Out of balance

My previous blog ended with a remark on the Bedroom Tax, which is just a very simplified version of making those who did not purchase their homes pay for the very fact, that they did not buy their homes in time and for punishment. Because if you are a leaseholder, then you can severely under-occupy just because you bought a place and almost 50% of council flats are now privately owned.

If it really was as easy as the government pretends, those who move into smaller accommodation make room available for those who are in need of accommodation then the whole problem would simply be solved by allowing people to swap homes.

Create homes exchange lists, as they usually already exist on council bidding sites and then the people with too much room could swap with those in need of room.

Obviously this just doesn’t work out. So if the objective is to allocate homes to those who need it, there is no system in place to actually do so.

Those who are stuck in too large homes because they cannot find any smaller ones are unfairly discriminated against.  People may not only be stuck because there is no smaller accommodation available locally but also because they cannot move further away because of work commitments or medical reasons.

If the overall objective is to just ensure that all have enough space to live in then more pressure should be put on home owners to let out spare rooms too, give up second homes and occupy less space for themselves just because they can pay for it.

This whole bedroom tax system if merely an instrument to punish those who did not purchase their council flats.

 

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Bedroom hardship

I am very certain, that as soon as people get hit with their new rent demands, many will want to move to smaller accommodation. Yet they’ll find that the market is saturated and nothing is available. Even those who try their hardest to find a smaller flat will have to pay the bedroom tax without it being a fault of their own that they now cannot get a smaller place to live in.

In the privately rented sector, people will need to pay a deposit. I have not seen it advertised anywhere that people actually will get help with this. Therefore I do agree, that this Bedroom Tax, as Labour calls it is unfair to people. It will be unfair to landlords, who will find themselves facing large arrears and negative bank balances.

The government simply argues that they cannot afford to pay housing benefit for spare bedrooms and need to get the housing market moving and people into work.

It’s the ‘sink or swim’ approach and many will sink rather than swim. Tenants will see their housing benefit or universal benefit paid directly to them and if they have such hardship that they can hardly cope with the £500 cap per week, they will rather spend the money on food than on rent.

Many people will get eviction notices and register as homeless with councils and even then councils will find it difficult to secure enough small bedroom accommodation to give all homeless the size of flat they deserve under the new regulations.

That bedroom tax is going to cause a lot of problems but unfortunately people will have to put up with it unless a court decides it is unreasonable and perhaps it could breach Human Rights.  Else people have to wait until after the next elections and most likely that will see a Labour government who will need some time to change housing rules. But by then, and the government knows this most people will already have been evicted from their current flats.

So all rules governing tenancy security will be thrown overboard by the Bedroom Tax. It doesn’t matter how secure your tenancy is, if you can’t pay the rent, you still are going to get evicted.

This seems a contractual oddity because there is no clause in the secure tenancy agreements that the rules on size of property could be changed during the course of the contract.

But I also vividly remember how Labour Party members, when Labour was still in government, who screamed about under-occupation and it were Labour members who called for urgent changes to current housing laws, so who are they to complain now?

We have given our economy away

We have handed it to the Chinese, Indians and other former Third World countries on a plate. What do they expect? Of course our economies have to shrink because all our productions have been moved elsewhere. Even those companies that are naturally based in Europe but have out-sourced work to other nations do not necessarily pay tax on those gains in Europe either. Because if the work is contracted out to an overseas company they earn in their countries and pay tax there.

I have blogged about this countless times before and nobody ever took any notice. Of course now, when the slump hits us hard, then suddenly they ask, how could it happen?

Europe is not the Christmas tree of the world, Europe has to make money as well.

Here in the UK and other small European countries we keep on accepting immigrants, who take up housing space and get benefits and health treatment but we do lose that space towards productivity space because where there are homes there can’t be factories as well.

David Cameron now wants to close a few loopholes on immigration. Most of the poor that live in our rich inner cities like London will soon have to move into the hinterlands because new benefit regulations make life in the Capital too expensive. In a way it is right that those who work in an area, should also have the preferred right to live there, as otherwise people have to pay too much for commuting to work every day.

But it still does not move any new work to our shores if we just fill spaces with homes for new dwellers instead of focussing on getting the economy moving our way again. We have passed on our knowledge to those left behind and now we are the ones waddling behind others.

Severely segregated schooling

A recent OECD study found that the UK schooling system is one of the most socially segregated systems within the industrialised world.

I think this is unacceptable and does not benefit a country when it becomes more than apparent that daily decisions by our current leaders are off the mark, impracticable and plain stupid in some cases and cause unnecessary widespread resentment.

One can clearly see that many decisions are made by people who have been elevated into posts either as Civil Servants or government advisers with little or no understanding of economic mechanisms and how things work together.

This now leads to severe crisis in both the health and housing sector. These problems are solely due to social immobility and the cynicism of the ruling classes to reject anything that is not part of the upper circles.

The OECD statistics don’t even list the UK among the top 14 achievers for both academic brilliance and combined social mobility in education.

Michael Gove’s policies have done nothing to close the gaps; in fact schooling has become worst for some who are not even entitled to proper school buildings any longer as free schools can be back-street establishments from now on.

We are looking at a severe housing crises because nobody can afford to pay the rent on £500 a week benefits cap, which will take Housing Associations out of business because they rely on regular rent payments to repay their loans.

However if the decision making processes of politics would include people from all walks of life, people who know what is the practically of daily life for the average person, then politics would cause less drama and more useful solutions. It will take years to repair the damage this government has done to our society today.

No housing, just hotels

It will only get worst, the amount of people that are going to present as homeless when benefit caps come in soon. Westminster doesn’t know what to do with large homeless families and whilst keeping them on the old housing benefits at £700 per week was cheaper, the new 4-star hotel solutions  cost that per night.

Where are councils supposed to house the homeless that will be evicted when they are unable to afford their rents? Are there any housing solutions available that fit their budgets, after the benefit caps have been fully implemented. Perhaps garden sheds would be affordable but then that is not in keeping with Human Rights legislation.

Another fine mess this government has gotten us into and an ill thought through policy is going to fill our news papers and Internet news channels with ever increasing problem reports about housing from April 2013.

It is possible that landlords will have to lower rents if they had no choice but to evict their tenants on the high rents they can’t afford but the chances are that in London there will be plenty of takers for expensive flats.

Will it all pan out or will somebody scratch their heads and wonder how it all came about?

Obviously we cannot place families into sheds and bunkers or even let them sleep under bridges, so where is all the cheap housing going to come from?

It’s quite amazing that the government warned Westminster council that they are breaking the law by paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to 4-star hotels to house the homeless but where are they supposed to put the people? Will they have forcibly to be moved into the cheap country side or will they try to house them all in East London,which is already a favourite dumping place for homeless people?

Tower Hamlets is trying to accommodate the situation by building the highest residential tower block,the Canary Wharf Tower, which doesn’t sound too safe, considering the fire stations in the area are going to be reduced. If I had to live on the 50th floor I definitely would buy a parachute, just in case a fire breaks out at floor 41.

Videos as this one from the BBC website will send a chilling message around the world that large families seeking asylum in Britain are no longer receiving the luxury large houses they used to get.

Cameron = Milliband

The general consent in the UK today is to promote the Living Wage. Yes, it is only right that employers at least pay what a worker at least needs to live on. Both Cameron and Milliband promote the living wage. All the churches also agree on the Living Wage to be paid. It makes a lot of sense especially when one hears that so many companies do not pay tax properly. Seeing that the tax payer has to meet the cost of working through Working Tax Credit and make up a short-fall of taxes through the public purse is just too much.

Yet on the other hand if the cost of living is subsidised through Working Tax Credits then the dependency of a person on an employer is not so great because there is another stream of income from another source, that can catch up any problems that may arise through a loss of employment or if one has to change employers frequently for whatever reason.

What is really important is the continuation of income, the ability to pay rents and bills without having to suffer hardship. Not even the “Living Wage” campaign can make up for the shortfall on benefits that people have to suffer when they for example are forced to change from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance once a child turns to the prescribed age.

People are left for weeks without any money from their benefits, which makes vulnerable single mothers even more vulnerable and turn to soup kitchens.

The current government especially wants to turn people away from getting benefits as much as possible and I think at the same time the government also has lost the caring attitude they once used to have. And even there Milliband and Cameron are the same. I cannot see a change in attitude when it comes to the treatment of vulnerable parents.

Reading now also that stateless immigrant children get exploited in a variety of ways and are homeless I cannot see that either political party does enough to push through a thorough policy that deals with vulnerable children in today’s society. Children who have been abandoned cannot get any benefits, homes or jobs without a consenting adults but all adults have written them off, to be exploited. This is completely intolerable. These children should have a way of establishing themselves and if they sign on somewhere each day to show that they live in this country. Instead they are left on the streets and get even sexually exploited and that flies in the face of other recent scandals.

Apparently the London Living Wage has just increased to £8.55 per hour by London Mayor Boris Johnson, but as said above, the Living Wage alone is not going to solve the social problems created by inconsistencies in income for waged or un-waged people. It has become a cheap if not bad political tactic to just highlight one area of improvement whilst everything else is left to rot. Milliband does not propose any wider changes, nor does Cameron.

Old-fashioned values

What the Conservatives always wanted to make us belief is the fact they they defend the “good old-fashioned” values. We often enough get the comparisons to Victorian Times, how well the economy was then, and how powerful the British Emporium worked worldwide.

Today we have a Conservative government that makes up numbers with the Liberal Democrats and it is this partnership that waters down government. In fact we are in such a puddle by now, that there is nothing left of the “good” old-fashioned values but what is left now is a lot of old cobbles. But then in Victorian times we did have cobbled roads.

This government now wants to make us belief that the institution of marriage is as important as ever but in Victorian times no 2 men or 2 women would have dared live together as man and wife or asked to get formally married.

Family values were grouped around raising children and women were unable to make a career for themselves but were tied to the stove. Women had no choice but to find a man or end up in the workhouse. We are very tolerant these days but want to see good old-fashioned stern discipline and workaholic people who work hard and save hard. But the singles lifestyle these days is very expensive more expensive than living in a tightly knit family that can save a few pennies by doing things in a type of cooperative way. When large families still lived under one roof, where several generations shared a household,then savings could be made but today they all live in single flats, all need their own washing machines and pay their own individual rents.

What the government has forgotten is the fact that family is a child-related matter and not a marriage certificate related matter alone.  We do not get married to own the other person to say that is the only person I am going to live with for the rest of my life, we used to get married to have a firm basis to bring up our children and build a business or make a career to support that family.  But now, since so many jobs are being done by those who do not have the time to have a family, those with family are increasingly dependant on handouts.

What government now does is run after donors who have the most money and they say anything to get to that cash. In the end the customer is always right and in the end powerful men always ruled the world.

A sentence much too lenient

I think it is completely unfair and much too lenient that the person who caused over £ 1 million worth of damage to shops and set properties alight, without giving any regard to the lives of those who lived above commercial properties during the riots, that that person only gotten 8 years of jail. It is not enough, for potentially wanting to kill residents and burnt businesses to the ground and 6 residents were left homeless.

It is not enough that he gave up his council flat voluntarily. He should not be released from jail because this person is very dangerous indeed.

A muddled boom bama bang from Labour

It seems a little bit, very far fetched from Yvette Cooper to argue that Boris Johnson gets a £90 million election bung just because the Mayoral elections coincide with the Olympic games. That is the stuff that paranoia is made of, I think.  That is an argument somebody uses who thinks they are going to lose something and they are looking in advance for excuse why they are going to loose it.

I just want the best party to win, since we have to put up with democracy and if Labour has good policies I embrace them and if the Conservatives have good policies I welcome them too. The new gang warfare by the police is more than welcome and the strategy not to glorify the gangs by name is even better.  Why advertise something that you do not like. Others might just want to find out about it. For us who are not involved in gangs at all, all names of gangs are completely unknown. We do not want to learn their terminology and we are fed up with having to live with the problems they cause in our neighbourhoods.

Obviously the Olympics will have to be policed and as it happens Boris Johnson is Mayor at this time, so he has to have to budget to do his job. Does Mrs Cooper suggest that Boris should get less money so that Labour could look better because the Mayor doesn’t do his job properly. What a cut off argument that is.

Got a job but no home

An article in the Evening Standard article highlights the problems we have gotten ourselves into, in that people who work, have actual jobs have to sleep in the streets because they are homeless. A variety of circumstances can lead to homelessness. But isn’t there something wrong with our housing allocation principles if people with jobs can have to sleep in the streets?

It happened to me in 1977, I came here to London, gotten a job at the BBC, had a flat in Cologne, no time to go house-hunting in London, not knowing that the BBC actually made housing available for foreign workers, I went squatting instead.

There should be a safety net for working people to get somewhere to stay if circumstances force them out of their homes. Surely it is the least comfort a working person can have, that is to have a roof over their heads. Yet we always assume that those in work surely are the ones that can afford a flat, but Peter who is 57 and works in maintenance said: “People swore at me a lot: ‘Lazy b***ard! Get a job!'” he recalls. “But he was saying I should be locked up. I ended up throwing my wage slips at him.”

Where are our values gone wrong that anybody steady enough can get a flat for life and benefits to go with it whilst others have to sleep rough, whilst paying taxes? We have grown out of our four walls, our existing housing stock has been let to those who are in it but not to those who need a home.

In Victorian times they had work houses for those without proper jobs or homes and that allocated not only a home but also a job at the same time. Not a bad principle. Today’s equivalent of work houses are a large amount of prisons but one has to break the law to get a place.

It seems that some logical conclusion might be to re-evaluate our current system. There are many volunteers, like myself now who are treated as work-shy despite spending many hours doing work for nothing, whilst at the same time the government evaluates voluntary work at over £ 11 per hour.  How can the same person contribute at £11 per hour whilst at the same time being treated as unemployed.  There are apparently many employed who can find nowhere to stay that they could call a home, whilst there are criminals who stay in rooms awaiting trial at a cost higher than a luxury hotel room.

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