Posted on | October 20, 2010 | 1 Comment
You may have read George Monbiot’s great article on Monday describing how the Shock Doctrine runs right through the Coalition’s spending review.
Monbiot wrote: “the economic crisis is the disaster the Conservatives have been praying for. The government’s programme of cuts looks like a classic example of disaster capitalism: using a crisis to re-shape the economy in the interests of business.”
Today, we learned more about how the Coalition government are using the financial crisis to disfigure our communities.
With cleverly engineered cuts to housing benefit and increases to rent, they’ll force lower-income people out of our cities.
In plans announced in the June Budget and today’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the Coalition are:
Cutting Housing Benefit
The Coalition have cut local limits to Housing Benefit so that 70 per cent of homes of the required size will be too expensive. In addition, they’ve imposed a one-size-fits-all national cap, which means that in parts of London only 7 per cent of appropriate homes will be affordable to people on Housing Benefit. The aim of this is to drive Housing Benefit recipients out of all but the cheapest areas.
George Osbourne is increasing rents on social housing to about 80 or 90 per cent of the full market rate. Most people who can’t afford full market rates – and so need social housing – also can’t afford 90 per cent of market rates. The aim of this is to make social housing mostly pointless
Axing Secure Tenancy
Social housing tenants have a right to stay in their homes as long as they pay their rent and otherwise uphold their contract. This means they can make a home and build a community. The Coalition will now offer new tenants only short-term contracts and, if their need isn’t still serious at the end of the contract (if they’ve gone from being unemployed to employed, for example), they’ll be thrown out. The aim of this is to break up communities so they won’t defend the social housing from sell-off, and to make social housing a service only for the very poorest so that fewer voters value it.
This programme of attacks on social housing is a clear example of the Shock Doctrine at work. Using cuts as an excuse to break up and segregate people, increase inequality and attack community spirit and social cohesion.
The Coalition are counting on us being so shaken by recession that we will accept these changes, believing then to be ‘unavoidable’. But we think they’ve misjudged us; we think the people of the UK are prepared to resist this abuse of power.
We need to show the government and each other that we are not scared. We need to tell the government and each other that we will not accept the destruction of our communities.
Please sign the petition, and pass it on. Together we’ll prove that the Shock Doctrine will not work on us.
What others are saying about these attacks on social housing:
“If the Government cuts housing benefit without making changes to the rental market, we run the risk of ghettoizing our cities, driving out poorer renters from wealthy areas, especially in London and the South East.”
Charles Seaford, Head of the Centre for Well-being at the New Economics Foundation
“Much of London is likely to become a no go area for claimants, particularly larger families, with significant implications for mixed communities and community cohesion.”
Crisis - national charity for single homeless people
“The decision to cap housing benefit is a spectacular example of economic injustice. It continues decades of the disintegration of economically mixed communities, and hits the poorest households below the belt – while protecting the speculators and landlords who profit from high rents and therefore high housing benefit.”
Rev Paul Nicolson, chair of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust