By Dude Swheatie of KwugAt this 2015 UK General Election the Conservative Manifesto says that more people should have the 'right to buy' and councils and social landlords should be forced to sell properties in 'more desirable' areas.(1) Yet it is now fairly well-known that Thatcherite Right to Buy has increased the social housing shortage and that supply shortage led rogue landlords to sponge off public money before the 'benefit cap' that was brought in by the Conservative-Lib Dem (aka 'Con-Dem' coalition) that 'came to power' in the wake of the 2010 UK General Election.(2)
Yet it was a Daily Mail style mode of 'investigative reporting' that led to the benefit cap as Housing Benefit claimants — especially asylum seekers — that got the blame for how much was screwed out of the public purse for the benefit of the real spongers who were dodgy private landlords.(3)
Now, at the time of 2015 UK General Election 2015, it is timely that
- Panorama produced an investigation into rogue landlords milking the system, Panorama: The Great Housing Benefit Scnadal(4) and
- Argotina followed that up with a blog piece relating such a private rented market's poor service to tenants in her 'more desirable' neighbourhood. Welfare Tales: Rogue Landlords and the Benefit Cap(5)
The enemies of 'red tape' have already extracted the legislation's teethHere is an excerpt from Argotina's blog piece, Rogue Landlords and the Benefit Cap:
The house next door to mine, once a family home, is now 4 flats containing 11 people, with no fire exit from the top floor. The tenants are frightened of a potential fire, they have small children and live in the converted attic. But they cannot tell the council because they’ll just be evicted, and its nigh on impossible to find an affordable flat in London, no matter how cramped and unsafe. This is a working family, not on benefits.So, Local Authority budgets need to be sufficinet to enforce legislation, does it not? General Election time is a time that helps instal the Central Government that will administer tax payers' money to local authorities to act locally.
And its not as if the government doesn’t know. Here’s a Panorama program saying the same thing from 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/…/fron…/newsid_9122000/9122529.stm This was before the benefit cap.
The benefit cap means that NOBODY on benefits can afford a private rented flat in Inner London, or most of outer London. There are no council flats, they are being destroyed in their thousands and replaced by ‘luxury apartments’. The local authorities are being forced to satisfy their statutory obligations to house the vulnerable by placing them into slum rat holes, or move them hundreds of miles away from their support networks to where rents are cheaper. This is pushing up rents outside of London, too.
The Residential Landlords Association agrees there’s a problem, but says we don’t need more legislation. They say the existing legislation is perfectly adequate, the problem is that savage cuts to Local Authorities budgets means they cant enforce the laws that already exist. Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that over the course of this Parliament, the budgets of local authority enforcement departments have been cut by over 37% per head of population in England. http://news.rla.org.uk/private-rental-market-is-being…/
You are not only deciding for yourself. Decide compassionately and wiselyThis General Election is a time of decision. If you are registered to vote, think of those who are not registered to vote. How about people whose electoral registration letters have been opened by their rogue landlords and thus confiscated? Rogue landlords help being exposed, as the Panorama programme showed. Perhaps a vote for tougher enforcement will lead not only to such landlords being 'outed' but also to being forced out of practice?
So how about raising these issues with candidates in your area for the 2015 UK General Election? You can get in touch with them by way of the Your Next MP interactive portal website. (Of course, that is assuming that you are able to get online. Many people are not; and given the online-only methods of pollsters, what sort of world is being created with and for the exclusion of people who cannot get online? Universal Credit that Conservatives are pledged to bring in at even further taxpayers' expense really amounts to Furthered Offline Exclusion because you have to be online to register for it!)
- Vote for Policies interactive portal website (7)
- Vote Match interactive portal website (8)
- Councils' out-of-area placements breaking the law: Councils in London have broken the law by placing more than 8,000 families in other areas without properly notifying the receiving authority.(9)
(4) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05s99p1/panorama-the-great-housing-benefit-scandal accessed 27 April 2015
(7) https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/ accessed 27 April 2015
(8) http://www.votematch.org/ accessed 27 April 2015
(9) http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/councils-out-of-area-placements-breaking-the-law/7009398.article accessed 27 April 2015