Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Richard Benyon's Housing Benefit hypocrisy

If you ever needed another example of the vile hypocrisy of the Tories, you should check out some of the stuff that Richard Benyon, the Tory MP for Newbury, has said about benefits and the welfare system.

He repeatedly uses the term "something for nothing" to slam benefits recipients, yet he himself is a much bigger benefit recipient than any unemployed person, or member of the ever increasing demographic working poor.

What he fails to mention every time he rants about the size of the welfare state, is that he is one of the very biggest beneficiaries of the welfare system, as his company (Englefield Estate Trust Corporation Limited) raked in £625,964 in housing benefit from West Berkshire council last year. It is likely that his company receives much more from other councils too, given that it holds land and property all over the United Kingdom.

What people fail to realise about housing benefit is that when it is paid out to help poor families cover the cost of private rents, the idle rentier class (like Richard Benyon) are the beneficiaries, not the tenants themselves. The DWP themselves admit that it costs well over £1,000 extra per year in housing benefit for every tenant that is housed in private accomodation, rather than social housing.

Since the Tories came to power and launched their economically illiterate austerity experiment, the size of the already bloated housing benefit bill has grown dramatically to £24 billion in 2013, as hundreds of thousands of families (mainly the working poor) have been driven into such poverty that they have become entitled to help with the cost of their rent. The number of working poor families reliant upon housing benefit has soared 104% between 2009 and 2013. The beneficiaries of this soaring housing benefit bill are not the tenants themselves, but private landlords like Richard Benyon.

Here's a direct quote from Richard Benyon's website:
"The Government is reforming Labour’s ‘something for nothing’ welfare culture, by capping the amount one household can get in benefits"
Given that his company rakes in hundreds of thousands per year in housing benefit, this simply isn't right, because the amount of cash his household receives in housing benefit hasn't been capped at all.

Yes, the government has capped the amount that "the lower orders" can claim in welfare, but there is absolutely no limit on the amount that the aristocracy and the idle rentier class can siphon out of government coffers through housing benefit.

Here's a response from Eileen Short, of Defend Council Housing:
“How dare Richard Benyon lecture us about ‘something for nothing’ when he is living off the poorest and milking taxpayers all the way to the bank?"
And here's a quote from David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, on the subject of housing benefits:
"We hear a lot about 'making work pay', but a decent job won't even cover the cost of a home in England. Billions of pounds of taxpayers' money is wasted, lining the pockets of private landlords, when it could be better spent building more homes people can afford"
If the government were serious about cutting the benefit bill, here's what they would do:
1. Cap private rents. So that private landlords can only charge the same as social housing rates. This would save £billions every year.

2. Bring the private rental sector up to the same standards as the social housing sector. This would prevent slumlords cashing in on housing benefits by renting disgracefully poor housing stock to the poor.

3. Build more social housing. This wouldn't actually cost money in the long run, because the construction of social housing is one of the strongest fiscal multipliers going.

4. Establish a national house buying scheme. Lots of idle slumlords will see their profit margins disappear if they are forced to rent their properties at reasonable rates, and keep them decently maintained too. The government should offer to buy up their property assets and convert them to social housing.
A Tory led government would never do any of these things because it would harm the financial interests of Tory MPs like Richard Benyon, as well as the interests of countless Tory party donors that also cash in on the housing benefits gravy train as they slam their own tenants as "something for nothing" scroungers.

The Tories have absolutely no intention of cutting the vast flow of welfare payments that find their way into the bank accounts of the wealthy rentier class, so all of their so-called "welfare reforms" are aimed at cutting the amount that goes to the people the welfare system was actually designed to help (the unemployed, the disabled, the working poor and pensioners).

In conclusion, The Tories are quite happy to allow the idle rentier class to keep pillaging the welfare system, and Richard Benyon is a grotesque hypocrite, who bitterly criticises the welfare state over and again, yet he sucks out far more cash from the welfare budget than any benefit claimant could ever dream of getting.

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