Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Brighton Tory proposes putting families on streets to cut housing benefit dependency

I am rarely surprised by the attitudes of Brighton's Tories: just when I'm beginning to get lulled ito a false sense of security and think that, actually, their hearts at least are in the right places, one of them does something completely mad and quasi-fascist, lke calling for a bike ride to be banned, or declaring van-dwellers to be 'unacceptable' or something. They really are, when it boils down to it, just the nasty party of old.

I had one of these moments on Thursday when, at a public council meeting, cabinet member Maria Caulfield, during a debate on housing benefit, actually proposed ending benefit dependency by withdrawing housing benefit from the poorest in our city, even if that means families end up on the street

During a debate on the Government's plans to cut housing benefit limits (to the extent that, according to housing experts, the benefit will be insufficient to meet rent costs in the private sector by 2020), Green councillor Bill Randall called for the council to formally ask the PM, and the city's MPs, to abandon plans to cut the benefit, and instead work with housing and homelessness charities and the Citizens Advice Bureaux to make sure every family has a secure, affordable, roof over their heads instead.

Maria, all heart as usual, said that while homelessness in the city was falling the costs of housing benefit were more than society could afford, and that she couldn't support Cllr Randall's call to protect the benefit.

In the end she persuaded enough of her fellow Tories and Lib-Dems to scupper the proposal, and it fell.

I can't imagine that's what the folk of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean voted for - I bet they're delighted she's decided to abandon them in favour of seeking a 'safer' Tory seat in next year's election.

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