Greedy private landlords are raking in billions of pounds of public money in housing benefits payments, new research shows.
Freedom of Information Requests by the GMB union reveal that private landlords received a staggering £9,296 billion in housing benefit in 2013/14.
GMB says this abuse of Britain’s welfare system has been allowed to go on for far too long. Millionaire landlords are exploiting low-income families in need of housing and who could otherwise be left homeless.
There are 4.2 million households living in private rented accommodation in Britain. 1.59 million of these (38%) pay part or all of their rent using housing benefit.
More people now rent privately than from councils and housing associations. The switch away from cheaper social housing to the more expensive private sector has resulted in an increase in private tenants claiming housing benefit.
The Conservatives have pledged to open up social housing to buy-to-let private landlords. This could reduce an already dwindling social housing stock and further increase the housing benefit bill.
GMB has named and shamed twenty private landlords abusing Britain’s welfare system. These include:
- Private landlord Mr Mohammed Taj was paid £3,219,858 of taxpayer’s money direct as housing benefits by Watford in 2013/14.
- Investing Solutions Ltd was paid £2,239,915 by Merton, Brent, Lambeth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing and Wandsworth councils.
- Thorney Bay Park Ltd was paid £1,924,226 by Castle Point council in 2013/14.
- Mr Alastair Kerr was paid £1,616,951 by Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow in 2013/14.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said:
“This research lifts the lid on the mainly secret payments to landlords who are the real winners from Britain’s welfare system.
“We see taxpayers cash subsidising buy-to-let empires with £9.2 billion of hard earned taxpayer’s cash paid into private landlords’ bank accounts – much of it ending up in tax havens.
“The abuse of housing benefit by private landlords has gone on for too long.
“Millionaires take sackloads of cash for exploiting those in housing need or stuck on low pay. It’s incredible that the Tories want to extend this billions pound rip off.
“It’s time to close the offshore tax dodgers charter, cap rents and use the billions being sucked up by property speculator landlords to build affordable homes for people again.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 28 Apr 2015
Today’s DWP statistics reveal that while the entire nation’s universal credit claimants are outnumbered by Watford FC’s season ticket holders or the Facebook fans of Nigella the Pug. The entire total of Birmingham’s UC claimants, meanwhile, wouldn’t even fill a minibus.
The number of current claimants of UC has finally passed the 10,000 mark, with a total of live 11,070 claims in August 2014 according to the latest DWP statistics.
However, when UC was first introduced in April 2014, the target was for one million claims to be in payment by April 2014. This target was dramatically scaled back in late 2013 to 184,000 claimants by April of this year. Even that more modest target proved to be wildly over-optimistic, however.
The reality is that in the whole of Britain’s second city, Birmingham, there are currently just 10 UC claimants whilst Manchester has double that, at 20 claimants.
The chances of UC ever becoming a benefit paid to millions now seem to be vanishingly small. The only real questions are: who is finally going to put the project out of its misery and how long after the general election will they do it?
The latest UC statistics can be downloaded from this link.
Source – Benefits & Work, 18 Sept 2014
Hartlepool has the region’s highest proportion of women working part-time and earning less than the living wage according to the data provided by the TUC.
More than half of town women – 55.9 per cent – are paid below the living wage, analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library show.
And TUC officials say for every pound earned by men full-time, women working part-time earn just 66p.
The union says one of the main reasons for this huge gender pay divide is the large concentration of women doing low-paid, part-time work.
The living wage – the pay rate needed to let workers lead a decent life – is currently set at £7.65 an hour.
The national mininum wage is lower, at £6.31 an hour.
The town fares the worst out of the whole of the North East for ensuring fair pay for females.
Pamela Hargreaves, chair of the Hartlepool branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“I think from a small business perspective, while all the businesses I’m sure would dearly love to be able to pay the living wage, because it’s the right and proper thing to do, potentially it can put quite a strain on their finances in this difficult economic climate.
“I think as the economy picks up and businesses begin to thrive again, I think it’s certainly an aspiration all businesses should aim to do.
“But from a social perspective, absolutely all employers should be striving to pay the living wage.
“I also know from running a charity, Hartlepool Families First, whilst it’s an aspiration it can be difficult to achieve it.”
North Tyneside has the region’s lowest proportion of women working part-time for less than the living wage at 37.9 per cent.
Nationally, Watford has the lowest proportion, with 16.9 per cent.
Union officials say the situation in North Tyneside shows what can be done when unions, employers and campaigners work together to tackle low pay.
Ms Hargreaves, also a town councillor, addded:
“What Hartlepool needs to do is examine why it has the highest proportion in the region.
“If North Tyneside has a model that’s working, we as a town should be looking at the model and adopting some of those practices so we can make a dent in those figures.
“It’s clearly across the board, from women director level to part-time roles – women don’t seem to be treated fairly and valued as much as male counterparts.”
The TUC wants to see more employers paying the living wage, to help tackle “in-work poverty” and close the gender pay gap.
It believes local authorities should lead by example by becoming living wage employers themselves.
Last September, Hartlepool Borough Council became a Living Wage authority which meant 405 council employees saw their pay rise from £6.45 to £7.26 an hour.
Authority chiefs are also encouraging firms that have contracts with the council to folllow suit.
The union also wants to see more jobs advertised on a part-time basis, ending the requirement that women have to be in post for six months before they have the right to request flexible working.
TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said: “In-work poverty is growing across the North East and it’s often women who bear the brunt of low pay.
“The living wage was created so that work can provide staff with a basic standard of living.
“But in places like Hartlepool, the majority of women working part-time are earning nowhere near this.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 29 Aug 2014