From Genesis to Lamentations, (HA thought) Police and Thebes..

My sincerest apologies for bringing The Clash one of the greatest ever bands into this….

I want as much genuine social housing as possible.

This is also the claim of the chorus of spineless Thebans who make up the Housing Association movement.

That is the same housing association movement who have been in a rush to develop take advantage of £154 million of additional income in 2013/14 from the misnamed affordable homes programme. This sees two in every three properties as former social rent ones that after a lick of magnolia emulsion re-appear as affordable (sic) rent properties.

In simple terms a tenant leaves and the next tenant pays a much higher rent level which in the capital can be double or more the former social rent level of the previous tenant.

So much for the ethos of housing associations who are now lamenting the fact that one housing association, Genesis, and that is one in over 1200 housing associations has said it will no longer develop social rent or affordable (sic) rent properties.

Woe, woe and thrice woe says the ethical housing association sector as Frankie Howerd dons Corporal Fraser attire and proclaims we are doomed, doomed I tell you!  So much for perspective in the HA ‘movement’ as some still wish to call it.

You are not being true to your founding ethos Genesis the Thebans lament and quote Victorian philanthropists at every turn who created a tiny percentage of the HA ‘movement’ as the vast majority of the 1200 have only been in existence for a few decades.

I wonder if these Thebans think Josiah Kellogg who started his business at the same time as the Peabody’s of this realm should still promote corn flakes as an anti-masturbation food which was his founding ethos.

I digress but 1 in 1200 is the end of the housing association movement?  Get real.  Yet that is precisely what the spineless Thebans have never done and they fail to see reality and they are looking for a convenient scapegoat for their own failings and do not have the spine to challenge the real enemy within, the Teflon coated National Housing Federation.

A few weeks back the NHF abandoned their deluded campaign called Homes for Britain that called for 200,000 homes per year for the next 25 – 33 years – a generation.  They replaced it with A Plan for Homes which called for 40% less new housing and critically, within all of that new build and new development the number of social rent homes the NHF called for was a big fat ZERO.



Genesis are doing precisely what the NHF announced was its intention yet the NHF received not a jot of criticism at all from those in the HA ‘movement’ now lamenting the end of the world is nigh because of Genesis.  Not strictly true as Genesis have said they will not be building the AR model and quite right too and because it is fundamentally toxic in the capital where Genesis operates and elsewhere.

I was looking at the HCA’s Statistical Data Return which sees a 2 bed social rent at around £132 per week yet a 2 bed AR at £309 per week in the capital – a mere 134% increase in rental income and per year a further £9,200 in cost for the social tenant.

Did somebody say ethos or in fact pepper their lamentations with that term? Ahem!

We need to build homes for the ‘needy’ is another lamentation in the HA vitriol vis-a-vis Genesis Housing Association.  Yet a 2 bed at a £309 per week rent level will mean that property will be unaffordable for a lone parent with 1 child if on benefit in the capital with the £23,000 per year reduced benefit cap.

So which particular ‘needy’ and ‘vulnerable’ group does the affordable (sic) rent model help in the capital?  The AR model is the antithesis of the founding ethos of the HA movement yet they (mostly) all rush to embrace this AR cash cow and abandon their traditional needy and vulnerable customer, the social tenant.

Ethos Thebans? This is hypocrisy and you fail to see the irony in your specious lamentations over Genesis

The AR model is a financially toxic product and is not for the needy or vulnerable tenant yet in 2013/14 Housing Associations increased their AR products by 102% in the rush for these 134% rental increases, while of course retaining their founding ethos…er…!

The Genesis CEO is apparently right wing and has a past with the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange and so his political views are likely to be as far removed from mine as you can get.  Yet he is being pilloried as a scapegoat for the inadequacies of a severely pissed out HA ‘movement’ who do not have the spine to challenge their overarching body the NHF let alone challenge government policy and so need an easy target for their pent-up vitriol at RTB2, 1% per year ret cuts, the benefit cap at £20,000 in 83% of the country never mind ongoing bedroom tax and the prospect of monthly and direct payments to come.

In March this year the NHF held the infamous Homes for Britain rally which produced the most deluded optimism and hyperbole you could imagine.  We need 200,000 new builds each year for a generation and the government accepts out argument said David Orr.  20 Hours after the hyperbolic rally the Chancellor announced RTB for HA tenants in the first 2015 budget!  So much for the lobbying skills of the NHF on behalf of all its 1200 HA members!

Yet still the deluded Homes for Britain campaign continued and led to David Orr constantly stating that ‘housing’ is a major general election issue as yet another huge delusion and the NHF missed a massive opening here too. Home ownership and the outrageously unaffordable private rented sector were election housing issues but social housing – I remind the ethos of hosing associations – was most definitely not on the general election agenda.

The fact that social housing was the ONLY housing option for many and many now have to consider it should have seen the NHF promoting the many huge benefits of the social housing model, yet alas, and at no surprise to me, this never materialised.

Then the election saw a surprise Conservative majority which saw the Conservatives outline their real agenda towards social housing – the 1% rent cut, the pay more to stay farrago, the benefit cap reductions and a new Housing Bill to put RTB on a statutory footing.

Yet instead of any HA saying what a inept, incompetent an pitiful job the NHF is doing they merely began to moan again and in their usual apathetic way said the government have a majority there is nothing we can do!  Oh yes silly me I forgot that the post-war political landscape is festooned with coalition governments in the UK!  That first degree in Politics of mine is entirely useless!

Then the NHF came up with A Plan for Housing which included precisely zero social rent properties and yet another cave-in and lack of challenge to government policy.  Yet David Orr must be Teflon-coated as not one HA said anything negative about the development of zero per cent social rented housing being the NHF’s latest campaign.  Spineless Thebans the 1200 HAs are!

Then the Times and Spectator and Channels 4 attacks on the ‘flabby’ and inefficient housing association sector came out and included a woeful of all woeful attempt by David Orr to counteract the ‘faction’ of the claims by the former Telegraph journalist on Channel 4.  Shit sticks and here on national television news was the entire HA sector being called lazy and inefficient and being blamed for the housing crisis!

Government intentions were as clear as day yet once again the only calls were for a rapid response unit for housing.  Ye Gods when will anyone in housing grow a set and take control of the agenda and scream what a fabulous invest to save programme the social housing model is and realise that it is your effing job to promote the social housing model.  The word proactive does not appear in the housing association lexicon!

Then along comes Genesis and their announcement of a very sensible business proposal that in the current climate for a developing London HA is the only option and lo and behold the rest of the Theban chorus had a scapegoat for their own apathy and lack of any bollocks.

I do not like the Genesis decision.  Yet it is a perfectly sensible one and, should the climate improve, then I would hope Genesis would use their increased surpluses from the private sales and private rented options they develop to cross subsidise the development of new social housing.

If that happens and they do not then they deserve scorn from the Theban chorus yet they would still be just 1 HA in 1200 HAs and all perspective is being lost in the need for the pissed off sector to vent their spleen at their current lot at anyone but those who deserve it which is the NHF.

I am also strongly of the view that if many others followed the Genesis position, which is the right stance to take against the most confrontational government in the history of social housing, the current Conservative administration.  The raft of housing attacks is far worse and far more premeditated than the lucky original RTB policy of Thatcher

Yet the Theban chorus maintain that those who can develop should and are obligated to do so because of their founding ethos.  Tug the forelock and maintain the mute non-challenging and apathetic stance that has got HAs in this mess and the HA movement better get ready for even more manure from government as the head of the mushroom shrinks by the day.

Oh no we can’t be confrontational cries the Theban chorus in lament and ignoring the fact that this Conservative government is not just the most confrontational administration ever vis-a-vis the social housing model they are clearly behind the dirty tricks campaign evident in the Times, Spectator, Channel 4 highly damaging issue which sees the HA ‘movement’ blamed for the housing crises caused by successive government failure to invest and provide shelter for its citizens which is a core staple of any democracy.

Just how much can your arthritic bended knees take before you say enough is enough, put up or shut up, come across with the right offer and we will develop or else bugger off?

If all of the developing HAs in this 1200 or a larger number of them said right we will only build for private sale the next two years the government would be right in it and up to their eyeballs.  In doing so all 1200 HA’s safeguard their current business, their current tenants and communities and would have stronger surpluses and enough reserves to then use for their claimed core purpose – which is social rent not the AR charade – and be able to provide even more housing for the needy and vulnerable.

While I do not accept that the Genesis position is anything more than 1 HA of 1200 making a very commonsensical business decision now, it is NOT a stance and it is NOT confrontational and it makes perfect sense.

It merely exposes the lack of any spine by the other 1199 in the Theban chorus….discuss?

6 thoughts on “From Genesis to Lamentations, (HA thought) Police and Thebes..

  1. Hi Joe

    Interesting points. To be clear I am not defending nor encouraging the continuation of the Affordable Rent regime, I am saying that we should (in a way be confrontational) be telling Government we don’t want their grant as we don’t like the terms. We believe that people should have homes that are truly affordable and hence we are going to do them ourselves. This is totally possible using cross subsidy as a mechanism with contribution from surpluses. Break the link as a sub contractor to government on their statutory duty to us doing it because we want to.

    1. Much merit in that as breaking link means HAs can take the government thumbprint out of the back of their heads. THEN I would see government having to come back on bended knee to HAs and a far more realistic and conciliatory approach from them rather then the confrontational one they adopt at ever higher levels because HAs always buckle and accept any old sh*te! (A very professional term!!)

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