Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Housing Crisis No One Seems Bothered About

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With inflation at its lowest on record, one would think there would have been a decrease in housing rents. However, rents are not going down but, on the contrary, they are going up!

The Independent published an article this week explaining that the average Londoner would need to earn at least £27,000 a year to live in London. Unfortunately, the housing crisis is not only impacting on the low waged worker, but more so, on the unemployed.

With a scarcity of housing, let alone the scarcity of affordable housing, the private sector is doing absolutely nothing to accommodate the needs of those most in need. I contacted 25 landlords last week and all refused to accept Housing Benefits. One landlord kindly explained his reasonings. He said, “The going rate for a two bedroom property in the London Borough of Bexley is around £1,050 per calendar month. However, housing benefits are only paying up to around £850 a month” to support those on low or no incomes.

This leaves a shortfall of £200 a month that tenants are being asked to make the difference up. People who are either on a low income or are unemployed are more likely to need to borrow £200 a month to cover their bills and living costs let alone having to actually borrow more to contribute towards their rent. It’s a spiral of debt and a win-win for pay day loan companies.

Most landlords understand that people on either low or zero incomes are less able to meet the shortfall, and so there is no confidence in offering tenancy agreements to those on the bottom end. The government is doing absolutely nothing to tackle this crisis. In fact, under the Public Space Protection Order, homeless people are now being criminalized by local councils where they could be given £100 fixed penalty notices or fined as much as £1,000 for simply being homeless.

The Conservatives have never been about progressive policy or working with new ideas to offer practical solutions. Their entire history has been one based on using deterrents rather than offering pragmatic and positive solutions to moving forward.

Crippling the bottom end only enables the top end to stand more firmly. The problem with greed, is that nothing is ever enough. Once people are used to a higher income, they will not want to take a drop in their incomes. And we see this clearly within the private housing sector. No one wants to lower their rents, and the government does not want to pay more. The only loser is the unemployed homeless person.

Despite inflation being low, landlords are more than happy to benefit from the extortion. Many landlords will clearly outline that they do not accept DSS. It is nothing more than an attack on the poor. Just as there were once signs in shop windows saying, “No Blacks, No Irish and No Dogs” we are now seeing signs in estate agent windows saying, “No DSS”. The poor are legally being discriminated against and demonised to protect wealth. As Landlords are enabled to exclude those most in need due to the cap on housing benefits introduced by the previous Coalition Government.

Even local councils, currently being held by Tory majorities, are begging their own leadership for no further cuts. The thing with the Tories is they will turn on their own to cover their own necks if they have to. The housing crisis needs to be addressed, but I have a feeling this Tory government will do absolutely nothing to address the issue. In fact, if they do address the issue, it will only be to make things even harder for those at the bottom.

And how is it they can do all this and get away with it? The electoral system facilitates the Tories and their hold on power. They are free to do whatever they want now and there’s not a thing anyone can do about it. If you protest, you will be outed by the media as a “dirty leftie” but the truth is, it’s not about left or right but fairness. Many people are homeless, but they are also voiceless. 

The Conservatives are not bothered about the housing crisis because under FPTP, and with a poor opposition, there’s no one that can hold them to account. As long as business owners and landlords are financially benefitting, at the expense of the poor, and as long as the Tories continue to throw a few bread crumbs to the upper middle classes, they will continue to govern and get far worse.

Landlords are making billions per year, despite them neglecting their properties, and they are still increasing their rents. The demand for housing is rising. There seems to be a lot of talking about this issue but no one is doing a thing about it. Why would you do anything about it if you are comfortable with a roof over your head? Some people are not as fortunate. 

How The Tories Really Won GE2015

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There seems to be a common misperception with regards to our democratic voting system. Many seem to think that First Past the Post (FPTP) works very well and is a democratically fair system. However, there are many others who can (rightly) see something far more problematic with it. Regarding those in support of FPTP, they tend to only be supportive of this electoral voting method due to it benefiting their own ends in someway. On the other hand, many voters seem to accept FPTP due to apathy, as well as being far more ready to accept the status quo than to challenge it.

FPTP is far more about competition than it is about representation. It is based on either winning or losing. If it is fair to say that Members of Parliament are elected based on winning, then is it not also fair to question the fate of the losers? Surely our democracy is not one based on representation but one based on gambling. It is based on chance rather than choice – it just really presents the illusion of choice. Of course you have a choice. You can vote with principle or tactically, but as much as you do so, you will never get the representation that you truly want. Not unless you are on the winning team, of course

Fundamentally, FPTP underpins and supports a two party political structure that is not fit for purpose in 21st century Britain. To put it bluntly, It’s simply like going to Lingfield and trying to figure out the right horse to back. If you happen to get lucky and win, you will see great returns. But if your horse falls at the fences and you lose, then you simply go home empty handed; having to wait five more years until you get another chance to place your bet.

It is completely understandable why many feel that voting is pointless. In many ways under FPTP it is. Those disillusioned mostly say, “Nothing will ever change”, and despite everyone making the effort to encourage non-voters to vote, the non-voter does have a legitimate point to make. This point needs to be understood rather than criticised. If telling non-voters that “if you do not vote, then do not have the right to complain” is justified, then what do you say to those who do vote and yet their vote still counted for nothing?

When the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories, the Liberal Democrats wanted to push electoral reform by bringing Proportional Representation (PR) to the negotiating table. In my own personal opinion, there is not a fairer and more representative system that exists today than PR. Although, the Lib Dems have been accused of being nothing more than “power hungry” and “careerists”, the Lib Dems gained a position of power through FPTP and yet still wanted to introduce a fairer voting system!

Seeing that the Conservatives won a small majority, a majority nevertheless, the idea that Britain is crawling with Tories could not be farther from the truth. Overall, they only picked up 36.9% of the vote share and yet are now representing the other 63.1% of people that did not vote for them. Surely in a fair democracy, you would at least expect any governing body to rake in at least 51% of the vote. Unfortunately, the majority is being governed by a minority who are clearly dressed in baggy trousers; appearing the majority just because the goal posts have been placed where it suits them.

Another thing one must question, is, if the Conservatives really cared about the electorate having any form of real representation, then why did they refuse to accept a PR referendum when the Lib Dems put it on the table? It was simple. They did not care about the electorate having representation, they solely cared about maintaining their position in power; not to represent but to govern instead.

There are small pockets in the country, voting under FPTP, who’s vote counts up to 22 times more than the vote of others. It took millions of votes to elect one Green and UKIP MP and yet only around 33,000 votes to elect a Conservative MP. This is our democracy people. Like with a game of sport, that has been played under corrupt rules, we must demand a replay under new and fairer rules. This Conservative government, in my eyes, do not have the legitimacy to represent or govern the majority. Our system appears more elitist than ever before. The system is broken, and we should be doing everything we possibly can to fix it.