HB continues during a sanction DWP finally clarify

The DWP has finally got around to informing HB departments that when a HB claimant has their JSA or other benefit sanctioned it DOES NOT affect their Housing Benefit.

The U1/2015 HB circular is below and the relevant section is paragraph 2


The above emphasis is the DWP’s and in short just because JSA, ESA or other benefit is sanctioned it DOES NOT stop the entitlement to Housing Benefit and so HB payments should continue.

This clarification from DWP is long, long overdue and will be welcomed by tenants and especially social landlords with one telling me over a year ago their HB loss due to sanction ran well into six figures.

For tenants it means you will have a roof over your head at least although you can’t afford to heat it or put food in your children’s mouths as a sanction, applied by a jobsworth civil servant who has targets to sanction people and has more powers than a judge means you get no money whatsoever – see here for all that detail.

The full HB circular is below

U12015P1U12015P2Note that this circular dated 30 September 2015 does refer back to another circular the G4 of 2010 which states (for JSA only!) that the HB should not stop. Here is what the G4/2010 says: (My emphasis)


Does this mean that any HB stopped since 2010 when a JSA claimant has been sanctioned is a general error and HB departments have to pay this back?  Yes there is certainly a strong argument that it does mean precisely that!

This could be very significant indeed!! Watch this space!!

Landlords, councils & judges STILL ignorant on bedroom tax

For a sector that says it knows the bedroom tax I despair at the ignorance of  housing staff at social landlords and of councils and of FtT judges.  Below we see Cardiff City Council’s housing staff saying in definitive terms that tenants have no right of appeal(!!) in a later dated 30 September 2015.

Yet this is much more than housing staff and councils such as Coventry here and Cornwall here (what it with the letter “C?”) who wrongly stated the no right of appeal legal fiction back in 2013 as you will see. Let’s start with this letter giving out unlawful opinion:


This particular case is already at appeal having been determined at First-tier then to Upper Tribunal and then remitted back to the First-tier Tribunal to be reheard.

Then the wording says “We wrote to you recently…and the amount of rent you will have to pay from 2013.” Since when is at least 30 months ago been possible of being termed RECENT?

Yet we also see that the letter refers to Cardiff Council sending out surveyors to measure the disputed room and the surveyor classed the room as a bedroom!  Strange how a surveyor becomes the benefit authority and the decision maker in law which is what the Council is maintaining here!

Now we come to what the surveyor found!


The surveyor from Cardiff Council says that the room has a usable and free floor space of just over 45 square feet (and also note this does not exclude skirting which would take this rooms actual usable and free floor space closer to 43 square feet)

The council as landlord (and we must presume as the local authority) has decided that this size of room IS a bedroom.  Yet the same council would under overcrowding regulations say this is not a bedroom and despite that [29] of the 3JP said decision makers need to consider whether a room has sufficient size and space to be regarded as a bedroom for present purposes and nor would the independent Rent Officer if the property was a private landlord.  We also see other councils and council landlords such as Bristol and others stating that a room of less than 50 square feet in their own stock is NOT a bedroom. This size of room also flouts the Welsh Housing Quality Standards for landlords in the principality as directed by the Welsh Assembly (more detail below.)

More importantly we have UKUT 0525 [AAC] or the Fife / Nelson legal precedent from the 3 Judge Panel of 2014 and which the UT further upheld and reaffirmed in a recent UT case here – and noting that the 3JP UT decision was handed down 11 months ago – that the landlords designation is just opinion and nothing more at [30] in 3JP, and especially when it is disputed as in this case

The 3JP precedent also said that it was parliaments intention that the decision maker (the LA HB dept) needs to consider ALL relevant circumstances and on a CASE BY CASE basis which the recent UT case of CH/4631/2014 also reaffirms.  Both also say that the opinion of the landlord or the landlord’s designation is just a starting point and nothing more than that, yet here we see Cardiff saying it is what we say!

Each case is on the individual facts of each case – See [54 – 55] of the 3JP Fife precedent – and needs to include the matters the surveyor records such as access to built-in features of a disputed room as it shows here.

Note well that the 3JP case of the Nelson cases from Fife DID NOT SAY that size is not an issue – and I include some woeful First-tier Tribunal judges in that falsehood as well as councils and landlords who assert that a room is a bedroom if it accommodates a single bed.

This is what the 3JP case in Fife actually said:

29.        In reaching my decision in this case I do not, of course, suggest that the statutory space standard in the 1987 Act or the HMO guidance is directly applicable to the appellant’s house, let alone that it is necessarily determinative of the issue of whether the room is too small to be a bedroom. But I do consider that the standards are relevant in considering whether a room has sufficient size and space to be regarded as a bedroom for present purposes.

In lay terms (a) you cannot simply read across or impose the overcrowding standards found in 1985 Housing Act or 1987 Housing (Scotland) Act which say a room of less than 50 square feet cannot be a bedroom, YET (b) these size standards are relevant in considering whether a room has sufficient size and space (NOT just size but space too!) to be a bedroom.

The same 3JP also says at [55] that any disputed room smaller than the 1918 (Sir) Tudor Walters minimum standards of 6 sq/m which is 64.58 square feet sets off ‘warning bells’ for the decision maker’s consideration.  This room at the surveyor’s view of 45 square feet is thus some 20 square feet or 31% below the recommended minimum size of 100 years ago as well as the recommended minimum size in the WHQS.

The Tudor Walters standard of 97 years ago!

tudorwalters report 1918

In the wider context of bedroom tax and bedroom tax appeals we repeatedly see landlords and councils stating you cannot appeal the bedroom tax.  For social landlords whether HA or LA there is a stubborn starting point of you signed for a three bed therefore it is and I have often heard housing staff say that must the case else the tenancy agreement is a worthless and meaningless piece of paper if that is not the case!

Repeatedly we see councils paragraph 12 of the A4/2012 HB circular which says “It will be up to the landlord to accurately describe the property in line with the actual rent charged” Yet conveniently ignore paragraph 20 of this same adjudications circular which says in relation to landlords informing LA decision makers that “There is no obligation on landlords to reply to a request for information.

Decision makers cannot choose to use one part of this circular yet ignore another part.  While the A4/2012 circular is only ‘guidance’ in one argument then you either accept it or not, you simply cannot pick and choose one part and deny another part.  We choose the bits we like and is convenient and ignore the bits we don’t like simply does not wash.

The reality ever since the bedroom tax began is councils – as decision makers – choosing to make blanket decisions as cheaply as possible and then hope they are not challenged on these by way of review or appeal.  Inflicting life changing cuts on low income families done on the cheap and a legally fraught basis is and never has been acceptable.

Social landlords and particularly housing associations erroneously and stupidly believe that if a tribunal decides a property only has 2 bedrooms not 3 as they state means they have to reduce the rent charged and that too is a legal fiction.

It will be up to the landlord to accurately describe the property in line with the actual rent charged” does NOT mean a reduction in rent charged.

If it did it would mean that all 2 bed properties would be the same rent whether a 2 bed flat on the Old Kent Road or a 2 bed penthouse in Mayfair and using a Monopoly board version of those two locations.  Even before the misnomer of affordable rent there were 2 bed properties with a higher rent than some 3 beds.

Further, if any social landlord has 7 property types as the likely maximum number of property types – bedsit, 1 bed 2 bed etc up to 6 bed – then all social landlords would only have 7 rent levels.  While anecdotal I explained this point two years ago at a seminar and a housing board member came up to me an hour later saying I asked our finance department how many rent levels we had in our 9,000 or so properties to be told it was 261 different ones!

I have even seen a 2 bed property of a HA just two doors away from a 3 bed property of another HA being let for a higher level and these are both at a social rent level not the AR one.  The 2 bed was £86 per week and the 3 bed was £84 per week and two doors away from each other.

IF housing associations refused to supply councils with how many bedrooms they claimed each property had, which they could have done as paragraph 20 of the A4 guidance says unambiguously, then the bedroom tax decisions could not have been made. In short, housing associations were stupid to provide councils with this information in the first place and they are complicit in the bedroom tax debacle because they did supply this data.

To return to the Cardiff farce above we also see this being further complicated by the Welsh Housing Quality Standards here (pdf) which say this about bedrooms:

whqs1Note how the term “bedroom” and a minimum accepted definition of that term include a room measuring at least 6m/s (64.58 sq/ft) and includes a minimum range of furnishings not just a bed, and with minimum spacings between these essential and minimum items as the appendix details below.

whqs bedroom

Note too that these minimum acceptable standards for Welsh properties also include a living room AND a dining room too unlike the DWP view which attempts to say all rooms that could be a bedroom are bedrooms.

whqs2Yet Cardiff Council want to ride roughshod over these minimum acceptable standards and yes that is Labour controlled Cardiff City Council too and are stating on council headed paper that 45 square feet which is a full 31% below the current Welsh Assembly standards and the same 31% below the minimum desirable standards of 97 years ago (!!!) is a bedroom!

Aside from being wholly ignorant of what the legal precedent in the UT says this is a disgrace to assert and an even bigger one to say “You can not appeal this decision!”

Now let’s add a further bit of context in Cardiff.  Just after the bedroom tax began in April 2013 there was outrage in Cardiff as the council increased the salaries of 3 directors – including the director of housing – by £100k between them or circa £33k each.  So the same directors at the council who are insisting that a rabbit-hutch sized room is a bedroom in breach of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard have no problems paying hugely inflated salaries to themselves while shafting up to 2.774 bedroom tax low income households by an average of £16.68 per week or £870 per year or to date since the bedroom tax began by £2190 as as today

Cardiff has a bedroom tax average cut which is 18% above the average across Wales and 8% above the UK average bedroom tax cut yet its principal landlord, the council, is doing its utmost to shaft the bedroom tax household with the actions and legal fictions described above.

In summary, I had hoped that councils and social landlords had stopped the outrageous practices of saying (a) it is up to the landlord and (b) you can not appeal, yet they clearly have not and this is an outrage.  I have no qualms about naming and shaming any council and any social landlord who insists on these legal fictions (a polite way of saying utter bollocks)  So if I am alerted to anymore of these outrages I will continue to name and shame councils of whatever political control and social landlords which they deserve.

If you are a Cardiff tenant affected by the bedroom tax and have a rabbit hutch sized room which you have been told is a bedroom then you do have an absolute right to appeal and a right to get angry at your council.

You should be lobbying your councillors on these issues and complaining to them about how their officers fundamentally deceive with their legally false assertions.  An organisation chart of which council officers to get in touch with would see the Chief Executive and Director, Communities, Housing & Customer Services being 2 of these and not forgetting Marie Rosenthal in her capacity as the “Monitoring Officer” for the council – an officer who looks at when the council is legally compromised such as giving out legal fictions as in this case.

cardiff orgchart

You may also want to notify Owen Smith MP from just down the road in Pontypridd who is the Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions and inform him of Cardiff councils misdemeanors here.

If anyone since late October last yer when the Fife 3JP decision was announced have been told in writing (a) it is up to the landlord and/or (b) you can not appeal – then you know where to find me and to send a copy of any said letters.













The inept Orr proposal

Yesterday the results came in of the #wrongtobuy adherents – Private Registered Providers aka HAs –  voting to agree to a vague and unworkable proposition from their umbrella body the NHF to voluntarily operate a form of right to buy for housing association tenants.

This proposition will now be put to Government as an offer to consider.

Government can say yes or no or amend and even David Orr the CEO of the NHF has said the forced sale of council properties to recompense HA’s for the discounts given to HA tenants will require legislation.  Other commentators have said much more legislation whether primary or secondary will also be needed.

No commentator has said the Government will not proceed with the right to buy for HA tenants and all take this as a given which I strongly agree with.

That right and the absolute right to buy will never be allowed to be as the Orr voluntary proposal has it which is a right to buy IF the landlord agrees.  There is no way on Earth that Government will or indeed can in political terms allow such a conditional right.

You can describe RTB in anyway you choose, as an aspiration, a manifesto commitment, overt ideology or even the buying of votes, yet you cannot avoid the word RIGHT and that right has to be an absolute right not a conditional one.

The Chancellor George Osborne has publicly admitted he did not expect an outright majority at the May General Election and many said, and I believe correctly, that the announcement from Osborne of the extension of the right to buy (RTBE) was originally more posturing than definitive policy.  However, the Conservatives do have a majority and the RTB is loved by the Conservatives and they cannot now backtrack or dilute the RTBE on any conditional basis.

It is either an absolute right or none at all so it has to be former, an absolute right. Yes it may include exemptions for rural properties but other than that it has to be an absolute right not a conditional one else the HA tenants denied with a diluted conditional right will make hay and see RTBE become a political and electoral liability for the Conservatives.

Within housing there has been much anger and emotive comment and I have called this proposal deluded fuckwittery and I still hold that view and still maintain that emotive term is nonetheless valid because of the proposed conditionality and proposed discretion of HA’s not to sell and many other unworkable issues such as the portable voucher element.

You can have the right to a discount but not the right to buy your own HOME is what the portable voucher proposal is and that is a ridiculous and deluded notion.  The NHF proposal only sees RTBE as the right to acquire an asset and at a substantial discount and does not factor in the emotive and personal factors of a tenant wanting to buy THEIR HOME and the home they have lovingly cared for in a community they know.  Yet the Orr deal proposes this portable voucher scheme after it has denied the tenant the right to buy THEIR home with the discretion they seek – which Government will and can never agree to – as it means sorry voter in London you can’t buy your home but we will give you a voucher to buy one in Redcar.

Even if such a scheme is workable and the HA landlord in Redcar agrees to sell then we see a huge perversity in that the maximum discount of £100k on a 1 bed flat in London can afford a 4 bed house in low cost Redcar or Hull or some other comparatively low cost house price area.

Yet all of the above assumes the proposal when offered will be considered by Government and that itself is politically fraught when we consider that this proposal does NOT have a ringing endorsement that many believe.

The NHF proposal said it would need a high proportion to back the proposal for it to have credibility with Government.  In short that the NHF spoke for all housing associations and if the vote revealed it did not then the NHF’s ability to carry the housing association sector for a voluntary deal would have no credibility meaning any offer to Government would stand no chance.

There is both regrettably and understandably much hyperbole over the actual vote result from housing associations and the tweet below from Jon Land is typical:


The focus on the 86% and 93% is typical of the hyperbole around the result.  That is explained when we see what David Orr released as the actual result below

orrdeal voteOf all NHF members, which is not all housing associations in any case, 55% said Yes and that is no ringing endorsement or does it say to Government that the NHF speaks for and can carry the housing association sector.

The housing regulator, the HCA, say in its yearly statistical data return report published on 29 September 2015 that there are 1519 housing associations (entity level with more subsidiaries) and yet only 584 appear to be NHF members. So in numbers 321 HA’s (55% of 584) voted yes which means 1198 English HA’s did not vote for this proposal.

Just 20.26% of all English housing associations voted Yes to the Orr proposal

The NHF carried only 55% of its members in England and it does not represent HAs in Scotland for example yet we must presume the Government wish RTBE to apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the devolved assemblies powers do not from memory extend to blocking such a policy unlike their powers over rent setting and the 1% rent cut per year that is only for English social housing not Welsh or Scottish.

Then we see noticeable resistance if not hostility to the voluntary proposal from the National Federation of ALMOs and Association of Retained Council Housing and from Shelter and from Crisis and from the Labour Party and Labour Housing Group.  All of these organisations are directly involved in any right to buy for HA tenants which begs the question could a voluntary deal ever work at all.

The ridiculously short time frame for English housing associations to respond tended to overlook the question of NHF credibility to be able to make such an offer and have credibility with Government.  This 6 working day period raised emotive and polarised views and many discussions on whether legislation was needed and some of the practicalities I have outlined above as to the workings of this ‘deal’ YET it was assumed that NHF had credibility which the above discussion questions.

Many other assumptions were made about the proposal that also need much further discussion as to credibility.  One was that HAs would receive full market value for each RTBE sale yet that is wholly unrealistic in economic and practical terms whilst accepting there is a strong legal position that HAs as Private Registered Providers should and may have to receive it.

The CIH gave the only estimate of RTBE numbers I have seen and this was 145,000 over this parliament.  If therefore the RTBE average discount is £50,000 then HA’s would need to be paid £7.25 billion to match the £7.25 billion discount given to its tenants.

That is a huge amount of forced council house sales to recompense HA’s as the first point.

Secondly, we have an apparent ‘commitment’ that forced council house sales in the capital would be conditional on those sales going into replacements in and only in the capital. Yet in the 5 councils of Merseyside where there is no council housing how would the RTBE operate? If there is no funding to recompense RTBE sales in Merseyside then would there be any tenants able to take up this absolute right?

The Conservatives are not going to allow a diluted and conditional right of HA tenants to buy on a regional basis and deny that right to a quarter of a million HA tenants in Merseyside due to scant possibility of recompense for housing associations there.  To widen that there is scant council housing right across the North West region which outside London is the largest population area for social housing and thus the largest target areas for RTBE outside the capital.

Government will not abandon hope of Conservative votes across the North West by making the right to buy conditional on FMV recompense to housing associations in the region.  That is not viable politically or electorally for the Conservatives at all.  So the assumption that FMV is received by housing associations is just that, an assumption, and as much as the Orr proposal suggested it was an absolute condition of any voluntary deal, it simply is not fact and can only be a mere assumption.

The Orr proposal is thus naive and as much as housing associations want to believe that FMV will happen that remains a huge assumption and nothing more than that.

The CIH estimate of 145,000 is the only one I have seen but what if 500,000 HA tenants want to exercise their absolute and unconditional right to buy?  That would obviate Government finding £25 billion to recompense housing associations and we only have to look at the furore created by the £12 billion sought in cuts to ‘welfare’ as a comparison.  The Government finding £25 billion through forced council sales just isn’t going to happen.

The 500,000 figure could be way too high or it could be low.  Housing Associations have been falling over themselves since the RTBE was announced to say they are not aspiration deniers and in an article by Home Group it was said that surveys have shown 87% of HA tenants aspire to home ownership.  Given there are 2.7 million HA properties in England alone that is 2.35 million aspiring HA tenants who want to take advantage of the no brainer financial incentives that right to buy has for each tenant household.

The early years of the original right to buy saw 200,000 council sales in 1982 alone so this 145,000 estimate over 5 years of this parliament is particularly unreliable in my view

rtb sales thatcher

Back in Thatcher’s first term council housing was the predominant form of social housing.  Today the predominant form of social housing is housing associations with 2.7 million out of circa 4 million social housing properties, approximately 2 in every 3 social housing properties are housing association homes.

Further as anyone in housing knows the Thatcher RTB saw the best social housing properties getting sold first and those with the highest discount levels too so I think we must assume that this will happen with RTBE.  We must also assume that Government want RTBE to be a huge political and electoral success and further their ‘property owning democracy’ ethos and ideology.

So how can FMV possibly happen given the costs involved as the Orr proposal assumes?  It simply cannot happen and when it comes to a choice for the Conservatives of the electoral success of this policy or recompensing housing associations there can only be one winner there!

This brings me to my final point that the voluntary offer was inept.  In making such an ‘offer’ the NHF have given away any ‘principled’ negotiating advantage they could have had.  In the inevitable legal battle that will follow when and not if Government imposes the same right to buy for HA tenants that council tenants enjoy the legally arguable position of housing associations must be weakened by the voluntary offer.

So while the terms of the offer made such as conditionality and discretion not to sell and portable vouchers and especially FMV recompensing mean this offer will never be acceptable to Government, it will undoubtedly see primary and/or secondary legislation to impose the absolute unconditional right of HA tenants to buy and sooner rather than later and against a much weakened HA position because they volunteered this deluded and unworkable proposal.


How many HA tenants?

Government Housing Minister: 1.3m HA tenants (July 15)

The Bill includes a comprehensive range of measures to offer England’s 1.3 million housing association tenants the chance to benefit from the same opportunities council tenants enjoy, with significant discounts to buy their homes.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/over-a-million-more-people-given-the-chance-to-own-their-own-home


Government Regulator says £2.7m HA tenants (Sept 15)

Private registered providers of social housing own 2,708,611 homes, a 1.6% increase on the total for 2014, according to the HCA’s Statistical Data Return (SDR) which has been published today for the fourth consecutive year.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hca-publishes-fourth-statistical-data-return


Government Housing Benefit data shows 1.9m HA claimants (May 15)


Many more HA tenants will not be claiming HB and the Family Resources Survey this year said 64% of HA tenants claim HB which means the 1,924,042 is 64% so 100% is 3,006,316 or just over 3 million HA tenants.

The figure must be 2.7m + yet I fail to see how 1.4m would NOT be eligible for the right to buy in the 1.3 million figure given by the Housing Minister.

Please email any other variants on HA eligible tenants to Confused@RTB.com !

The 145,000 figure over 5 years is not looking a very likely one and appears to be a very low estimate as it is just 5% of HA tenants or 1% per year.

UPDATE – Sunday 4 October  The Local Government Association and the Conservative head of this says 100,000 sales over 5 years – just 0.74% of HA stock per year here – and claims that will cost local councils £6bn with average discount likely to be just over £63k.  So If my view of a minimum 300,000 sales over this period is correct it becomes at least an £18 billion cost.



Let’s get rid of Housing Associations

Let’s get rid of housing associations….before their deluded incompetence gets rid of all social housing properties and confines to history the social housing model created by the Welfare State. (It would have made an awfully long title reader!)

I address this mostly to tenants of housing associations and councils who are largely unaware of the seismic split among social landlords that is caused by the Conservative government manifesto promise to give HA tenants the same RIGHT to buy that council tenants now have.

Note well that I emphasise the word RIGHT in right to buy as housing associations are shitting themselves over this – excuse the language but that is the only way to describe it.

HAs are correctly called “Private Registered Providers” or PRPs by the housing regulator yet until the right to buy was announced they called themselves RPs as they want to maintain the charade that they have a charitable purpose / public sector ethos of accommodating those who are vulnerable.

Yet the minute that the Extension of this was announced for housing associations and called RTBE, housing associations went apoplectic saying you can’t so this government we are PRIVATE registered providers.  As some wag correctly said today on Twitter, 2 weeks ago every HA was using the #wrongtobuy hashtag and now they are clamouring for voluntarily operating the RIGHT to buy which in this case is not a right at all!


This has now resulted in HAs making an ‘offer’ (a potential one to which I return) to Government which sees HA’s voluntarily operate the right to buy rather than see Government introduce primary legislation to compel the HA tenant RIGHT to buy.

Again note this is a RIGHT and one which nobody disagrees the Government want and want badly in order to replicate the original Thatcher RTB that saw over 2 million council properties being sold creating the ‘great property owning democracy’ in Thatcher’s words, or in simple terms the buying of votes.

The Conservatives and through Osborne posed the simple question during the general election – Why should a HA tenant not enjoy the RIGHT to buy that all other social tenants have?  Leaving aside the legal difficulties of this which are numerous, have no doubt whatsoever that RTBE is what the Conservative Government want and with their majority they will get!

Further, with the housing crisis being high on the political agenda and staying there due to ALL parties making hay on this issue, we can rest assured that the Conservatives promise to give HA tenants (2 in every 3 social tenants) is not one that will go away.

Moreover, Brandon Lewis the Conservative Housing Minister promised 1 million new homes this parliament last week and this is the first time ever that the Conservatives have put a figure on this which is significant.  Then add in Corbyn’s speech this week which said Labour will commit to 100,000 council housing properties being built per year and there can be no doubt at all that the RIGHT to buy for HA tenants will be pushed through by the Conservatives.

HOWEVER not only are HA landlords ‘shitting themselves’ over this, they have concocted the most delusional ‘plan’ ever seen (even Baldrick would say it is too cunning!) and are saying they will offer this to Government.  The plan includes:

1. HA Boards saying whether or not the HA tenant can have the RIGHT to buy his or her own home!

2. HA Boards saying no you cant buy YOUR home in Carlisle but here’s a voucher for the discount that you can use to buy a HA home in Plymouth or Hull or Bristol or wherever one is available!

I kid you not reader these are just 2 of the truly bizarre elements of a proposed offer that the National Housing Federation Chief Executive David Orr outlined in this cunning plan and then gave the 1,100 housing associations just 6 working days to vote upon.

As to 1 above this Orr Deal would see the tenant NOT having an absolute RIGHT to buy it would be up to the landlord!!!!!!!! 

As to 2 above the tenant would not be given the RIGHT to buy their own home but only what HA property the HAs want to sell and that could be the other side of the country!!!!!!

Talk about deluded fuckwittery on the part of David Orr that the Government and the tenant and voter would ever allow this to happen.

Here is an excerpt from the (deluded) Orr plan:

orrdeal from hull and back

What this would mean (in the delusional brain of David Orr) is that a tenant of a 1 bed HA flat in London would qualify for the maximum £101k discount which they could use to buy a 4 bed house in Wigan (or other low cost area.)

Yet even that would depend on what properties a Wigan HA is WILLING TO SELL wouldn’t it!

Can you imagine what properties each HA would ‘allow’ to be sold?  You think somehow it would be the worst properties in the worst areas that nobody wants perhaps?  Oh that would mean no right to buy sales at all wouldn’t it!!!

The HA tenant in Wigan who may get a £30k discount would then have a discount voucher that could buy a kennel in Guildford..and probably a shared kennel too!

Just where David Orr gets this deluded fuckwittery from beggars belief.  What is so much worse is that the 1,100 HA members of Orr’s National Housing Federation are so bewitched by his plan and are shitting themselves even more, they are prepared to believe this abject deluded fuckwittery from Glorious Leader Orr!

Just what planet are the housing associations on!!??

Jimmy Jones infamously led 900 of his cult followers to a mass suicide.  David Orr is leading 1,100 to the death of housing associations and of social housing!

Having said that this will help Corbyn Labour if the Conservative’s do not nationalise and then sell off the circa £500 billion assets of housing associations to the private sector that will happen if this Orr deal goes ahead.  Corbyn – with perhaps a slip of the tongue – said 100,000 COUNCIL house per year and not 100,000 social housing properties – and he did also say because that would be self-funding as it saves the public purse money.

The official HB figures reveal that housing associations get 13% more in housing benefit than council landlords (£92.68 to £82.38 specifically) so that would make the Corbyn ‘council house only’ plan 13% cheaper too than if he included PRIVATE Registered Providers aka housing associations!

The deluded / unworkable / Orr plan would guarantee nationalisation and then privatisation of housing associations and would see two-thirds of social housing move to private hands.

The Corbyn plan would see the sick, the old, the disabled, the homeless and all those others unable or not expected to work have somewhere to live and at half the cost to the public purse of the Orr deal which leads to the death of social housing and the model largely created in the Welfare State to safeguard those less able in our society.

Orr is a dangerous dangerous buffoon who is deluded ..and due to retire shortly and with his deluded ‘offer’ is assured of a knighthood for services to the Conservative Party.

Orr some deceits of NHF over “offer!”

David Orr has deceived 1,100 housing association boards and proves this by his own hand in an article published today in the New Statesman and clearly written AFTER the deceits were emailed to all NHF members last week as David Orr responds to Tom Copley’s criticisms of the “offer” (ahem!!)

orr some deceits

Below is the text of the Orr article and you quickly see what I mean by deceit and by his own hand!

I read with interest Tom Copley’s piece on the offer that that we at the National Housing Federation are considering making to government on their manifesto commitment to extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants.  His is a voice worth listening to.  Since his election as a member of the London Assembly he has been a strong advocate for solving the capital’s housing crisis and he has regularly been at the forefront of London’s debate on the issue.

However, Tom has misrepresented the nature of our potential[1] offer to government and in doing so has cast aspersions on the housing association movement as a whole.

Firstly, and to be completely clear, the offer is voluntary.  Our offer, if accepted by the government[2], will mean that housing associations will have discretion not to sell

We offer a presumption in favour of sale in most circumstances but the final decision rests with the board[3]

With a statutory RTB, the decision is taken by the government.  The discounts that the government wishes to offer to tenants would in some circumstances be portable and the sector – all 1,100 of the associations we represent – would adapt and distribute the burden amongst themselves depending on their specific organisation’s priorities.  Some would sell many homes whilst others might sell few.  It is that flexibility which makes this offer much more suitable for housing associations[4].

Tom points out that the Conservative manifesto says the scheme will be paid for by the government requiring councils to sell off high value empty homes.  This would require legislation[5] and can be challenged in Parliament.  We in the Federation have not endorsed this proposal[6] and we don’t do so now. 

Tom goes on to accuse us of “collaborating” in a “shady deal” to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.  I will ignore the loaded implications of his language here and instead focus on the facts.  Housing associations are independent social businesses.The Conservative government won the election on a manifesto that included the extension of Right to Buy to housing associations.  [ 7 ]We believe a statutory obligation to sell our homes would compromise the independence of housing associations and lead to a high risk that they are classified as public bodies.   Our offer would substantially reduce that risk.  The risk that housing associations might lose their ability to make their own decisions, determine the use of their own assets and own their own future is one I cannot take.  The consequences for our ability to build the homes we desperately need would be severe. 

Finally, Tom says agreeing to this deal would be an act of “self-interest not social conscience”.  To that I say – if it is self-interested to want to retain our independence, which has been fundamental in enabling us to secure £76 billion in private investment over the last 30 years, build 50,000 homes last year and provide five million men, women and children across the country with homes and security, then I plead self-interest.  But do not question the social conscience of the thousands of people we represent who work tirelessly every day to build and run those homes for those men, women and children who need them.

I understand the strong feelings on this issue.  I believe that we share with Tom a commitment to providing the new homes the nation needs. But I firmly and passionately believe that the offer hope to make to government safeguards housing associations’ businesses and social missions in the years and decades to come and allows us to deliver that ambition.

David Orr is Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation.


[1] So the terms on which NHF asked 1,100 HA boards to vote upon with just an option for Yes and an option for No was and is ONLY a potential offer

[2] If accepted by the government – so the Govt can reject this ‘potential’ offer

[3] So this is NOT a HA tenant RIGHT to buy that the Conservatives promised as a manifesto pledge; it is the right to buy IF your HA landlord agrees!

[4] So if you want to buy your HA home in Carlisle you could be offered one in Plymouth! – Yes more suitable for HAs but of course NOT for the tenant…or is NHF still calling them “Customer?”

[5] How strange that David Orr ‘forgot’ to say this in his 6 working day ultimatum to 1,100 HA boards!

[6] How strange this was not in the NHF ultimatum ‘offer’…sorry POTENTIAL offer

[7] The Conservative government won the election on a manifesto that included the extension of Right to Buy to housing associations.

This is where the real issue is for me and I discussed this in detail yesterday here and the delusion of David Orr and the HA sector is unbelievable.

The Conservative government, the majority government made an election promise.  Not any old wishy-washy promise but one nobody doubts they are fully intending to introduce – the right of the HA tenant to have the right to buy that is enjoyed by council tenants.

Nothing more and nothing less than an absolute right!

David Orr and the NHF believe – with astonishing incredulity – that this POTENTIAL ‘offer’ will see the Conservative government agree to the right to buy ONLY IF THE HA LANDLORD AGREES!

What planet is David Orr on?

Even if this ‘offer’ is put to government and even if government say ok we will try it, then it is a case of WHEN and not IF that the government says to hell with this charade we are legislating.

HA boards will be reluctant to sell and they will only sell in numbers far fewer than the Conservatives want because in this frankly half-arsed ‘offer’ the decision on the absolute right the government promised and we all know wants, rests with the boards of 1,100 private registered providers aka housing associations.

Many HAs north of Birmingham cannot afford to sell and replace as this will cost them tens of thousands for each property due to house prices.  As a result they will not replace even if they ALLOW (ahem!) the sale in the first place.  Does David Orr believe the Conservatives are willing to risk losing all C1, C2 and other voters north of the midlands because private registered providers boards denies the RIGHT of tenants and voters there!

Cloud bloody Cuckoo Land David Orr!

There is not a hope in hell’s chance of avoiding primary legislation on this issue as we all unequivocally KNOW that the Conservative government will not let HA boards ruin the election promise and manifesto commitment by preventing the tenant and voter’s RIGHT to buy his or her home.

Let’s assume the government go for this ‘offer.’ It may takes 6 months and more likely a year but the inevitability is that the government will not only legislate for this but will also so we gave HA’s the chance to do this and they buggered it up so we are going to bring them back under public control as public bodies.

The Orr ‘ deal’ is THE most surefire way to have housing associations renationalised as public sector landlords because we all know that HA’s will ‘obstruct’ the wish and electoral promise of the Conservatives to see HA tenants become part of the ‘property owning democracy.’

David Orr is a deluded buffoon who as his own article shows is full of deceit and he has sold the housing association ‘movement’ down the river as well as sold council housing down the river, and very precisely he has sold the social housing model down the river.

His delusion is in this potential offer as I discuss and also in his notion or inference that there is any other mechanism on the table other than the forced sale of council properties to pay what he still assumes is full market value to housing associations for this potential offer.  Just where precisely does David Orr believe the Conservatives will find circa £22 billion to compensate housing associations for the right to buy?

This Conservative government have struggled to (and will not realise) £12 billion of savings from the ‘welfare’ budget with their austerity measures so where on Earth are they going for find double that to pay off housing associations?


Disingenuous RTBE and no chance of full HA compensation

The right to buy extension (RTBE) to housing association tenants is disingenuous.  The government is disingenuous and so is the thinking of housing associations in the matter.  Here I urge HA boards to examine the context of this policy and to do so from the tenant perspective and all will become clear.

Whether the policy is operated on a voluntary basis (Orr deal) or whether it involves primary legislation, which are the only two options on the table, a central plank of either cannot work.  This is the cap or limit placed on the numbers of RTBE sales which is a key component of both options.

There is no way on earth the number of RTBE sales can be limited or capped for the government as HA tenants and voters will not allow that to happen.

George Osborne announced RTBE and instantly sold it on the simple point that if council tenants have the right to buy why can’t HA tenants?  It makes no difference that (a) this was posturing pre general election or (b) superficial or (c) that even Osborne has admitted he never expected a majority; the fact remains the government promised this regardless of whether the policy was back of a fag packet posturing or not. It was a manifesto commitment.

The notion of a cap or a limit to the number of RTBE sales is impossible politically.  Once the government promised HA tenants they would have the same right as council tenants then a limit cannot apply.

Take the scenario that 100,000 HA tenants wish to exercise this right (and eligible) yet the funding available only allows for 40,000.

It makes no difference what the funding mechanism is be that (a) forced sale of council properties; (b) any other funding stream or (c) both.  The situation is the government promised the same right to HA tenants that council tenants enjoy yet is failing to deliver on that promise.  No government can allow that to happen and again it makes no difference if the government blames councils for not selling enough or HAs for not allowing enough sales, the government cannot allow this to happen in political terms.

This is all the more pertinent given that Brandon Lewis committed to 1 million new homes and that Labour is promising 100,000 per year social homes as both of these issues show that housing IS very firmly on the political agenda in this parliament and is not going away given both major parties commitments.

We must take it as a given that the RTBE discounts will see huge HA tenant demand to buy their own homes.  The scale of the discounts and the inability of many tenants children being able to afford to buy and just the reality that RTBE is a bung and no-brainer will guarantee a high level of demand.

That tenant demand cannot be capped or dampened with Dear HA tenant you can only have this right IF we can find the money for it.  That is preposterous and in political terms simply cannot happen. It would see innumerable legal actions taken by HA tenants who are having their right denied and that right the government announced is the same as the council tenant right to buy.  The flowery government language after the RTBE announcement of this is about aspiration and fairness gives equity to that right.

Moreover even the Orr ‘deal’ outlines that the right is the same as the council tenant right in terms of eligibility and of discount.

The issue with the policy is how can government fully compensate HAs for their loss if and highly probably WHEN forced council sales do not provide enough (and even not enough quickly enough) to meet this right of the HA tenant and that applies whether voluntarily operated or primary legislation enacted.

The CIH estimated 145,000 RTBE sales and if each discount averages £50,000 then that is £7.25 billion.  Yet that is nowhere near likely as if the original RTB tells us anything then the best properties which have the highest price will be sold first and the longest serving tenants will be the ones that buy first.  In short the maximum discounts on the highest value properties.

I strongly doubt the 145,000 CIH figure although it is the only one I have seen and I anticipate a far higher figure and perhaps 300,000 sales and with an average discount level nearer to £75k which gives a ‘compensation’ fund of £22.5 billion needing to be found by government – the same government that is under attack for finding £12 billion in welfare savings this parliament.  That is the scale of the government’s self-created problem.

Government cannot stifle demand even if it wanted to along the lines of reducing RTB discounts and this government has created this huge financial black hole by its posturing pre GE2015 as it never believed it would win a majority and have to implement RTBE or even develop the policy.

The Conservative government is massively exposed here in giving away £22.5 billion of public money to PRIVATE Registered Providers, the correct name for HAs, and that can only damage HAs.  With Labour now seemingly challenging austerity and seeking 100k per year social housing properties as policy then HAs risk being squeezed out of that and especially given the Corbyn speech yesterday saying social housing cost will pay for itself when HAs receive on average 13% more in average housing benefit than council landlords – £92.68 per week compared to £82.38 per week.

All of the above factors and especially tenant demand and how it cannot possibly be limited or capped have to be included in the deliberations of HA boards with regard to the Orr ‘deal.’  HA Boards must consider the context of this ‘offer’ or ‘deal’ given the highly probable tenant demand for RTBE which is also what government want and government believe wins votes as the original RTB did for Thatcher in 3 elections.

For HA boards to ignore the context described above and not to consider tenant demand would be irresponsible and naive and simply wrong.  To believe as the Orr plan states that RTBE sales would be limited is wholly delusional as it also would be whether the policy is voluntary or legislated.

One thing is for certain however and that is if HA boards do sign up for the Orr ‘deal’ then government will make hay out of the you are supportive of this in principle line that will irreparably damage HAs sustainability and will sooner rather later see the removal of full compensation to HAs which this and any future government simply cannot afford.

My final point is that the voluntary deal brings RTBE about much sooner than the (highly fraught) legislative option and so the denial of the much higher demand of HA tenant rights will be left to HAs to deny.  That means HAs will undoubtedly be blamed for the governments idiocy in advancing RTBE in the first place.

The same HA’s who government says are not cost effective. The same HA’s who are making very nice surpluses and profits. The same HAs that government says have taken the mickey out of the public purse (HB) with inflated rent increases while the average private sector HB in LHA fell from £109.79 to £108.82 in actual terms from May 2010 to now while HA average HB increased by 20% and way above inflation from £77.30 to £92.68 in the same period! (Yes I know government set the rent formula!)

The HA voluntary deal will see blame upon blame upon blame heaped upon HA’s by central government for its own stupidity in promoting the unaffordable RTBE in the first place.  Why take the risk and let the blame fall rightly where it is due on the inanity and insanity of this stupid government policy?






David Orr fundamentally misleads UK Housing Associations

In a surprise and unprecedented move the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has issued a statement over the fraught and emotive issue of whether Housing Associations would become public sector bodies and so transfer £60 billion worth of debt onto the public purse.

In short the National Housing Federation Chief Executive said his rabbit out of a hat ultimatum for all HAs to voluntarily accept the right to buy is the ONLY way to preserve the independence of housing associations.  YET the ONS say that is pure poppycock and they say why.

What David Orr says:

Our voluntary offer makes a clear offer to tenants without ceding independence and without allowing government to sit where boards should be, making the long term decisions which are in the best interests of the organisation and its customers.  This has become a particularly acute concern as it has become clearer that a statutory Right to Buy would lead to a very high probability that housing associations would be classed as public bodies, an outcome I will fight tooth and nail to avoid.

And what the ONS says on the subject:

In assessing whether an organisation is public or private, a fundamental question is ‘does government exercise significant control over the general corporate policy of the unit ?’. The international guidance defines control as the power to determine general corporate policy, and this can be exercised through the appointment of directors, control of over half of the shareholders’ voting power, through special legislation, decree or regulation.

These assessments are made purely for accounting purposes: it is important to note that these classification decisions do not affect the legal ownership or management structures of organisations.

There can not be any doubt whatsoever that David Orr has been scaremongering and has led 1387 English Housing Associations down the commercial path that accords to the will of the G15 and accords to the political will of the Conservative Party and he has done so using a fundamentally misleading rationale

There must also be no doubt whatsoever that because of this revelation from the ONS that the voluntary RTB plan in the Orr deal has to go and not even be voted upon.  It is a proposal built on sand and the ONS tide has just washed it away.

Independence was never assured with this deal in any case, yet the merits of the deal do not deserve an airing given this deal is fundamentally flawed and fundamentally misleads all of the Boards of all of the 1387 English housing associations that the housing regulator calls and correctly calls, Private Registered Providers


Yes the date is today and yes the latest HCA report still calls housing associations PRIVATE Registered Providers.