National rough sleeper numbers have risen 23% in the year to autumn 2011, with the number of people asking for housing assistance from local authorities up from 40,020 to 50,290 this year.
And those figures will only continue to rise with new housing benefit rules due to come into force in April 2013 attacking those considered to be ‘under-occupying’.
Under the new rules the following groups are expected to live in one bedroom only:
• Every adult couple
• A single person aged 16 or over
• Any two children of the same sex aged 16 or under
• Any two children of any sex aged 10 or under
• Any other child aged under 16
• A non-resident’s overnight carer
Herefordshire housing group Kemble Housing are now trying to raise awareness of the new rules but tenants who think they are ‘under-occupying’ are being encouraged to apply for smaller property.
Which all means this: if you and your partner happen to be living in a state of such wanton, indulgent luxury in your TWO-bedroomed flat (have you ever heard of such tasteless greed!) then, my god, you’d better get your arse down the Homepoint office and register for a tiny one-bedroomed cupboard. Know your place, you stinking pleb! Because failure to move will mean you will face between a 14–25% housing benefit cut.
But with thousands of people already on the housing waiting list, the prospect of more tenants looking for smaller property can only add to the problem. All this as Herefordshire Council continues to plough millions into a new shopping centre instead of building affordable social housing for working class people desperately in need. Is it any wonder that the number people being made homeless is shooting through the roof!
It is disgraceful that people should be made to feel guilty because the government deems them to have one more bedroom than they apparently need. The right-wing press will find the most ridiculous examples like a healthy young man living in a six-bedroomed council house and cite that as the norm, as though all tenants are actually living in mansions.
But where’s the attack on people living in the real mansions! Will anyone be having a go at Liz Hurley and Shane Warne for under occupying? And what about all of Herefordshire’s wealthy landowners on their massive estates, who’s shaming them into moving out? It doesn’t happen. What about all the cosy middle-class couples rattling around in a five-bedroomed, three-storey townhouse? No one goes after these people because they’ve got money. But god help you if you’re poor. If you’re not living in a cardboard box in a doorway well you’re fair game, eh!
We here at Heckler HQ are sick and fucking tired of these attacks on our class. We are sick of Tory politicians and lap-dog Lib Dems going after the weakest in society because they dare to have a tiny bit more than the absolute minimum.
We’re sick of the bigoted ‘I’m alright, Jack’ wankers, hiding behind internet names like ‘UK Taxpayer’, frothing at the mouth thinking that all working class people are lazy, layabout scroungers out on the take. Enough is e-fucking-nough!
A house is more than just bricks and mortar, it’s a home. It’s security and familiarity in an area you feel proud to call a community. Politicians don’t get that.
So if we’re going to start penalising people because they’ve got too many bedrooms then let’s start with the rich in their hideous mansions at Garnons and Kentchurch and elsewhere, and then move on to the middle-classes in their leafy townhouses in Broomy Hill and Hampton Park. But never ever should we target the most vulnerable in society. These people need a helping hand not a kick in the teeth.