Via Timmy, the Grauniad yesterday carried what I can only describe as an extended propaganda piece in favour of housing benefit cuts. Based around the travails of families in Westminster, it headlined with the quote:
As primary schools struggle to cope with the disruption caused to children, a council officer declares: 'To live in Westminster is a privilege, not a right'The more naive among you might think this is obviously true, but apparently not according to the author. So my friends living in a crappy house in Stoke-on-Trent have the right to live in Westminster (and have someone else pay for their quadrupled rent); I shall have to give them a call to let them know.
Looking at one of the victims:
Until November, Amira, 39, was renting a flat near Edgware Road for £812 a week, with her four children. She is not currently working because her youngest child, aged one, is unwell and receiving treatment at Great Ormond Street hospital, and her rent was met in full by housing benefit payments.£812 per week; £3200+ per month. I try not to swear but... bloody hell!
When her landlady realised that the family would no longer be able to afford the flat when the £340 weekly cap was introduced for three-bedroom properties, she decided not renew the tenancy.(My emphasis) And here we find another common thread in the stories quoted. They don't want to move their children out of the local school because it's disruptive to the children, and (though this is unsaid) they clearly don't think they'll get access to a school anything like as good when they are moved to Enfield or Dagenham.
"I went to Westminster council and they said everyone will get this letter. They said you must look for a property where the rent is lower. They gave me a website to look at," she said. She was unable to find any flat for less than the cap near enough to the school.
It's clearly going to be a massive disruption for the families concerned, and one has to feel some sympathy; that sympathy is tempered with the knowledge that each of them has received £30k-40k per year in housing benefit alone for goodness knows how many years.
I believe that I have rumbled the motivations of the author, Guardian social affairs writer Amelia Gentleman: she is in league with Danny Alexander and George Osborne, using the pages of the Grauniad to propagandise the least sympathetic housing benefit cut losers in order to drum up support for the cuts.
Also, I note that no father is mentioned in any of those three cases...