Tagged: housing associations

Housing association sell off will be a ‘disaster’ for rural communities

Letting housing association tenants buy their homes at a discount will be disastrous for rural communities, according to a leading academic.

Government plans to extend the “right to buy” will make an existing housing shortage worse, said Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal.

And the problem will be particularly bad in rural areas – where house prices are highest, he said.

But the policy was welcomed by North East MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick, who said funds raised from the sell-off would be used to allow councils and housing associations to build more homes.

It comes as a senior civil servant criticised the policy, which was one of the Conservative Party’s flagship manifesto promises during the general election campaign.

The Government is to extend the right to buy their home at a discount, which currently applies to council tenants, to 1.3 million housing association tenants.

But Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service who was the most senior official at the Department of Communities and Local Government until February, has warned that the plan will do nothing to address the housing shortage.

He said: “I think it’s wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won’t help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country.”

Under the Conservative plans, 1.3 million tenants in housing association homes in England will be able to buy their properties at discounts of £77,000, or up to £104,000 in London.

Ministers say housing associations will be compensated with money raised by forcing local authorities to sell off their most expensive housing stock as it becomes vacant, ensuring that the affordable properties which are sold are replaced.

However the proposals have been widely criticised by housing associations, with many threatening to sue the Government if they are forced to sell.

Prof Shucksmith said:

“There is already a shortage of affordable housing, especially in rural areas where there is little social housing.

“Rural house prices are on average 26 per cent higher than in urban areas, and the ratio of house prices to local earnings is even worse.

“Disposing of housing association stock, at great cost to the taxpayer, will make the impact on rural communities much more serious.

“We are already seeing those on low and medium incomes, and especially young people, priced out of small towns and villages across the UK. With housing association properties sold off, and unlikely to be replaced in any substantial quantities, the wealth divide in rural communities will deepen even further.”

And he said the policy would hurt employers, by driving the staff they need out of rural areas.

With rural areas becoming increasingly socially exclusive, local businesses – from farms and shops to accountants and software developers – will find it even harder to attract the young, skilled, ambitious people they need.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Jun 2015

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Tenant evictions reach six-year high amid rising rents and benefit cuts

The number of tenants evicted from their homes is at a six-year high, according to new figures, as rising rents and cuts to benefits make tenancies increasingly unaffordable.

County court bailiffs in England and Wales evicted more than 11,000 families in the first three months of 2015, an increase of 8% on the same period last year and 51% higher than five years ago.

The increase in the number of tenants losing their homes means 2015 is on course to break last year’s record levels. Nearly 42,000 families were evicted from rental accommodation in 2014, the highest number since records began in 2000.

Rental prices have soared in many UK cities but wages failing to keep pace with rising costs and caps to benefits have left many poorer tenants unable to make payments.

Separate figures also published on Thursday showed almost 59,000 households have had their benefits capped in the past two years. Nearly half of those families were in London, where the the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home is £2,216.

Housing charities said the figures were a glaring reminder that many tenants were struggling to maintain a roof over their heads, and they called on the new government to do more to tackle a housing crisis in the UK.

The latest repossession statistics, published by the Ministry of Justice, reveal the highest number of evictions in a single quarter since 2009, when comparable records began, with nearly 126 families forced out every day.

Between January and March, 11,307 tenants and their families were evicted by bailiffs, compared with a figure of 10,380 between October and December last year, and 10,482 in the first quarter of 2014.

The record figure comes as the number of landlord repossession claims – the first step of the legal process leading to an eviction – also rose. Claims were up 10% on the last quarter, but at 42,226 they remained below a six-year high of 47,208 in the first quarter of 2014.

Claims by both private and social landlords were up, the figures showed, although most of the rise was explained by claims by the latter. Social landlords were behind nearly five times as many attempts to recover properties than private landlords, the figures showed. These landlords are typically housing associations providing homes at lower rents than the market rate, often to tenants who receive housing benefit.

In the first three months of the year, 64% of possession claims were made by social landlords. These 27,204 court actions came alongside 5,551 made by private landlords and 9,741 accelerated claims, which could have been by either social or private landlords.

In May 2014, when the threat of evictions reached its highest level for a decade, the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations across England, told the Guardian the bedroom tax was causing problems for social landlords. The policy cuts the amount of housing benefit paid to social housing tenants whose homes are deemed too large for their requirements. Benefit sanctions were also thought to be causing problems.

But many housing associations, particularly in London and the south-east, have turned out tenants as they have sought to redevelop generations-old estates to take advantage of the big rise in property values. This has in turn led to an increase in the number of grassroots campaigns to oppose evictions, such as the Focus E15 mothers.

In one case of eviction resistance last week, activists from Housing Action Southwarkand Lambeth in London answered a call from a 14-year-old girl to successfully resist her family’s eviction from a flat in an estate that Southwark council had marked for demolition. Elsewhere in the capital, shorthold tenants in Brixton’s Loughborough Park estate, owned by the Guinness Partnership housing association, have defied eviction orders by occupying their flats.

The MoJ figures came on the same day as the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that 58,690 households across the UK had their benefits capped to a maximum of £26,000 a year since April 2013. Londoners were the worst affected, with 26,636 families facing a cut in benefits over the period to February 2015, followed by 5,953 in the rest of the south-east.

DWP proposals to meet the Conservatives’ pledge to cut £12bn from the welfare budget, in documents leaked to the Guardian last week, included barring under-25s from claiming housing benefit, increasing the bedroom tax on certain categories of tenants, limiting welfare payments by family size and freezing welfare benefits at current levels.

Responding to the eviction statistics, Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said:

“Today’s figures are a glaring reminder that sky-high housing costs and welfare cuts are leaving thousands of people battling to keep a roof over their heads.

“Every day at Shelter we see the devastating impact of a housing market at boiling point, with the cost of renting so high that many families are living in fear that just one thing like losing their job or becoming ill could leave them with the bailiffs knocking at the door.

“The new government must make sure people aren’t left to fall through the cracks and hurtling towards homelessness by preserving, if not strengthening, the frayed housing safety net to protect ordinary families desperately struggling to make ends meet.”

Betsy Dillner, director of the campaign group Generation Rent, said:

“These record eviction figures and signs that they are accelerating are a stark reminder of the housing crisis that the government must urgently start taking seriously now they’re back in power.

“Whether it’s an inability to pay expensive rents or a landlord’s desire to take back their property, the fact that more than 40,000 families were forced out of their homes last year is a symptom of the government’s failure to create a sustainable housing market.”

The housing minister, Brandon Lewis, defended the government’s performance, pointing out that mortgage repossessions had fallen drastically, keeping owner-occupiers in their “hard-earned homes”.

He said:

“Mortgage repossessions continue to fall at 56% lower than this time last year, and the lowest annual figure since the series began in 1987. Meanwhile, numbers of county court mortgage possession claims continue to fall to the lowest quarterly number since records began. This is thanks to our work to tackle the deficit and keep interest rates low, helping more families to stay in their hard earned homes.

“There are strong protections in place to guard families against the threat of homelessness. We increased spending to prevent homelessness, with over £500m made available to help the most vulnerable in society and ensure we don’t return to the bad old days when homelessness in England was nearly double what it is today.”

Source – The Guardian,  14 May 2015

Berwick : Relay highlights lack of affordable housing

A team from Four Housing took the lead leg in a mammoth 500 mile, people powered ‘relay’ aiming to end the UK’s housing crisis within a generation.

They joined housing associations from across the region taking part in the Homes for Britain ‘Relay to the Rally’ which set off from Berwick on Sunday.

Four Housing chief executive Paul Tanney said:

“There is insufficient housing in the area and what is available is often unaffordable. We are seeing an increase in the disparity between the needs of communities and the supply of appropriate housing.

“We need the right type of accommodation in the right place in order to lessen the burden on local authorities in the future, all of which will enable us to contribute to vibrant and active communities.”

The relay is due to finish at Westminster in London in time for the national Homes for Britain rally on March 17.

In the north east, Four Housing, Bernicia, Isos, Cestria, Home Group, Gentoo, Livin, North Star, Thirteen and Coast and Country are carrying a symbolic key from Berwick to Whitby, shining a spotlight on housing issues in the region, and visiting some of the key projects bringing homes and related services to people desperately in need of affordable housing.

At the same time as the north east relay is working its way south, a specially commissioned double decker bus is also winding its way from Land’s End to London, visiting some of the south and south west’s most vital housing projects.

Homes for Britain is campaigning for the next government to come up with a long-term plan to tackle the housing crisis within a year of getting into office. It is being backed by thousands of people up and down the country who have joined forces with organisations from every corner of the housing world.

Across the UK, housing association staff, residents and members of the public are making their way to London for the biggest housing rally in a generation. They will unite to call on all political parties to take bold action and end the housing crisis within a generation.

Homes for Britain’s call comes at a time when housing demand vastly outstrip supply at both a national and local level.

The Home Truths report shows that over the next 20 years in the north east region alone, there will be 156,000 new families or households, all of whom will need homes, but at current building rates, 75,000 will have nowhere to live.

Meanwhile, some areas are in desperate need of regeneration and jobs, and having the right types of homes in the right places can play a vital role in sparking new life into these communities.

The Homes for Britain campaign needs people to add their voice – anyone wanting to get involved can write to their local politicians and share the message on social media using #HomesForBritain.

Source – Berwick Advertiser, 04 Mar 2015

Universal credit ‘a nightmare’, says claimant who advertised welfare reform

A Universal Credit claimant who featured in a government film to promote the reform now says the system is riddled with computer problems and could make people destitute.

In the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advert, Daniel Pacey explains how the reform helped him to find work.

But he now says a six-week delay before the first payment and subsequent monthly payments are “a nightmare“.

The DWP said monthly sums replicate the world of work and tackle dependency.

A spokesman said:

“Universal credit is simplifying the benefit system and [makes] the transition into employment smoother.

“Our work coaches discuss budgeting support with all claimants and nearly 80% say they are confident in their ability to manage a monthly budget.”

> Is that 80% of work coaches or claimants ?

Mr Pacey, 24, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, said:

”It might be easy for a government minister to make their wages last a month. But I’d like to see them make £250 last four weeks while looking for work.”

The government has announced that a national roll-out of universal credit is starting in earnest across the country. The aim is for it to be offered in all job centres in England, Scotland and Wales by 2016.

> Whether it works or not, presumably.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told BBC News the new benefit was £600m under budget and had been implemented gradually on advice.

But Mr Pacey, who lives with his father, said his job centre struggled with failing computer systems, adding:

“I hate to think about how I would have coped had I lived on my own. I know I couldn’t have.”

The DWP spokesman added:

“People can apply for advanced benefit payments if they need extra support and we are working with local authorities to make sure people get budgeting and debt advice.

“The IT system adapts smoothly to claims as they become more complex, which we have already seen across the North West.

“Computer problems in offices are separate issues and are resolved quickly but these do not impact the operating system, or have an impact on claims.”

The scheme was initially piloted in Ashton-Under-Lyne nearly two years ago.

Under the old system, payments were bi-weekly, with housing benefit paid directly to landlords.

Under universal credit, claimants are instead paid monthly and are expected to pay their rent themselves.

Housing Associations in Ashton-Under-Lyne say rent arrears and debt are on the rise amongst universal-credit claimants.

The chief executive of the National Housing Federation, David Orr said:

“This scheme isn’t even ready to fully roll out in Ashton-Under-Lyne, where it’s been piloted for two years, let alone the rest of the country.”

The DWP spokesman said:

“In some cases, we can arrange for alternative payment arrangements, including rent being paid direct to landlords.”

The government says it is important for people to learn how to handle their own monthly budgets, as this replicates the world of work.

> Oh for fucks sake – how stupid do they think we are ?  Do they think every unemployed person has never worked ?  Do they think anyone having to survive on benefits doesn’t already know all about handling budgets ?

But Mr Pacey’s new job in a call centre pays bi-weekly.

He said: “In my experience, most low-paid jobs pay weekly or every other week, not monthly. You can’t make small sums of money last a month.

“It’s not about dependency, it’s about living, being able to get a bus to go to the job centre. The government needs to rethink this.”

 

The scheme has also been criticised by the National Audit Office as badly managed and failing to deliver on its targets.

It is concerned that a roll-out from pilot areas in north-west England is taking place with fewer resources to spend on staff training and less time for staff to get accustomed to the changes.

About 50,000 people in selected areas have claimed the benefit since it was introduced in April 2013 – far fewer than the government originally said would be getting it by now.

Computer problems have also caused delays and seen ministers write off tens of millions of pounds.

Source –  BBC News,  16 Feb 2015

Council announces proposal to build own housing to help prevent migration

Plans to revive rural communities by spending £5m on building new council houses have been criticised as having a high risk factor.

A lack of affordable homes has been identified as a contributing factor to young people moving away from Yorkshire Dales communities – and has prompted a campaign by leader of Richmondshire District Council, John Blackie, to provide cheap new homes and jobs.

Schools across Richmondshire have reported a fall in school roll figures, so house building has been proposed as a means of persuading families to stay in the Dales.

Cllr Blackie has organised a conference for key partners including the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, housing associations, local enterprise partnerships, and health and education representatives, to take place at Tennants, Leyburn, on Wednesday, November 19 from 9am.

But Cllr Fleur Butler, leader of the Conservative opposition group on the council, said the £5m proposal was a huge risk to council tenants, whose rent feeds the fund.

She told the full council meeting that she was concerned the council would be taking on more debt when cuts still had to be made and she felt more work should be done to work with existing landlord partners.

 > And probably sell off existing council housing stock while they’re about it – it’s the Tory way.

To spend £5m from the housing revenue account will put enormous risk on to our tenants whose rents must rise should the council’s proposed own social landlord company fail to repay its debts,” she said.

Why isn’t Cllr Blackie instead working better with our registered social landlords? What evidence does he have for partnership failure, and why on earth should we go down the route of being our own landlord, when we already work with several?”

Cllr Blackie said the greater risk was to lose young families in our rural and deeply rural communities – and that he did intend to continue to work with social landlords.

He said:

We are intending to take the decision to authorise Richmondshire District Council to return to the role it occupied for many years as a provider, by purchasing in the housing market, or builder of council houses.

“We intend to set up what is basically a registered social landlord company.

“The Government has relaxed its stand on councils across the country legally doing this, and we have funds available to finance the programme.”

Cllr Blackie confirmed the funds would flow from a £5m borrowing facility within the housing revenue account.

This is a really important issue and on November 18 the council’s corporate board will debate the proposal,” he said.

Cllr Butler said she was not completely against the idea of the council building its own stock, but first wanted to examine why so many people were leaving the Dales.

Source –  Northern Echo,  23 Oct 2014

Rise in Tyneside working families having to claim housing benefit

More working people in Tyneside than ever before are claiming housing benefit to get by despite being in full-time jobs.

Around 15.5% of households that claim housing welfare are in work and bring home a regular salary, a figure which has doubled since 2008.

The statistics have been described today by the National Housing Federation (NHF) as evidence of an ‘affordability crisis’ in the region’s housing sector.

Monica Burns, the organisation’s regional affairs manager in the North East, said:

“The property market isn’t working and will only get worse for working people, local families and the next generation if we don’t take action.

“Building the right houses in the right places, and improving the ones that are already there is integral to creating stronger communities where people want to stay.”

The NHF’s research shows that the average person in the region spends £482 a month on rent, a quarter of their monthly income.

In Newcastle a monthly private rent averages out at £478, in North Tyneside £528 and in Gateshead £510.

Nationally middle income households of between around £20,000 and £30,000 are making two out of three new claims.

Ms Burns added:

“This is the new phenomenon that working people are claiming housing benefit. This is hard-working and people in respected jobs who still can’t make ends meet.”

The NHF’s report North East Broken Market, Broken Dreams also reveals that despite having the lowest average house price in England at £141,210, the North East also has the lowest salaries, meaning workers in the region are expected to pay six times the average income to eventually own a home.

In the rest of the country people are expected to pay 3.5 times their income to own a home.

The difficulty in getting on the property ladder is felt most acutely in Northumberland where there is the largest gap between the average house prices at £172,640 and the average salary of £23.863.

In Newcastle the average house price is £169,887, in Gateshead it’s £137,823 and in North Tyneside it is £153,768.

The average house price in England is £251,879, and the average salary is £26,520.

While the housing crisis in the South of England is characterised by a shortage of properties, in the North East Ms Burns said housing is far more than ‘a numbers game’.

The NHF would like to see the next Government take action on the North East’s housing situation, which they argue is part of a larger community crisis, where many people are living in poverty and are unable to access secure jobs.

They are backing the Homes for Britain campaign which seeks to pressure politicians into taking housing in the UK seriously by getting them to commit to reversing the housing shortage within a generation.

They also seek to lobby the Government to allow a housing associations to set their own rents and create a national Housing and Infrastructure bank.

Ms Burns said:

It’s taken us a generation to get into this housing crisis and will take us a generation to get out of it. Successive governments have failed to tackle the country’s major housing challenges and we are calling on the next Government to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation and to publish a long term plan within a year of taking office, detailing how they will do this.”

She said the number of empty homes in the region is often used as a reason not to consider more new builds, but it was essential for the North East to build homes where they were needed – and former pit villages in Northumberland and County Durham were not always the right places.

She said: “Quite often there is not a housing need.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  14 Oct 2014

Benefit Cut Could Force Social Landlords To Turn Tenants Away

David Cameron’s pledge to cut the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 if the Conservatives win the next election could force housing associations to turn away families in need of social housing.

Speaking at a Guardian fringe debate at the Conservative party conference on Tuesday, chief executives of two major housing associations warned that the cut would jeopardise their tenants’ ability to pay rent, putting their main source of steady income at risk.

Mick Sweeney, chief executive of One Housing Group, which operates in London and the southeast, said associations may be forced to abandon plans to build much-needed new homes as result of the change. They may also have to turn away certain tenants, he added.

“We’re going to look at their income and we’re going to have to say, if they’re wholly benefit-dependent and they can’t afford even the sub-market or social rents that we’re charging, [then] we can’t house you,” he said.

“What happens to those families? There are lots of unintended consequences to this.”

Elizabeth Austerberry, chief executive of Moat, which also houses tenants across the southeast of England, said that rent was the biggest source of steady income for associations. Rental streams are already placed under threat by the introduction of universal credit.

“If the benefit cap goes down to £23,000, it will make certain types of home extremely vulnerable,” she said.

Between 40-50% of Moat’s residents are benefit dependent, Austerberry explained, adding that for some housing associations this figure is as high as 80%.

“For an association like that it [the reduction of the cap] will make it extremely difficult for them to generate new housing, particularly if they haven’t got a strong housing market. I suspect it will make it extremely difficult for us to build three-bedroom homes, and maybe two-bedroom homes in most of our areas.

“If we’re not going to be able to collect rent from people, then where is the money going to come from? That again will push us further towards the open market.”

Housing associations have increasingly pursued commercial projects to generate income since the government cut grant funding for new social homes by 60% in 2010. But securing finance for such operations is challenging if investors notice a risk to an association’s main income stream, Sweeney said.

If the banks get nervous then they won’t lend us money. And if they won’t lend us money then we can’t build new homes.”

Richard Blakeway, director of housing for the mayor of London, said that housing associations have no choice but to raise money through commercial projects.

There needs to be an acceptance that the landscape has changed. Some housing associations have responded brilliantly, others are still quite cautious. They need to stop thinking that there is going to be a significant change in terms of capital subsidy in relation to affordable housing, because I can’t see that happening.”

Uncertainty could not be cited as a reason for avoiding commercial initiatives, he added.

“The funding settlement that exists now will last until the end of the decade, and then the rent settlement goes into the middle of the next decade.”

Conference delegate David Hancock, representing Hyde Housing Group, questioned how associations could succeed in a commercial market under current regulation rules.

“We have to carry out commercial activity to meet our social objectives, but we’re regulated by a regulator which is principally driven by protecting public assets. At some point that has to give,” he said.

Sweeney agreed, stating that although the coalition’s decision to abolish the Audit Commission and the Tenant Services Authority was welcome, change to the regulation of the housing sector was still needed. The Homes and Communities Agency “needs to be put back in its box,” he said.

“It’s growing, it’s trying to extend its remit, its trying to second guess what our business plans are. I hope a conservative government would put regulation on a proper footing, and that is not interfering with building homes.”

Source –  Welfare News Service, 01 Oct 2014

Universal Credit: Housing Benefit Claimants Told To Pay Rent A Month In Advance

Housing Associations have told tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit to pay their rent a month in advance, due to growing fears over Universal Credit.

Housing providers fear that tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit may default, or fall behind on their rent payments when they are transferred (moved) to Universal Credit, which is replacing six existing benefits and rolling them into one single monthly payment.

Housing Benefit is currently paid directly to social landlords in the majority of cases. Under the new Universal Credit system, housing support will be paid directly to the claimant.

Those claimants will then be expected to manage their own housing costs – a month in advance. In the minority of cases where a claimant may not be able or capable of managing their own housing costs, rent payments may still be paid directly to housing providers.

Six Town Housing based in Bury, Lancashire, has told its tenants that “you need to make additional rent payments now if you are affected by the introduction of universal credit. Otherwise, you are at risk of your rent account falling into rent arrears.”

The Town and Country Housing Association, who manage social housing properties across 22 local authorities, is asking its tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit to pay an extra £14.60 every month, until they are a month in credit. “This will ensure that when you transfer to universal credit you will not be in arrears which could put your tenancy at risk,” the Housing Association said.

Town and Country also refused to reimburse a tenant who had wrongly been asked to pay the controversial ‘bedroom tax’. The tenant was owed £362, however the Housing Association said it would be in the “best interests” of the tenant for the over-paid rent amount to remain on their account.

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice’s chief executive, told the Guardian newspaper:

It’s for householders to manage their finances, not landlords or housing associations. There’s a difference between advising people to be financially prepared and doing it for them, and it would be concerning if the latter were the case.”

Source –  Welfare News Service,  17 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/universal-credit-housing-benefit-claimants-told-pay-rent-month-advance/

More and more North East tenants forced from their homes as possession claims rocket

More and more tenants have been forced from their homes in the North after landlords took steps to take back their properties.

In parts of the region, possession claims have risen to their highest levels in over a decade – with the number rocketing by more than 70% in some areas in just a year.

MPs say they are are “deeply concerned” by the trend, and that for too long, in the face of a rising cost of living, “Generation Rent” has been forgotten.

Many households in the North are really struggling with the cost of living – and one of the most significant issues facing so many families across the region is housing costs, whether they rent or own their home,” said Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell, Labour’s shadow economic secretary to the treasury.

The steep increase in the number of tenants losing their homes across the North East is deeply concerning, but unsurprising in the face of rising household bills combined with falling real terms wages, and the prevalence of low-paid, insecure work for those who are in employment.

“Of course, many thousands across the region have been hit by the unfair bedroom tax, leaving many in rent arrears for the first time.

“For too long, those who rent their homes have been forgotten about – and this number is increasing.”

Nationally, the number of claims by private landlords were up 4.1% year on year in 2013/14, while social landlord claims rose 17.8%.

But in Middlesbrough private landlord claims jumped 71.1% – one of the biggest increases in England and Wales – and the number of both private (65) and social (573) landlord claims reached their highest levels since 2002/03.

The number of social landlord claims in Stockton-on-Tees also rose sharply, up 43.9%, from 253 in 2012/13 to 364 in 2013/14, while Northumberland also recorded its highest number of claims in more than a decade at 691.

These figures have been released just over a year since the bedroom tax was implemented,” Kevin Williamson, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, said. “We have long warned of the stresses that the bedroom tax is placing people under, and housing associations are working hard to help their tenants.”

A spokesman for Northumberland County Council urged anyone affected by such proceedings to get in touch with their local authority, who may be able to offer support and advice.

Possession proceedings will only be taken by registered landlords as an action of last resort.

“We would urge anyone who finds themselves in a position where they may be in danger of losing their home to contact the council’s housing options team, who can offer advice and support,” he said.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle  11 May 2014

RIP Tim Salter and Denis Jones. Is This What You Wanted Iain Duncan Smith?

the void

Iain-Duncan-Smith415Ever since this Government weren’t elected the question has been raised whether Iain Duncan Smith really is a murderous tyrant, or whether he’s just a fucking idiot.

The truth is that it doesn’t really matter anymore.  The end result of his policies will be the same whichever is the case.  A result as tragic as it was predictable, as poverty not seen in generations returns to the UK.

The recent case of Tim Salter, who committed suicide after benefits were stopped due to the brutal Atos assessment regime, is far from the first death directly linked to welfare  reforms.  At the end of last month two suicides linked to Atos assessments were reported in just one week. Also reported just before Christmas was the death of Denis Jones, a disabled former soldier who died alone five weeks after his benefits were stopped.  Whilst his death was recorded as natural causes…

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