Housing benefit has been in the news a fair bit recently thanks to one particularly couple of greedy buy-to-let landlords, Fergus and Judith Wilson in Kent. Over the last 20 years they’ve used their wealth to acquire more than 1000 houses to rent out. This sort of speculation has pushed up house prices and is the reason why many people are living in rented accommodation rather than homes that they own themselves.
In January the Wilsons sent eviction notices to each of their 200 tenants who was claiming housing benefit. Fergus then made some bizarre statements to the press, first off announcing that people on benefits should “go out and get a job” (this coming from a multi-millionaire who speculates with his wealth rather than working for a living) and then suggesting that northerners should move to the south for work. By “Northerners” we can only assume he means anyone north of London (or west for that matter). He then blamed the government’s plans for housing benefit for causing the uncertainty which forced him to act in this way. Whilst its true that the coalition seems intent on not only slashing all benefits but also creating as much confusion as possible, we also think that landlords must take responsibility for their own actions. The Wilsons have chosen to evict 200 families simply because those families are already struggling to pay the bills.
Will landlords in Forest Fields and elsewhere in Nottingham follow suit?