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Building programme needed, not Coalition housing chaos

Chaotic coalition policies on housing benefit are causing alarm and distress to families and children who have the misfortune to be poor and living in Britain’s inner cities. The plan for an ill-considered cap on housing benefit smacks of the sort of political opportunism which has already become the hallmark of the ConDems.

Reform of the housing benefit system must go hand in hand with a serious programme of house building so that the 800,000 people currently threatened by changes in the system can be catered for. That would bring real benefits to the economy as well as helping to bring down private rents.

If housing benefit is to be capped, it is obvious that there must be a cap on rents too. Instead, we face the prospect of children and their families being forcibly relocated from the places where they are settled, and where their schools and parents’ jobs are, to migrate to other areas where there is no guarantee they can be accommodated.

Schools in those areas will already be suffering from the lack of investment which was one of the first policy decisions of the coalition, so those children will be seeking to continue their education in schools that are already overcrowded and inadequate.

This is a policy for social disaster, with councils and social services expected to pick up the pieces.

Len McCluskey is Assistant General Secretary of Unite and a candidate for General Secretary. Balloting is currently underway. Members who have not received a ballot paper by Monday 8 November 2010 should contact the ballot enquiry service on 0800 783 3856. The ballot closes on 19 November.

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