I have worked in the public sector for most of my working life. I can recall the days when you were just a public servant and not a part of the propaganda machine, with heavily politicised views embedded in public policy across all public bodies, not to mention the third sector and much of corporate Britain.
Early on in my career I saw a lot of abuse of taxpayers money, lots of suspicious activity by service users, and the arrogance of the ones with a real sense of entitlement. This spurred me into moving on, and I got into an area of enforcement where I get paid to do what is a pleasure: separate those with their false sense of entitlement from their entitlements, tear the abusers away from the taxpayers’ various teats, and deliver some payback.
Even so, the job requires that I have to see some infuriating stuff. Files and papers come across my desk containing some real examples of where our country has gone so wrong and why things like the budget deficit and current account deficit are jammed at nightmare levels; I am seeing the causes of these phenomena at micro level.
Sometimes these instances are not examples of criminality, but the unnecessary loss of taxpayer funds, or loss of assets to the nation such as a housing unit, and they are there right under my nose. One or two of such examples would of course be negligible, but when you consider these are occurring in the hundreds of thousands then the burden adds up.
I will share with you a few recent examples of cases that have recently come to my attention.
I had cause to view a homelessness file not long ago. The main subject was a male from South America applying as homelessness. The file showed that he attended the relevant office with his wife, also from the same nation. He showed a passport from the South American nation concerned with Indefinite Leave to Remain that was issued in 2012 (so two years after Call Me Dave got in) and lasts until the end of the decade. The wife’s passport was apparently at the Home Office, but she had a copy.
The staff established that she arrived in UK in 2007 on a student visa, hubby arrived in 2011. They married a few years ago. At the time of the interview they were occupying a property with two bedrooms paid for by Housing Benefit of about £100pw on the basis of a social housing tenancy. This tenancy was acquired on a temporary basis by a Registered Provider of social housing from a private landlord. The private landlord required the property back for renovation, hence the application as homeless. They have one child already and the wife is pregnant again.
A right to buy application came to my attention a while back. The tenant was an immigrant of West Indian origin, and had since been joined in the property by a partner. The partner (of same origin) was on the application as well, using the rule that a partner or family member who has resided at the tenanted address for 12 months or more prior to the application may join the right to buy application.
The partner had supplied some papers in support of the application which indicated links to another area. This was looked into and it was established that the partner owned a property in this other area which was rented out to an immigrant on Housing Benefit. This scenario does not exclude them from continuing to maintain the social tenancy with its low rent, nor from pursuing the right to buy with the £103,000 discount.
These large discounts (standard for London) are kept by the applicant if they do not sell for five years; a fifth of the discount is retained by the tenant for each full year after the right to buy is completed. They can rent it out the day they complete if they want.
In my experience every scheme the State has dreamt up, either of handouts or taxation, is weak, full of loopholes, and operates on the premise of “if in doubt, hand it out”. Much of these weaknesses, or the schemes themselves, were dreamt up in the Labour years and to date the Tories have left them intact; in some cases, as with Right To Buy, they have created them along with large liabilities for taxpayers.
As for the origin of those that are exploiting these entitlements upon entitlements, let’s not go there (this time).