Social housing cuts while large-landowner benefit payments are preserved

MarkiB mark at
Thu Oct 21 09:47:19 BST 2010

Social housing cuts while large-landowner & Big Ben benefit payments are

by Mark S Brown & James Armstrong - the Land is Ours

Thusrday 21st October 2010

The prospect of increases in homelessness and poverty became a very real
probability yesterday after announcements by the Chancellor, George
Osborne,  in the government’s Annual Spending Review such as the cutting of
the social housing budget in England by more than 50% (taking us back to
2004-07 levels of spending), caps on housing benefit and a broad sweep of
public sector cuts. Combined with likely rental increases in the housing
association sector, these measures will disproportionately affect women and
poorer families and entrench patterns of poverty and inequality, reducing
social mobility and worsening health and social outcomes. 

Meanwhile, 197,000 claimants, many of them already millionaires including
some M.P.’s, are in receipt of annual payments through the Common
Agricultural Policy. 

Currently, the British taxpayer pays £10 billion a year to the EU for EU
membership.  Total payments under the CAP scheme to UK claimants amounted
to £3.4billion for the year 2009, which is mainly redistributed back to
large landowners.  Additionally, foreign residents, because they have
bought farm land in Britain, are generously rewarded out of UK tax-payers’
pockets annually. 

Richard Drax, M.P. for North Dorset as beneficiary of the Drax Estates
received £417,846 as annual payment through CAP. George Osborne is the
descendant of a wealthy aristocratic family and will inherit a knighthood
from his father, Sir Peter, the 17th Baronet of Ballentaylor.

There is no suggestion by the Chancellor or other Government spokespersons
of cutting these CAP welfare payments as a contribution to the current
austerity savings and there is no mention of such cuts in yesturday’s
Spending Review announced by Osborne.

In the midst of this announcement made by a cabinet comprising 23 out of
its 29 members who are in possession of assets of more than £1 million,
poor families at the margins are set to face up to the brunt of reductions
in government spending announced by the Chancellor. Head of housing at
accountancy firm Price Waterhouse-Coopers commenting on the effect on the
housing association sector yesturday acknowledged that rent increases are
likely for tenants in the social housing sector in a commentary that
betrayed the harsh reality of economic hardship facing the poorest sections
of society: “Rent increases for new tenants will increase the sums
available to invest in new homes – but the Government needs to be alert to
the fact that 65% of tenants in social housing are on benefits. So new
tenants need to be better off than today’s - otherwise rent increases will
simply add to the benefits bill” [1]. Cuts to welfare include further cuts
to housing benefit of £490m (10%), which is on top of the housing benefit
cut in the budget in June. It amounts to caps on housing benefit of £250
for a one-bed property and £400 for four or more bedrooms. The average
monthly private rent in London was £900 in 2006/8 compared with an England
average of £574.

The payments element of CAP in 2009 represented a windfall increase from
2008 to 2009 of 23% in the size of payments occasioned by the fall in value
of sterling against the Euro. 

HM Queen received £1,183,508 in the years 2008/9 from Rural Payments
Agency under the Common Agricultural Policy regime of the E.U. for
privately owning Sandringham Estates. Prince Charles for the Duchies of
Lancaster and Cornwall received £581,000.Significantly HM Treasury
designates those receiving  CAP payments as “benefits recipients”- so
that’s official! HM the Queen is on benefit!

The Land is Ours campaign sent a letter to HM Queen drawing this to her
attention and inviting her as an example to others  to repay at least the
unearned increment. TLIO recently discovered that the bank account at the
Treasury to which benefits claimants can make refunds is titled the
“General Funds  and Accounts at the Treasury”. TLIO campaigner James
Armstrong obtained this information in a reply to a Freedom of Information
request, in a letter dated 4th October, after seven unanswered and
unacknowledged letters.

James Armstrong from TLIO said: "I am confident HM will contribute. Only
absolutely all the British people working together can get us out of the
mess.  A bankrupt Treasury would have no funds to pay the Civil List to Her
Majesty nor to pay the £10billion annual fee for  E.U. membership. Then
there would be no more CAP payments for landowners to receive and no
Britain to rule."

1. “Spending Review: Social housing cuts not a huge surprise”, by Gary
Howes, Director of Finance Online – Ref:

See also:
 “Tory multimillionaire witch-hunts welfare claimants”, by Robert Stevens

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