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No Exit: Britain’S Social Housing Trap

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Guardian 12/11/14

'To estate agents, England’s Lane, tucked away in a corner of Hampstead, is one of London’s most sought-after villages. Along its tree-lined length stretches a charming row of small shops, with a tearoom serving gentlemen’s relish on toast, a toy shop full of hand-crafted wooden toys, and a butcher that sells pheasant and grouse. In the window of the DesRes estate agency, flats are offered for rent at £1,500 a week, and just opposite, down a private side road, a seven-bedroom arts-and-crafts style mansion, set in a garden the size of a small park, is on sale for £6.7m.

Walking along England’s Lane, passersby might not notice a mildly forbidding building behind railings, an old nurses’ home that in 2004 was turned into a hostel for Camden’s homeless families, despite protests from local homeowners that it was “not suitable” for the location. The 160 families squeezed into this large red brick block do not visit the shops and cafes here, nor do they get facials at the naturopathic beauty salon, or gaze at the estate agent’s window. Each family has a very small room, originally designed for a single student nurse.

The England’s Lane hostel was intended to provide temporary accommodation for homeless families; however, once they move in here, “temporary” can mean years. The hostel is a modern day version of Dickens’s Marshalsea prison from Little Dorrit, a reluctant community with its own hierarchy of suffering, where years are ticked off by unlucky people who have run aground for one reason or another.

Janice has been here for five-and-a-half years, with her husband and two children now aged nearly two and five. In one corner of her room, on top of a small fridge, stand a couple of electric rings to cook on. That’s the kitchen. There’s a shower room in a cupboard and all the family’s possessions are stuffed into a stack of suitcases squashed by the door. There is only just enough room for the double bed which they all share, the four of them sleeping together restlessly.

Janice is a thoughtful, lively 30-year-old, a worried mother eager to get back to work some day. When I first met her 18 months ago, she was still bewildered to find herself in these circumstances. “I never, ever expected something like this to happen to me,” she said. At that time, however, she still had some glimmer of hope that she would be rehoused.

It took only a frighteningly small step for Janice and her husband to slide from what seemed like security, to ending up here. They both worked, she had a good job as an administrator at Hendon Police College, but she was only on contract and hadn’t completed a year – so when she got pregnant, she didn’t qualify for maternity leave and lost her job when the baby was born. They were living in a bedsit where the damp seeped through the ceiling, but when they complained to the landlord that it was unhealthy for the baby, he evicted them. The practice is so widespread it has a name, “revenge eviction”, and it happens to some 200,000 private tenants a year, according to the housing charity Shelter. (A bill in the House of Commons is currently trying to ban this practice.) Landlords know they can instantly re-let to someone willing to accept almost any squalor: windowless, damp basements, kitchens divided from toilets by flimsy partitions.


On eviction day, Janice called the council in a panic but was told there was no redress, nothing could stop them being turned out on to the street, so they should come to the town hall with their baby and their luggage, as they would qualify for temporary housing.

Later that night they were brought to England’s Lane. “I was so scared at the very word hostel. I was horrified,” Janice said. “I expected the very worst. I didn’t know what sort of people would be here. But by then, we were grateful for anywhere. At first, you have to learn how to survive, how to avoid arguments over small things – like noisy neighbours. You need to make friends.” The hostel wasn’t as bad as Janice’s worst fears, but neither did it turn out to be temporary.

In June, a year on from our first meeting, Janice was still living in England’s Lane, almost all her hope gone, looking more defeated as she saw their chance of escape receding with every year. She looked drawn and wan, her two children subdued, lying on the bed watching television.

“I had a degree, a good education and a good job so why would I expect to end up here?” she said, smoothing back her dark hair, as she dandled her youngest child on her knee. She has a degree from Middlesex University and had worked as an administrator in a law office before the job at Hendon Police College earning £26,000 a year. Her husband runs the postroom in an office block in Kensington: not a well paid job, but it offers security, he’s had it for a few years and likes his employers.

England’s Lane is better than many hostels for the homeless. The building is solid and imposing, the entrance hall deceptively grand with its 1940s wood panelling, a place well cared for by its managers. It doesn’t smell, though there are mice and insect-trap boxes in every corridor. Mostly, say its residents, it’s not scary but it is nonetheless a dark place. “When people leave, they want to forget they were ever here,” says June, one of the two warm but firm women managers on site all day, who keep trouble and rows to a minimum. At one point there had been drug dealers, rowdy all-night parties, and one woman who took to banging on her neighbours’ doors at 3am, looking for her imaginary missing man.

June has a tough-love approach to the residents here: she counsels the parents and children, advising, soothing, keeping things calm. But she confesses she is puzzled that the residents put up with it when they could move out to private rented flats. Years ago, when she was a mother of two sets of twins with nowhere to live, she pestered every housing association in the land until she got herself a place. She cycles to work, an hour and a half each way from Newham. But the longer the residents of England’s Lane stay in this place of quiet desperation, the more their confidence falters, as their chance of being rehoused recedes.

* * *

For those trying to navigate its corridors, the housing system is an arcane maze. Janice and her husband’s options seem to shrink every year. They could move out of the hostel and the council would find them a private rented flat miles away in Newham, Redbridge or Enfield. Nationally over a third of the homeless in 2013 were rehoused far away, and many London families were sent to Birmingham. The shortage of new housing is causing London boroughs to outbid each other, driving up costs in their frantic search for private rentals for their homeless families. When Camden bought this nurses’ hostel from the NHS, it paid well over the odds because Kensington and Chelsea barged in and sent the bidding price shooting up: there is no central authority to stop councils outbidding each other and wasting money.

Janice has opted not to go into private rental. If they moved to a private flat found by the council in, say, Redbridge, an hour away, her husband would lose his prized job in Kensington, their eldest daughter would have to move school and they would be too far from her parents who rely on her, and she on them. “But we would do all that gladly,” Janice says, “we’d go far away, lose the school and the job – but only if it was permanent. But it wouldn’t be. The risk is we’d have to do it all over again after a year and maybe over and over.” Private tenancies only last six months and few landlords now take people on housing benefit. “Each time you start again they’d want a high deposit that we haven’t got.”

The residents of the England’s Lane hostel are among a rising number of households in temporary accommodation, 60,000 currently in England, just one step up from living on the streets. Some, like Janice’s family, were evicted by landlords, some lost their council flat when they couldn’t pay the new bedroom tax for having a spare room and some fled domestic violence. A few are refugees who, in a bizarre welcome to citizenship, find the day they are granted official refugee status they are instantly evicted from accommodation for asylum seekers.

Many are turned away if councils deem they have made themselves homeless “intentionally”, thrown out by parents, fallen into rent arrears, deemed to be responsible for their own predicament. The national waiting list for social housing stands at 1.7m households – up by 65% since 1997. The law says families with children must be given shelter, but their chance of moving into a coveted Camden council flat or housing association home is vanishingly small. Camden has some of north London’s most desirable residential streets and parks, yet it’s one of the country’s poorest boroughs too, a prime example of the extremes of Britain’s housing problems. To buy an average house in Camden now, you need to earn at least £200,000 a year. No one can afford to live here apart from the extremely wealthy and those poor enough to qualify for council housing. Meanwhile, the pressure grows on Camden council to find somewhere to put their swelling ranks of the homeless.

In England’s Lane, the residents suffer the effect of one particular political calamity – the right to buy. The signature policy that swept Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979 has caused two million council homes to be sold at a discount. At the time it was hailed as a policy that endorsed working-class aspiration and promised upward mobility. But its long-term effect has been to deprive others of anywhere affordable to live.

In Camden, 40% of council homes have been sold. Of those bought by their tenants, says the council, some 40% were sold on to buy-to-let landlords, many of them companies who rent flats back to the council at inflated rates: a council rent might be £150, but the next door ex-council flat rented out by a landlord will go for £450 a week. Prime minister David Cameron promised before the last election that any further council property sold off would be replaced one for one. Since 2012, however, when Labour’s programme for pre-financed social housing finally ran out, more council houses have been sold than built. Cameron has also increased the discount for tenants to 70%, making council flats even cheaper to buy.

The longer families stay in England’s Lane hostel, the harder it gets to leave. If they made the leap into some distant, insecure private flat, they would lose the precious council housing points they have accumulated.

Points – they are the key to everyone’s life here. Residents of England’s Lane talk about points all day long, compulsively comparing them, how to acquire them, who has most, who struck lucky and how. Points are more precious than money, painfully earned by sticking it out here year after year: points give you bidding power when a vacant flat comes up. Yet this is a strangely elusive and dwindling currency.

Here’s how it works: you get points for children, points when they go over the age of 10, points for sickness, points for having suffered domestic violence and harassment, points for years lived in Camden and points for every year spent in England’s Lane. A strongly worded GP’s letter about health issues might perhaps get you 40 points, and a hospital consultant’s statement that living conditions are having a severe health impact might just get you 80 points. Every year your points rise by 10%, so in theory you can count the number of years it will take. But here’s the catch: every year the number of points required to be rehoused rises – the result of growing numbers of homeless people (partly as a result of the introduction of the bedroom tax), and the acute shortage of affordable housing.

When I first met Janice in 2013, a family needed 600 points, on average, to be allocated a Camden council flat. Janice had just 220 but she was told by her housing officer she’d acquire enough points in six years’ time. Eighteen months later, the number of points needed has risen to 700, but Janice has only 242. Now she’s told it will be another 10 years before she qualifies. “I won’t cheat, like some people,” she says. “I wasn’t brought up to cheat, to go to the doctor and beg for letters and try to get extra points that way. That’s not how I am.” As Janice has mild diabetes, she might clock up some more points, but her reluctance means she may be leapfrogged by others who are less scrupulous.

Every Wednesday night at midnight – actually at one minute past on Thursday morning – Camden council puts online the few flats available. For the residents of England’s Lane, a frantic bidding process begins. Any of a possible 25,000 people on Camden’s waiting list can log on at the same time, desperately seeking one of the 10 to 20 flats that come up in a typical week. The more bedrooms a flat has, the more points it costs. Most weeks about 250 families get online to declare their points and are told what number they are on the list for that flat. “As I have so few points, I am usually well over number 100,” Janice says. “One wonderful Thursday I was number 30!” (That might have been because of luck or an undesirable flat, she didn’t know why.) “But that still meant 29 other people had to look at the flat and turn it down before I had a chance. Of course I didn’t get it.”

Janice wants to go back to work, but the vagaries of the benefit system mean she would be worse off. She didn’t plan to have a second child, these things happen. If her husband and she had waited for a stable home, they’d never have had children at all. She looks despairing at the prospect that she can never return to work, but it’s difficult. Her husband is paid £1,300 a month – £15,600 a year. The hostel rent, paid by housing benefit, is £1,167 a month, energy bills included. If she worked, they would lose housing benefit and she would have to pay for childcare and travel to work, making them even worse off. “But I will still do it, because I have to, I need to, even if it’s at a loss for us and even if we have less. I am just so depressed.” She looks tired and defeated. Going to work would make her feel better but it wouldn’t solve their housing problem.

Some residents of England’s Lane hostel are even more trapped than Janice. The longest-term resident, Stacey Thomas, lives in a room with her husband, her son of seven and daughter of four. “We came here when Callum was just three days old,” she said, and that’s seven and a half years ago.

They are not even allowed to bid for flats when they come up: “We’ve been suspended from bidding as we owe over £2,000 in rent arrears, and I don’t know how we’ll ever pay that back,” Stacey told me. How did it happen? They both had jobs for a while, but they failed to get their housing benefit adjusted immediately, so they were overpaid for a couple of months, and now owe the money back. They will never be rehoused unless they get those back-payments down to under £500 – and she doesn’t see how she’s going to manage that as she only has £60-a-week shopping money left for the four of them. Stacey waves a bundle of letters she is collecting from advisers, doctors and her children’s school warning of the harm being done to them. So far they have produced no effect.

London housing estates in desirable districts are leafleted regularly by companies tempting residents with offers of a bundle of money in exchange for giving up their lifelong secure tenancy. When I lived briefly on an estate in Lambeth, where I was researching a book in 2003, a company called Berkley Alliance kept soliciting me to sell my flat. These property investors are often fly-by-night outfits, with shifting company titles in this business, but it’s perfectly legal to urge council tenants to sacrifice their security for an instant pile of cash. One called London Property Agents has recently been offering “up to £100,000” to council tenants in prime London districts. That’s a strong temptation to people in debt – but once they exercise their right to buy, they lose any right ever to be housed again.

Last week, Sarah Hayward, the leader of Camden council, showed me round one of her borough’s finest council estates, a Victorian block overlooking Hampstead Heath where 48% of the flats have now gone to right to buy, mostly to private landlords. “In 2010 we only had to let 14 go,” Hayward said, but this year 110 flats have been sold. The council isn’t even allowed to keep the money to build more homes, but forced to send most of it to the Treasury. “The madness of housing finance is that almost all of government subsidy goes on housing benefit, mostly straight into the pockets of private landlords, but only 5% is spent on building new homes,” said Hayward. We stood gazing up at the elegant iron work and ornamental tiling. A plaque showed social justice theorist RH Tawney once lived here. What would he make of it being sold for buy-to-let? “We just valued a flat here for a tenant exercising their right to buy – it’s worth £590,000,” Hayward said ruefully, powerless to defend her council’s property.

As more council houses are sold, the stranded England’s Lane families have even less chance of moving out of their bedsits. In spite of the discounts, June, the manager, reckons only a small number of the hostel residents would be interested in buying (and then selling) their council flat. “Most would just be so grateful for a council home to live in for ever, without having to keep moving and keep taking their children out of schools.”

Meanwhile, Janice and her family sit and wait in their single room for a chance that may never come. When we spoke in October, she was hoping for a place on a Camden-run back-to-work scheme, but she had no hope of moving out of England’s Lane, with winter approaching and nowhere to take the children on dark after-school days. “There’s nothing I can do, except try to keep myself sane,” she said, counting her precious points year by year, knowing they lead nowhere.'

Whilst it is Toynbee and she manages to lay the blame at Thatcher's feet,there are some pertinent issues here.One does wonder if it was such an issue,why Labour didn't reverse it during their 13 years in office.

Quite how we've managed to sell off the family silver and then rent it back from Property 118 wannabees,I just don't know.

Tha families concerned have clearly opted for life in a one bed room rather than risk a private LL,which sort of tells you where we are.

The vagaries of renting privately are oft discussed on here and the capital requirements are quite large too.Tenure poor.

Things need to change.

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How many people in 'temporary' and how many empty bedrooms are there in social housing?

Why is house sharing only suitable for those in the private sector?

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I can't help but think they are doing themselves a disservice by staying in London, where they might well be better off moving out into Kent, Essex of further afield. It's not like they are earning loads of money or living the live in London. Even moving to somewhere quiet in Cornwall or North Wales and living off benefits sounds like a better plan that staying put.

Personally I would be looking for a one way train ticket to somewhere quiet that's not a rundown costal town.

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Everyone's situation is different, as to how they ended up in a hostel, but I'm struggling to offer Janice any sympathy if that is what the article wants me to do? Janice made choices of her own free will, and doesn't seem to understand cause and effect. She had a temp job on £26k and her husband had a job. I live in London and you just get on Spareroom.com and there's tonnes of house-shares in seriously nice areas they could afford. Nonetheless they were living in a bedsit with damp seeping through the ceiling? Solution: Get pregnant, lose her temp job which of course won't offer maternity benefits and have a kid. She then ends up in Englands Lane hostel. Solution: Have another kid. Quote: "She didn’t plan to have a second child, these things happen". Err no, they don't just happen. Arghhhhh... CHOICES.

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How many people in 'temporary' and how many empty bedrooms are there in social housing?

Why is house sharing only suitable for those in the private sector?

Thousands live in B&B and sharing from all walks of life....some have the power, will and ability to move others don't, so won't......lots of money to be made out of both categories by all kinds and types of people.. ;)

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Everyone's situation is different, as to how they ended up in a hostel, but I'm struggling to offer Janice any sympathy if that is what the article wants me to do? Janice made choices of her own free will, and doesn't seem to understand cause and effect. She had a temp job on £26k and her husband had a job. I live in London and you just get on Spareroom.com and there's tonnes of house-shares in seriously nice areas they could afford. Nonetheless they were living in a bedsit with damp seeping through the ceiling? Solution: Get pregnant, lose her temp job which of course won't offer maternity benefits and have a kid. She then ends up in Englands Lane hostel. Solution: Have another kid. Quote: "She didn’t plan to have a second child, these things happen". Err no, they don't just happen. Arghhhhh... CHOICES.

Thing is in reality they have few choices....create a system and peoples behaviour works so as to benefit them in the best possible way under it....only problem is kids grow up fast and people grow old fast....very often their kids will end up having even fewer choices than they did. ;)

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They could move out of the hostel and the council would find them a private rented flat miles away in Newham, Redbridge or Enfield.

The horror -- they might have to live outside of Zone 2. Why is the state supposed to be catering to the whims and fancies of these scroungers? These people have perfectly viable options for decent housing but chose to live in a bedsit in Central London. This woman isn't working. She doesn't need family close by to provide childcare, and her husband can commute to his job like everyone else.

Just another example of the complete moral bankruptcy of the Guardian.

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When we spoke in October, she was hoping for a place on a Camden-run back-to-work scheme, but she had no hope of moving out of England’s Lane, with winter approaching and nowhere to take the children on dark after-school days. “There’s nothing I can do, except try to keep myself sane,” she said, counting her precious points year by year, knowing they lead nowhere.'

It's a 7 minute walk to Primrose Hill. She can't have her children playing with the offspring of Jude Law or Jammie Oliver. Simply not good enough.

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There must be more to the story.

Did they really to all they could to avoid ending up there? Did her husband apply for jobs in cheaper areas that could of paid for a private flat/house? I would of been looking all over the country to avoid ending up in a hostel.

They have better options than others, with her degree she could of looked for a job and he could of looked after the kids etc. The other ones in the same situation that are on their own, single parents, unable to work, health issues etc. have far less options of escape available to them. Something doesn't add up.

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The horror -- they might have to live outside of Zone 2. Why is the state supposed to be catering to the whims and fancies of these scroungers? These people have perfectly viable options for decent housing but chose to live in a bedsit in Central London. This woman isn't working. She doesn't need family close by to provide childcare, and her husband can commute to his job like everyone else.

Just another example of the complete moral bankruptcy of the Guardian.

Indeed, I wondered how moving to Redbridge meant giving up his beloved job in Kensington.

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The horror -- they might have to live outside of Zone 2. Why is the state supposed to be catering to the whims and fancies of these scroungers? These people have perfectly viable options for decent housing but chose to live in a bedsit in Central London. This woman isn't working. She doesn't need family close by to provide childcare, and her husband can commute to his job like everyone else.

Just another example of the complete moral bankruptcy of the Guardian.

I take your points re living/working elsewhere,however,the article raises the issue of the sale of council homes and the subsequent purchase of said homes by BTLers who then rent it back to the state.

Reference private letting,there are tenure/deposit issues that a poor family may decide it's better the devil you know.

Does anyone know whether 'points' are transferable between Councils?

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I love all of the comments about choices.

Yes. Let's just boot them onto the streets. They have obviously CHOSEN to live four to a room in a squalid hostel, otherwise why wouldn't they pursue life in the Exo-London utopia that's so clearly on offer?

They should be forced to respect market-forces like the rest of us. And they've chosen to breed too, thereby creating new members of the underclass, that should not go unpunished.

Why don't we re-introduce the workhouse? They are clearly lazy, and could do with being forced to do an old-fashioned honest day's hard graft (for the privilege of being housed by the tax-payer, of course), there's no reason why the children couldn't be put to good use doing some kind of menial tasks too, like sorting refuse - to keep the little blighters out of mischief.

I however have always made the correct choices, followed the righteous path, and have been duly rewarded for my sacrifices.

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On the point of right to buy converting into a BTL, surely its not beyond the councils wit to have a policy of not giving housing benefit for any ex-right to buy for a period of time, say 1 years.

AS far as the people mentioned in the article, time limit benefit payments and then move them to work-fare. WTF should I pay someone to do nothing and live in one of the worlds most expensive areas?

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On the point of right to buy converting into a BTL, surely its not beyond the councils wit to have a policy of not giving housing benefit for any ex-right to buy for a period of time, say 1 years.

AS far as the people mentioned in the article, time limit benefit payments and then move them to work-fare. WTF should I pay someone to do nothing and live in one of the worlds most expensive areas?

Should people that do not work borrow money?.....benefits are there to pay for daily basic living costs and should not be enough to pay for the cost of debt........looking after children is a full time job or should they be employed to look after other peoples children and use the money they earn to pay others to look after their own children?....what a game. :wacko:

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I love all of the comments about choices.

Yes. Let's just boot them onto the streets. They have obviously CHOSEN to live four to a room in a squalid hostel, otherwise why wouldn't they pursue life in the Exo-London utopia that's so clearly on offer?

They should be forced to respect market-forces like the rest of us. And they've chosen to breed too, thereby creating new members of the underclass, that should not go unpunished.

Why don't we re-introduce the workhouse? They are clearly lazy, and could do with being forced to do an old-fashioned honest day's hard graft (for the privilege of being housed by the tax-payer, of course), there's no reason why the children couldn't be put to good use doing some kind of menial tasks too, like sorting refuse - to keep the little blighters out of mischief.

I however have always made the correct choices, followed the righteous path, and have been duly rewarded for my sacrifices.

+1

Was recently reading up about industrial strife in Huddersfield in the 19th century, and some local Tory complained that the local workforce (who had been put out of work - all their own fault of course) had encumbered itself with children. Almost ended up lynched

Edited by aSecureTenant

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Thing is in reality they have few choices....create a system and peoples behaviour works so as to benefit them in the best possible way under it....only problem is kids grow up fast and people grow old fast....very often their kids will end up having even fewer choices than they did. ;)

Are you serious? Janice and her husband are grown ups. She has a Uni Degree, so has had the benefit of a good education and it's fair to assume she's above average intelligence. She got herself pregnant and made the choice to go ahead with it, while knowing that her temp job would not pay her maternity pay, it wouldn't held open for her and leave her potentially unemployed. Her husband works in a Postroom so they would both know, financially, that would leave them reliant on benefits. They made that decision, no one forced them to. They made the perfect set of choices to make sure they ended up in precisely that situation. Unfortunately for them not in the type of accomodation they'd might have hoped for.

I'm the biggest socialist going when it comes to making sure there is a safety net for people that have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. I'll pay my tax day in, day out for that. I've got zero sympathy for people that act the victim, force themselves onto the tax payer and then bleat on about how crap it is.

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Quite, lots of people commute from Reading, Basingstoke or even Bristol to work in central London on a daily basis. Oh and the second kid gets you more points, what happened to waiting until you can afford to have kids ....

Went the same way as working for a living.

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+1

Was recently reading up about industrial strife in Huddersfield in the 19th century, and some local Tory complained that the local workforce (who had been put out of work - all their own fault of course) had encumbered itself with children. Almost ended up lynched

I must say, I find it fascinating that the re-emergence of Victorian levels of inequality are giving rise to Victorian levels of paternalistic sanctimoniousness.

It's the same attitude as those who believe that the rise in the value of their house is all down to their good business sense and hard work rather than a set of circumstances that they have had little hand in, and then give you 'advice' by projecting their circumstances onto yours.

Human nature I suppose.

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I must say, I find it fascinating that the re-emergence of Victorian levels of inequality are giving rise to Victorian levels of paternalistic sanctimoniousness.

It's the same attitude as those who believe that the rise in the value of their house is all down to their good business sense and hard work rather than a set of circumstances that they have had little hand in, and then give you 'advice' by projecting their circumstances onto yours.

Human nature I suppose.

Posters on here have really bought into it though

Why shouldn't people on modest incomes live/work locally even in Kensington? Used to be possible

Why shouldn't a couple have kids before their 50's (the perfect financial conditions may never be right)

Why should you need to live in Reading, or Northampton or even Doncaster to commute to London (thus radiating HPI madness throughout the country).

People on HPC who have made perfect life options, judgemental about others. Well what about the life options that Prince Charles, the Duke of Westminster and other hereditary rentiers but who are creating huge amounts of economic dislocation to working people due to a ridiculous and archaic distribution of land?

We seem to have created a ridiculous economic engine which is great for GDP, train companies, heriditary rentiers but makes absolutely no sense to the vast majority of ordinary people on modest incomes in the UK

If I were this couple I'd consider getting the fck out of London. Chances are your quality of life would be better being poor but properly housed in the North, than working in London

Edited by aSecureTenant

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Are you serious? Janice and her husband are grown ups. She has a Uni Degree, so has had the benefit of a good education and it's fair to assume she's above average intelligence. She got herself pregnant and made the choice to go ahead with it, while knowing that her temp job would not pay her maternity pay, it wouldn't held open for her and leave her potentially unemployed. Her husband works in a Postroom so they would both know, financially, that would leave them reliant on benefits. They made that decision, no one forced them to. They made the perfect set of choices to make sure they ended up in precisely that situation. Unfortunately for them not in the type of accomodation they'd might have hoped for.

I'm the biggest socialist going when it comes to making sure there is a safety net for people that have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. I'll pay my tax day in, day out for that. I've got zero sympathy for people that act the victim, force themselves onto the tax payer and then bleat on about how crap it is.

Once upon a time, not so long a go:

  • A university degree counted for something, even to those who were not from a wealthy background.
  • Working people could expect employment contracts with some job security rather than zero-hours + poverty pay.
  • A working class postroom job alone could support a family of four, albeit modestly.

But like you say, I'm sure they just made the wrong 'choices'. Let's just focus on their choices, rather than the notion that the hard-won rights of working people have been systematically dismantled, and a tiny elite that are sitting back and watching the proles fight among themselves rather than directing their anger towards where the real theft is taking place.

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Posters on here have really bought into it though

Why shouldn't people on modest incomes live/work locally even in Kensington? Used to be possible

Why shouldn't a couple have kids before their 50's (the perfect financial conditions may never be right)

Why should need to like in Reading, or Northampton or even Doncaster to commute to London (thus radiating HPI madness throughout the country).

People on HPC who have made perfect life options, judgemental about others. Well what about the life options that Prince Charles, the Duke of Westminster and other hereditary rentiers but who are creating huge amounts of economic dislocation to working people due to a ridiculous and archaic distribution of land?

We seem to have created a ridiculous economic engine which is great for GDP, train companies, heriditary rentiers but makes absolutely no sense to the vast majority of ordinary people on modest incomes in the UK

The elite have to some extent succeeded in creating a 'new normal', where questioning things that were considered a right less than a generation ago is considered radical and dangerous.

Tenancy and employment contracts being just two of many things that have moved so hugely against the interests of working people over the past generation. Is it any wonder we now have working families now living in these dire conditions?

Edited by Bear Goggles

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The elite have to some extent succeeded in creating a 'new normal', where questioning things that were considered a right less than a generation ago is considered radical and dangerous.

Tenancy and employment contracts being just two of many things that have moved so hugely against the interests of working people over the past generation. Is it any wonder we now have working families now living in these dire conditions?

Yes I know its worrying and unbelievable. Can't afford London, well move to Reading and spend hours on a train madness. Great if you are CEO of Barclays but for anyone else pointless madness.

Subscribed to a young black guy on Twitter due to some weird tweets like for example

'this year I hope to be blessed with an internship'

WTF, an internship? Not a proper paying job?

Baaa Baaa Baaa

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