When no less than 27 major organisations representing local
authorities, tenants, the legal profession, housing groups and
charities, all band together to say the government has got it
wrong, then ministers need to sit up and take notice.
Plans to claw back the housing benefit of those accused of
antisocial behaviour, alongside increased powers to evict them,
follow on from other draconian proposals to tackle “yob culture”
such as rounding up teenagers hanging around on street corners and
fining children as young as 10.
The plans are trailed as a wake-up call to local agencies urging a
get-tough approach to antisocial behaviour, but they have prompted
a flurry of protests. Nobody is denying there must be some sanction
to deter “neighbours from hell” and hooligans who terrorise their
neighbourhoods. But the government’s plans lack consistency. What
about those not on housing benefit or people with private
landlords? And where is the focus on prevention?
The proposals as they stand are likely to plunge the poor deeper
into poverty, increase the number of homeless and worsen the
vicious circle in which more social exclusion leads to further
antisocial behaviour. The effect will be the reverse of the one