By Dude Swheatie of Kwug
Given the orientation of much UK reporting output toward demonising poorer people while venerating wealth and property market 'entrepreneurship' since the 2010 General Election, the emphasis of your print edition cover story "Probe into 'Council Flat Hotel'" — CNJ, January 22, 2015 does not surprise me. But with about 100 days before General Election 2015, is this story representative of the state of social housing in the UK?
The predominant narrative of state broadcasting programmes that masquerade as 'public service broadcasting' compared to the casework of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group (KUWG) gives out the message that:
- There is a huge problem of benefit claimants making fraudulent claims as evidenced by the 50:50 bias of BBC's 'Saints & Scroungers', compared to the KUWG experience that vulnerable people experiencing extreme hardship as a consequence of 'welfare reform' policies and cuts in council funding increase social inequality is much more the norm;
- It is socially laudable for people to buy up properties for the 'buy to rent' market (eg, BBC's 'Homes Under the Hammer'), while central and local government policies such as 'Right to Buy' and evictions resulting from the privatisation of social housing and 'welfare reform' related rent arrears deny poor people the right to rent; and
- Global 'investors' have the best of motives, while it's okay for political parties to promise ever deeper cuts in welfare spending regardless of how those might be implemented in terms of ridiculous benefit sanctions, a daily signing on regime for Jobseekers Allowance claimants, and the kind of fiasco of abusing vulnerable people that Atos has become infamous for.
Moving into a new job and/or moving home have long been identified as stressful for anybody. When social housing tenants are obliged to relocate because of a new job that might or might not work out, what can they do to protect their social tenany, especially when the narrative of people subletting induced by the orientation of fraud investigator conspires against the financially vulnerable tenant and jobseeker getting any real help?And what of the social housing tenant's capacity to enlist in something like Voluntary Service Overseas or a Community Service Volunteers placement or degree course as a mature student away from home? Is that only the prerogative of the home owner?
When will fraud investigators tackle politicians' broken promises to protect the vulnerable?