The new insecurity began in the Private Rental Sector, with its six month tenancies, LHA (private housing’s bedroom tax, introduced by kindly Labour) and notice to quit issued on a whim. Now it’s creeping into social housing.
The new proposals were drawn up by people drinking vats of Chablis on their verandah, who own homes and enjoy the confidence that stems from not having worry about little things like food or bills. People who do not understand that poverty is caused by a lack of money, not a dearth of aspiration. Rich people who believe that shooing stinking plebs out of council housing will ‘nudge’ them into becoming company directors. Corrupt people who let their rich friends buy housing stock and rent it out to richer people (as you might call anyone lucky enough to have a job) which happened after right-to-buy.
People like National Idiot Boy In Chief – Grant Shapps, who is still peachy-keen to end tenancies for life (presumably, errant owner-occupiers might soon face being forcibly moved out of Esher when they are naughty.)
Amazingly, the often enlightened Scottish government has raised the spectre of probationary tenancies, where tenants have a year to prove they are lovely. So let’s look to America, where a maximum income ceiling already blights life in their council housing aka ‘projects.’ Anyone who by means of luck, education, business-skill, or promotion earns more money, subsequently loses not just their home, but their neighbourhood, thereby undermining a sense of community. Destabilising cohesion mimics the unsettling nature of the PRS, where many tenants live constantly on edge.
Then we have the housing association behaving like a Victorian mill-owner, by insisting that new tenants sign up to be good citizens. This means accepting ‘lifestyle goals’ like exercise, healthy living and contributing to the community, but tenants who don’t wish to sign are advised that they might wish to live elsewhere. So much for freedom of choice. My advice is to sign, then present their own similarly worded document for housing officers, insisting they renounce Prosecco by the crate, on pain of losing their job.
Then there’s the bedroom tax, where social tenants face losing their beloved two-bed flat, even when one of those ‘spare’ bedrooms is just a box-room used for storage (the clue is in the name – box rooms, that is storage, ie for boxes.)
It used to be accepted that a secure home was not just desirable, or a treat for good little citizens, but an absolute right. PRS tenants can currently be forced to move every six months. This happens far too often, and the problem is that even if private landlords choose not to turf people out on a whim, they can if they want to.
Don’t let this happen to social housing too – don’t mess up people’s lives. In the bad old days, bad old men would ‘joke,’ boasting about keeping women ‘barefoot and pregnant,’ so as to maintain masculine power and control. Perhaps working people are being kept ‘insecure, hungry and poor,’ so as better to maintain corporate control.