Pete Challis, and the great housing delusion

Pete Challis, chair of the ALG(Association of London Government) Housing Committee has been letting off steam over at Left Foot Forward.

The media have made much of the unfairness in the proposals to remove eligibility for child benefit to any family where there is a higher rate taxpayer. The unfairness that one person earning more than £43,875 will lose their child benefit while two earners whose combined incomes is £80,000 will keep child benefit was immediately seized on.

But chancellor George Osborne’s other announcement to introduce a cap on benefits at £26,000 is even more unfair. It takes no account of housing costs, family size or council tax and penalises couples.

Ok, fair enough. Osbone wins the inept announcement of the week award, and lefties the world over have been in full-on gloat mode. 83% of people may think his general idea is right, but hey, I suppose you’ve got to squeeze in the daily hate somewhere. Anyway, on to your argument about housing.

To illustrate the postcode lottery that is being created and the impact, compare the following. (Note that the calculations do not include child tax credits, which is a further factor and penalty.)

Take a couple (Couple A) on job seekers allowance with 4 children living in a 4 bedroom home in the private rented sector in Camden. They pay £400 a week in rent (£20,800 a year) – the new ceiling being imposed from next year, their council tax is £1,332 (Band D). Their job seeker’s allowance (£5,343) immediately takes them over the cap.

Their job seeker’s allowance is effectively cut from £102.75 a week to £74.38 a week and they effectively lose all child benefit.

Now take the same couple (Couple B) on jobseekers allowance with 4 children but this time living in a 3 bedroom home in the private rented sector in Camden. They pay £340 a week in rent (17,680 a year), their council tax is still £1,332 (Band D). They keep job seeker’s allowance (£5,343) and child benefit for Child 1 but effectively lose some child benefit for Child 2 and all child benefit for children 3 and 4.

Compared. That implies it won’t be possible to live in a 4 bedroom house in Camden on benefits, so instead, some of the 4 kids will have to share. Tragedy. I shared with my brother for some years as a kid, as my parents had to earn their living, rather than have it handed them on a plate. I don’t think it had any ill effect on me, beyond making me hate stupid socialists a little more.

Compare them with a single parent on jobseeker’s allowance with 4 children who also lives in a 3 bedroom home in the private rented sector in Camden. The rent is £340 a week (£17,680 a year), their council tax is now £999 (single person discount Band D). They keep job seeker’s allowance (£3,432) and they keep child benefit for all their children.

Some lefties do seem to want things both ways. Shock horror, a single parent gets more cash than a couple. If the couple got more money, then it would be an insult to equality, and cruelty to single parents… blah blah blah. That this country penalises being a couple is wrong, but this is primarily the doing of the recent Labour government, and it was done to appease the left wing anti marriage feminists, so its a bit rich if the aforesaid left-wingers then complain about couples getting short changed – this is the politics of shameless opportunism and whitewashed sepulchres.

In order to keep all their child benefits the couple (Couple D) must move into a 2 bedroom home with a rent at £290/week, the children share the two bedrooms and they sleep in the living room but they keep their Jobseekers allowance and all their child benefit.

100 odd years ago, it was common for whole families to be raised on narrowboats, with a single cabin about 10’x6′. Now we are to cringe at the thought of parents having to sleep on the sofa, if they want the maximum amount of cash available, and to live in Camden. How utterly tragic.

Alternatively, if the couple (Couple E) could move into a 5 bedroom property in Birmingham (£218.63 a week) they would be unaffected by the cap.

And here, you prove my point. Camden is expensive. Far too expensive to justify us paying the poor to live there. In mansions. I don’t live anywhere nearly as expensive as Camden, and I can’t afford to rent a 4 bedroom house, because I actually work for a living. Oh the horror of it – I actually receive my pay-check, not from the state, but from a company that makes real things, in return for contributing towards making real things. I live in a place that’s neither posh nor fancy, pay my way in the world, and pay my taxes… so that some other “deserving person” can get to live in a mansion in a posh part of London. Kindly tell me what exactly is fair about that.

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