21 Apr

Housing poverty is a moral disgrace | Letters

In Weston-super-Mare, as elsewhere in Britain, the poorest tenants are facing a stark choice between eating and paying rentTom Wall’s piece on housing poverty in Weston-super-Mare brought into sharp focus what many of us living here have known for a long time (“Trapped in Britain’s new slums”, Special report). The crisis is the fault both of central government, for replacing the system of rents being paid directly to landlords with universal credit, leaving the poorest tenants with the stark choice between eating or paying rent, and of North Somerset council. Landlords and tenants alike had security under the old system and it was naive of the government to think that everyone was capable of managing their finances unaided.Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, a leading member of the Conservative cabinet within the council that makes all the big decisions, may speak blandly about there being no slum tenure but the facts belie this. He promises more inspections but who will do this, since council jobs have been cut and in some cases trading standards officers are having to act as environmental health officers? By refusing to institute mandatory licensing for landlords, North Somerset council has given carte blanche to rogue operators who, frankly, treat tenants as scum. Continue reading…

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