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Charity Deficit Housing. The Poor Law Amendment Act Of 2010

Social Housing is now effectively a Charity Hostel service. To be allocated on the basis of a Means Test. The 're-assessment' will involve an unprecedented level of intrusion into personal finances, and will create the greatest poverty trap since the Victorian era which inspired it. To use the dialect, it is a 'positive disincentive' with nobs on. Why take that part-time, underpaid menial job when all it will do is dump you at the bottom of the greasy property pole with all your family and trappings. And don't dilly-dally on the way.
The greater damage to British society is almost unmeasurable but will make the government into an even bigger enemy than it already is, and will therefore increase crime and anti-social behaviour in general. Should it remain un-repealed, it will decimate already fragile communities, and nip any budding neighbourliness in the bud. Even if your Charity Tenancy overlaps with that of your neighbour, what is the point of forming a relationship with someone who will be gone in less than 2 years? In today's busy working schedule, it can often take almost a year to establish any sort of relationship, based on the kind of casual interaction which normally happens in crowded council flats with no community centre or well-planned garden space. So any sense of community will be a thing of the past, and any fantasies of a Cameronian Big Society will recede even further into the fog.

The great lie is that social housing is a rescue service for the poor. A necessary evil which, in the capitalist utopia to come, will wither away, like the rest of the welfare state, and even the state itself. The reality is that it is a vital part of the social infrastructure of any advanced, industrial state.  As necessary as the road network or the national grid, providing the bedrock of local identity via stability and affordability of tenure. And requiring the same degree of investment and maintenance, not the open-season sabotage of the last twenty years.
As much as anything, it once offered genuine 'Choice' (remember that one?) of housing lifestyle. Those more interested in living their lives than chasing a mortgage, and who saw the buildings they lived in as homes, not machines for investment, were able to form strong links within their neighbourhoods, and the longer they stayed, the deeper the store of local knowledge and experience became. When responsibly managed the result is a strong community with all the benefits, all of which result in lower costs for other social services.
The teenager minister for housing Grant Schapps is claiming with some pride that the rolling bi-ennial wave of evictions, combined with a punitive increase in rents will pay to build more new social housing, which he says he believes is necessary. This is the biggest lie of all. If the New Poor law Amendment Act delivers any revenue at all, which is doubtful, it will immediately find its way into the pockets of grateful cowboy speculators, who will bang up their usual tacky boxes, and vanish overnight. The only real benefit to the government will be as another bulwark against local action and organisation. It is another shackle to genuine progress.
The Whig Poor Law Amendment Act Of 1834 decreed that external relief for the poor was to be stopped within two years, leaving them with the choice of the workhouse or starvation. No able-bodied person was to receive money or any other help from the poor law authorities except in a workhouse. The legislation was designed to root out the "undeserving poor". 
Some things never change. The act, passed by a combination of the predecessors of the Liberal Party and the Tories of the day, had exactly the same contempt for those who had no property, and was just as fearful of them.
The other effect of the 1834 act was to create a huge interventionist state machine to imprison or evict the 'undeserving poor' and safeguard its political dogma. The same thing will happen this time. As Cameron should have grasped from his holiday reading ('The Spirit Level', Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett) enforcing inequality always creates a bigger state. 
The default slogan of the Condems now appears to be 'You've Never Had it So Good', whether sanctioned by Number 10 or not. Which in a government is always a sure sign of being divorced form reality. It was predictable in the latter days of the Eden/Macmillan tory reign, and even excusable. But barely six months into a new administration must be some kind of record.
On our 
decrepit little South London estate in the late 70's there used to be 2 accountants, a doctor, 2 architects and even an executive from a city pensions fund. Along with various graduates in a range of scientific and clerical jobs, including one very well-paid person at the Home Office. As well as a range of plumbers, electricians, chippies and other tradesmen.
In general, people were quite happy not owning their homes. It was so much less worry. And people had more time to spend getting to know their neighbours and working with them to make all their lives better. 
That community is now a wasteland of strangers thanks to the wonder of the property ladder. Furthermore, our collective efforts in renovating and managing the block have made it so desirable to the property market that our reward will be excessive market-led rent increases, and the danger to or tenancies from the new housing benefit limit of £400. So the message is obviously 'Only Suckers Make An Effort'.

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