Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/796/18073
Landlords, the real beneficiaries of benefits street
Channel Four's infamous Benefits Street 'documentary' has featured a squalid four-bedroom rented home that is so riddled with damp that water runs down the walls.
It has no heating because the boiler has long been broken, and the tenant's children are so frozen at night they sleep with their clothes on.
Government minister Iain Duncan Smith said the programme showed the need to end the 'benefits culture'.
But the tenant of this nightmare home, Symphorien Mbuyamba, works full time in a local factory. He pays £215 a week to share this place with his wife, their four children and two teenage nieces.
The Sunday Mirror quotes him: "I have been complaining two years but nothing ever happens. No one has ever been round to carry out repairs since we have lived here. I doubt a penny has been spent on it for ten years or more".
The house is owned by Paul Nischal - an active Tory and friend of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
His property firm, appropriately called Goldfinger, owns three houses in the road featured on television.
He reportedly pockets nearly £3,000 a month from struggling residents in the street - most of it in taxpayer-funded benefits.
This gives an idea of who paid for Nischal's gated mansion in a smart suburb well away from his tenants.
The Birmingham Mail has reported that another landlord in the street is a Labour councillor and deputy police commissioner, Yvonne Mosquito.
It reports that she is paid £65,000 a year by the police and £16,267 by the council and supplements this with her 'property portfolio'.
None of the big parties are shouting about the scandal of welfare dependency in which landlords benefit from the housing shortage by pocketing high rents subsidised by benefits - or low paying employers whose workers are forced to claim benefit. Channel Four does not air programmes on the moral decline of bankers' families subsidised by tax payer bailouts and tax breaks!
A government acting in the interests of the majority in society would immediately control rents. Rent controls would not even need new primary legislation as the old pre-Thatcher rent act is still on the statute books. They should also introduce a minimum wage people can live off.
They should scrap the £1 billion 'build to rent' fund that further subsidises private landlords and launch a massive programme of council house building.
The mood of anger at politicians expressed in the support that celebrity Russell Brand got for calling for "revolution" is no surprise when no party takes up this sort of programme.
Working class people standing in elections under the banner of TUSC can begin to give voice to this anger in the upcoming local elections.
In The Socialist 29 January 2014:
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