As from April, there’s going to be a rush for ‘bijou’ and ‘affordable’ one bed flats (aka substandard hovels) and there’s no point calling Kirsty and Phil. Impoverished claimants are being forced out of ‘too large’ social housing, or lose money (and they’ve no money to spare.)
It should by now slowly dawning on even those who routinely call claimants ‘scroungers’ that the incoming bedroom-tax bomb is going to cause so many problems. But I caught one idiot (an expert in his own field, but like many academics, moving on and appointing themselves as experts on everything) saying: Why not just move? My friends must move when they have another child and need a larger place.
But an enforced move into the private sector from social housing when claiming is very different, mainly because of the availability, even in different towns and cities of certain types of housing. Also people must find the money for vans, pay for storage, and find deposits (social housing rarely requests a deposit from tenants.)
Now, I know that developers do not possess psychic powers, but frankly, they are not building homes fit for claimants turfed out their previously stable addresses. Investors in housing are unlikely to care what claimants need, as they don’t even care what private owner occupiers want in the home they acquire enormous debt to buy.
The Private Rented Sector has many peculiarities, and one major weirdness of the buy-to-let boom was the proliferation of twat-flats (or as I call them, Dovecots). Manchester is extremely well-served for one bedroom urban flats; nobody’s sure why, but the developers of dovecots and conversions made homes for a perceived clientele that never really existed. They imagined that enormous hordes of young professionals would pay extraordinary rents for shoeboxes, and bedroom-taxed ex social tenants on benefits won’t afford the rents.
Meanwhile, Glasgow is full of two bed flats, fit to burst actually, but one bedroom tenements and other properties are scare. It’s sobering to remember that old style flats might have two bedrooms, but were crammed to the rafters with occupants like the Monty Python ‘Meaning of Life’ sketch.
Here’s my point. Times have changed, with blended, multi-generational families, needing space for homework, privacy, or silence when sleeping in the day due to shiftwork must be catered for. Simultaneously, claimant tenants (many in work, FYI) need a one bedroom flat when downsizing.
So, why not build what people need, including what they want? Why is nobody asking? And while we’re on the subject, why not build homes featuring what people need, like drying facilities, sound-proofing and storage?
There must be greater variation in any development. Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham etc are rammed with sweeping vistas of identically unsuitable one and two bad flats, with nothing bigger. We are increasingly relying on a private sector that builds for easy profit and not with regard to comfortable, sustainable homes. So when suddenly changing the rules, governments should be mindful of the available housing supply. And also, let’s find out what tenants need, and also, and importantly, let’s build what they want.