Julie, the disability rights officer who is helping me with my housing situation explained something today that was a light bulb moment.
She explained why she’d said: “It’s not worth appealing the decision. It won’t make a bit of difference.”
She was advising me not to appeal against a decision to keep me in Band D by my local council after I’d submitted medical evidence to try to apply for council house and housing association housing.
The thing is, she didn’t explain why.
In fact it was so odd, such a blanket “no” that a friend of mine with ME on Twitter @angelsolace* who I have been emailing with and hearing about her extensive experience of trying to get re-banding for a council home, said:
“I don’t understand why you don’t start appeal process now, it may take years but getting a council place will mean cheaper rent. And with the right support around u it will b easier than going it alone.”
Julie explained things today. Here’s what she said:
“The Band B stays the same for the council housing register and housing associations. It is very unlikely that they would move you to a higher band.
“The problem with the council is that they do not build new houses/ flats so there are hundreds of people waiting for re- housing for years now.”
Ah ha. Right. So I’m stuck in a great big long enormous queue. How does that queue shift? I don’t know. Dead man’s shoes or moving out of borough perhaps.
Certainly having a robust affordable and social housing scheme is the clear answer
However, there’s no legal requirement for council’s to build council housing. As a result, the council that I live in, hasn’t built any council houses in 15 years. That’s a shocking statistic when you consider that people need council and affordable housing. Not everyone is wealthy enough to buy.
The reason why ill and disabled people like myself cannot get affordable council housing is that in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, a scheme was introduced whereby people could buy their council homes.
This depleted council housing stock that was affordable for people on low incomes, the working poor or people like me.
When I was 26 I could still find a 1 bed flat for sale in London for £56,000. Within a year that had shot skyward and I was never again in a position to consider buying and ended up private renting instead.
The fact that I was a keyworker didn’t make any difference.
The housing schemes for keyworkers that became more usual to find in property magazines and talked about in the press, still priced me out due to the fact that I had no deposit, was on a public sector salary and was single.
So there you go. There’s no legal or financial incentive for council’s to re-build the housing stock that’s been sold off under right to buy.
And guess what? The current Tory government are about to make things much, much worse. They are about to allow tenants to buy their housing association houses as well.
Housing associations have worked tirelessly to bring about a sea change for poor or vulnerable people across the country and especially in London. They were just starting to make a difference and this new legislation is proposed.
It’s madness. It’s insane. It doesn’t help people like me – it never did!
The ‘affordable housing’ in my area that took place because of legislation under the Labour government that ensured new builds included a percentage of housing for the poorer pocket, costed upwards of £250,000.
So here’s the thing. Since the 80s the British economy has been built on personal debt – credit cards, mortgages, etc. They increased at a time that the culture of paying in cash or only-if-you-could-afford-it decreased. It benefits the banking industry, doesn’t it.
Think about it for a moment.
This government wants people like me to bear the brunt of austerity cuts and bring the national debt down, but at the same time increase the amount of personal debt in mortgage payments for those who are on low incomes and in affordable housing association housing.
What a HUGE risk! We’ve been here with the sub prime mortgage crisis before prior to the crash in 2008.
At the same time, there are hints that the 12bn welfare cuts will have to come from Housing Benefit. It’s Housing Benefit that means I am not homeless.
I’m not a benefit scrounger – I paid into National Insurance for years and years to ensure I’d have this safety net.
Is it any wonder that I can’t find a home ?
© Lindy 2015
*angelsolace gave me permission to link to her Twitter profile here.