Friday, 12 August 2011

Evicting Rioters & Their Families?

Among the many knee jerks following the riots is the proposal that those convicted of rioting offences may be evicted from council housing.

Cameron backs plans to ensure that council tenants found guilty of taking part in the mayhem will be evicted. Ministers are re-drafting consultation documents to ensure that councils get those powers. The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, was tightening the law to make sure that even if a rioter was convicted of a crime outside their borough they could lose their council home, something that is not possible at the moment. ''Criminal or anti-social behaviour in the local neighbourhood by a tenant or a member of their family can provide grounds for eviction,'' he said. ''The government is looking to strengthen those powers and so anyone involved in the unrest should stop and think about the long-term impact that their actions will have on the rest of their lives.''

David Cameron told MPs it "should be possible to evict them and keep them evicted". He said: "Parents have a responsibility to control the young people living in their home. If young people living in your home have been involved in the violence over the past few days, they are putting your tenancy at risk."

Some sensibly pointed out that it would mean moving problem social-housing tenants to different areas, but there is a much deeper issue involved here. The whole idea of social housing is wrong and local government certainly should not own or let housing. However much you might try to avoid it, being a council tenant is stigmatising. Being is social housing labels people in a way that depresses expectations and and diminishes the chances of social mobility.

It will be said by some that housing is a fundamental right and it is necessary to subsidise the housing needs of poor people. Well food and clothing are just as essential needs, but not many people would say that the state should produce these needs. The truth is that the state is a very bad landlord and there is no more reason that they should be in that business than that they should be making jeans or baking bread.

There is very strong competition and highly efficient supply of functional clothing and basic food. Contrast that with long housing waiting lists, poor maintenance standards and enormous tax burden in the provision of council housing. What is required is for all housing to be privately owned and available in the same market irrespective of whether you are wealthy or poor. Supply will then meet demand, subject to it not being distorted by stupid planning laws, and people will be able to buy or rent accommodation that is suited to their means and needs.

Another aspect of the eviction proposal is the collective punishment involved. Stalin used to send the families of his political opponents to Siberia after he had shot the main irritant. This was generally regarded in the west as being a bit unfair, but it seems that we are happy with the principle. Is it really right that a woman and children could be put out onto the street because the man of a house is a looter. Not in my view.

We need clarity and to remain rational. It can be no part of a civilised justice system for a person and their family to be thrown out of their home as punishment for a crime unrelated to their use of that home. The state would not get into this muddled thinking if it understood its proper role and left housing to the the citizens who own and live in them.


  1. Mal, in general I agree with you. However I do approve of he message that you can lose your tenancy if you break the law in a serious way. It starts the debate that welfare is a privilege not a right. This may than act as a stepping stone to strengthen the argument that the state should not be providing housing at all.

    I would go further and treat welfare as an account that can go overdrawn i.e. looters fined £100,000 and receive no benefit until it is paid off, either in cash or foregone benefits. Until individuals realise that there are consequences to their actions there is no incentive to behave decently.

    Could you imagine a fully private rented society? Anti-social people would get nowhere to live. That is fine by me as they are twats.

  2. "The Cameron government in the UK – like almost all social welfare governments – spends more than it can afford. It realised it had to stop feeding the zombies so much. It announced cut backs. This week, the zombies counterattacked.

    ‘They don’t treat me right,’ said one zombie quoted in the International Herald Tribune. ‘They just give me enough money to eat and watch TV.’

    When they are not eating at taxpayer expense... or watching TV at taxpayer expense... in an apartment paid for at taxpayer expense... wearing clothes furnished at taxpayer expense, they are likely communicating by cellphone or Blackberry or iPhone, also provided at taxpayer expense. This week, the zombies got in touch with one another and decided to upgrade their lifestyles by breaking into shops and stealing things. That too, was at taxpayer expense. But it wasn’t an expense authorised by the peoples’ representatives in Parliament. The zombies had declared war.

    The British feds were outraged. They had spent so much money on these people. Why were they biting the hands that fed them? Ah... you know the answer, Dear Reader. Because the system had turned almost a whole generation of people into zombies. Zombies are used to getting something for nothing. If they get it from the feds… or take it directly, what is the difference? And what else do they have to do? Watching TV all day is boring. For a brief time this week, zombies were on the march.

    It probably won’t be the last time. The Zombie Wars have begun.

    Until Monday,

    Bill Bonner
    The Daily Reckoning"

    The only real way to deal with a Zombie is decapitation.

  3. The problem isn't that a criminal loses their tenancy, but that a family is thrown out of their home because one of them has been convicted of something unrelated to living in that house. Collective punishment is always wrong.

    Yes I can certainly envisage a society in which all housing is privately owned. That was the case until fairly recently in our history. It was only after the second world war that there was a large amount of council housing.

    There will be people who cannot manage a tenancy and find themselves without a self managed home. Those people will have to take a room or a bed in hostels owned and managed by charities, churches, social enterprises and private landlords who choose to be in that part of the market. Council housing is not a solution for people who are unable to manage a home.

    I agree that people need to understand where welfare comes from and that they have a responsibility to use it properly. I have no problem with criminals being required to make restitution for their crimes in full. If they are benefit recipients, that should be taken from them until the bill is paid.

  4. Am gonna see if the council will give us a bigga house. This new Plasma Telly is tekin up too much room.