Friday, February 17, 2012

Benefit cuts

One of the difficulties facing opponents of the Coalition's plans for cutting benefits is that I'm not sure most people quite realised what was on offer.

As an example, there was a bit of an outcry when Cameron proposed an end to lifetime tenure of council properties. But my reaction, and the reaction of a lot of people was "lifetime tenancies? What the hell?" Frank Dobson still lives in a council house - so does Lee Jasper. How the hell can it ever be right for someone on a six figure salary to live in a council house?

Similarly, the sob stories here, designed to demonstrate the intrinsic unfairness of capping housing benefit payments, make my eyes pop. This line, for example, is supposed to show just how mean the policy is:

The philosophy behind the new cap seems to be "if you can't afford to live here, don't expect to live here".

I used to live in Westminster. Then I had a second child and I couldn't afford to live in a property large enough for all of us. So I moved out, and now commute for over an hour to my job.

Until November, Amira, 39, was renting a flat near Edgware Road for £812 a week, with her four children. She is not currently working because her youngest child, aged one, is unwell and receiving treatment at Great Ormond Street hospital, and her rent was met in full by housing benefit payments. When her landlady realised that the family would no longer be able to afford the flat when the £340 weekly cap was introduced for three-bedroom properties, she decided not renew the tenancy.

£42k a year on rent? Entirely paid for by the taxpayer? Jesus, Mary and Joseph.


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