THOUSANDS of families in England will be spending Christmas in fear that the New Year will bring eviction from their homes.
This was the message hammered home by a private landlord in a letter sent out to hundreds of his tenants in anticipation of the roll-out of Universal Credit in the area his company covers. Universal Credit is due to be introduced across north-east Lancashire on December 13th and new applicants will have at least six weeks, probably much longer, before they get the first payment they are entitled to.
At least six weeks with no money inevitably means that families will be left with nothing, no money for rent, heating, food or clothing. GAP Property, based in Grimsby, is certainly not prepared to see its profits cut by tenants falling into arrears, instead it is going to evict the lot as soon as they fall behind.
To ensure that its tenants were under no illusion about what would happen if they failed to pay up on time even if they had no money the company sent a letter to every one of them spelling out that:
‘GAP Property cannot sustain arrears at the potential levels Universal Credit could create (this affects the vast majority of our tenants), therefore we find it necessary to issue your Notice Seeking Possession.’
To make sure this threat was clear the letter states in capital letters: ‘IF YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT WE WILL HAVE NO OPTION BUT TO ASK YOU TO LEAVE AND RECOVER LOSSES FROM YOUR GUARANTOR.’
Accompanying the letter was a formal notice of possession, a device to cover the company from any legal holdups meaning that evictions could take place immediately a rent repayment was not met on the exact date due.
The owner of GAP Property, Guy Piggott, told the press that the letter was not intended to threaten tenants, an astounding statement given its contents. In fact this letter, which clearly reflects the attitude of landlords throughout the country, is designed specifically to threaten and scare tenants into making the choice – pay the rent, even if it means starving, or be thrown onto the streets.
Piggott revealed that he is fully aware of this when he explained that the majority of his tenants have an average family income of £17,000 a year saying: ‘People are already living hand to mouth,’ and that: ‘A lot of landlords are saying enough is enough.’
This repulsive threatening letter was revealed by Jeremy Corbyn during PMs Question Time in the House of Commons last Wednesday. After quoting from the letter Corbyn said: ‘Will the prime minister pause Universal Credit so it can be fixed?’
May responded making it clear the Tories had no intention of ‘pausing’ Universal Credit. Why should she, after all the whole basis of Universal Credit was to cut benefits and create a regime of fear by withholding payments which would force workers to accept any low-paid job on zero-hours contracts with no rights and completely under the domination of employers who can lay them off at will.
From the Tory perspective Universal Credit is working as designed – a tool to teach workers a lesson, to discipline them through fear – in other words a return to the days of the 19th century with its workhouses and poor laws.
Corbyn accepts Universal Credit ‘in principle’ and confines himself to begging the Tories for a pause so it can be made to work even better in disciplining workers, without running the risk of them rising up in a mass movement that will topple the May government just as the poll tax did for Thatcher.
Universal Credit can’t be fixed. It must be abolished as millions of workers, who are also saying enough is enough from this hopelessly weak Tory government, are now demanding. The time is long overdue for the TUC to be made to intervene and put an end to the attempts by the Tories to rule through a regime of fear by organising a general strike to kick them out and go forward to a workers government that will evict the landlords along with the bankers and bosses and provide decent, affordable social housing for all under socialism.