A welcome and overdue change in the welfare state

We rather like reading The Guardian's letters page. It's a useful insight into whatever it is that the deluded are worrying about and thus a guide to what we don't have to care about. Alternatively, we find it useful to look at what is being complained about and that it is so is likely to lead us to considering it a very fine idea indeed. As with this about market rents on social housing:

So the high-earning techies of San Francisco are forcing up rents and pushing low earners out of their homes and their city (Report, 2 July)? Well, it’s about to happen here, and it will be government-induced. From next year, London council tenants with households earning £40k or more will be subject to market rates, having to pay an additional 15p in rent per week for every pound of income above £40k (£31k outside London). Some face rent increases of 350%. Tenancies will be fixed at a maximum of 10 years,

That all strikes us as a very good idea. We've no problem with the concept of a general whip around to house those who are incapable of housing themselves. There always will be those unable to deal with the vicissitudes of a free market economy and we're not averse to those sharp edges being blunted a little. We might argue about the methods used to do this but the general principle itself isn't one we argue too much about. Quite apart from anything else we know that it's going to happen so best to acknowledge that and steer matters in the least damaging direction.

But that's not what the British policy of social housing did. Yes, you only qualified for it by dint of needing it. But once you had qualified once then you had a lifetime tenancy at below market rates - at times those tenancies were inheritable. And we just never did understand why needing a subsidy at one point in your life then meant that the rest of us would be subsidising you for the rest of your life and beyond. 

Yes, obviously there are possible problems with the taper here, with the impact of the change in marginal tax and benefit withdrawal rates. and yet the basic move makes total sense to us. When you're down we chip in to aid, not least because we're aware that we at some point might also be down. But once matters are sorted out that subsidy should also disappear. Which is what is happening - a darn good idea we feel.