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Balancing Britain’s Budget: On Whose Backs?

Binyamin Rose and Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

Like most nations in the world, Great Britain is spending far more than it is earning, but unlike most nations, the new British government has applied a tourniquet, in the form of an “austerity budget.” It calls for steep spending cuts and tax increases to cut the budget bleeding and Britain’s large and growing chareidi community are worried they will be the first to feel the pinch.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There are few areas of Britain’s budget that will remain untouched by the government’s proposed spending cuts, but one that is likely to have a direct — and drastic — effect on London’s chareidi community is the changes in the Housing Benefit laws.

Rivky D. is one of those who would be hardest hit. The rent for her six-bedroom home in Stamford Hill, a house that she describes as being of “comfortable size” for her family of eight children, is over £2,400 a month ($3,740). Until now, their rent has been totally subsidized by the government.

“But if this Housing Benefit law comes into effect, there is absolutely no way we will be able to make up the difference in the rent — we would struggle even to pay £50 more a week, let alone over £200. We’re very tight even now — my husband’s income isn’t high, and I have to be very careful with our budget.” 

Rivky and her family share the plight of many other young, frum families around the world that rent because they just can’t afford to buy. They have lived in three rented homes since their marriage fourteen years ago. They are on the Agudah waiting list for a subsidized home, but have yet to receive an offer.

“We can’t afford to buy a house [at the market price] so really there’s no other option. And to move to another neighborhood that’s not frum? Where would I move? Honestly, I have no idea what we’ll do if it happens. I’m totally relying on a miracle — Hashem has to help.”


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