Sunday, 5 September 2010

Let's reform this nonsensical benefits legislation

A friend of mine moved house last week. She is a single parent with 3 young beautifully brought up children, one boy and two girls. She went from a house in the East End of the city costing her £450 a month to a 4 bedroom house in a much more picturesque area of the East End costing her £700 a month.

She's not long stopped working and is on benefits so her rent will be paid for her. I can just imagine what the Daily Mail would make of this. How dare she? Would she have done that had she been working and paying the rent? What an outrage this woman taking advantage of the benefits system like this.

Except this woman had NO choice. She didn't want to leave. It was the benefits system that forced her into it.

Natalie (not her real name) owns the first house but when she lost her job a while back and ended up on benefits, she discovered that only part of her mortgage (the interest) would be paid for her. So she was having to find £170 a month out of her income support. It doesn't take a mathematician to work out that this was nigh on impossible.

So she's fallen behind with payments and is now set to hand the house over to the bank. (I'm hoping we can help her find another way but that's how it stands right now and one thing is certain, she can't afford to stay there.) She's moved to rented accommodation and has been assured that all of the £700 will be paid in housing benefit.

How utterly ridiculous is this? There is a choice to be made. Either we (I say we because we're taxpayers) pay the £450 a month to cover the mortgage or we pay £700 a month to cover the rent. Er, let me think ... what would make more sense?

What we've actually done is put the bill to the taxpayer up from £280 a month (the amount they paid toward her mortgage) to £700. Clever! Not!

Not forgetting all the knock on effects to her credit rating, her ability to buy again, her ability to get back into work and off of benefits (now that she has to find £700 a month from any wages) and the disruption to her children, not to mention Natalie herself who just does not deserve this!

It just doesn't make sense to me. And I live by the maxim that if something is right, we have a duty to make it happen; if something is wrong, we have a duty to make it stop. So I'll be campaigning to have this ridiculous situation stopped as part of any welfare reforms being looked at by the ConDem Government. Surely even they can see that it is just common sense!

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