Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
November 3rd 2010
I have many constituents living in North Thanet/ Herne Bay for whom the average national income represents riches beyond their wildest dreams. In a low-wage economy and for those earning between fifteen and eighteen thousand pounds a year thee idea the idea that their hard-earned taxes are being used to subsidise the housing benefit and costs of those living in parts of the country and in a size of privately-rented property is, frankly, offensive.
Why should those in modestly rewarded jobs fork out to keep those others who often do not wish to work and have, during idleness, accumulated large families that now “need” to live in large houses that the industrious could not possibly afford for themselves?
The concept of a cap upon housing benefit is fair. I know of nobody – even those who have paid their way and momentarily fallen upon hard times – who can reasonably claim that a maximum annual rental of £20,000 is anything other than adequate. (And before someone asks, my own weekly rental, albeit in a less-than-fashionable part of South London, is well under £100 per week).
Those currently occupying council and other social housing will not be affected by the Government`s policy which will apply only to those living in a sometimes inflated private sector.
There are dangers inherent in the Coalition Government`s policy: some landlords used to treating the current housing benefit limit as a minimum rental may choose not to renew short-term rental agreements and those currently in cities with no employment or family ties may find it convenient to move to cheaper privately rented benefit-funded accommodation on the South Coast as others before them did in the early nineteen eighties.
And cowboy absentee-landlords may continue to give their locally-resident and responsible colleagues a bad name by exploiting an opportunity to cram those in housing need into sub-standard, overcrowded and ill-maintained accommodation. These are issues that Central, County and local government are going to have to address.
That must not, though, be allowed to interfere with the central thrust of this change: Working people should not be required to pay for homes for others that they could not, themselves, afford. We have to create more opportunities though creative use of empty properties, shared-ownership schemes and the provision of affordable housing for local working and taxpaying local families – who must be given precedence – to ensure that the young families are able to place a foot on the property ladder while, at the same time, ensuring that those who through no fault of their own find themselves in genuine housing need do not slip through the net.