If you’re reading this, the chances are that you are not. But here in the YUK changes are being made to the social security system by the present administration. This post deals with one of them only.
In the past, people on housing benefits had their rent paid to their landlord directly by the social security department. One change recently introduced has been that rent money is now given direct to the claimant instead, who should then pass it on to the landlord. Well, guess what, some of them don’t.
There will be various reasons for this. Some people finding they have money – not what they are used to – will do something radical with it. Like spend it. It even turns out that some were unaware of the previous system. They have been heard to say things like, ‘But I don’t pay rent!’ And in one way this was true. It was done for them but they didn’t know that.
It may be that the motive behind this change was to make people more responsible for their own lives: a good idea in principle, but not everyone is capable of doing this. And so rent arrears are building up to the point where our local council is spending a lot of money creating displays alerting tenants to the problem and advising them to get in touch. This expenditure of time, effort and money was not needed under the previous system, which may have been paternalistic/maternalistic (delete according to your choice) but did at least have the advantage of working.
I am daily depressed by what this government is doing to make the lives of people who already struggle more miserable.
So am I, but I find this example particularly depressing since the result of the new policy was so predictable and therefore so preventable.