For the good of social housing David Orr must go.

If anyone working in social housing has any semblance of the ethereal social purpose they should all get together and demand that David Orr the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation must go.

I discuss the LHA Maxima Cap policy below and why that alone can give no confidence in David Orr to anyone in social housing and least of all the pensioner. If you have the smallest ounce of ‘social purpose’ in your body then the arguments why David Orr has to go are all there.  If you have any balls at all then the housing professional has to read and consdier the arguments here rather than remain in the bubble within a bubble in which they invariably reside – the one that has many coats of Teflon to resist any criticism of anything at all to do with housing.

There is nothing personal in this polemic.  I merely argue for the good of social housing and social purpose and what all of us in social housing understand by those terms that he has to go.  He has to fall on his sword because as the CEO of the NHF he represents the 63% of social housing that housing associations in England have.  I use the LHA Maxima Cap policy to illustrate as this one policy alone illustrates why he has to go and just because I say that he has ‘fucked-over’ the pensioner rather than ‘shafted’ or any other more tactful term does not make this an emotive polemic, it merely demonstrates the strength of the argument as to why he has to go. The same applies to the occasional flippant tone … Read on …

The bedroom tax for pensioners in general needs social housing casts a dark shadow over the Tories plans for the funding of supported housing. Its inevitable consequence of social landlords evicting pensioners in huge numbers and the closure of sheltered housing projects gives an even darker shadow for housing associations and will expose their pretence at claiming to have social purpose.

These are just two of the consequences of housing associations and specifically David Orr Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation getting into bed with the Tories in their ‘critical friend’ relationship.  You may ask what friend craps on you from a great height never mind a critical one yet this is what housing associations get for blindly following Glorious Leader Orr and jumping into bed with the Tories and the reality of non-challenge to the ideologically driven policies of your critical friend this means will soon be there for all to see.  The fan is huge and the proverbial is the smelliest possible.

The LHA Maxima Cap policy of the Tories WAS fervently challenged by housing associations when it was first proposed in July 2011 and so much so that the consultation paper it produced did not even see a publicly released response from the Tories.  YET when the Tories dug it up again and in even worse form in 2015 the housing associations did NOT challenge it as they had this critical friend relationship with the Tory government.

That critical friend relationship is the same reason why housing associations failed to challenge the bedroom tax or the overall benefit cap or any other misnamed ‘welfare reform’ policy. YET when the pensioner is affected and evicted the housing associations have a critical business problem and they cannot adopt the strategy to date with the working-age tenant of saying this is government policy and our hands are tied there is nothing we can do about it as they have done with all other ‘welfare reforms.’

The reputational risk to the very essence of housing associations who trade on the basis of having the ethereal social purpose is massive because the unopposed and unchallenged LHA Maxima Cap policy hits the pensioner.

The LHA Maxima Cap policy doesn’t just hit the pensioner of course it hits every vulnerable client group and homeless hostels, domestic abuse refuges and homes for those with every form of disability will close.  However the focus of attention will be on the previously protected and exempt from ‘welfare reform’ pensioner and the NHF is focusing its pathetic pretence at challenge on them – or at least that the policy will mean fewer new units of their cash cows called sheltered housing.

Tomorrow, the 1st of September sees the launch of the National Housing Federation’s “Starts at Home” strategy and will be the usual pitiful challenge to the ideological policies of their critical friend.

Home is where the heart is and the NHF simply have no heart.

Starts at Home will be and has to be nothing more than deflection and misdirection away from the fact that the pensioner will be evicted because the National Housing Federation failed to challenge the idiocy of the LHA Maxima Cap policy because they had this critical friend relationship with the Tory zealots in government.

How did the NHF not see that the pensioner / pensioner couple in general needs housing will only get £69 per week in Housing Benefit in Hull?

The pensioner in Hull will have their level of housing benefit capped at the 1 bed LHA maximum of £69 per week and so this will be cut to the pensioner there whether they live in a fully occupied 1 bed property and whether they live in an under occupied 3 bed property.  This back door bedroom tax applies to the pensioner even if they do NOT under occupy their home and in general needs not supported housing.

Which part of Starts at Home is that David Orr?

How about the pensioner living in a sheltered housing 1 bed property with a rent level that is now paid with £135 per week in housing benefit in Liverpool (a median rent area unlike low rent area Hull) yet will fall to just £90 per week?  How is the pensioner expected to pay for the £45 per week difference?

Oh it appears that David Orr and the NHF missed these issues as the 1 bed LHA maximum in high rent London is around £250 per week and so the pensioner in general needs or sheltered housing won’t be affected and wont lose their HOME!

How about the 59,000 two-bed sheltered housing properties your housing association members have in England David Orr?  Yes the vast majority of social tenants there will see a massive cut in housing benefit won’t they and a cut that will severely threaten their continued occupation of their HOME!

You’ve been awfully quiet on that 59,000 number David. Haven’t your many policy officers told you of this aspect or is that you simply don’t care?  What are your HA members going to do with these 59,000 properties now?  Oh dear you hadn’t thought of that either had you in your zeal to cosy-on up to the Tory government!

Oh ok its only 58,919 two bed sheltered housing properties your members submitted to the 2016 Statistical Data Return in England I exaggerate …

Damn those facts can be really pesky can’t they David and even I was surprised at this 58,919 two bed properties in sheltered housing and just how many (mainly) pensioners will be severely fucked over by your critical friend strategy with the Tories.

I say mainly pensioners because sheltered housing tends to take people over 55 and a fair percentage of them will not be pensioners.  Oh dear that means your member housing associations will have to radically change their allocation policies so that only pensioners ever get allocated a sheltered housing property won’t they?  Hmm, I wonder if the 18% churn of sheltered housing properties a recent in-depth study from one local authority is a good average of new sheltered housing tenants per year?

If so then that’s 18% of 2016/17 sheltered tenants, a further 18% from 2017/18 and a further 18% in 2018/19 that will see 54% of all sheltered tenants in place when the LHA Maxima Cap starts in April 2019 – yes the same policy you decided NOT to challenge because of your critical friend (sic) relationship with the Tories – will be hit on day 1 of this ideologically driven madness!

As I always say and will keep saying those facts are so damn pesky aren’t they David Orr?

Quite why you have chosen to focus your challenge (ahem!) on the number of new sheltered housing properties (the bricks and mortar) rather than the fact that so many sheltered housing residents (actual people who seek a home!) will be so fucked over is the starkest of stark statements about your choice.  Yet that is precisely what you did last week David as I stated here.

Starts at HOME?  You have no concept of what home means David Orr still hey I note today you have a new slogan called Creating Our Future  … but boy oh boy what a future YOU have created for your member housing associations with your critical friend brown-nosing policy with the Tories that mean your housing associations are deep in the smelliest brown stuff never mind your faux concern for vulnerable people such as the pensioner …

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One tiny footnote.  Some HAs have a critical exposure to the LHA Maxima Cap in areas other than the pensioner and particularly “the disabled.”  Yet none of them mention one very critical fact that emerged from the Family Resouce Survey in March 2017 – the huge increase of those classified as disabled and those classified with mental health issues from 2013 to 2015 who will critically – yes that word again – not have factored into the claimed scale of the sector that the government use as the basis for the LHA Maxima cap policy.  Those respective 18% and 22% increases and in such a short space of two years that see well over a million new households represents huge increased demand on supported housing which is NOT included under the LHA Maxima Cap policy intent of capping supported housing revenue funding.

The ‘sector’ cannot afford to accommodate these additional 1.4 million people in either general needs or supported housing provision because of the critical friend relationship or as it is correctly seen David Orr’s couldn’t give a shit about people and only cares about new bricks and mortar in the build build build and other commercially driven private sector road he has been steering his sheep down …

frs-disability-201516

 

 

 

Social landlord thievery and deceit

Housing associations and councils overcharge social tenants £3.6 billion more than CPI inflation per year in rent – enough to build 120,000 new houses per year at a true social rent at £30k subsidy per property.

Circa 2.7 million housing association tenants are overcharged £870 per year which is £2.4 billion and 1.6 million council tenants £769 pa for a further £1.2 billion.

The same social (sic) landlords cry poverty and scream they have social purpose too to add insult to tenant injury!  To give you some perspective we see disability and welfare benefit groups scream in (rightful) outrage that the DWP spends £40 million per year defending indefensible benefit decisions at court yet many of those outraged by this are social tenants who express no outrage that they are charged 90 times more than in rent above inflation than this £40 million by so-called social landlords each year at £3.6 billion!

For every £1 per year the the DWP spends defending the indefensible social landlords overcharge social tenants £90 per year. How’s that for perspective?!

These are all official figures which I reported yesterday here and those figures are from 2015/16 so now it will be more than this £3,600,000,000 that they overcharge the social tenant each year yet still they only build one-third of these 120,000 properties each year with many of them being for private rent and outright sale. Housing associations built just 3,903 core properties for social rent in 2016/17 – a long way short of 120,000!

The lies and deceit of the so-called social landlords are staggering and obscene.

  • They moan like hell over the imposed 1% rent cuts yet these official figures include this and show they are profiteering and still charging £3.6bn pa over CPI inflation.
  • The 1% imposed rent cut has led to 15% and in some cases 25% staffing cuts so tenants are not just being overcharged they are receiving far less of a service
  • They also moan like hell of having no subsidy so they shaft the tenant for this £3.6 billion per year more – which is more than they ever got in subsidy from government
  • They will now moan that we got this subsidy and even higher rent increases for decades before – which is true, yet only shows how much worse and how much more you shafted the social tenant in the past with RPI+ rent increases … yet they still didn’t build new properties and only 1 in 5 housing associations actually do build and 4 in every 5 do not.
  • These repeated moans are false and housing associations are making record year-on-year surpluses or profit if you prefer as HAs are correctly labelled Private Registered Providers
  • They moan they have social purpose yet as well as the £3.6bn per year tenant shafting in rent they also evict on the same proportion and level that the ‘nasty’ private landlord does.  So the peskiness of the facts blow their errant arguments out of the water.

Yet far worse than the lies and deceit are the consequences of those lies.

  • The media and housing commentariat focus on high private rental costs yet this is a symptom of social landlords not building.  IF social landlords had build 120,000 new properties for year at social rent then this is 120,000 fewer private tenants having to pay on average £83 more per week in rent which is £4300 per year less in rent they would have to pay!
  • Put another way private renters could pay £518 million less in rent each year if social landlords had followed their ethereal social purpose and built 120,000 more properties per year.

How have social landlords got away with this?

(a) Lazy headline-grabbing analysis – The likes of Shelter, Crisis, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and all the usual commentariat choose to focus on the private landlord symptom and getting more research funding for the same old same old and they do not follow the facts that would focus also on the social landlord.  It is lazy stale analysis upon lazy stale analyses by them when it comes to rents and eviction levels.

(b) Lack of social tenant scrutiny – I can understand the outrage of Generation Rent in moaning about high and excessive private rent levels which have been 16% above CPI from March 2010 to March 2016 yet where the hell is the social tenant outrage at 34% above CPI inflation rent increases in that time by social (sic) landlords? I said a few years ago the social tenants need to form a campaign group, a lobby or union as the 6 million or so adults who live in social housing are 6 million voters whose latent power would be realised and prevent social landlord thievery.

(c) The false comparator analyses –  The errant focus on anything less than market rent even if it is one penny per week has stupidly held sway.  Allowing social (sic) landlords to charge ever higher rents is seen as acceptable and permissible if it is ‘sub-market.’ That is like saying you can triple the price of a Lada because it is still cheaper than a Ferrari!

A classic example of this was the recent announcement by the Mayor of London which was feted with incredulous hyperbole and by the same housing commentariat.  Yet despite subsidy of £60,000 per property the new London “genuinely affordable” (sic) rents are up to 52% higher than the existing London social rent level!

When you correctly compare on a like-for-like basis of new social landlord rent levels against existing social landlord rent levels then the false comparator analysis is exposed and correctly so.  In comparing new social landlord rent levels against existing private rent levels the comparison is always false, as is any deduced analysis yet that perverse and errant view holds sway and what is missed is the excessive rent increases for the social tenant.

The affordable (sic) rent model that allows social (sic) landlords to increase rent up to 80% of gross market rent is ‘permissible’ only by this false comparator.  This AR rent is quite simply landlords saying Government is not giving us subsidy so lets go screw the social tenant for much more in rent to mitigate.

(d) London. London, Bloody London – Obviously, that false comparator analysis only happens where there is a large rent level differential between social housing rents and private rents.  That is why I can understand the likes of Generation Rent yet I cannot excuse the national commentariat of Shelter, Crisis, JRF and the Guardian who focus almost exclusively on the perverse London housing market when it only affects the 13% of UK citizens who live there and not the 87% of UK housing who do not!

In summary, at this point, the social tenant is being shafted yet nobody realises because all analysis is not on the facts and led by fact, it is rather on the same old stale analysis on assumption, myth, on in rented housing terms the starting hypothesis of private bad public good – itself a falsehood as HA’s are not public sector – and the 13% of the housing market that is London and upon which the media focus.

Political Madness and Economic Incompetence

Allowing social (sic) landlords to increase rent to mitigate for not providing subsidy is Tory political madness and Tory economic incompetence.

For every £1 rent increase:

  1. The tenant has to earn at least £1 more to stand still – which leads to the just about managing’s or JAM cohort and to the almost doubling of those in work qualifying for and receiving Housing Benefit from 650,000 in May 2010 to 1.15 million in September 2016.
  2. The Housing benefit bill increases – and despite all the cuts to it in LHA cap from 2012, Bedroom Tax in 2013, Overall Benefit Cap in 2013 was still over £1 billion more in real terms as the IFS reported in January 2016
  3. The tenant has £1 less to save for a mortgage – and why home ownership rates have fallen to 63% by 2015/16 and from a high of 71% in 2004
  4. The tenant has £1 less to pay for food to put into the mouth of babes – foodbanks anyone?

These are just some of the additional dependencies created when social (sic) landlords are permitted and encouraged to increase rents as they have been by the Conservative housing rent policies.

  1. The higher the rent the greater the dependency
  2. The higher the rent the less you can save for a mortgage
  3. The higher the rent the lesser quality of life

Those three bullets points are a case of stating the bloody obvious – yet those same three points are encouraged by Tory policy and also ignored by the media.  They explain why it is so much harder to get on the housing ladder, to explain why the Housing Benefit bill has increased in real terms, to explain much greater food back use; to explain all that is wrong with social housing policy.

By contrast for every £1 less in rent charged:

  1. The lesser the dependency and the easier someone can take up employment
  2. The more ‘entrepreneurs’ can create employment (to use the Tories own jargon)
  3. The more and more quickly a tenant can save for a mortgage deposit (to conform to both Tory and Labour party’s wishes)
  4. The lesser the need for foodbanks … and so on

That too is stating the bloody obvious as is the Tories policies are both politically and economically incompetent when it comes to social housing.

Those bloody obvious points are never discussed because the commentariat of the ‘Establishment’ whether in research and campaigning terms or just the fourth estate choose refuse to see the bloody obvious facts in front of their eyes.

Footnotes and updated comment

The average duration of a social housing tenancy has been reducing over the years and now stands at about 11 years which means about 9% of social tenants are new each year and it is these tenants who are being hit with much higher rent levels.

The period in question above is from March 2010 to March 2016 a six year period and thus that is 54% new tenants compared to 2010 and more than half of all tenants are new in this period.  By March 2017 statistically it will be 63% and then 72% by March 2018 and so on.

As such this 34% over and above inflation AVERAGE figure over the 6 year period is one accrued by stealth and one that increases year on year and also further reason why existing tenants are oblivious to this and why this profiteering slips under the radar.

More cynically yet nonetheless valid, is that getting rid of more existing tenants is incentivised to the landlord when the new tenant that replaces them is charged more in rent.  That also gives reason why social landlords evict just as much as the private landlord does too.

All of the FACTS point to these conclusions yet doubtless the response from social landlords is how dare you suggest that!  Yet I do suggest it because those conclusions are entirely fact driven and based and not because one housing professional or another in a given locale says this does not happen in my area or by my landlord.

As such the fact driven suggestions are always attacked as being scaremongering or this messenger is attacked in order to avoid the messages.  Yet all of the issues I was told a few years back were mere scaremongering have become manifest and for me have always been that inevitable that a monkey with an IQ of minus 67 could have predicted!

 

 

 

 

The great social tenant rip-off by landlords

From March 2010 to March 2016 the mean weekly rent from :

  • private landlords increased by 16.66% from £162 to £189
  • local councils increased by 33.8% from £71 to £95
  • housing associations increased by 34.17% from £79 to £106

The CPI rate of inflation from March 2010 to March 2016 was 12.986% and if weekly rents had been limited to CPI then the mean:

  • Private or market weekly rent would be £183 so is 3.28% more than CPI inflation
  • The mean council rent would be £80.22 so is 18.42% above CPI inflation
  • The mean HA rent would be £89.26 so is 18.75% above CPI inflation

This means yearly that the tenant:

  • In private rented is paying £312 per year more in rent than CPI inflation
  • In council rented is paying £769 per year more in rent than CPI inflation
  • In HA rented is paying £870 per year more in rent than CPI inflation

Tenants are being ripped off and it is social housing tenants who are being ripped off the most as these facts demonstrate.  Yet all the social tenant hears from the social (sic) landlord is our (net) rents have had a 1% yearly cut imposed and usually immediately preceding this is why we have cut out staff levels by over 15% and in some cases by 25% – a double whammy of way above inflation level rent increases and far less service.

UPDATE: Tenants are charged £3.6 billion pa over and above inflation by councils and housing associations which is far more than they ever got in grant subsidy.

All of these facts above are damn pesky for the very asocial landlords and they are official figures contained here by the DCLG released 13 July 2017 and Table FA3201.

The one staggering fact for me is that in 2011/12 there were no social rents above £150 per week yet by March 2016 we find 19,000 council rents over £200 per week and 42,000 housing association weekly rents over £200 per week.

  • That is not only 61,000 social (sic) landlord rents above £200 it is 61,000 well above mean UK market rent.
  • In just four years we now see that 9% of all housing association rents are now over £200 per week and 3.9% of all council rents over £200 per week.

The real and greatest crisis in UK housing is not under supply it is profiteering and largely by council and especially housing association landlords.

srs rent rip off 2010 to 2016

The table above contains the data and the CPI inflation figures come from the ONS which can be accessed here so there is no doubt over the accuracy of these figures and the blatant profiteering of social (sic) landlords since 2010.

Let’s not also forget that the figure of an additional £870 per year over and above inflation is the AVERAGE amount that the housing association tenant is paying more as is the £769 per year more an AVERAGE that the council tenant is paying more.

The average £312 per year over and above inflation that the private tenant is paying seems trite by comparison and makes this analysis read like a pro private rented sector article!  Yet that is just a consequence of just how much the social tenant has been getting ripped off by council and housing association landlords since 2010.

These facts also neatly dovetail with the official eviction data I discussed a few weeks ago that revealed the social landlord evicts in the same proportion as the private landlord (who unlike the social landlord cant simply evict as they do not like the cut of your jib!)

That article entitled Staggeringly high social (sic) landlord evictions … shhh! contained the two simple facts that prove social (sic) landlord evict just as many households as the private landlord:

  • • UK has 53% private properties and 47% socially rented ones.
  • • UK evictions show 54% private to 46% social housing evictions.

These two issues of rent and eviction also dovetail with data released last week by the National Housing Federation to show that just 8.2% of all new housing association properties are at the social rent level or core HA product.

ha 201617 starts

Just 3,903 properties out of a total of 47,709 were for social rent and thus 8.2% and thus 91.8% of all housing association new properties are non-core HA products and at higher cost than social rent.  That zero to 9% figure of all HA properties costing more than £200 per week in March 2016 will increase ever higher because of this trend.

Summary

The rent level increases, evicting the same as the private landlord and the staggeringly low new build for social rent all reveal that the ethereal concept of social purpose that council and especially housing associations claim to have is a chimera, a smokescreen or if you prefer absolute bullshit.

The media focuses only on high private rent levels and only on high private evictions yet fails to comment upon the higher and much increased levels of rent and eviction in the social rented sector.

It is time that changed and instead of myth and shibboleth and assumption about the UK rented housing market being the basis for comment, analysis and solutions, it is way beyond time that those pesky little things called FACTS became the basis of all of them!

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PS I trawled the internet for “housing rip off” and similarly close terms and guess what? About 98% of them are about private landlords and the other 2% are about student properties.  Try finding an article about social landlords ripping off their tenants and you wont – which shows just how much the facts as above of landlords ripping off social landlords are as rare as rocking horse shit.

great social housing rip off

Fit for work? Oh do feck off!!

Below is a photograph on an actual letter, the first of 5 pages of a disabled and incapacitated person’s claimant commitment who has been found ‘fit for work’ and has put placed in the ESA WRAG (work-related activity group) – or possibly its Universal Credit equivalent.

fit for work bollocks

The  ‘job coach’ – a title given to a jobcentre worker  – has decided that this person can and indeed must contract to look for work in order to receive ESA which is paid at the same amount as job seekers allowance (JSA) of £73.10 per week.

The job coach has decided this person can work 1 hour per week and for no more than 12 (twelve) minutes each day and with a 45 minute travel time to and from each 12 minute maximum spell of work each day.

This scrounger is FIT FOR WORK according to the DWP!

As you can see at the top of the page it lists what practical conditions this person has in terms of employment. The person:

  • Cannot stand for more than 5 minutes
  • Cannot sit for more than 5 minutes
  • Cannot work further than 100 metres
  • Cannot operate machinery as medication makes here drowsy
  • Cannot operate machinery as medication causes concentration problems
  • Cannot travel more than 45 minutes each way to work (the usual stipulation is 90 minutes each way!)

Yet this woman is FIT FOR WORK according to the DWP and can work for up to TWELVE MINUTES PER DAY.

This genuine letter describes what the DWP and the Tory government mean when they say you are FIT FOR WORK.

In DWP and Tory-speak FIT FOR work is the lowest common denominator and if you are fit to work for this 1 hour per week though it could easily be 1 minute per week you are deemed as fit for work.

The fact that no employer would ever empty anyone for 12 minutes each day has no bearing whatsoever on being deemed ‘fit for work’ and having to show that you have sought work for this time as a legally binding commitment in order to receive the same £73.10 per week that a fully-abled body and mind person receives. (Please excuse terminology)

IF and at the absolute discretion of the job coach you have not done enough to search for work then they have the absolute power to sanction the person which means no benefit paid at all and for up to three years!

This same claimant commitment also sees that the job coach has included and made part of this legally binding contract that this person:

  • Must be available to attend an interview immediately, and 
  • Must be available to start work immediately

So if a job advert does not state it is for 12 minutes per day then the job coach could sanction the person for not attending an interview immediately to find out whether this maximum 12 minute per day option is available!

Finally there is an old expression that looking for a job is a job in and of itself.  So this person still has to prove she has looked for work and looked for up to 35 hours per week (which is a standard issue) in that search to find a job that she can do on a 12 minute maximum basis every day.  If the claimant does not look for this 35 hours per week and/or cannot prove she has looked then she can still be sanctioned.

This is what FIT FOR WORK means

This woman has been through a work capability assessment conducted by a private organisation for the government at huge cost and she has been found to be fit for work – that goes before this assessment and claimant commitment with the jobcentre worker that this letter represents – and reveals just what a sham the WCA is in finding this person be placed in the work-related activity group of ESA (formerly known as Incapacity Benefit for good reason.)

This woman who by virtue of her many health conditions that do incapacitate her from working to the extent that a maximum 12 minutes per day is permitted is still FIT FOR WORK says this Conservative government so get off your lazy so-called disabled arse and find work is what this Conservative government policy means and says.

One final point as you all know my love of numbers as facts.  The claimant can do no more than 12 minutes per day and no more than 60 minutes per week of work.  So this claimant commitment is for 1 hour of work per week over a minimum 5 days and each one of those days sees a travelling time and COST of 90 minutes per day.

Now lets say this job can arise and it is fairly local just a single bus ride away.  The claimant has 10 bus journeys per week at a £3 fare each time which is £30 in travelling costs to the claimant.

This 1 hour per week job must therefore have to pay at least £30.01 per hour to – in the immortal words of Iain Duncan Smith – work will always pay more than benefit!  No! 

If it did pay £30.01 per hour the claimant would see £6.50 of her £73.10 per week clawed back as the first £20 per week is disregarded and then each £1 earned over that sees a loss of £0.65p in benefit – and have £30 more to pay out in travel to work costs meaning the claimant is £6.49 per week WORSE OFF.

So if this mythical potential job paid £40 per hour then the claimant would still be worse off as from this £40 we have to deduct £13.00 in reduced benefit (65% of £20) and £30 in added travel to work costs making the claimant £3 per week worse off.

If this mythical one hour per week job paid £50 per hour then we deduct the £19.50 reduction in benefit and the £30 travel to work cost and we find the claimant is nominally FIFTY PENCE per week better off.

You couldn’t make this shit up!!!

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Quick Update

As a comment on Twitter pointed out how can she travel 45 minutes each way if she can only sit or stand for 5 minutes?  Maybe she has a flying carpet to transport her to and from this mythical job and in which case please ignore my travel cost expenses bit above!!!

Sunday 27 August 2017 – Please note I will not be allowing any more comments here as the issue needs to remain on the above and not the truly offensive comments of 1 imbecile who said that all benefit recipients are “parasites”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supported housing and faux NHF concern

In focusing only on new supported but mainly sheltered housing that won’t now be built the National Housing Federation are promoting a narrative that is disturbing, selective and negates many far worse impacts of the LHA Maxima Cap policy.

  1. What about the many existing services that will inevitably close including homeless hostels and refuges that are not ordinarily run by housing associations but by independent small charities?
  2. What of the impact this policy has on general needs tenants including what essentially becomes a back door bedroom tax for pensioners?
  3. What about the impact of existing inevitable closures of supported living services that are also mostly run by charities and the huge adverse effect that will have on costly increases in residential care for mental health and learning and other disabilities and on bed-blocking and much higher cost and much longer waiting times in the NHS?

These three of many more inevitable impacts of the policy are not mentioned by the NHF in their news release, that is shamefully picked up and repeated parrot-fashion by Inside Housing and the Guardian,  yet they have greater political sensitivity and importance and would embarrass and challenge the Tory government far more.

This is not the NHF focusing on what affects them as many of the other charitable support providers lease their properties to deliver support; rather it is all about the NHF policy of non-challenge as they have what they call a “critical friend” relationship with the Tories and how can a government that dumps all over you can be a friend never mind a critical one?

The logic is truly perverse when it solely focuses on what new housing units will not be built and not on what existing housing units will close.  Yet that clearly infers that housing associations will simply reprovision existing hostels and refuges and group homes for mental health etc into nice expensive flats and thus reveals HA’s care far more about the actual bricks and mortar than the most vulnerable who live in them.

In a long line of asocial practices of housing associations this one trumps them all.  I do wish housing associations would be honest and say openly what is all too apparent that bricks and mortar matters and who lives in them is very much secondary yet they continue with the pretence that they have this ethereal social purpose.

Housing associations are carcinogenic for social housing and social purpose and the 1948 Welfare State’s pillar of housing those most in need and you do not get any more in need when we are discussing supported housing residents.

HA’s are more destructive change agents than private companies are to the NHS or free schools to state education or workfare providers to full employment welfare state ideals yet because we are all affected by what goes on in schools, at the workplace and especially the NHS yet only one in every six lives in social (sic) housing and so the their neo-liberal ravages and attacks on a central pillar of the Welfare State go largely unnoticed – and  ‘social purpose’ is the HA’s cloak of invisibility device borrowed from Harry Potter in this regard.

Housing Association is a false term and they are correctly called PRIVATE Registered Providers (PRPs) by the UK housing regulator.  These PRPs do not have any duty to house or rehouse those in need and because they are private organisations they cannot hold a public or statutory duty and yet they are still classed under the heading of social landlords along with councils who do have these mandated duties.

HA/PRPs are an aberration, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who are making record year-on-year surpluses (profits) and they have 63% of all social housing stock in the UK and with 60% of that being former council housing too.   They use ‘social purpose’ only as a business tool for publicity and reputational purposes and they are nothing more than a private landlord with smokescreen ‘public’ advantages that they exploit for increased profit.

The fact that their national body and lobby group in the NHF is ONLY concerned about new bricks and mortar not being erected and cares not a jot about existing very vulnerable residents in supported housing says everything you need to know about housing associations.

After all, they have no duties whatsoever to house or rehouse anyone never mind THE most vulnerable in need of housing and support.  They can, and will, allow existing services to close and the vulnerable who live in them become the responsibility of local councils to rehouse and nothing whatsoever to do with these housing associations.

The NHF announcement find the usual complicit and lazy journalism in Inside Housing here and the Guardian here so the NHF narrative takes the first move advantage and first impression counts grounds.  Yet this is a narrative of only new bricks and mortar matter and matter more than women and children fleeing domestic abuse, those who are homeless or who have learning, physical and sensory disabilities, or more important than care leavers or those with acquired brain injury and just about every other support and supported housing need.  You are less worthy than bricks however vulnerable you are to the callous private registered providers aka housing associations.

The overwhelmingly majority of HA products and units (and yes that is how they refer to them) is sheltered housing which is often not even supported housing.  Age can lead to infirmity of course yet attaining an age – typically 55 – is the only entry criteria to sheltered housing whereas all other genuine supported housing requires a vulnerable support need to enter such as being homeless to get into a hostel or be fleeing domestic abuse to get into a refuge.  The vast majority of sheltered housing is not supported housing at all and only the ‘extra care’ variant is genuinely supported housing.

The NHF deliberately conflate this to their advantage as the opening of the risible Guardian article reveals:

Housing associations have cut plans to build homes for vulnerable, elderly or disabled residents by 85% because of concerns over proposed welfare changes, according to an investigation.

This carefully worded sophistry infers housing associations provide for all that can come under the vague term vulnerable and for disabled and this is simply not true.  While the likes of Mencap have their own housing (and indeed own housing association in Golden lane Housing) the vast majority of supported housing for disabled persons is not delivered by housing associations at all.

It is by smaller specialist charities and many of whom do deliver support in HA properties.  So by the NHF not giving a flying fig about existing services they are also shafting those specialist smaller charities who actually deliver the support and this lack of challenge to their very much favoured Tory government – aka their critical friend – means that housing associations don’t give a stuff that these smaller charities will fold and go bust because of the Tory LHA Maxima Cap policy that the NHF show such faux concern about.

Some larger housing associations such as Riverside who are mentioned in the NHF article do have a large supported housing presence nationally, yet only because they took over English Churches Housing Group a specialist supported housing provider almost two decades ago.  Prior to that Riverside did have some supported housing, a relatively small amount but still larger than most and they are the exception rather than the rule for housing associations in their exposure to supported housing.

So we see the opening quote above can relate to a small handful of the 1500+ housing associations who operate supported housing yet it is a very small part and the exception rather than the rule in terms of supported housing.  It is the rule not the exception in sheltered housing yet most sheltered housing is not supported housing.

Yet despite those lengthy but necessary explanations it all comes down to the private registered providers having lost any semblance of social purpose they may once have had in prioritising new bricks and mortar over existing severely vulnerable people and housing associations washing their hands of any responsibility or caring about these very vulnerable people which is utterly offensive and callous.

 

 

Steve Rotheram and LCR housing – Grow a set will ya!

My MP up until the June 2017 general election was Steve Rotheram.  He vacated his seat to become the elected Mayor of the Liverpool City Region (LCR) which is the 5 councils of Merseyside – Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral – plus Halton.

Rotheram was the campaign manager for Corbyn and I as one of a reported 10,000 who went to hear Corbyn at St Georges Hall in Liverpool heard the warm-up speech by Rotheram in which he said in surprising and brutal honesty for any politician that because of the party system he voted for (New) Labour policies that he was fundamentally opposed to in principle.

Such rare honesty accords a high level of respect from me and his being a bricklayer originally I looked forward to his housing policy as LCR Mayor.  There’s a certain naivety on my part in that of course however from all the evidence so far Mr Rotheram is more interested in his place in political history as LCR Mayor than in the housing needs of the 1.5 million who live in the growing Liverpool City Region!

More to be remembered on a Panglossian at least I tried basis than for actually doing anything!

The evidence to date is:

  • Enthused about the Housing First model that costs double at £34 per hour the existing amount paid to homeless providers
  • Lauded the risible and failing No Second Night Out homeless policy
  • Appointed a housing association chief executive as his housing advisor
  • Lobbied hard for a prefab factory to be built in the LCR area thus negating much of the need for any ‘wet’ trades person such as a bricklayer and leading to much poorer housing quality of any new build

Oh dear!

In fairness the LCR Mayor has no real housing powers as the 6 councils in LCR have no council housing stock (though they have fully council owned private housing companies called LHCs) and in the 39 local authorities in the North West area only 3 do have council housing and soon to be 4 as Wigan has now taken back its housing under the council’s wing.

Yet that still leaves 90% of the North West without any council housing and thus dependent on the private registered providers aka housing associations for any housing growth.  Rotheram has appointed one such private registered provider chief executive as his housing advisor and with all due respect any advice there is hardly going to be what the LCR areas needs more than anything in council housing when that solution negates and threatens housing associations more.

Corbyn – who I remind again had Rotheram as his campaign manager –  policy is for mass council house building and has been since 2007 when he said in the House of Commons that housing associations are “… behaving like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations.” as I said here and then today we find those same housing association – who are correctly called private registered providers by the UK housing regulator – built more homes for private sale (1,106) than they did for social rent (1,051) between April and June 2017.

Corbyn was right in 2007 about private registered providers (HAs) and they have become so much more private and commercially focused and driven in the last ten years.  Even now we see Corbyn on his webpage and the official Labour Party webpage saying he wants council housing to be built not housing association properties

jeremy corbyn housing pledge

labour pledge housing

In both cases on Corbyn’s and Labour’s websites there is no mention of HA properties at all though the Labour Party manifesto for the 2017 general election does have HA properties included and even councils building houses for sale!  See page 60 of the manifesto below.

labmanifeto2017 housing

Where is your integrity Steve Rotheram?  Your colleague john McDonnell has said unequivocally that he will allow the six councils of LCR to borrow to build which is something they are denied now.  Yet your vision is siding with the status quo and assumes Labour will not get into power by siding with and being advised by housing associations.

Just imagine a vision that said for example WHEN not if Labour return to power I as LCR Mayor will set up a LCR (and beyond) Direct Labour Organisation to build council housing in the six local council areas at scale and get around the power that the private housebuilders hold in this area?

Every council used to have its own DLO and used to build 200,000 new council houses per year yet the LCR by economies of scale for the 6 councils and even beyond to start building wholly affordable council housing again and in its Keynesian roots provide hugely increased employment for local labour in the building industry you used to inhabit and in the LCR as a truly social and responsible landlord.

Is that not the plan of John McDonnell and Corbyn?  Oh sorry I forgot you are being advised on housing by a housing association chief executive and such a policy must be anathema in any advice?!

How about the need for a truly social house builder in the other 33 local authority areas of the North West of which 29 have no council housing yet every council in crying out for!  A DLO of the LCR’s own breaks the power that private enterprise has and makes sense of the inconsequence of HA’s as house builders as they can only deliver 13% of the UK housing need that we have as todays figures show.

So why release today an insipid and wholly vague LCR Growth Strategy policy document today (here) that has as much genuine vision as a blind man wearing sunglasses in a cave 3000 feet underground that says nothing about your plans for housing?

lcr strategy

The one example of the LCR creating its own direct labour organisation is just one example of what a visionary or even a pragmatist could do in terms of housing that would greatly benefit the LCR area and assure your place in political history.  Every council in the country is crying out for more genuinely affordable council housing to meet and slay the modern day giant of Tory austerity – a platform you canvassed on.

My home city and your home city built housing and quality housing too that exceeded standards and it is with extreme irony that every UK council irrespective of political hue now desperately wants to do what the so-called “Militant” Liverpool council of the 1980’s actually did in borrow to build its own housing and this is now de facto Labour Party policy.  The housing policies those incorrigible lefties took that were so extreme and so abjectly political (blah blah blah) are now the accepted best policy route of the centrist and right wing Tory councils.  They are – and were then – right and now they have become mainstream thought!!

You couldn’t make it up … Yet mainstream is still too left wing for you Steve!!

Brutal and commendable honesty in speaking before 10,000 people at St Georges plateau is one thing.  Having a set of bollocks to prove you mean what you say and actually doing something for the 1.5 million and growing LCR population is quite another!

Try growing a set

 

 

 

Housing Associations are inconsequential yet supreme turd polishers

IF we assume that housing associations carry on building at the same rate AND if we also assume that their demolitions are zero so the build figures are net ones not gross then they are on course to build just 13% of the new houses the UK needs each year.

87% of the homes the UK needs each year cannot be built by housing associations

Housing associations are a non-entity, a tiny player in the housebuilding market, an irrelevance, the third-choice goalkeeper who once in a while gets a Premier League medal as he sits on the bench 14 times per year as one of the other two are injured though he never gets on the pitch.

Yay lets celebrate that with as much hyperbole as we can says the 3rd choice goalkeeper’s agent called David Orr the chief executive of the National Housing Federation in full knowledge that the housing trade media will find the best way to sell these bloody awful and irrelevant numbers.

  • Housing Associations built just 11.6% of their homes at social rent at 1051 in the first quarter of 2017/18 and in that same time they built 12.2% for outright private sale.
  • What great social purpose they have coursing through their veins!
  • How lucky we are to have these HA defenders of the 1948 Welfare State slaying the giant of squalor!
  • How charitable they are in building 40.1% of all new homes at the “affordable” rent level and shafting the social tenant for on average 40% more in the regions and 46% more in London – the social purpose coursing through those veins bolstered by the FilthyLucre™ brand of adrenaline.

A real bugbear of mine is why does it take until 24 August to release the number of homes started from 1 April to 30 June?  Why does it take 55 days to compile and release these figures?  55 days!! Do they send one man round the country with a clipboard and 5 coloured pencils to check, recheck and check again personally?  Or does it take 55 days to work out how to polish this smelliest of turds!

Housing Associations are inconsequential when it comes to building the UK out of its universally accepted housing crisis.  They do not have capacity end of and over 4 in 5 housing associations do not build at all so they do not have the inclination either.

So if you are unfortunate enough to come across the hysterical hyperbole on social media then remember the above pesky facts and that the bloody awful and wholly inconsequential housing association housebuilding numbers you read have taken 55 days to polish these turds …

___________________

The figures as report in 24 Housing

ha builds

 

 

Theresa May seeks good PR for Grenfell while HA CEO’s polish their riding skills

The phrase used to deal with and deflect bad publicity is called fire-fighting and never has it been used with such sickening effect as with Theresa May and the Grenfell Tower tragedy as this Inside Housing article reports in the last hour:

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister acknowledged residents’ concerns about the culture of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and the Tenant Management Organisation (TMO).

She confirmed that the TMO will be removed from the management of the Lancaster West (Grenfell Tower) estate and she recognised that the council did not respond quickly enough after the fire. She agreed that it was important that the council listen to and respond to the issues residents face about the support and information they were receiving, including from key workers and housing officers.”

It is not yet clear what the time frame will be for KCTMO exiting management of the estate, which organisation will replace it or whether it will continue to manage some 9,000 other properties in the borough.

While there were major faults and negligence that could (and should) see corporate manslaughter charges against both the TMO and the council Theresa May is treating one tiny symptom and not the root cause of the Grenfell tragedy in this sickening populist decision.  She is seeking to get herself and the Conservative government off the hook for their major part in this and trying to put all the blame on the TMO … and ahead of the enquiry that she has already limited so that the government role in Grenfell will not be considered.

This makes Machiavelli look like a baby in comparison to Theresa May

Yet she is not the only seeking to make good PR and a bucket load of money from Grenfell and I give you the housing associations astride their Lipizanner stallions and chomping at the (filthy lucre) bit!

You can just see all the housing associations brushing up their white steeds and polishing their armour to heroically come in and rescue ALL the TMO tenants and not just the former Grenfell tenants for whom Kensington & Chelsea council last night agreed to pay the £40 million more in rent to the housing associations to rehouse the Grenfell tenants alone!

Imagine how much more this will be in rent for the housing associations if they take over all 9000 tenancies and not just the 2% of TMO tenancies for former Grenfell tenants? Oh, and to answer my own question if £40 million more for 2% of TMO tenants then all 9000 will be £2 billion more in rent for the housing associations.

£2 billion buys a hell of a lot of Brasso to polish the shining armour that the private registered providers (aka housing associations) have fitted by the modern day Saville Row tailor and their white chargers will be the finest that the Spanish Riding school has as the picture below of London HA chief executives reveals …

ha white horses

Truly offensive

 

 

 

“… like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations.”

Corbyn in July 2007 as cited in Hansard said that Housing Associations are “… behaving like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations.”

Yes a full ten years ago and he was right then and even more right now yet … someone within the Labour Party has nobbled and watered-down Corbyn’s original housing policy which is now indistinguishable from a Blairite policy.

Originally in 2015 band 2016 Corbyn put his 2007 views into Labour housing policy and promised to build 100,000 new council houses per year, at least that amount in fact and he and John McDonnell both stated on public platforms that this intention was at least for two parliamentary terms thus being at least 1 million new council houses, and all for rent.  Yet that policy became the following much watered-down policy in the 2017 Labour manifesto on page 60 as below.

Council housing is desperately needed with around 2 million sold under the right to buy and a further 1.6 million gone from public to private ownership in the LSVT programme to housing associations. In 2016 council housing stock stood at 1.6 million properties representing less than 6% of the 27 million UK properties (26.994 to be precise at ONS 2016 mid-year estimate for 5.93%) and over 100,000 council houses have been lost each year on average since 1980.

From over 5 million council houses in 1980 we see a fall of over two-thirds and councils now have even more statutory duties to house and rehouse now than they did then with for example the 1996 Housing Act now (apparently!) added to with the latest Homeless Prevention Act and much greater demand will arise from the overall benefit cap and existing and especially new tenants denied social housing because of it who do not pass go and go straight to the homeless jail.  As housing associations are private registered providers they are not subject to statutory duties and can and do refuse to house and rehouse those in housing need,

In short there is a massive need for council housing in practical terms and the need to mass build council housing is very self-evident that was reflected in the original Corbyn housing policy. Yet below is what it became and what it is now.

Labour 2017 Manifesto p.60

labmanifeto2017 housing

The above IS Corbyn Labour policy and is a fudge and very much removed from its original version and I emphasise 3 key differences:

“…at least 100,000 council AND housing association homes a year for GENUINELY AFFORDABLE RENT or SALE”

Three very different issues from the original Corbyn Labour housing policy and three very much worse differences too!

  1. From council only to council AND HA is radically different and HA’s charge much higher rents which at one admittedly extreme sees a HA charge £349 per week in rent in the same London council area as a council charges £127 per week.
  2. Genuinely affordable may appear to contradict that first point though we saw two weeks ago that Sadiq Khan the Labour Mayor of London was exhorting his new ‘genuinely affordable’ rent levels which are between 14% and 52% higher than existing council rent levels so it seems Labour are even misappropriating the definition and the word ‘affordable.’
  3. Properties for SALE was never mentioned in the original Corbyn housing policy at all and is radically different to council housing for rent.

Before anyone says as they did back in 2015 when I first raised this council housing only policy (and applauded it) that Corbyn often uses the terms council housing and social housing interchangeably and he does not know the nuanced difference between the two, take a look at Hansard from July 2007 over ten years ago and you will see that charge is total nonsense:

hansard corbyn housing

The highlighted section shows clearly that Corbyn knew the difference well and knew this ten years ago.  In 2015 I quoted a position paper that Corbyn had written on his own webpage and long before he became or ever imagined he would become leader.  I sourced that post too – which now two years later comes up as not available – which strongly suggests Corbyn knows this 2007 position paper confirms he has been nobbled and the policy watered-down.  Thankfully, Hansard does not delete speeches that embarrass politicians!

I quoted this 2007 Corbyn position paper in its entirety and sourced it and here is what it said over the differences between council and housing association landlords

Secondly, the only way that the housing crisis for the majority of people can be resolved, is by the building of large number of Council houses. The last Labour government, (1979) even towards the end, was building 100,000 new Council homes a year. This eventually fell to 0 under the Tories, and under the early years of New Labour. The philosophy of the government since 1997 has essentially been to tack social housing as an add-on to private sector development, and say that social housing is only affordable if accompanied by high priced private developments. This philosophy has to be challenged. We should be building Council housing because we need it as a national priority.

Thirdly, many people are tenants of housing associations, or leaseholders through part-rent, part-purchase arrangements, and feel unrepresented by those associations who are increasingly behaving like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations. It is time that real democracy was brought to housing associations and real accountability for their expenditure, and they were legally prevented from selling off vacant properties in order to fund new developments.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Corbyn knows all too well the fundamental differences between council and HA landlords and as far back as 2007 he was very forthright in his criticisms of housing associations “…who are increasingly behaving like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations.”  

In fact that specific critique is essentially the basis of the film Dispossession which I saw over the weekend with housing associations behaving like private sector property developer across London and Glasgow as a matter or course as the film depicts.

The original Corbyn Labour housing policy?

This was stated and repeated many times in the rallies held and then the Labour Party produced in written form its ten pledges on ten issues in August 2016 and here is what the housing pledge said:

labour pledge housing

No ambiguity there with “…at least half a million council homes” and note no mention of housing association or ‘genuinely affordable’ or council homes for sale.  That is from the Labour Part’s own website here

To hammer the point home here is the Jeremy Corbyn home page (here) which again says categorically and unambiguously council housing only:

jeremy corbyn housing pledge

Both these links are sourced today and therefore still ‘live’ and still say council housing for rent only yet the manifesto in 2017 says something entirely different and very much watered down from this original policy.  The ten pledges were released on 4 August 2016 and some 10 months before the 2017 general election manifesto and yet within that 10 months these council housing for rent only pledges were totally changed to become the almost Blairite manifesto policy to include housing associations and building council housing for sale.

Giving councils the right to build for outright sale will see councils behave “… like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations” surely Mr Corbyn?

[Some London council landlords are already acting this way as the film Dispossession reveals]

The common link for this distinctly non socialist housing policy is John Healey the Shadow Housing Minister during that time and still and he can be the only person who has changed Corbyn’s housing policy so dramatically to be almost unrecognisable from the pledged policy whose content was stated repeated and publicly by Corbyn and McDonnell to be council housing only and all for rent not for sale.

John Healey knows his housing.  I have lauded him on numerous occasions for what he has said in the House of Commons and for his command of his housing brief.  Yet this watered-down neutered policy is a Lada to the original Rolls Royce.

It is the housing association agenda writ large the same housing associations that Corbyn said a decade ago were ” …  increasingly behaving like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations.”  What is good for the HA goose is good for the LA gander is now Corbyn Labour policy – the same Corbyn Labour that revels in being called left wing yet has this centrist and right-wing housing policy1

Those asocial and overtly commercialised housing associations have got far more asocial and have been behaving like the worst excesses of the private sector property developer over the last ten years and become far more unaccountable too.

There is only reason to conclude that Corbyn’s position has hardened against housing associations and hardened for much more council housing over the last ten years yet we know have a much weaker Labour Party housing policy under Corbyn Labour which has the thumbprint of the National Housing Federation all over it.

Yet we also have Corbyn being unassailable in his position as Labour Leader both within the party and within the country and he has no need to placate perceived political heavyweights who are on the right of the party such as John Healey as he may have done before the last general election.  He can replace him with a much more pro-Corbyn and pro council housing minister as he now has that authority.

I have no axe to grind with John Healey yet I do have an axe to grind with the watered-down 2017 general election manifesto housing policy.  As I argued yesterday the more council housing you have the more you increase home ownership as well as providing truly genuinely affordable council properties for those who cannot afford to buy and the original policy of council housing only and only for rent appeals to a much wider electoral base than this watered-down fudge.

It is also Labour policy to allow councils to borrow to build and a key housing policy of John McDonnell and rightly so.  Only last week we saw the LGA being fully behind this and there is no doubt that councils not only have the will to build but they are eager to do so.  It is without doubt in the LA financial interest that having any and more council housing will cut LA cost for their housing and homelessness mandated duties which now for too many rely on the increasingly less likely HAs to help with.

As I finished that post of yesterday and I again finish here those who cannot afford to ever buy their own home and those who now aspire to do so are all helped so much more by mass council house building and availability than for the current fudge of a policy.  It is easily sold that way too as the electorate can easily understand its key benefits of the less you pay in rent the more you can save for a deposit and the more you can have an all-round better life as a renter.

That is why this fudge of a policy has to revert to the original pledge of council houses only and for rent only as it makes Labour so much more electable.  That is not ideological socialism for the sake of it, though in this case it coincides with what is needed for the good of the country;  it is the best solution to resolve the housing crisis and its pragmatism and impact will help solve the housing crisis more than any other policy.

Corbyn is the most secure leader of any political party and he can impose his will and especially on housing policy given he puts greater priority on housing.  That is not dictatorial as the legions of Corbyn supporters who would not dare allow any criticism of him will automatically retort, it is the right policy and what reflects Corbyn’s correct analysis of the role of socially renting landlords as one step removed from feudal private landlords who do not allow the ordinary family to get on or remain in greater security of tenure.

Corbyn is right that in 1979 we still saw 100,000 council houses per year and we have lost 100,000 council houses per year ever since.  His original policy of 100,000 council housing for rent only policy has only one criticism for me – it is not enough.  He should strive for 150,000+ council houses for rent only and at current council house rent levels not the vague ‘genuinely affordable’ nonsense that sees its first incarnation in 14% to 52% higher council rent levels in the Sadiq Khan plan for London. Councils, even Tory-run ones, are desperate for council housing as the pragmatic and economic case is clear and it saves LAs money and allows greater home ownership to ensue.

The political will is there from local councils and they can readily scale-up to deliver 150,000 new council houses per year and even more under Labour policy to allow them to borrow to build council housing.  The original Corbyn plan lacks ambition in that sense and yet now we see it has evolved into a fudge of a policy that will allow councils to become just as heinous as the private registered providers known as housing associations and councils developing for sale will thus behave “… like private sector property developers rather than responsible social organisations.

__________________________________

Corbyn’s popularity is in large part because he, personally, is seen as a man of integrity and principle.  His entire political career before being elected leader was charcterised by that and also since becoming leader too.  He has put ‘fairness’ back on the political agenda, he has persuaded the electorate that austerity was a choice and not a necessity and even persuaded the public that noe-liberal privatisation does not deliver a better service with the calls to renationalise the railways getting wide support.

Yet if his principles and his integrity over housing policy can be so easily blown apart as above you can imagine what the media will say and use it to discredit Corbyn as having principles and integrity that amount to fur coat and no knickers superficiality.

The secure and affordable housing of the people is far too important an issue to allow those within the Labour Party to naked run with an unprincipled policy such as council housing being built for outright sale.  Allowing councils and housing associations to charge 52% more in rent yet still label that as ‘genuinely affordable’ has no integrity whatsoever and that lack of integrity will be cast on Corbyn himself.

For Corbyn supporters that risk is far too great and for those who desperately need good quality, secure and truly affordable council housing to make their home so they and their family build a home and the community and societal benefits that brings rather than damp, insecure, dangerous and prohibitively costly private renting and being shafted by the feudal rented housing system we now have from losing 100,000 council houses per year for the last 37 years …

15 years to save for a mortgage in London

IF you can save 10% of your total household income it would take 790 weeks or over 15 years to save a mortgage deposit in London.  Ten years ago it took just 4 years to save the same amount for a mortgage deposit. Outside of London it took 3.65 years to save a mortgage deposit 10 years ago and now takes 6.54 years.

Getting on the housing ladder eh?

The figures come from a report by Savills in a report called How the credit crunch transformed the UK Housing Market released at the end of July 2017 and this simple graphic leads to the simple yet powerful explanation above.

mortgage savills

 

Thus in 2017 the London household saving 10% of its £64,263 total yearly income is £6,426 per year saved towards a mortgage deposit and as the average deposit in London is the £97,513 figure it takes over 15 years to achieve that deposit amount.  10 years earlier the comparative figures would have been £5,168 yearly savings to achieve £21,196 average deposit which is just 4 years.

A decade ago in the regions the mortgage deposit saving time was 3.65 years and has now nearly doubled to 6.54 years so it is not just the truly perverse London house prices that prevent getting on the housing ladder it is house prices generally.

Those stark figures are facts and they hit home (no pun intended) far more than the fatuous and superficial assertions we see from politicians about ‘aspirations’ and the like and note well ALL political parties strive for more home ownership for their economic strategy including Corbyn Labour not just to please the electorate into voting for them.

Yet what the figures show is that getting on the housing ladder / aspiration / giving our children a better start then we did, or however you care to phrase the same thing is increasingly out of reach thus ‘aspiration’ starts to become a meaningless term politically and factually.

Even in the regions we see the average mortgage deposit has increased by 109% [from £12,556 to £26,224] in a decade while household income has only increased by 17% from £34,200 to £40,002.  The average mortgage deposit has increased SEVEN TIMES more than household income in just ten years in the regions at 109% to 17%.

To cut to the chase even with the bank of mum and dad the chances of getting on the housing ladder are SEVEN TIMES less likely than a decade ago and by consequence so many more people are having to look at renting rather than buying.

This is where the phrase stating the bloody obvious comes in and the lesser you pay in rent the more and more quickly you can save the mortgage deposit which then leads to yet another stating the bloody obvious conclusion that the more council housing we have the more home ownership we will have!

Home ownership only became the majority of UK households in the early to mid 1970’s and rose quickly to 59% in 1980 when Thatcher introduced the right to buy yet still only peaked at 64% under Thatcher.  It remained mostly stagnant during the Major administrations yet then increased again under Blair and eventually peaked at 71% in 2004.  In 2016 home ownership had fallen back to 63% – an 11% fall in that time – and is still falling with some predicting it will return to the 59% that Thatcher inherited in 1979.

The UK economy for both the Tories and Labour is premised on growth and especially domestic consumption growth with homeowners updating their white goods and adding conservatories onto their biggest asset in their house.  So when home ownership rates fall starkly as they have since 2004 the UK economy is deep in the brown smelly stuff and the only way to correct that is for a huge increase in the supply of the lowest cost rental product in the council house which allows tenants to save more money and save it more quickly.

By contrast if the UK does not build huge numbers of genuinely affordable homes to rent the ‘aspirational’ voter will be stuck with all higher rental products of the HA council rent equivalent which is 10% higher than council rent at £91 to £83 per week; or the misnomer of the affordable (sic) rented product which is on average 53% higher at £127 compared to £83 per week in the regions; or the 92% higher private landlord rented product at £159 per week compared to the £83 council rent level overall average.

All of these higher rent products also mean the tenant can save less towards a mortgage deposit and getting on the aspirational housing ladder and the figures used come from the English Housing Survey table below.

average-rent-srs-201516-jh

You can argue whether the British psyche to get on the housing ladder is right or wrong but you cannot deny it is there.  We all, naturally, want to give our children and their children a better start in life than we did but the only way any government can make that happen is to go back to the 1950’s and 1960’s cross party consensus of mass council house building.

It reads and sounds strange that both the main UK political parties of Conservative and Labour used to argue over which of them had built the most council housing yet they did and the issue was a key general election battleground over those decades.  In order to increase UK home ownership which is what the electorate wants we therefore must return to the mass building of council housing which is why the fact this is Corbyn Labour policy is aimed at those who aspire to be home owners and not just those who can never afford to buy and why it is right.

I am not sure that the Labour policy has this intent of more council housing equals greater home ownership but it does. What I am 100% sure about is that this policy sees many natural enemies of it and not least the ever more commercialised and asocial housing associations who now only want to charge this 53% more in affordable (sic) rent to new tenants rather then the near 10% rent premium they charge over and above council landlords.

Far too much attention is given to the near two million properties councils were forced to sell under Thatcher’s Right to Buy and far too little attention is given to the 1.6 million transfer of public sector council housing to the private registered providers – also known as housing associations and is their correct name – that has happened since 1988.  These HA’s or PRPs by virtue of being non public bodies have no statutory duty to house or rehouse anyone and those mandated duties remain with the councils even though most of them have no housing stock.

In 1980 which is the comparator date for RtB and the film Dispossession I watched last night we see local councils have even more duties to house / rehouse today yet they have just 1.6 million of their own properties to do that compared to around 5.4 million properties in which to exercise those mandated duties in 1980.  Councils ask HA / PRPs to help them with this through what is called nominations agreements yet they can refuse and increasingly do so and they are little more than an intention to help dependant upon whether it is in the HA/PRP interest to do so.

With, for example, the reduced overall benefit cap meaning a couple with 3 children only get a maximum of £50 per week in housing benefit these HA/PRP refusals to accommodate will undoubtedly increase and specifically in relation to the 130,000 or so new tenancies that occur for 3 bed properties in England alone each year.  When the HA/PRP refuse to allocate – and it is a question of when and not if – the the refused tenant household falls upon the mercy of the parish and the law which means councils have to accommodate them in very high cost temporary homeless provision.

The relevance of that is there is undoubtedly the political will amongst local authorities to be allowed to borrow to build more council housing and something they are effectively denied doing by central government policy.  Labour has specifically stated they will allow councils to borrow to build council housing and thus they have a natural ally in local councils for mass council house building.  Yet the housing associations thus become a minor player and they vigorously oppose such an idea and they are happy that Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey, is very much a housing association man and resistant to a greater council housing presence.

Yet the vulnerable social tenant and prospective one and the private tenant who is being shafted by the private landlord and the lack of genuinely affordable rented housing and the mum and dad who don’t have the ‘bank’ to subsidise their children getting on the housing ladder and the local councils – even those who are Conservative run – have it in their interests to hope the Labour housing policy of mass council house building goes ahead and that John McDonnell is more powerful than John Healey within the Labour Party.

The Conservatives hate (yet know) the fact that more council housing leads to higher home ownership for ideological reasons and of course high rent private rented housing suits their economic needs for profit.  That is why they bizarrely assert that social housing creates dependency when the direct opposite is true and logical, and why they constantly remind us of the many failings of past council housing of which there are undoubtedly many.  Logically too the lower your rent is the more the tenant is able to take up lower paid employment which is another Conservative aim of suppressing wages and maximising profit.

Yet there is so much incredulous ideological resistance to council housing and closed mind thinking to it and I was reminded of that while watching Dispossession last night when Lord Monckton said the Tory rationale for right to buy was because many tenants were paying HIGH council rents!!  I kid you not that is what he said!!  If ever something epitomised ideological madness it is that statement as council rents then, now and at every juncture in between have always been the cheapest housing option.

The Tories are so wedded to a feudal rented market and make natural bedfellows for the increasingly commercialised housing associations and both seek to screw the tenant for as much as they can.  They both share and hide behind superficial bullshit statements of aspiration and social purpose respectively to disguise this screw the tenant for as much as possible intent.

If Corbyn Labour was as left wing as it is stated it would say that housing associations are a cancer on the 1948 Welfare State central plank of using council housing to slay the giant of squalor and for which there is a strong and valid argument.  Housing Associations are not only cocking a snoop at the most vulnerable and most in housing need, they are also doing so at the aspirational tenant too with their ever higher rent levels denying them the opportunity to save for a mortgage deposit.

Before the usual howls of protests from housing associations ensue take a look here at how one housing association is charging £349 per week in so-called affordable rent for a 3 bed property when the council rent is £127 per week.  That almost £1000 MORE in rent per month … and is also £1000 LESS in mortgage deposit saving per month and we can readily see how housing associations deny aspiration (and why they offer shared ownership which has to be the worst product ever for any home buyer!)

There has been resistance and horror to Corbyn Labour’s housing policy which said at first that the target was 1 million more council houses over 5 years that has now been (ahem) ‘clarified’ to 1 million social housing units over 5 years, that is it includes housing associations.  That is weakness from Corbyn and why he has allowed his original and correct policy to be weakened when the more council housing that is built the greater the home ownership which is what even the ‘working classes’ want is bemusing.

More council housing fulfils the working class element of Labour political theory and also gives a much better hand up to aspirational ‘hardworking’ families and all other such labels on electoral demographics that Labour needs to gain power so Corbyn should urgently resist those withing the Labour Party who resist greater council housing and thus deny greater home ownership.  The argument that the cheaper your rent the more you can save and more quickly for a mortgage deposit is a decidedly easy one to sell to the electorate because it is so easily understood and accepted.

A really simple stating the bloody obvious argument that would see Corbyn Labour as the party of the great property owning democracy no less!  There is no doubt that the ‘working classes’ want a home of their own and equally no doubt they deserve that chance so why is Corbyn not selling this from the highest height that would also expose how the Tory ideological choice of leaving home ownership and getting on and aspiration to the market which has failed hardworking families to such an extent that they have a SEVEN TIMES  lesser chance of getting on the housing ladder now than they did 10 years ago!

Talk about a gift horse …!