Wednesday, 4 January 2012
The ripple effect
Politicians often don’t think things through if they can grab a quick headline and get themselves some cheap and populist publicity. The latest example is the Chair of the Welsh select committee, David Davies.
Apparently he is much aggitated by the number of immigrants coming into Wales. Indeed he has laid a challenge to green organisations to back him in calling for a curb on immigration.
His argument is based on what he calls “the ripple effect.” That is new arrivals come to London and other major cities. Because of this there is a strain on housing which he argues pushes existing residents further out. They in turn displace others and so on. Eventually, there is an increase inward migration into Wales.
So there we have it, in a nutshell more migrants into the UK means indirectly more settlers in our communities. A compelling argument some would think.
But hold on, what has caused the greater movement from cities outwards is the government, yes, the government that Mr Davies supports with his vote in the House of Commons.
Changes to housing benefit. In my blog on George Osborne’s first budget it was flagged up as in the small print [see http://ogarethhughes.blogspot.com/2010/10/benefits-who.html]
What was predicted then has now come to pass.
Only this week the Guardian’s front page said that housing experts were predicting that “a further 800,000 homes will be put out of reach of people on housing benefit because of government welfare cuts – leaving low income families the choice of cutting spending on food to pay the rent or moving out.”
Mr Osborne’s budget, caused the government to cap housing benefit payments. For example, in a two bedroomed house, housing benefit would be capped at a maximum £250 a week.
The cut is compounded by the allowances being scaled back by pegging them to the bottom third of rents in any borough. The result is that in many towns and cities there will not be enough affordable homes to rent for those claiming local housing allowance, the benefit paid to tenants of private landlords.
So the budget that was supported by Mr Davies is going to lead to many leaving their current homes and moving.
Oh, but the good people of Monmouth are not going to be affected by the fact that there are going to be thousands more claimants than properties that are affordable on benefits alone. No, it will people in coastal towns such as Rhyl and Colwyn Bay, where the poor will migrate to “benefit ghettoes” in seaside towns.
Unless, of course, Mr Davies’s famous ripple effects comes into effect and the existing residents of these areas decide to up sticks and move to Monmouth. Perish the thought, Mr Davies.
No, Mr Davies, would be better occupied asking the Green organisations to join him in a campaign to reverse the rules on housing benefit than play to the popular prejudice that demonises the immigrant.