Monday, 15 April 2013

Tarred with the Same Brush (The Honest Victims of Austerity)

Today marks the trial rollout of the cap on housing benefits across four London boroughs but, as with all new initiatives, not everyone's circumstances fall into neat pigeonholes.

Innocent and ordinarily hardworking people, who fell foul of the job cuts perpetuated by the economic mess our bankers got us into initially, will now fall victim to constraints on reasonable standards of living.

But this time a good portion of the blame should be lain at the feet of the town halls themselves, who were slow to identify cases where the existing system was being so blatantly exploited.  Only look at the first boroughs to be targeted - Haringey, Enfield, Croydon and Bromley.  While the Government has no doubt done its homework in respect of where it can effect the greatest savings on the public purse, they should at least also have made examples of the boroughs that failed to address the obscenity of people on benefits living in £1M+ properties in places like Ealing or Belgravia.

More and more people will see their living standards reduced through no fault of their own and, in my view, none will suffer more than the now middle-aged children of Thatcher's Britain who, having been encouraged into home ownership, are now seeing that dream being shattered because they fall into one of the two most affected unemployed groups: the over 50's, seemingly invisible to employers and recruiters alike, and - at the other end of the spectrum - school leavers who have been let down by a society that allowed it financial affairs to get so horrendously out of control.

And, at odds with the the FSA's new mandate of having to treat theirs customers fairly, banks continue to penalise their unemployed mortgage customers by only taking into account one of the two primary lending considerations - equity and capacity to repay (guess which one?) - when existing arrangements hit their renewal anniversary, opting instead to apply the standard variable rate ('SVR') to inflict even more pain on the embattled long term unemployed who have already seen mortgage relief reduced from interest on the first £200K down to the first £100K.  Santander, are you listening?


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  2. Thank you - I like how we can come from different cultural backgrounds yet be united by opinion. As you know, my mandate is to see people treating one another fairly.