Housing Benefit cuts: a sensible solution
The recent furore of cuts to Housing Benefit is politically expedient, but I doubt many of the people clamouring against the cuts have ever seen the reality of the system.
The truth is that landlords have been shafting councils for Housing Benefit for decades.
And because the public sector has been forced to put so much taxpayer money into the market, it has artificially inflated rents for everyone.
Let’s be clear – there is going to be no mass exodus of “the poor” from cities across Britain.
The most likely reality is that landlords who leech the housing benefit system will be forced to cut rents.
Simple economics says that there can be no mass exodus from the cities of people on benefit unless there are people to replace them.
Judging by the numbers being imagined by Boris Johnson and co there are millions of hard-working families who are ready -and willing – to push their families into inner city housing estates at a moment’s notice. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the limits proposed are more than reasonable, and should force rents down not simply for those on Housing Benefit, but across the rental market. After all, taxpayer money into rents has skewed the market long enough as it is.
The hardest hit will not be the poor, but instead the rich.
The ones who buy a property, move a relative in, and then siphon off the Housing Benefit to pay the mortgage. Such as those who buy a Chelsea property for a son or daughter to study in London, all paid for by the tax payer. No longer.
There are great inequalities in the UK property market, from prices to rents, and the presence of massive public spending is always going to distort any market. It’s been left unleashed in Housing Benefit for too long.
While capping rents in itself is a fair ideal, in practice it would simply be a government attack to control markets, and that never works when done directly.
Controlling public spending into them, on the other hand, is a means to effect the same outcome.
I’ve spent time in my youth claiming Housing Benefit. I’ve seen the system from the inside, and thought it was corrupt and badly managed even then.
Now the time is more than due for it to be addressed.
Of course, no doubt some otherwise-deserving people will be adversely impacted by the changes. These major overhauls always do. But in the main, most people will see little difference.
Excepting, of course, the very landlords who have milked the system for so long, and suddenly find that they cannot.