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Tag Archives: Housing law

Bedroom tax and unintentional homelessness – Zahawi’s false assurance

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Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi was drafted in by the Government the other day to defend the bedroom tax on Newsnight. He tried to look confident but it was a hesitant performance for this normally gung-ho fellow. He was responding to news that half of housing association tenants may now be in arrears as a result of the bedroom tax (under-occupancy charge), according to David Orr, chairman of the National Housing Federation.

Zahawi seemed particularly rattled when Emily Maitlis asked if this was to be the pattern for the long term: “Lots more people defaulting and you will have to bail them out and so on?”

Zahawi said: “That should not be … It is not the purpose of this policy. It’s not to make people … For example if they find themselves homeless they will not be classed as intentionally homeless by this policy. That has been put on record by government ministers in the House of Commons. It is not about us making life difficult for people; it’s about living within our means.”

The gaps indicated by ellipses are his – an inability to quite bring himself to assert confidently, “It is not the purpose of this policy to make people homeless.” Read the rest of this entry

Iain Duncan Smith needs to put on a new benefits thinking cap

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It seems that Britain’s Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has solved a conundrum that has baffled and befuddled philosophers for millenia: how do we know what we know? He has cut through the Kant and ditched Descartes for this elegantly simple formulation: “I think, therefore it is”.

This, in sum, is his view of how his welfare changes will pan out; they will pan out just as he thinks they will pan out. Thus, when the Office for National Statistics suggested the figures did not bear out his assertion that the benefit cap of £26,000 would encourage people into work he told John Humphrys on the BBC Today programme: “Yes, but by the way, you can’t disprove what I said either” – a classic response of the sceptic school of epistemology. He went on: “I believe this to be right; I believe that we are already seeing people going back to work who were not going to go back to work.”

He has no evidence; indeed he has been told that the evidence he thought he had was not in fact evidence; but he believes he is right so he must be right.

Others who contradict him, such as Haringey Council in London, are “politically motivated”, whereas Iain Duncan Smith, Tory member for Chingford and Woodford Green and one time leader of the Conservative Party is, of course, not politically motivated.

All this is good news, not least because IDS has also said that his welfare changes won’t lead to people becoming homeless or being driven out of London. He has said it; he presumably believes it; and hence, cogito ergo est: it must be true.

Which is odd, because some of those on whom people rely for their homes, the housing associations of England and Wales, have in effect contradicted Duncan Smith’s position. They certainly believe that the welfare changes will lead them to evict their tenants, and they believe they may have to do it using the much criticised and draconian Ground 8 possession procedure. Read the rest of this entry

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