by Mary Latham
20:16 PM, 19th March 2012, About 10 years ago 58
After reading the comments posted here, I wanted to begin a new discussion about Universal Credit and I hope that Ben Reeve-Lewis will join me to give his take on what the future holds for landlords who take tenants on benefits. I hope that others will also join in.
Ben said “I read today that Westminster council are opting to raise council rents for tenants earning slightly over £60,000, to 40% of their income, so what? £2,000 a month (help me out here guys, I have number blindness) Not a bad wage I hear you say, but this is total household income. So a married working couple on an average wage with a working 18 year old child may well tip them over the limit, meaning they lose the family home.
Big changes afoot and they aint over yet.
Ben, Westminster are continuing the ethos. Council owned homes were meant to provide a safety net for those who could not afford to buy.
The theory is that if these homes are occupied by those who earn enough to own their own home they are not fulfilling that function and, since the supply is under so much pressure, this is one of several methods that will be used to make people move out. In my opinion what these authorities would like to say is “if you earn £X you don’t need the local authority to house you and therefore it’s time to buy your own home and leave these homes for those who do need them”. If a certain lady who is now in a sad state were in the driving seat I think this is exactly what Government would be telling us but since no-one has the courage to say that we will see a nibbling around the edges and a long painful process to achieve just the same thing.
Universal Credit is part of the movement towards empowering people on benefits to take control of their financial affairs and at the same time reducing the cost to the public purse. One payment to cover all living expenses is similar to one wage packet for those in work. People will be expected to prioritise their spending and make the money go around just as those in work do. In many ways it makes sense for us all to be in a similar financial “system”, the only problem is that to just take away the water wings and hope that that everyone will swim is unrealistic. This is why I work with my local authorities and Credit Unions to ensure that when Universal Credit happens those who are in receipt will have the possibility of a simple bank account through which they can set up direct debit payments to help them.
My article here, written last year, discusses the poverty trap that the benefits system has become.
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