Defence or Housing Benefit

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has apparently said that it would be difficult to justify housing benefit cuts in the face of what he termed “huge, huge sums to replace Trident”.

What are these “huge, huge” sums?  The construction and arming of 4 Trident ballistic missile carrying submarines is about £20 billion spread over 10 years.  Housing benefit in just one year has ballooned to £21 billion, which the coalition government aims to cut by all of 10% over 5 years, i.e. by £2.1 billion.  Included within the £21 billion are payments of £2,000 per week to a seven children asylum seeker family in the Westminster area.  The average housing benefit subsidy is about £5,000 per year per claimant, a non-contributory benefit about the same size as the old-age pension, payable at this rate after 44 years of contributions (now reduced to 30 years).  Any government which puts housing benefits on anything like this scale before its own national defence, or indeed before its own pensioners, is truly decadent. 

What would happen if Clegg and his LibDem party had their way?  Firstly the engineers and scientists needed to build the submarines would just go away and with them our last hope of ever again building anything bigger and more sophisticated than a rowing boat.  Secondly rents would stay much higher here relative to average earnings than in any other Western country.  None of the charities, LibDems and Labourites whose voices are so stridently raised against reductions in housing benefit seem to realise that subsidies on the present scale simply pass taxpayers’ money directly to landlords and keep the rent levels excessively high for all those not in receipt of housing subsidies. 

Cutting housing benefit would reduce rent in the private sector and help young people get a home together.  The only losers would be landlords who would have to reduce their rents in order to keep paying tenants.  Nobody would be put out on the streets.

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