You may remember Reginald Perrin and his oppressive boss of “Sunshine Desserts”, CJ, in the “comedy classic” a few years back – far too many than I’d like to remember!
In the programme, CJ’s regular retort to any issue placed before him was always preceded by, “I didn’t get where I am today by…” When he’d finished what he wanted to say, he’d simply bark, “Goodbye, Reggie!” This meant the conversation was over.
This situation can be similarly applied to the Government.
There were scare headlines in the news recently, those of Labour warning that “landlord rent checks could cause everyday racism”. This is in reference to the Immigration Bill, which has returned to the House of Commons for final discussions. Essentially, when the new legislation comes in – rather than if as there has already been a “successful pilot” in the West Midlands – it will mean landlords having to carry out checks on prospective tenants, such as seeing their passport or visa, to ascertain their immigration status. Failing to do so would be a criminal offence and lead to a fine or, worst case, a jail sentence.
How this is racism is beyond me, as the checks are supposed to be applied to every new tenant as a matter of course and is not exclusionary.
Anyway, and more to the point, it is yet another way of “privatising Government responsibility”. It should be down to them to see who enters the country legally or illegally, not to estate agents, letting agencies or landlords on their behalf.
Furthermore, to be honest, how likely is it than you can perform a disappearing act, like Reggie Perrin tried but ultimately failed to do? In reality how long would you last? The individual’s footprint is now far too big; documentation, mobile phones, computer IP addresses, banks, number plate recognition, CCTV, benefit systems etc. etc. can all be used to track and identify.
Further examples of “passing the parcel” are raising the minimum wage a hefty percentage while equally lowering tax credits, giving employers more responsibility for employees and to iron out any problems. There is also even further tightening of landlord checks. There will always be a minority of rogues but this one-size-fits-all approach just makes life more difficult for the vast majority; and when rent controls hit in the 1970s the black market simply thrived.
Of course, it is a cutting of costs exercise but it is also a case of cutting of responsibility too. We need to be careful. It is a free market, let’s keep it free and make sure it works.
“I didn’t get where I am today by it not being a free market!”