The latest issue of Streets Ahead, the newsletter of housing association Eastlands Homes in Manchester has this advice on dealing with the bedroom tax.
“Can you really afford Sky, cigarettes, bingo, drinks and other non essentials? If your benefit is being cut and you want to keep your home you have to make up the difference. Non-essential items won’t matter if you lose your home. Start budgeting now – we can help you do this, call us!”
This is outrageous for several reasons. It implies that all social housing tenants are unable to budget and will put those things first. It implies that they need things explaining to them at such a patronising level. It assumes that people on benefits are feckless and stupid rather than unlucky. It refers to cutting out everything nice in your life as “budgeting”. It assumes that people even could afford those things in the first place without scrimping and saving. It assumes that no person on housing benefit should ever have even minor luxuries, the tiniest of nice things. That poor people should sit in a corner, shut up, stare at the wall with no TV on it, never go out socially, and wait for their miserable existence to end.
I want to see an apology and a retraction from Eastlands Homes for this insulting language and perpetuating of stereotypes.
Update 2013-03-18 13:30
Eastlands Homes have put out an apology of sorts. Unfortunately it’s a “sorry if you were offended” which implies it’s your fault rather than a “sorry we got it wrong”.
We’re sorry if our article offended you.
We’ve lobbied continuously against the government cuts which threaten the quality of life for many of our customers. We’ve increased the range of support and advice for anyone struggling in the face of these cuts as you will see from our newsletter.
We know there will be stark choices – our message is that we are here to help wherever possible and we’re sorry if we worded that clumsily.
The offence isn’t caused by their wording. The offence is caused by the whole view that they have of their tenants that their statement betrays.