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Millionaire Mp Makes People Homeless

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http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/10/millionaire-tory-mp-tenants-estate-flats-richard-benyon

Lyndsey Garratt had never heard of Richard Benyon – until he wound up buying her home and those of her 92 neighbours. Now that themillionaire Tory MP and his business partners threaten to make them all homeless, the 35-year-old mother can’t stop talking about him.

Garratt lives on the fringes of the City of London, on the New Era estate. Built by a charitable trust in the mid-1930s, the redbrick square has provided homes to local working people at affordable rents. There was a time when the term “affordable housing” was not a sick joke, when inner London did house people on moderate incomes. But now the capital has become a global hotspot for property speculators; Hoxton is overrun with overpriced burger joints and media start-up companies, and New Era is one of the last estates to provide working-class Londoners with a home.

At least it was until Benyon’s family firm recently moved in as part of a property consortium and snapped up the lot. The investors have made no bones about jacking up rents to match the rest of the market. Garratt was previously paying about £640 a month for the two-bed she shares with her daughter; when her contract expires in July 2016 residents expect they will be charged around £2,400 a month. For Garratt, a care co-ordinator at the local NHS trust, that is way more than her entire take-home pay.

Council officers have already told her what that means. As a single mother, she and eight-year-old Daisy will be moved into a homeless shelter, for anything up to four years; then it’s temporary accommodation, which could be in Manchester or Birmingham. Since the buyout, Garratt’s rent has already shot up by £160 a month, while the latest NHS reorganisation has cut her pay by £300 a month. “I’m getting stretched at both ends,” she says – and is already hacking away at her outgoings, cancelling even little things like trips with Daisy to the local Italian for a plate of spag bol.

All those bromides from politicians about the importance of housing key workers and the glory of the NHS – they count for nothing here. And as Garratt and her friends tell me, they’re not even the worst off. Garratt’s parents also live in the estate – her dad has chronic lung disease – and now face living out their years in sheltered housing. If these families and friends are scattered across the country, who will provide the free childcare or look in on the elderly and sick? “An entire community is going to be smashed up,” says resident Danielle Molinari.

Ah, community: a word that should carry some weight with Benyon. The Tory MP lives in a splendid stately home just outside Reading, Englefield House, complete with deer park and 3,500 acres of woodlands. Within the estate’s walls lies most of Englefield village. How does the old hymn go? The rich man in his castle; the poor man at his gate … But if there is one thing Benyon has proved in parliament, it’s that he doesn’t have much time for the poor. He backed the bedroom tax and readily attacks the “something for nothing” welfare state.

Happily, the former minister and I agree on that last point. I can’t stand spongers who get something for nothing, either. Except in my book that category includes Benyon himself, who inherited his giant pad, as well as land stretching from London to Berkshire to Inverness – a whopping slice of Britain that makes up a family fortune worth anywhere between £110m and £200m. It applies to the £2m of public money that Benyon took from Brussels to keep up his farmland (I asked Benyon whether that figure was correct and he didn’t deny it). And it certainly takes in the £625,000 of our money that Benyon’s estate took in tenants’ housing benefit last year from just one council, West Berkshire.

Given the subject of taking something for nothing, Benyon could win Mastermind. Whereas Garratt is counting down the days until she is made homeless and is a complete innocent. She was receiving tax credits of £46 a week – until that got stopped due to “overpayment”. Except that list of subsidies that help Benyon eke out his living doesn’t stop there. Because we are effectively paying him and his fellow investors to put Garratt, her family and fellow residents out on the street (or, as the MP put it to me, to “seek alternative accommodation”).

Britain loves its landlords, even while it punishes their tenants. Len Gibbs, who has been a housing market professional for 28 years and heads a housing association in Stoke, has written a paper called Fuelling Pauperism, which itemises how taxpayers throw money at Benyon and other landlords. On that list is how, even amid historic spending cuts, David Cameron found £1bn for a Build to Rent programme, with a further £3.5bn in guarantees for the rental market.

Then there’s the £9bn a year we hand to private landlords in housing benefit (which Gibbs projects to hit £15bn by 2019); the £375bn pumped into the financial system in quantitative easing, which has pushed up property prices and fuelled lending to landlords and other members of the asset-rich; and the £5bn in tax reliefs for landlords’ business expenses, and the plethora of other concessions.

The former housing minister Grant Shapps last year described private landlords as “the unsung heroes of the housing market”. Yet these heroes, as Gibbs points out, jostle first-time buyers off the housing ladder and swipe money that could build public housing. The £1bn spent on build-to-rent alone, he estimates, could instead have been used to build 50,000 units of social housing.

You may not like the sound of what could be called Benyonism, but we’ve been paying for it for years: throwing billions at millionaires to better enable them to shaft the poor. Perhaps it has taken this crisis – a combination of austerity and a housing bubble in London – to bring it home to a critical mass of people.

“Until this happened I had no clue about politics; it’s opened my eyes to how people like us are treated,” Garratt says. She fits what for me has become a recognisable type in the housing crisis: the mother who never used to think of herself as “political” until – bam! – an existential threat comes her way and she fights like mad. Then this mild woman gets on to Benyon’s Tory party and its friends in the press: “They make us turn on each other. Bloody asylum seekers are the problem; people on benefits are the scum of the earth. And we’re coming to a point where people like us, working people, finally say, ‘You know what? you’re the problem. We’ve had enough of people like you.’”

When even the supposedly apolitical are talking like this, you have to wonder what hope there is for any of the folk in Westminster

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For the next chancellor, human farmers like these should be easy pickings for tax.. hope they slap a 90% tax on farm subsidies and a wealth tax on more than one property owned by a person .. unfortunately the law makers are the one in that category ..

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He's a director of the family controlled Englefield Charitable Trust.

From Wikipedia:


Englefield Charitable Trust

30 Aug 2013

The aim of the trust is to support general charitable purposes at the discretion of the trustees. The charity aims to provide grants to a wide variety of charitable causes with a special focus on local charities.

One of its main aims seems to be to tap into as much eu funding as possible.

It's surprising that those people spend any time in Parliament. If they do it's only to self serve and lobby their own interests.

Edited by billybong

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Good article, regardless of source.

Agreed, think the Guardian has done some good articles on the state of the PRS, many of the 'right wing' press are rentiers of course

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Good article, regardless of source.

Agreed i like this Miss Garratt.

This paragraph sums up what the plebs now realise.

"Happily, the former minister and I agree on that last point. I can’t stand spongers who get something for nothing, either. Except in my book that category includes Benyon himself, who inherited his giant pad, as well as land stretching from London to Berkshire to Inverness – a whopping slice of Britain that makes up a family fortune worth anywhere between £110m and £200m. It applies to the £2m of public money that Benyon took from Brussels to keep up his farmland (I asked Benyon whether that figure was correct and he didn’t deny it). And it certainly takes in the £625,000 of our money that Benyon’s estate took in tenants’ housing benefit last year from just one council, West Berkshire."

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...also a very pertinent point...


Then this mild woman gets on to Benyon’s Tory party and its friends in the press: “They make us turn on each other. Bloody asylum seekers are the problem; people on benefits are the scum of the earth. And we’re coming to a point where people like us, working people, finally say, ‘You know what? you’re the problem. We’ve had enough of people like you.’”

Get the plebs to fight among themselves...easy distraction...

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Im in split minds. One, I dont like the single mother angle, or the 'local connections' rubbish. We all have to move all over the place for work. Thats part of the incentive to buy a house...security of tenure. And Go to the childs father for money. Dont sponge. Two, while the government, as its policies price a significant portion of people out of housing, has a duty to provide housing, that shouldnt be of a type and location of choice. If it was, we'll all ask for a redbrick house in Chelsea. Plenty of housing up in Burnley.

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Surely its the owners who took kudos for providing affordable rent in central London for so many years - and who have now sold up for a wad of cash - who deserve more of a grilling ?

Edited by ccc

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Good article, regardless of source.

Put UK Debt Slave on ignore with all the other Election Trolls as they crawl from under their bridges in the next 6 months.

You'll thank me later.

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Im in split minds. One, I dont like the single mother angle, or the 'local connections' rubbish. We all have to move all over the place for work. Thats part of the incentive to buy a house...security of tenure. And Go to the childs father for money. Dont sponge. Two, while the government, as its policies price a significant portion of people out of housing, has a duty to provide housing, that shouldnt be of a type and location of choice. If it was, we'll all ask for a redbrick house in Chelsea. Plenty of housing up in Burnley.

That's hardly the point of the article.

She's a local worker in an NHS trust, hardly what we've come to know as a "scrounger".

If the article focused on a single bin man would that make you happier? Burnley doesn't need a load of key workers, London does. Sure that's a pretty nice location and I'm well aware that those are the risks we take as renters, that we could get uprooted at any time.

But the article is pointing out the corruption of decision making in this country.

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£2,400 a month means earning £29k, and living on air.

Who on earth can afford to pay these rents for two-bedroom flats? I don't know where the market is coming from.

The hipsters surfing the wave of startups around 'silicon roundabout' or whatever its called now may like trendy burger joints but a lot of them are even poorer than this NHS worker. Most startups fail, and venture capital is ultimately looking for a return.

If we were all paying something more like the £640 figure that would be pretty much in line with the wage/rent ratio in the rest of the country.

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Guest UK Debt Slave

Put UK Debt Slave on ignore with all the other Election Trolls as they crawl from under their bridges in the next 6 months.

You'll thank me later.

What are you on about?

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Quoted from The Grauniad

Almost certainly not worth reading then

Really? would you prefer the Daily Mail version? what would they say, that he is ridding the local rich community of these working class parasites? dito the Torygraph, the Times etc. We have more than enough right wing opinion, which in fact is much behind what is driving the insane BTL and house price rise mania.

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Im in split minds. One, I dont like the single mother angle, or the 'local connections' rubbish. We all have to move all over the place for work. Thats part of the incentive to buy a house...security of tenure. And Go to the childs father for money. Dont sponge. Two, while the government, as its policies price a significant portion of people out of housing, has a duty to provide housing, that shouldnt be of a type and location of choice. If it was, we'll all ask for a redbrick house in Chelsea. Plenty of housing up in Burnley.

Bit of a commute for her to do her nursing though isnt it.

Not sure why youre on such site you must be delighted with the status quo.

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Its an excellent article and helps to remind us all who the enemy is. The wealthy are having a great time in austerity Britain.

Absolutely! and served up on a plate I would say. They (the Tories and perhaps Labour too) want to get back to the 'Jeeves and Wooster' good old days of the 1930's. If we don't have a revolution soon we will be back to doffing our caps... by law.

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Really? would you prefer the Daily Mail version? what would they say, that he is ridding the local rich community of these working class parasites? dito the Torygraph, the Times etc. We have more than enough right wing opinion, which in fact is much behind what is driving the insane BTL and house price rise mania.

Oh the irony of getting offended for someone mocking a newspaper, to then mock a newspaper.

Help to Buy 1 and 2, Funding For Lending, QE, 25 Billion in Housing Benefit, some of the worlds strictest planning laws are all socialist policies.

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Guest UK Debt Slave

Really? would you prefer the Daily Mail version? what would they say, that he is ridding the local rich community of these working class parasites? dito the Torygraph, the Times etc. We have more than enough right wing opinion, which in fact is much behind what is driving the insane BTL and house price rise mania.

House prices more than doubled under the last Labour government............remember that?

In fact, McRuin Broon, the one eyed mucus munching, phone throwing, photocopier kicking psychopath, is more responsible than anyone else for the current economic mess we are in. It was NuLabour policy to make the BoE independent and allow an institution that exists beyond any public open scrutiny to set the base interest rate too low for way too long.......remember that?

FYI, the Daily Hysteria is a joke newspaper. I don't read it.

I don't touch the Times either

The Telegraph has been hijacked by Jason Seiken, who has changed what was once an excellent newspaper into a neo-liberal rag with contributors such as Dan Hodges and Mary Fabian Riddell. Ghastly.

The Guardian is the worst of the lot, by far.

The thing I most hate about the Guardian is they hate free speech on *Comment is free"

"Comment if Free" is only free is you are "ideologically sound". If you regularly post an opposing point of view in a polite and civilised manner, you'll still end up being pre-moderated and then banned altogether.

Spare me your faux outrage

Edited by UK Debt Slave

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Guest UK Debt Slave

Another Labour MP "At it"

http://order-order.com/2014/11/11/labour-candidate-up-half-a-million-after-expenses-scandal-shamed-ex-mp-creams-off-huge-taxpayer-subsidised-windfall/

It's no use the lefties taking the moral high ground over this kind of thing.

Politicians are vermin. It doesn't matter a fig which party they represent.

They are rotten and corrupt, through and through

It’s no coincidence the MPs found guilty of fiddling are all Labour

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/10462871/Its-no-coincidence-the-MPs-found-guilty-of-fiddling-are-all-Labour.html

Last night, 900 years of British law was thrown out of the window in favour of the EAW. They didn't even allow a debate on it.

Edited by UK Debt Slave

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Bit of a commute for her to do her nursing though isnt it.

Not sure why youre on such site you must be delighted with the status quo.

Housing is just one issue. I would love to have a subsidized flat in a s*****y bit of London. But if we cant all have one (we cant, such is physical geography) in the interests of equality, no one should have one.

Her nursing job should pay a salary that pays for a house. Same with the tax credits top up for minimum wage jobs. Employers should pay a salary that is high enough. If it isnt, those jobs should not exist.

Thats the trouble. Londons wealthy are subsidized by the rest of the country into not paying proper wages for the servant class.

If her rent is £10k in London compared to £5k elsewhere, her salary should be (at least) £5k higher than outside London.

If she moves away (and enough nurses do) wages go up to lure them back.

Problem solved. Not exactly rocket science. Just supply/demand.

Edited by Executive Sadman

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