-one can afford to buy a home anymore.  It is possible that the influx of Housing Benefit claimants into less expensive areas is further driving up prices as demand for cheaper properties soars.  The Housing Benefit bill keeps getting bigger despite the savage cuts.  This Government seems intent on driving the low waged, disabled, unwell or unemployed from their homes whatever the cost.

A demonstration has been called by the Right To Work Campaign (I know) against the proposed Housing Benefit cuts for those under 25.

Bring placards and cardboard boxes and meet opposite Downing Street at 11am this Wednesday 4th July.

Boris Johnson – The Joke That’s Not Funny Anymore

It’s now over two years since Boris Johnson claimed he would not accept ‘Kosovo style social cleansing’ on his watch and then proceeded to do fuck all about it.

For new claimants the Housing Benefit caps, which place most London rents out of reach of the low waged, the unemployed, disabled people or pensioners, have now been in place for over a year.  This effectively ended the safety net of the Welfare State for Londoners in the private rented sector.  Under this toff Government, should you be made unemployed, or become sick or disabled, then in all probability homelessness will follow.

Street homelessness is already predictably soaring.  Charities claim this is just the tip of the iceberg with thousands of young people sleeping on friend’s sofas, in hostels, squatting or living in night shelters.

The Government’s response has been to introduce legislation to ban squatting, whilst Boris has raided the budget allocated to rough sleepers for five million pounds.

In January the Housing Benefit caps came in for existing tenants, forcing thousands of people from their homes.  This is precisely the kind of ‘social cleansing’ Boris promised wouldn’t happen.  It’s happening.

The bungling Mayor didn’t even appear to notice until someone questioned him about it yesterday when he blustered that he would intervene.  Whatever he attempts now will be too little far too late.  Even if he scrapes the election, it’s unlikely he will do anything about the housing crisis in the city.   He never does anything.  The problem is set to get far worse next year when the £500 a week benefit cap is brought in.  Boris won’t do anything about that either.

It is a national scandal that unscrupulous landlords in London have made the capital unaffordable to anyone but yuppy scum and Russian billionaire gangsters.  But Boris shouldn’t be squeamish about supporting high Housing Benefit payments.  After all, he earns quarter of a million a year writing his shit column for the Daily Telegraph.  A sum he describes as chicken feed.

It is no surprise that rents are soaring in places like Newham who are attempting to re-locate their poorest residents to Stoke.  The Olympics is undoubtedly one reason.  A far bigger factor is the number of tenants forced out of Central London Boroughs into the outer regions.  This has sent demand soaring in the outer London boroughs with rents predictably rising as a result.

Council Tax rises are sure to follow.  The experience of Stoke should serve as a stark warning to the leafy Home Counties:

“We have seen in the past relocation putting strain on other services because the medical, education and justice systems are unprepared for an influx of very needy people.

“The result was huge, unplanned pressure on local services, the collapse of already vulnerable neighbourhoods and the rise of divisive right-wing extremism.”

The Stoke Housing Association asked to house London’s poor has predictably told Newham Council to fuck off.  It is the outer London Boroughs who will bear the brunt of the problems outlined above.  Any pretend cut in Council Tax that Boris has promised will be obliterated by the social costs of exporting thousands of London’s poorest residents out of the city centre.  Surrey could come to resemble the ghettos of Paris as a result.

With tube and train fares also set to rocket, hitting hard pressed commuters the most, the cost of the Tory Mayor and his party’s policies will prove disastrous for outer London.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has tried to distance himself from the chinless idiots currently plunging the nation into economic chaos.  But he is cut from the exact same cloth as Cameron and Osborne.  A true blue toff, his Dad was a Tory MEP who worked for the World Bank.  His brother, Jo Johnson is a Tory MP for Orpington.  Just like Cameron, Boris went to Eton and then joined the odious Bullingdon Boys at Oxford.  He is as out of touch and clueless about how most people live as the worst of the chinless knobs in the Cabinet.

When London was burning during the riots last year Boris couldn’t even be arsed to come back from his holiday.  When he finally turned up in Peckham he was jeered by locals.  Central London residents already think Boris is a twat who knows nothing of their lives.  His crude ‘water melon smiles’ racism and comparisons of gay marriage to bestiality have not been forgotten by those in the heart of the city.  Boris has tried to laugh off his past bigotry.  He’s little more than a posh Jim Davidson.

After eight years of Ken’s joyless scab junta it’s unsurprising that London elected a comedian to London Mayor.  But the joke has worn desperately thin.  Boris treats the job as little more than an excuse to quaff champagne with bankers and flatter his ego by waving his crap floppy hair about for the cameras.  And he only bothers to do that part time.  All Boris has come up with in his four years as Mayor are a few embarrassing looking bikes that weren’t even his idea and a couple of buses.

Boris earned over a million pounds last year.  He seems to care far more about increasing his riches than actually doing any work for Londoners.  Boris will do nothing to help ease the housing crisis should he be elected.  He will bluff and bluster whilst Council Tax, rents and fares soar in outer London.  And he is likely to be a national fucking embarrassment come the Olympics.

Boris should have served as a stark warning of what happens when arrogant little posh boys are given political power.  Lazy, brutal and incompetent, no-one sums up this current Government better than Boris Johnson.  He was never even really that good on the telly.  There will be no relief from the mass homelessness, social cleansing and desperate poverty emerging in the capital if Boris is re-elected.  And no amount of Boris’ spiffing japes will change that.

Disclaimer:  In the interest of balance it should be pointed out that Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones, Lawrence Webb, Siobhan Benita and Carlos Cortiglia, are also cunts.

Kosovo Begins, The Social Cleansing of London

This month families and claimants in London will receive notices explaining that their Housing Benefit payments are to be capped at levels far below their current rent. This will force tens of thousands of people, many with children, into homelessness and poverty as properties across vast swathes of London will be taken out of reach of the low waged, disabled people, pensioners and the unemployed.

It is difficult to understate the devastation this will cause to some of the most vulnerable people in the capital. Even those living in inner city areas earning enough not to need Housing Benefit will not remain untouched.

From the middle of the month if you are made redundant then you are very likely to lose your home as the welfare state will no longer provide enough money to enable you to pay your rent. If you become sick or disabled and are no longer able to work the same will apply. Even many ‘young professionals’ are unlikely to have the necessary savings to cover their rent should they lose their jobs and are unable to find work immediately. Public sector workers may find themselves not just unemployed but facing imminent homelessness should their jobs fall victim to cost cutting.

With little or no Social Housing provision available, even for the most vulnerable, the safety net of the Welfare State has been abolished for the vast majority of Londoners living in the private rented sector.

The tragic irony is that this will mean people being forced to move away from where work is available – a far cry from the traditional Tory appeal that people should get on their bikes to find a job.

Landlords, the true beneficiaries of the £21 Billion a year Housing Benefit bill, are not lowering rents to accommodate the changes as Cameron made up they would. As home ownership becomes an unaffordable dream for ever more Londoners, rents are predictably soaring. Whilst the Housing Benefits Caps drive low waged workers and claimants to the outskirts of London, increased demand means rents will rise even in the few remaining affordable parts of the capital. The boroughs not affected by the caps will see Housing Benefit costs soar, whilst Inner London Councils are set to be swamped with homelessness applications. The social costs will be devastating for already struggling Local Authorities as tens of thousands of claimants, pensioners, disabled people and low income families are forcibly relocated into the Outer London boroughs.

People forced to move will not just have their lives uprooted, they may well find there is nowhere to move to. ‘No DSS’ has been a demand of the vast majority of landlords in London for some time. Already benefit claimants and the low waged are often forced to lie about their financial circumstances to prospective landlords in order to be able to secure accommodation. The huge deposits demanded by landlords have long been a driver of homelessness in London. The bare minimum just to secure a tenancy usually involves paying a month’s rent as a deposit plus another month’s rent in advance. Even for properties with rents far below the levels of the Housing Benefit caps this means benefit claimants forced to move will face a bill of up to £2000 before any further expenses incurred in moving. Securing a new home away from central London is just not going to be financially possible for many people.

Housing Benefit has long been a crude sticking plaster which has mitigated the impact of the short sighted and unsustainable market driven housing policies the UK has suffered from for 30 years. Even the so called ‘affordable’ housing being built is unaffordable for most working class people. The mass sell off of council housing, which began under Thatcher, was continued by Labour, and is being escalated by Cameron, resulted in government housing subsidies increasingly falling into the pockets of private landlords rather than being invested in developing genuinely affordable housing provision. The result was a chronic shortage of housing for those on low incomes. Unlike many European countries with large private rented sectors, in the UK tenant’s rights were diminished and rent controls abolished. Buy to Let mortgages quickly became a way to make a quick buck as the housing shortage grew and rents rocketed.

In some parts of the country rents soared to such an excessive levels that Housing Benefit was forced to pick up the slack, not just for pensioners and benefit claimants but also for those on low, or (in London) even average salaries. This crude attempt to mitigate the insanity of the housing market has led to anomalies. At one extreme people this has meant people sleeping in doorways as they are unable to pay a deposit to get them on the rented property ladder, at the other a handful of landlords have received huge housing benefit payments for renting out modest properties to families in expensive areas. Even Housing Benefit has not prevented the hundreds of thousands of ‘hidden homeless’, sleeping on friends floors, in squats, B&Bs, hostels or night shelters.

The answer to these problems of course is a huge increase in the provision of social housing, made available at a ‘living rent’ with secure tenancies. There are few private tenants who would not exchange in a heartbeat their over-priced, low-security shoe box for good quality Council accommodation. Once again social housing, which often makes a profit for local authorities, would no longer be seen as a hand out, but a valid, secure and respectable choice for working class people. In the meantime rent controls could curb some of the excesses of parasitic landlords.

Of course Cameron is doing the exact opposite. Social Housing is to be gradually eroded, council rents are to be forced up to unaffordable market levels and the idea of a home for life is being abandoned. With high rents and no security of tenure then it is reasonable to ask what is the point of social housing?

The system is so fucked that even Boris can see the upcoming social disaster. Describing the Housing Benefit Caps as Kosovo Style ethnic cleansing he has pledged “On my watch you are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have always been living and where they have put down roots” and then proceeded to do fuck all about it. Meanwhile Ken makes vague noises about rent controls which he won’t be able to enforce even if he is elected.

The housing crisis is a systemic problem – the result of the free market run rampant. The housing benefit changes will remove close to one million homes from the reach of people on low incomes and cause unprecedented levels of homelessness. Unlike the US, trailer parks and cardboard cities are not welcome here – the recent violent eviction of the Dale Farm community is testament to that. The question is where are the poor supposed to go?

Lobby of Parliament to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill & benefit caps

Protest Outside Westminster City Hall & Mass Food Give Away!

Thursday, April 14 · 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

Westminster Council have reacted with undisguised glee to the Housing Benefit changes which will see thousands of benefit claimants forced to leave the borough or face homelessness. On top of this they plan to make it a criminal offence to sleep on the street or hand out free food to the homeless in some parts of the borough.

As part of the third National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts we will be gathering outside Westminster City Hall on the 14th April at 5pm for a protest and mass free food give away.

Bring musical instruments, noise, banners, placards, leaflets and lots of food and say no to the economic cleansing of Central London.

Plans are afoot for other activities in London earlier in the day – keep an eye on the main facebook page or website for details, plus news on other events around the UK.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186039361439862

Also called – Leeds: Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862&

Poole: Outside the Jobcentre at noon. Everyone welcome!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161332900587762

void top tips no. 2: slum landlords

Slum Landlords – worried that the new Housing Benefit caps might affect the bottom line?

Simply move move your property portfolio to areas where rents are currently very low then along with your parasite mates begin to drive the market up to the levels of the cap.

£400 quid a week for a shitty terrace in the arse end of Middleborough – lovely jubbly.

(alternatively simply register with the Local Authority as a provider of temporary accommodation for families.  This means when the families get kicked out of the overpriced flat you are provided you cam simply get them to register with the council as homeless* and rent them a  shithole for the same cash.)

* Local Authorities have a statutory duty to house families who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.  The rent for these properties is covered by Housing Benefit, not Local Housing Allowance and as such is not subject to any caps at all.  Most of the handful families in 2 grand a week mansions are being housed temporarily whilst the Council tries to find them a permanent property.  They will still be there after the caps are brought it.