‘Good morning. Terry isn’t it. Good morning to you. What’s the subject today? An interview on the effects of Housing Benefit on the poor of London it say’s here. Look, do you mind running this through with me before you record anything. I’m starting a bit cold with this one.’ ‘A sort of dress rehearsal,you mean. That sort of thing. OK. Let’s start. According to the London Borough’s these proposed Housing Benefit ceilings will make over 17, 000 families, some 85,000 families homeless. Do you agree?’ ‘ We don’t know do we. Some of these people will raise their game and pay the higher rent. A lot of concealment of true financial resources goes on. They might take in lodgers, share with other families. Why not for a W in your post code?’ ‘ Well assuming that is out of order for most of them what then?’ ‘ Number 1. Sorry I’m reading this stuff. We have this social fund for special cases. This might buy some of them some weeks grace. Time to move home somewhere in the sticks. No.2 They can join the Council housing lists for a place, if they qualify. There is social housing in London you know. If they qualify they will get a place as something becomes available.’ ‘ Do you know the average waiting time for social housing in London?’ ‘No I don’t but I have a feeling that you are goling to tell me.’ ‘ Fifteen years. Goodness, there’s a thing. 3. They can negotiate with their landlord to get the rent down. These landlords take advantage. They put up the rent if they know the Local Authority is going to pay it. There is little evidence of that. Some people estimate that there are ten people seeking every rental in the London area.’ ‘ Is that right. I shall make a note of that. 4. What’s so hot about London anyway. Go North where rentals are lower. I did.’ ‘ Come off it Minister, the taxpayer pays the the rent for you.’ ‘ Come to think of it, that’s true. Special cases make bad law. Don’t you think? 5. Look. We are not unfeeling people you know. Housing Benefits have to be reformed. The whole system is costing us too much. People are resourceful. No one waits for the axe. They take some decisive action to save themselves.’
‘OK Minister, lets bring this to a rational conclusion. You maintain that not all these 17,000 families will lose their homes. How many will, do you think and what will become of them?’ ‘I can’t say. No one can. Perhaps a few thousand families.’ ‘ Now we’re getting somewhere. Say ten thousand, that is fourty thousand peope shipped into boarding houses and at the public’s cost. Is that it?’ ‘ Well, I’ll be honest with you. It might be the outcome.’
‘Thank you Minister.’ ‘ How do you think it went. I could argue another case you know. Come to think of it I could argue the opposite.’ ‘ Well, Nick. I think that might be wise. Your shout, of course.’
Filed under BBC, Benefits, Big society, Boris Johnson, Cabinet, Cameron, Conservative Home, Disability Allownce, George Osborne, Gulags, Job Seekers Allowance, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, London, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Politics, Spending Review, Treasury
In giving you the contents of a forthcoming Ministerial speech I shall start with a Jewish joke. A man is seeking a new suit and a friend recommends a bespoke tailor. Good morning, sir, he was greeted, welcome. As you can see we specialise in grey suits. I want a blue suit was the customer response. No problem, sir, just one minute while I change the bulb. The moral being one size (colour) does fit all.
I am hurt by the suggestion that the Coalition Government’s Benefit proposals will lead to the creation of areas of the country that will be dubbed Gulags. As you know, we have suggested a single Universal Benefit, including a range of separate Benefits at present, and in particular Housing Benefit, and its capping at no more than the average wage. It has been said that in areas with high rents, for example Greater London but many other areas as well, rents are so high that families on Benefit will not be able to live the area at all. (Someone mutters from the audience, The Law of Unintended Consequences).
Perhaps this will happen. I am not saying nay or yea. But if it does will this be a bad thing? Do you think the posh people of Kensington wish to have a substantial number of poor people in their streets. Be reasonable, would you like it? If these people move to an area with others of their kind, will they not be happier. Of course they will. In these areas there will be plenty of Council Houses and we shall help the local authorities to build new low cost homes so that other poor people can move in. You cannot say that this policy will be partisan because although the high cost areas will continue to elect Tories there is a good chance that these new Gulags we are creating will elect Socialists. This construction activity will create jobs. With a bit of luck we can attract charitable funds.
What I wish to convey to you is that when considered in the round the scheme will save huge sums of public money. And we shall not be mean about this. Families migrating to a Gulag will travel in special trains. We shall provide the name tags and the lunch boxes. People will be very, very happy. Why shouldn’t they be?
You may think this post of mine a nonsense. Hold on. Think a bit. Ken Clarke’s prison reforms will create a new class of voluntary labour. If you live in a Gulag without a prison let me know. We can get one shifted to your town and your community will benefit.
Do you get the message? With a little ‘here’s your uncle’ one size can suit all the poor deserving or otherwise. Cut the deficit, we are all in this together, hurrah for the Big Society.
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Gulags, Housing Benefit, Ken Clarke, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Politics, Poverty, Prisons