650 young Lewisham residents could be hit by housing benefit cuts

The vastly-improved-since-it-became-free Evening Standard reports that 12,000 young people in London risk losing their homes due to cuts in housing benefits, according to housing charity Crisis. Lewisham is in the top ten boroughs likely to be hit, with 650 people expected to be affected. The paper explains:


Official figures show that single people aged between 25 and 35 will lose as much as £116 per week.

Claimants will only be given enough to rent a room instead of a one-bedroom flat now, bringing them into line with the under-25s.

97 comments:

Ian on The Hill said...

Hmm, why did this post cause me to flashback to this I wonder?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReIAna459sg

Anonymous said...

The people who rent rooms will just put there prices up,not only that who will pay the deposit they normally ask for.

Coney said...

Well we'll see how this pans out. Bedsitting at 30+, expect the nhs prozac bill to go up.

Anonymous said...

Housing benefit is ridiculous and needs capping. I am on a low income, and live in a crappy cheap place because I can't afford anything better. I've never claimed housing benefit. My tax on my low income subsidises people to live in places that I couldn't afford. Not fair.

Carrie said...

I am on a low income, and live in a crappy cheap place because I can't afford anything better. I've never claimed housing benefit.

I live in a 'crappy cheap place' as well as claiming housing benefit. I moved there back when I was working and have remained, despite having had the opportunity to claim a greater rent allowance, because I wanted to still be able to afford the rent and not have to move again when I return to work. Most private landlords and managing agents will not accept housing benefit anyway, meaning that desirable properties are rarely occupied by claimants.

Are you aware that you can claim housing benefit whilst in full-time employment? It is not limited to people who are out of work. Many claimants are, in fact, earning on a low income like yourself and this renders your entire holier than thou argument completely irrelevant.

m said...

London doesn't or shouldn't work on benefits. Anyone working on the minimum wage doesn't need housing benefit. We've all been there, and it's doable. I did it when I was 25-35.
The idea of an outcry over people not being given enough [free] cash to rent a whole flat is just absurd.

patrick1971 said...

I agree with m. I lived in shared housing until I was nearly 30, and I know many who did so until they were well into their 30s. I can't get too upset about this "cut"; a room in a shared house is fine for a single person.

Anonymous said...

Well done m, your point is? the the minimum wage is £6.08 an hour, tax, food, rent etc... work it out.

My grandad smoked 60 a day and lived to 90, individual anecdotes do not really tell us anything useful. Smoking is still a bad idea I believe?

pip said...

It seems reasonable to expect someone 25-35 to share a house rather than having a flat to themselves, unless they can afford to finance it from their own earnings.

Anonymous said...

It's a popular cut to a benefit that was mushrooming. Many of us will have house or flat shared well into adulthood. It's character forming. If you really need your privacy, then one word: Plumstead.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon re: Plumstead

"Have you thought about Thamesmead?" was the tactic Dad used to persuade me to get a job the moment college had finished...

Anonymous said...

Funny how a few years ago when it was all hunky dory nobody gave a damn how much money was being wasted on benefits,now with the recession the benefit claimants are the ones getting the blame.

Anonymous said...

No, not the blame. They are just being asked to adjust to harder times like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

the 'rest of us'. Yep, put our fellow citizens in a box that says feckless. Grinding sustained poverty is not the same as a little belt tightening.

flatsharer and proud said...

I dont think that people who claim housing benefit are feckless, I think it is a very useful benefit as being in accomodation and being able to pay your rent on time is probably the most stabilising factor in life and should enable people to not 'slip through the cracks' and to get a job, stay in training or education etc etc.
However! can someone please explain why it's wrong for this to be capped? What reasons are there for someone to have their own flat (at £650 per month upwards) when they could share a house (at approx £400 per month)? I'm in my 30s and have a pretty good job but i choose to flat share as otherwise i would have very little disposable income... why is it so wrong to expect other people to do the same?

Anonymous said...

"...nobody gave a damn how much money was being wasted on benefits,now with the recession..."

The Government is still borrowing an additional £10 Billion a month to fund it's activities including housing benefit. The annual interest on the national debt is about £43 Billion or about £620 a year per man,woman and child.

Yet people are complaining because they have to rent a room rather than a flat?!?

patrick1971 said...

Hear, hear, @flatsharer and proud.

Anonymous said...

the 'rest of us'. Yep, put our fellow citizens in a box that says feckless. Grinding sustained poverty is not the same as a little belt tightening.

I suggest you read what I wrote again as I made no mention of pigeonholing, nor did I call anyone feckless.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a little belt tightening on Asylum seekers wouldn't go a miss either

Mb said...

Sigh..... Here we go.

Anonymous said...

Nice one MB, curt and somehow olympian. A cool cup of reason.

Mb said...

Well Italians invented fachism so I feel qualified on that basis alone.

Anonymous said...

So its ok to slate and cut people who were born here eh MB.

drakefell debaser said...

What on earth are you on about, anon?

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Anonymous said...

How about bugger off..

Hugh said...

While we're at it, perhaps Nick could remind us of the basis for the view that neighbourhoods are 'improved' if newly built developments are obliged to include units for low-income inhabitants. Nice to way to enjoy life in central London while the rest of the population can't.

Flatsharing and winning at everything said...

Earlier I asked: 'can someone please explain why it's wrong for this to be capped? What reasons are there for someone to have their own flat (at £650 per month upwards) when they could share a house (at approx £400 per month)? I'm in my 30s and have a pretty good job but i choose to flat share as otherwise i would have very little disposable income... why is it so wrong to expect other people to do the same?'

Apparently the answer is 'No, there are no reasons for the above' Does this mean I win? :)

Monkeyboy said...

I'm confused and bemused. The thread has reached it's entropic conclusion.

Lou Baker said...

Monkeyboy is confused!

A first? Sadly not.

You are no doubt longing for Lou's take on all this .... So here goes.

Most of the people I know - including those who are extremely successful and with good jobs - shared a house or flat well in to their 20s, some (myself included) into their 30s. There is nothing wrong with this - and Crisis is scaremongering if it says otherwise.

Indeed, more shared housing is desirable. An increase in people living alone has led to a shortage, which has pushed up property prices which makes it harder for us all to afford somewhere to live.

Absolutely, we should help people with housing WHILE they need help. But we should do this by temporarily allowing them to stay in council housing while they sort themselves out. A lifetime in council houses should never be an option.

There should be massive taxes on the owners of empty properties - unless they're brought back in to use. And strict controls on the private rented market to prevent landlords from letting out homes which do not meet a decent standard. In return it should be made easier to evict tenants who don't pay their rents or who cause a nuisance. Families who cause a nuisance repeatedly should be barred from council housing permanently.

Housing benefit should be abolished. You should only be able to live where you can afford to live and if you can't afford it you should move. Why should some people have cheap subsidised homes in the centre of the West End when the rest of us have to commute?

Monkeyboy said...

Massive taxation and strict building regulations. Hardly letting the market be the sole influence on how things evolve. An interventionist state? I always new there was a sniff of the sandal wearer in you.

By the way, I kicked the crutches away from a cripple today. Laughed my arse off!

Sue said...

@Hugh if you don't have social housing requirements within large new developments, you don't get any more social housing built because councils haven't built any for years and the existing stock is getting less as people continue to use their right to buy. Councils then have little choice but to pay over the odds to house homeless families in unsuitable B&Bs. You also end up with ghettoised communities - rich communities and poor ones and similarly segregated schools. Surely we need to learn from past mistakes and continue the move towards more integrated housing and communities?

Coney said...

Looking at these comments all I can do is shake my head. You have the poor berating the slightly poorer for having a slightly decent life.

Anonymous said...

Nicely pious simplification of people's views there. Must be lovely in lefty land, handing out 'free' money from other peoples wage packets.

Monkeyboy said...

We all benefit from money "taken" from others pay-packets. I educate your kids through my tax, your kids may well pay tax that will benefit me in the future. I don't have a fundamental issue with that. I don't want to live in a society that allows those with little to sink to the bottom and stay there. Using a minority of cases of abuse to stigmatise a whole section of the population is a cheap tabloid trick. In the same way acusing everyone in the financial sector as being rapacious, selfish individuals is a simple minded soundbite.

Anonymous said...

Yawn...Another trip up those well worn stairs into the pulpit of collectivism.

Actually those kids you rhetorically flaunt are the ones who will pay for a lot of the soft headed government overspending you so often advocate. It's easy to be a nice guy with someone else's credit card. But the card has been stolen from our kids, and they will pick up the tab.

Lou Baker said...

@coney

You seem to think there are people on here who somehow enjoy seeing others stuck in poverty.

I can tell you with certainty there are not.

The issue is how you tackle poverty. You, and others, seem to believe it's a question of handouts. You throw money at the problem and it goes away. This is what the Labour government spent a decade doing. And guess what? Poverty is still a problem and people are still stuck in it.

Charities working with some of the poorest people in the world discovered this problem too. You can't just chuck money at something and expect it to be okay. These people need a hand up, not hand outs.

Look at South Africa. The government there has pledged to get rid of all the shacks in the townships and to have proper houses instead. But when they dished out cash to those with shacks they found a large amount of it was going on drink, drugs and sex. Now the payment to replace the shacks is made in the form of building materials. You can not drink bricks. A brilliant but simple way to tackle the problem.

Here the problem IS the welfare state. Not the principle of it - which is fine - but the practice. It locks swathes of people into a cycle of dependency and doesn't help them break it.

Moreover, there is a real poverty of aspiration. Some people grow up with the ambition to have a council house of their own. That's awful. Some want to have kids when they've barely finished school themselves. They sneer at success. They laugh at those that do well at school. They expect the government to provide everything and take no responsibility for their own actions.

This is what's wrong with our welfare state and this is why poverty is a problem. Tackle these and you tackle the causes of poverty. Just chuck money at it and you perpetuate the problem.

Anonymous said...

Note the amount of 'housing benefit' well heeled MPs are provided with, compared to the housing benefit they decree lesser mortals should receive.

Possibly research should be done into who are the low paid, what industries and companies they work for?

It would be interesting to see if large companies use low pay and housing benefit as a subsidy and to increase profits.

Mb said...

Several questions. Is the Uk comparable to south Africa? Do claimants over here spend in on sex, drink, drugs and rock 'n' roll? You keep suggesting that is a real issue, this massive abuse of the system. Is it 10% 5% 95% who are lording it up? You could invest in training, give tax breaks to businesses that give jobs to the long term unemployed, tax breaks for those who offer apprenticeships etc, etc.... Almost all of these cost money and I'd agree that simply dishing out money is not an answer but neither is allowing families to sink without a trace.

max said...

Lou, people in low paid jobs can't afford housing and social housing was supposed to allow these people the stability that their salaries can't buy them.
I see it as a desirable policy that corrects the inequalities of the market, that just like democracy, is the best system but not perfect.

Mb said...

...of course comparisons with other countries is never straightforward. How about comparing us with Europe? In germany you get something like 60% of your previous salary if your unemployed, throwing money at a problem or just a different way of organising yourselves?. Perhaps it's a more appropriate system, your benefits are related to what you payed in national insurance and the outgoings your likely to be committed to as a result of the lifestyle you had when working? Who knows.....

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell, I didn't realise the previous rates got them a 1 bed/studio... I've been flatsharing (and paying taxes) for years; where's my benefit?

Anonymous said...

Limiting the housing benefit paid to single people under 35 to £650 a month doesn't seem like stigmatisation or 'letting families sink without a trace'. If there is a right to a flat then I didn't enjoy it. I was 'stigmatised' until well into my thirties by having to share houses and flats.

It is soooo typical of the left to always see the solution to every problem as having two elements. The State and other peoples money. Sadly the really stigmatised are those who have been infantilised by dependency culture, they have been stigmatised by the state and its army of superannuated do-gooders. These professional lefties think their good intentions are all that matters. Actually they wreck the lives of those who they so eloquently claim to care so much about.

It reminds me of all the moaning there was when under Clinton a lot of benefits for single mothers were cut. Did these poor victims sink without trace - err no, like you and me they adapted instantly to the new economics of their situations and went out and found work. Treat people like adults, and hey presto, they start behaving like adults.

Mb said...

Oh, ok. America is a great place to be poor in, I missed that memo. The 43 million without health cover must have been a myth, going bankrupt because you fell I'll was a simple misunderstanding of how it works over there. Cool, thanks.

max said...

I don't think it's possible to use the argument that people under 35 can share a flat (which they can) to attack social expenditure as a whole.

And can please people make examples that are common ground, I may be wrong but I think that the Clinton cuts to benefits for single mothers is not really something most people know anything about.

Is it stainsupon a dress? said...

Max, This is it here.

Anonymous said...

In Ireland ive been told job seekers is 197 Euros a week,dont know how true it is.

max said...

Thanks, I read it, interesting, I notice that it's not just stopping benefits though, but also training and free childcare, which fits with the idea that it's lack of education and prospectives that creates teenage mothers rather than excessive benefits.

max said...

By the way, I notice that the article is dated 2006, that's the end of the longest ever period of economic expansion of the American economy (which we now know was fuelled by cheap credit and cheap asian imports) so part of the reason why benefits claimants were lower in 2006 than in 1994 when the Clinton administration introduced the social security reform may have to do more with the economic cycle than the reform itself.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't employers be paying sufficient money to their staff so that benefits are not required?

In the mid 60's a block of social housing was built by the council and the rents set to meet only half the maintenance costs.

I doubt the rents have increased in line with costs and therefore over the years the share towards maintenance from rents has declined.

May I remind people that in Lewisham during the economic boom the number of people on the council homeless and waiting lists significantly increased.

That our elected Mayor re-introduced bed and breakfast accomodation for families.

Is it stainupon a dress? said...

@ Max , yes I wasn't proposing the Clinton tactic. How, or indeed why would you compel the unwilling to get jobs from the dwindling numbers available when every unskilled and semi skilled vacancy is over subscribed by those desperate for work.

Lou Baker said...

@anon

Rents are so high because property is in short supply.

And property is in short supply because:
1) council houses are effectively dished out for life, and not just to those who need them while they need them
2) housing benefit enables people to live in properties and areas they can't afford - artificially inflating prices for everyone else by limiting supply.

There is another issue - which the pc brigade will be outraged that I've raised - and that is children. Children are expensive to bring up properly. They need food, clothes, books and toys. Trying to successfully raise a child on a budget of a few quid a week is unlikely to result in a wonderful child. In other words, people who can't afford to have children shouldn't have them - and that includes many of those on benefits while they're on benefits.

Such people couldn't have a Ferrari because they couldn't afford it in the first place. They couldn't have a holiday to the Seychelles because it's too pricey. But all they need to have a child is a few pints of Stella, a dark alleyway and a partner they'll never see again. That's bad for everyone. The child. The parent (the other one's unlikely to figure much) and society. It's an issue that needs addressing.

And one way to address it would be to stop paying child benefit in cash. Instead pay it in vouchers that could only be used to buy things from a pre-approved list of things for the children. It is a not a child's fault if they have a feckless parent or parents. But it must be society's job to stop that child becoming feckless too.

max said...

Lots of wealthy people mess up their kids just as if not more than people on low income or even benefits.
Time and attention is another thing that children need and many times people busy making money don't have enough of either to give to their children.

summing up said...

Well, aside from wider discussions on the welfare state, it appears there is broad agreement that it's fine to expect people to house-share into their 30s (as many "professionals" earning a decent wage have done), and the cap on housing benefits is both necessary and reasonable.

THNick said...

Lou - you missed off your list
3) decades of government policies aimed at inflated house prices

When the price of housing goes down, it's a scandal. When the price of food goes down, it's a good thing. Yet both of these ought to be consumption goods, but housing is seen as an investment.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, ok. America is a great place to be poor in"

Well actually it is compared to most places in the world right now. But I realise that your hyper moralising world view is too ahistorical to realise this.

I wonder if healthcare for the poor in america is really that much inferior to our fetishised NHS, which I hear on the news this morning is having problems rising to that most difficult challenge of keeping its elderly patients fed or even hydrated!

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - I like America, but healthcare for the poor is undoubtedly much worse than that provided by the NHS.

Mb said...

Hyper moralising? not sure I understand what your on about. There are a whole group of people who are not poor or old enough for their medicare (which is far worse than our, or indeed most of europes standard healthcare)but not rich enough or in a good enough job to have Health Insurance. It's a fact, tens of millions have no health cover and are terrified of being ill. Don't be ill and poor in the USA. That desperatly thick bloke Obamma has been fighting to get a system of universal healthcare. It's a sign of decent society, treatment based on need not ability to pay. The NHS ain't perfect, could do with improvement but to claim that the US system is better for most is a fantasy.

Anonymous said...

Of course you are most probably correct. But I was shocked by the news this morning, and if they are getting the very basic things wrong in 20% of the hospital trusts, I just wonder what else they are not doing to the highest or even acceptable standard.

I look to Germany and France and I see better healthcare systems, absorbing a similar % of GDP. And I know my mother would probably still be alive if the cancer she developed had been diagnosed earlier by the NHS. So I think its a bit of a holy cow, and needs reform urgently.

Anonymous said...

Re housing some 20 years ago in the Blackheath area the council came to an agreement with a housing association to have some council housing built.

This was funded by a loan to the housing association from a private individual of £14m to be paid back via the rents.

A condition of the loan was that if was not repaid in 20 years the housing would become the property of the lender.

A few years ago the Mayor was forced to take emergency action becuase it was discovered the loan had not been repaid and the loan had grown to £28m.

Details can be found on the council website, Mayor meetings I think towards the end of 2006.

Anonymous said...

Correction:
The loan was to be repaid by tennants and council, for some reason the money wasn'y used to repay the loan.

From memory the council papers didn't explain why the loan was not paid.

Anonymous said...

Free treatment based on need of course. One monopoly state provider, err NO THANKS. But then evil people will make profit from the sick, it is argued. Yes, just like they do from the hungary.

All this scare mongering about americans without health insurance is really beside the point, but low sentimental rhetoric is all the left have now I suppose. NO ONE is suggesting that we abolish the NHS, but we do need to introduce competition, profit incentives and the market, so that we get the best outcomes from limited resources. Monopolies are usually bad news, whether state or private.

max said...

I have to say, I also heard that manager from Ipswich Hospital on Radio4 this morning and he was a living advertisment for NHS reform.

He was obviously thoroughly unable to run a hospital but very skilled in defending his indefensible record and awfully arrogant.

Lou Baker said...

America has the best healthcare in the world - bar none. It has the best doctors. The best hospitals. The best scientists. The best treatments. Have you not seen House?

The issue is not the healthcare it is accessing that healthcare - that's where they have an issue. The Americans don't have that right, but then nor do we.

Certainly the NHS idea that absolutely everything should be 'free' at the point of delivery needs reviewing. That leads to huge abuse - for example by people repeatedly missing appointments, by being prescribed medicines they never use. That sort of stuff. That would be a relatively easy way to cut demand and claw back cash.

But the NHS should also stop treating lifestyle disease 'for free' unless the patient takes some responsibility for their own health. For example smokers shouldn't get any treatment for smoking related diseases until they quit. The NHS should help with quitting - but why should the rest of us then spend a fortune treating someone who's got sick by using a product which says clearly on it will kill you?

Fat people shouldn't get treatment until they start exercising and eating properly - though they should get help doing these things.

Likewise with alcoholics, drugs users and the like. People who participate in extreme sports should be required to have insurance - the NHS shouldn't have to treat predictable injuries at everyone else's expense.

This is all about people taking some responsibility for their own lives and own actions. Yes society should be there to step in when things really go wrong but, ultimately, can be of no help to those who aren't prepared to do something to help themselves.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou I have seen House - have you seen the episode "5 to 9"?

Saying the US healthcare system is the best in the world because it has some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world is like saying the British education system is the best in the world because of some of our best private and public schools.

The argument, in any case, is not about healthcare for rich, or even for the mean average, but for the poorest in society, who often have little or no cover for many minor and serious conditions.

Even the well off can find it difficult to get cover for pre-existing conditions and of course the system is ruinously expensive for the country and many families, as both the left and the right agree.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - I agree about appointments and prescriptions.

Anonymous said...

Smokers are net contributors to the national purse to the sum of £7 - £8 billion annually. This figure is net, so all the extra healthcare they use because they smoke is included. The figure doesn't include the money they save us in uncollected pensions, because a lot of them die earlier than they would have, and so stop, or don't even start, collecting pensions. If you aren't going to treat them, I say stop taxing them too. Where are you going to find that extra £8billion in revenues I wonder?

ex-smoker said...

Do you have a source for those claims?

Anonymous said...

Just to make the point...

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/201006_01.pdf

The NHS is massive and should't be seen to be perfect but my if I was born again and had no idea whre I'd end up on the social scale I know which system I'd rather live under.

Anonymous said...

Yeah yeah...just keep making that point about the uninsured in the United States. I wish I'd had that PDF when my mother was dying in agony of a treatable cancer that the wonderful NHS didn't diagnose in time and so could not treat. It would have been such a solace.
One study estimates that 10000 people die in this country because of late cancer diagnosis each year, when the NHS is compared to the best health systems in Europe. Many of you are looking to the wrong continent it seems. 'Not perfect' really doesn't come close.

Anonymous said...

Are we in a sad story arms race? Both my parents had exemplary care in their fianl years. I'm glad they grew old in the Uk and not the states, I'd have preferred that they gre old in Germany. Does that help?

Anonymous said...

@Carrie, thanks for the advice, but the reason I don't claim housing benefit is because I choose to have a lower income job doing something I love, and DO NOT expect the State (ie other people) to fund my rent. That is MY responsibility.
While I'm here I will get the other gripes about social housing off my chest- Bob Crowe is living in a house than I am helping to subsidize with my taxes. He earns £150000. His wife earns around £80000 in a job he provided her with. Yet he remains in a Council House. If this isn't obscene, I don't know what is. A nurse subsidizes that turd to live in a lovely house?!? The whole system needs proper means-testing. If you don't ABSOLUTELY NEED State benefits, you shouldn't claim any. People are constantly asking 'what can I get?'. It really makes me angry when I live frugally and pay taxes.

Anonymous said...

The figures about smoking revenues come from the Lancet. 2008 figure for treatment of smokers by the NHS was about 1.7 billion, tax take figure for tobacco in 2003 was 9.3billion ( this will be more now, despite a small fall in prevalence since the smoking ban I would imagine). I haven't seen any calculations for the pensions savings, but one can only assume these will be massive too. Sorry but can't be stuffed to find the reference, but I'm sure you can use google if you need it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 18.41

Lucky you. Sorry if I used my own experience to illustrate what I think is an important point. I only wish my mother had had the opportunity to grow old.

Anonymous said...

Yep, thanks to the NHS she never thought twice about seeing a doctor.

jerry said...

All these anons are very confusing, but I'm appalled that someone (anon@18.41) is being flippant and aggressive towards someone who has lost their mother prematurely due to late diagnosed cancer! Your point may be valid, but for goodness' sake have some sensitivity in the way you make it, rather than just trying to score points.

Anonymous said...

Yawn..

OK you are right the NHS is perfect. Those 10000 preventable deaths each year don't matter. They would have died anyway, eventually.

I'm so glad I live under the perfect and holy NHS.

Anonymous said...

No she never thought twice about seeing a doctor, in fact she saw several. Thing is she would have been just as well off having no treatment or seeing a homoepath. One of these doctors actually tried to have her go in for voluntary treatment at the local asylum, (six months of back pain so bad that you can't sleep, and only feel comfortable in the foetal position - naturally one would jump to this conclusion). So seeing the doctor wasn't the problem.

Anonymous said...

Didn't say it was perfect, but it's far from a shambles. There are many places in the developed world that have a worse system or similar systems that cost more. It's only recently that we have committed to spend as much as the European average. Our cup is half full.

Anonymous said...

"The figures about smoking revenues come from the Lancet. 2008 figure for treatment of smokers by the NHS was about 1.7 billion, tax take figure for tobacco in 2003 was 9.3billion."

BBC Item 1998...

"Smoking costs the NHS between £1.4bn and £1.7bn a year, according to the most recent research."

BBC Item 2009....

"Treating disease directly caused by smoking produces medical bills of more than £5bn a year in the UK."

"This annual cost is still likely to be an underestimate, they say, because it does not include indirect costs, such as lost productivity and informal care, the costs of treating disease caused by passive smoking, or the full range of conditions associated with smoking."




http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/background_briefings/smoking/86599.stm


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8086142.stm

Anonymous said...

The dept of Health was still using the 1.7billion cost figure from the Lancet in 2009.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cigarette_tax_receipts_v_cost_of

The larger figure comes from quite a slanted piece of work by ASH I believe. They include illogical figures for things like pensions paid to survivors of deaths caused by nicotine - if you think about it the pension would have been paid anyway had the person not died so is not an extra cost. So I take their estimate with a large pinch of salt. Still the true cost may be a couple of billion more.
The most recent figure for revenues is £10.5 billion, apparently it would be a lot more but for the fact that 20% of the tobacco smoked in this country is now smuggled.

Lou Baker said...

The figures are irrelevant.

The point is one of responsibility. If you smoke you are being irresponsible with your own health. You know smoking is bad for you. It says so on the packet. If you choose to smoke anyway, that is your choice. But if you then get sick from one of the disease you know smoking causes, you shouldn't expect everyone else to pay for your treatment. If you can pay for your own treatment, fine. If not you'll probably die. But then the warning on the packet says smoking kills so you knew the risk.

NHS treatment for smokers should be limited to providing them with help quitting.

pip said...

Lou, would you exclude all treatment for self-inflicted illness and injury from being treated on the NHS? Nearly all car accidents are caused by human error - if someone is shown to be at fault should they take responsibility for their actions and pay for their own medical costs (and maybe those of anyone else they have hurt)? What about sporting injuries from, say, rugby or rock-climbing (both known to be risky)? What if someone gives themselves food-poisoning because of recklessness in regard to food hygiene? Should they take responsibility for their actions and pay for their medical bills? If not, why not?

Anonymous said...

Apart from the ethics of Lou's position, which is questionable. How to you apply it in practice? eating processed meat like bacon increases bowel cancer, ban treatment for bowel cancer? What if you smoke and get lung cancer, is that because you smoked? You can contract the illness other ways so you'd have to demonstrate that the particular case was caused by the smoking. Having said that Doctors do (I think) make choices based on likleyhood of success so I think thay are enpowered to put chronic drinjers on the bottom of the liver transplant list. Overall, doctors making moral judgements about an individuals behaviour is not aplce I'd like to be.

Little Brockley said...

Never mind the legitimate claims all smokers would then have for a rebate of the portion of their N.I. and taxes which would go to the NHS. Daft idea

Tamsin said...

A very ruthless point about smoking and smoking related diseases is that (pensions apart) it would actually cost the NHS more to treat and provide nursing home care for people in their eighties and nineties with the chronic diseases of old age than having them die in their fifties, sixties and seventies after a relatively short period of treatment for lung cancer.

This does not, of course, take into account the individual tragedies - that very memorable TV ad. that ends with the girl in her wedding dress "my mother should have been here" - but it does irritate me when ASH trots out the argument against smoking on the basis of the "cost to the NHS". It is fundamentally flawed.

The NHS is not perfect but turning it over to all sorts of private enterprise is not the answer. It needs stringent tightening up within the existing system. Not the total rewrite - with no-one with overall responsibility - that Lansley's private health-care advisers propose.

drakefell debaser said...

Those proposing that smokers provide a net benefit to the treasury may want to open a window and get some fresh air.

http://ow.ly/54fFS

I quit in 2009 and can't thank my GP enough. I've saved what, almost £5000 so far.

Robin said...

"No, not the blame. They are just being asked to adjust to harder times like the rest of us."

The problem is, if you're living on benefits you're already experiencing harder times, and will have less flexibility about what you can give up.

I had to move out of shared accomodation because it was aggravating my mental health problems. Once I was in a one bed flat I was able to be in control of my environment and relax, and then I slowly improved my health to a point where I can now work.

My experience is not that unusual amongst young people with mental health problems.

Anonymous said...

@Robin - a single flat in central London is a luxury that few young people working can afford. If one is not working. Perhaps London is not the place for people that cannot work and are in need of a relaxed environment. Benefits distort the demand for flats in London and those who need to stay in town because of work are outpriced by house benefits of those who cannot work. This is madness.

Anonymous said...

Well tough bloody luck, I've never claimed a penny in support, I managed to live on minimum wage. Housing benefit drives up the costs of rent, lazy landlords need a reality check and claimants need to get a job.

Brockley Dogging Society - Politics, Phiosophy and Economics department said...

We have a special night for the politically naive on Fridays. All those who believe the financial meltdown and deep recession is caused by the unemployed, those who can't afford to live in decent housing, single parents, asylum seekers and universal healthcare, is welcome to attend. Colin will line you up, dress as John Maynard Keynes and roger some sense into you.

Lou Baker said...

I don't think anyone has said the recession is caused by any of those things.

Rather the recession has highlighted how drastically we overspend as a country. When you spend more than you take in in taxes during the good times of course you're going to be screwed in the bad times.

The private sector has long accepted the reality - it has reformed and moved on. The public sector is still stuck in 2007 and really needs to take its head out of its backside and accept things have dramatically changed.

Brockley Dogging Society - Remedial Education Department said...

Lou, clearly Colin was not trying hard enough. I'm thinking, if he wears a Margaret Thatcher mask and you scream "laissez faire!!" while he's thrashing around like a frisky pony, will that do the trick? like a kind of aversion therapy?

Let us know. Your next consultation is a week or so, and please CLEAN PANTS next time. It's basic dogging etiquette.

I actually thought that the GLOBAL economy melting down, including the minimal G Bush USA, partly due to unregulated private banks caused the most of the problem. Clearly I was wrong, it was the bin men of Lewisham that sunk bear stearnes. The stuff you learn!

Next week then, and remember about the pants.

Lou Baker said...

BDS

My pants are always clean.

The banking crisis may have been the spark that caused the recession - but it also exposed another severe problem: debt.

Personal levels of debt are very high but so is the national debt. The state is simply spending too much money.

You deal with that in two ways: by increasing taxes and cutting spending.

The corduroy brigade don't mind about tax rises - they'd be happy to see our wealth creators taxed at a rate of 100% - but suggesting Lewisham cuts Lewisham Life, or charges for People's Day, or axes anyone with the word 'Champion' in their job title, or that students should pay their own tuition fees, or that smokers should not be treated for smoking related diseases or that housing benefit claimants maybe should have to house share - and they scream murder.

These people believe no one should take any responsibility at all for their own lives. They think the state should
control everything - including wiping all of our backsides. So bend over and prepare for Andrex ...

Little Brockley said...

When Lewisham life came up for discussion on BC, I can't remember anyone defending its continued existence. Are the courdroy brigade confiding in you Lou?

Anonymous said...

Generally I agree with you Lou, but leave the smokers alone. They are subsidising the rest of us. Really they are, it is a simple economic fact.

Anonymous said...

@BDS, perhaps you'd like to note that Greece didn't bail out any banks - the mess it's in is entirely due to a combination of massive overspending and failing to collect taxes. On the over-spending side, there are parallels to be drawn with most European countries, including the UK. (Ironically, Greece's banks are now in trouble because of the sovereign default!)

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