Monday, 19 November 2012

Heading For The Bunker

They say that in the event of a zombie attack, the safest place to hide is in a supermarket, where survivors traditionally congregate for the final showdown. This being the case, I have located the closest supermarket via the quickest route. Why?

It’s going to get ugly out there.

This blog is about the private rented market, but recent setbacks in social housing are hitting everyone, and will have a terrible impact on the private sector.

Have you ever been homeless? I have. Waiting in the neighbourhood housing office is one of the most demoralising experiences life can throw at you. But at least applicants know they’ll be safe, eventually: assessed, placed in a B&B if necessary (a situation I narrowly avoided) until allocated a nice, safe place in social housing.

Won’t they?

I mean, vulnerable people are at the top of the queue for social housing, and would never be batted back into bear-pit of private housing, and then have to face moving again after just twelve months.

Will they?

Except new regulations mean that councils, instead of placing homeless families in social housing are being encouraged (or bullied) into fulfilling their responsibilities by using private landlords. Social housing will be reserved for ex-service personnel and ‘positive contributors’ to society.

Also: here comes the bedroom tax, where people in social housing with a ‘spare’ room (even if saved for step-kids, or shared care of young children) will get less housing benefit or move. Not the bankers who caused this mess then, but those crafty people with a spare bedroom. Damn their selfish ways.

Homeless tenants will be shipped to other cities, where private landlords who love, love love! claimants will welcome them with canap├ęs and champers.

Housing people away from work, schools, family, and making people pay to move when DWP Crisis Loans (covering deposits or moving costs) have been abolished, thereby driving claimants into the prickly arms of payday loans. Oh – and in London especially, rents are sky-rocketing away into space. Did I mention the benefit cap, which will drive anyone claiming, out of London? And claimants are often in work, now, as wages are so low.

And then…

There’s the Universal Credit roll-out which merges housing and living costs into one payment, ignoring the needs of those who are (frankly) not bright or with chaotic lives. When people don’t have enough money (and it will take a brave politician to grasp the reins and say: benefits are much too low) then they must choose between food, energy and rent. It all comes in one payment. In arrears.

Reality is inconvenient. The benefit cap was bought in after Lying Lord Fraud repeatedly banged on about ‘families claiming £100k per year.’ There are thought to be at most, a fleeting amount: those legendary 100k claimants number fewer than five, maybe less (or none). Most already had several children, and probably rented high cost flats in London when employed and but lost work.

It’s an omnishambles. A clusterfuck (sorry: profanity is utterly unavoidable here). A disaster. A catastrophe. A nightmare.

This will hit not in April, when Discretionary payments will ease the transition, but October 2013, when this runs out (just in time for an impoverished, homeless Xmas). Until then, I am heading to the bunker with ammo and tinned goods. Let me know when it’s over.

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