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UK PM Cameron suggests cutting housing benefit for under-25s
June 24, 2012 3:13 PM   Subscribe

The prime minister has suggested that people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, as part of moves to cut the welfare bill. Scrapping the benefit for that age group would save almost £2bn a year. via BBC News. Comments sortable and worth reading.

*Tries really hard not to editorialise after a killer 12 hour shift today* Guardian's take on this.
posted by marienbad (127 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seems like a great idea. 2bn in savings, and given a good number of kids are in education 6 extra years (this will probably go up) and there's a huge shortage in properties this could turn out great for everyone.

Of course, we need to make sure that the kids who need social housing get it, but for the majority it's a great cost saving.
posted by zoo at 3:18 PM on June 24, 2012


Maybe it will only save a lot of money because it's something that a lot of people are using because a lot of people are needing?

But maybe those people don't vote much, so they don't matter as much?
posted by -harlequin- at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2012 [17 favorites]


I gather that council home = housing project ?
posted by desjardins at 3:21 PM on June 24, 2012


Especially when you look at low earners, and realise that house prices are being pushed up for them by kids on housing benefits who could be using the empty room in thier parents house.

Its not ideal to be living at home with your folks, but I prefer that to me paying for them to rot in some grotty "executive flat"
posted by zoo at 3:21 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Both the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and the Liberal Democrats have been highlighting middle class welfare, such as the universal access to winter fuel payments, as a better target. But Cameron believes he made commitments to the electorate not to touch pensioner benefits, and would suffer electorally if he dumped them now – even if he delayed the changes until after the next election.
In other words, it's much easier to remove benefits from those with the least political power rather than those most able to cope without them.
posted by grouse at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2012 [31 favorites]


Especially when you look at low earners, and realise that house prices are being pushed up for them by kids on housing benefits

Are the kids on housing benefits also not possibly low-earners?
posted by dng at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Especially when you look at low earners, and realise that house prices are being pushed up for them by kids on housing benefits who could be using the empty room in thier parents house.
Single folks under 35 can only claim housing benefit for a bedsit or room in a shared house, meaning that it already has much less impact on general rents. Further, housing benefit should only pay for "reasonable" rents, and so the inflationary pressure is likely lessened. Last, low earners can also claim housing benefit as it is means tested.
posted by Jehan at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


Its not ideal to be living at home with your folks, but I prefer that to me paying for them to rot in some grotty "executive flat"


I think it's worth noting that "living at home with your folks" is considerably less than ideal for many, and disproportionately for young people from low income households. Cameron plans to offer an exemption for those whose parents have been found guilty of physically harming them, which is good, but there's quite a lot of grey area between "not ideal" and "officially a victim of domestic abuse"...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:32 PM on June 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


A more on point Guardian bit on this policy idea.

Also:
---
Local Housing Allowance Cuts & The Idealised Family

... there are myriad other reasons that young people cannot live with their parents[...] These include:

- Parents live in a house too small to accommodate you, e.g. they've got a smaller house now, Gran's moved into your old bedroom or you'd have to share a room with two five-year-olds and a budgie named Elvis.
- Parents' house is physically inaccessible.
- Parents' house is an unhealthy environment for you - I had one young friend with ME who wound up in a hostel because the noise and chaos of her multiple younger siblings made it impossible for her to get sufficient rest.
- Parents make it difficult to be yourself in some way (e.g. they disapprove of your sexuality, religion or lack thereof).
Parents live in a completely different part of the country to where the young person lives and works. Not only it is perfectly reasonable that young adults move to other parts of the country, for studying, work or because somewhere is more suited to them, but it is even more reasonable that young people shouldn't have to move back - or indeed follow their parents around the country - if something goes wrong. You might have begun to establish a career in London, only to be unemployed at the age of twenty-four, and rather than staying in London while you find a new job, you have to return to Orkney where it is impossible to apply for London jobs.

--

I predict that the benefit savings of this will be largely offset by the state having to pick up the pieces of the increased homelessness etc.
posted by wilko at 3:38 PM on June 24, 2012 [18 favorites]


Especially when you look at low earners, and realise that house prices are being pushed up for them by kids on housing benefits who could be using the empty room in thier parents house.

Its not ideal to be living at home with your folks, but I prefer that to me paying for them to rot in some grotty "executive flat"


Given that the most likely recipients of housing benefit from the age of 18 is going to be the unemployed young people who aren't in university, I'd be confident in asserting that a fairly sizable proportion of said young people have parents who are also in receipt of housing benefit. In which case, their parents don't have an empty room, because allocation rules combined with the extra bedroom tax means that it's not possible for a family to have more bedrooms than the government thinks they need, and if they "under-occupy", then housing benefit gets cut 14%. As soon as the children reach 18, they don't count towards the number of bedrooms the family is allowed, because they're expected to move out and start their own households.

So young people get shafted from both angles. Can't move out, but there's no room for them at home any more because their parents are being forced to move to a smaller house.
posted by talitha_kumi at 3:39 PM on June 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


I gather that council home = housing project ?
More or less, yes. But the connotations may well be different.
posted by Jehan at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2012


Married at 16. Vote and die for you country at 18. Rest of comment completes itself.
posted by edd at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2012


Given that the most likely recipients of housing benefit from the age of 18 is going to be the unemployed young people who aren't in university

Not necessarily talitha_kumi, from the Guardian link above:
As for the claim that this will cut soaring benefit levels, remember, as has been pointed out elsewhere, that many claimants are actually working, albeit in low pay, or simply can't find enough hours to pay their living costs. Housing benefit in such cases is just another way to subsidise the low wages paid by certain companies, and is not a hand-out to feckless teenagers.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:44 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The ones I worry about are the young adults from abusive or bigoted environments. There are those who would prefer life on the street to life at home (btw, this is the genesis of many of the "gutter punks" I have known. Yes, there are trustafarians slumming it, but many homeless young adults are escaping abuse).

I see this as especially important for LGBT young adults and disabled ones. Young people in both categories are terribly vulnerable to abuse not only from generally bad families, but some parents who would treat a heterosexual, cisgendered, fully abled adult child decently will mistreat one who is gay or disabled.

There are plenty of young adults who live with their parents - even in very poor families - and if it makes everyone happy (or at least not terribly unhappy) that's fine and dandy. But it seems to me that subsidized housing is an important escape hatch for many.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:45 PM on June 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


An inevitability of selling off the social housing last time they were in, I suppose. Hotel "Big Society".
posted by davemee at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is bullshit of the highest order, and though the claim is that this will save enormous amounts of cash, it is much more about demonising, scapegoating and punishing anyone who dares to be both young and poor. (If it was all about saving money, then why not go after all of the companies and people avoiding billions of tax every year?)

This announcement says that if you are young and in a shitty economic situation – either because you're unemployed, or in a job that pays shitty wages but which requires you to live somewhere very expensive – you can lump it. The whole assumption that "you can just live with your parents" is, of course, predicated on your parents – if, in fact, you actually have parents, plural, or even parent, singular – having room to house you, which as has already been mentioned, no given thing for many of the people that this will affect. It's a huge fuck you to the poorer members of an entire generation, basically; class war doesn't get much more naked than this.
posted by Len at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2012 [55 favorites]


Housing benefit in such cases is just another way to subsidise the low wages paid by certain companies

That's a really interesting way to look at it, and probably quite true. Companies in the US have been known to use even our very anemic safety net to subsidize their low wages and benefits; I can't imagine that UK companies lack that creativity.

Reading about this in the US, though, is like being on a different planet. "Housing benefit"? Our safety net has been heavily eroded away, and the housing benefits that remain* meet only a small fraction of need.

* Of course, we still have the huge public subsidy of the mortgage tax deduction, but that goes almost entirely to the well-off.
posted by Forktine at 3:53 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's been said that this policy has been announced for the purpose of shifting attention away from the Tory donor's tax status. Like other policies announced recently, it plays to the cheap seats by ignoring facts, evidence, and government-commissioned reports.

What this policy doesn't do is attack any of the reasons why housing is so expensive, and there's no sign that the massively privileged Tory front bench can be bothered to do so in the future.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:54 PM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Know what will save MORE cash? Eliminating all social programs.
.
.
.
.
$ = morality!!!

{/}
posted by edgeways at 4:08 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


See also, a blog post on Shelter's website: (Shelter is a housing and homelessness charity in the UK)
Last year nearly 10,000 households in priority need were recognised as homeless after they were thrown out by their parents. Many more won’t have shown up in the statistics and will have resorted to sofa surfing, hostels or at worst the streets. If a family home is overcrowded it’s not uncommon for older children to be told to leave. Others will have gone through the care system, irretrievably lost contact with their parents or been orphaned. Parents may have downsized or divorced, making it difficult to return.

This also contradicts many of the Government’s own policies. The under-occupancy cut coming into effect next April is designed to encourage parents with a spare bedroom to downsize – now they are being told they need to keep it waiting in case their child loses their job. Increased penalties on parents who have an adult child living at home will also have the perverse consequence of encouraging families to break-up.

There are currently fewer than 163,000 single young adults without children who rely on housing benefit to keep a roof over their head. Of private tenants, six in ten will be on benefits for less than six months while they are unemployed and look for work. They receive the lowest level of support available – the average SAR award is roughly £60 per week – but claim housing benefit as a short-term safety net because it is often the only way they can keep a roof over their heads when work or family aren’t available.

In many cases, if young people are forced to return to their family home it will be in an area where work is not readily available. This proposal risks stopping people job-seeking in areas where there is employment to instead remain on benefits long-term in areas where there is not.
posted by eykal at 4:24 PM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


well, Thatcher already proved the politics in principle. the last 30 some years have just been putting that principal into practice: social democracy is, from it's foundations up, vulnerable to class warfare... maybe this just adds in splitting people by age: pensioners vs. the kids, but as long as you can attack social programs as being to the benefit of "them" vs. us, they are politically unsustainable. the times when social programs are essential to maintaining capitalism are precisely when they are most vulnerable.
Labour accepts that the housing benefit budget is out of control and last week the party welcomed proposals of cuts from the left-of-centre thinktank the IPPR, but in the contest of a massive housebuilding programme.
so much for Labour.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:28 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Housing benefit is nuts. It keeps BTL alive. Props up rent in cheap areas. As ever its all Thatcher's fault for selling of the housing stock.
posted by Damienmce at 4:40 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's worth noting that "living at home with your folks" is considerably less than ideal for many, and disproportionately for young people from low income households.

Yes, what is it with you people and assuming young legal adults are still property/supported by their families? It's got all the creepy paternalism assumptions of support, and none of the respect for the reasons why people leave their families. my own mother attempted to put a midnight curfew on me at the age of 18, because I was living at home, while others are forbidden to date or locked into religious participation they don't agree with. still more are simply beyond their parent's support.
posted by Phalene at 4:48 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's insane, insane, insane. There's no way on earth that would fly. That would literally make thousands of people homeless overnight. Even a mid/long-term strategy to wean people off it is unrealistic. I can't believe the Tories would be so stupid as to completely knock a massive chunk out of the UK's social welfare system and pump up youth homelessness/crime/suicide/etc purely to appease grumpy workers.

From that article:
The Mail quoted Mr Cameron contrasting a couple living with their parents and saving before getting married and having children, with a couple who have a child and get a council home.

"One is trapped in a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help," he said.
Couple A don't need help. They're able, through mental and social means, to live independently in a way that suits their lifestyle. Couple B are, through whatever means or circumstances, in a position where they do need help. Are they suggesting that a couple should be bringing up a child out of a spare room in their parent's house (if they're lucky) or whilst surfing around various friends' sofas? Until what, one of the parents (of "no fixed abode") manages to get a job, hold it down long enough (whilst being under the incredible stress of bringing up a child whilst living on a friend's sofa) to put down a deposit on a flat and suddenly everything's okay?

I wonder if there'll be a government program to give a total of £2bn in grants to housing shelters, low-rent boarding houses, and some sort of magical national job scheme?
posted by Magnakai at 4:50 PM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's frankly bizarre. The assumptions are feudal. Moving away from your home town before the age of 25 would become the sole province of those with wealthy parents. God I hope this shower of cunts succeed in their attempts to render themselves unelectable.
posted by howfar at 4:56 PM on June 24, 2012 [20 favorites]


Obviously the UK hasn't had its fill of youth protesting in the streets.

The irony is, this time they'll be protesting in the streets and won't have a home to go to when they protest is done, so the protest will just keep going and going and going...
posted by hippybear at 4:59 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cool... so if we cut off government functions from the people that actually need it then the government can save money. (And then do what with that money, exactly? continue to not provide functions?)
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:04 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


so much for Labour.

Look, I know there's nothing liberals love more than complaining that other liberals aren't liberal enough, but Labour is in this case saying "you're right, the ongoing housing benefit isn't nearly as cost-efficient as simply building them houses, so how about we build them a lot of houses instead, which will both stimulate the economy in the short term and save the government money in the medium-to-long term?"

They're not taking a fuck-the-poor solution. They are doing what liberals should rightly applaud: trying to find a way to help as many people in the most efficient manner possible.
posted by mightygodking at 5:10 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Fucking tories. This makes me want to smash things.
posted by knapah at 5:11 PM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Quoted from Magnakai's post:
The Mail quoted Mr Cameron contrasting a couple living with their parents and saving before getting married and having children, with a couple who have a child and get a council home.

"One is trapped in a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help," he said.
I think that this is one of the nubs of what Cameron is attempting to do: to say that any state involvement in your life whatsoever – even if it doesn't actually cost the state anything, because they cover their costs – is somehow immoral. He's pushing the idea that living in a council house basically says that you're a workshy dolescum layabout (whether you work or not); and that anyone living in a council house is, in essence, sponging off the state. This is of a piece with the whole right-to-buy scheme from the 1980s, and fits perfectly with Thatcher's idea of there being "no society".
posted by Len at 5:12 PM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


When I saw the figure I thought, "Seriously? You're going to turn people out into the street for £2bn? That's peanuts!" Then I wasn't sure because I remembered the U.K. budget is approximately one-sixth of the U.S. budget. Even given that fact, this really is peanuts by comparison. This particular program represents 0.28% of the overall budget for the U.K.

For reference, the estimated FY13 U.K. budget is £722.2bn total ($1.126tn) of which £110.2bn is for welfare spending, not including health care.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:20 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Krugman was on the BBC show Newsnight the other day, debating two Tories about austerity, as well as whether or not debt or austerity is worse for "future generations". I mean, obviously I'm a little biased because I usually just assume Krugman is right anyway, but he but from my perspective he completely destroyed those two.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 PM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


The assumptions are feudal. Moving away from your home town before the age of 25 would become the sole province of those with wealthy parents.

Housing benefit? Winter fuel payments? As an American, the idea that these things exist in the UK are kind of mind-blowing.
posted by the jam at 5:33 PM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


That is why the US has such low social mobility.
posted by howfar at 5:41 PM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Winter fuel payments? As an American, the idea that these things exist in the UK are kind of mind-blowing.

You'd be surprised at what resources are available for low-income people in the US. Here in the Spokane area, we have SNAP, which provides winter heating cost assistance (and other financial assistance, such as installing efficient windows to reduce energy use and such) for those who need it. It's not strictly a government service, and has to do independent fundraising regularly, so it's entirely not the same as what exists in the UK. But such things do exist in the US, probably much more widely available than you are aware of.
posted by hippybear at 5:44 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Of course, the UK doesn't have the same excuse.
posted by howfar at 5:44 PM on June 24, 2012


About £100bn is collected from UK wage-earners in National Insurance, which is ostensibly to pay towards state benefits. It's a sort of social contract, you assume that because you're paying into the system when you're doing ok, the system will be there for you when you're not.

Of course, it doesn't always work out that way. Some people pay a lot in, and get little back. Some never pay in and yet get a free ride. Some pay in, and find what they thought they would get has been subject to a rule change, and they get little or nothing. The latter is case is happening quite a lot lately, as the government tightens our belts for us.
posted by wilko at 5:49 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I saw the figure I thought, "Seriously? You're going to turn people out into the street for £2bn? That's peanuts!" Then I wasn't sure because I remembered the U.K. budget is approximately one-sixth of the U.S. budget. Even given that fact, this really is peanuts by comparison. This particular program represents 0.28% of the overall budget for the U.K.

For reference, the estimated FY13 U.K. budget is £722.2bn total ($1.126tn) of which £110.2bn is for welfare spending, not including health care.


Tax avoidance ostensibly costs the UK £69.9 billion per year, so even if they only managed to claw back 1/35th of that, this cost would be eliminated. Of course, tax avoiders tend to be wealthy while those on housing benefit are poor, so fuck 'em.

HRMC themselves said, in 2010, that tax evasion costs £7bn per year and they were going to be spending nearly £1bn on trying to tackle it.

One more Tory scheme to fuck the worse off, it's like they want to cause a riot.
posted by knapah at 5:50 PM on June 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


resources are available for low-income people

There seem to be many prerequisites for being a low-income earner to qualify for assistance, such as a) already having a place to live, b) a family with children in need of care, c) an elderly person and many others which rarely make way for that young person who through no fault of their own is a true low-income wage earner who would be better off helping to pay someone's rent with what boils down to a sleeping benefit, certainly not a lifestyle-inducing long term payment scheme, than sleeping on the street or remaining in an unhealthy environment for the unforeseeable future.

We'd be much better of in the US if we had a benefit like that.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:54 PM on June 24, 2012


Oh, certainly. I'm not saying the US system is good... just that there are things going on which a lot of people may not be aware of.
posted by hippybear at 5:57 PM on June 24, 2012


It's a huge fuck you to the poorer members of an entire generation, basically; class war doesn't get much more naked than this.
posted by Len at 11:52 PM on June 24

QFT
posted by marienbad at 5:59 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not being from the UK, I don't get much info out of the article in the link. I am not sure what the housing benefit is or who gets it - just that they have to be under 25 and that some sort of "council home" is sometimes involved. It wold be great if someone explained it.

I do have some family members who, when their kids got to be of age, had them move out so they could get welfare and the housing benefit. This was in the 90s. They had calculated that it was cheaper than maintaining a home big enough to house all mom, dad and the 2 kids and certainly cheaper than having their kids live in the dorms at university. The dad is an aerospace specialist and makes around #120k.

So, because of those circumstances, I'm not really sure what the housing benefit is or what it means. At the time, I felt it was a scam. My family members' roommates and neighbours were all doing the same thing and seemed to be kids from healthy middle class families.

(Not that I'm against housing benefits and so on. I just had the feeling that they were scamming. They basically told me as much.)
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2012


Look, I know there's nothing liberals love more than complaining that other liberals aren't liberal enough, but Labour is in this case saying "you're right, the ongoing housing benefit isn't nearly as cost-efficient...

Except that's not ever how it works, and after thirty years of Reagan/Thatcher politics liberals should know this. Some strategist in Labour is patting themselves on the back saying, "well, we will appear reasonable and responsible (to people who will never vote for us) if we say: "reasonable people agree we are spending too much money," but in order to satisfy our constituency we will propose spending even more money on something which will never happen."

So, you have both sides agreeing that the UK is spending too much on subsidizing housing for young people.

Try this instead: "Reasonable people agree that young people in Britain face a crisis of unemployment and opportunity, we propose home building program which will employ workers and provide affordable housing for young people starting out."

But then Labour would have to admit that the government should be spending more money, not less... and that's just not reasonable or prudent, right?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:31 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You'd be surprised at what resources are available for low-income people in the US. Here in the Spokane area, we have SNAP, which provides winter heating cost assistance (and other financial assistance, such as installing efficient windows to reduce energy use and such) for those who need it. It's not strictly a government service, and has to do independent fundraising regularly, so it's entirely not the same as what exists in the UK. But such things do exist in the US, probably much more widely available than you are aware of.
The US has 'section 8' which is pretty cheap. The main difference, though is that in the US 1) Benefits for families with children are time limited, TANF is I think 3 years, then you're on your own. If you lose your job, you can get unemployment for 6 months to maybe 18 depending on the economy, the state you live in and how mendacious the republicans are being at random points in time.

The biggest difference though is that if you're a young person without kids who hasn't had a good job in the past, basically you get nothing at all. You have to live with your parents, or whatever.

If you do have a job, you can get the earned income tax credit, where you get a bigger tax refund then what you pay in.

And of course there are food stamps.

I think the big difference is that there are a lot more things you have to do to 'qualify' for assistance (have kids, just been laid off, or have a job that just doesn't pay well). There is no assistance for a young person just graduating college with no job lined up. In fact, they'll soon have to start paying hundreds a month in student loans! (although you can usually get a deferment for not having a job, I think)
posted by delmoi at 6:47 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


To answer Chaussette's questions:

Housing Benefit is a state benefit paid out by councils to people who are either not working and claiming unemployment benefit, or on the sick claiming DLA, or those on a low income, i.e. part time workers.

It is available to anyone over the age of 16 (?) and is means tested.

There are set levels based on average property prices for each different borough council.

You don't get much if you work part time and claim, trust me.

Council housing is state built housing, which peaked in 1979 and was then massively sold off in the 80s ands 90s. There are still some, but a lot lot less than there were. There are also Housing associations which rent out cheap property for mainly to the unemployed and those on low incomes.

Becase of the lack of social housing, people have to rent from private landlords and this has provided a bonanza for them over the past 20 years. Now the PM talks about cutting HB for those under 25.

Does this help?
posted by marienbad at 6:51 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Chausette and the Pussy Cats: Not being from the UK, I don't get much info out of the article in the link. I am not sure what the housing benefit is or who gets it - just that they have to be under 25 and that some sort of "council home" is sometimes involved. It wold be great if someone explained it.

OK, a bit of a primer: anyone over the age of 16 who lives on their own/with a partner/with their children is entitled to housing benefit if they are in a defined set of situations. This set includes (but is not limited to) those who are unemployed. I'll use myself as an example.

At present, I have lived in my current residence, which is a council flat (ie is owned and maintained by my local authority), for around 18 months. For about half this time I have been in employment, for about half I have not. When I have been employed, I pay the standard rent the council asked for – which is much lower than the market rate for the area in which I live in. (One bedroom flat, privately rented: £300-400/month; one bedroom council flat: £170-200/month.) When I have been unemployed – as I am currently – the cost of rent is paid for by the local authority. Given that I live in a council flat, this comes in at £170-200/month. If I was unemployed and lived in a one bedroom flat which was privately rented, the council would pay a maximum of £320/month, regardless of what the rent on my actual property is. Each person/family has a limit on what the local authority will pay in housing benefit, which is calculated on a basis of local rental prices, number of members of the family, and so on.

In my own case, if I wanted to remain living in the area where I do, and was unemployed, I would have to find somewhere which cost less than £320/month, or move elsewhere. if the rent was any more, then I'd have to make up the difference from my unemployment benefit, which is approx £70/week. (This covers all living expenses outside of housing; it's tight but I manage to maintain a home internet connection, pay a monthly mobile phone bill, buy food and cover transport. But only with the occasional tenner thrown my way from my dad.)
posted by Len at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


One more Tory scheme to fuck the worse off, it's like they want to cause a riot.
Fear is pretty much the only chance they have of staying in power.
posted by fullerine at 6:56 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight, the UK government is going to do something that will create hundreds of disaffected anarchists, young and in the prime of their life, with whom the social contract has been broken? Ok ok, I kind of like where they are going with this.
posted by fuq at 6:59 PM on June 24, 2012


Ok ok, I kind of like where they are going with this.
They've managed to piss the cops off too; they're not just ruthless and heartless, they're absolutely clueless too.
posted by Abiezer at 7:25 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not like having a bunch of unemployed, angry, and disaffected young people has ever turned out poorly for governments, not even in the past year or so. You can just keep pushing them and it never backfires. I think this is a grand idea.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:51 PM on June 24, 2012 [14 favorites]


Its not ideal to be living at home with your folks, but I prefer that to me paying for them to rot in some grotty "executive flat"

This exemplifies the voters the politicians are trying to please. I'm sure none of these voters ever took advantage of largess of taxpayers when they were young and I'm also sure they won't suffer because of the new policy to save them money. Rather than looking sideways at the bankers and other financiers and wondering why they're not ponying up, they are turned by the right-wing to look directly at those who need help and blaming them for the problem. It's the new world order, and I am afraid of where it is going.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:16 PM on June 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


wilko quotes "Parents live in a completely different part of the country to where the young person lives and works. Not only it is perfectly reasonable that young adults move to other parts of the country, for studying, work or because somewhere is more suited to them, but it is even more reasonable that young people shouldn't have to move back"

This is what seems the most idiotic about this change. Basically the only advantage younger people have in the job market is greater ability to move to places that have jobs and away from places that don't. Older people generally have more capital invested in their current location making any move more painful financially. Forcing unemployed young adults to live with their parents across the board is counter productive.
posted by Mitheral at 8:36 PM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


What happens if you're a single parent (a single mom) under 25?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 PM on June 24, 2012


What happens if you're a single parent (a single mom) under 25?
'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.

'At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, 'it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.'

'Are there no prisons?"

'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'

'Both very busy, sir.'

'Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very glad to hear it.'
posted by hippybear at 9:49 PM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fucking tories. This makes me want to smash things.
Fucking things. This makes me want to smash tories.
posted by fullerine at 10:28 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


These Tories obviously think everyone has parents just like their mummies and daddies who will be happy to pamper and spoil their little darlings for another 7 years, doing their laundry and making their meals and more.

What about those who grew up in abusive households but without legal proof of it? I myself was kicked out by my parents at seventeen. So they can just do what I did - move in with an abusive older man with no way to move out when the violence escalates. Then become a stripper and sell your soul for a way out. Or hit the jackpot and find yourself forced to move in with a man, any man, as long as he doesn't actually hit you and trade sex for rent. Simple!

Fuck the Tories and the Lib Dems they rode in on.
posted by hazyjane at 10:56 PM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


These Tories obviously think everyone has parents just like their mummies and daddies who will be happy to pamper and spoil their little darlings for another 7 years, doing their laundry and making their meals and more.
Say what you like about me mum and dad, they never got pissed up and left me up the pub like the Camerons. Social services straight in if they were working class.
posted by Abiezer at 11:06 PM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


All these council houses and fuel subsidies from National Insurance, correct? If so, does parliament take funds from National Insurance to spend elsewhere? The U.S. congress has robbed Social Security ever since Lyndon Johnson move Social Security into the general fund. It's fairly obvious the fuel subsidies are a preferable reduction.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:10 AM on June 25, 2012


Look, I know there's nothing liberals love more than complaining that other liberals aren't liberal enough, but Labour is in this case saying "you're right, the ongoing housing benefit isn't nearly as cost-efficient as simply building them houses, so how about we build them a lot of houses instead, which will both stimulate the economy in the short term and save the government money in the medium-to-long term?"

This is Labour we're talking about, the worst mainstream party in Britain if it wasn't for the other two, who during their time in office worked just as hard to make council housing unavailable, barely build any new housing and who were happy to pay b&b owners holiday rates for substandard accomodation. I'd trust them as far as I could throw Eric Pickles.

It was the Tories who started the big sell off of council housing stock in the eighties (wanting to create a new middle class beholden to them), but Labour who continued it, whose housing policy throughout their time in office was always about getting more people owning their houses and social housing only for the worst cases.

The Blairite Labour generation was quite willing to pull up the ladder behind them for all sorts of social welfare schemes they themselves or their parents benefited greatly from (free education, free NHS, council housing, undsoweiter), it's still the same people in power in the party so just because they're in opposition is no reason to trust them.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:19 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not being from the UK, I don't get much info out of the article in the link. I am not sure what the housing benefit is or who gets it - just that they have to be under 25 and that some sort of "council home" is sometimes involved. It wold be great if someone explained it.

As often, Wikipedia is your friend, though it tend to be one of those friends who tells long rambling stories, lose himself into details and sometimes loses the plot completely.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:30 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


All these council houses and fuel subsidies from National Insurance, correct?

Not as such. council housing and fuel subsidies for the elderly are largely paid for by local council tax (an annual property value tax on owners) that also pays for police, fire, local road repairs, social care for the elderly and disabled etc. Councils also get money from central government taken from general funding, mostly income tax, VAT and business taxes.
Central government uses this funding as a stick/carrot on councils to get them to sign on with whatever initiative of the week they're up to.

The 'bands' of house valuation are national, but what each council charges for those bands is up to the council. How much housing benefit you're eligible for is also set by the council, as a percentage of local rates. Government can - and is - step in to change that percentage and eligability.

national insurance - a separate tax on earnings on top of income tax - is supposedly reserved for social security payments, basically the national state pension and unemployment benefit.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:32 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I gather that council home = housing project ?

Yes, in principle, but with quite a few practical differences. Yes, there are some very large and very problematic "council estates" which are pretty analogous to the projects. But a lot of UK cities are very mixed up in terms of housing stock. So, for instance, there are quite a few council estates in Notting Hill which sit side by side and sometimes on the same street as houses worth millions. I live in inner East London and there are lots of estates, some within walking distance of the City, the central financial district. And social housing doesn't necessarily mean large planned estates. Our street is a pretty terrace of 1830s houses. Three or four of them are owned by the council. This is pretty normal.
posted by rhymer at 12:38 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What happens if you're a single parent (a single mom) under 25?
It's cool to quote Charles Dickens if you don't know the answer, but I suspect that in this case you wouldn't fall under the category of "being on your own" and you'd be eligible for housing benefit.

There's a lot of talk of fringe cases in this thread, and it's impossible not to feel sympathy for some of the examples given. I really hope that if this went ahead, something could be drafted that took those cases into account.

But if you're under 25, and you're on your own, and you don't have a job, and your parents have a spare room available, why not ask that you live there?

I'd prefer this if it was more carrot and less stick. A parental living bonus could be offered for this situation, but as it is, with some reservations, I really don't see it as the monstrous class-war based policy it's painted as.

- You get to live with people. Less marginalisation and feeling like you're removed from society.
- You don't end up paying for electricity £5.00 at a time. Cheaper bills.
- You get to buy food for more than one person. Cheaper per-person bills.
- You get an extra bit of support at a time when you need support.
- Chance that the extra housing stock will bring average rents down.
- More access to social housing when you really need it.

It's interesting to me too that nobody in this thread has said "Good God - Poor parents.". That says a lot. I'm not sure what it says, but it says a lot.

Here is the thing. It doesn't matter what laws they bring, or benefits they change, or what extra taxes they levy on the rich or what tax avoidance loopholes they close. Some undeserving person is going to be unfairly treated by that law. I see this happen all the time with unemployed friends. There's a tiny change in situation, and suddenly they're much worse off.

We should try and minimise any negative effects, but that doesn't negate the fact that it's a reasonable solution to a complex problem at a difficult time.
posted by zoo at 12:41 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is no stranger to the underhand tactics of class warfare yet it's even happening in this thread: housing benefit versus winter fuel subsidies. Those are not the only options. It is possible to provide quality social services to both the young and the old if you are more interested in maintaining a fair society than you are in shielding your mates and relatives from their responsibilities. It was only March this year when Osborne cut the top tax rate by 5p, not to mention all the many ways in which successive governments have encouraged creative accounting by businesses and high earners.

When you talk about housing, it's not just the lack of social housing you have to consider; you also need to factor in the massive rise in the number of people buying multiple properties for the purpose of renting them out. Buy-to-let mortgages and poor stock market performance have made them obligatory investments over the last decade or so, working to keep both rents and property prices artificially high. The sickness in our housing market goes a lot deeper than whether we are building enough homes.
posted by londonmark at 12:43 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


What's really depressing though is the amount theoretically saved, is pretty much the tax bill avoided by one large corporate like Vodafone using tax loopholes.

And I don't think it will save much in practise, because of the amount of homelessness that will result, and the money that will need to be spent to help them. The strain on poorer parents of under 25's who will now need to take the 'spare bedroom' cut on the chin to keep a room open, and all the other disadvantages on the chin.

Me and my wife have delayed having children into our thirties, not least because of the money situation - we'd get very little help, if any, so it has been a worry about how we'd pay for it. And I do see much younger people get married, have a crap job or no job, and get a free council house, benefit payments up the wazoo - there's a block of two-floor flats opposite mine, that are near identical, but council owned instead of private; and sometimes wonder why I bothered to do the right thing.

But ultimately I know I have a decently paid white collar job, I have a lot of autonomy, I'm well educated and own my own home (or will in another 25 years), and in the end I'll be much better off, basically more by luck than judgment. I'm lucky to have the choices I have had, and where I've squandered some, it's been my own fault.

The ones I resent are not the young council tenant families opposite me trying to raise their kids. It's the large corporations avoiding paying every bit of tax they can, and their wealthy upper management with great accountants, who end up paying a couple of percentage points of tax compared to my 33% or so of income. I resent a government that says we're all in this together, and then blithely cuts taxes on the richest and the biggest companies, and makes no attempts to close all the various loopholes and offshore tax havens that they use to avoid paying billions and billions of taxes. It may not be illegal, but it damn well should be. It's also ridiculous that shareholders don't even have the power to block CEOs handing themselves billion pound pay rises - they can censure it, but not stop it.

I don't know why I bothered voting Lib Dem. I was genuinely hopeful they would steer the new shiny 'non-nasty, protect the NHS, hug-a-hoody, my kid is disabled so I understand, Dave' towards real social justice when the coalition was announced, unlike the last Labour government. How wrong was I.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:52 AM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a Tax Avoidance thread a little bit upstream of this, but it's important to say that outside lefty circles there is pretty wide support for tax avoidance, and even in the cases where people say it's wrong they admit that if they could do it themselves, they would.

I hate how these conversations always turn into either/or propositions. We reduce the social benefit bills OR we chase after tax avoidance.

How about we do both?

Turning conversations like this into wider conversations about what the rich do strikes me as a kind of Misery Olympics. Its a deflection from one area into another more worrying area. Of course Cameron needs to do something about tax avoidance. But that doesn't mean we can't also look at our social bill, and try and find some savings.

Anyway - knowing Cameron, you should be OK. He'll be out in a couple of weeks telling you that he's listened to what everyone has had to say and they've decided not to do it, but hey - here's a new mad scheme for you all to moan about.

And don't get me started on Milliband. Cameron could say grass was green, and you'd have Milliband and Balls swanning round a branch of B&Q the next day refuting it.
posted by zoo at 1:13 AM on June 25, 2012


It's not such a horrible idea, if you believe that family ties should extend beyond the age of 18. It's dumb; better to spend 2bn on a task force to identify and fully tax the ten richest people in the UK. But it's not horrible.

The shocking thing in the uk is the way that people, often for reasons they can identify, get stuck at the bottom. The system of benefits, employment agencies, and taxes conspire to leave people either unable to take work, because the transport costs put them into the red, or force them to take short term, low paid jobs, which then makes it harder to get back on benefits next month. Or requires them to go on a training course, then stops the funding before they can complete it.

If you want to fix the system, start by talking to the people who use it every day. But yeah, I find myself increasingly thinking that that's a big "if".

(I leave the talk of class war to the more theoretically inclined, I see more stupidity than malevolence here. They don't get it, because that's what being rich allows you to do: not get it, and still run the country.)
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:26 AM on June 25, 2012


But if you're under 25, and you're on your own, and you don't have a job, and your parents have a spare room available, why not ask that you live there?

There were a good half dozen reasons outlined already in this thread. But my personal reason would be that I was an independent adult well before 25, what's special about that number? Do you plan to raise the age that my parents could get benefits on my behalf as well? Make them responsible for my truancy from college classes? Perhaps adjust the voting age, drinking age, and legal definition of being a minor? Or is it just this one aspect of life where it's convenient for you to see young adults as children who are primarily the responsibility of their parents?
posted by jacalata at 1:34 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


And why not ask a 35-y-o to move back in with their parents if they are single and unemployed? What makes them so independent? How about 45 or 60 years old, if they have parents don't they deserve a spare room back home?
posted by jacalata at 1:37 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


But my personal reason would be that I was an independent adult well before 25, what's special about that number?

You can also only get a youth-priced Euro-rail pass until 25. Someone has to pay full-fare, you know.

Anyway, if these were "independent adults" none of this would matter. These are dependent adults and the question here is who is to bear the burden of their dependency.
posted by three blind mice at 2:02 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


>There were a good half dozen reasons outlined already in this thread.
There are a good half dozen reasons detailing why this wouldn't be a fit for *some* people.

>25, what's special about that number.
Nothing. It seems like a reasonable cutoff point is all.

>Make them responsible for my truancy from college classes? Perhaps adjust the voting age, drinking age, and legal definition of being a minor?
*sigh*
Really. That's your argument against this. That it may lead to the government increasing the voting age?

>How about 45 or 60 years old?
How about we reduce it to eight or nine? Or 3 years old. How about we paint the moon yellow and have a party? What then? What. Will. Happen. Then?

There's a number of people who are going to be impacted negatively by this, and as I've stated before, I hope there's going to be some way of working around this. But for the majority of the 380,000 17 - 25 year olds (who currently claim housing benefit), I don't see a problem.
posted by zoo at 2:04 AM on June 25, 2012


Let's not forget as well, that the average Housing benefit for those people under 25 is currently about £400.00 a month. That's the price of your single room in a shared house, and people need to ask why it is so expensive.
posted by zoo at 2:15 AM on June 25, 2012


If you think that for the majority of people under 25 who recieve housing benefits it's the case that it would be no biggie for them to move back with their parents, you're living in the same cloud cuckoo land as the Tories who think "these people" have babies to claim council flats.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:18 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Only one in eight claimants of housing benefit are out of work. The reason the bill is so high is because private landlords keep raising rents (ours just stick an extra 50% on the rent and we're going to have to move out), the 'right to buy' depleted social housing stock, wages are stagnating or decreasing, and unemployment is rising.
posted by knapah at 2:33 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


MartinWisse: I'm not saying moving back in with family isn't going to be difficult or non-ideal. I just don't think the special cases highlighted in the majority of the thread make up a huge percentage of the total number of claimants. I'm happy for you to point me to some real data, but at this point, we're both essentially pulling figures out of our asses in order to enforce the points we're making.

Also, saying "the Tories who think "these people" have babies to claim council flats" is a gross distortion of the message coming out of the Conservative party. I suppose you could claim that even if they're not saying it, they believe it, but that seems a bit disingenuous.

Here's what the Tories have said about people "having kids to get good council houses".

1) Ian Duncan Smith:
They therefore are discentivised from taking work. They are incentivised, many of these families, to find more children so that they can stay out of work. This is utterly wrong and it's a benefit system which desperately needs change.
This isn't saying people are having Kids to cheat the system. It's saying the system is broken in such a way as to make those people who are on the social want to have more kids.

2: Jeremy Hunt.
I can't find the actual quote here, but Jeremy Hunt and later Cameron have suggested that there be a cap on the amount of benefits received by a family. I don't agree with this, but it's a long way from stating that Claimants are deliberately having children in order to get more benefits.


I'm not saying BTW, that your middle-england chav hating stereotype doesn't exist. It does. I've seen people say it. I just don't believe this is something currently believed by the Tories.
posted by zoo at 3:09 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Anyway, if these were "independent adults" none of this would matter. These are dependent adults and the question here is who is to bear the burden of their dependency.

Because what they should be doing is going out there and mixing their labor with goods in a state of nature, right? Everyone benefits from living in a society. The problem is that it's much easier to demonize people for doing so when they are already marginalized. I don't see anyone smearing banking execs as not "independent" enough, when they've been baldly skimming off the top for years.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 3:20 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget as well, that the average Housing benefit for those people under 25 is currently about £400.00 a month. That's the price of your single room in a shared house, and people need to ask why it is so expensive.

Source?
posted by knapah at 3:29 AM on June 25, 2012


Source:
The originally linked article.
Housing benefit recipients who are under 25 currently receive an average 0f £90 a week.
posted by zoo at 3:35 AM on June 25, 2012


Most recipients of housing benefit are in work. I suspect the majority are married people with children, even if you only look at the under-25s. It is madness to ask a working man to go and live in his mum's house, away from his wife and children, possibly hundreds of miles from his job. Or obviously a woman in the same situation.

Will families be split up? Children taken out of school? What will happen to the businesses which lose their staff as young workers in the South East are moved out of the the cities back to the high unemployment regions where the older generation live?

Will there be any checks to see whether people in their twenties have living parents before they are thrown out of their own homes? Will anyone find out whether those parents have homes, have empty rooms, are prepared to take their adult children back into the homes? What if they won't take them in?

I think considering these questions, all of which will become immediate pressing concerns if these rules are implemented, reveals that the proposals are reckless and ill thought out in the extreme.

Far better to intervene to ensure there is cheap basic housing within commuting distance of employers who need staff. Then we get back on the work - pay tax - generate profits cycle of growth.
posted by communicator at 4:01 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Source:
The originally linked article.
Housing benefit recipients who are under 25 currently receive an average 0f £90 a week.
posted by zoo at 3:35 AM on June 25 [+] [!]


To be fair, that's somewhat closer to about 350 pounds a month than 400.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:05 AM on June 25, 2012


Housing benefit rarely covers the whole of the rent, even if you're unemployed. So if you are living off the dole - on one of the lowest social incomes in Europe - you have to take some money out of your budget to complete the rent.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:13 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hello, I'm David McGahan:
To be fair, on average it's exactly £391.34 a calendar month. So I don't think my usage of "about" £400 is particularly terrible.

communicator:
If they try and implement this in such a way as to force these measures on those who are married or have children, then I'll be right alongside you all.

The Tories seem to be having a terrible time of communicating fairly basic concepts. Given Cameron's background in PR, you'd think they'd do a better job than the utter omnishambles that the current administration exhibits.

He's not quite hitting the lows of Gordon Brown (who I also liked), but I suspect that Cameron could do with brushing up on some of his more basic political skills.
posted by zoo at 4:27 AM on June 25, 2012


That average must be pushed up significantly by London, as £400 per month (or £390 as noted) is significantly higher than what u25s can get in my area, which isn't exactly cheap.
posted by knapah at 4:30 AM on June 25, 2012


Ahh PCM, I thought Australia was the only place that employed that madness! Fair enough then Zoo.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:37 AM on June 25, 2012



Also, saying "the Tories who think "these people" have babies to claim council flats" is a gross distortion of the message coming out of the Conservative party. I suppose you could claim that even if they're not saying it, they believe it, but that seems a bit disingenuous.


Remember what Cameron said, quoted earlier:
The Mail quoted Mr Cameron contrasting a couple living with their parents and saving before getting married and having children, with a couple who have a child and get a council home.

"One is trapped in a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help," he said.
A bit later he argues that the welfare system is making it attractive for teenagers to have babies, which can only come from somebody who never in his whole life had had to worry about where his next job (let alone meal) would come from.

And of course the government is a bit lary of saying it out right, but it's whistling just as loud and hard as a small town southern Republican state senator up for re-election.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:42 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


What happens if you're a single parent (a single mom) under 25?
In the bad old days (that is, before the welfare state) you either stayed with your family no matter what the situation was, got the best job you could and lived in a slum, or entered the workhouse. This is no exaggeration, it is exactly the choice my nana faced.
If they try and implement this in such a way as to force these measures on those who are married or have children, then I'll be right alongside you all.
The worry is that single parents in council housing are already demonized as though they only had a child to get a house. The same goes for poor families which are, more or less, labeled as "generations of families dependent on welfare". We can ignore the truth that young people often need to be geographically mobile to start their careers, and we can ignore the truth that reasons for not living with parents are often complicated, and ignore the truth that the cost is tiny in compared with the sums stolen by tax thieves, but we can't get away from the truth that there's really no limit to what this government will do to destroy welfare. There isn't a bright line at which they'll stop, but they will keep pushing as far as they can. The ground work has already been lain.
Ian Duncan Smith: "They therefore are discentivised from taking work. They are incentivised, many of these families, to find more children so that they can stay out of work. This is utterly wrong and it's a benefit system which desperately needs change."

This isn't saying people are having Kids to cheat the system. It's saying the system is broken in such a way as to make those people who are on the social want to have more kids.
In what way do you think the government will "incentivize" such people to become less dependent? Will you be right alongside us if they cut housing benefit for them? Where is your line in the sand? Your comment here doesn't seem to match which what you said above.
posted by Jehan at 5:07 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Ian Duncan Smith:
They therefore are discentivised from taking work. They are incentivised, many of these families, to find more children so that they can stay out of work. This is utterly wrong and it's a benefit system which desperately needs change.
This isn't saying people are having Kids to cheat the system. It's saying the system is broken in such a way as to make those people who are on the social want to have more kids.


I don't think anyone is using the word "cheat" particularly, but you do realise this quote here *is* saying people are having kids for the benefits, right? (Unless, by "finding more" he's suggesting there are other ways to produce them, like a quick flick through Gumtree.)
posted by londonmark at 5:09 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Worryingly, this also suggests that Ian Duncan Smith thinks that children are found - like, under gooseberry bushes?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:19 AM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're going to accuse them of dog-whistle politicking and hidden agendas, then it's impossible to argue against that. "They're doing this hidden thing you can't see, but it's really evil."

A bit later he argues that the welfare system is making it attractive for teenagers to have babies
Well that's not exactly right. He was talking in terms of the contrast.

Here's what I think he's talking about.

I have a friend. Single Mother. Two kids. She's got a tiny mortgage on a house she bought some 15 years ago. After she split up with her partner (he was mentally ill and starting to get violent), she spent about 5 years on welfare. Her youngest was too young. When her youngest got to about 7, she started looking for a job. A very low paid part time job.

Her total income went down. With extra pressures around after-school clubs and the like, it went right down. She couldn't work more hours because perversely this would cause her total income to drop even more. She didn't want to quit her job either, because it would have been a bad example to the children. It's a good thing she doesn't smoke or drink, and it's a good thing she knows how to budget. Because otherwise, she'd have been screwed.

Four years ago, they made her move her offices to a place 12 miles away with chargeable parking. We gave her a car, but there's petrol, etc and again, her total available income went down.

One year ago, her employers started making noises that she'd be made redundant. She signed up on a highly vocational, much needed NHS based university course, part time. She's trying to get out of poverty, make something of herself, do something useful, but you know what. Her total income dropped again.

Her total income has probably been halved since trying to get off of welfare. I'm not exxagerating here. And if I talk to her, she says that she knew this would happen, that she would be financially better off if she'd stayed on the dole, and the only reason she didn't do that was because of her kids.

So yes. The current welfare system incentivises staying on welfare and having kids and it deincentivises getting out. This is not to say that my friend is a bad person / benefit scrounger. She's an intelligent adult who has to make a choice about how best to care for her children. It's just that as it stands, the choice is weighted towards welfare.

Now you can complain about the system, and you can offer alternatives to stop issues like this happening, but the Tories are right to bring this conversation into the open. Automatically accusing them of having the worst possible motives is paranoid and devisive.
posted by zoo at 5:27 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


londonmark : You should read it again. He's not saying what you think he's saying.
posted by zoo at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2012


londonmark : As an analogy: If I incentivise you to hit old people in the face (with a big cash award), it doesn't automatically mean that that's what you've been doing.
posted by zoo at 5:32 AM on June 25, 2012


If people are being incentivised to hit old people in the face but nobody is doing it, is it a problem?
posted by knapah at 5:44 AM on June 25, 2012


I'm just posting to note the excellent Ken Loach film Cathy Come Home, which is available (legally) to watch on YouTube.
posted by Magnakai at 5:50 AM on June 25, 2012


I think I appreciate the distinction you are attempting to draw zoo; it just feels like a moot point. On a practical level, it isn't an incentive if nobody is acting on it. Or, to put it another way, you have to believe that the incentive is causing people to hit old folks in the face before you can decry the incentive as a problem.
posted by londonmark at 5:57 AM on June 25, 2012


(Or what knapah said more succinctly.)
posted by londonmark at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2012


Now you can complain about the system, and you can offer alternatives to stop issues like this happening, but the Tories are right to bring this conversation into the open. Automatically accusing them of having the worst possible motives is paranoid and divisive.
The government isn't bringing this into the open. It is a well known and discussed issue with welfare, and has been spoken about, at length, for decades. The Labour government sought to bring in changes which made those on welfare always better off if they worked. Maybe the changes didn't have the impact needed, and we should try again. But the Conservatives aren't doing this, they're making those who work better off than those on welfare simply by cutting welfare. Faced with nothing or something, then yes, work is a better choice. But I doubt that's really what your friend needs.
posted by Jehan at 5:59 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


he Mail quoted Mr Cameron contrasting a couple living with their parents and saving before getting married and having children, with a couple who have a child and get a council home.

If I'd stayed living with my parents, I'd never have got a job that paid much over the minimum wage, if that, because it's an area of high unemployment. I would be away from my friends and my job prospects (I work in an industry that is irritatingly London-centric), away from my partner, and a whole bunch of other issues which explain why people generally try and leave the parental home, if not their home town, in their teens. Added to which my mother is a pensioner and not really in the position to accommodate another adult. I am also very unlikely to save enough to buy a flat, because I can't live with parents and I don;'t have wealthy relatives, but still need to pay rent. So I suppose I'm not allowed to have children under the Cameron regime?

I am over 25 now, thankfully, but if my job ceased to exist and I was under the threshold, I would have literally nowhere to go. How is this supposed to be good for anyone?
posted by mippy at 6:11 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and last time I claimed housing benefit, when I was 26, it paid about £100 less than my monthly rent. I had to make up the shortfall out of my £52 per week unemployment benefit as well as using it to pay bills and buy food. I would find the idea that the 'undeserving poor' are somehow swimming in excess housing benefit hilarious if I didn't clearly remember having to beg money from friends in order to pay that first month's rent before the housing benefits came through.
posted by mippy at 6:14 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget as well, that the average Housing benefit for those people under 25 is currently about £400.00 a month. That's the price of your single room in a shared house, and people need to ask why it is so expensive.

But guess what? A lot of landlords don't take housing benefit. They don't like being asked to provide evidence of tenancy to the council. And a lot of young people live in cities like London - not just economic migrants, but people who grew up here, or came to study here, or came to work here before they got laid off- where you would be very lucky to get a place for £400 per month in a shared house. And coming off benefits? They stop the very minute you get work, not the same time you get paid - that's a month or so in which someone has to work out literally where their next meal is coming from.

There was a period in my early 20s where I had the choice between staying in the flat of an abusive partner, or moving back to my parents - not only would the latter have involved living in an economically depressed area far away from friends and my social network, but also living back with an abusive parent. There will be a lot more young women (and men) in this situation with this rule coming in - stuck in unhappy domestic situations, or faced with returnign to what might be an equally uncomfortable situation in the family home.
posted by mippy at 6:24 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


From a different context, given that it is a different country and all...

When I moved to Melbourne, I was dependent on government welfare (which from memory got me about $90AU a fortnight in rental assistance). I moved here because for my particular skill set and abilities there was no future living at home with my parents. I would have struggled to find anything near the income, and thus income tax, that living here has made possible. And let's just not even factor in that that earning potential was saved, and then invested in a small business that is going to employ some more people. Someone above mentioned that perhaps Tories lack life experience. Frankly I don't think they're within a sneeze of blues clues of deadly poisonous or cuddly wuddly, but maybe I've been spending too much time reading the Prometheaus threads.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:46 AM on June 25, 2012


Will there be any checks to see whether people in their twenties have living parents before they are thrown out of their own homes? Will anyone find out whether those parents have homes, have empty rooms, are prepared to take their adult children back into the homes? What if they won't take them in?

This is unworkable and they won't do it. The Tory MO is to introduce an unworkable plan, get the PR kudos of stirring up an angry, frightened voter base, then quietly dropping it, a bit like regional public sector pay.
posted by Summer at 6:59 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I'm increasingly of the opinion that every aspect of housing benefit be controlled locally. I'm tired of the situation in London being used to define how housing is worked over the rest of the country.
posted by zoo at 7:06 AM on June 25, 2012


So, I just turned 25. I graduated from university just shy of three years ago (students are not eligible to claim Housing Benefit) and have been unemployed and on housing benefit (and jobseeker's allowance) since. Of the three years of unemployment I've had, I've been on crutches for 14 months, and while I recently got rid of them (mostly) I still can't walk very well or far, or lift heavy things. It will be many months before I will be able to again. I'm also an immigrant, while we're listing my transgressions, though merely from harmless Denmark, and a trans person.

Needless to say, under the proposed rules, I would've been fucked. I pay £150 in rent each month (though due to complications in actually getting my benefits paid out, I've really struggled to pay that) which is shockingly little for the area in which I live, which housing benefit covers. If it did not, I would've been stuck with just JSA - at roughly £55 a week for those under 25 (why do the young get shafted here, too? My life didn't get £15 a week more expensive to live on my last birthday...) that's not enough to both eat and pay rent. My parents have three other kids, live in a country I haven't lived in since I was 5, and did not take well to my coming out, initially. Living at home would not have been an option for me. I doubt my prospects for recovering from my leg injury would have been quite so good couch-surfing for a year or two and then living on the street, so I'm not sure how this would be any economic benefit in the long term, even if just in terms of lost tax revenue (because the help available to the homeless is pathetic, especially if it's deemed to be your own fault - such as eviction due to non-payment of rent).

Fucking Tory scum.
posted by Dysk at 7:26 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Tory MO is to introduce an unworkable plan, get the PR kudos of stirring up an angry, frightened voter base, then quietly dropping it

I completely agree Summer. See also Gove's O Level nonsense. Well, I hope and assume in both cases they are going to drop the plans as in neither case have they done the hard work necessary to make them feasible and practical. What constantly surprises me is the reluctance of the current governemnt to do hard work - it's all front with nothing behind it, like a film set. When you get close it's all shallow. I am not sure what they are in Government for if they don't lile the work?

Incidentalyl all of this is about a struggle for power between Cameron and Gove. 'Whoever wins we lose'.
posted by communicator at 7:45 AM on June 25, 2012


Personally, I'm increasingly of the opinion that every aspect of housing benefit be controlled locally. I'm tired of the situation in London being used to define how housing is worked over the rest of the country.

It already is handled locally.

As you should know if you paid attention.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:08 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now you can complain about the system, and you can offer alternatives to stop issues like this happening, but the Tories are right to bring this conversation into the open. Automatically accusing them of having the worst possible motives is paranoid and devisive.

No, it's not; it's called having a sense of history and knowning what the bastards did the last time they were in power, not uncoincidentally also during a long period of economic doldrums.

The sort of anecdote you just told is a typical Daily Mail story: sounds good, but still anecdotal and of course we only have your blue eyes to trust it's the truth.

Being on the dole or on disability welfare in the UK, even with housing benefits and other adhoc schemes, is not a road to riches. In most cases, if you have a fulltime job you are far better off; if there are jobs that pay less than that, the solution is not to slash welfare further, it's to raise the minimum wage.

In any case, the problem isn't that young people are workshy or too feckless to find jobs good enough to be able to pay for their housing themselves, but that we're in the middle of this depression you may have noticed and there simply aren't the jobs to be had. Unemployment and other social benefits costs are rising because the ConDems fucked the economy up and more people are therefore jobless.

The last Labour government wasn't that much of a prize, but at least Gordon Brown had a slightly better grip on the economy.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


if there are jobs that pay less than that, the solution is not to slash welfare further, it's to raise the minimum wage.

And tip the rental market back towards renters. The more rights to stay in their homes renters have, the less attractive buy-to-let will be as an investment. That will free up homes for people to buy, and so reduce the housing benefit bill.

Fat chance of renters getting any more rights, ever, though.
posted by Leon at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, let's sqabble about just how much the poor are to blame for our current economic distress. This is a productive discussion, rather than how do we fix the fucking banking system so it can't rape and pillage us any longer.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:32 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It already is handled locally.
As you should know if you paid attention.


Condescending much?

I'm sorry MartinWisse. I guess we're not discussing national Leader David Cameron talking about national policy right here in this thread, right now. I guess, instead we're talking about my local councillors. Who bizarrely appear to have dressed up to look like Cameron and are now on our national news. I guess that all the talk about being 35 to get H.B for a non-shared house anywhere in the country is actually a local issue. I guess that when mippy talks about their experiences in London, it has nothing to do with me, because these things are handled locally.
posted by zoo at 10:55 AM on June 25, 2012


And my anecdotal story is 100% true. If you're not going to believe my "blue eyes", we've (a) got nothing to say to each other, and (b) you may as well discount every other story in this thread.

My story isn't a typical Daily Mail story. I'm not blaming anyone. I'm just telling you about one persons experience of trying to get out of the welfare. It's not a unique story in my experience, but this point is moot right now. You've already told me that you don't believe what I said.
posted by zoo at 11:01 AM on June 25, 2012


Incidentalyl all of this is about a struggle for power between Cameron and Gove. 'Whoever wins we lose'.

Really? Because if you think that Gove (who incidentally isn't from the rich boy silver spoon set of Cameron, Milliband and Clegg) is any way not as bad as Cameron, then you're wrong. Gove is pure NeoCon, Game Theory nastiness. If you think you've got a hard time with Cameron, then this is a mere pat when you compare it to the shit-storm that Gove would unleash on the country.

They say you can tell a man by his enemies. Currently, Cameron's enemies are Gove and Dorries. You can't tell me with anything approaching a straight face, that these two sides of the conservative party are as bad as each other.
posted by zoo at 11:08 AM on June 25, 2012


I just saw that I said this in May 2010:

The Tories, were they not held back a little by the Lib Dems, would be quite happy to cut taxes for the rich and cut public spending in areas that disproportionately impact upon the most vulnerable people in our society. In fact, I fear that will happen regardless of any Lib Dem input.

That was me being optimistic, haha.
posted by knapah at 12:00 PM on June 25, 2012


So yes. The current welfare system incentivises staying on welfare and having kids and it deincentivises getting out. This is not to say that my friend is a bad person / benefit scrounger. She's an intelligent adult who has to make a choice about how best to care for her children. It's just that as it stands, the choice is weighted towards welfare.

So she'd be better off if she couldn't get welfare? I'm confused by your story.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:46 PM on June 25, 2012


The amazing thing I find here (in the UK) coming from somewhere else (Australia) is that it is seen as normal that a working couple needs assistance from the government to pay for their housing. The fact that rents (and house prices) are so ridiculously high and that 'working wages' are so ridiculously low.
posted by Megami at 1:53 PM on June 25, 2012


Ideally, somebody commits the political suicide of letting house prices fall steadily throughout their electoral term. That's the root of a lot of this problem, really - "safe as houses".
posted by Dysk at 2:34 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


dirigibleman: I was specifically speaking to how believing welfare is incentivised does not mean that you believe people are dole scrounging scum. And I was giving a solid example of how welfare does disinsentivise people from getting work.

I believe in our welfare system, despite the implications here that I don't. I just believe that if savings have to be made then the removal of housing benefit for those young people who could stay with their folks is no bad thing.

If you don't think savings need to be made, then say so. If you do, then by all means tell me in which area of our Social Care system you would make those savings.

The devil is in the detail here, of course and this is a point I've already alluded to. The Tories seem to lack the ability sometimes to think things through, and I've spoken to that too.

But the basic idea that young people could stay with their parents a bit longer in order to save a couple of billion pounds seems to me to be a whole lot saner to me than the alternatives.
posted by zoo at 3:10 PM on June 25, 2012


The fact that rents (and house prices) are so ridiculously high and that 'working wages' are so ridiculously low.

The majority of my generation who have their own place have managed to do so because they have inherited or been lent a significant sum of money. In the south-east at least, the deposit to get a mortgage is a staggering amount - the average deposit in London is more than twice the average salary there. Plus, renters have little autonomy - they can be evicted with two months' notice, they are rarely allowed pets, permission to paint walls or hang shelves/pictures, and as I've said many do not take housing benefit as rent which is going to be a huge issue for those under-25s who have signed a binding lease and have been made redundant.
posted by mippy at 3:15 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


mippy, no debate about your points, except for one thing: landlords can't kick people out just because they start paying their rent with housing benefit. All that's needed for the claim is a tenancy agreement, and it can be paid into the recipient's bank account.

I too will only be able to move out of rented accommodation when I cash in money from my parents. I'm one of the lucky ones, and it still sucks.
posted by ambrosen at 3:19 PM on June 25, 2012


ambrosen, my experience suggests that landlords can and do throw people out for no given reason whatsoever (usually with some pretence of notice), so I don't see how you suddenly being 'DSS' when the rental ad clearly said 'no DSS'* doesn't mean you're likely to be kicked out of your house/flat.


*(what the fuck is up with this anyway? So hard to find anywhere to live that'll have you at all if you're on benefits. How is this kind of naked discrimination legal, nevermind socially acceptable?)
posted by Dysk at 12:05 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Currently, Cameron's enemies are Gove and Dorries. You can't tell me with anything approaching a straight face, that these two sides of the conservative party are as bad as each other.

But no one is stopping Gove, or reining him in in any way, and Dorries and her merry band of God botherers are fairly unconstrained too. Cameron is enabling all sorts of insanity, and the fact that they are not his idea is beside the point.

Just because the getaway driver isn't in the bank pointing a sawn-off shotgun at the teller doesn't mean he's not a bank robber too.
posted by Grangousier at 12:58 AM on June 26, 2012


The thing with housing benefit is that you can get it paid straight to the landlord, so I'm not sure why this is a disadvantage for them - unless it's a code for 'we think you will trash the house because you're on benefits'.
posted by mippy at 1:51 AM on June 26, 2012


'You're on the dole, you must be despicable scum, get the fuck out of my property' more like.
posted by Dysk at 2:17 AM on June 26, 2012


I never really got why Landlords insist on no DSS. I suspect that it's got to the point where Landlords just do it, because that's what you're supposed to do. It's a mob based behaviour based on apocrophya.

Some other reasons though.

Even though the money can be paid straight to the Landlord any minor change in circumstances can result in the council stopping your housing benefit payments. Restarting payments is often slow, difficult and prone to failure. I've seen this happen on multiple occasions. The Housing Benefit do tend to attract the most jobsworthy incompetent bastards as staff, and they'll use any excuse to not pay you. I'm pretty certain that the HB offices here just keep all paperwork in a giant pile in a dimly lit back room.

I believe that some buy-to-let mortgages add a no DSS clause. Sometimes it's not even the Landlords fault. Again, the reason for the banks doing this is probably bogus.

Like it or not, some people do think that DSS are scrounging scum. I'm not accusing politicians of this.

There needs to be laws put into place that make "No-DSS" clauses illegal. There's suggestions that in cases where recipients are claiming DLA it already is but this needs to be addressed.
posted by zoo at 2:18 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grangousier: Dorries has been reined in several times. You think she's been out and about in the media talking up Cameron's "posh boy" status because he lets her get away with shit. Nope.

Gove is a different matter. There's clearly an ideological difference between Gove and Cameron, but I think Cameron needs Gove in order to keep the more right wing sections of his party happy. Keep your enemies closer, and all that. Saying that though, you're right. He needs to start slapping these people around.
posted by zoo at 2:22 AM on June 26, 2012


The thing with housing benefit is that you can get it paid straight to the landlord, so I'm not sure why this is a disadvantage for them - unless it's a code for 'we think you will trash the house because you're on benefits'.

Plus: "You will lower the tone of the whole neighbourhood and lower my property prices."
posted by Summer at 3:13 AM on June 26, 2012


Housing benefit withdrawn for anyone with under £25 million.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:42 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why Young People Need Housing Benefits in the U.K.
posted by homunculus at 6:48 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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