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AIBU to hate the line "why should people on housing benefit live in homes that working people can't afford?"

(863 Posts)
standupandbecounted Wed 15-Dec-10 09:46:21

"Why should people on housing benefit live in houses that working people could not afford?"

I keep seeing this line being thrown about in the media. Along with stories about families, usually with an average of eight kids, claiming a shocking level of housing benefit.The government is going to cap housing benefit to prevent this. Reasonable, but not the whole story.
A a less publicised proposal is to drop the level of Local Housing Allowance(LHA) from the 50th centile to the 30th centile.Local housing allowance is currently set at the median-middle value- of private rents in your local area. In my area the LHA is nowhere near the proposed cap. The maximum I can claim for a 2 bedroom property (I have 2 kids) is 126.92 per week. For a three bedroom it is £150 per week. Shelter have estimate that the average loss for a for a two bedroom tenant in my area will be £12 per week.( I assume this is based on predicted rent levels)
Loss per area here

I am renting a two bedroom flat for myself and two children, aged 18 months and 5. There is no outdoor space, it is not large and not in an exclusive area. The soundproofing is poor and the tenants upstairs are fond of partying way into the early hours. Hardly luxury housing that working people can't afford. I believe this myth about HB claimants living in the best properties does not represent the reality for the majority of us. I have tried to find somewhere better but most landlords will not take HB or children. I have put my name down on the waiting list for council housing but have been awarded thr lowest priority level. I will never get one with that banding.

The thing that upsets me most is the "working people" bit, a lot of HB claimants ARE working people! Housing benefit is also available to people who don't earn enough to cover their rent. Most low income people cannot access council housing anymore. They are forced to rent on the private market, where rents are to high to be affordable on low incomes. This is the case in most areas, not just London.

So, AIBU to feel angry that people on housing benefit are being misrepresented and subjected to unfair cuts?

expatinscotland Wed 15-Dec-10 09:48:58

Loads of people who work are on HB because the cost of housing is so high their wages cannot fully cover it.

A lot of people here, however, do seem to think they are entitled to a garden if they have children.

It's nice, but it's not essential. We have three children and don't have one.

It's a flat.

Life's rough.

tomhardyismydh Wed 15-Dec-10 09:49:12

yanbu, I sgree with you whole heartedly.

prettymuchapixiegirl Wed 15-Dec-10 09:50:22

I can see it from both sides really; I can understand it being annoying for you, as clearly you aren't taking the piss out of the system. But nevertheless there are some stories of people living in expensive large houses paid for by HB (anyone remember that one a few months ago with a family living in a £2 million house in Notting Hill or somewhere similar, paid for with HB?)

frgr Wed 15-Dec-10 09:52:02

"a two bedroom flat for myself and two children, aged 18 months and 5. There is no outdoor space, it is not large and not in an exclusive area. The soundproofing is poor and the tenants upstairs are fond of partying way into the early hours. Hardly luxury housing that working people can't afford"

Feck right off. I'm sorry to sound so unreasonable, but you've just described mine and DH's flat from 2 years ago. WE BOTH WORK!

I'm chuffed because this year we were able to buy a HOUSE with a garden. It's taken us years to get here, and it's in a horrible area with a neighbour being mugged at knifepoint in August in an alley 2 streets away, but it's ours. We have 3 bedrooms and 3 children.

Welcome to the real world.

LaWeaselMys Wed 15-Dec-10 09:53:59

This is partly where a living wage would be useful. So more people in work would be able to afford full rent (or even, shock horror a mortgage).

There might be enough social housing to go round for people in dire need, and for whom it's difficult to get a private rental agreement.

standupandbecounted Wed 15-Dec-10 09:54:48

The real world of being misrepresented?

I wasn't complaining about my circumstances just complaining that they are not like what is presented in the media.

standupandbecounted Wed 15-Dec-10 09:55:48

Neither do I think a garden is essential.

prettymuchapixiegirl Wed 15-Dec-10 09:57:14

The thing is, Standup, that there will always be sensationalist stories in the papers on TV, and there will always be people trying to milk the system and getting way over and above what they're entitled to.

I guess the thing is not to worry what people think. Okay, so your housing isn't ideal but neither is lots of peoples', whether they're working or not.

Prolesworth Wed 15-Dec-10 09:57:48

Message withdrawn

becstarlitsea Wed 15-Dec-10 09:58:03

I am embarrassed to admit that I am envious of a couple of my friends who are on HB. We aren't entitled to HB. They have much bigger places than us, with gardens or some outdoor space, and in areas we can't afford to live in. We, like you, have a flat with no outdoor space. We live very frugally so that we can afford to pay the rent (our flat is not in a posh area - unlike my friends on HB's places). I was saying to one of them that I'll go back to work next year in the hope that we can save up for a deposit to hopefully one day buy a place and she gave me a 'oh your poor DS, but he'll miss having you pick him up' etc. talk with a touch of judginess about it. I don't fully understand the system but it seems unfair from my perspective. But I'm not saying that everyone on HB is like that, or that the cuts are right. Just that I understand the sentiment of those who feel a bit hard-done-by.

PaxoIsEvil Wed 15-Dec-10 09:58:24

Agree with prettymuch (thanks prettymuch, you saved me typing grin)

frgr Wed 15-Dec-10 09:58:44

No, but you did say "Hardly luxury housing that working people can't afford" - that is EXACTLY the type of housing that DH and I have been in for the last decade.

The average working people can't afford to live in properties that ARE within the reach of some benefits claimants. You're right in that it's unfair to suggest all of them are like this. But let's not pretend here that working family = living in suitable, comfortable or affordable housing. Hell, going so far as to describe a working home's accommodation as being "luxury" is so far from my experience, and the experience of friends and relatives, hence why I suggested Welcome to the Real World.

purits Wed 15-Dec-10 10:01:38

I have never understood why a working family needs to claim benefits. What was the point of all the red tape of the Minimum Wage if it doesn't do the job?

The HB problem is a chicken-and-egg situation. The more the Govt gives in HB, then the higher the rent, then the higher the HB bill, etc etc.
It might hurt now while we go through readjustment (so HB encourages rents to come down, not go up) but it will reduce the cost of housing for everyone eventually so that has got to be a good thing.

QueenofDreams Wed 15-Dec-10 10:02:05

OP you are not being misrepresented, as you are not living in housing that is out of reach of the average working family.

However, SOME people are. There are families living in exclusive areas of London who do so on benefits. Most ordinary working folk cannot afford to live there, why should someone who doesn't work?

Marne Wed 15-Dec-10 10:02:13

I live in a council house with a big garden but thats only because in our area there are not many 3 bed houses without a garden, to us a garden is important because of the dd's special needs but its not essential. We are not on HB but we should be as dh is on a low wage and i had to give up my job to look after the girls (its hard to find child care for Autistic children). I do think we are lucky to have a nice house with a garden.

MrsBonkers Wed 15-Dec-10 10:02:20

If I didn't earn enough to pay for my house I'd have to downsize or move to a cheaper area.

Putting up with the headline you quoted is small price to pay if someone else is paying your bills.

Prolesworth Wed 15-Dec-10 10:02:47

Message withdrawn

prettymuchapixiegirl Wed 15-Dec-10 10:04:08

Marne, out of interest if you should be receiving HB, why don't you claim it?

Eurostar Wed 15-Dec-10 10:05:54

Sorry but YABU. Firstly, for those that do choose to profit from HB, no, they should not long term have better conditions than working people as sadly too many will take advantage of that, short term no problem at all I think if someone has lost their job/got ill and needs help. Have you listened to councillors from Westminster and Kensington talk about the problem? Many families coming in there who get a right to LHA and nothing they can do about it, many of them officially unemployed but doing black economy work on the side. Have you read any of the government speeches about why the percentile is being lowered? It's because there are so many private landlords who are overcharging just because they can with the current system. The government are convinced that this change in policy will bring down rents for all. The average wage in London and certain areas cannot sustain the average rent, hence the very high levels of housing benefit being paid. It's simply not possible for this situation to continue.

This is one of the very very few countries in the world where housing benefit is paid longterm at high levels, it is also the country with just about the most expensive housing in the world, this is not a coincidence, something has to change.

standupandbecounted Wed 15-Dec-10 10:07:01

That is part of the point that I am trying to make frgr, that working people that are not living in great homes will be affected by the HB changes as well. And I appreciate the fact that people not entitled to HB don't get a great deal with todays ridiculous property prices either.

Marne Wed 15-Dec-10 10:09:32

pretty, we mange with what we get, we get DLA for both the girls so we feel we already get enough money (even though the money is ment for the girls), we would only be entitled to a small amount of HB. I think its wrong that we should get more money coming in each week then a family where both parents work 40hrs a week. I'm hoping to return to work in a few months when we have sorted dd2 out with school (a long story).

curlymama Wed 15-Dec-10 10:10:23

What Queen of Dreams said.

There are loads of people in council accomodation being paid for on HB. Lots of this paid for subsidised acommodation is nicer, bigger, in better areas than working families can afford. How can anyone not see how wrong that is?

Only people not able to work through disability should be living in accommodation nicer than what someone who works can afford.

theevildead2 Wed 15-Dec-10 10:10:38

You aren't taking the piss fair enough. But my friend has a 2 bed house with a garden that she got 3 months before her first baby was due. Dh and I work our asses off and can't afford a house in her neighbourhood. It does wind me up.. I can't help it. I've got a baby on the way and would love a garden and a house. BTW I know for a fact she pays nothing towards it and hasn't worked for years. Some people DO ABUSE the system, not everyone should be blamed of course.

GiddyPickle Wed 15-Dec-10 10:10:53

I don't think the headlines apply to you though OP. They are about the rare case of people living in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for example where most people would have to earn something like £300k to live in the same house. That is obviously going to annoy people in work as it probably also annoys people in dire social housing or living on benefits that barely cover daily life.

In London especially working and non working people alike put up with either very long commutes or living in very rough areas because housing is too expensive to afford anything that is both nice and central. When people get nice and central for free that is quite a big deal here.

I agree with purits though. Half the reason that rents are now way above the monthly wage here is because authorities pay rents for those that can't afford them (even if they are in work) which means greedy landlords put the rents up to sky high levels to bleed local authorities dry (knowing they have to pay whatever is asked). In the meantime anyone looking to rent privately is screwed. Its about £2k a month for a 3 bed semi and that's not even in the centre of London and not in a wonderful area! No wonder people are getting fed up with it all and jealous of those who get help.

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