Saturday, September 22, 2012

An Englishman's Home Is His Castle?

I have no time for this government. I loathe David Cameron and Nick Clegg for their smarmy self-satisfaction, a bit rich considering neither actually won the 2010 General Election.

As far as welfare goes I broadly agree that changes need to be made to a system that over many years, has rewarded the feckless and the lazy. However, I do not object in the least to paying my taxes to help pay benefits for those genuinely in need, it is the wasters I object to funding. So reform of benefits is a must but in at least one area I believe that this government has got it seriously wrong. What's new?

Among the forthcoming welfare reforms is a reform of Housing Benefit. Currently those who qualify have their rent paid by the state to the landlord. In their wisdom this government is going to change the system so that Housing Benefit is paid to the tenant who must then pay the landlord. Madness. The overwelming majority of people in rented accomodation, and receiving Housing Benefit, are fine but there is a sizeable group who are not. If a junkie is faced with paying his landlord or his dealer what will he choose? The family in hock to a local loan shark. Are they likely to pay the rent or use the money to stop said loan shark breaking legs for non-payment. To many it will be like giving the keys to the sweet shop to a child.

Then the reform will introduce the concept of 'under occupation'. Social landlords will have to check occupancy and if a family have a spare bedroom they will lose 14% of their Housing Benefit. Two spare bedrooms and they lose 25%. This means that when the children grow up and leave the home, their parents will either have to find more money to top up their benefit, find a lodger to pay rent to cover their loss of benefits, or move out into a smaller property, often private which will cost the taxpayers much more in Housing Benefit.

We are talking here about family homes, not just bricks and mortar. Many of us bought our houses but many more, for whatever reasons, chose to rent. If a couple have lived in a home for thirty years or more, raised a family in that home but in retirement exist on a state pension and Housing Benefit, why should they be forced out of the family home with all its memories and momentoes? Why should they be forced to take in a styranger as a lodger? These are peoples' homes we are talkng about, not state operated workers' hostels or workers' dormitories.

In many ways Cameron and Clegg seem to go out of their way to appear 'caring' and 'of the people'. These reforms merely show how very out of touch both of them are with the real world. The sooner they are gone the better. At least then the Tories may actually find a conservative to lead them.

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