Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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We should ghettoise these neighbours from Hell

23 January 2012
THE most common complaint at my surgery comes from decent families living in 
rented housing who feel that the welfare state not only works against them, but 
penalises them to boot.

They work hard, pay their taxes and have brought their children up well.

These families, who are sometimes desperate to move home, find that they 
never get a look in when houses in decent areas come up for reallocation.

I am introducing a new Bill tomorrow which is a direct response to these 
decent citizens.

The aim of the Bill is to begin what will be a Herculean effort to change the 
welfare state so that it ceases to penalise decent citizens in the way it now 

It will make two main changes. First, those tenants who have always paid 
their rents, and ensured that their children have not been a nuisance to 
neighbours, will become the priority group for any decent housing that comes up. 

Other people, with other deserving needs, will have to take second place.

By being able to move, these tenants will release their own houses, and so 
the stock for reallocation will not diminish. Homeless families, for example, 
will be able to draw from this pool.

The Bill proposes a second change which will increase the pressure on chaotic 
neighbours. It will give housing association tenants the same protection that 
buyers of private properties now have.

If an owner-occupier sells their house and does not disclose beforehand to 
the buyer that they live next door or near to a neighbour from Hell, and that 
the council and police have been involved in trying to sort matters out, the 
seller can be sued for mis-selling. Housing association tenants have no such 

My Bill will create equality here. Housing associations will no longer be 
able to move a chaotic neighbour from one area - due to quite understandable 
pressure from decent neighbours - and plonk them down into another community of 
decent law abiding citizens. They will have to tell the new neighbours what they 
are doing, and the new neighbours will have a right to object.

Likewise, housing associations will no longer be able to fill properties next 
door to neighbours from Hell without informing the potential tenants of what the 
real score is. Such tenants will have the right to refuse the property and for 
that refusal not to be counted against them with respect to the number of 
housing offers to which they are entitled.

This of course does not deal directly with neighbours from Hell. But it will 
put pressure on them. The areas into which they can inflict their chaos will 
become more limited.

But at some point we will have to have the courage to ghettoise these 
families, possibly in isolated areas, until they learn how to behave properly. I 
suggested once to Tony Blair that he release money to build indestructible units 
under our motorway in Birkenhead to house anti-social families away from 
everyone else.

All the then Prime Minister did in response was to laugh nervously. At some 
stage the laughing has to stop.


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