NO DSS in council housing (and social cleansing) approved by Labour councils

You want to hear a true story of a council landlord saying No DSS and that policy being approved by Labour councillors? That is what has happened and is happening in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral on Merseyside – the social cleansing of Wirral.

The facts

  1. Wirral Borough Council transferred its housing stock to the newly formed Wirral Partnership Homes who then became Magenta Living – a claimed social landlord.

  2. Magenta then applied to transfer 100 of its inherited council housing properties to a private landlord company called Bamboo Lettings which Magenta owns with Torus.

  3. At a full council meeting in July 2017 Wirral MBC voted to allow this and Wirral is a Labour controlled council and its councillors voted to allow this.

  4. Magenta via its Bamboo Lettings vehicle – a private landlord and private sector estate agent – now offers council houses at full private market rents that are over £1500 per year above private sector LHA housing benefit rates and thus exclude the non-working tenant and the low paid tenant.

Table 1

bamboo actual rents 12032018 rightmove

This is social cleansing and Bamboo Lettings are excluding the housing benefit household from renting these former council houses.

NB that there are nationally 1.1 million tenants in full time work who receive housing benefit so Bamboo Lettings are excluding both the ‘benefit household’ and the low paid household in this social cleansing exercise. This in work HB cohort is 33% of all working-age HB claimants and note this social cleansing excluding of HB cohort applies in St Helens and Warrington where Bamboo Lettings also operate.

Torus – the partner of Magenta, as was Wirral Partnership Homes, as was MBC Wirral council housing department – is the former council housing departments of St Helens Borough Council and Warrington Council and who last week announced they are in merger talks with Liverpool Mutual Homes who have the largest housing association stock of former council housing of Liverpool City Council.

What a wicked web they weave when social (sic) landlords practice to deceive !

Back to Bamboo Lettings and in addition to this rent excess above what housing benefit will pay as a maximum BL also require lettings fees that consist of 2 months rent (1 month rent in advance and a further months rent as deposit) and a further minimum £185 in fees and as much as £510 up front.

So the cheapest property above requires £1050 in rent and deposit and and fees meaning £1,135 to £1,460 is needed to move in. That also adds to the social cleansing and exclusion of the HB cohort.

Additionally this is rank profiteering and last week there were 3 BL properties up for rent in Eastham, 1 at £625 pcm and 2 at £650 pcm.

Magenta charges an average of £94.20 per week for a 3 bed which is £408.20 pcm on a social rent basis yet via Bamboo Lettings now charges £650 pcm for the same property and an increase of £2902 per year in rent plus of course letting fees for these council houses. A 59.4% increase in rent (plus letting fees) and they exclude the benefit tenant and low paid tenant from council housing to boot!

Yes the social purpose of this housing association and claimed social landlord oozes out of their pores doesn’t it. 

Politically interesting too! – Given that Labour councillors backed this transfer of council housing (see below) it puts all four MPs in Wirral in a predicament as they are all Labour MPs in Frank Field, Alison McGovern, Angela Eagle and Margaret Greenwood. Even more of a pickle when we see Frank Field chairs the all party DWP committee in Parliament and that Margaret Greenwood is the new shadow DWP minister in an issue where Labour councillors have voted to permit Magenta practise NO DSS in council housing!

On the money-grabbing issue the £650pcm (plus letting fees) rent charged by Magenta via Bamboo Lettings LLP is where they charge £119.28 pw for a 3 bed at the ‘affordable rent’ level which is £516.88 pcm. So this is £1597 pa more than the affordable rent level which is clearly not enough excess profit for Magenta as a social (ahem) landlord and they are asking this £1600 or so per year on top …. plus letting fees too lest we forget on these council houses.

Wirral Labour Council decision

At a meeting of the full Council on 10 July 2017 the following motion is seen:

MOTION – LOSS OF SOCIAL HOUSING TO BAMBOO LETTINGS LLP

Minutes:

Having previously declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this item, Councillors Steve Foulkes, Tracey Pilgrim and Stuart Whittingham vacated the Council Chamber and did not take part in the voting thereon (minute 18 refers).

Proposed by Councillor Stuart Kelly

Seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia

Council notes the establishment of a private lettings company known as Bamboo Lettings LLP between Magenta Living and a housing organisation called Torus.

Council notes that Magenta are planning to transfer under a lease arrangement up to 100 social housing homes to Bamboo Lettings company for them to be let at full market rents.

Council notes that a three bedroom house offered for let by Bamboo in the Woodchurch area will cost a prospective tenant £137 per week against the social rent charged by Magenta of circa £97 per week in the same area (and against an ‘affordable’ rent level of £110).

In addition, Council is concerned that Bamboo Lettings also charge private sector style ‘fees’; an example of these fees for a three bedroom house in the Woodchurch area is:

·  Application fee – £50

·  Administration fee – £75

·  Guarantor fee – £50

·  Check out fee – £60

·  Additional deposit for a pet – £100

Council believes that these fees are not linked to the service provided, are unacceptable and extortionate and requests a justification for this regime.

Council notes the Cabinet Member for Housing has told Magenta that Wirral Council would not want to see larger 4 bedroom accommodation, those for older people and those adapted properties being transferred; and has highlighted to Magenta concerns about a number of disposals occurring in the same popular locations, thus reducing availability of social housing stock.

Council notes that there are currently 9643 people registered on the Choice Based Lettings System, of which 2348 have a housing priority need.

Council has objections to the use of social housing in this way and requests (through the Council’s Managing Director for Delivery to Magenta Living) that the relationship with Torus/Bamboo be suspended to allow the Council the opportunity to fully investigate the use of social housing stock as de facto private rented houses.”

Following a debate and Councillor Stuart Kelly having replied, the motion was put and lost (23:32) (One abstention).

It can ONLY be the case that the Labour councillors voted against this motion and thus allowed Magenta to transfer 100 council houses to its Bamboo Lettings vehicle and charge excessively more in rent for them.

As an added issue note the motion also sough to preclude Magenta from transferring 4 bed or larger properties to which Magenta has clearly coked a snoop too by letting 4 bed properties out as this screenshot taken today reveals

bamboo 2

In summary Labour councillors in Wirral – which includes the constituencies of Frank Field as the chair of the all party parliamentary working group on DWP matters and the new Labour Shadow DWP Minister in Margaret Greenwood – have voted for a policy of No DSS and a policy of social cleansing to take place by Magenta who have around 70% of all social housing in Wirral.

Even Tories in Wirral voted against this and even Tory voters would be ashamed of this social cleansing that the Labour council voted to allow.

In housing terms we see Magenta, Torus and by extension Liverpool Mutual Homes being the antithesis of the social landlords they repeatedly claim to be and then again we can add Liverpool City Council itself to that list as they are too setting up their own private sector landlord company called Foundations which will rent out at affordable rents and full market rent levels and without irony or shame called this an Ethical housing landlord!

What a wicked wed they weave when first they practice to deceive…

Council, former council and housing association landlords while hiding behind their claim of having social purpose and social ethos coursing through their veins are no more than money-grabbing private landlords intent on shafting the most financially marginalised tenant and NO DSS and social cleansing policies are no barriers to income generation and lining their own coffers – and not that I have been warning you about this for years eh reader!

The pivotal element of social housing in the 1948 Welfare State and without which it costs more for education and NHS and the rest of the Welfare State is dead as a the proverbial dodo and that death has been hastened on by housing associations and council landlords and even Labour controlled councils.

Where will your children and grandchildren live as even with the bank of mum and dad (BOMAD) they can’t afford to buy so need to rent. Yes the money-grabbing bastards of council and housing association landlords have made sure they will be kept out of the ‘property-owning democracy’ and screwed for ever more in rent at the same time.

Ah the stench of social ethos and social housing!

Footnote:

Could it also be that Magenta has the bedroom tax in mind as the so-called 3 bed property above in Eastham that is 59% above its normal social rent (plus fees!) has a picture of the claimed third ‘bedroom’ that I would strongly argue is not a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes.

bamboo 3

Could it be that this private landlord vehicle is the social landlord solution to the oh so typical and more correctly described ‘boxroom’ of which there are tens of thousands across the UK that contain the bulkhead of the stairs? These are after all what councils built and what LSVT housing associations inherited and vehement state are ‘bedrooms’ despite many of them having less than 40 square feet of floor space and around 50% – 60% of the size of the homes fir for heroes to live in Tudor Walters report said back in 1919 a mere 99 years ago as a minimum size standard!

Ah that stench of social purpose really does attack your olfactory sense doesn’t it reader!

________________________

Figures for Magenta rent levels (normal social rent and affordable rent) come from the official Statistical Data Return and also record Bamboo Estates LLP as a subsidiary of Magenta Living (Wirral Partnership Homes as was).

2 Replies to “NO DSS in council housing (and social cleansing) approved by Labour councils”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s