Thursday, 27 December 2012

"No Pets. No DSS": the demonisation of a new group?

During the 1960s it was not uncommon to see signs on houses or flats that were to let that stated "No pets, no Irish and no Blacks". Quite rightly it would now be considered totally unacceptable to publish such racist and discriminatory signs - and they are also now illegal.

However, I recently discovered similar signs on display in an estate agents in Wellingborough. This time, however, the group now being discriminated against are those in receipt of welfare benefits (DSS) and the cards in the shop window read: "Sorry (sic!). No pets. No DSS" - see photos of the cards on display below. 

I must say that I was shocked that a new group of people are now being collectively demonised and discriminated against in such a demeaning way when trying to find housing for themselves and/or their families. Could this be the consequence of the recent high profile attacks by some politicians on welfare "scroungers" and attempts to set so-called "deserving"/working poor from those less "deserving" who are not in work. Or is it simply reflective of the fact that housing benefit no longer covers the rental of even the cheapest of private rented accommodation? So where will the poor - whether "deserving", "undeserving", working or not working  - going to live? What sort of society are we?

Although we may have moved on a little from the racism of the 1960s, are we now re-creating new groups to exclude and dehumanise? Sometimes I wonder how much progress we are really making and how little we seem to learn from the nasty activities of the past.



  1. The problem is that Landlords are no longer paid rent directly by the DSS. It is unlikely that any landlord that has experienced bad or non-payment from people on unemployment benefit will want to repeat the experience, and incur possible court costs to get the tenant removed from their property. If this discrimination is to end Landlord need the security of knowing they are going to be paid without placing the responsibility on the Tenant.


  2. Just 1.5 per cent of rental properties are available to single people on benefits, according to research from homelessness charity Crisis.
    The charity for single homeless people organised ‘mystery shoppers’ to pose as renters looking for a room in shared properties in the private rented sector in Birmingham, Leeds and Lewisham.
    Of the 4,360 rooms advertised, only 13 per cent were priced within the benefits rates and of these 66 (1.5 per cent) were owned by landlords willing to rent to benefit claimants.
    Crisis carried out the research No room available on 14 and 15 November this year to find out what housing is available to single people under the age of 35 claiming housing benefit.

  3. Hello Paul and thank you for raising this. Both these properties are actually at or below the new and lower Local Housing Allowance level for this area (covers Kettering and Wellingborough) - £450 on the nail for 2 bedrooms. This gives the lie of there being plenty to choose from at the lower end of the market. Non-HB claimants such as students and the low-waged who do not get HB for whatever reason will also be in competition for these properties. Sometimes people's circumstances leave them stuck, unable to move because they have acquired the status "DSS" - perhaps they were a manager at Jessops just last week. As an aside, I wonder when estate agents are going to notice that the DSS is no more; I hope their knowledge of tenants' rights is up-to-date.