Tuesday 14 January 2014


Click to enlarge.

Housing Benefit costs a fortune.

No one can deny that.

Simply put, the value of property, particularly in London and the south east of England, has rocketed over the last 15 years. And with that increase in value, along with the lack of state owned housing, private landlords have been able to increase their rents by enormous amounts.
At the same time the value of the minimum wage has decreased, the  percentage of jobs which pay this niggardly amount, and the number of part time, or zero hour contract positions has dramatically increased making it almost impossible to pay rent from what Mr or Mrs Average earns.

At which point the government has to provide assistance.

Both working people and those on unemployment and sickness type benefits would be homeless without this help.

Since he was appointed to the post of Work and Pensions Secretary in the Westminster parliament, but with power over benefits in Scotland, Iain Duncan Smith has set about cutting the amount that is paid in what he likes to call "welfare", but what is, in fact, social security: part of the contract we have with the Uk government, in that we pay them Nation Insurance from our income and they provide us with cover when times get hard.

Encouraged by multimillionaire finance secretary, George Osborne (a man not averse to a bit of benefit grabbing for himself), who doesn't have a clue what a poor person actually looks like, Duncan Smith (who is also fond of his benefits like £39 breakfasts) has set about dismantling social security, in some cases carrying on from work started by Labour in the previous administration.

All this has been happening while the economy has been in pretty much permanent depression, a time when you would have expected there to be a higher call on social security. 

Now Nicola has pointed out to him how this affects Scotland, as is her duty. This is, yet again, a largely English problem being paid for in Scotland.

The other day, on one of the posts where this subject had come up in an off topic comment, I painted a little picture. It went like this:

Lad goes to uni at 18; moves out of family home; parents can't afford spare bedroom; parents move to smaller house with 1 bedroom. Lad kips on settee when he pops home from uni to see his folks.

Skip a few years…

Lad, now 21/22, graduates (in England with HUGE debts); lad manages to get a job in town where he has spent 3/4 years at uni; he rents flat in said town.

Skip 9 months…

The company he works for goes under or runs into hard times; the lad is made redundant at 23; he can't get housing benefit for his flat; he has perhaps up to £50,000 of debt; he can't get another job; he is thrown out of his flat; he can't go home because parents no longer have room for him on a permanent basis; he is homeless.

It's probably difficult for someone who lives in a lordly mansion owned by his father in law to see how this would work. In IDS’ world there is are spare bedrooms, or someone who can build another wing on the already massive house, or maybe a wife who can claim a salary for not doing a job …but in the real world with real people, it happens.

It is a hell of a pity no one in the UKOK government is a real person or lives in the real world. Fortunately in Edinburgh there are some people who know how the other half lives.

This isn't about making political points. Really it isn't. If Johann Lamont or Wee Willie Rennie were writing to IDS I'd be behind them too.

At worst it's about kids and/or people in their 20s being homeless, but with no space back in the family home to take refuge. At very least it's about people living in cramped and overcrowded conditions like they were doing in the 1930s and 40s as three or four generations have no alternative but to crowd into tiny flats.
And it's about greedy landlords, who are the only people who benefit from this. What about rent controls Duncan Smith?


  1. "To determine someone's intentions, look at what they do and assume that it's what they meant to do."

    So, Westminster wants a large homeless and destitute population of 20-25 year olds. What does this lead to?

    These desperate young people start theiving in order to survive. Or they turn to worse crimes, because it's the only way that they can stay alive.

    Crime rates soar. (Politicians get backhanders, sorry "campaign contributions" from criminal bosses to maintain their workforce)

    Government starts talking about "being tough on crime", passes more laws to increace the number of things you can be arrested for, puts more power in prosecutors hands, and more money in private prision owners' pockets.

    Increaces the "security state". Puts more government money in their surveilence and security guard companies. Maybe starts privatising police forces around the country. TSA-level security checks become common.

    Riots and crime waves become more and more frequent, so the police become more and more militarised. "Zero tolerance" laws become commonplace, and for more and more minor offences.

    Racial scapegoats are raised in the media, blaming all the trouble on vagrants, then immigrants, then someone else in a long stream.

    Martial Law is declared (it was in effect in all but name already), along with a state of national emergency. Simply disagreeing with the government becomes a crime.

    Government decides that they need a war worthy of insituting a draft to distract everyone and kill off lots of the "troublemakers". Starts using the media to raise tensions (easy enough to do). I doubt they'd pick on Poland, but you get the idea...

    Think this isn't going to happen in this country? Just how unreasonable do you think each of those steps is on it's own? A lot of them have already started.

    Yes, people will push back against this, but that's the way Westminster are heading, as far as I can see it.

  2. God help us if we're stupid enough to vote no, in the referendum.

    1. It's not that far fetched.

      They are already doing the most terrible things to people in London where the rents are exorbitant. People have been moved to ex-seaside resorts where rents are cheaper, removed from their families and the local support network.

      But your description taken step by step is quite plausible.

      What a nightmare scenario.

    2. Yes, look at America which is showing the way for the UK to follow, as it usually does. The 'Land of the Free' has a higher percentage of its population in prison than any other country in the world, and their Department of Education has its own SWAT team. Kids in school get arrested by armed cops for minor breaches of school rules and hauled before a court instead of the principal, especially if they are black. Anyone who protests is liable to be labeled as a terrorist and threatened with long prison sentences, while bankers who have overseen, and personally profited from, massive fraud are mostly immune from prosecution. The NSA spies on people inside and outside the USA to an extent that the Stasi and the KGB could only have dreamed of.

      In the UK, Cameron is starting to make Thatcher look like a moderate, Labour are very, very nearly as right wing as the Tories, and the only possible challenge is from UKIP. The coalition wants austerity, more austerity, and still more austerity (but only for the plebs, naturally), but somehow the more cuts they make, the faster the national debt grows. The poor are being demonised and persecuted, and xenophobia is rampant in the gutter press and elsewhere. The government is pushing through a bill supposedly to curb political lobbying, but whose main effect may well be to limit the ability of charities to express any criticism of government policies. GCHQ is probably snooping as intensively as the NSA. No cop ever seems to be punished, or even disciplined for incompetence, for shooting someone who is unarmed, but someone who takes a couple of bottles of water from a shop which has already been looted gets sent to prison.

      The nightmare is already here for many people. The best, and perhaps the only chance for Scotland of escaping from a corporate fascist near future is independence.

    3. I never thought I'd think of Tahtcher as being moderate... but in many things she wopuldn't have done what Cameron has got away with.

      And yet his right wing think he is a wet wimp and want him to lay down the law to the EU about immigration.

      Interestingly, a country can already say to the EU that they are going to have to halt immigration from within the union, because of the mess of their economy. In short they have to admit to being broke. Strangely, although the UK is broke, Cameron seems to feel it might be embarrassing for him to have to admit it.

      It must have been horrifically embarrassing for him when it was pointed out that EU immigrants have been beneficial to the economy. So even if he wanted to use the "broke" ploy, he couldn't. Broke the UK may be, but broker is would be without the Poles!!

      But yes, goodness me the gutter press are laying it on thick with the hate. There could be riots when it gets a bit warmer (Brits don't really do riots in the cold). All caused by the Daily Mail. Express, Sun and Star.

      As I've said before, I'm not patriotic about Scotland or the UK. I truly believe that patriotism is the last vestige of a scoundrel. My reasons for wanting independence are that I'm sick of living under a regime that I deplore and loathe and a government so detached from reality as the Cameron, Brown and Blair ones have been.

  3. tris

    Landlords vote Tory so no rent controls.......perhaps the
    Tory vermin scum are best to squeeze housing benefit till
    the renter pips squeak.
    And with the consequent social upheaval people can make
    there views known or not

    1. I can't see how they will be able to avoid some sort of reaction come the warm weather in England, Niko.

      life is becoming nightmarish.

      Their government tried to introduce a law that said you should be able to be punished for being a nuisance... OK, the Lords threw it out, but that won't stop them. It will be reintroduced as a footnote to something else...

  4. City of London is a world centre for criminals.

    Organised crime infiltrated and compromised UK courts, police, HMRC, Crown Prosecution Service, prisons, and juries

    A leaked Scotland Yard report disclosed in The Indepedent documents the near-total corruption of the British government and justice system by organised criminals. The report documents "Operation Tiberius," which dates to 2003, and contains a series of explosive allegations about corruption, including the sale of £50,000 "get out of jail free cards," the buying off of juries, and the "at will" infiltration of Scotland Yard by gangs.

    Keiser Report: Shrinkflation

  5. tris


    Bedroom tax plans are a levy on the grief of the poor
    When I lost my son, preserving his room for a while was a help. But poor and grieving families may soon be denied this choice

    1. Aye, that made me cry a bit Niko.

      Three months?

      And where do you move to?

      And who pays when nothing fits and you need new carpets and curtains, and the three piece suite doesn't fit into your smaller apartment.

      So vile, this government. Vile people with vile policies and a vile lack of humanity.

  6. Roll on Scottish independence , we will be rid of about 41 labour MPs plus all the SNP grievance mongers who vote with them in the UK parliament

  7. Yeah, roll on, and we'll be rid of those self-serving tossers at Westminster. Better off or worse off, in or out of sterling and Europe - the policies will be set by a government WE'VE voted for, and who have OUR interests at heart. Roll on indeed!


    1. Of course all the threats about sterling, and Eu are totally empty ones.

      Being worse off too is only an option if it were also for Norway. Simply, being a member of the G8 and the PMUNSC is an expensive business. Like joining one of these smart London clubs for gentlemen.

      We'll be better off and safer too! Not being part of a country that bombs hell out of the middle east will have advantages.

      But most of all, our policies, different as they already are in the areas devolved to us, will be more decent and fairer for everyone. And made in Edinburgh. A sign of quality.

  8. This is about social engineering and a victorian right wing agenda. I don't believe that this is about wanting crime to increase so that more draconian powers can be brought in. They can do that anyway now given how beaten down the population is and how little fight we have left for any of the three tory parties. This for me is about power, where does power lie, in the 70s power shifted a little to the people via the unions who in the main played their hand very badly across the board. Oil was then used to fund a neo con economic agenda designed by Reagan and Thatcher but rejected by Germany and France to a large extent. That agenda believes that you require an underclass to keep costs down, and that by having an underclass those who can will and those who can't F them.

    This was cemented in place by a War against Argentina and we all know Britain loves a war, we have actually never stopped fighting somewhere in the world and this saved Thatcher at a time when the Labour Party was riven with jealousy and bad politicians, continues today with even worse politicians. They are the poor mans Tory Party now, Michael Foot was the last decent man at the top and through their petty jealousy and in fighting they destroyed him.

    So now we have a political movement who have convinced the poor to hate and blame the poor as they go about re-creating their own Downton Abbey and we have a Liberal/Labour movement that has decided it can't win against the posh so will hang on to their coat tails and milk as much as they can from the state to ensure at the very least they or their families won't have to go to the local foodbank. Hell if they can steal enough their kids will get to study abroad until the party finds them somewhere to go or Mummy and Daddy's connections find them a nice wee job somewhere while they drive past the poor and hungry and say oh how sad is that lets not do something about it.

    This country will have to make a decision very soon or lose everything. If we vote no we are going to have to hope that enough of the English poor have some fight in them somewhere and take to the streets because no one gives a shit what Scotland thinks. A time is going to come, the first time is this September when we have to choose a side, and low and behold all of us if we don't choose the right one. The wrong choice in September will open the flood gates to attacks on our way of life, our health, our livelyhood and everything that we think we believe in. We better get it right.


    1. No, it's not ABOUT wanting crime to increase and the following scenarios as laid out in anon's post earlier... That's quite right.

      But the increase in crime and the steps that will have to be taken to deal with what will become an unruly underclass are pretty likely results of the policies to create a class ridden society after, as you suggest, some sort of Dickensian fashion.

      Simply the Tories didn't like the advances made by the trades unions and the real Labour party. The equality that was forced upon them during the post war years. The reduction in deference.

      I heard a radio clip of a reported asking a question of some prime minister of long ago. He called him "sir" and asked if he would "care to comment" on whatever the situation was. The PM relied that he would not care to comment and the reported said "thank you sir".

      Compare that with the hard time that Cameron gets, or Brown got.

      The want to put the lid back on that.

      So I believe you are right... but I still think that, because you can only push the lower orders so far, the increase in crime, and the draconian measures to stem it, are a real possibility.

      Cameron interfered with English law and the freedom of the judges when he was forced to come back from his Tuscan holiday a couple of years ago when the streets were ablaze, and he instructed the judges, magistrates or whatever they are called, to give the most severe penalties possible under the law.

  9. OP here.

    "I don't believe that this is about wanting crime to increase so that more draconian powers can be brought in."

    The draconian powers is the goal, increaced crime is an excuse that's easy to manufacture. The other easy excuses to manufacture are also being tried, but they don't seem to be working as well at the moment (War, we're under invasion by "foreigners")

    The problem we have, is no-one major in politics is pushing the other way (the SNP aren't really, the SSP aren't big enough, and currently need to throw all their support behind the SNP to even have a chance at their goals being achieved)

    Here's the alternate path:

    "Vice" crimes are stricken from the books, and a general amnesty declared and pardons issued for anyone who was involved in the drug trade or prostitution. Police and prision budgets are cut appropriately. Currently illegal drugs are either available from pharmacists, corners shops, or by pescription, depending on how strong they are.

    A "national stipend" is introduced, to replace unemployment benefits. Initially income taxes are raised by an equal amount, so it has no effect on people who are working. A national bank is established to faccilitate this, where your account number *is* your national insurance number.

    Income taxes are simplified to a line, rather than the current stepped "bands", so there is no point where you are better off being paid less.

    More government and council owned housing is built. No rent requirered in these if you are unemployed.

    The subsequent drop in crime from lack of desperate people will allow further reductions in the police force.

    Education, childcare, transport, fuel/power, telecoms, postal service are all nationalised and made free at the point of use. Taxes may need to be raised to afford this, but the average person/family will be better off overall.

    The coastal lifeboats are rolled into the ambulance and fire services, rather than being charities run by volunteers on donations.

    Weapon regulations are relaxed, and target shooting and paintball are encouraged as national sports instead of football. (This won't cause a crime wave, since everyone has enough food, and a home, and a good education, and free help with any mental problems that they may have)

    When personal weapon ownership reaches 60%, the army is disbanded and the navy is rolled into the police force. (It's already been heavily co-ordinated with them for ages, since mostly it's been acting as "offshore police and long-distance rescue" for the oil and fishing industries) The only military organisation left is the air force.

    Some other countries start emulating us, Washinton-DC and London get *really mad*, especially when the north of England votes to join us, and some American States start trying to follow our example.

    Someone probably tries invading (probably a USA/England coalition), and find out we've become a second Switzerland. Conventional invasions fail to hold any ground due to everyone being an "armed nutter" (just think about someone trying to hold Texas by force, ignoring the rest of the USA, do you think it's possible?)

    A media blackout on Scotland is tried, and while it works in America, it fails in England.

    At this point, they either nuke us, or we win and build a space fountain in the north sea with our massive renewable energy reserves.

    Some of that may be less readily believeable than the other scenario, but that's the best path to get us close to utopia that I can see.

    PS: Would it be possible to remove the limited size box around the comment field, firefox lets you resize the text entry field, which makes long comments far easier to write, but you've got it wrapped in another field, that is essentially locking it's size. Thanks ;)

    1. Interesting thoughts, OP.

      Yes, some of them do seem pretty far fetched, but, in a world where everything changes by the day, and we can do things that 20 years ago would have been considered science fiction by most of us outside of the scientific community... who knows. As everything changes it is unrealistic to suppose that government will not.

      And being stuck in a timewarp of tradition for the sake of it starts to be totally impracticable.

      As for the box.... I haven't a clue, but Munguin will have his finest engineer look at the problem to see if we can solve it.

      Use Google Chrome here at munguin Towers. It's the best way to get a decent service from Google Blogger!

    2. Well, none of what I suggested requires a change in government, just a change in the priorities of those running it.

      Personally, I don't believe that it matters one whit what type of government you have, all that matters is the moral fibre and priorities of those in charge. "Democracy" (lit: rule of the mob) was supposed to keep the worst people in government scared enough that the people would kick them out to not do anything too stupid, but it doesn't seem to be doing any better than anything else from my perspective.

      We could do almost all of my "good path" today if they'd see the obvious that's lying in front of them. The first few would result in *less* government expediture. Why no-one is suggesting them I have no idea.

      If we want to live in a better world, we do have to be willing to change the one we live in.

    3. Ye. We need the will, and we need the vision.

      We nee to be brave enough to look at new ways of doing things. Something hidebound Britain is not prepared to do.

      No matter how bad things are, anything else would be worse!

  10. Nicola's got the same toaster as me...

    Anyhow, have you seen the Telegraph's home page yet?

    1. Ewwww.

      That's quite a game changer.

      I've just seen the headlines; it's rather a sensational announcement. I'll have to read the story to find out what this group of likeminded countries is...

      I'm guessing ones with hard right wing governments....

    2. Clearly Nicola has been copying your good taste in kitchenwear!!.

  11. Prestwick Academy ‪#‎indyref‬ debate results:

    BEFORE - Yes 33% No 44
    AFTER - Yes 51% No 40%.

    Well done to YSIer Kieran Glyn for helping to bring the debate to more young people. It has been demonstrated many times that, when presented with the arguments, Young Scots shift overwhelmingly in favour of a YES vote. Let's make sure that every Scot has the chance to make an informed decision on September 18th!

  12. Hang onto your hat William Hague and Danny Alexander are flying into Glasgow on Friday, just to tell you how lucky you are to be part of the union.

    Hague will stress, that you yes you are extremely safe as part of the UK due to NATO, and that if we go our own way we will face the wrath of well err! somebody. Hague also points out that we get the benefit of zillions of foreign UK embassies and if we go well they'll not let us use them if we desperately need the toilet..oops! gotta go damn no embassies in sight.

    1. I'm wondering at the Englishman Hague having something to say to us about something which his boss says is nothing to do with Englishmen.

      I mean I don't mind Englishmen or Welshmen or Nepalese men (or women) having their say, but, I wish they had the balls to do it in a situation where they could be questioned.

      As for being safe with the UK... it's another one of these myths. How, why, in what way, are we safer?

      There are, because of the UK's misadventures in the Near and Middle East, not to mention North Africa an endless stream of people who bear grudges against Brits. I never feel entirely safe about being British. Next to Americans, most of whom also with their government wouldn't poke its interfering beak into everything everywhere, we must be one of the least popular people's in the world. Safe my arse.

      As for the embassies, they are, apparently currently being used to talk Scotland down. But as it goes, as EU members we are entitled to use, with our EU passports, any member embassy, anywhere in the world. Finland to Malta; Portugal ro Romania...

      I don't actually know one single person who has ever had any help from embassies or consulates, and in some cases they have actually found them obstructive.

      Craig Murray will tell you what kind of people populate the FCO. The kind that looked down their nose at him because he only went to Dundee University and questioned what High Table was like there... ie Snobby, privileged nomarks!

  13. Replies
    1. Thanks. Don't always like him much, but he does talk good sense sometimes.