This article and the one which follows it tell us much of what we need to know about why it is very hard for anyone of modest means to have much of a prospect of a roof over their heads in large swathes of affluent rural England. And why does it matter? Well mainly because serious social division starts when we remove the mix of different types of people from communities, whether deliberately or as an unintended consequence of ill thought out public policy. This article helps explain this point in powerful detail, particularly in terms of minority groups, women and people with disabilities. It tells us:

MPs have demanded landlords and letting agents end the practice of screening out people on benefits after hearing claims that “no DSS” clauses have become the 2019 equivalent of “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” notices.

During a hearing into the widespread refusal of landlords to rent properties to those on benefits, the Commons work and pensions select committee on Wednesday confronted the director of Your Move, a national online lettings agency, with an advert it published in March for a home in Telford, Shropshire, that read: “No DSS. Small dogs considered.”

They also drew admissions from leading lettings agencies Hunters and Your Rent that they still run “no DSS” adverts, despite rising opposition to the practice, which Derek Thomas MP said amounted to a “hostile environment” for tenants on benefits.

Heather Wheeler, the housing minister, said last month she wanted to tackle the practice of “no DSS”, but it remains widespread. One current advert for a three-bedroom house in Cheshire reads: “Small Dogs Considered (higher deposit), NO DSS, NO SMOKERS.”

Another for a property in Cornwall seems to be trying to avoid using the letters DSS and instead says: “No —. Small dogs considered.”

In 2017-18, 889,000 households in the private sector needed housing benefit to pay their rent and the housing charity Shelter said the “no DSS” practice breached equality law because it disproportionately affects women and people with disabilities. Renters say it means they have less choice, standards are lower and costs higher.

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