Maybe I shouldn't get so worked up about these things but I do.
I've lived in London since I graduated and worked damn hard to be able to afford to be able to live here, in relatively nice accommodation, but nowhere near the centre of town (I've lived in Ealing, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Fulham in my 6 years here).
I now see claims from people like Simon Hughes regarding the 'draconian' nature of only giving people £400pw to spend on a 4 bed property in London and hear all the tales of the ghettoisation of the poor and the segregation of society.
To start with, a quick look on gumtree shows no shortage of 4+ bedroom properties in London. Yes, they might not be in Kensington but why should they be? I doubt I will ever be able to afford to live in Kensington at any point and I earn a great deal more than the median wage mentioned as the cap. Just because people on benefits can't live in central London doesn't mean they all have to congrigate in one big ghetto. Here's what you can get for £400, all advertised in the public domain, I can provide links if needs be:
Putney: 4 bedroom flat located in a desirable area of Putney. The property benefits from 4 double bedrooms , 2 bathrooms and private balcony. The property has been Renovated last year and is in very good condition. Close to Transport link (East Putney tube station and Putney Rail) and shops. To Arrange a viewing please call our letting team (£365pw)
Brentford: well maintained four bedroom semi detached house with garden in sought after location of Brentford - Enfield Road. The property on the ground floor consists of huge living room with fireplace and dining section, conservatory leading to low maintenance garden with shed, fitted kitchen, roomy bathroom with whirlpool bath. Upstairs there is a master bedroom with fitted wardrobes, single bedroom with roof terrace and two additional bedrooms (one is a loft room). The house benefits from double glazing, real wood flooring through and gas central heating. There is parking available on the street. (£356pw)
Lewisham: An absolutely superb opportunity to rent this luxurious house situated in the much sought after residential road. Being extremely spacious , the property comprises: security video entry system, welcoming entrance hallway, superbly designed lounge and dining room, luxury fitted kitchen with granite worktops and built in appliances, study, guest cloakroom, master bedroom with ensuite bathroom having fabulous fitted bathroom and dressing room, second double bedroom with ensuite shower room. (£400pw)
I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea.
Next, the cap of £400pw is the equivalent of £1,738pcm or £20,857pa. I'm pretty sure that someone earning the median wage wouldn't be able to afford that amount after taxation is applied to their £26,000, let alone living costs. But to make someone out of work rent for such an amount is 'draconian'? Do me a favour.
I really can't believe the furore over this and in fact if anything the furore should be produced over the amount that is still being offered when people who have worked pretty damn hard can't afford a place themselves as rentals are kept artificially high in London due to DSS/housing benefits paying these amounts.
Maybe I've missed something but it still seems pretty extravagent to me
Well he certainly makes some good points, doesn't he?
UPDATE: Dizzy takes Labour MP Andrew Gwynne to task on housing benefit.
Bravo! At last somebody telling it like it is - so true. Who wouldn't love to live in Kensington or Belgravia but our price range is on the far reaches of the Northern Line. Believe me this wouldn't even be an issue in the States. You live where you can afford to - period.
In principle, I agree. However there does exist two parallel rental markets "No DSS" and "DSS welcome" (due to risks of landlords not being paid the rent they are due, both through DSS administrative cock-up and tenant fraud). Housing from the latter category is apparently both of poorer quality and priced rather higher than one would expect compared with equivalent quality housing in the "No DSS" market.
When I started work with the Civil Service over twenty years ago I was posted, take it or leave it, to central London, probably because they couldn't get qualified locals to work on the low salary offered. The "Welfare" section of the Department offered to provide details of hostels. I ended up commuting daily from the Midlands as that was the cheaper option. London Weighting and reduced hours were provided in compensation, but travel is so much easier in London than elsewhere. Stop subsidising Londonistanis.
Some of the reason that there are higher rents on property for Housing Benefit claimants is that for private landlords the insurance that is required is significantly more expensive if you accept such tenants. Indeed some insurers put a clause in that invalidates insurance if you accept them.
Has anybody mentioned that for those who live in London and work as cleaners (for example), their wages are likely to RISE now that those who have their rent paid by the taxpayer will have to move out?
Iain, surely either your correspondent or you should ask Simon Hughes for his comments.
To think if the Labour party hadn't selected the brave, but at that time unelectable, Peter Tatchell back in 1983 we might never had heard from the odious Mr Hughes ever again.
Just wait until Tory MPs in the suburbs have to start dealing with an influx of lower income (and inflamed) voters, while dealing with discontented locals.
He does make (and evidence) some good points.
Housing Benefit as it stands is a nonsense and even the coalition's proposals don't go far enough. Of course there will be 'side effects' but there are side effects when you stop taking heroin.
And I speak as a Labourite.
The capped level of £20K a year is obscene. It is the sum needed to pay an interest only mortgage of £800,000 at the RBS Tracker rate of 2.39%. A taxpayer would need to prove a gross income / savings of over £250,000 to obtain that mortgage.
I choose interest only as being closest to the situation of a housing benefit tenant: rent doesn't buy the property, nor does an interest only mortgage. To compare against a capital repayment mortgage, the figures work out at a £400,000 mortgage, suggesting a gross income / savings of over £125,000.
As a taxpayer, I don't see why I should support a benefits claimant living in a house that only a substantially wealthy taxpayer could normally afford. I certainly could not afford it.
Hey Paul, if commuting is good enough for me others can do it too.
In New York City, people on low wages or on welfare don't expect to live on Park Avenue - they commute from the Boroughs.
I had a cheap room in Kensington once, but it came with a strange live-in landlord with whom I fell out after drinking the best part of a bottle of Ardbeg.
isn't the £26,000 per annum a maximum for all benefits - it is not the amount of housing benefit you will get.
the housing benefit will available will be reduced to meet the £500 pw limit.
hence people won't be able to afford a £400 a week house on the new scheme
Great post, at last people are starting to wake up and actually find out what is going on rather than believe the utter tripe talked by the left.
What are you talking about?
Isn't the maximum of £26,000 a year for all benefits not housing benefit. i.e. the amount of housing benefit you can claim is the balancing figure to take you up to £500 a week, hence it is very unlikely you would have £400 a week to spend on rent.
So I expect Afghan asylum seekers being put up in houses worth over 1 milion that cost a colossal amount of rent per month will finally cease? £400 a week housing benefit seems pretty extravagant to me.
Draconian? Nonsense, just plain common sense, but not to the luvvie liberal lot who think it is acceptable that people who have no money, too many children and no ties to London should move into desirable properties in Little Venice that they find on the internet. Westminster Council then have to pick up the bill to the tune of £1600 A WEEK (£83,000 a year) and don't tell me it doesn't happen as we have that precise situation in our road. I am sick to death of the outcry about people not being able to live in central London as the housing benefit will no longer cover it, why should we have to subsidise these outrageous rents to pay for the type of housing that the vast majority of working people can only dream of?
The other thing is that this is for a 4 bed house! I dream f four bed houses as opposed tol a room in a houseshare! Maybe I should stop workinG!?!
A good number of people live where I do (NE Hampshire) and commute into London on the train. Here you can rent a lovely 4 bedroom house for well under £20k a year.
Indeed, a lot of NE Hants (and many other counties) act as a dormitory for London.
OTOH, a few years ago my son and four friends started living in a small 4 bed flat in Borough after graduation. It cost them about £1,600 a month.
We certainly want to offer welfare to those needing it, but to me this is an example where a cut in these benfits seems reasonable.
Think you'll find lots of hard working aspirational people are more sick to the back teeth of those sponging on benefits in lovely big houses than those in Westminster. They see the reality of these types of people.
Its about time the government took a harder line on this.
Worth noting that single people under 35 won't be able to even rent a one bedroom flat due to the expansion of the shared room rate from under 25's.
And I'd like to draw attention to big dave-11's comments
Just out of fairness, we should also cap MPs allowances on renting a london flat at £400 a week as well
"Has anybody mentioned that for those who live in London and work as cleaners (for example), their wages are likely to RISE now that those who have their rent paid by the taxpayer will have to move out?"
But those same cleaners who can't afford the rising cost of rent will need to move further away, increasing travel costs, etc.
Swings and roundabouts, as they say.
Old Holborn. You will no doubt be delighted to know that the limit for MPs renting a flat it less than £400 a week. Indeed, I think it amounts to £1450 a month.
Big Dave, back in the 90's we fell on extremely hard times - we lost our business, my husband became ill and we had a small child. Despite answering numbers of ads and sending hundreds of applications on spec it took two years to find new jobs. The interest on our mortgage was paid - coming to about £500 per month and we receive £425.00 in benefits a month - this was to feed and clothe a family of three, pay utility bills and basically live. We did not know how to work the system and if it hadn't been for the kindness of friends and family we would have starved - they couldn't help much but even a little bit over the £425. a month we received was gratefully appreciated. We had no other help from the State. Our total 'income' was around £11,000 per year. So of course I have empathy and compassion for those who have also fallen on hard times - but I would say that £26,000 a year, even including housing is pretty generous compared to what we had.
What I don't approve of is reducing your housing benefit if you haven't found a job in a year - while I know that many people view benefits as a lifestyle choice I know how hard I tried to find work for two years without success - and I am pretty well qualified.
Chrismou, tell that to the millions of low paid workers who commute into Manhattan from the boroughs. You do what you have to do.
Simon Hughes has a vested interest in his words. His constiuency is the largest housing estate in london. Typical of the dear, little, AC/DC swinging boy, he wants to keep sweet with his voters and ensure their continuing support.
Perhaps we should have some of our MP's preface comments with their political requirement.
No-one has a right to live in a specific locale, no-one has the right to work, but they do have the right to travel to work and not expect those that do work to pay exorbitant monies for them.
This story is yet another example of the profligacy of NuLab's 13 years and the payment od welfare willy-nilly at no thought to expense.
Hull has many vacant homes which people can reside in, the fact they want to live in London is neither here nor there unless they have paid work and can afford to pay the going rate.
Good comment by the author, who is at least a realist.
Well, yeah let's see the links then. It's just that in Nottingham there are 4 bed houses going for £240-320 pw and not in the 'posh areas either so I'm surprised to say the least that houses anywhere in London are going for £400pw.
We'll also get to see whether there are substantial deposits and rent in advance payable which of course puts them out of the reach of people on benefits. Oh and agency fees of course. I wouldn't half mind seeing an Environmental Health report on these dwellings as well.
This is a typical Tory response, someone comes up with, usually unverified, claims of how easy it all is (the tradition of a Tory MP 'proving' that it's quite possible to live on Jobseekers Allowance by trying it for a week fits in with this. Or Nadine hiding £50 about her person to help survive her brush with 'reality' TV) but failing to take into account the real world inconveniently getting in the way of the real people whose lives actually involve dealing with this stuff.
Then you all go off, braying "You see? You see?", jowls wobbling in indignation at the undeserving poor daring to get ideas above their station.
I imagine Dame Shirley Porter is feeling aggrieved, she got surcharged for doing just what the coalition is getting away with doing scot free.
Aspiring Rainmaker: you have more than 5 people living in a room in a flatshare? people need to realise that this cap is not for single people, this is also relevant to the MP comparison, to the best of my knowledge a second home for an MP does not need to house the number of people a 4 bed house does.
I am in a favour of a cap but it needs to be fair. it is unfair that those who work pay less rent than those whose rent is paid for by the government and that the tenants of said situation are badmouthed because of this situation.
If we start shifting people on housing benefit to more affordable areas we will end up with ghettos of inequity where life chances are much reduced.
We need more regulation of the housing system, not victimisation of those who are worst off in society.
When all of these single people under 35 who are in private 1 bed flats/studio flats are made homeless (due to the increase in the single room allowance thingy) where are the council going to house them? in B&Bs? wont this cost more?
Excuse me, Womble but when I was in my late 20's I couldn't afford a place of my own - I shared a one bedroom flat with two other people. Why is there such a sense of entitlement in this country?
And, Nottingham guy - why four bedroom houses? Again, what is this sense of entitkment that each child gets its own room? Again, I grew up in a one bedroom flat in the States - my sister and I shared a room and my parents slept in the living room. We weren't poor by any means but NYC is space poor and huge flats don't exist except for the wealthy.
You really don't know what you are on about.
Sadly when I worked in Westminster I couldn't afford a three bed house just up the road and settled for a pokey one bed flat conversion in Lewisham. It's what I could afford, it didn't kill me and I didn't expect the tax payer to pay my rent. The current benefit cut proposals do not go far enough. Benefits are meant to help the poor and needy and not the idle, the picky or the serial breeders. And don't get me started on the aid budget ....
allnottinghambasearebelongtous - just go to gumtree.com and have a look, they are all there.
Lets have a quick look at your claim, what can I get with 4 beds in Nottingham for £320pw... That comes out at just shy of £1,400pcm... which will get us any of these:
None of them posh enough for you I suppose? I'd be pretty chuffed with any of those...
And Drive on 5Live have just had a report that there were virtually no 4 bedroom properties in Brixton for £400 per week. I found 147 on only one website within a 5 mile radius - search took less than 2 minutes.
Great investigative and unbiased journalism!
Lady Finchley, I wasn't saying that they had an entitlement to more than a room but that as they already live in a studio/1 bed flat then how on earth are we to house the people who are made homeless by this? Are there enough shared rooms available?
Also, I heard of a family in my local paper a few years back, in a 3 bed with 11 of them in the house (it was a joined by marriage family). Not that I am suggesting anything about people having lots of children or what I think on the subject how is a 3 bed with 11 people in it 1 per room? Why would these people in london paying extravagent rents be only 5 and 1 child per bedroom? afaik Councils never expect children to be in seperate rooms (apart from special circumstances) and not that I know for definate but I suspect that the council would decide the property is underoccupied and the familly would have to make up the shortfall with their other income.
Terlock: That was exactly his point, that is a pretty normal rent for Nottingham, he was just commenting on the rent levels in London.
On a similar note, my partner and I are both junior doctors living in a generously sized two bedroom rented flat in the centre of Birmingham.
We pay £425 per month each, and frankly with the cost of taxes, professional expenses, commuting etc, we would have difficulty paying more.
So I am somewhat aghast that Labour are claiming that £400 per Week is too little for Housing benefit claimants.
I could understand the cost of rent being much higher in central London, but I have plenty of friends who live and work in London with good salaries who couldn't afford £400pw and so live on the outskirts.
Anyone who thinks that those out of work deserve better than those in work and paying taxes needs their head checked!
The labour party just sent me this email:
You’ve probably seen on the news that the government are planning huge changes to housing benefit.
At a time when five unemployed people are chasing every vacancy in the British economy, the Tories and Lib Dems are proposing that people should lose 10% of their housing benefit after being unable to find work for 12 months.
This is a government that says that if you can’t find a job you’ll lose money – regardless if you attend interviews, re-train, learn a new skill and do everything you can to find one.
You and I know this isn’t fair. There is a better way
At a time when the government's own figures say we’re going to see 490,000 fewer public sector jobs and – according to the respected company PwC - 500,000 job losses in the private sector, we shouldn't punish people who try and fail to find work.
Thousands made a difference last week by sharing their better way. Now I’m asking you to do it again
We should be aiming to guarantee jobs for the long term unemployed, not risk homelessness for those who are doing their best to find work.
I’m urging Lib Dem MPs to join us and force the Government to think again. You can play your part to by sharing your better way.
(I signed up for these messages when I commented on their suggestion box for the economy)
Maybe someone can tell the BBC.
Radio 5 have just done a piece from BRIXTON.
Apparently you will be hard pushed even in Brixton to get somewhere for your free £400 quid a week Tax free.
Womble - sharing flats are a way of life in New York - people had better learn to live with it here.
When my husband was growing up he was one of nine children. The parents had one room, the boys had another and the girls another. They were working class and surprise surprise did not get any housing benefit - didn't exist in those days. They made do. If you can't afford so many children don't have them.
Lady Finchley: Hi, as I recall I never mentioned whether or not it might be right to shar a flat, in fact I have no problem with it on the most part. However, what I do have a problem with is a system where thousands of people have no place to go since they have been evicted from their private flat and there are no rooms in shared flats available.
I am trying very hard to see your point with regard to my post. Are you suggesting that the people who may be evicted find someone to share their flat with to split the rent?
Womble - did you look at those houses? They aren't exactly run of the mill! Unless that's your idea of standard as to me they were luxury.
Please explain why all these under 35's are being made homeless and by whom.
Why don't they do like we did when we were under 30 and single, get a job, pay rent save as much as you can?
As some people have pointed out about the availability of flats so it is with jobs.
There were 480,602 unfilled job vacancies last quarter in UK.
There are literally hundreds of job portals on the net offering well paid jobs
Terlock: No, Sorry, I didn't, I understand your point.
Libertarian: not everyone can get a well paid job with no GCSEs the rent for a bedroom in Cambridge (where I live) is somewhere around £100+ a week excluding bills, plus it is near on impossible to find somewhere private which will take housing benefit.
Bear in mind that not everyone on housing benefit is a "scrounger", they could be working and not earn enough to pay for their accomadation.
Neither you nor your correspondent seem to understand how the system works - Though you are not alone in that.
The £400pw figure is a cap not an allowance, and will only impact inner London. For example the current LHA for a 4 bed property in Outer South East London (Lewisham) is £293.42, https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Secure/LHARateSearch.aspx?SearchType=LA
That will fall as result of these changes and continue to reduce in real terms due to the switch to CPI rather than uprating.
So some of the properties mentioned probably wouldn't be eligible for HB under the current system let alone the new one.
Womble - I rent a room as I want to save money, one day have a family, and get a big house! I may as well spend my money now, have a great time, start a family (maybe related to the great time!) and not work and have a nice house at 1600 rent a month! Fortunately/unfortunately I am a kind of person who wants to work so unlikely I am going to go down that route.
By all means benefits (it should be renamed to something like "emergency help") should be a safety net, not a lifestyle choice.
A family of 11 is an extreme example. what about families of 2, 3, 4, 5.
Housing "benefit" should be to ensure you have a roof over your head. Not a benefit where you can choose to live!
Where I live, a half hour from Charing Cross by rail or about 11 miles as the crow flies you can rent virtually any property for much less than £400 a week. Two bedroomed houses or flats close to the station go for about £650 a month and 4 bedroomed houses for about £1100.
Labour shows their true red colors. What do you think about this? Vote at johngaltinlondon.blogspot.com.
WELFARE CLAIMANTS READ THISProposed housing benefit cuts will penalise all housing benefit claimants,many of them are working or have worked in the past and will work again in the future.Please will the ill-informed stop bashing HB customers,HB is an in work benefit entitlement available to any one who NEEDS it.This is unlike many other in work benefits that the middle classes choose to pick up,even those who dont NEED it.HB only accounts for 10% of the annual WELFARE spend,like I said some people who dont NEED WELFARE help claim it anyway.Maybe some people need to look at what they are getting from WELFARE instead of denying it just because they happen to be middle class.
Womble - there are hardly going to be mass evictions. And since the writing is on the wall now they have plenty time to prepare. I think it absolutely disgraceful anyway that able-bodied young people can go straight on the dole and get a flat. It just ain't done where I come from.
The other effect of this excellent measure should be to force rents down from private landlords. Suckling on the teat of the DSS gives "buy to let" and other private landlords excessive profits because they can take local councils for a ride. No wonder this benefit has risen to £20 billion in the last ten years.
**Isn't the maximum of £26,000 a year for all benefits not housing benefit. i.e. the amount of housing benefit you can claim is the balancing figure to take you up to £500 a week, hence it is very unlikely you would have £400 a week to spend on rent.**
Even if that’s the case, it’s still several thousand pounds more than I earn BEFORE tax.
**If we start shifting people on housing benefit to more affordable areas we will end up with ghettos of inequity where life chances are much reduced.**
Why should a privileged few get massive HB handouts, whilst the vast majority on low incomes have to live in such affordable areas (including me).
Why on earth do you think that is fair?
“However, what I do have a problem with is a system where thousands of people have no place to go since they have been evicted from their private flat and there are no rooms in shared flats available.”
So are they going to be made homeless, or are they going to have to move to affordable areas creating “ghettos”?
You can’t have it both ways.
What I find revealing about much of this debate is how nearly all the oppobrium is being aimed at those claiming Housing Benefit rather than those who are charging what are clearly inflated rents for their property. Perhaps a few measures directly aimed at the landlords might be called for so as to reduce rentals - especially since not a few are being funded by buy to let speculators which contributed in no small part to the country's financial problems.
But then of course Tories have always used the "undeserving poor" as a means for drawing attention away from the "undeserving rich" haven't they?
I am happy to acknowledge that one of the failings of the Labour Government is that it underestimated the need to regulate markets where it intervened to improve benefits and it underestimated the ability of some of the private sector to come in and in effect claim those benefits for themselves rather than the intended beneficiaries. A similar thing has occurred in the nursery sector, where much of the benefit in tax reliefs was pretty quickly gobbled up in higher nursery charges. But Labour's fault was one of naivety rather than nastiness as with the present proposals.
Sorry I disagree, you don't need GCSE's or anything else to get a decent job, there are lots of jobs about in Cambridge as elsewhere.
We all had to start somewhere my first job for which i had no GCSE's either ( and no minimum wage) was tough. My take home pay almost exactly equalled my rent. So in order to live I had a part time evening job waiting tables too. It is perfectly doable
"What I find revealing about much of this debate is how nearly all the oppobrium is being aimed at those claiming Housing Benefit rather than those who are charging what are clearly inflated rents for their property."
At last somebody has rasied the real issue. This is the real problem. When I lived in Bristol, it was normal practice for landlords to put the rent up if you happened to lose your job. If you were empoyed but still receiving housing benefit, it was important to ensure that you received the cheque from the council and not let the landlord know that you were receiving HB top ups - if they found this out, once again they would put the rents up, knowing full well that they could milk the system this way.
Sadly the coalition seem to be focussing on the claimant rather than the actual recipient of the money - the landlords - read "housing benefit farmers"... but then again that's not too surprising as many of these people are viewed as Middle England Conservative voters, and so must not be annoyed. They however are the real ones milking the state for all it's worth.
It is no good saying there are plenty of rented properties available in outer London that benefit claimants could move to. First, landlords are reluctant to take people on housing benefit - including the many claimants who are already working. Secondly, even if landlords could be prevailed upon to accept claimants, the new tenants would not be able to afford the extortionate fairs to and from central London in order to service the needs of the rich who are able to remain there. Nor, given the chronic lack of jobs in the outer boroughs, would they be able in most cases to find jobs nearer their new homes. The only sensible solution is to build hundreds of thousands of new council houses, which can then be let to those in need at reasonable, non-exploitative rents.
"What I find revealing about much of this debate is how nearly all the oppobrium is being aimed at those claiming Housing Benefit rather than those who are charging what are clearly inflated rents for their property."
Yes, but what would you actually "do" about it.
Have the goverment tell landlords what they can charge?
Well you can surely see what a disaster that would turn out to be.
"We all had to start somewhere my first job for which i had no GCSE's either ( and no minimum wage) was tough. My take home pay almost exactly equalled my rent. So in order to live I had a part time evening job waiting tables too. It is perfectly doable."
The problem is though, that for many people this doesn't just apply to their first job. They end up working for much of their lives doing long hours for low wages.
In the 19th century, this "work for us till you drop" culture was promoted by the Whigs and Liberals with their laissez faire attitude to making money. The combination of long hours, poor conditions, and people working simply to provide food and shelter, with little time for themselves created a very unpleasant backlash called socialism.
The One Nation Conservatives of the 19th century understood this, which is why they introduced much needed reforms.
Adam - you are talking out of your arse. We, the people on middling salaries are the ones who get nothing. Milking the system? Can I have some of that stuff you're smoking?
If this will do anything it will break the landlords' stranglehold. They up their rents for the DSS because they CAN and the DSS pays it. Get a grip.
Do tell me, Roger how the low paid in New York manage to get to work then without housing benefit. Their fares are on par with ours.
How come landlords in inner cities take housing benefit tenants but ones in suburbs don't - what hogwash.
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