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Council Houses: Cheats and Victims - join in the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 15:42 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Nearly five million people are on a waiting list for something that most of them won't get - social housing.

Filming in Sheffield, Portsmouth and London, Panorama reports on a housing crisis and tells the compelling stories of people who struggle to get by in overcrowded or hazardous homes or who have no option but to rent properties they simply can't afford.

And reporter Richard Bilton goes undercover to confront the cheats who make money unlawfully from badly needed council flats or offer cash rewards for council tenancies.

In big cities like London council properties can fetch up to five times more on the open market than tenants pay for them. Richard discovers one man making £350 a week profit on his council flat and another blatantly advertising to buy up council tenancies.

And in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the programme hits the streets with housing fraud investigators. One door knock reveals a man whose landlord is actually the tenant of a housing association. The rogue landlord ends up in court. The unwitting tenant faces losing his home.

In Sheffield, 170 miles north, Richard meets some of the people who are sitting on the country's longest waiting list for social housing. He spends the night with a family whose home is overcrowded, leaving two of them having to sleep on sofas in the front room.

And in Portsmouth Richard discovers that a shortage of council homes means hopefuls are told there's little or no point in putting your name down.

Pretty much only those in the most urgent need will get a roof put over their heads by the council.

We welcome your views on Council Houses: Cheats and Victims. Please use this forum to leave a comment.


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  • Comment number 1.

    If you have a view on Panorama's Council Houses: Cheats and Victims please use this form to leave a comment.

  • Comment number 2.

    Can someone explain to me why the Gurnhill family should be given a large publicly funded house? What on earth is the woman doing with six children plus niece plus a partner and then expect us the tax paying public to take care of her situation. Has the woman never heard of birth control or taking responsibility for her own mistakes in life. I have no sympathy with her or with all the other scroungers in this country who class themselves as victims and moan about the system letting them down, yet it is their own stupidity and selfishness which has brought them to the situation they now face.
    I am really fed up with people demanding housing and saying I have a large family the state should look after us.
    If you can't afford a house then don't have children and certainly not six.

  • Comment number 3.

    I do not think councils should give larger houses to people on housing benfit, regardless of family size. If an entire family is on income support/housing benefit why should our taxes pay for them to live in 4 or 5 bed houses? Families should not be rewarded with larger houses just for having lots of kids.

  • Comment number 4.

    My wife and I are hope to start to have a family soon. We are as sure as we can be that we are able to support that child with their needs, including a suitable roof over their head.

    If you have 6 children and are having to house a 7th you would have hoped that at some point the parents would have thought about their ability to provide for their children. The parent is ultimately responsible for housing their children, not the state....aren't they?

    I'm sure that there are many parents with one or two children crammed into tiny council flats or one or two bedroom houses which would have provided a better example of the poor state of council stock; but, based on reading the article before seeing tonight's show, I'm not sure that showing this particular example of overcrowding will highlight the issue that Panorama wishes to make.

  • Comment number 5.

    I've recently rented a flat in London, during the process I came across many people playing this council subletting game, claiming they had been given permission to do it. Its completely ridiculous not only does it cost the government, it also inflates the private sector housing market therefore costing everybody who rents money. Does anybody know who I should pass the details of those I visited on to?

  • Comment number 6.

    I completely agree with every word of Mike and Brum_SK's comments.

    Including her oldest 'children', there are 4 adults in that household. I'm sorry but surely 4 adults even on minimum wage should surely be able to club together the money to rent a 4 bed-property. Sheffield house prices are not exactly extortionate. My brother and his girlfriend both work part-time and study, and still manage to afford a 3-bed house in a nice area of Sheffield. In any case, if the 21 & 19 year olds are that bothered, surely they could move out, as most people of that age do?

    Do these people never stop to consider whether can actually afford children before they have them? The rest of us do, and if we do have the money, we don't have them!

  • Comment number 7.

    Get a job! Why are their people that expect the state, that is the people that do work and pay tax to provide a home for them?

  • Comment number 8.

    Agree with all sentiments. 9 people in a house is a lifestyle choice, possibly driven by child benefit income per capita. But failure to replace council houses lost via right-to-buy has not helped on housing stock availability.

  • Comment number 9.

    I whole heartedly agree with the comments already made. How can you breed like rabbits and then expect us to look after you? People nowadays do not seem to want to take responsibility for their own actions!

  • Comment number 10.

    Does anyone work in that household of 9 people in Sheffield? Unclear from content so far.

  • Comment number 11.

    I live in a 1 bedroom flat with my wife and 3 year old son and 6 year old daughter, we were renting private but the landlord did not want to renew the contract, as a result we ended up in B&B while my wife was pregnant with our eldest. The council housed us after about 6 months. We currently try bidding for properties but never get anywhere, we are on the exchange site but nothing is available as no one wants our property. In the last 5 years, we have had one visit from the council and they came round to ask us what we are doing to get ourselves moved. They suggested renting private but as I am the only earner we cannot afford the rent and would have to get benefits. Also renting private is not guaranteed as we found out last time. It seems nowadays that the council do not want to help anyone. Our contract with the council was signed for a maximum of two people living here, even though they knew that we had 1 child at the time.

  • Comment number 12.

    I totally agree with many of these comments. This women has chosen to have 6 or 7 children and clearly has no intention of providing for them financially. Why on earth should we be paying for large houses for these people? they chose to live this way. I know if I have kids I would not afford to have more than two. I would not dream of having that many children and expect the state to pay for it. Why is it those who are hard working members of society have to pay for this. It seems that those who work are having less children and those who are on benefits are having even more children than ever before. These people have no intentions of ever working and many only have children because more children = more benefits (to spend on cigarettes and alcohol!). I am quite annoyed that the BBC has used licence payers money to produce such rubbish and I feel quite insulted by this programme. Have these people not heard of contraception?

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry, unable to carry on watching, I find it incredible how people who have no intention of ever working think that society owe them free housing while popping out more kids.

  • Comment number 14.

    I do think the Council should check on properties quite often this is not only for fraud but to cheek on the state of the property itself. That's what a private tenant or letting agency would do.
    Still I do not get why people keep on being so careless and silly to get pregnant and have babies even when they do not work and live in an unsuitable house.
    I am sorry but I can see this only as another excuse to get council accommodation for single mothers.

  • Comment number 15.

    Steve Holt - sub-letting? Horrified.

  • Comment number 16.

    What a strange programme. All of the comments made thus far reflect I suspect the majority view in this country. Why on earth should the taxpayer fund accommodation for a young single unemployed couple with a child. She says a council house would halve her current bill (which presumably is also being paid by the taxpayer) Can someone please halve my mortgage ?
    What a mess. 13 years of Labour waste and mismanagement. Whole generations with no aspirations, raised expectations that someone else will provide, no personal accountability and a benefits system that is so easy to defraud. And we wonder why we're broke and have no money to support the hard working, hard pressed minority.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's very very easy to get council accommodation in Portsmouth. Go and rent privately, stop paying the rent, get the landlord to evict you through the court and the council will re-house you. Takes about 8 to 10 months, as I've just had to evict a tenant. She was adamant that the council re-house her and has been given accommodation in the area of her choice.

  • Comment number 18.

    I could not agree more with all the other comments made.....the SHeffield family.....if she'd stopped having children after her two sons there would be no problem, and if they all got off their backsides and found a job, well, enough said. This woman has inflicted this life on her poor children expecting the state and other people to bail her out. I think the children should be taken away from her because she is completely irresponsible and unfit to look after them, and her benefits should be taken away from her so she's made to get a job and pay her own way. I HATE spongers!!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    do any of them work? why dont they show working people living in council housing? sick of paying for spongers!!! who think they should get everything handed to them on a plate!

  • Comment number 20.

    The programme is highlighting some issues with current system but completely agree with the previous comments. Why is there such a sense of entitlement - yes the circumstances of for many people is not ideal but stop moaning and do something about it.

    Haven't these people heard of planning, if you can't afford your rent and are getting into debt then having a baby will really help!

    I grew up in a council house but have worked since I was 15, put myself through an engineering degree, worked my way up my company and at 28 after years of saving I've just brought my own house. It really annoys me that this is where my 40% income tax and the 3% stamp duty i've just paid even as a FTB is going.

  • Comment number 21.

    The best thing BBC can do is follow up on those sub-letters and those breaching the terms of their agreements and show us who has been prosecuted and their penalties.

  • Comment number 22.

    Shouldn't this program ask the question of why people are having children when they do not have the space to accommodate them. Why should tax payers foot the bill for people who do not work but keep producing children and whats worse they sit around complaining about the 'terrible situation' their in.

    Instead of looking at why there is such a shortage in council properties why don't we focus our attention on stopping this system where people are provided with housing when they make no contribution towards the rent or indeed society as a whole. It seems we have a situation now where people feel it is totally unreasonable that they be expected to get a job, save some money and rent a home.
    It makes me so frustrated that the majority of the country are working hard earning a living and paying tax but yet still struggling in the current climate but the focus is so often on the poor and unemployed.

  • Comment number 23.

    im sorry but ive just been whatching the documentary and it has made me so mad. Nearly all the people fetured in this programe are trying to get sympothy becouse they canot get bigger housing but nearly all of them are unemplyed and on benifits, it makes me pysically sick. i do not feel sorry for them in any way at all at least they have a roof over there heads and get free money. I am only 28 years old and me and my husband have a little girl but have worked continusely to provide for what we have, we have had hard times and been in debt even moved in to cheaper accomidation when we could not afford it and done some crappy jobs that we did not like to get by but i never expected anyone else to keep us and pay for us.i went to night school to gain more qualifications at the same time as working and am now training to be a nurse and working as is my husband we have built our life back up and we did it on our own with no council and no benifits!!! the british system i belife is so wrong it gives people the option to work or just be lazy and is not used for genuen cases for times of unemployment. it letting our younger generation think that they do not have to be anything and get paid for having kids. no wonder our contry is in so much debt and its only gunna get worse.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi I was just wondering if anyone knows the law on children sharing a bedroom as my son and daughter share my son is 10 this year and my daughter is 5 thanks : )

  • Comment number 25.

    Please provide me with where it states that it is illegal for siblings of a certain age to share a room. What utter rubbish...

  • Comment number 26.

    Agree with CSWright30, council houses have their place and should be there for people who are in genuine need of housing as a temporary measure to help them get back on their feet. It should not be a permanent home for lazy scumbags with lots of kids who have no intention of ever giving back anything to society.

    Could only watch half of this programme as my blood was boiling and was painful to watch!

  • Comment number 27.

    This is exactly what's wrong with the country at the moment--the horrible, nasty sense of ENTITLEMENT without working for what you've got. People need to get out, work for their own keep and only have as many children as they can provide for. If 100% of us had this entitlement mentality, the country would go under!

  • Comment number 28.

    This program has left me so angry I had to sign in to vent my anger. I'm 31 with a toddler me and my husband work and can't sell our two bedroom house. How dare people who can't be arsed to work moan and expect houses to be given to them on a plate. If you can't afford kids don't keep having them

  • Comment number 29.

    Mike i totally agree with you but i`d like to tell my story as a landlord, i have a 1 bedroom flat which i rented out through an estate agent who got me a young couple in there early 20`s in 2008. There references were check them and everything was seem ok an liable for the rent etc, after 10 months of everything going ok with the rent being paid the boy out the of couple lost his job. They were on a 12 month contract lease so when they got into arrears i dicided to give them there 2 months eviction notice, they seem to be fine with this action as it`s the right route to go down but things when the time come certainly were different. they dicided to go down the route of sqautters right and refused to leave my property, this then made me have to go down the route of getting a section 8 form (eviction under rent arrears) which all in all took me over 11 months to get a court hearing. Well i ended up getting a court hearing an the decision going in my favour but the tenants still did not want to leave on the due date, i then ended up having to get the balifs in which took another month and a half. Well once i got my property back in my name and was able to live in there myself the flat was left in a complete mess, since i`ve been back living i have lost over 9000 pounds in arrears plus the courts and solicitors fees and the 1 thing out of this all that makes me so SICK is i`ve found out that the tenants applied for housing benifits and that they only got the benifit from the housing which they kept for themselfs, although telling the housing they were paying me. (which they weren`t) I did think to myself hang on this is fruad in my eyes tax payers money going to the tenants which supposed to go to me but never left there hands.... Myself and my solicitor tried to find out whether or not this was the case and the fruad agencie for the housing disogread,
    now tell me how does that work ! We pay tax they pay them and they keep the money, the system is wrong either on the council or in the private sector when it comes to getting a home or getting your home back. My tenants also had a child in 2009 to be re-housed by the housing and the other thing that makes me SICK is that they now have got a place on the council and they don`t have to pay a penny back to me to the housing for out standing bills etc etc. Some people don`t deserve to be housed let alone get any help from real people who go out to work to they there taxes and there own

  • Comment number 30.

    There is a fundemental problem with the mentality of people in this country who believe they are entitled to be housed by the government and expect that they will. The government should completely abolish social housing giving current tenants the option to buy their property at a reduced price. I was struck by how all of the families on the show described their experience of not receiving a council home as unfair, but they all seem to lack a sense of responsibility in some of the choices they make - such as deciding to start a family whilst unemployed and no means to take care of the child.......of course, we'll pay for that too with our taxes. I totally support the governments bid to strike a balance in making people in this country less reliant on social programmes and to start taking responsibility for their own lives.

  • Comment number 31.

    What has happened to our society? I'm shocked and frurious that the young couple shown planned to bring a child into this world with no means to support it and are angry with the state that they are not given a house on demand. I do support a society that cares for those in need who find themselves in circumstances beyond their control... But seriously.. I can't stomach working full time, paying my mortgage and taxes to support people like this and then look forward to a potential future of having to sell my house to pay for my care in old age.... Hmmm who are the stupid ones????

  • Comment number 32.

    Well done - keep up the good work. Excellent program and extraordinary that the posters above do not have empathy for some of the situations reported on. I presume they are completely blinded by the need for housing to be a cash cow for the middle classes. House prices are stupidly hign and when young children go to school tired from lack of sleep in their hovel, it baggars belief that a metroploitan police officer can be making a fortune from sub-letting a council house. Absolutely extraordinary - wake up Britain!

  • Comment number 33.

    I totally agree, why are so weak that we allow these people to think that if they keep on having kids they can upgrade to a bigger house? I did not have any sympathy for the people I saw tonight, why do they I owe them a living.....why not work? As for people ripping off the system....that's only possible due to the weak and ineffectual councils that couldn't pour rain out of boot even if the instructions were on the heal!

  • Comment number 34.

    i find it hard i see both sides, i never expected to be a single mum and now find myself on a waiting list, i was with my partner for 10 years. i do have part time work and have been living in a home with no heating, no proper hot water for over a year yet it took being evicted, because i called in environmental health, for them to do something!.
    I do still have the same feelings for people who do nothing for there situation ie keep having more kids and not working. i think if people have a house allocated to them they should feel lucky and not be greedy as to hold onto it for there own gain, nor should they keep having kids just to get a bigger house.
    Housing should be there if needed not just a way of life as it is for some families, just have younger kids so they don't have to go back to work.

  • Comment number 35.

    I live in sheffield in a council house with my 7 children and partner so we also have 9 living in our 3 bed. I choose to have all my children so do not expect to be given anything any bigger.
    I would accept a bigger house if I was offered one but I'm not moaning about the house I have.
    We pay £75 a week rent and to be honest I'm just glad we have a roof over our heads at an affordable price. We don't get any housing benefits.

  • Comment number 36.

    Lazy people are entitled to everything, they don't need to work just get all the benefits. And if they don't get them they just scream and shout about the world not being "fair". BBC loves such stories (and the entitlement culture)

  • Comment number 37.

    Very politically correct BBC. Not a word about the Ethiopian asylum seeker getting £76000 a year housing benefit living in a mansion or the thousands like them. Where is the balance? The open door policy of the last government has taken tens of thousands of properties away from those in need on the waiting list.

  • Comment number 38.

    The cheats were all of the people in this programme. The victims are the taxpayers

  • Comment number 39.

    Lots of comments about size of one family . Distinct lack of reporting on immigrants jumping queues . Even though a very brief comment on subject in program, not up to usual standard of unbiased reporting ,seemed to be more interested in sensationalist revelations , tv star ... Shock story ect ect , very disappointed in this episode

  • Comment number 40.

    This programme has made me incredibly disappointed with the BBC!!!!

    I am actually disgusted.

    Was this programme supposed to make me feel sorry for people because they won't be "given" a flat? How about everyone else on the private market who have pay rent out of their own pocket ? Or if they want to buy a place they have to pay the full market rate, not with a 50% or 30% discount.

    How about the people who would love to have one kid, let alone 6 kids but cannot afford to. They have to build their lives slowly, save, struggle for their lives , not expecting a subsidy from the general public, and at the same time contributing to society by having a job and paying taxes!!!!

    It was areal struggle to watch this programme and it shocks me how out of touch the BBC is with society and the struggles people are facing.

    What a farce.

  • Comment number 41.

    I work in the health profession and it annoys me that so much money is ploughed into community based health promotion programmes. These people never turn up, or only turn up if they know they are going to get something free out of it. They never make any changes and really don't seem bothered about their health or their kids health, as after all the tax payers will pay for it. You then get a hard working family who are struggling to pay their rent/mortgage and what do they get Absolutely Nothing!

  • Comment number 42.

    what an uncomplete program, as i watched expecting the reporter. to go to southampton, he went to portsmouth and they said they took people off their list as no hope of getting rehoused; well mabey he wasnt allowed to mention all the immigrants that have been housed; on priority housing and jumped the que;not just there but all over the country

  • Comment number 43.

    Ace documentary but only scratches the surface.All people in the doco seeking housing were white and not immigrants.I work in conjunction with Lambeth Housing.You get priority easily if you are an immigrant claiming benefits.I know some who don't even live at their address and they are on holiday for a month at a time and they are all on benefits while I waited 18 years to get a small studio flat you can hardly swing a cat in but I'm grateful for it.

  • Comment number 44.

    The BBC clearly didn't research on the "homeless is priority to get housed". My landlord put my house up for sale and the council told me it would be another 4years before they helped me and my 2young children be housed (already been on the list 4 year). Apparently just because i was faced with homelessness it did not change my position and that if i wanted a house sooner i should have at least 1more child. They also told my mum with 2disabled children that they wouldn't help her when she found herself in the same situation. So anyone thinking that homelessness helps get a house in some areas it doesn't.

  • Comment number 45.

    note to lisa,
    lisa i dont think that u should justify yourself it people like u who should be entitled to housing and extra income, its just such a shame that ur suffering for the people out there who are ripping the system off. i respect that u are single mun and work part time i wish u all the best for the future.

  • Comment number 46.

    The young pregnant woman seems to think she is really hard done by and should be given a house just because she can't afford private rented and is pregnant. Sorry love should have got yourself a job and kept your legs crossed. "I just want a nice home" she moans, well we all do but it takes hard work, sacrifice and compromise. The programme highlights some excellent problems with council housing such as tenants subletting ad the depleted stock meaning that there is no way many people will ever get a tenancy however it would have had more impact if they had shown some people on the waiting list in genuine need of a council home rather than these self pitying wasters. p.s cas and cupidstunt it is an offence under Housing Act 1985 for children 10 and over to share a bedroom when they are opposite sex. Some people may think this is mad. Working in child protection I can tell you it is not.

  • Comment number 47.

    Why is an unemployed woman in dire straits looking at NEW Silvercross prams for her baby????? Will I be paying for it? Probably.

  • Comment number 48.

    What about the other end of the council house debate? There are many people living in council houses who could afford to buy or rent but why should they? Its cheaper and most council houses aren't bad either. I know a couple who have a two bedroom rented council house and their joint income is over 65k, their lapping it up. They've got a council house for life in a nice area, its fully serviced, repaired and updated when needed. Around the corner from me there is a family in a council house (rented) who's got an 08 range rover!! Wish I hadn't bought mine.(-mind you I wish I could afford to buy some of these large lcd tv's that seem to be a permanent fixture of council tenancy-that and a Sky dish)
    Time for adjusting the rent to suit the household income. That would free up a few properties.

  • Comment number 49.

    Good old BBC!
    Are we supposed to feel sorry for these no hopers who won't work,happily get pregnant multiple times,and yet expect to be provided with everything by the taxpayer?
    When we got married in 1967,there was a 10 year waiting list for council housing,and the only way to get our own place was to have no babies, work(yes,work,a dirty word in some quarters!) and save up for somewhere,firstly a small flat,then our first house.
    We never asked,or expected,or recieved, any handouts from anyone.
    That house full of layabouts,hardly budging off the couch all day,with the mother's "partner",who calls around on a regular basis to make yet more babies,wingeing about needing somewhere bigger,(try keeping your legs closed!)none of them actually contributing anything,just makes me see red,and is symptomatic of what is wrong with Britain today.

  • Comment number 50.

    Cheating methods to be 'fast tracked' into a council property are numerous. One such is fraudulent claims of DV (domestic violence). This is how it works. A woman claims DV against her husband or partner, she and her child or chidren are then given priority status & placed in a hostal until a suitable property is found for them, once installed the address is kept secret so that the abusive partner cannot find them. However a few months later the 'abusive' partner moves in with his family and they all live happily ever after, by-passing the council house waiting list. In the are where I live this tactic is mainly practised by asian women.

  • Comment number 51.

    Think you're on your own there Papakura. What a cynical view you have, Reread Michelles post and you might understand why this programme has made so many people angry. Its not all about greed you know. Its about fairness.

  • Comment number 52.

    to projectors comment about "an ethopian asylum seeker" , please get your facts correct an asylum seeker is someone who has to have a registered asylum claim with the UKBA and do not have public funds and therefore cannot access housing benefit. I was waiting for asylum seekers to be used as the scape goat for problems in the social rented housing sector actually caused by several factors: the tory policy of right to buy brought in years ago: not enough social rented housing being built, demolition programmes; obviously the corrupt well off people in the programme who sublet council housing...

  • Comment number 53.

    The Gurnell family are ridiculous! for a start YOU choose how many children to have if you cannot afford them do not keep having them! Also the mother could sleep downstairs on a sofa bed or the older ones could get a job & bedsit like other young people do!

    I have a 3 year old daughter and work full time to keep her without the help of the state, has britain really become the state of the scrounger and hard done by attitude?? why not get off the sofa and get a job to support the family you create.

  • Comment number 54.

    I worked as a plumber in Social Housing in London. It becomes obvious to anyone who carries out this work that there is a very high level of housing fraud in these houses, especially Lambeth and Wandsworth.

    Often the occupants tell us that they are subletting (“you cannot come in until our landlord turns up”), or when I ask them to put their name on the Gas Safety Certificate they have to go off and find a scrap of paper (stuck to the fridge or in a draw) so as to remember whose name to admit to. Many times occupants will tell me that they are “just looking after the place” whilst their elderly relative (the tenant) is “back home for a few months” in Bahrain or Jamaica.

    Sometimes I have been met outside the house by someone who claims to be the tenant, but does not act like an “occupant”. I have met one elderly South Asian guy who waited for me outside “His” flat in a new BMW (not a car you could reasonably park in that part of Lambeth), he complained impatiently that he’d been waiting for me all morning, but when I asked why he’d waited in the car and not in the flat he changed the subject fast. We got to “his” front door, he produced a huge bunch of keys with labels for different flats on them. He struggled to find the correct keys and took about 10 minutes to open “his” front door. Upon entering the property he couldn’t seem to remember where the gas boiler or gas meter was, or weather he had a gas cooker. The house was obviously occupied by a white Eastern European family with young children (from the writing on the paperwork held by fridge magnets to the boiler and the family photos around the flat as I looked for the gas meter) yet he insisted he lived there!

    Another time I was met outside by a West Indian guy who had waited to let me in as “my sister is the tenant and she’s at work”. Upon investigation I found that the Combi boiler was not working (and showed signs of not having worked for a very long time). When I asked if I could speak to his sister on the phone so as to find out how long the boiler had been malfunctioning he changed the story and said she was “on holiday in St Lucia at her parents house and wouldn’t be back for a few months”. In practice I noticed that only part of one bedroom and the kitchen was occupied, the living room and rest of the bedrooms where stacked high with new packaged clothing and market stall equipment. The flat was being sublet as a warehouse!
    I’ve also been to flats and houses where each room (bedroom and living rooms) has individual Yale locks installed and where a landlord has displayed list of “Domestic House Rules” signed by “The Management” in the kitchen, bathrooms or communal spaces. Often people obviously do not even know the people in the next room. This means that the flats, houses blocks and estates become very overcrowded, with flats designed for one small family actually occupied by a shifting population of 3 or 4 families. Conversely some houses and flats are left completely empty. One 3 bedroom house I went to in central Croydon had been unoccupied for 5 years whilst the tenant lived elsewhere (at her Mums), but still claimed housing benefit and kept furniture at the address.

    I consider that a very high proportion (60% in Lambeth) of social housing in London is fraudulently sublet or misused and that the lack of enforcement is spawning a whole subletting industry. Often the tenants have become Landlords and are actually living elsewhere in the UK or more often abroad in their country of origin. The market rent being a very nice tax free income. The councils put tremendous resources into enforcing parking regulations and make huge amounts of money from such fines and fees they obtain in these estates, yet they show no interest in discouraging social housing fraud. Such fraudulently sublet accommodation provides an obvious magnet for illegal immigrants and more serious criminals.

    I consider that one method of ensuring compliance and making such fraud more difficult would be to combine gas safety checks and routine maintenance checks by us plumbers and engineers with multi agency inspections by council officials, benefits assessors, the UKBA and the drug squad! If this is considered politically unpalatable then the accommodation should only be let at the local Market Value. This would take the profit away from the fraudsters and provide the councils with enough funds to maintain these wonderful social assets correctly.

  • Comment number 55.

    watch the program tonight and felt very upset as a mother for all those young kids who don't have the chance to sleep well and have the chance to feel the normal and privacy life, and I believe that the government is the one to blame, while the current government say they want every one out of benefit and they relay on privet sector to create job, they failed to address the main problems why those out of work can't get jobs and work,

    The government and the PM Mr Cameron is leading this country into a real mass and depression, I would like to invite panorama to investigate other side of the government Hippocratic attitude towards the public, while they cut on benefit and child tax credits, they say to people tax credit is designed to help working families with young children towards child care cost, they set a strict rules that child care must be registered and same time ignore the fact that when a child turn 5 years old parent can't send them to nursery, and if a lone parent work hard and use someone to look after the child at his home and pay every thing they don't acknowledge this effort that people make to stay in work..what the government except from people to do, work and pay tax every month but leave our kids in street?? I need some one to answer that question, am getting depressed and tired of thinking, I have only one child but am tired of all this stupid rules which don't reflect the reality of life.and same time dose not offer other alternatives so people can have options.

  • Comment number 56.

    This family, with six children and obviously none of them working, think they should get a bigger house. Why have six children you obviously cannot afford? This unfortunately is the crux of the problem we have in this country is that people are not expected to behave responsibly, so they do not. The people who deserve sympathy and help are those who have worked and lost their job through no fault of their own, those who need to move to find work and do not have the hefty deposits many private landlords demand and those who have fallen ill or disabled. If you have not worked for a significant period of time then overcrowding is to be expected. Why should the taxpayer fund large houses for large families as if they receive these they will never be able to take up work. That lady had been applying for larger houses for 15 years and at least two or three of those children were younger than 15 so why keep having kids? No sympathy. The fact that the partner stays there sometimes and not others also sounds like benefit exploiting as it is more beneficial to live apart than together.

    Same goes for the young couple, neither of them working with a baby on the way. I just despair at the mentality of these people and feel sorry for the child being brought into the world without two responsible parents. It is not the government( or taxpayer's) duty to look after you unless you have shown that the predicament you find yourself in is not your fault. Contraception is available free of charge.

  • Comment number 57.

    I watched tonight's programme with interest but was incensed by the lack of explanation about the current crisis in housing. Margaret Thatcher was rightly identified as the origin of the crisis BUT it was what she forbade councils to do that was the more significant. The scheme originally proposed to Thatcher was that existing tenants should have the right to buy and with the money raised would be spent on building new housing stock - a scheme that had worked very successfully in Hereford City for many years. Although money came in from the sales of council houses through the "Right to Buy" scheme, Councils were NOT allowed, by the Thatcher Government, to replace their housing stock. Any further scams in the housing market have been built on this single factor.

  • Comment number 58.

    32. At 22:04pm 4th May 2011, papakura wrote:

    Well done - keep up the good work. Excellent program and extraordinary that the posters above do not have empathy for some of the situations reported on. I presume they are completely blinded by the need for housing to be a cash cow for the middle classes. House prices are stupidly hign and when young children go to school tired from lack of sleep in their hovel, it baggars belief that a metroploitan police officer can be making a fortune from sub-letting a council house. Absolutely extraordinary - wake up Britain!


    I can only assume that others are the greedy rich who made their fortunes from their council house that they waited 2 weeks on the list for, got given it for next to nothing and sold for a hugh profit. Their greed knows no bounds as they seek to deny the next generation something which they themselfs took for granted.
    As for the youngsters on here who have their own house and are complaining, well you should have seen the housing bubble for what it was. The geedy rich pulled you in hook line and sinker.

  • Comment number 59.

    I work with families in London and I really don't know what makes you a priority for housing - being homeless, and by that I mean literally with no home, certainly doesn't get you a council flat - it's all about temporary accommodation which causes huge stress to families.
    In an ideal world we can say families should get a job, but to be honest in London even if they got a job they wouldn't be able to afford to rent privately and most of the places would be in terrible condition. Also it's very easy to say people should get a job if you've been educated in the UK and have a supportive family with a good work ethic but many of the families I work with are single parent families with young children and have become homeless as a result of issues such as domestic violence who are trying to improve their English and don't have any qualifications. Others have just never had anyone encouraging them to believe that they have something to contribute and could work. Of course there will always be people who play the system, but there are also people who need time to get to a point where they can begin working and supporting themselves.
    Perhaps people do expect too much to be given to them, but believe me it's no fun not being able to afford housing in London and whatever people think about the parents they should give a thought to the impact it has on the children.
    Oh and really how can it be legal to have a tenancy in a council property and own your own properties - I think councils need to be able to take properties back once it is possible for the family in the property to buy another one.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hi caz; just googled this; about age;
    The 2 girls can continue to share a room up until any age but if you have mixed sex siblings sharing a room then the law says it shouldn't continue once the oldest sibling reaches the age of 10. This rule should apply in all housing association/council housing but it is not enforceable when renting privately. I hope this helps!

  • Comment number 61.

    Why should someone be given a flat??? Victim??? These familys have choices in life!!!
    The problem with these 'Victims' if they got a job they may be able to pay for a flat, instead of looking towards the tax payers to fund their life. Why should they get something for nothing???
    Panorama should look into the real problems of todays society. Why should we pay for them to live. Why should we pay for someone to sit on their behinds all day when we are busting ours to fund them.


  • Comment number 62.

    There shouldn't be any social housing, as if you can't provide it for all who want it then it is unfair. If you do have it then there should be a straight forward queue. No jumping for certain cases which just encourages lies and laziness. Me, my ex-wife and daughter were on 3 lists for 3yrs, and heard nothing. Our problem was we were both working, and made the effort to find private accommodation(which meant we were paying double of those in council houses). Also others would lie e.g. mothers thrown them out. Lazy people get priority for these subsidised homes(using the money to buy massive quantities of alcohol), but also there are places where a number of adults are earning well but remain because they are cheap. Hope the PC will be sacked for breaking the law.

  • Comment number 63.

    It is bad enough to hear about rogue police officers in these type of programmes and the other cheats who use the advantage of council houses to make money but I don't feel that this programmes addresses the issues of those on the waiting list properly. Like others, I also do not have sympathy for the Gurnhill family. They brought it upon themselves to be in the over crowded situation that they are in and expect the council to get them out of it? Sorry but this is a contribution as to why Britain is in shortage of council houses because dim witted individuals are breeding like rabbits and expect the council to house their 15 kids who all happen to be lazy slobs.

  • Comment number 64.

    I've just watched the Panorama programme Council houses - Cheats and Victims. There have alwas been cheats who sub-let their council properties, but you didn't show any victims, you know those people who go to work and pay taxes, those are the real victims. I cannot understand how so many people excpect a Council Home, when some of them said they couldn't get a home I assumed they had saved some money and had trouble getting a mortgage, silly aren't I? One more thing, it's no good saying that when Margaret Thatcher allowed council tennents to buy their own homes, firstly here were people who never ever thought they would get on the property ladder final got their own home and of course it didn't make a shortage of homes because the people who bought their council homes mainly stayed where they were so there was no movement. I would gladly go out voluntarily for a council to check whether the people living in council properties are the ones who should be there, if you got rid of that problem you would find an end to the housing we have here.

  • Comment number 65.

    Thank you helenf. I too have been waiting for the inevitable "bloody foreigners, coming in here, stealing our houses/ jobs / women" (delete as appropriate) comments. Nice to hear your sensible and well informed comments regarding the NON ELIGIBILITY of asylum seekers for council houses.

  • Comment number 66.

    I was glad to see these issues being finally brought to light on national television but equally disappointed to find that once again a group who are also hughly effected by this problem have gone ignored in your representation. We are what I call 'in the gap' I grew up in a working class family in the 1980's my parents had to fight in the late 70's to get a house even though they were married and having their first child and employed. When they finally got one they took their right to buy and worked hard to pay for it they weren't greedy they bought one for the reason they were intended to be a family home (in which they still live). I was the first in my family to go to University my parents made just enough to make sure they paid for everything (because the more you try to do the right thing the less help and thanks you get) I also worked and took responsibility for my own choice to go to University. I live in a town in Scotland and the comment made about ' Junkies and 'Social spongers' taking up the housing is very real and not the myth they claim you can see it everywhere you look here. The reason I classify myself 'in the Gap' in relation to housing has to do with the fact that as a single person, no kids with a job I have absolutely no chance of getting any kind of council housing to either rent or buy and I have been priced out of the housing market by the combination of a large number of persons from down south coming to my town and local area in boom time snapping up cheap (to them) homes for either holiday or retirement and bidding over the odds to do so and land lord types who in boom time (thanks to the encourgement of the likes of Sarah Beane) did not just buy up one or two ex-council house and turn them to rental but more in the range of four or five. So at the same time as I finished University not only did properties become short in supply but their prices had been pushed from £48,000 for an average two bed ex council house to £120,000. Which ment that single working persons and a lot of couples and young famlies have become trapped having to pay rent to the same greedy prospectors who took away their ability to buy a home and never having the chance to save. Also knowing full well that with every year that they work hard and try to live honestly their chance to get on to list to rent or buy homes they can afford just gets further and further away. The biggest mistake ever made was there was never a cap put on the number of council properties you could b

  • Comment number 67.

    The whole point of this documentry was to show how the councils have given council flats to people who then use it to sub let for their own financial gain, these people are using the inefficiant council housing system that we have in place to make money. The councils should be setting up a tougher system, to weed out cheats.

  • Comment number 68.

    I agree, this country has got the balance so very wrong! Firstly there shld be a limit on house size provided by a council with only rare exceptions. All council houses shld be limited to 3 bedroom maximum (parents room, boys room, girls room) and child benefit shld be paid for maximum of first 2 children. If they knew that 3 bedrooms was the absolute maximum, then I suspect they might not take the chance of having more than 2, 3 or 4 kids. I don't think that would be unreasonable. The government shld not reward people who have children they cannot afford! Council houses /flats should not be for life, should not be inherited and the tenants situation shld be fully reviewed at the very least every 5 years, to ensure the system is not being abused. Obviously whenever there is the possibility of a freeride there will be abuse of the system so it needs to be vigilantly monitored to ensure those that really do need it get it rather than just meeting various definitions. As for the man trying to bypass the system, how can that even be possible, it simply highlights how incompetent the council monitoring process is currently! This programme just angers me, not because people abuse the system but because it is so easy to do so. I work full time, struggle to make my ends meet, but do so without claiming a penny, in this country I feel that my taxes go towards paying incompetent councils to function badly, towards paying for others to sit on their backsides for a lifetime; for child benefit and tax credits for families; and so it goes on....as a single person at the age of 36 (I only managed to afford a place of my own last year and have lived in house and flat shares up until then), who hasn't had any children, if this situation remains when I retire can I be rewarded for contributing to society and not costing it a penny, maybe a slightly higher pension or a lump sum cash back payment....maybe if there was something like that, there wld be an incentive to not claim, etc.
    People don't mind helping those in genuine need, the problem is that people who are lazy or don't use birth control are not in my mind valid recipients! The problem is we now have a generational problem where there has never been a working person in the household to set an example, and the offspring grow up to expect a council house each, this along with immigration, asylum, those that simply cheat the system along with the relative few genuine deserving help the demand for housing is astronomical!
    I think the programme did not achieve it's objective and just made those that watched it frustrated and angry ....a waste of licence fee money....so not so different from how most of how our taxes are spent then!

  • Comment number 69.

    well this will be my last comment as it is quite obviouse that the reaction to this programme is very strong.
    unfortantlly we live in a curupt socioty and i dont belive that things will ever change for the better , my mum and dad tell me stories of how they struggled and my dad woeked 3 jobs and put money in to separate pots every week for bills ect and what ever was left over my mum had to but food with witch wasnt very much and ahe had to carry all the shopping home coz she couldnt even afford a car of the bus. now my mum and dad are in there 60s retired own a loveley home brand new car private pensions ect and they achived all this by working hard. i look up to them and have always lived my life by there rule if u cant afford it u cant have it work hard and ull get it. they paid tax all there working lifes and still do now on private pensions so tell me why people have acsess to the benifits system who have not put anything into it(those who are able to work ovcourse) well im off to bed now to get some sleep as i have to be up at half 6 for work and write assiments to become a nurse also be a mother and a wife i can manage it all why cant others.
    the bbc should do another documentary on the other side of this issue to support every citezen in socity as i feel from this programe tonight that thay have only supported the minoroty.

  • Comment number 70.

    61. At 22:40pm 4th May 2011, jim wrote:

    Why should someone be given a flat??? Victim??? These familys have choices in life!!!
    The problem with these 'Victims' if they got a job they may be able to pay for a flat, instead of looking towards the tax payers to fund their life. Why should they get something for nothing???

    But its alright to pay them rubbish wages for a decent days work and then take all that off them in rent for your private accomodation that you provide?

  • Comment number 71.

    Hornits nest Parorama, and you've stuck your head well a truley in it.

  • Comment number 72.

    People have some humanity. Go back to the program and look at the little girl eating her cereal before going to school - tired from not having a good nights sleep. Forget about your prejudices for the people who you believe should not have given birth to her and just focus on the little girl. She is innocent and deserves a decent house to live in and a chance to make her way in life. Keep your eyes fixed on her for a few seconds. Now pan to the Ploice Officer earning £50K per year, part owning a Chateau in France, owning a country house in Rural Kent and two flats. That man is paying less than £100 for the council house that he rents out for £450 per week. What planet are you on when you think that the police officer is not the bigger problem in our society? There are 2,000,000 plus of us who have been given a massive discount to buy a coouncil house - My sister bought a nice 3 bed Council House for circa £30,000 in the last decade and it went for £150K plus at the height of the boom. What a hand out from the taxpayer a lot of housebuyers had fron RTB. Are all RTBers scroungers?

  • Comment number 73.

    And the "we worked hard to buy our house brigade" did not buy their house neither. Hyper inflation paid for your house - you got it virtually free!

  • Comment number 74.

    My mother lives in stockport, in what originally was retirement flats, the lowered the age limit, now 50% of the flats are sub-let, residents complain but it gets them nowhere! 5 years ago a mid 40's male occupied the flat above my mother (in her 60's) he then disappeared to Pakistan for 6 months leaving it empty. when he came back he sub-let it out first to 3 women with babies, then a young asian couple, when my mother complained she was told the council/stockport homes couldn't do anything! he then tried to drive her out with noise, this guy ran his own taxi, had 2 other properties in neighbouring council areas, and his wife owned a house!! all the complaints got my mother nowhere, totally ignored, what a farce reporting anything is, I am available for contact if required

  • Comment number 75.

    Are we being too harsh on this feckless group of workshy bloodsuckers? It must be the fault of their parents. the state or the tooth fairy. We know from the reports of the liberal tax funded experts that no one is responsible for their own problems. Personally I worked from the age of sixteen until seventy. sometimes with two jobs to support my family and keep a home over our heads. Being now retired and living on a state pension I pay little tax towards helping these poor soles. I will now however take up employment so I can pay tax and contribute to providing suitable accommodation for these sad leeches.

  • Comment number 76.

    When the UK started building council housing 100 years ago, it was to improve peoples' lives. Families left bad private accommodation. Council housing was a good idea. People will always abuse the system, and of course some people will get council housing who don't deserve them. However, that doesn't make social housing a bad idea. I'm very proud that the UK was far-sighted and progressive. I'm proud that in the past our government and councils tried to improve the lives of everyone. Where has that spirit gone now? Why are we so quick to moan about the abusers/those people who are undeserving? In a cilivised society we should tolerate people who for whatever reason can't afford to rent or buy privately, and give them a roof over their heads if they need one. If we're in a position not to need social housing - myself included - just be thankful, get on with life, and stop whinging about supposed 'scroungers'.

  • Comment number 77.

    It makes me very angry as a Council Tenant and prior to retirement a very hardworking tax payer who has worked hard to pay her own rent, without Housing Benefit etc. to see Council Tenants as usual scapegoated. Why for once do the BBC not show decent hard working tenants who look after their properties, do not sublet them etc. A lot of us are like that and too old to get mortgages etc or cannot get them for other reasons. Why do you continually paint everyone who lives in social housing as a lazy no good benefit scrounger. I live on my small pension and my savings, I will not claim benefits under any circumstances, I have one child born in wedlock although I am single through divorce. We maintain our flat, don't have ASBOS or any convictions, pay our rent and Council Tax on time but we suffer because of this continual scapegoating. Please concentrate instead on those who buck the system, by getting false evictions, subletting illegally and other scams. The programme stated at the end that the adverts offering to buy out Council Tenancies had been stopped. sorry hate to tell you there is one on Gumtree right now. Quote " Swap Your Tenancy Agreement for 11000 Pounds Cash
    essex, London
    Save this
    Date available
    Property Type
    Number of Bedrooms
    Swap Your Tenancy Agreement for £11000 CASH

    If you are planning to give your council or housing association property back to your landlord. What ever the reason is for why not consider on earning yourself up to £11000 for it instead. Please contact me if you or a friend and even a family member could consider this option." [Personal details removed by Moderator]
    END Quote Please Panorama pass this on to the relevant authorities to get this practise stopped.

    David Cameron promised in his pre election broadcast to recognize responsible tenants but we have seen no sign of this. He promised to make it easier for retired people like me to move out to areas where there is lack of employment opportunities to enable people needing employment to move where there were jobs- nothing has been done. Trying to move to a smaller property thereby releasing accommodation for a family is proving almost impossible - we need those measures that were promised soon. We also need a limit on the amount of Housing Benefit any family can get for Housing, to stop people breeding like rabbits and

  • Comment number 78.

    Papakura surely it is the girl's parents who should be worrying about this. I wouldn't put my child in this situation. Yes it is disgusting. But it's disgusting because of the parents, not anyone else.

  • Comment number 79.

    reply to Bootrap
    I am not a landlord, but i do, have and always will pay my way in life, i agree that wages are far to low for the current climate but if just a half of people who 'claim', worked the counrty would not be in such a mess as the taxs we pay would go towards something better.

  • Comment number 80.

    Where were the immigrants in this program?

    I'm sorry you cannot treat us as such idiots, by not mentioning or even addressing the issue of housing taken up by immigrants you have totally undermined the entire documentary.

  • Comment number 81.

    Could anyone tell me the name of the music track which played as background at 31mins 04secs into the programme. It only lasted for a few seconds and wasn't listed in the credits. Many thanks in advance!

  • Comment number 82.

    True. I was a postman at the time we were on the waiting lists. When homes came available I would see them filled by Poles, or young single mums.

  • Comment number 83.

    Jimmy6791 you are nearly there - focus again on the child and forget about the parents. Imagine she is your little girl. You admit the PC should be sacked and you are right. The program did not hide behind the fact that there are undeserving parents because it was right to contrast the behaviour of the police officer with the need for that little girl to have a place to live, do her homework etc. The program was spot on and has illustrated beautifully that people are so highly strung and burrying their head in the sand about the housing crisis in this country that they can only focus on their prejudice against what they see as unfit parents "breeding like rabbits". They cannot even see past that to the real issue which is a little girl living in a hovel whilst a man paid by the most prestigious police force in the world to uphold and enforce the law lives the life of riley by breaking the law - fraudulently renting out a flat that could otherwise be rented out at a fair rent to the aforementioned little girl.

  • Comment number 84.

    Whilst I agree with some of the comments made concerning taxpayers carrying the financial burden of a life style choice made by the people featured in the programme there is a pertinent issue about fraud that needs to be addressed. One of the fraudsters featured commented on how some council's 'bend the rules' in the allocation of social housing. There have been enough whispers around this subject to suggest a prima facie case worthy of another Panorama investigation.
    What is surprising is that it has taken so long to publicly expose the culture of sub-letting council properties. I know of a case reported to Bedfordshire Council twelve to fifteen years ago concerning a property at Houghton Regis - and I am sure that it was not an isolated incident even then.
    Unfortunately, we live (and always have) in a culture dogged by those from all levels of society who believe that dishonesty, theft and fraud is an acceptable life style choice and a rite of passage - MPs expenses a prime example. So how surprised should we be to find that lower orders follow the same shining example?

  • Comment number 85.

    Agree with you there Jim, but there are also many many people in work paying taxes but having to claim housing benefit to top up their rent payment because their wages just cant cover it. When it's all worked out you end up with pittance to live on. Is it any wonder some youngsters just give up with no hope of ever bettering their lives, while looking around and seeing the greedy rich sit on their backsides revelling in their unearned wealth and being totally unproductive for the country.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think you are struggling to see who is responsible for the girl being in the 'hovel'(which it isn't). People would have no problem with those 'breeding like rabbits' if they payed their own way. But there are people who take responsibility, and delay having children(or don't have any at all) who are paying for those.

  • Comment number 87.

    The family with 6 kids all squashed up together - will they learn or will they go onto have 6 of their own only making the problem even worse in the future

    Labour preached education education education !!
    All these families seem to care about is benefits benefits benefits
    and still ruddy well moan.

    That PC Stephen Holt - please tell me he's going to get jailed like the MP's who fiddled their expenses

    Sub-letting who says crime doesn't pay. IF a quick and ruthless system was in place to evict and take these council homes off people, they might think twice about it and not be driving round in brand new BMW's, but alas I think we can only hope.

    Finally love the pregnant girl with her Mum in the shop looking at BRAND NEW pushchairs, just stick it on the Taxpayers Tab - whilst god knows how many people will be really affected by the council cutbacks, you carry on whinging boo hoo
    PS -tip for her use your child benefit money to buy loads of scratchards, it's what almost every woman with a pushchair seems to do down our local shop !!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    I just don't get it! Having worked as a letting agent for 15 years I deal with tenants on a daily basis seeking accommodation to rent. What has happened to people taking responsibility for themselves. I am in my 50s and was brought up to save, get married, a place to live and then children - the opposite now seems to apply. Why if people are allocated council accommodation do they then insist to continue to breed. If you are unable to support the children you have when taking the accommodation, why then have more and expect the state to play. My understanding is that the council pay as they have a duty to care for the children - surely this should be the parents' responsibility. People think it acceptable to be unemployed and then get pregnant insisting the state look after them and then feel indignant and cheated when they are not able to be housed. Yes, there are legitimate cases and as an agency we do assist people on Housing Benefit but it is the fact that people believe it is their given right. With London house prices, once someone is in receipt of Housing Benefit and all the accompanying benefits, there is no incentive for them to find employment. My husband and I have always worked and I currently have two jobs, one full time and one part time in order to maintain what is a modest lifestyle whilst my husband also works long hours. I think what grates me most is that having put into the system for over 30 years, when my husband had to have a neck operation due to years of carpet fitting and stress on the body and subsequently lost his job and an income of around £30K, we were awarded the total sum of £62 a week for some 6 months - I have to say that if you put everything into the system when the time comes that you actually need help, because you do work and your children are over 18 you are given the bare minimum - where is the justice in this. Needless to say, my husband, having had quite major surgery, got off his backside and found alternative employment. The government really needs to address how housing benefit/income support is awarded and make people responsible for themselves. I also believe that if you are fit and are in receipt of benefit you should be made to do voluntary work within the community - my belief is that people would not take to this kindly as they would feel they are working for nothing but they are not - they are receiving benefit which ultimately is paid for by the taxpayer and they should put something back into society. No one in this life is owed anything and its about time people realised this. I could go on and on like a record and find the whole matter very frustrating having to deal with it on a daily basis .......................

  • Comment number 89.

    75. At 23:18pm 4th May 2011, tykerman wrote:

    "Are we being too harsh on this feckless group of workshy bloodsuckers? It must be the fault of their parents. the state or the tooth fairy. We know from the reports of the liberal tax funded experts that no one is responsible for their own problems. Personally I worked from the age of sixteen until seventy. sometimes with two jobs to support my family and keep a home over our heads. Being now retired and living on a state pension I pay little tax towards helping these poor soles. I will now however take up employment so I can pay tax and contribute to providing suitable accommodation for these sad leeches".

    Nice, so you saw the "Homes for Heros" and benefitted from it? Did you have a nice house with front and rear garden in which the kids could play? Did you benefit from being the only one in work while your wife stayed at home looking after the children? Did you enjoy having only to pay a 3rd of your salary for rent? Did you enjoy buying it for well under market value? Did you enjoy hyperinflation wiping out your mortgage? Did you enjoy using it as a cash machine?
    Shame you want to deny the next generation in benefitting ever so slightly in the way you did, disgusting!

  • Comment number 90.

    88. At 00:18am 5th May 2011, kathywoodcock1958 wrote:

    "I also believe that if you are fit and are in receipt of benefit you should be made to do voluntary work within the community - my belief is that people would not take to this kindly as they would feel they are working for nothing but they are not - they are receiving benefit which ultimately is paid for by the taxpayer and they should put something back into society. No one in this life is owed anything and its about time people realised this. I could go on and on like a record and find the whole matter very frustrating having to deal with it on a daily basis"

    Oh, so I having worked most of my life (3 jobs together at one time, having to pay basic rate tax on the other 2 jobs), never having claimed any benefits and been turned away from things like council housing now find myself redundant and in need of JSA. You want me to go out and do my bit for the community that turned it's back on me and as you put it "Put something back into society", Thanks!

  • Comment number 91.

    In addition to my earlier comment, In terms of renting private, it is a never ending loop, I have to receive Benefit to help pay my rent, after paying out for everything then I have about £200 a month to feed and cloth my family. I need to save in the region of £1500 before I can even think about renting private. When me and my wife were renting private we were paying £750 for a 2 bedroom flat above a shop and that was about 8 years ago. And then if we rent private and the landlord decides not to renew the contract then we are back to square one and put into B&B by the council and back at the bottom of the waiting list.

  • Comment number 92.

    maybe if Council houses were not sold under Margaret Thatchers rules in the 80's we would not have a housing shortage, stupid amounts of cash paid in Housing Benefit to Landlords for sub standard accommodation, and enough Social Housing so everyone from all areas of society and needs has a roof over their head. The program failed to tackle any of the shortages of housing, due to the reduction in council house stock, the continued sale of property under the right to buy schemes with zero replenishment by local authorities. All of the issues raised in the program are as a direct consequence of the rules introduced in the 80's. The program misses the point entirely, and instead harps on that its "benefit" cheats who are the sole cause of the long waiting lists for property.

  • Comment number 93.

    What kind of journalists do the BBC employ who don't feel it appropriate to look the slightest bit further into issues?

    Would it not have been appropriate to ask the young couple why they were having a baby when they couldn't afford to support themselves and to find out why they didn't have jobs? Wouldn't it have been sensible to point out to the family of nine that if five of them had even minimum-wage jobs, they would earn £5000 a month?

    Would it not have been a better, braver programme if it had looked at why people feel they have an entitlement to be housed by the state and why they are happy to live on handouts but still find it acceptable to have children they can't support?

    If I wanted to know about scandals of scam landlords I would read the Daily Mail. I expect better from Panorama than hyperbole and one-sidedness.

  • Comment number 94.

    I`m currently pregnant due in july, my partner and I are in our early 20`s. He works although on a very low income and because of this were put very low on the housing list, despite being homless, all they can offer is a mother and baby unit, filled with teenage girls with issues where my partner would not be allowed to come with me. We are now having to find over £1000 for a deposit and first months rent. i was told i was highest priority and my bidding pin would come through asap and it been close to 8 weeks , overdue for the average person and still not recieved. I dont blame my council. they are often really helpfull but surely the Goverment could come up with some sort of low cost housing for young families, just trying to make ends meet. The people doing the subletting are disgusting.

  • Comment number 95.

    This program was ment to focus on the cheats who sublet council property and make money. They are criminals. Too many of the comments focus on the family of 9 and wether they are irresponsible scroungers. We should never pass judgement on others without knowing all the facts. That said its a shame panarama didn't find a family in the SE who work full time but will never afford the house prices and can't afford the private rents eigther. Eigther we need living wages or more social housing. What we don't need is the media potraying all council tennants as work shy scroungers!

  • Comment number 96.

    I don't want to be personal to someone but, July312011, why are you having a baby if you have nowhere to live and don't have enough money? I'm 31 and my husband is 34, we live in the studio I saved up for and bought, so we share 1 room with all of our stuff. We are saving for the deposit for a bigger place and hope to get a two bedroom flat. Then we MIGHT try for a baby, if we decide we can afford to look after it and live on only his wages and my maternity pay, and once we have saved again to ensure we will be able to buy the baby everything it needs. You're doing things backwards. At least your partner works but there will be a lot of people out there who think you shouldn't be having the baby when you can't afford it.

  • Comment number 97.

    "In big cities like London council properties can fetch up to five times more on the open market than tenants pay for them."

    Given this it is no wonder there is fraud. I can't think of many legal investments where you can get a 400% return as easily as that.

    The article states there are 5 million people queuing for this benefit, that roughly is one in twelve of the population and that is not including those that are already in the scheme. Surely it is unreasonable to expect those of us that work hard and have pay taken from us in taxes to support that proportion of society? The sheer economics of it don't add up.

    While I support the idea of helping people that are in genuine need, I do feel that the need should be regularly reviewed and once it has passed the properties should be reclaimed for the next person. After all if you are going to steal from the rich to give to the poor you need to be certain that the people you are giving to are genuinely poor, otherwise you are just stealing. All this program has really highlighted is that social housing policy in this country is in need of serious reform.

  • Comment number 98.

    Appreciated last night's programme was about people cheating the council housing programme but why at no stage did the reporter not ask any of the unemployed but capable 'victims' what they were doing to help themselves to improve their own lot - perhaps by hunting for a job or some kind of paying work? I guess the reporter's failure to ask this single most important question must have validated many other peoples lack of imagination or endeavour to take any responsibility for themselves or their's ie to try to help themselves. This is not to say that some or all of those on the programme are not trying to help themselves just that you failed to get this important message across.

  • Comment number 99.

    I have to say the more the programme when on the more my blood began to boil. Both my parents worked very hard when i was a child and we lived a crummy private rented one bed flat as that was all we could afford, so I know what it’s like to sleep on the sofa for years, whilst going to school and it’s no joke! They were on the council list for 25 years before finally being offered a place that they could afford and that was only because my dad was in a horrific road accident which left him disabled. It was a case of take this council house which is falling apart or you will be taken off the list after 25 years of waiting. Our whole system stinks and needs to be restructured to make sure that those who deserve housing get it and it's not abused. I can't believe a police man would do that. I’m a single parent and I private rent I’d rather cut my arm off than ask the council for a place the whole thing sucks big time!

  • Comment number 100.

    The examples of people in need were very poorly chosen. The family in particular evoked very little sympathy from the viewer as it would appear that they were not trying to help themselves in any way despite breeding and intentionally overcrowding themselves. I wonder if the DSS knew of the partner!! They do now! This example unfortunately was a stereotype - people's perceptions of scrounging families who expect something for nothing.There are thousands of people who need social housing who do not fit this stereoptype and who would have made better examples and with whom people could identify. It was also difficult to understand why the Council or Housing Association didn't know who was living in their properties - they must have very little contact with their tenants, and if they don't manage them properly they deserve to get shafted! Not condoning the fraud, obviously, but management should be tighter.


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