Benefit Cap – Homer’s Odyssey explains the full horrors

Mr Simpson along with his wife Marjorie and their three children are in a housing crisis.  Mr Simpson lost his job 9 weeks ago at the Sellaspringfield nuclear plant and he was evicted from his rented property.

simpsons

The family are devastated and traumatised with the loss of their home (and will even miss their bible-bashing neighbour) and now that they are in crisis they approach the local council landlord for rehousing.

Sorry Mr Simpson we will not be giving you a council house as you cannot afford the rent they are told.  Your family is the two parent three child household and so you will only get £50 per week in HB due to the Benefit Cap and the rent is £97 per week.  We cannot afford to house you as you cannot afford the rent

Doh!

You will need to go to the council homeless department as they have mandatory duties under law to accommodate you.  It’s just along the hall. Have a nice day!

The Simpson family will be one of around 150,000 such families of the 385,000 families who are housed by social landlord each year and who will be refused a council house or a housing association house each and every year starting right now due to the Benefit Cap on grounds of affordability.

And you thought the Benefit Cap only affects current tenants? Doh!!!!

The Benefit Cap means that families with three children will not get a social housing property ever again if they are not in employment, and in some areas the family with two children will be turned away if on ESA … and even a couple with 1 child in the misnamed ‘affordable’ (sic) rent model operated by social landlords in high rent areas.

Q) Where will Homer, Marj, Bart, Liza and Maggie live?

In whatever unsuitable homeless provision their council can find and at a huge cost to each local council that they have to pay and so the cost falls on the local taxpayer.

Q) What do you mean costly temporary homeless provision?

If they’re lucky it could be two rooms at a Travelodge that costs £49 per room per night for a weekly cost to the local council of £686 or £2,982 per month or £35,794 per year. (The council will get back just the £50 per week in HB to which they are entitled.)

Q) So the £20,000 per year Benefit Cap sees the taxpayer paying £35,794 per year just in rent?

Yes and the Simpsons will also still receive £17,412 per year in social security benefit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits making a total of £53,206 per year and over a thousand pounds per week when now the cost would be £17,412 plus £5,058 per year in rent or £22,469 per year.

Q) So over £30,000 per year more then?

Yes.

Q) You also said unsuitable homeless provision?

Yes and for so any reasons.  The (if they’re lucky Travelodge) or other homeless accommodation will:

  • have no cooking facilities.
  • no privacy
  • nowhere for the children to do their homework
  • nowhere for the laundry to do done
  • maybe 10 or 20 miles away for the the existing schools
  • and be miles away from family, friends and other support networks

Q) So the existing tenants who will inevitably be evicted due to the savage cuts to their housing benefit are just one part of the massive increase in homelessness the Benefit Cap will directly create?

Yes, and in fact a smaller part than all those who will now be refused social housing due to the policy.  The existing social tenant household may number 65,000 or so yet this will affect 150,000 prospective social tenant households each year

Q) So this becomes social housing’s version of the “No DSS” issue we all now happens with private sector landlords?

Yes.  It also means the social housing model created in the 1948 Welfare State that means the country provides settled accommodation for those who are vulnerable is no more, brown bread, a parrot pining for the fjords..

Q) So why haven’t opposition political parties and social landlords and  local councils and the likes of Shelter and Save the Children made a huge outcry over this?

You tell me!  After all the 150,000 families will have over half a million children in them and who will no longer be able to get a council or housing association property and instead will be housed in unsuitable and costly homeless provision.

[Aside: This means 500,000 new child care places have to spring up out of the ether to allow those capped households who can work to be able to and if so the ‘welfare’ bill increases by over £800 million per year to pay for this child care!!]

Perhaps Duff beer was named in their honour to reflect their competence at challenging what is a back of fag packet ideological superficial nonsense of a policy?

So when you react with horror, as indeed you should, to Shelters latest campaign which says there are 120,000 children homeless this Christmas, have a think on what that number will be at Christmas 2017 … 300,000 or 500,000 or even more … and then ask again where is the outrage over this?!

 

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21 thoughts on “Benefit Cap – Homer’s Odyssey explains the full horrors

  1. The benefit cap won’t affectopic me fortunately but I do care about others it will affect. The thing is there are far too many of the ‘if it doesn’t affect me, I’ll just keep on burying my head in the sand’. Until of course that person loses their job or becomes ill or has an accident etc. The MSM don’t help by not giving true facts but then again neither does our uncaring government.

    1. You are right. Everyone should worry whether it affects them or not. If landlords deem properties too financially toxic, what is to stop them selling off all of these properties to private investors, as they won’t take the chance of having properties standing empty and losing them money, that will affect all tenants even if they are not subject to the benefit cap.

  2. Please correct me if I’m wrong:
    but surely the benefit cap [from what I’ve read] has nothing to do with saving money and more about power.
    You wrote:
    “If they’re lucky it could be two rooms at a Travelodge that costs £49 per room per night for a weekly cost to the local council of £686 or £2,982 per month or £35,794 per year. (The council will get back just the £50 per week in HB to which they are entitled.)”
    Now if it was a money-saving exercise A.K.A welfare “reform” then they’d do everything they could to keep families in their homes because there’s not a bad difference of rent at say £550 a month to £2,982 per month, not to mention the fallout of moving families on health, schools, etc.
    Why aren’t councils fighting against this? I know the bedroom tax didn’t affect them [because they didn’t have to pay it] but this affects their pocket.
    Your comment about the contradiction of social housing landlord’s no longer being able to home those on benefits also upset me.
    I am fortunate enough to be a sitting tenant and like the other comment on here, I’m not uncaring towards those that are, besides I have a 25-yr-old that would love to move out and set up her own home – but can’t.
    I have noticed how brutal my landlord has become! Yesterday I had to phone them about damage that was done to my home in an attempted burglary that they wanted me to pay for until I got a crime no off the police and even then they said they had to decide whether or not that they were going to repair the damage [out of their pocket] – they even had the nerve to say my family or I could have done the damage

    I HIT THE ROOF AND COME BACK DOWN THE OTHER SIDE!
    Here’s part of the letter of complaint I sent them

    “I am a secure tenant [I have a continuous tenancy from October 1976] and as such I’m protected by the Rent Act of 1977, as a sitting tenant I am entitled to have my home repaired without fear of harassment and as such I want the back door window made safe without requests for money and I for my part will give you the crime number as soon as get it off the police.

    My neighbour was horrified that you asked for money for a crime and said I’d go to the newspaper and social media, I’d told her I’d rather approach you first to see how you are going to address this situation.

    To conclude, I want to reiterate that I didn’t do any damage to my door [nor steal our old mower]and would like it fixed as soon as possible and [more importantly] kindly ask you not to question the good character of my family again!”

    After I’d calmed down: I began to think of those that don’t have secure tenancies and the kind of stress that they have to suffer and thought if they have got stroppy with me, God help those that have no security of tenure.

    Sadly, secure tenancies will die out with my generation and by then I can only imagine that we have returned to the Victorian era lock, stock & barrel.

    *I’m still waiting for the landlord to make the back door safe – even though I now have a crime no off the police.

    1. There is no security of tenure anymore. Social Housing providers were hypnotised by the government into changing from social housing model to affordable rent, this has come back to bite them on the arse as they now have no way of dealing with the benefit cap on HB. The government will either ask them to reduce their rents, which they can’t afford to do, or evict tenants who cant pay. The world has gone to hell in a handcart and the only people responsible are those who pus an X in the box next to a Tory MP.

  3. Joe is right that the overall benefit cap will cause untold misery, however it remains to be seen whether the extent of the problem is as large as he forecasts. Each social landlord will take its own decisions on affordability and whilst some will turn away benefit capped families, others won’t.

    To take your example of the Simpsons, if we assume they are outside London, the maximum weekly benefit is £384 per week, after they’ve paid the rent of £97 they would be left with £287. It’s not a lot to keep a family of 5 but I’m not sure an affordabilty check would automatically exclude them. I agree that in areas with much social higher rents – for example at Affordable rents – then this option will be unlikely.

    If the council has its own stock then the policy issue you point out about the cost of temporary accommodation will clearly incentivise the council to rehouse them and take the risk on the rent rather than spend tens of thousands on temporary accommodation.

    The real crunch comes in the two thirds of local authority areas where there is no council housing – if none of the local housing associations won’t take capped households then the situation will indeed be bleak.

    1. Hi Bill,

      By contrast I believe I have been cautious in this and the reality will be worse than I say.

      You have approached this in the same errant way Richard Best did in the House of Lords by saying rent first to be paid leaving £x per week on which to survive, yet the system works the other way around.

      The ‘Simpsons’ couple with 3 kids will get a £47 per week shortfall in HB (or £76 pw if on ESA) and OVERNIGHT have to find either £7 per day in household budget cuts to pay rent of £11 per day. That simply will not happen and cannot happen for existing tenants.

      For future tenants we have seen landlords ‘affordability’ tests take flight from the bedroom tax household at £15 per week in HB cut so they will definitively take flight at the £47 to £76 per week cuts and refuse to allocate.

      Local housing associations whether LSVT or the ‘super HAs’ will not allocate to new tenants and while 63% of all social landlords are not council ones the scenario you say is much worse in the NW for example as its 39 councils have just 3 council landlords or 93% of LAs do not have council housing.

  4. Do you know of any councils that will actually refuse to house potential tenants on affordability grounds as you’ve said they will Joe? I know there’s a broad range of policy changes happening in the housing association sector, but surely councils will continue to house these people?

      1. Because they have a statutory duty to house them! As horrible as the policy is, in your calculations you’ve assumed that no affected households will be able to access any housing anywhere, which is just not true.

        I know many housing associations will still house affected groups on the basis that they can be supported into employment to escape the cap soon. I imagine councils will be even less likely to reject base don affordability than HAs will.

      2. No they do not!

        Councils have statutory duties to house those who are homeless which is a very different issue.

        A council landlord can and will refuse to house the ‘benefit household’ caught by the benefit cap

    1. Yes but you are missing the point.

      385,000 new social tenancies are created each year of which just 14% go to homeless families and as such 86% go to non homeless families who have NOT gone through eviction.

      These families (prospective new tenants) approach the social landlord who says sorry we cannot house you as you fail our affordability test due to the HB cuts in the Benefit Cap … as landlords have refused prospective bedroom tax households ever since 2013 …

      Result is that the benefit households in these 86% non homeless then have to present as homeless to the LA hence the Benefit Cap creates homelessness for existing AND new tenants

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