De facto post facto NHF lives in glass house

The Government has failed to act bemoans David Orr of the National Housing Federation in an article in Inside Housing called “Failure to Act” and in the article David Orr says that the NHF failed to act!!

failure orr

You care to join up the dots David?

“Of the homes provided by housing associations, over 150,000 will become unviable and be forced to close. It doesn’t include the huge range of accommodation services run by voluntary organisations across the country…This is not scaremongering…We have presented these facts privately…Now we have to be public. The facts are indeed scary. And they are very real.”

Pot calls kettle black? Throwing stones in those extremely fragile glass houses of yours?  And yes they are extremely fragile aren’t they? So fragile that you have kept quiet about it and not mentioned but have in fact drip fed deliberately understated fiction out to the likes of the Guardian and 24 Dash that the LHA maxima cap may see a £68 per week cut to 50,000 homes … which you now say that over 150,000 will close – oh sorry that’s just 150,000+ housing association homes – and not just 50,000 may have a rent cut!

I challenged you to publicly state the facts as long ago as 15 December on this LHA maxima issue which WILL close all hostels and refuges and yes I do mean ALL; facts which you now admit you have to go public with.

As anyone who’s ever worked in homelessness will tell you there is a 4-week window when the public – yes they are the ones to go public to! – have some form of sympathy for those who are homeless and that is the Christmas period.  We won’t see you on the streets at Christmas but in the New Year … is a common phrase in the world of homelessness – but hey you mention every other client group in your apologia article in Inside Housing except homelessness!

A 4 week window that you missed thus condemning the 36,000 or so single homeless hostel provision and the circa 4,000 DV refuge beds we now have to the annals of history and because you missed that window.  Perhaps you were looking in the mirror instead to see how good the ermine robes looked?

Going ‘public’ as you now say you have to do means getting the public onside to pressurise government – and your now admitted failure to go public was a huge huge mistake.

What did you call this article? Oh yes…”Failure to Act” Irony is clearly not dead!

Is it because you have read too much Burns that you are a wee timorous beastie yet like that silent mouse you have fallen into the trap set by the DWP who shouted from the rooftops yesterday that housing benefit is out of control and that social landlords have seen their HB levels increase way ahead of inflation at 21% since May 2010 while PRS HB levels actually fell by 0.6% in that time – and that social housing rents have increased 60% in the last ten years compared with 23% for the PRS in that time.

Isn’t the pithy motto of this government fix the roof while the sun is shining?

That’s the same government you chose to jump into bed with but only the housing department at CLG and not the DWP who control all housing benefit matters such as this LHA maxima cap policy and that’s the same Housing Benefit that 65% of the customers (ahem) of your members receive…now why does the Mussolini attack on Abyssinia spring to mind?  Build, build, build, we need more more more while neglecting to ensure what you have is secure.

Failure to Act indeed.

The zeal in which you have chosen to focus solely on more more more reminds me of the same zealotry of IDS, a phrase and comment with which I know you are familiar. You have allowed myopia (and dystopia!) to set in and you clearly believe that housing associations have both an untouchable birthright to be favoured by government yet are private companies.  You have a blinkered focus in believing 99.999% of housing associations role is to build build build while neglecting their core business and much claimed, yet hollow assertion, that they have a social mission and social ethos.

Failure to Act.

That phrase which you must have coined for this article will very much come back to haunt your tenure as the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation.  The cynic in me says HA’s are of the view that we are private companies ergo we do not have any mandatory duties ergo let’s leave the dinosaur council landlords to pick up the shit!  Extremely unfortunately that cynicism is also the reality and comes on top of the disingenuous we don’t support the forced sale of council housing to pay back your members in the right to buy fiasco.

What’s the latest thinking David?  Wait until a few years after all the larger hostel buildings and housing units close, till they fall into disrepair and become an eyesore … and then snaffle them up cheap and convert into affordable (sic) rent luxury flats?  I agree there will always be punters stupid and desperate enough to buy a new in the heart of the city luxury flat in a former sex offenders or mentally disordered offenders hostel, so why not really come clean and say the NHF couldn’t give a toss about supported housing.

A bit of a bummer that extra care and sheltered housing will also fold though a retirement village into a luxury professional flat gated village is not beyond credulity is it? Of course it will pay a much greater return and without having to get into bed with social and health care too. Wow. Result!!

Then all those sheltered bedsits your members have been desperate to convert for 20 year or so.  Still not a problem, a simple case of demolish and rebuild for private sale or shared ownership – yes that will give a much greater return to wont it? Result!!

In fact failure to act in reality is rather Machiavellian isn’t it David though given its the NHF it will be more Baldrickian in practice, but hey you’ll be long gone by then and probably sharing a heavily subsidised tipple with Lord Best in the House of Lords members bar.

The Lords are a failure in Acts and a failure to act is your fast track there.

Failure to Act? Now what was that you said with the Homes for Britain campaign? That touch, in fact huge touch of blarney you came out with on St Patrick’s Day last year….


Time for the sector to make a fuss and have a clear strong voice… ah to be sure!!


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