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Social Housing System - Its not working

Updated on December 7, 2009

A solution needs to be found.

The system is rewarding people for the wrong reasons:

I live in a small provincial community on the outskirts of an affluent town on the south coast. Here is where the majority of social housing is supplied and where a large proportion of the people living here have lived for generations.

Aunties, uncles, grandparents and parents make up this community and for many of the young school leavers who dont go on to further education the tendency is to stay within this area rather than move away from their family roots. Job opportunities are slim. Add to this the fact that we have quite a large immigrant community from the western block taking up alot of the unskilled labour and the chances of finding gainful employment becomes even more difficult.

Property prices in this area have risen well above the reach of local people. Rent has escalated too and of those properties that are within reach almost always they have the added discrimination of no DSS, no pets and/or kids.

Enter teenage pregnancy. It may sound trite but its all too evident around here.

With no way of achieving a wage that will get them even close to affording a home locally either through a mortgage or rent the only way to stay within the community they have grown up in is to become pregnant. By doing so they are given a flat and from there the next trend follows.

Houses as opposed to flats are big 'currency' amongst council tenants. The only way to qualify for a house is to have umpteen kids. So one kid becomes three or even more and eventually a house is forthcoming.

In my view this is doing two things.

1. It is rewarding the proliferation of more kids born into social welfare and therefore 'poverty'

2. It is creating a poverty trap that these people cannot get out of.

Enter Glyn. A thirty something guy who for 6 years lived in a two bedroom council flat. He and his wife had two small children. He was on the 'sick' (for no obvious or apparent reason) and could see no other way of getting a house other than have another kid. So kid number 3 arrived. Soon after they were re-housed in a brand new house worth in the region of 400k. He told me very openly that he could not afford to go back to work now. Im not sure that is true, im sure benefits would bridge the gap. Nevertheless with 3 small children to feed and clothe Im sure he and his unemployed wife would find it very difficult.

In the meantime there is a couple in the same block of flats that Glyn used to live in. They both go to work, have one child and have been in residence for at least 6 years and possibly more. They have little or no prospect of being rehoused into a house with a garden with all the comfort, privacy and achievement that this move would provide, entirely because they have only one child. They have chosen to do the right thing and stick to the one kid they can reasonably afford, work to pay for their own rent and council tax. In short they are contributing.

It seems to me that the government is missing the point entirely here. It is yet another example of an out of touch government that does not bother to address these issues but just keeps bunging more money at an ever increasing vacuum created by social and economic need.

From where im sitting the solution is patently obvious.

The fact is kids are being used as currency for housing now.  The more children people have on welfare the more likely they are to be moved out of their flat and into a house.  The house is the goal the kids are the leverage - as a system its failing EVERYBODY.  Them and the tax payers.

If houses were offered to the people who were clearly making some attempt to support themselves two things would happen.

1. Instead of umpteen kids being born into a self perpetuating poverty trap, people would be more inclined to get out to work rather than have yet another child. 

2. It would introduce a system that rewards effort not sloth.

I realise this all makes me sound a bit of a crack pot.  im reading it back and it sounds like i am.  But i have been watching this trend for some time and I am 100% convinced that people are having more children on welfare in order to be given a house.  Couples who can ill afford more than one or two children are going ahead and having three and four.  Therefore, it isnt just the child benefit and extra income support afforded each time a child is born - it is the incentive of being given bigger and better housing.

Around here 'affordable housing' is a joke.  A fairly recent development offered a small terrace of houses as affordable housing.  A friend went to take a look.  She worked out that after paying 75% of the mortgage, rent on the rest, council tax and all other expenses she would need to be on a wage of £30,000!. - and even if she paid that for the next 25 years she would still be left with the 25% owned by the council that were asking for a full two bedroomed council house rent.  How is that meeting the needs of people on a low wage.

When Maggie Thatcher started selling off all the council houses she should have built more to replace the ones she hocked.  Now we have a shortage of council houses, the affordable housing scheme is a joke and whilst development continues to cash in on the charm of the area and build houses upwards of 400k, nothing is being done to address the housing issue for small local communities.

Its depressing.

In the meantime the welfare system flourishes.

Build more council houses and far fewer houses for the second home market, create an effort=reward system and get the young people of this country working towards a future for themselves rather than encouraging them to perpetuate their own poverty.

Is it me or are all governments lacking in basic common sense.

I welcome all and any comments to this, i love a good discussion and im happy to get shot down in flames. 




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