Council Housing

We’ve all seen, or at least heard about, the TV shows ‘How To Get A Council House‘ and ‘Skint’. Before I go any further, I know that everything on TV is edited for entertainment purposes, to get a reaction and that it doesn’t show the full picture.

I grew up in a council house. It was the only family home I knew. My Mum queued up at the council for literally days in 1980 to get the house – it was the only one that was offered to her, she had two small children and, was a single Mother and she stayed in that house until a few years ago when she ‘swapped’ to a smaller council property – as living by herself she no longer needed a 3 bedroom house.

4 years after moving into the house I was born and my Mum had a new partner.

My parents never paid very much rent, the going council rate, £100 a week or whatever it is. My Dad worked incredibly hard but never had very well paid jobs and had a family of 5 to support. My Mum stayed at home, as back then it was the done thing. Where we lived ‘childcare’ meant the Mother. My parents were never in a position to buy a property or even rent privately and I’m sure they claimed as many benefits as they were entitled to – But my Dad always worked. He worked double shifts at Christmas and was always looking for extra work. My Mum also had various evening cleaning jobs and went back to work full time when i was about 13. I remember vividly as a child walking round the streets delivering leaflets with my parents in the peak of Summer for hours so they could get some extra cash. I always got an ice pop as a reward at the end!

We didn’t have a lavish lifestyle. We had a ‘traditional’ wooden cabinet TV for as long as I can remember and my Mum still had it after I moved out of home. We never had a new car, always having old bangers – the worst being a ‘cut and shut’ that my Dad bought by accident as he couldn’t afford anything else. We lived off Sainsburys Basics food and a treat to us was having a carton of Sainsbury Basics Fresh Orange Juice (from concentrate) with our dinner on food shopping day. I never had a holiday abroad growing up and the most luxurious holiday we had was a week in a wooden lodge in Scotland – that we drove to from Surrey. Other than that we usually went camping for a week in the New Forest every year. We had no luxuries or treats all year round, and Birthdays there was a strict £30 budget, and Christmas a £50 budget – Then my parents would spend the year paying for the Christmas before! Things were tight but I never went without – no, I didn’t have designer clothes, I didn’t even have school uniform with a logo on it, but I had everything I needed and I had an incredibly happy childhood.

I have been watching the Council House TV show and that, along with my view of society, has made me incredibly angry.

I don’t mind the rates of rent for council housing being low, affordable housing is obviously important.

There are though, a lot of things I don’t like.

  • I don’t like people making no effort to work, being given a council house and then having it paid for by the council anyway.
  • I don’t like families with children getting housed somewhere adequate for their needs, it being paid for by the council as they don’t work, and then for them to have more children and need a bigger house. Stop having kids if you haven’t even got a job!
  • I don’t think people should be offered council properties and be able to turn them down. People should be given a property. If they don’t like it – jog on.
  • I don’t like people moving here from other countries, making zero effort to learn English and integrate with society – then claiming benefits and getting council housing.
  • I don’t like the fact that kids can leave school and go straight on the waiting list for council housing – get some ambition!

I think there are a lot of things wrong in society today. There a lot of people that would love to work but can’t – single parents with small children and people that are genuinely disabled/unwell are two examples.

There are also a lot of people that frankly take the Mickey! ‘Oh there aren’t any jobs around’ – I’m sure there are minimum wage jobs available – being a carer, sweeping the streets or cleaning toilets. Lower your expectations, get off your bum and go do something.

Lastly, the youth of today seem to aspire to have a baby, have a council house and claim benefits. What happened to ‘When I grow up I want to be a ….’? When did kids stop dreaming of an amazing, bright future? When did kids start thinking that they’d rather do nothing than do anything at all?

Thankfully there are still a lot of people in this country with a good work ethic and good parenting who can show their children what ambition is and help the children grow up knowing that if you work hard you will succeed.

The future is bright, you just have to work hard and go get it!

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10 Comments

  1. August 13, 2013 / 6:50 am

    I completely agree with you and share your frustrations. Unlike you I didn’t grow up in a council house but my husband did. He is just as frustrated and when my MIL got angry that they wouldn’t give his sister a council house (single mum) he pointed out that she was living in a 3 bed family home and needed to swap for a smaller which she point blank refuses to do as it’s her home!
    I firmly believe that council housing should be means tested too…..I know several people living the life of riley as they have very good jobs yet pay a comparative pittance on rent.
    Tenancy shouldn’t be for life as the house is not theirs and should be reviewed periodically – that way it will be more likely that people get the house they need.

    • genuineplacebo
      August 13, 2013 / 4:32 pm

      Completely agree Kara! Means testing, not lifelong tenancy and swapping to smaller houses when houses are too big!

      If your SIL needs somewhere to live as a single parent, can’t she live with your MIL as the house is bigger than MIL needs anyway?!

  2. August 13, 2013 / 10:18 am

    I’m a single mother, and could quite easily claim Income Support and not go back to work until my daughter is 5. I had intended to do that, and think all mothers – single or not – should be able to spend the first few years with their child if they want to.
    I’m very lucky to live in a council house. I was housed when I was 33 weeks pregnant and the relief at being offered somewhere to live far outweighed that the location was far from desirable. I have 3 drug dealers within spitting distance of my front door (and probably more besides). When I drag S and I out of the house at 7:45, three mornings a week for work/nursery, the place is a ghost town. The people next door work, and there’s a lady at the far end of the block, but as far as I can tell they are the only ones around here – and I can see about 30 or so homes from my front door. Young lads in their 20s spend all day drinking, taking drugs, shouting to each other across balconies, with no thought for the young children who can see and hear what they are doing, or might find their discarded bottles and cans (and puddles of pee) the next morning.

    I do think part of the problem is kids growing up and seeing no prospects for their parents or themselves. In deprived areas with high unemployment, kids grow up seeing their parents trying and failing to find gainful employment, perhaps despite having good qualifications. They must feel like there’s no point in trying because society has given up on people like them. Living on a council estate, claiming benefits etc, tends to carry with it a massive stigma which causes a lot of young people to become disaffected and think, well screw you – I’m dropping out of society so that you can’t exclude me. We as a society need to do more to help people from poorer backgrounds, to inspire them to do better and to want better.

    • genuineplacebo
      August 13, 2013 / 4:35 pm

      Completely agree – Society definitely needs to give people from poorer backgrounds some sort of inspiration and aspirations.
      Agree that you need a council property – the location and local ‘undesirables’ is very unfortunate, not the sort of area you would ideally choose to bring your Daughter up – but as you said, it was a relief to have a roof over your head! x

  3. Beverly
    August 13, 2013 / 11:19 am

    I live in a council home only have done for just over a yr I had to wait till my first child was 14 months before I got one and I lived in one growing up.
    Yes i am a stay at home mum but i only claim the child benefits i am entitled to I worked for 10yrs before I was made redundant then I had my babies and my partner works.
    I didn’t have my babies just to send them off to nurseries etc I want to look after them and help them learn for as long as I can.
    But I also agree with you there are alot of people who take the Mick and get things handed to them.

    • genuineplacebo
      August 13, 2013 / 4:37 pm

      Thanks for leaving a comment Beverley!
      I don’t have a problem with people who have worked claiming benefits etc when they need to, and having council housing. It sounds like you were given a property when you needed one which is the right way for things to be.
      I’m glad you’ve got the opportunity to stay at home with your children xx

  4. genuineplacebo
    August 13, 2013 / 4:38 pm

    Thanks for leaving a comment Laura! It sounds like we’re from similar backgrounds xx

  5. September 28, 2013 / 8:42 am

    Actually there aren’t enough minimum wage jobs around so it isn’t a case of getting off your bum and lowering your expectations which is actually quite a condescending assumption to make. Thousands of people are applying for oodles of minimum wage jobs week after week after week and not even getting a courtesy reply saying no. When you get hundreds of people applying for the same minimum wage factory job or cleaning job it becomes soul destroying and people lose hope and motivation. The majority of unemployed WANT to work! Despite what the press and media portray being on benefits isn’t a life style choice. It’s bloody hard and miserable. People don’t live on benefits, at best they exist.

  6. Linda
    January 22, 2018 / 8:31 pm

    I think jobs are very limited now. People without skills and qualifications struggle to get minimum wage jobs as skilled people are working them as they struggle to get skilled jobs. People who once would have worked in supermarkets and shops while their children were at school no longer can as graduates are working them as they can’t find work. Or have been taken over by self scan and cut backs. It’s a massive struggle now.
    I think we need more council housing for people with low incomes as private renting is astronomical
    And houses are just so expensive to buy. But a council house shouldn’t mean for life. I understand elderly people want to stay in their family sized homes they have lived in for years but it’s someone else needs that house and are over crowded in a flat.
    At one time a man on a working mans wage could afford to keep a family. There wouldn’t be many luxuries and a few days at pontins would be the family holiday but it was possible. Those days are gone, everyone has to work now. Women are pushed back into work to help their partners to provide for the family with the promise of funded childcare. What happens when those children hit secondary school age and they then have to come
    Home from school everyday and there’s no one there to see how their day went? Mental health problems in teens is ever growing. Would a parent greeting them when they got in from School help those issues from escalating? And where are all these people supposed to work? Everyone is expected to work to live. Elderly people who would have retired at 60/65 are still having to work which then takes another job off someone. The problems are just endless.
    Great thought provoking post Donna xx

  7. March 11, 2018 / 11:22 am

    As a migrant from Romania, where the system is very different, it took me a while to understand what a council house is. I assumed it was like in the communist days in Romania, where the state had the block of flats and people were renting the flats from them (not cheap, not expensive either). Basically it wasn’t the private market and flats were given considering the size of the family and the job they had.
    So, my views might be a bit harsh considering the options I was used to. Having a house paid for by the government, for years, it seems wrong, unless we talk about people with disabilities. Support when something bad happens should be widely available, but not for many years. Also, being able to refuse house after house is not ok.
    I also agree that people that emigrate should know the language before moving here. It happen to me a few times to go into International shops (Polish, Turkish, Arabic) and to be unable to ask the cashier something because she/he didn’t speak English. That is appalling. I think migrants should get help if they need, but, again, for a short period of time to sort out their situation, not years. I mean migrants that work or worked here, not the ones fresh off the plane/train/ferry.

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