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. 

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Posted on May 21, 2015, in Speaking Out. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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