Reversing The Polarity
Glasgow City Council are reducing the entitlement to Housing Benefit, by approximately a third.
I presently sign on, owing to a lack of jobs rather than an unwillingness to work. I could go into detail, but it’s nobody’s business. All you need to know is, I’m not in the position I want to be or imagined that I’d be in, and I don’t enjoy it. I’m honest, educated, and hard-working – provided I’m not being taken a loan of. The current system is inherently broken, and I foresee that I’ll provide more insight into that by documenting it on here in the future. There’s a lot to say, from my personal experience.
Housing Benefit is currently set at a maximum level, and all private rents are set at this level, artificially high. People under 25 got paid a lower rate, but this has changed and now includes all single people under 35. The only way to now get your full rent covered (which is set artificially high by the landlord, remember, to get the maximum he can) is to move in with someone and flatshare – which has a knock on effect on your other entitlements – cohabit with a partner (which has a knock on effect on other entitlements), or make up the shortfall yourself.
The shortfall, for those who are single, live alone in a one-bed flat, and are under 35 (not 25, now), is £136/month. This has to be made up, but keep in mind the dole pay you £270/month which is defined as the minimum required to keep you above the poverty line (it doesn’t) – now you’re expected to pay half of that directly to your landlord. Or move somewhere cheaper. There is nowhere cheaper in the city, they’ve all set the rent high enough to get the maximum available. The only viable option is a Housing Association.
These changes came into effect on 1st Jan, and Housing Benefit were made aware of them when they started back on the 4th. So they were three days behind from the off. They are now using the Discretionary Housing Payment fund, which is earmarked for urgent and emergency cases with extenuating circumstances, to try and make up the shortfall for as many people as possible.
I’m not looking for a free ride, rent needs paid, but suddenly a decade’s worth of people who were (comparatively) secure in their homes face moves or homelessness. Meantime, the emergency fund is helping out those who (four weeks ago) didn’t need helped. The system was flawed, now it is utterly fucked.
Anyway, I spoke to my Advisor about this. I said “They’ve told me before, because I’m a single white male, thirty years old, with no dependants and no dependencies, I’ll be on the Housing Association waiting lists for years. By the time I’m eligible, I’ll be old enough that I’ll be back on the current rate anyway.”
She laughed and said she’d never met anyone who could turn a negative into a positive so easily.
There’s lots of us who will be affected by this, but it seems so fundamentally ridiculous that they would cause widespread homelessness and use the emergency fund to help rescue those people, in the name of saving money, that I don’t know how else to deal with it. It’s the kind of absurd thinking that inspired the creation of this blog.