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Letters from the chairman

Housing: Who benefits? George Osborne must be the most economically illiterate Chancellor ever to hold that office.(If anyone knows differently, let me know,-with examples.)

With an acknowledged need to answer the problem of “home lessness”, GO announces in his latest budget a plan to subsidise home-buyers and underwrite mortgage lenders with tax-payers money! This open subsidy will only apply to new-build houses,not the Victorian terrace at the end of your street,or the 196 0’s semi-detached at the other side of town, so it will not apply to over 90% of the houses currently advertised in your local press at prices below £250,000.Clearly, this does nothing to assist buyers who can afford properties at below this rate i f only the banks would act like proper lenders,but instead is aimed at those with higher valued properties in mind,- newer, bigger houses.So, a boost to developers,certainly, not to the housing market in general, and likely to re-inflate the housin g bubble all over again!

As for the real problem,- that of the truly homeless and a desire of those on low pay and minimum wage,for good quality and affordable social housing: nothing at all is put forward.

Instead, a further attack on social tenants is announced: those who occupy a property “too large for their needs” will not receive full housing benefit;will certainly not receive a subsidy from the taxpayer for such extravagant living!

The number of rooms,- specifically bedrooms, will be prescribed under new rules so that children of certain ages will be expected to share a bedroom, and the needs of the disabled and sick for extra space to manage their conditions,will not be tolerated. It goes further:- recently an unemployed man,who could not use a computer-based system for job applications (the only route now available to job seekers),was told he would lose his JSA.If this system does not discriminate against the already disadvantaged,I find it hard to contemplate what would.

If computer literacy is to be an essential attribute for everyone, then the capacity for computer access and use should be factored in and guaranteed.In other words,every house should have a “computer room”,or a libr ary space,or a work area? So these “spare bedrooms” should be redefined as computer/library/work – space,because it is now essential for anyone trying to access government departments (especially the DWP or the tax office ).

Osborne’s governm ent is quickly and quietly closing down all access routes to government departments,with closure of tax offices..etc, then insisting it will only communicate via computer.This is deliberately discriminatory,and probably an attack on people’s basic human rights.I hope someone will find a way to test this through the courts all the way up to the ECHR. How can it be argued that someone seeking a job street cleaning or bin collecting requires a degree of computer competency.? You may as well in sist that all job applications are written in green or pink ink, or that direct enquiries at the factory gate or the office reception are outlawed, when clearly it shows that applying for a job can be done in many and various ways.

We have to conclude that this is a deliberate,and spiteful policy of attacking the poor in society,whilst protecting the rich and able.

This is not about saving taxpayer money,or labelling certain people as “undeserving” of social assistance (for comp are the absence of steps taken to deal with financiers and bankers who created this financial crisis; no MP has taken a pay cut or forgone their expenses claims to help the exchequer balance the books).This is purely ideological,and should be seen as such. No jobs are being created by government,but grant cuts to local councils are resulting in massive job losses at local level.Shrink the State is the ideological call,and prepare the way for the new wave of privateers and carpet-baggers .Profit before people. Those people who are targeted should realise this and become righteously angry. And we should be helping them.

Brian Else. (Chairman, Wakefield Green Party) April 1st 2013.