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It is easy to get caught up in headlines and forget that the Coalition’s benefit reforms mean people you know will lose their homes.
You know what happens then? PEOPLE YOU KNOW START LOSING THEIR HOMES.
Vox Political was warning the world about this back in 2012 – nearly two years ago – saying the bedroom tax would put people on the streets while homes go empty and warning about the ‘Poll Tax revival plan to take away your home’. It gives me no pleasure at all to report that I was right.
This week I heard about two cases in my Mid Wales town. You may think that isn’t many, but this is a town with a population of less than 5,000 – and I haven’t heard about every case.
The first involves a family that has been living in the same council house for more than 30 years. Sadly the head of the household recently had a stroke and has been forced to move into a care home. In the past, the tenancy would have been handed down to the next generation of the family – two sons, one of whom has a family of his own. The other is a friend of mine, of excellent character. By day he works very hard at his job; after hours, he is a member of a popular local band (along with his brother, as it happens). They are what this government would call “strivers”.
But they are being penalised because they have been told to vacate the only home they have had. Not only that, they are being asked to stump up a small fortune in backdated rent (as their father has been paying for his care, not the house) and another small fortune to dispose of carpets they cannot take with them, which the council does not want.
When I spoke to my friend yesterday, he told me that the council simply does not want him or his brother as tenants because “it is easier to process a large family who are on benefits”. I queried this, and it seems likely that this is to do with the forthcoming Universal Credit system, and with the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (also known as the Pickles Poll Tax); it is easier to handle Universal Credit and council tax claims if the authorities have foreknowledge of a household’s income.
We both agreed that there is a serious drawback to this thinking.
Large families do not want to move into vacant social accommodation because they fear what the government – national and local – will do to them if their circumstances change. Children grow up; adults move out – and that will make them vulnerable to the Bedroom Tax. Suddenly their benefits won’t be enough to pay the rent and they, in turn, will be turfed out onto the streets. They know it is a trap; they will try to avoid it.
My friend agreed. “That house is going to stay empty for a very long time,” he said.
This is madness. Here are two people who are perfectly willing and able to pay the council’s rent, on time, for as long as they need the property but, because of the Welfare Reform Act and the Localism Act, the council is treating them abominably and the house will end up providing no income at all.
If you think that’s bad, though, just wait until you learn about my other friend!
He is an older gentleman who has been disabled for many years. He had been living in a small, two-bedroomed house that had been adapted to accommodate his needs. We know precisely how much these adaptations cost to install at current rates: £5,000.
I believe he needed the extra bedroom to accommodate carer needs but I could be mistaken.
Along came the Bedroom Tax and suddenly he did not have enough income to cover the cost of living there. The council (or social landlord, I have to admit I’m not sure) sent him an eviction notice. He appealed.
Guess what? His appeal was set to be decided after the date he was ordered to be out of his home.
So he had to go. He was lucky enough to find another place to live, and all the equipment he needs to accommodate his disability moved along with him – at a cost of £5,000.
Then he received the judgement on his appeal: He was exempt from paying the Bedroom Tax; he should never have been forced to move.
Is this British justice?
This country was once the envy of the world because we were far more enlightened than any other nation in our policies of social justice and inclusion. Not any more! Now we are regressing into a new dark age in which the squalid Shylocks infesting Westminster manipulate local authorities into performing grubby property grabs for them.
Is the ‘Bulldog Spirit’ that made us famous for standing our ground during the Blitz now being turned to hounding the poor out of their homes?
Are you willing to put up with this?
In Iceland, they marched to their Parliament and set up camp outside until the government gave up and agreed to the demands of the people. Here, an unmandated government rides roughshod over democracy while you sit at home watching The X Factor, Coronation Street and the Winter Olympics.
Nothing will change until you change it – but you know this already. The simple fact is that, if you are reading this article, you probably sympathise with the sentiments it is expressing and are already active in opposing the heinous crimes being committed against our people.
There are not enough of you. People who need to read these words are being allowed to live in ignorance, lulled into inactivity by the right-wing mass media.
It’s time to put an end to that. There can be no excuse for ignorance and inaction while people are being made homeless. Think of someone you know who needs to be shown the truth and make them read this article. Ask them what they think of it and explain the facts of what is happening around them.
Then tell them to pass it on to someone they know.
Spread the word – don’t keep it to yourself. And don’t sit on your thumbs and expect somebody else to do your bit for you. If you don’t act, why should anybody else? What’s the point of me writing these articles if you can’t be bothered to do anything about it? Are you going to wait until someone tells you they want your home?
Then it will be too late.
I’ll know if you succeed because it will be reflected in the number of times this article is viewed. I’ll report the results of this experiment next week.
Don’t let yourself down.
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This is nothing to so with benefit reform
The transfer of council tenancy to another member of the family ceased under the LABOUR government
Please get your information right please before you try whipping people up in to a frenzy about the current government
Mike Sivier said:
I suppose it was inevitable that this would attract right-whinger apologists and nit-pickers…
You need to re-read the article. All I said about that detail was that the tenancy would have been handed down from one family member to another IN THE PAST. There is no reason for it not to have happened in this case but it is not the main focus here.
The main focus is the repressive cuts that councils are being forced to enact, evicting people from their homes for no reason.
Before you comment – and this goes for any other right-whingers out there too, why don’t you just think about the huge amount of harm being caused to innocent, hard-working strivers (to use Tory phraseology) by your government? You could be next because they couldn’t care less about you either.
Terry Cfc Poole said:
well said mike, that shut him up, steven needs to read stuff properly before jumping down your throat,,,,,but that’s typical of anyone, or anything that is connected with the present government, ,,they don’t look, they don’t listen, and they certainly DONT CARE.
Lynn Dye said:
Good stuff as usual, Mike. Shared on Twitter and Facebook.
Mike Sivier said:
Wirral In It Together said:
Reblogged this on Wirral In It Together and commented:
Cameron’s ‘moral’ crusade continues…
It’s desperately unfair that the tenancy won’t be passed down to the brothers, especially if the house does lie empty.
However, as they are not the tenants why should the council demand the brothers pay to remove the carpets? How is it their responsibility? They should refuse.
Mike Sivier said:
I think that’s what they are doing, in fact.
peter stafford said:
Hi Mike..I was evicted on 13/11/12..i’m still homeless today, but i sleep at my 80 yearold mums at night, i am 56..I was evicted while suffering from severe aggravated deppression, i was also at the time a fulltime carer for a father dying of motor neurone…I have a vidio channel on youtube telling the story of my eviction and such, plus footage of actual events..I hope to make it into a full lenghth documentary one day about eviction and homelessness….great article, keep up the fight.
Terry Cfc Poole said:
hi peter, sorry to hear about your situation, at the hands of our out of control government, I hope it gets resolved soon mate,,,im looking forward to viewing your documentary ……good luck peter.
Good luck with the documentary Peter. You’ve had a very difficult set of circumstances to deal with, made so much worse by the eviction. A very scary article Mike. We’re all going to know someone this is happening to in the near future.
Many thanks Mike,though you chose to highlight what may be considered two apparently isolated cases from your locality,its not exaggeration to estimate that the problem is likely to be multiplied at least a thousand fold nationwide.
Never ever stop fighting for the cause of justice and fairness for all!
My ex wife has had a nervous breakdown, has a disabled son, is carer for her older son who has major health problems but is not living at home. She has been handed her second eviction notice in the space of a year. She is unable to pay her arrears and is unable to deal with all this.
Jeffrey Davies said:
thanks for highlighting this tax that’s unjust yes its bloody mad when 1 and 2 bedroom propetys are now in demand but you cant get em has for this stupid law on bedroom tax they only want to screw you more bloody wake up and picking on the writer better email asking a tory howcan they sleep at night jeff3
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Reblogged this on Still Oaks and commented:
re-blogged and posted also on dwpexamination.org
Many Thanks Mike.
Ian Duncan said:
I would post links to this for people who ought to have their eyes opened but mostly these people are as sociopathic as IBS and Cameron, they either can’t see anything wrong with it, or they refuse to acknowledge it’s happening in the first place. On one forum I got into extended arguments with the more backwards right-wingers (a futile pastime, they are truly demented) on both climate change and Atos. I posted link after link backing my point up and all I was met with was ‘well science doesn’t prove anything (climate change) or ‘you can twist anything to suit your agenda (Atos). It’s like a cognitive impairment, an inability to read and address a fact.
I think dep down they know but they won’t admit their beloved party can do such terrible things (which where the Conservatives are strongest, their supporters are ultra loyal and won’t criticise much, not a trait of the left).but they also can’t see themselves as bad people so they display the most bizarre circular logic outside a Christian fundamentalist gathering. There is an absolute refusal to acknowledge observable facts. Instead of changing their opinions based on new information, they try to change the new information to suit their opinions.
I mentioned the BBC not reporting anything about those people who killed themselves after being thrown off benefits and one woman said ‘that’s because there no suicides!’. When I linked four different examples (all this year) from the various local papers I was accused of twisting facts to suit my ideology (have you noticed anyone else using a misunderstanding of the word ideology as an insult?)
I posted the undeniable facts about Tory Britain – homlessness up, child poverty up, foodbank use up etc – then called the Conservatives scum. Guess what the idiots got upset about? Not starving children. No, their beloved party being called scum. This is the mindset we have to deal with, day in, day out when we try and tell the truth and it’s starting to get me down.
Mike Sivier said:
“Science doesn’t prove anything”? Really?
I wonder if I could get Dr Brian Cox or Professor Alice Roberts, or even Dr Brian May onside if I show them that?
Regarding the Tory use of ‘ideology’ as an insult, a bit of Marx is relevant here. Marx believed that the economic structure of society determined it’s governing ideology. This ideology was, however, hidden, and the class and economic relationships it legitimised were simply seen as the way things were. In the case of capitalism, this ideology was the ‘false consciousness’ which saw capitalism as the natural order of things, which needed no explanation.
Now Marx was wrong about ideology being dependent on economic relationships, but he was right about feudalism and capitalism being seen by their supporters as the natural order of things. Roger Scruton, the philosopher of the Thatcherite New Right, pretty much said the same thing in one of his essays when he said that Conservatism was inarticulate. Hence the Right Whinger’s use of ‘ideology’ as an insult. They really don’t think of themselves as having one, because of the invisible nature of capitalist ideology. For them, ideology is simply what the other, left-wing guy’s got.
Ian Duncan said:
I did suggest he jump off a tall building, see if he believes gravity is nonsense (-:
What will happen to the property is that it will be put on the open market for sale, the council then gets a lump sum and off loads a liability to a private landlord or individual who then is likely to rent the property to someone on benefits for twice the rent before.
The bigger picture is that the tories don’t want you having a social housing home, they want you to buy a home or rent from one of their chummies who runs a housing association.
The bigger bigger picture is that the government do not want social housing at all and they are doing what they can to get rid of it, remember that they had more than 10 years of planning to get this just right, put the squeeze on people to get them out via simple legal means rather than an eviction process that costs thousands, make people default in their rent so that the courts automatically turf the tenant out on their ear, removes any liability to the local authority to find or provide accommodation.
I don’t know if people have ever thought about why these welfare reforms have been brought in, it to me seems to have a hidden motive to it.
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Linda Ellis said:
No the transfer did not cease under Labour untill last year my son who serves in the armed forces would have been able to keep my place if i died that changed in April of 2013 when i was told that was no longer the case , I have also been told i have to move from my 2 bed adapted Bungalow but they don’t have a smaller one for me so i am now in the process of going into shared accommodation , I never thought at the age of 60 and ill i would no longer have a home to call my own ,
Mike Sivier said:
THIS is why I keep telling people to show where they get their information!
I notice it was the right-whinger, ‘Steven’, who tried to lead us all up this blind alley.
Words are not enough to sort out this government, or indeed get rid of it in 2015. Action is needed and I also believe that sitting on your sofa doing nothing but watch TV, listening to the radio and it’s pathetic programmes, especially the news, and reading newspapers! What hope is there for anyone who needs the help? Why can’t people get together and say enough is enough, or even better, say “No” and sticking together!
Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.
Another well informed piece Mike, however sad it may be.
Hopefully you will enlighten the unenlightened and they too will start to understand they cant just sit ignoring these things.
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The Wayward Nana said:
Reblogged this on The Wayward Nana and commented:
i think too many already know this but choose to remain seated! they will only stand up when the gov come for them but by that time there will be no one left to stand up for them!
Reblogged this on Pillow Walker and commented:
Sounds like a miriad of failings by central and local governments…
M Hawthorne-Slater said:
Forwarded this to all I know Mike. You tell me when we march I’ll be there! Keep spreading the word mate. Mick
Pam Sampson said:
Why wasn’t the man exempt from BT anyway, for needing the room for some overnight care? This is in Government Legislation and should have been allowed by the council concerned.
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I am disabled and after an 8 month battle with my council, I have finally had a ramp installed, so I am no longer housebound.
My husband, myself and our children have lived in our council home for about 14 years. About two years ago my Fibromyalgia and ME started to become very severe and I am now in a wheelchair.
Due to being do poorly, my husband has been on and out of work. He has a ltd company ( he’s the only employee as the business is struggling, and he sub contracts )
We have got into debt and the housing and council tax benefits have been to complicated for us to work out without an accountant, and we’ve had no money to pay one.
My husband ( the only worker in a house of 5 ) was unemployed from end of November to February.
I am awaiting an Atos appointment, so no disability benefit to fall back on.
Last year I was told I would get help from my council as I was classed as a vulnerable tenant – this didn’t materialise UNTIL we got a charity involved. The following week we got a notification of possession order.
My husbands FIRST wages came last week. I paid our rent and made a proposal to council tax and housing regarding arrears. Council tax agreed the sum, and housing have put a suspended possession order in, and I’m now awaiting a court date.
My husband only gets paid for what work he completes, and he has no job security ( he’s a gas engineer and the type of work he does is mainly through sub contracting )
If we miss one payment ( say I get poorly, or he gets poorly, or the contract suddenly ends ) we are in fear if being evicted 😦
I have a 9 year old daughter who has seen her mummy get very poorly and has anxiety.
My 16 year old son has autism and us struggling with severe OCD and has his exams this year.
This is how vulnerable tenants are treated! It would be easier for my husband to stop work and live off benefits – it would be a bloody struggle, but at least our home would be safe!
We are in a hopeless and desperate situation, and clearly we’re not the only ones.
What is this country becoming? The poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, are treated like second class citizens! Prisoners eat better than us!!!
People ( including and ESPECIALLY ) MPs, need to hear and LISTEN to the suffering. Those who don’t, will be held accountable…..”is your conscience clear?” They need to ask themselves?
Angela from Ipswich
Jeffrey Davies said:
its that greed taking hold angela they forget that they there to protect but it seems the banksters are more important than us it seems we pay for their mistakes please jump across to http://www.dwpexamination.org there are many like us there and its free jeff3