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'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

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'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by skwalker1964 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:30 pm

First topic message reminder :

Original including links is at: http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/scroungers-irrelevant-to-fairness-why-govts-really-obsessed-by-them/

Ivanhoe - this is the article you were asking about, although it's evolved slightly.

'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them



I’ve written variously about this Tory-led government’s fetish for demonising the vulnerable in order to facilitate its attacks on their state support. Disabled people, young people, housing benefit claimants, the unemployed – all come under sustained propaganda attack from government spokespeople, echoed by the right-wing press and even, on occasion, by the BBC.

This demonisation usually takes the form of some kind of ‘scrounger’ rhetoric, although the perpetrators will throw in ‘shirker’ or ‘skiver’ occasionally, just to mix it up a little. It’s clearly a tactic aimed at the basest instincts of people who are able, or willing, to believe it and resent the ‘scroungers’ who are supposedly the opposite of the ‘strivers’, or ‘those who work hard and do the right thing’, according to the Tory mantra.

This kind of rhetoric is in every government statement about the ‘Uprating Bill’ that will be voted on today in the Commons, as ministers talk about whether it’s ‘fair that those who don’t work should receive better rises than those who work hard and do the right thing’, or whatever variant they pick for a particular statement.

Of course, the rhetoric has very little basis in fact. Most benefit recipient – 60% – are working people who are so poorly paid by their employers or so exploited by their landlords that they can’t manage without state assistance.

But is any of it true? More to the point, if it is – does it matter? And do the government’s stated reasons for targeting them have anything to do with the real reasons?

There don’t seem to be any firm figures that indicate how many of such people there actually are, but certainly they’re far fewer than the government would like everyone to think.

For example, an article in the Guardian highlights cases in which the government grossly exaggerated ‘scrounger’ issues for political purposes:

Example 1

Ministers had made a big issue – in order to justify their benefits cap – of a supposedly high number of families that were receiving £100,000 a year in housing benefit.

The reality? There were only 5 such families, in the whole country.

Example 2

Ministers briefed that over 1,300 people had been ‘off work for a decade with diarrhoea.

The reality? They were suffering from cancer and other severe bowel diseases.

Anecdotal evidence also seems to back up the idea that people avoiding work by choice are a very small minority. For example, on a discussion forum for social care professionals, in a debate about ‘scroungers’, one wrote:

I expect our experiences depend a lot on the location and teams that we might work in. Personally I see a LOT more people who are not claiming the benefits that they are wholly entitled to. I’ve come across a few families that might have stepped out of the front page of the Daily Mail but that has been very uncommon in my experience.

There’s no real doubt that a small percentage of people living long-term on benefits do so (as the government likes to put it) ‘as a lifestyle choice’. But most of what evidence there is seems to suggest that it really is a very small percentage.

However, I believe that – at least now and for the foreseeable future – their existence is absolutely irrelevant to the benefits issue. Any reference to them by politicians and media as justification for any benefit reduction or cap is absolutely, and deliberately, misleading – and hides a true motive that’s much darker.

Here’s why.

The numbers game

For the sake of argument, and so that no one can accuse me of minimising the issue to make my assertion more convincing, let’s assume that every single one of the long-term unemployed are living on benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’. It’s a ludicrous proposition, of course, but bear with me for the moment.

The latest ONS statistics indicate that there are 449,000 people who have been on unemployment benefits for 24 months or more. I’m sure you’ll agree that ‘lifestyle scroungers’ are going to be, almost without exception, in this category.

So, if every single person in that category was a ‘scrounger’, choosing to live on benefits, that means we have, at worst, 449,000 scroungers in this country – out of a jobless total of around 2.5 million.

However, the number of available jobs in the whole of the UK – again according to the latest ONS stats – is 489,000. For 2.5 million unemployed people.

This means that, even if you can get someone into every available vacancy, you would still have over 2 million people unemployed. Of course, you never will fill every vacancy – many of those jobs will be vacant because they require special skills and experience that aren’t available, or because they pay so badly that no person in their right mind would want them.

But, again for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the government cuts benefits so drastically that all our notional ‘scroungers’ decide they are going to have to take those jobs – and we’ll assume that they have the necessary skills to do them.

What situation do we then have? Simple: over 2 million people who want to work, and no jobs for them.

Unless and until we reach a ‘full employment’ situation – one in which there is work for every person who wants to work and is capable of working – the ‘lifestyle scroungers’ are absolutely irrelevant to the benefits or ‘fairness’ issues.

In the current situation, where we have more than 5 unemployed people for every available job, every ‘scrounger’ forced into work means one less job for someone who wants to work. Somebody is going to be on benefits – a lot of ‘somebodies’, in fact – even if we had zero scroungers.

The only time when it would be legitimate to spend Parliamentary time and effort even discussing the genuine ‘scroungers’ would be if we ever return to a full-employment situation. However, there’s a massive reason why we won’t in the foreseeable future – and why it’s incredibly hypocritical for anyone to use so-called ‘scroungers’ as an excuse to ‘bash the benefit claimants’ as the government and the right-wing press love to do. It’s tied up in the last 2 sentences of the previous paragraph – but all should become clear shortly.

The ugly truth

For all their ‘striver vs skiver’ rhetoric, right-wingers don’t want everyone in work – and that includes politicians. They just don’t want people to be able to live on benefits in the long-term - for a very specific reason. That’s possibly a shocking thought for you. However, it’s not just my opinion – it’s on record as fact.

In 1997, the Bank of England’s ‘Monetary Policy Committee’ (MPC) met to discuss its business. In the minutes arising from that meeting, an incredibly frank and extremely revealing couple of paragraphs were included:



According to the Bank of England’s MPC, high numbers of long-term unemployed people does not push down wages – to them a desirable thing – to the same extent as numbers in short-term unemployment.

Lots of people unemployed in the short-term means that those in work are more worried about their job-security – and are therefore more likely to tolerate lower wages and less likely to demand increases. High numbers of long-term unemployed are less ‘effective’ in holding the employed to ransom, because the long-term unemployed aren’t as much of a threat to their job tenure.

Another part of the same document talks about a ‘natural level of unemployment’, saying that if

“the level of unemployment [was] below the natural rate, increasing inflation would generally result.”

In other words, a certain level of unemployment is natural and desirable – the wealthy right does not want everybody to have a job.

The Bank of England’s motivation is, notionally at least, a concern that upward pressure on inflation might stoke higher inflation. These concerns have not gone away since 1997. In one of its 2012 reports on inflationary pressures, the MPC stated:

Since the second quarter of 2011, the number of vacancies had been broadly stable while unemployment had increased, suggesting that the unemployed were less able to fill those vacancies.

But for employers, and the politicians they donate to, there’s another, clearer, baser motive.

Greed.

David Cameron, George Osborne, Ian Duncan Smith and co want there to be a lot of people out of work – because that keeps the rest of us ‘in our place’, and stops us expecting pay rises that will reduce fat, corporate profits. Whatever the rhetoric, the fiscal cost of that level of unemployment is perfectly acceptable to the bankers and CEOs, because it bolsters profits and executive salaries. The Bank of England says so.

They just don’t want there to be many long-term unemployed people – because that doesn’t do the job as effectively. So the Tories and their donors have a vested interest in targeting the long-term unemployed – one that has precisely nothing to do with fairness.

To you and me, if we had to choose which of the 2.5 million unemployed people to put into the <500,000 jobs that exist for them, would probably see it as best, fairest and most logical to fill those jobs with people that really want to do them – whether they’ve been unemployed for 6 weeks or 6 years – rather than have them filled by people who don’t really want to do them.

But the government and its wealthy friends have a different agenda. One that’s better served by having only short-term unemployed people who are desperate for work – so that a sword is always hanging over the rest of us that employers can use to dampen our ‘uppity’ expectations of decent pay and conditions.

Scroungers are irrelevant to the issue of benefits and fairness while we have our current level of unemployment. They are not irrelevant to the Tories’ real, strategic but hidden aims – which go against the very same hard-working ‘strivers’ whose side they claim to be on.

When you hear about the vote today, or think about the issues, or consider whether Labour is doing the right thing for the country by voting against the ‘uprating bill’, bear all this in mind.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by David Richardson on Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:06 pm

Bellatori wrote:The landlord is not using public money. The tenant is using public money to pay the rent. My daughter pays rent,; I pay rent but neither of us is dipping into the public purse to do so. You are mis-stating the situation to make an invalid point.
The landlord's rent is coming from the public purse. The tenant has no choice in the matter if he wants a roof over his head: and he doesn't see any of the money. Governments have chosen to subsidise rents rather than build houses. The landlord might very well be one of those people who have lost out on final-salary pensions, or pensions of any kind, owing to the casualization of labour over the last few decades. He has to provide for his future, so he is not necessarily to blame either - but he is doing so with public money.

But then, all money is public, isn't it? It consists of tokens that have value only if they circulate within a community that expresses a belief in their validity through the authority of state institutions. Making the possession of money contingent upon work has always been a dubious principle, never held to by the ruling elite in respect of itself, and surely outdated in an economy that is manifestly incapable of providing 40 hours work per week to all those deemed to need it. We all live on benefits, of one kind or another.

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by bobby on Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:54 pm

My last post was as much off topic as was your post in question .
Why I queried it was that after reading,
"In this time of constraint who willingly throws money away particularly if, like me, you only have a pension?" then whilst reading through the members profiles as one occasionally does in case I recognise someone from my early days on MSN, I noticed your Web Site advertising your expertise in the land of computer fixing etc. and given that your entry to this site was only 2013. 10.11 I assumed it to be current, you see I only advertise what I have and can supply, not a business failure of two years ago.
Anyway if I have it wrong you have my profound apologies.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by bobby on Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:23 pm

This Fergus Wilson geezer can and should be aligned with Peter Rachman, Lord Cardigan and Captain Charles Boycott all associated by the practices some on this thread find acceptable. They are all responsible for the ruination of their tenants lives, and for one reason and one reason only Profit. With the exception of Rachman Whilst the Irish tied field workers where bringing in money it was alright for them to live in the hovels provided by the landlords, but as soon as things got bad and no cash was coming in, not only where the families ruthlessly and forcibly evicted but the hovels then burnt down so the previous tenants could not sneak back if they had nowhere else to go, the fact that the properties that where burnt to the ground served absolutely no purpose to the landlord at all during the potato famine, made no difference to the scum who owned them.
This bastard Fergus Wilson most certainly should be aligned to the fore mentioned.
He should as the least, given the tenants’ a chance to pay their rents as I’m certain most would, and then start eviction proceedings against those that don pay, but to evict all of the tenant’s because they are on benefits should be illegal and the git needs stringing up the on the first tree available.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:27 pm

""Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on."
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:32 am

bobby wrote:all associated by the practices some on this thread find acceptable.
Here's a novel idea - how about taking issue with any specific you disagree with that others have said.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by boatlady on Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:40 am

Just to add my threepennorth on this contentious issue ----

There are two aspects to this as far as I can see:-
1) Fergus Wison (and any other private landlord) is a businessman, and according to the rules currently governing their business they are motivated first, last and all the time by the profit margin - which is after all the function of business within a capitalist economy. Private landlords are selling a resource within a free market and are entitled to seek to maximise profit and minimise risk to themselves - that is what they are in business for. To my mind, this is ethically neutral - it's the way things run. You can no more criticise him for doing this than I can criticise my cat for killing mice.

2) Where the ethics come in, to my mind, is in the assumption on the part of government and society in general that the ESSENTIALS of civilised life can safely and fairly be provided within an unregulated market. Clearly, they can't, as the action of Mr Wilson and no doubt others after him demonstrates. If you are going to have a free market place, it's inevitable that some will profit at the expense of others. This, to my mind, is where government comes in - in providing either regulation of the market to ensure greater fairness, or in providing the essentials of civilised life divorced from market forces. There is to my mind a place for privately rented accomodation, and that is in terms of providing housing for those who can afford to make the choice and choose not to own their own property, and as a temporary solution for those who will never own their home and are waiting for appropriate social housing to be available. The other alternative would be VERY strict regulation of private rentals, which would not be welcomed by many private landlords as it would reduce profit margins by lowering rents, protecting the rights of tenants and requiring landlords to invest heavily in the improvement and maintenance of their properties.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:10 pm

I can't understand the dual thinking about housing benefit. As a result of continuous right-wing press opposition to all things welfare, the money received by tenants is somehow dirty, smells of poverty, and is possibly swindled.

That same money becomes magically transformed upon reaching the bank account of a wealthy landlord into justified reward for a respectable businessperson's legitimate effort.

It's taxpayers' money, but some taxpayers know a way to claw some of it back, for which they are apparently to be admired.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:13 pm

Well said, Boatlady.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:04 pm

bobby wrote:My last post was as much off topic as was your  post in question .
Why I queried it was that after reading,
"In this time of constraint who willingly throws money away particularly if, like me, you only have a pension?" then whilst reading through the members profiles as one occasionally does in case I recognise someone from my early days on MSN, I noticed your Web Site advertising your expertise in the land of computer fixing etc. and given that your entry to this site was only 2013. 10.11 I assumed it to be current, you see I only advertise what I have and can supply, not a business failure of two years ago.
Anyway if I have it wrong you have my profound apologies.

So basically you went trawling for dirt in order to personalise the issue and came up with zilch. Says a lot about you then.

My post was directly addressing issues under discussion and related to what was then the point at issue. I am surprised as Ivan is so zealous on such things that your last two posts weren't deleted for trolling as they were clearly both off topic and with malevolent intent. They were certainly covered by his definition of trolling. I am sure he has his reasons for ignoring the issue.

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:16 pm

Deleted. No relevance to the thread, just a personal attack and a complaint which should have been made in a personal message.
Ivan.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:27 pm

oftenwrong wrote:I can't understand the dual thinking about housing benefit.  As a result of continuous right-wing press opposition to all things welfare, the money received by tenants is somehow dirty, smells of poverty, and is possibly swindled.

That same money becomes magically transformed upon reaching the bank account of a wealthy landlord into justified reward for a respectable businessperson's legitimate effort.

It's taxpayers' money, but some taxpayers know a way to claw some of it back, for which they are apparently to be admired.  

I know of few other than ardent Tories who might think the former and it is a bit of a caricature you are promulgating to make a point that really does not exist.

If you wish any goods and services you would expect to pay for them. This is true whether it is an air fare, insurance, food or lodging. Would you expect to turn up at a hotel and expect them to lodge you for free? Of course not. You pay the going rate for each of these.

It would be more accurate to say that you are making a special case for Landlords and vilifying them for expecting the going rate and that you should actually tender the money. None of the other cases would allow you the services contingent on the possibility that you might not pay. Of course not.

If you turn up at the checkout at Tesco without any money they are not going to simply wave you through on the basis that you might pay them tomorrow.

Underneath it all that is the core of this issue. No certainty of payment = no service.

To put this right two things need to happen (three if you count a sensible building program)  firstly to reverse the rule on payment direct to landlords. This was a stupid change and had an undercurrent of cutting the welfare budget hidden inside and secondly, what boatlady identified, an that is if housing is a right then the market for property has to be properly controlled. I have never been a subscriber to 'the free market' that simply eats the hindmost. All markets need some degree of proper supervision. Housing should be a right and without controls those rights will be abused.

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Ivan on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:40 pm

Bellatori. For the second time in two days, I will remind you that any comments about the moderation or administration of this forum must be made in a personal message to one of the staff.

All members of this forum can access the memberlist, and if some people display websites it’s presumably because they want people to look at them. I don’t have to explain myself to you, but a key part of your argument on this thread has been that you only have your pension as a source of income. It therefore strikes me as relevant to the discussion for bobby to have queried whether or not the business which is on your website was an additional source, since there were implications for the credibility of what you had posted. As to your second complaint - “malevolent intent” on the part of bobby – that hardly stands up, since he added: “If I have it wrong you have my profound apologies”.

When it comes to the issue of going off topic, perhaps you should put your own house in order. Kindly refrain from acting as a self-appointed moderator and meddling in long-standing issues involving a former member which you know almost nothing about.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:07 pm

Ivan wrote:...It therefore strikes me as relevant to the discussion for bobby to have queried whether or not the business which is on your website was an additional source, since there were implications for the credibility of what you had posted.
Which, if you think about it simply confirms my comment that he was seeking some dirt to smear me with (oh and failed). The alternative to taking what I wrote at face value is to assume that, for example, everything you write is a lie unless I can find corroboration and if I cannot I should nonetheless leave some comment just to make it clear that all you write may not be as it seems.

“If I have it wrong you have my profound apologies”.
We can all hear the ringing sincerity .

So if I can find something to trip you up and smear you, so long as I post that on the end we are all good?  Very Happy 


You are having a laugh are you not Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:50 pm

Ivan wrote:Bellatori a key part of your argument on this thread has been that you only have your pension as a source of income.
It's not a key part of his argument at all in my view. It's a side issue with little importance to the point being made. Incidentally, Bella has stated on the Amazon forum (where I know him from) in the past that he is retired and is an unwilling landlord for the exact same reasons given on here. It would have taken some foresight on his part to concoct the story months ago with this debate in mind, don't you think?

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:37 pm

It may soon be time for combatants to retire to previously prepared positions, and take a well-earned period of recuperation.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:25 pm

oftenwrong wrote:It may soon be time for combatants to retire to previously prepared positions, and take a well-earned period of recuperation.

...and this relates to the topic how?  scratch I look forward to the revisionist view of your post explaining its relevance with great interest.  elephant 

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Ivan on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:02 pm

Bellatori. One of the problems with discussing issues here (and on Twitter) is that you can’t see the face of the person talking, and you can’t hear the way in which they express themselves. So it’s much easier to be misunderstood. We also have to assume that everyone is who they say they are, unless or until we have reason to think otherwise.

I suspect that some time ago, bobby was having a look around the forum and came across the memberlist. Seeing that some people had websites elsewhere, he probably had a look at some or all of them. It possibly stuck in his mind that you, like him, have run a business, and when you said several times that you only had a pension, it made him query that fact. As I see it, bobby was asking you a question; you’ve answered it, so can’t that be the end of the matter? If you persist with it, some might think that you protest too much!  What a Face 

By all means try and trip me up. If I think someone has posted misleading information, I will look for evidence to challenge it. I usually post sources to support my political views, but I don’t post many personal details because I don’t think they’re relevant or necessary here. You’ve revealed your past business and you have told everyone that you rely on a pension (the latter to make a point about your status as a landlord), but if you don’t want people to comment on your personal matters, I suggest you don’t publicise them.

Getting back to the subject, David Richardson has astutely pointed out that “governments have chosen to subsidise rents rather than build houses”. As a result, we have a shortage of homes and sky-high rents. Don’t groan, but it all has to come back to Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ and the fact that there were a million fewer council houses in 1987 than there had been in 1980. A lot of those houses are now owned by private landlords such as the son of the late Ian Gow (who just happened to be Thatcher’s housing minister). It’s such a pity that so many of you can’t be tempted to use more than just two or three of the twenty boards on this forum:-

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk/t750-has-the-right-to-buy-and-lack-of-rent-controls-caused-most-of-the-uks-housing-problems
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:22 pm

Ivan wrote:...Getting back to the subject, David Richardson has astutely pointed out that “governments have chosen to subsidise rents rather than build houses”. As a result, we have a shortage of homes and sky-high rents. Don’t groan, but it all has to come back to Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ and the fact that there were a million fewer council houses in 1987 than there had been in 1980. A lot of those houses are now owned by private landlords such as the son of the late Ian Gow (who just happened to be Thatcher’s housing minister).

Please accept that I am actually smiling here. Why should I not groan?!  Very Happy  I despise and detest Thatcher and even more so since they used Meryl Streep, an actress I really admire, to turn her (MT) into some sort of heroine just turns my stomach BUT and its a big but, there were 13 years or so for Labour to do something about this and yet they did so little that it has allowed the Tories to turn a serious situation into a disaster. There is no doubt in my mind that, as with the bedroom tax, people will die because of this.

Human Rights IMHO should mean a right to life, freedom to think (and the education needed to do it properly) and health (which means also food and shelter. In some ways, from a psychological health point of view it probably includes work  Smile ). This whole thread is about the shelter part. Governments are not subsidising rents. They are allowing a "free" market full freedom. The problem with that is that it is not a level playing field. This is where boatlady comes in with her request for proper regulation. As I pointed out above, Tesco will not let you walk out without paying for food and Landlords are looking at the rent situation in the same way. FW is undoubtedly a Tory fat cat but I doubt he is that amused by their policy and certainly his action is doing them harm. He is actually giving the Tories the finger by this action.

All of this brings us back to the issue of shortage of housing stock for affordable homes. How much did the renewal of trident waste and the olympics we really neither needed or could afford? How many houses could we have built if we had had the will power and the direction? In another thread someone mentioned that Boris was brown nosing Murdoch. Was this part of the price Tony paid for the same thing, Murdoch support? If it was could we claim it was a price worth paying?

You are very fond of comparing Attlee to Thatcher and Cameron to their great and justified dis-benefit (dreadful Americanism). We had 13 years to change things and all I am left feeling about that period of government is that it was an interregnum. I find it hard to believe Attlee would have recognised it as Labour. It is hard to think of the successes but easy to think of those things they failed to do - renationalisation, labour market reforms, trade union legislation reform, housing etc...

Mrs T may have started the ball rolling but Tony and friends clearly had a different agenda from Human Rights as I see them.


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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:33 pm

oftenwrong wrote:It may soon be time for combatants to retire to previously prepared positions, and take a well-earned period of recuperation.
Laughing
Are these from a desk calendar or did you acquire a job lot of fortune cookies?
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by boatlady on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:35 pm

It would be really nice about now if people could stop squabbling

 study 
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:54 pm

Maybe we could have a bake-off.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by boatlady on Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:29 am

that would be lovely

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by David Richardson on Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:19 am

"Governments are not subsidising rents. They are allowing a "free" market full freedom."

What is housing benefit then, if not a subsidy on rents? And tax credits, if not a subsidy on inadequate wages?

And we know that Tony Blair came along and turned the Labour Party into a Tory Party, in some instances even going further to the right than Thatcher. But this was in great part due to the failure of the traditional Labour Party over the years to effectively combat the ideas of the right, the small state, the denigration of trade unions, globalization, the worship of privilege and inordinate wealth, the failure to adjust to a post-industrial situation, where capitalism finally displays its inability to maintain a work ethic that was always a ploy designed to supply a compliant mass workforce - which is now simply not needed.

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Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:20 pm

It all comes down to money. The right-wing Tory party automatically receives the support of Business and Finance companies - who regard it as "their" party.

"Our" Party, Labour, or indeed any party representing the workers, cannot possibly match that monetary firepower.

Solve that dichotomy and we may yet have a Nation fit for everyone. Perhaps election expenses should be met from general taxation - with the proviso that no other Party-fund-raising would be legal.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:52 pm

David Richardson wrote:...What is housing benefit then, if not a subsidy on rents?
Well lets keep this simple and ask who applies for housing benefit? The landlord or the tenant?

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Post by Bellatori on Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:55 pm

oftenwrong wrote:..."Our" Party, Labour, or indeed any party representing the workers, cannot possibly match that monetary firepower....

Actually it all comes down to votes and the working populace (by that I do not mean the 'Working class') has more than enough votes to leave the Tories in limbo for eternity. So why does this not happen? Well sometimes turkeys DO vote for Christmas.

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Post by David Richardson on Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:38 pm

It all comes down to money.
Not quite all. It also comes down to having the courage to stick to principles even when they are for the moment denigrated by the media. To be worthy of being elected, a party has to be prepared to lose for the sake of its principles.

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:45 pm

David Richardson wrote:
It all comes down to money.
Not quite all. It also comes down to having the courage to stick to principles even when they are for the moment denigrated by the media. To be worthy of being elected, a party has to be prepared to lose for the sake of its principles.

The party has to make sure the turkeys understand what principles are and why they matter.

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Post by boatlady on Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:33 pm

Well lets keep this simple and ask who applies for housing benefit? The landlord or the tenant?

Not sure what your point is here Bellatori - are you saying people should refuse to rent property they can't afford, thereby not claiming Housing Benefit?

I wonder where all these people would live while awaiting the inevitable social change that would flow from the lack of demand for Housing Benefit?
Or should we just open some nice concentration camps for those who can't afford to rent on the open market? - Keep them from starving in public I suppose.

Do please forgive me if I've completely misunderstood your point
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:59 pm

boatlady wrote:...

I was probably attempting to be cryptic and ended up being obscure. Stupid really.  Smile 

The tenant makes a decision... rent here or not. The prices set by the landlord. Clearly the tenant can always chose to go elsewhere (cardboard box under the arches possibly but it is still a choice). If the tenant is DSS supported there will be a contribution from the DSS to the tenant to meet his obligations. In Newcastle should you chose not to go for the apartment then it will probably be rented at an even higher price to Chinese students who seem to have the buying power. I think I mentioned before that my wife and I are one of very few indigenous population in these flats. Should I wish to know my neighbours, a short course in Mandarin would be useful.  Smile 

The DSS and housing benefit are subsidising tenants and not landlords. The solution, as you pointed out I think, to the upward pressure on rents would be to build 1 million new affordable homes. I listened to radio 4 this morning and heard the demand by someone to reach a total of 200,000 homes a year as a priority. Which is better? Support tenants through housing benefit or drop rents by using the market forces and build the homes. My view is that it is a no brainer. Build the homes. Everybody (who matters) wins. A few fat cats may grizzle but frankly it will be a pro forma one. They will still make money.

For me it is a zero sum game. I am a landlord who would get less BUT I am also a tenant who would pay less. In my opinion, in the long term, controlling the benefit cost by controlling the housing stock is the optimum solution. There are no excuses. Labour failed to do this for 13 years and when they get in at the election 2015 this should be a priority. Pardon my French but SOD 50->80billion on HS2 - that is a hell of a lot of houses. Same thing with Trident... People first... posturing politics second  Very Happy



[PS] On the radio 4 program this morning I think they also said that France (?) whose economy is in an even more parlous state than ours managed to build 3x the number of houses than we did... some 350,000. Imagine should we manage that a year... problem solved (well sort of).

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Post by bobby on Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:40 pm

In France the majority of house building is done privately although most of the land will be purchased from the local Mairie (mayor), the mairie will also issue the planning permission. Land in France is also a lot less expensive than here in the UK as are the Artisans you will need to do the actual building.
Each region is required by law to build a certain number of houses most to be found on the outskirts of Towns and Villages. There is no house shortage in France either to buy or to rent.
Its also very easy for them as the Country is in excess of three times the size of Britain with a little higher population.
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Post by Bellatori on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:22 am

bobby wrote:...

I am sure you are correct. It simply highlights some of the deficiencies that we have in ensuring that a drive to build houses succeeds.

You write

"Each region is required by law to build a certain number of houses most to be found on the outskirts of Towns and Villages. " Lets go for it... though we will need legislation to put a crimp on the NIMBYs

"the mairie will also issue the planning permission" There is another issue. Planning permission is a nightmare. I applied to build a garage onto my daughters house in Newcastle. All the neighbours were happy but the planning application hit continual road blocks. The final one being the environmental planning officer who had lodged a planning objection. I asked for a copy of this and was told he was away. Was there some note of his objection - surely he could not submit an objection with no note of what it was? Apparently he could! It is too boring to go on about but it appears to be a jobsworth. Worse still was the objection to a Juliet balcony to my house in Whitehaven a number of years ago. A colleague at work asked, when I commented on the problem, whether I had employed one of the companies that steered planning applications through the planning committee. I told him that I left this to the architect. 'Ah', he replied with a knowing nod. 'That would be the problem then'. Apparently companies like this are run by friends and family of the councillors on the planning committee. I believe bribing the planning committee is an offence so bungs have to make a more circuitous route.  Very Happy This is what happens when you have such a convoluted planning system where everyone can dip their finger in the pie.

Whilst over in Poland (half the population and several times the size of the UK admittedly) over Xmas you could not help but notice as one drives through the villages and towns at the wonderful variety of designs and colours and builds of the houses. No nonsense about having to build one that looks exactly like your neighbours. For them, they have to show that they have supplied and connected the services without affecting their neighbours and that is essentially it. There are some rules about size and area but these are not onerous. You then build your house in the bricks of your choice, in the colour of your choice, with or without balcony etc...

"There is no house shortage in France either to buy or to rent." Which keeps the rental market honest (well reasonably so).

If the French can do it then why cannot we? Is it really that hard to be fair? Is it simply that we might need legislation to tread on some toes and get the system up and running and the main parties are too gutless?

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:26 am

I feel this whole issue is part of a wider problem whereby for decades now many people simply rely on the unwritten rule that just about the best investment a 'normal' person can make is in the property market. It's a guaranteed winner (not necessarily but another unwritten 'rule', if you like) and a lot of economic policy seems geared towards this and a property boom is synonymous with voters being happy. Especially voters who matter (i.e. the floating voters in those key marginals). So, if you like, it is all about money.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:45 am

Mark Twain and Will Rogers shared a sentiment. As Twain said, "Buy land, they're not making it anymore". I think the Will Rogers version was “The Lord ain’t makin’ no more land, and the feller that wants a farm better get it quick.” "NATURE AIN’T makin’ no more land and it ain’ta gittin no cheaper."

the unwritten rule that just about the best investment a 'normal' person can make is in the property market.

We (the UK) do seem to have a bit of a fetish about owning property which is not so prevalent in the rest of Europe. They do seem to be able to rent without feeling the need to believe they are somehow disinherited. The period from the late 70s to the mid/late 80s should have taught us that owning property could be a burden especially if you had a mortgage.

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:15 am

Bellatori

Two points
1) If you're going to talk about benefits it's a good idea to get your terminology (and facts) straight. The DSS, like the DHSS, is a long defunct organisation and the benefit (NOT welfare, please) regime is very much different to anything you may remember from your youth. For accurate information, you could refer to gov.uk the government's own benefits site or Turn2Us, a more independent site giving FACTS about current benefit rules. You could also if you wanted look at the ILegal forum which will introduce you to some intelligent debate on the subject
2) (cardboard box under the arches is NOT an acceptable choice for a family with children, a vulnerable sick or disabled person, or an elderly person, just to mention a few obvious social groups  - so, with proper seriousness, please, your suggested solution for these problematic individuals, who, in your analysis it seems are destroying the economy by increasing the Housing Benefit bill. The British housing market is in CRISIS due to unbridled market forces - the solution, in my view, with great urgency is for government to weigh in with a radical programme of rent caps, inspection of privately rented property, compulsory purchase and upgrading of sub standard property, reform of utilities supply and pricing etc, etc - people living in cardboard boxes is NOT a solution in a wealthy and allegedly civilised society
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:32 pm

David Richardson wrote:
It all comes down to money.
Not quite all. It also comes down to having the courage to stick to principles even when they are for the moment denigrated by the media. To be worthy of being elected, a party has to be prepared to lose for the sake of its principles.

A counsel of perfection is OK in the abstract David, but a party has to be prepared to lose for the sake of its principles. (quote) is not unlike saying we're better off dead.

I hope there's still some fight left in this Nation's socialist movement, and Miliband tackling the Banks today is precisely what is required.
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Post by Bellatori on Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:38 pm

boatlady wrote:...NOT welfare, please
I am surprised I used the term welfare though I cannot immediately see where... however I take your word for it. Why you should appear to be sensitive about this is a bit of a puzzle. Ed Miliband talks about the welfare state here -> A One Nation Plan for Social Security Reform... anyway I stand corrected for whatever the perceived misdemeanour was.

boatlady wrote:NOT an acceptable choice for a family with children, a vulnerable sick or disabled person, or an elderly person, just to mention a few obvious social groups
Just as well I did not say it was then is it not?

boatlady wrote:...your suggested solution for these problematic individuals, who, in your analysis it seems are destroying the economy by increasing the Housing Benefit bill.
It is quite improper to suggest that I even implied they were destroying the economy. My point which I thought was reasonably clear is that given a choice between letting the housing benefit bill keep rising because of the free market force on rents a better solution was to build houses to provide the accommodation and force rents down by increasing the supply side. See bobby's post on France and my follow up comments.

Rent caps will not work and do not work and demonstrably so. This is not simply my opinion competing with yours either. All you get is a block of flats with rich Chinese students living in them, at least in Newcastle. It is all very well for you to get on your high horse about cardboard boxes but please bear in mind a move towards what is effectively a rent cap by the Tories, no less, is what caused FW to send termination notices to his benefit supported tenants. Where do you think they are all going to end up? Buck House? Maida Vale? I have already pointed out in a recent post that I think this is another Tory policy like the bedroom tax that will end up killing someone. Whilst the cardboard box was put in for 'dramatic licence' it represents a very real risk for some.

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:45 pm

Boatlady, you made a post earlier about 'squabbling'. May I point out that the 'squabbling' came about because Bella and myself had to keep explaining our points after being misrepresented on a number of occasions. Now, you're apparently seeking to do the same thing. It gets a bit tedious after a while but I'm sure you'd be inclined to do the same thing if you were erroneously being accused of having a pop at people on benefits and supporting those that seek to demonise them.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:39 pm

Sorry if I've ruffled feathers here.
1) The term 'Welfare State' to my understanding, is a respectable old socialist term covering the whole breadth of public services designed to ensure the welfare of citizens from the cradle to the grave. This included the NHS, educational provision including grants to enable access to higher education for the sons and daughters of working class people, free school milk and dinners and probably other measures I have overlooked.

The use of the term 'Welfare' to describe social security benefits appears to me to be strategy of the right wing government and press to demonise and differentiate those people who for whatever reason are compelled to depend for their subsistence on those social security financial benefits designed to prevent destitution. This in its turn makes it easier for ordinary citizens to tolerate and even applaud the fact that the financial social security benefits (which we are all entitled to and which include the state pension, child benefit, benefits paid to people with a lifelong disability) are increasingly squeezed and to justify the fact that receiving such benefits is now hedged about with such a thicket of conditionality that receipt of these benefits causes such a degree of shame and distress that for many people I meet destitution is almost preferable. Having re-read Bellatori's post, I accept he didn't actually refer to Housing Benefit as welfare on this occasion; however, perhaps the original point stands that in referring to social security benefits it may be well to have up-to-date information about how the benefits system works. The web sites I have referred to are used by me on a weekly basis in providing advice and I am confident of their accuracy- hence the recommendation, to anyone who wants to debate about social security benefits that they are a good resource.

2) Re the debate as to who is subsidised by Housing Benefit, and indeed other in-work benefits, I think we need to look at who benefits from the issuing of these benefits.

It's quite clear to me, that in the current environment where there are few jobs on offer and most housing is in the private sector, people have to take what is on offer and that will involve living in accommodation that their wages or benefits are not enough to pay for. The person who receives the Housing Benefit (paid out of Local Authority funds by the way) is not the tenant, but the landlord, who is thereby enable to charge more for his property that the tenant can afford to pay for - in a truly free economy I guess the landlord would have to adjust his rents downwards, but as you comment there are people who can afford the inflated rents, so the consequence of refusing the unaffordable accommodation is homelessness.

My contention would therefore be, that the benefit s system (paid for out of our council tax and other taxes) is subsidising not tenants and workers but the landlords, who charge more than their property is worth, and the employers who employ people on part-time, zero hours contracts at below the living wage. Tenants and workers have little choice - they have to live somewhere and they have to go to work - employers could decide to pay living wage across the board, and landlords could I suppose decide to charge lower rents - either of these decisions would ameliorate the situation - vulnerable people living in cardboard boxes would also take some strain out of the system - but I don't think it would be as fair.
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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:17 pm

boatlady wrote:

The use of the term 'Welfare' to describe social security benefits appears to me to be strategy of the right wing government and press to demonise and differentiate those people who for whatever reason are compelled to depend for their subsistence on those social security financial benefits designed to prevent destitution.....Having re-read Bellatori's post, I accept he didn't actually refer to Housing Benefit as welfare on this occasion.
Do you not feel the bit in bold rather negates your point about the incorrect usage of the term?  Laughing 

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Re: 'Scroungers' are irrelevant to the 'fairness'/benefits issue. Here's why the government is really obsessed with them

Post by Bellatori on Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:35 pm

boatlady wrote:Sorry if I've ruffled feathers here.

No you haven't, you have simply posted something that is wrong and for which you should apologise. Instead you post the following...

boatlady wrote:Having re-read Bellatori's post, I accept he didn't actually refer to Housing Benefit as welfare on this occasion.
which is completely unacceptable because it basically implies that if I did not do it this time I did it before like a repeat offender.

2) Re the debate as to who is subsidised by Housing Benefit, and indeed other in-work benefits, I think we need to look at who benefits from the issuing of these benefits.

You go into a supermarket and see a bottle of wine for sale at £6. You have only got £4 in your pocket so I give you an extra £2 so you can make the purchase. Who am I subsidising? You or the supermarket. The answer is you. The supermarket does not care whether you have £6 or get subbed by me to buy the bottle. The market rate is £6 and they will sell to whomsoever arrives with the requisite amount. No amount of twisting the facts will turn a benefit intended to subsidise a tenant who comes up short into a subsidy to a landlord. That bottle of wine is going to be £6 whether you like it or not and will sell to someone else if you don't want it. That is the 'joys' of the free market.  sarcasm 

I have already pointed out that rent caps do not work. If you think about it the only way that could work would be to nationalise housing. Not a hope and trying to pick off landlords one at a time would simply end up in court and losing. In the short term housing benefit cost will rise. There is a shortage of housing and competition means that rents will increase. The only solution long term is to build houses - lots of them - at least 1,000,000. Its like with the wine. They have a bumpier harvest and produce twice as much they know it is not all going to sell. What happens? Down comes the price. Build the houses and the landlords have competition. They might not find a tenant. Down comes the rent.

boatlady wrote:... but I don't think it would be as fair.
No it's not fair and I suspect until someone dies or we have a picture of a family huddling in blankets on a park bench there will be little sense of urgency. We know Mrs T did not give a tinkers cuss for workers living conditions and DC probably even less however there were 13 years when this entirely foreseeable problem could have been tackled but wasn't. Will the same happen in 2015?

Once again I refer you to bobby's post about France and my follow on comments.

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