Monday, October 04, 2010

Tory housing claptrap and myth: young women become pregnant to get a Council flat

Yesterday morning I had the misfortune to listen to Andrew Pierce from talk radio show "LBC" pretending to be a journalist and  “interviewing” Tory Housing Minister Grant Shapps at their conference. Andrew had previously expressed his expert view that since he was brought up on a Council estate in Swindon he knew “for a fact” that girls would get deliberately pregnant to get a count flat.  How he actually knew this “fact” he kept to himself. 
He then spoke to Shapp and his first question was the Sun pub bore favourite about all these scroungers getting large amounts of housing benefit to live in London.  I thought for a moment he was going to ask about the 82,000 Londoners facing eviction from the recently announced cuts.  That moment obviously passed quickly.  Then a question on the usual prurient middle class hobby horse about young girls getting pregnant solely to get a Council flat and what-is-Shapp-going-to-do-about-it. 
My father died a Council tenant and my mother is still a housing association tenant.  Members of my family live and have lived in public housing up and down the country,  I have worked as a housing worker in Council and Housing Association estate offices for 18 years and I have never, ever known of anyone getting pregnant to get a council flat. 
Admittedly we do not ask as housing officer applicants this question (don’t give Sharpe ideas) but I have never seen or heard any evidence whatsoever.  It is an urban myth.  There will of course be an exception to the rule but the vast overwhelming majority of teenagers (repeat young vulnerable women) get pregnant for exactly the same reason that middle class kids get pregnant.   Inadequate and/or non existent sex education, drink, drugs, trying to keep a partner and sometime wanting a have a baby to love. Add to this mix poverty, inadequate health services and poor schooling and you do get high rates of teenage pregnancy on housing estates. 
But young women growing up on an estate are the first to know that getting a council flat does not mean (unfortunately) you have won first prize in life.  To think that someone would deliberately get themselves pregnant solely to bring up said child up by themselves in a bedsit on the 20th floor of a tower block is just frankly deluded.


Anonymous said...

The state should not be supporting single mothers. Where is the father's responsibilities in all of this?.

Why should I be paying for someone elses drunken one-night stand?. That mistake which results in a pregrancy, means that the state has to support that child until the age of 18. Not only housing costs, child benefits, free school means, council tax, credits....

We have a social problem, where people have transient disposable relationships and then move on to someone else. It is the state that ends up picking up the pieces.

If you bring up a child into this world, it should be with some planning, that the child will be brought up by two loving parents in a stable family unit.

I believe that any one that wants to have children, should do it within a marriage. Anything else shows no committment between the parties and it sugget they will one day dump their responsibilities onto the state.

John Gray said...

Hi anon

Sort of agree. But if a 17 year gets pregnant (by another 17 year old) and is kicked out by her parents - what are you going to do?

Let her sleep on the streets?

Anonymous said...

John Gray,

No she shouldn't sleep on the streets but don't you think she should have to deal with the reality of her situation? Sometimes there are no easy asnwers or way out of a situation that one has created. This is just the reality of life.

Why shouldn't she have to make a tough choice? A teen or single mother who ends up pregnant has choices, albeit none of them good, but that is the reality of the situation.

If her own family will not help then perhaps it is best for the child to be put up for adoption. when people see that there are no good outcomes then maybe they will change behavior and be more careful and responsible.

John Gray said...

Hi anon

Does a 17 year old child pregnant with another child really understand the "situation" they are in? Hmmm

Damien McKee said...

I take it you think that Andrew Pierce is a jumped up snob who has forgotten where he has come from in the way he's talking about people?

John Gray said...

Hi Damien - Yes (nice to agree over something again)