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The distribution of benefit money

(87 Posts)
harshbuttrue1980 Sun 16-Oct-16 12:01:00

This isn't intended to be a benefit bashing thread - I'm not questioning the overall amount of money that people on benefits get, but how it is allocated. I live in the SE, and have an acquaintance who is single and on benefits. As a working single person, I live in Slough rather than London as I can't afford London, and I commute in to work every day. My one-bedroom flat costs around £700 a month.
My acquaintance lives in London because she prefers being near a tube. She isn't held back by budgets, and gets £1000 a month for her one bedroom flat in a decent part of outer London. Sounds cushy... HOWEVER, she only gets around £70 a week to actually live on - that's for food, travel, electricity and water. She struggles, and has had to resort to food banks. So not so cushy at all!!!
AIBU to think this is a bit crazy? Wouldn't it be better for her to get £1280 a month and to actually have the chance to budget and make choices like everyone else? At the moment, she chooses to live in an expensive area as there is no incentive not to do so. She has already said that she would choose a cheaper area if it meant that she didn't have to struggle every month to pay the electric bill.
It seems insane to me that someone is living in a much plusher flat than lots of working people, but can barely scrape by in other ways. Maybe people out of work could be given a flat rate and make their choices about how to spend it? Or am I missing something?

Pardonwhat Sun 16-Oct-16 12:03:43

Yes you are missing something.
1280 where I love would go quite far - in London it wouldn't. And why should someone have to move areas and potentially their children to new schools just because they've fallen on a hard time?
Doesn't seem fair some how.

ImperialBlether Sun 16-Oct-16 12:05:56

But that's exactly what happens all over the world and here to everyone who works, Pardonwhat. You can't live forever on your highest salary.

Pardonwhat Sun 16-Oct-16 12:07:43

No but usually being out of work is a temporary short term blip. It can happen to anybody. Why shouldn't their be a facility where you can get by short term until you get back on your feet?

SaucyJack Sun 16-Oct-16 12:08:32

Is she on JSA?

Meadows76 Sun 16-Oct-16 12:11:19

'Around £70' will be jobseekers. The housing benefit she receives for her rent will be greater as she lives in London. what you are asking is for everyone outwithnlonodn to have a housing benefit increase but to be able to 'keep the change' so to speak after paying their rent. Perhaps if she is feeling hard done by on her £70ish a week she would consider a job

ImperialBlether Sun 16-Oct-16 12:11:37

I agree you shouldn't have to move straightaway. Isn't there work down there she can do, OP?

Meadows76 Sun 16-Oct-16 12:12:32

Why shouldn't their be a facility where you can get by short term until you get back on your feet?. Are you serious?? I'm almost splitting my sides here. THATS WHAT THE BENEFITS ARE!!!!!!!!!!

harshbuttrue1980 Sun 16-Oct-16 12:22:02

Yes, she's on JSA. I'm not really sure whether she is genuinely looking to find work or not (she's the daughter of a colleague, so not someone I know really closely), but she's been unemployed since leaving college around a year ago.
I agree with Imperial - I'm a northerner and got made redundant, so had to come down to the south to live and work, giving up a gorgeous flat for a not so nice one. It doesn't seem right that people on benefits can live in better places than working people, BUT it also doesn't seem right that people are having to rely on food banks and not being able to heat their houses in 2016. As a worker, my budget is my salary, and I choose to live in a cheap area so I can comfortably pay my bills and afford the odd treat. People like my acquaintance are living in dire poverty, yet still living in posh areas and pushing the rents up for working people. There isn't any incentive for them to move to a cheaper area, downsize or take a flatshare, like there is for working people.

Heratnumber7 Sun 16-Oct-16 12:27:18

And why should someone have to move areas and potentially their children to new schools just because they've fallen on a hard time?

That's precisely why someone would have to move areas and change the children's schools.

The state can't support everyone in the manner they are accustomed to. People have to tighten their own belts too! Jesus wept! It's attitudes like that that have brought the benefits system to its knees.

sleepyowl12 Sun 16-Oct-16 12:39:17

I am surprised she gets enough housing benefit to cover her rent in London as housing benefit rates in London have gone down hugely in recent years. I looked up the housing benefit rates for the area I lived in, south west London, two stops before end of the tube line, and the local housing rate would not cover the rent by £300. . A one bedroom flat in the area is about £1000 a month average, housing benefit is £700.

VladmirsPoutine Sun 16-Oct-16 12:39:32

I see your point but JSA is, or rather should be, a temporary allowance to support people that have fallen on hard times. Not a lifestyle choice.

SaucyJack Sun 16-Oct-16 12:40:00

"Incentive..... downsize or take a flatshare,"

There is actually. Under-35s are usually only paid enough housing benefit long-term to cover the cost of a room in a shared house unless there's something else going on such as dependent children or a disability.

I'm quite sceptical that she's been getting a whole flat paid for in London for a year. Are you sure you haven't misread her circumstances?

WorraLiberty Sun 16-Oct-16 12:44:38

OP, how do you know that she's 'living in a much plusher flat than lots of working people'?

Many of the flats around here go for anything between £900 - £1000 per month and they're absolute fucking slums, rented out by unscrupulous landlords who couldn't give a shit - they're just out to make a quick buck.

High rent does not necessarily = plush property.

Not at all.

ClashCityRocker Sun 16-Oct-16 12:45:57

Yes I see what you're saying op.

For the same amount of benefit, she could presumably rent somewhere cheaper and live a less hand-to-mouth lifestyle.

Cost to the state is no different, but potentially a better quality of life for the recipient.

Although it's a struggle to get private landlords to accept tenents where the sole income is derived from benefits.

So basically everyone would get X amount of benefit in total and could spend as they saw fit - whether that be more expensive housing or cheaper housing and more income. I think it's quite sensible actually.

Dawndonnaagain Sun 16-Oct-16 12:53:53

Getting a deposit together on 70 quid a week wouldn't be easy.

graphista Sun 16-Oct-16 12:55:19

You barely know her so can't possibly know the full extent of her circumstances. If she is on new the rules and monitoring are really strict now. Also are benefits going to pay moving costs for all the people living in 'posh' areas that don't deserve it? Probably at leastv£2k for removals, plus deposit plus up to 3 months rent? That's if they can even find a landlord that will take benefits tenant? Also how well do you think London and other big cities will cope if all benefits recipients are moved away - too far away to do the jobs they rely on being done? Like bin men, cleaners, nannies, nursery workers, healthcare workers, shop staff, entry level admin etc because most people on benefits are in work.

OneFootinFront Sun 16-Oct-16 12:55:32

I think this is a dilemma of any benefit system. There is a grey area where some who are in receipt of benefits appear to have easier choices in some areas than some working people. I could never afford to live in London; I would never ever apply for a job there. And TBH I get a bit envious of those who have protected or social tenancies in central London. But then I think I'm lucky to be working in a job I love and not dependent on benefits.

I'd not like to be the politician or civil servant responsible for legislating in this grey area.

And let's remember the biggest group in receipt of benefits are State pensioners.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 16-Oct-16 12:55:55

YY Saucy
If she is under 35 she will be expected to houseshare unless she receives a certain rate of PIP (or its predecessor, DLA). These are non income-related and in theory supposed to cover extra costs of being disabled. (Whereas means-tested ESA is the income replacement "equivalent" to JSA for those who cannot work through illness/disability.)

Op, they also go by what is the cheapest 30% of a given property type in the area. So if she was only entitled to rent a room, she'd only get enough for the cheapest 30% of rooms in the area.

pinkdelight Sun 16-Oct-16 12:57:25

Theoretically being closer to the city and being on the tube makes it easier to find work. In practice it seems the flaw is that she isn't finding work, which is the one thing that would increase her budget. Giving her the same amount of money to live better in a place where she's even less likely to get work doesn't seem like a sensible solution. Not saying her current situation is sensible either, but without more info it doesn't sound like she should be on benefits longer-term so the system is just sustaining her until she sorts herself out.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 16-Oct-16 13:02:59

The distribution of benefit money that means an awfully high figure is paying off mortgages for private individuals (aka landlords) is bonkers. Especially for those who are eg. ill/disabled and likely to rely on housing benefit for a long time. Much better if that was paid back into council housing stock.

Also big issue with the lack of any support with working part time (if childless) if unwell/disabled. The moment you are declared "fit to work", or appear to be fit to work by working part time, your basic benefit entitlement goes right back down to JSA level. There's no recognition of the fact that you may only be able to work part time.

Apparently long-term ESA claims have gone up in the last few years since the screws tightened on accessing it. Previously more people would move in and out of work as their health fluctuated but now the whole process is too soul destroying and terrifying.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 16-Oct-16 13:08:27

Also, when they were talking about cutting housing benefit entirely for under 25s, the argument was all about "other young people, not on benefits can't afford to leave home at that age..." Actually they can, they just don't want to be left with just £55 (ish) a week after paying the rent.

Scaredycat3000 Sun 16-Oct-16 13:11:00

I've read conspiracy type theories that huge sums of housing benefits going to private LL is all a Tory plan to help the rich get richer. If this is deliberate or not I have no idea, what is happening is the Government are happily handing over huge sums of money via the poor to the rich. If you subscribe to the conspiracy theory then giving incentives for benefit recipients to move to cheaper properties would create some competition in the rental market and less money would end up in the pockets of the buy to letters. I don't know how much this is planned but I've read several articles that describe our housing benefit system as a negative on housing crisis. I don't know what the answer is, I'm scared for the future and this is part of it, conspiracy or not the damage seems to be the same.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 16-Oct-16 13:21:41

Scaredy For a brief while there were incentives in HB when privately renting. You were allowed to keep any extra HB up to £15/week if you found a place to rent cheaper than the standard amount. It was to encourage poeple to move then remove the rule, and cut HB even further.

HMOs are more profit making I believe, think government want the poor crammed in, family in each room style. When there's nowhere else to go they can ask whatever rent they like.

When I was applying for council housing, I bumped into my current landlords "agent" hmm in the same place. Told me all about how he was applying for council housing for an older relative. In fact he had an entire sob story, think he was practising it on me (part of it was this lady not speaking English, as abusive husband had kept her hidden away, but he seemed to have no interest in her learning now). Sickening that he wouldn't bother to house her in one of the many properties he had access to.

graphista Sun 16-Oct-16 13:24:38

I agree right to buy was the worst thing to happen to the UK housing market. I'm on ESA, there's little to no support to move back into work gradually/work part-time. The second you declare additional income all benefits are stopped while you're 'assessed' can take months to get it reinstated.

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