Housing need to DP Brandon Lewis

Is there anyone in housing old enough out there to remember when Information Technology was called data processing?  If you do you will know that today you can wear a computer processor more powerful than the ones that put a man on the moon when the term data processing was commonplace.  Yet if you don’t remember the term data processing you will say wow look at this iWatch!

Data processing  – take data, the figures and statistics and numbers which are readily to hand in this digital age and then you PROCESS that data to make meaningful information – the data is thus purposeful and much more purposeful than being able to play Candy Crush on your wrist. Yet ‘Housing’ is full of digital geeks who are so obsessed with the technology itself that they miss the purposeful information and that is a problem.

For example, at a global generic level, social housing is facing mass introspection and dare I say panic over VfM as ministerial buffoons such as Brandon Lewis claim (and note that word claim has no substantiation or data to support) that social housing does not give VfM.

Cue inordinately and unnecessary tracts of counterclaims by housing people, yet look at the simple 4 pieces of data below to explain data processing:

  1. Average social rent is £83 per week.
  2. Average private rent is £163 per week
  3. Subsidy to social housing is £4.5 billion over 4 years
  4. Social housing has 4 million (or so) properties

Four factual pieces of data and verifiable official data with 1, 2 and 4 coming from the DCLG’s English Housing Survey for 2013 and 3 from official government announcements.

Lets process!

  • From 1 and 2 we see social rent is £80 per week cheaper than private rent
  • From 3 and 4 we see average subsidy per social home is £5.41 per property per week
  • From those two simply processes we can say that social rent is, after removing any subsidy, £3,892 per year cheaper, ceteris paribus, than private rent.
  • From 1 and 2 and 4 we see that social landlords charge 4 million lots of £3,892 per year less to its customers than private landlords do – a sum of £15.57 billion per year.
  • From that we can say social housing has £15.57 billion less constraint and cost to the overall British economy thus enabling it to function much more cost effectively

Yes reader, I am deliberately simplifying this so that housing people who wear IT rather than use it to create meaningful information can understand!

Dear Brandon Lewis, shove your unsubstantiated and politically motivate claims where the sun does not shine.

Dear Brandon Lewis if you wish to take away the £1.125 billion per year in subsidy from social housing then you risk an added cost to the economy of £15.57 billion per year – the sum that social housing returns to UK plc in saving for the £1.125 billion per year in investment…..a £13.84 saving for every £1 you invest.

Now what were you saying about value for money in the social housing model minister!?

Of course you can add to the basis argument above with many factual embellishments to hammer the point home that social housing is hugely cost effective.  The average quality of the product itself is better maintained than the average private let and borne out by Decent Homes data, as is the average service level given that social housing tenants have guarantees and legal rights to repair and maintenance rather than seeing retaliatory evictions as happens in the PRS.

An incredibly obvious piece of information is that given social rents are so much lower than social housing, they provide much lower constraints to an employment-seeking tenant than the private rented sector.  Or the private rented sector is far more welfare dependent for its tenants than the social rented sector!

You ever heard a Candy Crush playing housing professional say that reader? Or even a housing professional who wishes to monitor and control an unlicensed drone with a 15-minute maximum battery life from their Apple iWatch while simultaneously playing Candy Crush!!

I will stop there as the digitally fixated housing professional has the attention span of a gnat as this digital age dictates and the medium is more important to them than the message itself.  This information can only be purposeful if the digitally-fixated great and good of social housing actually read anything longer than 140 characters!

It is not a rant against digital per se as the universal panacea we are all told it is; rather digital is the latest negligent deflection away from housing selling and promoting the BENEFITS of the social housing model.  Digital replaces housing plus and involvement in anti social behaviour and housing involvement in education, employment and training (EET) and so many other examples in which housing took its eye off the ball and forgot to promote social housing itself.


Housing in Ireland – Lessons on how to challenge for the UK?

Anyone involved in social housing in England, Scotland or Wales seen what is happening in Eire?

A grassroots organisation sprang up called the Anti Austerity Alliance and they have elected councillors and TDs (what we call MPs) and below is their views on housing which are well worth a read for social landlord and tenant and private and home owners.

A call for rents to be no more that 10 – 15% of income for example!! Below is what they say on rented housing and anyone involved with rented housing, social or private, will find fascination in what they say which I have simply copied and pasted below.

It may appear to be socialist language yet the AAA call for greater equality for all forms of housing, owned and social and private rented, with private rent regulation and no evictions even for homeowners.  This is radically different to the three East is East Never the Twain factions in UK housing of social rent, private rent and home owners and places the stability of a home above those sectional interests.

A home and the security of it is a basic human right whether socially or privately rented or even on a mortgage.

I put this out for informed debate and views on whether for example a tenants party or something akin could be created here in the UK and gain local council or MP representation as has been achieved by AAA in Ireland?

Read on…


What We Stand For-Rent

The high cost of rent is one of the most serious problems facing working class people. Private tenants are forced to spend 30% of their income on rent on average and nearly a quarter fear losing their home in the next year. Dublin rents have risen 35% since 2011 and are now only 6% off their peak in 2007, when wages were much higher. Alan Kelly’s proposal to link rents to inflation for three years would fix them at unaffordable levels and prompt increases from greedy landlords before they come into effect. Rent Supplement has also been cut 28% since 2009. Joan Burton claimed when introducing the last cuts that “There will be no incidence of homelessness due to these changes” but in reality, they have become the biggest direct cause. 450 families were made homeless in Dublin alone last year and the problem is spreading outside the capital to the commuter counties of Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, and to Galway,Limerick and Cork.rent

This crisis of rental accommodation has its roots in the property bubble, when profiteering by builders, developers, landowners, buy-to-let landlords, and banks put buying a home out of reach for hundreds of thousands of workers. Despite all the propaganda about a ‘national property obsession’, the percentage of people renting increased from 21% in 1991 to 30% in 2011. This put huge upward pressure on rents. Even those that got on the ‘property ladder’ by taking out huge mortgages have paid a heavy price. Over 100,000 are in long term arrears and face eviction and many more are struggling with repayments now they have lost their jobs, or are crippled by austerity taxes. Meanwhile, local authorities built nowhere near enough council housing. In the 1970s, 27% of all new houses, or over 6,000 a year, were built by local authorities, whereas from 1996-2006 only 37,500 were built, less than 6%. Had the government maintained 1970s’ levels of construction, we would now have an additional 135,500 local authority houses/apartments. Instead, after decades of privatisation and cuts, traditional local authority housing has declined from 18% of all residences in 1961 to under 5%.

After the crash, public expenditure on local authority housing was cut 71% to facilitate bailing out banks and property developers. Local authorities stopped building almost entirely and the housing list doubled to 90-100,000 households. Taking into account additional households on Rent Supplement or the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) but not on any housing list, up to 175,000 households, or more than 400,000 people, are in need of permanent, secure, affordable housing – substantially more than the 86,000 households currently living in traditional local authority housing.

The combination of all these factors has led to huge demand for privately-owned rented accommodation and created one of the largest, most expensive, but least secure and lowest quality ‘private’ rental sectors in Europe. The state directly subsidises around half of it, through Rent Supplement, RAS, the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and long term leasing from failed developers in NAMA. These schemes dish out well over €600m a year to landlords – and the banks that gave them buy-to-let mortgages and crashed the economy.

The government is planning yet more of this privatised ‘social housing’, intending to put another 86,000 households onto RAS, HAP and long term private leases by 2020. Despite Alan Kelly’s claim to have “put more money into housing than anyone on this island in the history of this State”, when you cut through the spin, the government only plans to build or acquire 12,000 new local authority units between now and 2020 – a pathetic 2,000 a year. This is less than half the level of the 1970s and less than Fianna Fáil and the Greens built in 2009!

So, what should be done? Tackling the rent crisis requires making decent, secure and affordable housing available to everyone because all sectors of housing are interconnected. This could be based on two simple principles: no one should ever be without decent, secure housing for economic reasons and no one should have to spend more than 10-15% of their income on housing.

Achieving this could involve: An immediate ban on economic evictions. Change the law so landlords cannot sell or refurbish a property without the tenant’s consent. An immediate rent freeze and progressive rent reductions to affordable levels.  A massive programme of direct construction of housing by local authorities to satisfy existing housing need and ensure adequate future supply. This would provide tens of thousands of jobs and help reduce private rents and house prices. Compulsory purchase of building land at agricultural prices to eliminate profiteering would further reduce costs; during the boom 40-50% of the price of a new house was swallowed up by exorbitant prices paid to land-hoarding farmers and developers. Acquiring suitable buy-to-let and other private rental properties to immediately increase supply of affordable rented accommodation. Landlords could be incentivised to participate through taxation of rental profits at 80-90%, with compensation on the basis of proven need.

Writing down mortgages to affordable levels and writing off unsustainable arrears. This would bring down house prices and rents and could best be achieved by halting the privatisation of AIB and taking the wider banking system into democratic public ownership.

The above measures could be funded through: Savings from cutting government subsidies to landlords and increased income from local authority rents. A publicly owned banking system would free up vast resources. Currently around €3bn is paid to the banks each year in mortgage interest payments. Billions more could be invested in affordable housing for all, based on deposits currently lent out for private profit. Dramatically reduced housing costs would massively boost consumer spending and redirect resources to productive investment, rather than rewarding landlords and banks for doing nothing other than renting out their capital.

Higher taxation on corporations and the wealthy e.g. abolish inequitable tax reliefs, increase corporation tax, introduce a wealth tax and a third rate of income tax for high earners.

Nearly €8.5bn has been budgeted for debt service in 2015. Join in solidarity with the people of Greece instead to repudiate odious debt and demand retrospective recapitalisation of the public banking system.

The Labour Party yet again cock up the bedroom tax challenge

I despise the bedroom tax and have a zeal to get rid of it and to challenge the scores of myths it has thrown up.  If the bedroom tax was Labour policy I would have the same view that the policy is wrong, ill-conceived and thus my hatred towards it is not primarily political:  It is just bad policy and as I have detailed it does NOT save a penny, in fact it costs more to the public purse not less as the government’s own official figure reveal.

Yes that’s right the bedroom tax does not save a penny despite cutting costs at source, an issue it shares with the three other welfare reform (sic) policies introduced to cut the Housing Benefit bill in the overall benefit cap, the Local Housing Allowance caps and in the cap on the Shared Accommodation Rate age increasing to those under 35 years or age from those under 25.


That may sound incredulous but the official figures bear this out and prove even after allowing for inflation and even allowing for the increase in the numbers claiming housing benefit – these reforms (sic) have only served to INCREASE the cost to the taxpayer and public purse.

We can speculate WHY that these cuts at source and caps at source have increased the overall bill till the cows come home yet the FACT remains the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA and SAR caps all cost more and have not saved a penny.

The Labour Party has pledged to abolish it.  Good.  Yet they are making a pig’s ear out of that challenge to this policy, that I again restate DOES NOT SAVE A PENNY and COSTS MORE.

Yesterday the London Evening Standard, a paper about as left wing in its politics as Genghis Khan, put out an article by Helen Goodman, a Labour Shadow Welfare Minister


The articles KEY or primary message is that it hits London social tenants to the tune of over £50 million per year – which is true and the actual figure is £51, 402, 071 per year.  YET in saying that the Labour Party allude to the myth that the bedroom tax saves money when it clearly and unambiguously does not save a penny and costs more as the official figures show.

That is the political strategy of the incompetent and unfortunately all too common with the Labour Party as I have discussed many times before from Rachel Reeves stating what she would change in order to counteract the alleged and mythical savings the Tories claim for it to Ed Miliband failing to make a fool of David Cameron on at least two occasions when the Prime Minister has said in parliament that the disabled are exempt from it when there are no exemptions whatsoever for disabled people in the bedroom tax.

If Miliband had known the bedroom tax system and regulations he would have been able to say that Cameron clearly did not know his own party’s policy when he said the disabled were exempt.  That would have brought the policy to its knees and the media coverage of that would have been widespread and would hammer home to the general public (and to Labour MPs too!) the chronic unfairness and pernicious nature of the policy.

[Just for any pedants out there this is a discretion but not an exemption if a disabled child if they are ‘disabled enough’ but that is not an exemption it is a discretion to and of your local council]

Moreover, and a minor point, the Labour Party cannot even get their facts right as the above says that Londoners lose more cash than people in any other region which is a false statement.  The cut in the North West is greater than this at £54, 355, 089 comprising of 72, 041 households being affected at  a lower cost admittedly to the 47, 180 affected in inner and outer London and is £3 million more than the cut in London

Yes the 48, 247 figure in the article is wrong too and the latest figures are the 47, 180 I state above.  A little bit more than pedantry and especially when the hyperbole of the article says Labour Party ‘new ‘ figures’ when in fact the 48, 247 figure used wrongly by the Labour Party is the higher figure from August 2014 – How can 6 months out of date figures be new and even back in August the cut was still greater in the North West than in London of course!

The ONE AND ONLY ISSUE with the bedroom tax is does it save money.  As it does NOT save the public purse a penny then there are NO SAVINGS at all to the public purse and ultimately to the individual taxpayer.  Just what is the point of the penury, poverty and ill-health the policy creates if it doesn’t save a bloody penny!!!

Yes I am angry at that, rightfully angry and bloody angry too as I have seen first hand the pernicious impacts this pernicious policy causes and directly causes.

However, I am just as angry at Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, aka the Labour Party, as it is their job to oppose and they have been repeatedly inept at doing this and could have put this matter to bed far sooner by exposing the lies and lack of his own policy knowledge by Cameron and the myths that this policy saves money.  Their incompetence has prolonged this policy and made it an election battleground when if they had exposed that it does not save a penny, which is the fact of the matter, then even the most belligerently stubborn Tory Party would have known this was a policy and election battle they could not win upon.

Here from Nov 2013 is Cameron lying to parliament and in direct response to a question raised by Miliband saying

“Obviously what we’ve done is exempt disabled people who need an extra room”

There is no exemption at all but the incompetent Ed Miliband, or his gaggle of advisors and researchers within the Labour Party simply did not know.  Rank incompetence.

Just last month on TV Cameron issued yet another lie about the bedroom tax which again the Labour Party failed to pick up on as they clearly do not know the policy and how it works:

“It is a basic issue of fairness. You don’t get subsidised if you are renting privately.

This is another lie as I commented on and gave chapter and verse and factual examples as to why it was a lie.  But yet again the Labour Party, Her Majesty’s Official Opposition proved they do not know the policy and how it works – rank and utter incompetence as exposing the ‘big cheese’ of the government in any policy means that policy and that ‘big cheese’ is history – no 2nd term for Call me Dave let alone the arrogance of him saying he wont run a 3rd time!

Cameron also lied about the bedroom tax and housing benefit here in January 2012 when he said that housing benefit had reduced when it had not

All parties are committed, as I understand it, to reform housing benefit. That was Labour’s commitment before the last election. The housing benefit bill is completely out of control. Labour’s own welfare spokesman said last week that at £20 billion, it was unacceptable and it had to change and what we’ve seen so far, as housing benefit has been reformed and reduced, is that actually we have seen rent levels come down. So we’ve stopped ripping off the taxpayer.”

Yet as the official figures released, without irony or ambiguity reveal, that the Housing Benefit bill has increased and increased from £20.8 billion at May 2010 to £24 billion today when the coalitions stated aim of the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA and SAR cap was to reduce it by £2 billion per year.  Despite all of these reforms (sic)  – reform means to improve – the Housing Benefit bill has INCREASED in real terms and not a penny has been saved.

Yet once again the latest Labour Party incompetent alludes to the cuts, which have happened, equating with savings which are mythical.

Perhaps the biggest neglect of attacking the claimed savings is in the BBC London example which revealed that LB Westminster spending up to £153k per year in Housing Benefit for those local private tenants who had been evicted directly because of private landlords rents not being met due to this Tory Governments caps on Local Housing Allowance or LHA the private sector variant of housing benefit.  This is one huge reason of many that explains why cutting or capping HB in one area leads to much higher cost in another HB area, in this case temporary homelessness

Explaining to the general public how a cut or a cap can actually increase the cost is difficult.  It just doesn’t sound plausible or credible yet the BBC London piece demonstrates this easily.  Is this a case of the Labour Party believing selling the bedroom tax costs more argument is too difficult for the fickle electorate to comprehend?  If so add patronising to their rank incompetence!

I have no issue with the Labour Party trying to attract the London vote and London as a region has the LOWEST percentage of social tenants affected by the bedroom tax.  That is fact as it is just 8.48% of all social tenants affected compared to the national average of 14% of all social tenants affected – A hugely different issue to the headline Labour sought of Londoners being the worst affected region of the country!!!

For the record nationally (England Wales and Scotland) it is 14.45%, the North East is the highest at 19.3% of social housing tenants claiming HB; NW it is 17.9%; Yorks & Humber is 15.9%; East Midlands is 14.9%; WM at 14.45%; the East region at 11.39%; the SE at 9.61%; SW at 11.32% and Scotland and Wales both at 19% – In short the London region is by far the least affected region for bedroom tax in Great Britain.

Yet again the competence of the Labour Party in its strategy to challenge the bedroom tax is simply inept  and why oh why do they not say the bedroom tax does not save a penny instead of alluding to the Tory myth that it does.

Go back to the figures here. IF the bedroom tax saves money then the overall Housing Benefit bill must fall in real terms and especially as the bedroom tax IS deducted at source and less HB is paid, as is also the case with the benefit cap and the LHA and SAR caps.  YET the HB bill has INCREASED and in real terms so all of the these 4 policies, the so-called ‘reforms’ have NOT saved a penny. – That is the message the Labour Party needs to accept and promote in order to challenge the pernicious bedroom tax policy.  Yet time and time again they have proved incompetent at challenging its cost or its operation as repeatedly lied about by Cameron, IDS, Freud, Webb, Harper and McVey (amonst others!)

Its about bloody time they did!

The sheer bloody lunacy of RTB and welfare reform (sic) – They cost the taxpayer MORE

If ever you wish for a cast iron example of political policy and local council lunacy then you will find it here in an article in 24 dash housing released today.

The London borough of Westminster has bought back 45 council flats at an average cost of over £400,000 that it sold under the right to buy for less than £100,000 each!

What a way to waste £12 million of public money by the Tory council there and the reason for this lunacy, the current welfare reform policy of Tory central government!


The welfare reform of capping Local Housing Allowance or LHA – the private rented sector version of housing benefit – means that LB Westminster has seen a huge surge in private renting tenants being evicted by private landlords as housing benefit (LHA) no longer covers the rent.

This means these evicted families become the duty of the council (LB Westminster) to rehouse and regardless of the cost of rehousing these evicted families in temporary or permanent accommodation.

Fortunately we know how much LB Westminster is spending on rehousing these homeless families  – up to £13,000 PER MONTH!!! – as this was detailed a few years ago in February 2013 and 13 months after the Tory coalition capped LHA at £400 per week by BBC London and please watch this 2 minute or so video footage of that as it will truly astound you as to the cost!

It is presumably cheaper for LB Westminster to buy back 45 flats which costs the taxpayer over £12 million than to accommodate the huge rise in homeless families created by Tory central government policy in the LHA caps and then added to in the overall benefit cap policy from October 2013!

What the above reveals:

  1. The RTB policy per se is a disaster for the public purse
  2. Tory local government is forced to waste millions of public money directly due to Tory central government policy

Yet it is much more than that and only today sees Tory central government policy advocating even more RTB to buy short-term votes that will bugger up the position even further!  In other words with more and more social housing being sold off all councils will need to use the prohibitively expensive private B&Bs and hotel more than now.

One final point and a very important one.  IDS was outraged that in some cases more than £100k per year was spent on HB to accommodate families – That is why he brought in the LHA cap and then the benefit cap.  However, when the political hyperbole was looked at it was found that there were 5 (FIVE) only cases in the UK that received £100k per year in HB.  Still 5 cases too many but only 5 out of them 4,751,551 HB recipients.

The BBC London film reveals there are now well more than 5 cases in LB Westminster alone!!!  In simple terms and as a direct result of the ill-conceived policy of IDS and the Tory coalition we have MORE households costing over £100k per year than before!!!

The bill shown in the BBC London clip of £12,678 per month is a yearly figure of £152,136 and that is one case of many as again the film shows!

That is one reason why, as I explained here in detail, the four welfare reform (sic) policies introduced by the Tories to reduce overall HB cost (bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR cap) have actually INCREASED the overall HB cost and not saved the public purse a penny.






RTB for housing associations – Will the 7 stone weaklings finally man up?

Last time I went Intercity there were a couple across the aisle having sex. Of course, this being a British train, nobody said anything. Then they finished, they both lit up a cigarette and this woman stood up and said, Excuse me, I think you’ll find this is a non-smoking compartment.
—  Victoria Wood


Whether this is hot air or kite flying or genuine policy proposal there needs to be a huge rebuttal of this proposal by all in social housing and like nothing seen before.  It is time for ‘housing people’ to lay down a marker, time to say to this and all future governments, mess with us and we will kick your ass…big time!

That’s not sentiment, it is good practice and good business sense. If ‘housing people’ had made the tiniest bit of fuss over the last 30 years instead of doing nothing then this hot air / kite flying / genuine proposal would never have been raised as it is now.  Yet because social housing has never made a fuss let alone go ten times further they have become the easy complaint target – social housing is the proverbial seven stone weakling having yet more sand kicked in its face.

Despite my personal view this is more hot air than substance, the professional response from the ‘sector’ has to be not only a reactive one in defending the status quo, it needs to go much further with a proactive strategy of promoting the many economic, cultural, social and political benefits that the social housing model gives.  In simple terms and blunt language social housing needs to stop pissing around and tell government – as one – that you don’t mess with us because you are incredibly stupid to do so. It needs a mass positive campaign that finally sells the social housing model.

A few days ago I posited that all housing campaigns would fail because housing people do not know how to campaign and restated the simple but factual position that social housing is not a cost factor to the taxpayer – the ubiquitous subsidy position – and in fact SAVES every taxpayer about £170 per year in tax.  So take it away or sell it off and the taxpayer ends up having to pay more.

The £45 per year investment each individual taxpayer puts in as investment returns a saving of £215 per year – Thats like asking the taxpayer to pay £1 and you will save them £5 and any taxpayer will see that is a no-brainer.  However, that would mean a proactive campaign and housing people struggle and fail with reactive campaigns as they are so used to settling for whatever crumbs each successive government throws at them and even then tugging their forelocks and saying Thankee Sir at that!

Yet social housing still has the best product and service at the best price that is hugely in demand compared to all other (private) renting options.  It still is the ONLY place where the sick, the old, the disabled and the supported can live as the private sector does not accommodate the SODS and in doing so provides a huge public service that should its stock be decimated as happened to council housing will not be able to do.  Where will the SODS live if RTB for HAs goes ahead?

The HA landlords have power, huge negotiating power as they have what the Government is desperate for – the houses – and it is long overdue they realised just how much leverage and negotiating advantage they have, and long overdue to use it too.  The sector should not be asking itself how do we defend against the RTBHA attack, they should be going on the offensive themselves as attack is the best form of defence here.

The sector also needs to recognise the bloody obvious about RTB and not just bemoan the selling off and no replacements issue; RTB is popular with tenants because, firstly, it is, superficially, nothing more than a bung and the individual tenant would be stupid not to take up what amounts to a brown paper bag full of cash.  Secondly, the original RTB saw the sector miss the huge implied cultural dynamic that RTb brought – If you want to stay ‘merely’ renting you must be a second class citizen with a second-class mentality as surely everyone wants to be part of the great property owning democracy!

Or in other words social rented housing is the housing of last choice. The reputational risk RTB gave to social housing has never been addressed by the sector and of course a further large dose of that in this proposal condemns the social housing model for good in terms of reputation.

Anyone who CHOOSES merely to rent must be mad is the inherent rationale of RTB but is that the case? Is there a greater financial gain to be made from continuing to rent and paying so much less in monthly housing costs than a mortgage? Crunch the numbers especially in London with its perverse housing costs and there is a strong financial argument to be made for tenants continuing to rent a 3 bed property from their HA at £7000 per year rather than pay out £30,000 per year in a mortgage even after the RTB bung and of course be responsible for all repairs and their costs too.

A perverse argument on first reading reader? Or does it have merit? Crunch the numbers and it does yet seems just not ‘right’ somehow?  That is due to the mindset of the apathetic and lazy thinking which dominates social housing and has done for decades as they too have swallowed hook line and sinker that the property owning democracy is the be all and end all without ever considering scratching under the surface of that political rhetoric.

Yet have ‘housing people’ ever promoted that financial case to ‘merely’ rent which is a strong one?  No they haven’t.  In today’s ever increasing uncertainty over employment and the rise in zero hour contracts the security of a home that is rented that argument is much, much stronger too.  However, given the prevailing notion that the property owning democracy is a universal panacea to all ills we see the lack of addressing the cultural dynamic of the original RTB all too readily.

It is time for housing to man up and also realise that they hold the aces.  Housing has got what this and every future government wants and needs – housing stock – and it is time that housing used that negotiating advantage by acting collectively rather than allow themselves to be the seven stone weakling and the government play divide and conquer games because of the absence of any unifying cohesive sector.  Yes that all sounds a bit socialistic doesn’t it, united we stand divided we fall and collectivism (cue ‘housing people munching garlic just reading that!) yet that is what is desperately needed.

Strange how when the banks do precisely that in fixing LIBOR rates for example it is seen as good business practice by the arch capitalists yet should social landlords do that it is perceived as blatant politicking!!  It is time for those in social housing to tear up the mores that have guided them down the cul de sac of oblivion and start to act as they should have done for the past 30 years or more.  Making a fuss is nowhere near enough if the social housing model is to survive; that same model that even today provides the best product and best service at the best price for the Treasury, employer, individual taxpayer and everyone else.  The social housing model is NOT the policy of yesteryear, it is still the best invest to save policy there is for the good of UK plc.

I have been criticised continually by ‘housing people’ for saying housing needs to form a sector, for saying that housing needs to grow a set and to challenge policy and to flex its muscle.  David Orr in admitting that housing has not made a fuss and should have done agrees with my view though dos not go anywhere near far enough.  Anyhow I will leave it there to go have a well earned cigarette…and I’ll probably get told off for that won’t I reader!!

A phrase to remember the Tory coalition by … You can’t polish a turd!

You can lie, deceive, dissemble, be economical with the truth and every other trick in the political book but facts win out or in vulgar language, you can’t polish a turd.

Let’s look at their record on growth – The rise of the food bank has been so severe that foodbank has now entered the dictionary as one word not two, not even hyphenated and note it grew to over 900,000 in 2013/14 and that is just from one foodbank operator.

foodbankuse since 2005

What about the growth in JSA sanctions that is a huge factor in foodbank use?

In case you don’t know a sanction means you get no money at all even if you have kids to feed and for what heinous crimes you need to commit to get sanctioned here is an example from that notorious left-wing rag The Daily Mail!

Ceri Padley, 26, had her benefits sanctioned after she missed an appointment at the jobcentre – because she was at a job interview.

Via the Daily Mail.

For more examples see here and yes it does mean not a penny for up to three years even if you have children to feed and below is just the coalition record on JSA sanctions alone.

jsa sanctions

What about the growth in unstable zero hours contracts – a term so ubiquitous every knows what ZHC means!

zero hours

How about growth in the manipulation of the media campaigns to blame all those in receipt of benefit


Sorry reader that wasn’t quite right, the coalition do not blame ALL of those in receipt of welfare benefits, in fact not even a majority, they only blame the 32% in receipt of benefit who are of working-age and not the pensioner who gets 68% of all welfare benefit spent


Just to put that into context for you the simple bar chart below reveals how tiny a percentage that Job Seekers Allowance (Dole in old speak) is compared to the welfare benefit spend on the pensioner.


However a better reason to look at the above bar chart which explains IDS’s answer in parliament that £116 billion of the welfare benefit spend goes to the pensioner and just £54 billion to those of working age is last weeks budget in which Osborne confirmed a further £12 billion per year of welfare benefit cuts making this £25 billion in all.

Ask yourself how can £25 billion be taken from the working-age benefit recipient alone when they receive in total £54 billion?  That level of cut – a whopping 46% cut – cannot possibly come from the £1 in every £3 of welfare benefit that goes to the working-age person and must have to come from the more than £2 in every £3 of the welfare benefit budget that goes to the pensioner.

Now why do you think Osborne is refusing to say where this additional £12 billion of welfare benefit cut is coming from reader?  Ahem!!

Deceit, obfuscation, and being economical with the truth is of course common to all governments though none have done this on such a flagrant and repeated way as this coalition.  However, this Tory coalition go way beyond this and lie blatantly and openly over the welfare reforms.

Here is really where they attempt to polish the turd with the same zeal they knowingly lie about the welfare reforms and especially the despised bedroom tax.  Just today we see another example in the Telegraph of IDS claiming this has saved £1 billion, yet the bedroom tax and the three other policies of benefit, LHA and SAR cap that were all introduced to reduce the Housing Benefit bill, has seen that Housing Benefit bill increase and increase in real terms over and above inflation. So IDS may ‘claim’ all he likes but the facts and the official facts produced by the department IDS runs show he is polishing the turd. The full detail of that is here

In the simplest of graphs here is the Housing Benefit bill comparing what IDS and the coalition said it would be – the target or budget – and what it actually turned out to be:

HB£ under coalition act v budget

The official DWP data for that is below and you can see they expected the HB bill after inflation and with the bedroom tax and benefit / LHA / SAR caps to be just over £21 billion per year yet it is now £24 billion per year

HB expected gov figs

It is almost as if this coalition and especially IDS expect us to believe what they say because they say it and, somehow, believe we the general public are unable to access the official figures and the official estimates which are of course freely available and have official sources as all the figures above reveal.  The policy of don’t let fact spoil a good political lie!

The blame game that this coalition have overtly used as policy is yet another example of polishing the turd with constant reference to workshy people scrounging off the state and choosing that lifestyle.  What that knowing lie fails to tell the general public is that there are more people working and claiming Housing Benefit than there are on the dole and claiming Housing Benefit as the yet further simple graph reveals.

working unemployed hb claimants

As you can see there are now more people in work receiving HB than there are on the dole and receiving HB!  But how can that be you ask?   It can’t be true as that nice man IDS tells us that he has saved the country billions in welfare benefits and his reforms are working!

Well aside from his misuse of the word ‘reform’ which means to improve ALL of the facts (and boy are facts pesky!!) reveal that (a) the welfare reform (sic) policies do not work; and (b) that IDS polishes the turd as much as he polishes his head – He knowingly, repeatedly and deliberately lies and expects the general public to believe him despite all of the FACTS revealing he is a liar and an idiot.

Dear reader, in the run up to the general election you will hear and read many ‘claims’ from politicians yet what you most definitely will not hear or read about the welfare reform (sic) policies is FACT.

Yet as well a being a liar IDS is also … On second thoughts here’s another little pic that says it so much better than I

groucho idiot

I could go on and on reader with so many example of knowing lies but you are either bored, angry or working out how to avoid using the phrase polishing the turd in conversation.  What you must have no doubt about is that this coalition are the biggest turd polishers this country has ever seen when it comes to social welfare policy.


Cameron’s hypocrisy over food banks…in his own words!!

Today on Twitter a political gem was unearthed in a speech by David Cameron full of moral outrage and indignation from November 2005 at the shocking use of foodbanks under the last Labour government.

Earlier this year, we learnt from the Citizens Advice Bureau of a single mother who had to rely on a Salvation Army food parcel to survive. A Salvation Army food parcel, in this, the fourth richest country in the world, run by a Labour government,

That was in November 2005.  Now lets look at what Cameron’s record on foodbanks

foodbankuse since 2005


Cameron’s moral indignation at 3000 cases of foodbank use in 2005 yet under his policies by 2012/13 this had grown to 347,000.  115 times greater use

In 2013/14 Cameron tripled this again to 913,000 and that is just from the Trussell Trust foodbanks and does not include the many others too.

There is only one thing worse for a Tory than being a liar and hypocrite – being found out!!



PS – The link to the full text is here so Cameron can not even use the Rachel Reeves excuse on this one!!


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