Saturday, 23 March 2013

No room at the inn

Just a bit tired after battling with snow this morning but I thought I'd write this up as shot as I'm feeling right now while the idea is still fresh.
How much space do you think you might need to live in in 2013? Well I think we'd agree you need a place to prepare food in, a separate space for living and maybe studying in  and a bedroom perhaps.
Now ideally if you were to work from home you might have a requirement for dedicated work space.
Note so far in we've not mentioned children, carers or if you're like me with a physical disability our specific needs.
Why I am talking about this today is because the UK government, specifically the Department of Work and Pensions has brought in a measure of how much space people of working age who need help to pay rent for properties owned by Social Housing Providers alone should be allowed. Part of the reason given is they believe too many people are in property that is 'too big' while others who may need it are left waiting.
Astonishingly, the one portion of the population who are more likely to living in accommodation bigger than their needs - single elderly people remaining in property allocated when they themselves had children who have left - are excluded presumably not to lose the older vote.
The chief problem with the policy is that in Great Britain, very few Social Housing projects did build property of two bedroom or smaller as the focus was the 'nuclear family' of 2 adults and 2.4 children and most private property isn't either. The main provider of the small amount of smaller properties are Private Landlords who do (and are) charging significantly more per room which is subject to a financial cap for people who need help to pay for it.
The way this new policy is supposed to work is if you have more space you're said to require then you pay something like 14% per room extra unless you move, which will come from your regular income such as your wages if you're working or welfare benefits if you're not.
The reason you had help to pay the rent was precisely because you didn't have enough to pay for a place to live and you're expected to make it up when you find out there's nowhere smaller available!
Note this is also effects those in work too - so much for the supporting workers not shirkers mantra  the Tories had been peddling for the last 6 months - and although extra space had been belated recognized for families with disabled children and serving soldiers, no consideration is given to either separated people unable to afford to move out of a home so former partners are expect to share a single bedroom, those with sleep disorders are expected to sleep with those who don't (a recipe for a bad nights sleep and much edginess) and the needs of disabled adults with mobility problems and specialized equipment such as scooters, reclining beds, lifts etc.
Also ignored are the needs of children from split families who stay over a few days per week as part of continuing parental rights access programs.
It may not be good if one partner is living a life in a different gender and the other has issues with it (You're not dressing like that in MY bedroom).
The real solution would be to build more social housing for rent including smaller properties that would help the construction industry out rather than supporting private housing building and threatening to offer state backed mortgage guarantees to support private home ownership but then you know the Tories would only look after their interests didn't you?
Maybe they'll bring in a window tax to go with the bedroom one.

1 comment:

mittfh said...


The government may be keen to encourage private builders, but by-and-large they won't include any social housing on their development unless either (a) they're forced to by planning restrictions (in which case they'll often sit on the land until the council relents and allows them to significantly reduce the quantity of social housing) or (b) they can charge sky high rents coupled with sky high management fees.