I have been blogging for the best part of 5 years and, as such, I can demonstrate 5 years of saying the Tories despise the social housing model – and the best part of 5 years I have been ridiculed for saying so!
Now the fact this government is destroying and not just setting out to destroy the social housing model is the unanimous position of the finally seen the light sheeple who hang on to every word that David Orr and the NHF say.
Over 1000 member HA’s who operate 5000 or so housing associations according to the HCA now see David orr and the NHF as some sort of visionary for his conversion to the bloody obvious and still will not ojectively judge him as the leader of the NHF on their abysmal record of apathy and ignorance.
Don’t misread me or instantly think this is vitriol and venting my spleen. It is not and before you can resolve a problem you have to admit (however painful it may be) hat the problems are.
The NHF is not doing that and is practising delusion and blame shift instead of saying ok we cocked up but we can’t go back and change, so let’s take a lessons learned approach.
The NHF approach doesn’t wash and can’t be allowed to wash away what is by any objective consideration chronic failure on the part of the fables sector.
For all the oratory the reality is the NHF has wasted 5 years of challenge to the overt and deliberate destruction of the social housing model. Remember this is the same NHF and same David Orr who published a post on Inside Housing on the morning of the Homes for Britain rally that said the government finally is listening to our arguments and less than 24 hours later (and reportedly £750,000 spent on HfB) Osborne announces RTB2!
If ever any sector has been completely wrong eh?
Yet, incredulously the NHF insisted HfB put ‘housing’ on the political map at the General Election. Was the core business of housing associations, that is (or at least was!) social housing on the GE2015 agenda? Not in a month of Sundays it was!
The only party who openly attacked HA’s and social housing more widely as being inefficient and wrong – as in why can a council tenant have a right to buy but a HA tenant cannot! – was the party that won the election. And that Conservative Party wasted no time in putting the knife very much deeper into the social housing model. Take your pick from pay MORE to stay, the massively reduced benefit cap levels that means at least 36% of social housing stock is toxic (the 3 bed+ property) and the 1% rent decreases per year – all of which was missed and / or not challenged by the NHF!!
The performance in terms of lobbying the social housing case by the NHF is too poor to be called abysmal and it still declares HfB to have been not just a success but a massive success! Ye Gods!
Then the NHF launches “A Plan for Homes” to replace this “massive success” which is a policy of stupid greed and the notion that the HA’s can compete with the commercial or private sector as it includes ZERO social housing developments. See below taken directly from A Plan for Homes:
The naive and frankly spineless NHF took the King’s shilling with the Affordable (sic) Rent model to replace the 60% cut in grant which led to the NHF directing the sheeple of HA landlords to follow this admitted back of an envelope policy along the ever more commercialised route that suited the immediate term finances of just the London big boys in the G15.
The NHF’s national lead for over 1000 members was take the path which suits the largest 15 London HA landlords and ignored the best interests of the other 99.85%! The NHF should have been transparent and renamed itself the London Housing Federation!
The G15 cabal saw the rents for a 3 bed rise from £136 in Ealing to £310 pw for the same property so if you want the immediate financial rationale for this policy then there it is. Yet in low rent areas it was often the case that 80% of gross market rent is similar or even less than existing social rent!
I argued in 2012/13, and even cynical for me, that housing associations had a financial incentive to evict the bedroom tax tenant paying social rent and to replace with the AR tenant paying the £310 per week rather than £136 in social rent as a way f mitigating bedroom tax arrears. Yet again we saw London with its truly perverse and atypical housing conditions, being used to formulate and impose ‘national’ policy on the 5 in every 6 rented properties not in the capital and in the case of the bedroom tax half the number of social tenants affected there than in the rest of the UK.
It is only London’s perverse issues that count for the London-centric and allegedly “National” Housing Federation and the expendability of tenants and any notion of ethos!
One of the issues I have frequently noticed on my travels speaking to housing audiences is a definitive London cultural one. In the capital, unlike anywhere else in the UK the social tenant is despised and invokes high levels of jealousy and anger because they have a genuinely affordable rent. Here in the NW or in the NE or in the Midlands and everywhere else the social housing tenant is ‘pitied’ by comparison. Oh you poor thing having to live in social housing to you must be a pleb if you do.
Yet in London the social tenant is lucky to pay £136 per week rather than £310 for the AR model or over £450 per week that the private tenant has to pay in the truly perverse pricing that exists there. Yet those same attitudes lead to a London cultural notion of seeing the social tenant as expendable and that becomes a national ‘truism’ for London-centric bodies such as the NHF and manifests in “A Plan for Homes” with zero social rent level developments.
Put simply, begger the traditional 64% of all tenants, the vulnerable ‘benefit tenant’ invariably claimed to equate with ‘ethos’ we are now actively targeting the fully working tenant but shhhh don’t tell anyone is where HAs are now at and following the David Orr London Housing Federation lead.
Strange how Neil Fadden of Genesis said openly and honestly that being harsh the benefit tenant is not his problem and was pilloried for it. Yet that is precisely the same issue that David Orr advocates for all his HA members with A Plan for Homes and he is seen in the most deluded Teflonesque light imaginable – and despite his huge cock ups in lobbying for all HA members so ineptly and all 5 yars too late.
Then we have the it will be ok as Greg Clark the Tory minister at CLG (where housing sits) is ‘friendly’ towards housing and we can court – which is the strategy of the ever more right wing sycophantic and pathetic NHF. Now why does Never mind the Bollocks, no future! spring to mind?
And then we see formerly highly regarded people such as Kathleen Kelly once of the prestigious JRF and now heading up policy at the NHF come out with this incredulous tweet today
A living rent for a living wage – so the more you earn the more you pay in rent!!!! – to your social (my arse) landlord called a housing association! If that is not an example of how ‘mainstream’ right-wing socio-economic thinking has become embedded in the minds of the ultra commercialised housing associations sector then God help us all!
A 25% increase in homeless families reported today – but hey they’re the responsibility of the local councils and bugger all to do with housing associations so of course that statistic – which will get ten times worse next year due to the benefit cap reductions – is not the concern of the HA sector and will merely see HA’s evicting and passing that problem onto LAs even more so.
You’re on benefit and want a HA property? Don’t make me laugh…is the NHF steer to its 1000+ membership. Target the worker, target the worker is the Dalekesque mantra of the NHF position and all wrapped up in the deliberate vague obfuscated nonsense of we need to change!
Ethos? Wasn’t he one of the three musketeers is the NHF response in reality whatever oft-repeated superficial bullshit the NHF say.
Yet again the NHF follows the money and reacts after taking a kicking and once again fails to challenge and fails to be proactive and fails to take any fight to government policy whatsoever. And yet again the NHF will fail and will fail its members with this we can compete in the commercial world! Utter poppycock and even with the inevitable mergers that will see the creation of supersized HA’s all sheepishly wedded to a notion of economies of scale (blah, blah, blah) then those HA’s will be at the behest of the money markets and speculator as Alistair McIntosh exposed here
Now just stop that Joe! You are just on a rant how dare you reference a very highly regarded figure in housing to make the point!
Yes it is so much easier and par for the course for the great and the good of the fabled social housing sector to label my views as rants and ignore the reality. Yet when someone does tell them that once they inevitably merge and slavishly follow this doctrinaire market approach to housing – yes that would be the exact same ‘market’ which have failed and failed and failed again in housing – that the HAs and even the Super HA’s will get well and truly shafted by the hedge funds.
Maybe the NHF thinks hedge funds are part of its communal garden budgets eh?
In summary, I genuinely feel for the vast majority of professionals within social housing I have met over the last 23 years. They believe in the social housing model, they mostly genuinely want to help the most vulnerable in society, they have the ‘ethos’ or whatever you want to call it. You are all being led up the garden path and the job, no your vocation is being destroyed and will soon not exist.
I feel ten times more for the vulnerable people who are being universally shafted by the rampant commercialism path adopted by the NHF. You are being royally fucked over and the housing association and the NHF, their umbrella body which they all slavishly follows and won’t say a word against, doesn’t give a shit about you. All current tenants are going to face a massive cut in services and performance from your HA, though of course THEIR contrived figures will say you are more satisfied than ever in their distorted tick box exercises.
Some of you existing HA tenants will be lucky and those CEO’s the NHF wants to portray as dinosaurs will still value you and will still provide the good service all HAs are capable of and they will reinvest their record upon record surpluses back into the business, Though of course the NHF is adamant that HAs are private companies so I really do need to stop saying surpluses and call them what they correctly are – PROFITS.
That has always been the NHF problem! We want to be seen as charitable and have a charitable ethos yet we also want to make PROFIT. The NHF is the lobby for this perversity and wants the best of both worlds and when as this government has done seeks to say its either or, they moan and moan like hell and hope somebody listens.
They wont listen and all the NHF utterances on this are deluded fantasy.
As this truly amoral government has said in one simple sentence – if a council tenant has a RIGHT to buy, then why shouldn’t a housing association tenant!! The NHF has lost with that one pithy and admittedly highly superficial statement and let’s not forget this RTB2 announcement was made less than 24 hours after David Orr in all his triumphal pomp said the government are on our side and listening to our arguments!
The NHF has failed its members on RTB. The NHF has failed its members on the 1% rent cut. The NHF has failed its members on pay MORE to stay. The NHF has failed its members on the affordable (sic) rent fiasco. The NHF has failed its members on the benefit cap and bedroom tax.
The NHF has failed the vulnerable people the housing association ‘movement’ (sic) it was set up to achieve.
But hey if you won’t have a word said against its Chief Executive housing people….