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From: The Socialist issue 863, 8 July 2015: Greek workers show the way

Search site for keywords: Housing - Tenants - Tax - Housing benefit - Households - Iain Duncan Smith - Homelessness - Welfare - Council - Claimants - Council tax - Evictions

Low-income tenants face rent hikes

Cap rents, not benefits

Cap rents, not benefits   (Click to enlarge)

The Tory government intends to slash housing benefit (HB) for low income households. And because rent controls have long been abolished, it will mean a substantial cut in people's living standards, already struggling to pay household bills. It will also increase evictions and homelessness for tenants unable to pay their rent.

This vicious measure will destroy people's lives. It was drawn up by millionaire welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith - who lives rent free in a country mansion and claims thousands of pounds in expenses. IDS had also introduced the hated 'bedroom tax' and slashed council tax benefit to millions of people.

The Tories, while beating up on the poor, keep quiet about the real beneficiaries of housing benefit - private landlords. The overall HB bill has doubled over the last 20 years but the number of claimants has remained fairly constant indicating that it's private landlords, by charging excessive rents, who have grown rich on this benefit.

One in four private sector tenants in England have to claim HB - a rise of 90% in the last six years. Private landlords scoop a whopping 9.3 billion in HB, 38% of the total. In addition they get huge tax breaks and grants amounting to a staggering 27 billion a year in public subsidies - the equivalent of 1,000 for every household.

If this money was instead invested in social housing then the acute shortage of affordable housing could easily be solved. But with this mob in power it's clear that the interests of private landlords comes first and those of low-income tenants last.

'Housing subsidy' hypocrisy

Osborne also intends to make social housing tenants earning 30,000 a year (40,000 in London) to pay market rates for their rent.

The 'welfare butcher' argues that he is simply "ending the housing subsidy" paid to better off workers.

Hypocritically, Osborne fails to mention the massive public subsidy paid to private landlords, or the subsidy for further privatisation of council housing under the 'help to buy' (ie 'buy to let') scheme. He is also tight-lipped about MPs claiming up to 28,000 a year housing allowance.

The extra rent generated by this 'housing tax' won't, however, be invested in new social housing but instead will go directly to the Treasury to reduce the government deficit - caused by bailing out failed banks and the capitalist system.

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