Eighthours wrote:OK! I disagree with you, based on two things:
1. The country's finances at present. In my opinion, there are many more important things to spend money on than a universal right to independent living for 18-21 year olds.
I believe housing benefit in total is something like 2% of total government expenditure. There are around 144,000 childless under-25s claiming Housing Benefit, according to Stat-Xplore over at the DWP, and there were around 5,000,000 total claimants. So, around 3% of Housing Benefit claimants are childless under-25s.
I don't think slicing 3% off the costs of a scheme that comprises 2% of our budget, at the expense of the housing security of some of the most vulnerable people in the nation, is a good deal. I would rather our savings came from elsewhere. "Where?" you might ask - I'm not an economy specialist but my first place to look would be our expensive endeavours in foreign policy.
Eighthours wrote:2. Finances notwithstanding, where is the incentive to contribute to society if you know you can get rewarded for doing nothing? I really think that a universal right to housing benefit sends out a bad message. I think that the so-called benefits culture that grew up under New Labour is a direct result of the State funding lifestyle choices.
What message do we send to the world if we allow our citizenry to go homeless and starving? The incentive for young people to work is to get more than £57/wk to live on (comparison: minimum wage full-time is £180/wk), but in any case a life is worth more than its work ethic. People can and do die on our streets.
When you start tightening rules and being selective, those in genuine need start to fall through the system. If we sliced the bureaucracy and gave reasonable benefits to - more or less - all those who asked, would we have such a problem with homelessness in our cities? Would we still have people using food banks, or sleeping in their cars?
I agree that bureaucracy and admin can lead to poor outcomes, but that's getting into the nitty-gritty of the efficiency of administrating a policy. I don't think we can afford universal Housing Benefit, nor do I think it's desirable for society. I think it would be ridiculously expensive and that the vast majority of potential recipients would not receive benefit based on 'need', and this is contrary to the reasons that Social Security and Welfare exist in the first place.
Of course benefits should be means-tested, but I believe that is the only test that should be put upon them; let us stop the vast injustice of discriminating based on age, for one, and for seconds we can stop these bizarre notions about time-limiting benefits (as if someone will be less poor after some months on JSA than they were before!).
The average poor person isn't lazy - they're just poor. Let's recognise that, stop demonising our working class, and start helping people out of poverty. Sure, we would need to make some changes - build more houses, stop spending money on bombing large stretches of Asia, that kind of thing - but I think it would be well worthwhile.
I forgot a third reason above - we don't have the housing stock. I completely agree that we need to build many more homes, at a much accelerated rate. In many ways, those who demonise the working class are the people who think they need hand-outs to survive, and, like Stugene, are convinced the poor live in 'squalor'. The vast majority don't want hand-outs, have pride in their homes, and (according to polls) are the group who are most angry about benefit cheats.
Clearly we need more affordable housing (I am glad we can agree on that point, at least); and on your second point, no, I don't believe that the kind of person who wishes to foster an environment in which poor people are helped from poverty are demonising them. Let me say that no-one wants to be called a "cheat" and the oft-quoted statistic, known to us, that unclaimed legitimate benefits are thought to outweigh fraudulent ones, is certainly never put forward in reasonable, well-sourced articles in The Sun
. Is it any wonder poor people wish to distance themselves from the idea of being working class, as it is commonly portrayed by the right-wing media?
[iup=3577385]Eighthours[/iup] wrote:The choice of living home doesn't come easily for many people who you would consider to be above the poor bracket. We often hear talk of the 'squeezed middle', which I believe is the forgotten group in society. Those who struggle to make ends meet, but don't have access to the benefits system due to being in paid work and earning just too much.
Do you struggle to put food on the table? Are you in danger of becoming homeless? Can you afford new clothes when your old ones wear through?
I have no doubt that you face problems in your life that are every bit as meaningful and tough to you as the problems the poor face - as I know what it's like to live without a Dad, I am genuinely very sorry to hear that you struggle to visit your son regularly and I really do wish you the best in getting that sorted out - but we're talking about people in the UK living in real, dangerous poverty. That's why we don't talk about the problems the middle-class face very much in a social security context.