The common land in London, is bartered away to powerful national and international property developers. Even the freeholds of small businesses are are up for grabs by the powerful.

15 July 2019

TAP has been invited to take part in a full Haringey Council debate this evening Monday 15th July on "The impacts of austerity on Haringey  communities". Here is what I would like to say, which I have already sent to all the councillors. The debate will be available live tonight on Haringey Council Webcasts at 

https://haringey.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

It will be available for 28 days. 

 Best wishes - Paul

INTRODUCTION

i am all too well aware the same or similar circumtances apply to all social security claimants throuhout the UK

Residential communties are destroyed by the toxic mixture of high value land being grabbed from under their homes by national and international developers, their ever increasing rents and stalled or shredded low incomes.

Communtiues of small businesses also suffer from the abuse of power by land grabbers and, in addition, from the greedy linking of their rents to the increasing value of land by landords.

First a flood of national and international money has been allowed to buy any amount of British land in limited supply since the 1980s The unlimited international and national demand from wealthy people and institutions for British land has forced up land values in a way that has allowed vast untaxed and unearned fortunes to be created for already very wealthy and very large land owners.

At the same time the ever rising value of land has resulted in ever rising level of unaffordable rents for the lowest to middle income tenants.

Secondly increases in low to middle incomes in work have stalled. The adult social security incomes for tenants have been allowed to lose value since 1979. On top of that all social security been deliberately shredded by central government since 2010.

The toxic mixture of higher and higher land values pushing rents upwards while the level of incomes has stalled in work, or been shredded in umemployment, is creating debt and hunger, mental and physical illness, shortened adult lives and caused a rise in infant deaths.

The increasing homelessness of both families in temporary accommodation and of individuals on the streets is epidemic and a national emergency.

There are moral principles on which social security ought to be based.

TO HARINGEY COUNCILLORS

POWER IS ABUSED BY ENCLOSING COMMON LAND FOR PRIVATE GAIN 

I am very grateful indeed for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. This is what I would lIke to say;  

Before coming to live in Tottenham in 1999 I served a parish in the Chiltern Hills where in the 14th century the Monks of St Albans Abbey, led by the Abbott, had owned the land in and around the Village of Fingest. The whole area was then under the authority of the Bishop of Lincoln. The Bishop wanted the Abbott to knuckle down and accept his jurisdiction. The Abbott said no way I am under the jurisdiction of the Pope. To keep the Bishop quiet they bought him off with the gift of the Manor of Fingest comprising 300 acres of common land and some more to be developed into a park. The common land was farmed for survival by 60 families. The Bishop enclosed the land for his personal benefit.  The community was destroyed and the families starved. Legend has it that, as a punishment, the Bishop was doomed to haunt the village for eternity as a Green Man.

Today in 2019 the Church of England has much to learn about the better use of the land we own for the common good.  

Now the common land in the London Borough of Haringey, and throughout London, is bartered away to powerful national and international property developers. Even the freeholds of small businesses are seen to be fair game by the powerful. Communities are destroyed; families end up in temporary accommodation and individuals on the streets. Food banks attempt to satisfy the hunger of those for whom rents have become unmanageable.

 

LOW INCOMES ALREADY PUNISHED BY HIGH RENTS WHEN AUSTERITY HIT THEM

In 2010 austerity was piled onto a UK land market which had been already been punishing low incomes with high uncontrolled rents for 30 years.  Thatcher abolished rent controls, deregulated lending and allowed the free flow of funds in and out of the UK. Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron/Lib Dem coalition and May let it rip. Boris Johnson told the Conservative conference in 2010.  Labour’s policies “which centre on the building and control of state-owned housing” were “diametrically opposed to the interests of most families”. Perhaps all those Prime Ministers and potential PMs are doomed to haunt London as Green Men and Green Women. Not least for linking so-called affordable rents to the market rather than to incomes. 

It is only on out-of-the-market state-owned land, or other land taken out of the market by Community Land Trusts, that truly affordable homes for low income households have been and can be built. 
 

As a consequence of throwing UK land into an international free market in the 1980s there are ever more homeless families in temporary accommodation or homeless individuals on the street today. There were 48,010 such families in England in 2010 and 83,700 in 2018 with 124,490 children, an increase of 74%; many of them are in work.

56,560 of the families, or 68% are in London, and just under 3,000 of the homeless families are in temporary accommodation in Haringey, with 5,208 children under 18. Some have been there for up to or over ten years. Some Haringey families have been in emergency accommodation for up to or over two years when the legal limit is six weeks.

I am puzzled as to how the Haringey number was reduced from 6000 in 2006 to 3000 now when the number of homeless families in temporary accommodation everywhere else in England has gone up by 74% since 2010. Section 21 is due to be abolished but landlords have been given months of notice before the law is passed to clear their decks by evicting tenants without giving a reason.

There are no solutions in sight at national or local level. There is nothing to stop the number of homeless families in temporary accommodation increasing to 100s of 1000s in London. High rents with low incomes are a toxic mixture.

 

AUSTERITY WAS PILED ONTO DECADES OF ADULT BENEFIT NEGLIGENCE

There is a community of about 11,000 social security claimants in Haringey. The shredding of their social security incomes since 2010 has been piled on top of decades of adult benefit negligence. It is helping to create the growing disaster facing renters. JSA of £73.10 a week for a single adult is the lowest level of benefit income. £73.10 a week JSA equates to £317 a month Universal Credit. One way or the other it is paid to nearly 4 million people in England. It is paid to all claimant households. More is added for couples, families, children, disability, council tax and housing benefits.  It has been losing value since 1979. All benefits were frozen in April 2011 since when prices and rents have gone up.

Using the Joseph Rowntree minimum income standards for April 2019 for Food, Clothing, Water, Fuel, Personal expenditure and transport we can see that JSA and Universal Credit are nearly £32 a week too low for healthy living. That is before the cuts in council tax and housing benefits. Those cuts take rent and council tax out of £73.10 a week. Then there is the delay in the delivery of Universal Credit and the benefit sanctions during which rent, council tax and TV licence arrears pile up and add to the impossibility of living on benefits of £73.10 a week JSA or £317 a month Universal Credit. The DWP “budgeting advance” is in fact a loan that also has to be repaid out of £73.10 a week. Families who have a third child often don’t know about the government’s two child policy until they visit the jobcentre and are refused the child’s benefits. 

The crucial point is that the hopelessly inadequate adult benefit cannot maintain a healthy adult life let alone pay the rent or council tax, or their enforcement costs. Therefore the benefits intended for the health and well-being of children, or for the health and well-being of disabled people, have to pay the rent or council tax on pain of eviction or prison.

That is a cruel catch 22. If your children’s benefits pay the rent they are hungry, naked or cold; if you feed, clothe growing children or keep them warm the family is evicted and homeless.

 

THERE IS  ROCK SOLID EVIDENCE OF AUSTERITY DAMAGING HEALTH

The evidence of the damage by austerity to the health and wellbeing of low income British citizens is rock solid and only denied by those responsible.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND HOUSING POLICIES NEED TO BE REBUILT ON MORAL PRINCIPLES

There are three moral principles supported by all the major faiths which ought to underpin and inform national and local, housing and social security policies.

  • Love your neighbour as yourself
  • Peace is not only the absence of conflict it is the presence of health and wellbeing for all.
  • We hold that land exists for the common good. It provides the basic needs of shelter, food, fuel and clothing of which everyone should have a just minimum share.

There is a TAP blog on the Fabian Society website called MissingMorality.  The good health and well-being of all UK citizens in or out of work must now become a national and local priority.  

 

Taxpayers Against Poverty

A VOICE FOR THE COMPASSIONATE MAJORITY
No citizen without an affordable home and an
adequate income in work or unemployment.
 
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