Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Who is going to clean your house George?

A blue feather duster

George Osborne's announcement that there is to be a new cap placed on Housing Benefit for people in areas with higher rents is going to make it less likely that we have mixed communities with a range of incomes.

Far from being workless many households on very low incomes have family members carrying out low paid jobs such as cleaning streets, homes and offices. Of course many can, and do, contribute to the rents to the tenant of the property, usually the parents. The tenant could be retired or unable to work due to illness or disability. All this new cut will mean to the tenants or occupants of these homes is a reduction in their income and possibly further pricing them out of the communities that they may have lived in for many years.

This is actually part of a confused theme running through this government of moving  people on low incomes around the country. It was only a few months ago that we had Iain Duncan- Smith telling us that he wanted families in council houses in deprived areas to move to council houses in affluent areas so they could get work - see link. There were many echoes of Norman Tebbit's 'On yer bike' speech from the 80s. Of course as we know it was a non policy as there are huge waiting lists for limited numbers of council houses,(Conservative /Labour 'Right to Buy' policies) and this is more pronounced in more affluent areas. So where would these job seekers go if they want to clean George Osbourne's floor? That's right, to the private rented sector but haven't we capped the benefits making it more difficult for them to live near George. Yes we have. Of course the real answer is to put a cap on the rents not on the benefits but that would put a cap on the earnings of private landlords which may not go down too well with some Conservatives who may have interests in this area of the economy. The only crumb of comfort is the unlikely vision of George Osborne having to clean his own house.

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