The Grenfell Inquiry liar – Theresa May

On the 22 June Theresa May made a statement in the House of Commons over the Grenfell Tower fire.  This is what she said as Hansard records:

As the scale of the tragedy became clear we quickly decided there had to be an independent public inquiry. As I said to the House yesterday, it will be chaired by a judge to get to the truth about what happened and who was responsible, and to provide justice for the victims and their families who suffered so terribly … All those with an interest—including survivors and victims’ families—will be consulted about the terms of reference, and we will pay for legal representation for those affected. …

For too long residents have been overlooked and ignored. We will ensure that they are involved in every step of this process. No stone will be left unturned in this inquiry, and there will be nowhere for any guilty parties to hide. 

Now we see the independent judge criticise the narrow scope of the Inquiry and the media saying that Theresa May herself has set the narrow terms of reference and of course she has not consulted the survivors and victims families over the scope of the Inquiry at all.

Instead we have the media focusing on the judge appointed and not on the fact that Theresa May is breaching every one of her promises she made in the House of Commons.  This example from the BBC website is typical:

Sir Martin’s appointment last week has been widely criticised but a source has told the BBC that he is prepared to be “open-minded” and “very broad” in his inquiry.

Although the remit will be decided by the prime minister, it is understood the inquiry will consider in detail whether the nature of the building regulations contributed to the fire.

Notice how the BBC slip in that the remit of the Inquiry will be decided by the prime minister as an afterthought to the criticism of the judge.

This is the same Theresa May who said to parliament and the TV cameras that the remit will see the survivors and victims families consulted over that remit and they will be involved every step of the way and no stone unturned will be left unturned!

Why is the mainstream media focusing on the judge or what the local Labour MP says about the judge when the real issue is that Theresa May lied to parliament about what the Inquiry would be about.

How can Theresa May say For too long residents have been overlooked and ignored and then overlook and ignore them some more after giving them false hope in the first place that they would be fully involved!!

 

Housing post-Grenfell and why it wouldn’t have happened in Scotland!

19 days ago the Grenfell Tower fire happened and this disaster has been leading the mainstream news ever since.  It represents a seismic change in the provision of what still is wrongly called social housing in the UK.

The day after the fire I tweeted that there are so many actors to blame for it such as landlords, councils, central government, builders, fire safety and many others and this is now being stated as systemic failures by many if not all of these, which is true.

Here I first choose to look at landlords, the claimed social landlords, and what Grenfell means for them and two obvious changes are apparent.

Firstly, these social (sic) landlords have traded for decades on the strategy that only wicked private landlords ignore tenant safety while benevolent social landlords have social purpose coursing through their veins blah, blah blah.

That strategy in rented housing terms of public good, private bad no longer holds and whatever trust tenants had in social landlords is gone with the old adage of decades to build a good reputation and five minutes to lose being much at play.

Secondly, English housing associations who make up around 63% of all social (sic) landlords have been lobbying the recent Conservative governments for MORE freedoms and LESS regulation that now cannot happen after Grenfell.

No government could possibly decide to allow less scrutiny and less regulation of any landlord after the watershed that is Grenfell.

I have read dozens of articles over Grenfell and one of the best is by the housing consultant Colin Wiles here which is very considered and informative in its own right but especially for this comment underneath from Derick Tulloch  (also in housing) which demonstrates just how PREVENTABLE the Grenfell fire was as it would not have happened in Scotland!!

It also explains why no tower block in Scotland is at risk and why ALL 180+ tower blocks tested so far in England have failed the fire safety test.

Not only is the law on fire safety so much stronger and written in plain and unambiguous language it is a MANDATORY standard issue and “ … fail to meet it and you go to jail!

English social tenants have less fire safety than a Scottish social tenant and is there a legal issue here over culpability and corporate manslaughter charges being brought against the landlord?  It is not my area of expertise yet there is a hell of a strong lay case given the Scottish regulations and their lack in England.

As combustible cladding is outlawed above 18 metre height in Scotland and has been since 2005 how can it be even arguable that it is permitted in England?

Questions need to be asked of English housing chief executives as to how they have ignored English social tenants fire safety since at least 2005 and allowed English tenants to be put at risk of fire death by still allowing combustible cladding and still specifying it because it is cheaper!

As usual the (English) social tenant has been getting the mushroom syndrome and if it wasn’t bad enough that they have been living in fire death traps because it is cheaper for their social (sic, sic, sic) landlords to clad combustibly, they were also promised “no stone unturned” by Theresa May and now found the Grenfell Inquiry has extremely limited terms of reference that will leave boulders unturned never mind stones!!

 

Grenfell survivors now sh*t on by Tory Government

Imagine you and your family survived the horrific Grenfell Tower fire and the last thing you’d expect is to be shit on by the Government which is exactly what has happened.

We know factually, Grenfell Tower survivors were mostly social housing tenants paying around £600 per calendar month in rent yet it had some private tenants paying £2300 per calendar month we are informed and for identical properties.

Today the Government says all surviving tenants will be housed LOCALLY and nobody is saying what that means in reality.  We see Laura Kuennsberg of the BBC tweeting this and a link to the government website where the new Housing Minister Alok Sharma specifically states this.  We see what are being termed “protestors” who are likely to be activists on TV media reading out a list of demands to say the tenants HAVE to be rehoused LOCALLY  … yet that terms means nothing and even they do not realise that!

To explain imagine you were a Grenfell social tenant paying £600 in rent per calendar month yet the only accommodation the council can rehouse you in LOCALLY is private rented accommodation at £2300 or more per calendar month.

That is likely to mean you have to give up your job as you cannot afford the rent.

That then means you have given up employment and therefore do not qualify for social security benefits and/or you are sanctioned too.

Central government cannot dictate to local government that someone must be rehoused locally anyway and if they do by some means then central government must ensure that surviving Grenfell tenants are at least no worse off.

So what about the £1700+ pcm rent differential and who pays that for the added cost of interim accommodation that the London Borough Council of Kensington and Chelsea have now put out calls for?

Then even if that rent differential problem is somehow solved and the government find a way to pay the additional £1700 per month and over £20,000 more per year in extra rent what then happens if the local council wish to offer a private sector rental to the surviving former Grenfell social tenant in order to bring their homeless duty to an end?

Will the ex SRS Grenfell tenant have their interim homeless accommodation taken away from them and the local council have no housing duty at all towards if that former social tenant household refuse such a move?

These are just some of the realities that makes the government announcement that all surviving tenants will be rehoused LOCALLY a meaningless vacuous statement that is bollocks.

Sky News this afternoon interviewed Kate Webb of Shelter and I found myself screaming at the television over her non mentioning any of the above.  Instead she focused on the local council exported 75% of their homeless cases anyway so questioned how they even could rehouse locally even in the private rented sector.

In short her focus was on the council and not the surviving tenant which says a lot about Shelter and how they perceive homelessness not from the person’s perspective but from the providers housing perspective which of in all cases this Grenfell situation demands the person be first, second and third priority!

The paucity and superficiality of thought an response to this tragedy beggars belief and imagine you are that former social tenant told you must have to take a private rental out else you will lose your interim temporary homeless accommodation!!

You haven’t just lost your home and suffered imaginable trauma you are then being fucked over for your new and far less secure home costing four times as much so you do not have a hope in hell’s chance of working again!

______________________

The vacuous statement from government today is here

Housing Minister Alok Sharma also confirmed today that working with Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the Government will guarantee that every single family from Grenfell Tower will be rehoused in the local area.

 

Grenfell – Social tenant life is worth £50 at most

The Times front page for Friday 16 June 2017 has been tweeted as below:

Tom Peck is a respected journalist at The Independent and the figure of £5k more that has cost by many accounts 100 lives means that the landlord Kensington & Chelsea TMO took a decision that a tenant’s life is worth £50.

K&CTMO must be put under special measures immediately that can happen to social landlords in some circumstances by the Government’s housing quango and the current board must be sacked forthwith.  I care not  jot if this circumstance does not meet the Housing regulators criteria, it simply MUST be done.

I am not going into a lengthy tirade about bad social landlords or say that all social landlords or even all TMOs are or can be bad.  I don’t need to as Grenfell Tower long after it stops being on the media 24 hours a day is seismic for ALL social landlords, even the really good ones, even the best of the best.

Social landlords trade on the fact they are not the unscrupulous dangerous landlords which they daily portray the nasty private landlord to be.  There is much merit in that yet Grenfell Tower sees social landlords and social housing lose that perception and reputation for good.  It is the old adage that it takes 20 years to build a good reputation and 5 minutes to lose it.

The general public see ALL high rise tower blocks as unsafe yet they also see all social landlords in a wholly different light.  The prefix ‘social’ has been increasingly waning for some time and Grenfell goes much much further and the one bad apple syndrome is applied to their perception that even social landlords can’t be trusted.

It is not just other TMOs that will suffer this irreversible reputational loss it is the entire spectrum of social landlords and it matters not a jot that some social landlords are bloody good and don’t deserve – and of course there are some bad social landlords as much as the sector wants to deny it and not just the smaller TMOs but the largest housing associations.  Yet I cant state often enough that facts matter not a jot, only perception counts.

Today I saw a very responsible, sensible and good practice news release from Trafford Housing Trust (THT) which said that our tower blocks are not of the same (flammable / dodgy / bad) construction as at Grenfell.  It was a recognition and attempt to allay fears and negative perceptions that their tenants could have and likely have.

Yet, despite this being laudable practice by THT, many of their tenants and other tenants will be that old adage of there is No S____Without F___

I’ve initialled that for obvious reasons and because it reads as sick and offensive in this context yet there is no better adage to describe the point.

To change tack there are many actors to blame other than the individual landlord and none more so than central government and, all politics aside, the Tory government.

Eight years ago on 3 July 2009 there was a horrendous fire in Camberwell at Lakanal House a 14-storey tower block in which 6 tenants lost their lives.  The then Labour government ordered an Inquiry which took an offensive 4 years to hand down its report in 2013 with recommendations as all do.

The Tory government have sat on that Inquiry’s finding’s ever since a further FOUR YEARS and to make that even worse the newly appointed Conservative Housing Minister has said today (Thursday) that the government are almost ready to start consultation on the issues!!

That is as offensive as it gets.  Why the need for consultation rather than action and actually f*cking doing something in the first place after sitting on this for four f*cking years, yet they aren’t even ready for a f*cking consultation!  Prevarication upon prevarication upon not giving a flying f*ck about human life is the current Conservative government position!

How many tenants does it take to die before the government acts!  Or perhaps the Conservative government also believe a social tenants life is only worth £50 at most too?!

 

 

 

GE Voting the facts and Corbyn is the bookies favourite as the next PM!

It was the young that all voted for Corbyn wasn’t it?  Or was it all the old codgers who allowed Theresa May to remain in office with the help of some religious terrorists?

How dare I disparage older people?  Yet it is somehow okay to blame ‘young people’ and infer they are all naive and have the idealism of youth?   And rest assured the usual suspects of the Tory Party, the right-wing media and all the political commentators who got the result so so wrong ARE blaming ‘young people’ for THEIR failure and incompetence!!

Now that I have that off my chest – and by the way I’m in my early 50’s – let’s have a look at who voted by age and a few other descriptors according to the Lord Ashcroft data which holds many surprises.

Voting by Age

 

 

The figures are all percentages of each age group and only record a CON or a LAB vote and hence do not add up to 100.  We see that between them the two main parties got between 79% and 85% of all votes by age group thus 15% – 21% voted for other parties such as Lib Dem, SNP etc.

Just as many older people voted Conservative as younger people voted Labour an both points have to be made.  The young voted Labour and the Old voted Tory yet the really interesting age group is the 35 – 44 year old’s who are likely to have mortgages and in their peak earning year and they voted 50% Labour and 30% Conservative.  Five in every eight of this age cohort voted Labour and that is significant and much more so when additionally the 45 – 54 age group were neck and neck at 40% to 39%.

These middle-aged (to turn a phrase) represent Middle England in political jargon and together they overwhelmingly voted Labour not Tory and did so for the ‘unelectable’ Corbyn.  To therefore reduce the general election vote to the naivety of the young, the irresponsibility of youth as inferred is patently FALSE.

In addition there is a much more significant voting pattern by gender than by age group

Vote by Gender

Why did far more men find May’s policies / leadership / personal integrity / whatever far more attractive than Corbyn’s? AND Why did far more women find Corbyn’s policies / leadership / personal integrity / whatever more attractive than May’s?

Corbyn’s policies / leadership / personal integrity / whatever is far less appealing to males in these voting outcomes than he is to females and this is significant as 45:55 is very much different then 51:49 – and a real concern for Corbyn and for the Labour Party.  Why is Theresa May far more appealing to males?

Given by all quarters (and rightly) that May run perhaps the worst election campaign in living memory, and perhaps by any potential Prime Minister and definitely by any incumbent Prime Minister this is a major worry for the Labour Party I suggest.

If we (admittedly simplistically) say that Corbyn easily came across as more personable and genuine than May, which he did by a country mile in my view, then the votes by gender are even more worrying for Labour.

Corbyn and the Labour Party still have some way to go although without any doubt the fact Corbyn and Corbyn-led Labour was portrayed ahead of and at the start of the general election as the bogey man and a radical 1970’s socialist dinosaur who wore socks with his sandals (blah, blah, blah) is an obvious factor and shows just how staggeringly well Corbyn Labour achieved.

The betting on the next general election sees all bookmakers have 2017 as the clear favourite and also sees Jeremy Corbyn at 11/10 to be the next Prime Minister after Theresa May with Boris Johnson at 5/2 so if you ever want an idea of just how tenuous Theresa May’s grip on the Prime Ministership is and just how strong the chances of Jeremy Corbyn being the next PM and also how fantastically well he did in the recent general election then there is your proof!

The above also means that dismissing Corbyn as only attracting 40% of the vote through the naivety of youth is simply and patently false.  We are likely to be continually fed this mistruth between now and the next general election as it is in the Tories interest and the right-wing biased media interest for obvious reasons and the old guard political commentariat interest to excuse their abject out-of-touch self-perceived omniscience that saw so many ‘smacked-arse’ faces when the exit polls were announced on June 8th at 10pm!

There are dozens of other nuanced aspects of the general election voting patterns by region and by socio-economic grouping and other factors that will be pored over by nerds and geeks by and large. Yet in summary by all means still be surprised by the result as almost everyone is, but do not be misled by its only the naivety of youth or similar claptrap (or should I say tripe!) that we are all being fed!

_____________

Bookies odds through http://www.oddschecker.com

 

 

 

Women are second class say Theresa May, Michael Fallon and the Tories

What have Pink Floyd, Madness and Bessie Smith / Moody Blues all got in common?

Lyrics such as Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, you’re an embarrassment and Go Now all describe Theresa May in song.

Hanging on in quiet desperation WAS the English way yet no more and all those who say Theresa May calling an election was the worst political decision ever have not properly considered her decision to get into bed with the DUP which is a thousand times worse … for the Conservatives and I say with glee!

Social media is concentrating now on the DUP’s position on LGBT and its incredulous position on Creationism which make the US Tea Party and the religious right there look like progressive.  Yet Theresa May has jumped into bed with such a regressive bunch of religious extremists who believe a woman does NOT have the right to choose what she does with her own body.

Eight weeks ago we were told Corbyn was unelectable. Today we know for certain that the Conservative Party is unelectable.

Theresa May has forever pissed off the female vote for the Conservative Party in her desperation and that will come back to haunt the Conservative Party for decades in electoral terms.  I say, with sheer unadulterated joy, that the Tories are unelectable for decades with this decision and that is the reality of this attempt by Theresa May to hang on to the last vestiges of power in acute desperation.

As soon as the electorate know what the DUP really stands for and what it stands against so fervently and zealously in being anti-abortion and denying a woman’s right to choose then the Conservative Party is in the political wilderness for decades.

The voters individual position on abortion itself is of no consequence.  The issue is the Conservative Party are in bed with lunatics who believe a woman does not have the right to choose.  That will rub off from the DUP to the Conservative Party without doubt, and the fact the Conservative Party is led by a woman and a childless woman will I suspect be played out in the media and by woman and especially Mothers.

Yet the real issue, speaking as a man and no man can possibly fully understand abortion and its many nuances as much as they may try, is how dare you say that a human being of any gender does not have the right to choose what they can legally do with their body.

Theresa May has alienated the female voter in perpetuity.

Michael Fallon when asked about the DUP’s ‘social conservatism’ on the Marr show this morning and said the DUP will support us on the critical issues alone.

A woman’s right to choose says Michael Fallon is thus NOT a critical issue!

Let that sink in!

You don’t need a feminist diatribe to see just how offensive the position of Michael Fallon, Theresa May and the Conservative Party is, though shortly the national media will be full of them and regrettably in my view.

Every article that attempts to say just how offensive a position this is will be called a feminist diatribe and polemic in an attempt to disparage the author and to downplay this truly offensive position of saying what a human being can legally do with their own body.

The electorate does not NEED feminist diatribes and polemics on this issue for the reason that they should never be needed on this issue.  Any man who believes a woman does not have the right to choose is not a man but a cave man fighting the dinosaurs the DUP believe are a hoax and never existed!

Would you Adam and Eve it!

Don’t let Theresa May and the Conservative Party hang on in quiet desperation, shout it from the rooftops that they have to Go Now!

 

 

A weak and wobbly is a long time in Politics … Hail Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is electable and he has gravitas and credibility with a stunning leadership performance in the 2017 General Election … part 1.  Part 2 is an inevitability and has been from the exit poll announcement 12 hours ago and the next 12 – 24 hours is the critical time.

Not making rash statements or promises or speculating from all of the Labour Party is the key and Jeremy Corbyn should just sit back and watch the very publicly quiet Tories implode as they will.

Corbyn did not win the election yet the Tories lost heavily.

Let that sink in with the electorate as Theresa May is toast and what is the Tory and media political establishment knee jerk solution?  Boris Johnson!  Let that sink in too with the UK electorate as they will never vote him in as Prime Minister’ he’s a caricature and admittedly clever bumbling oaf yet he is never acceptable UK Prime Minister material.

You can even let May form a coalition with the DUP as that will unravel quicker than ‘strong and stable’ as the majority English UK electorate becomes aware of just how 18th Century the DUP views are!  Let the DUP fervent hostility to for example legalising abortion and so many other policies reflect on the Tory minority government and you will have the rest of the UK behind you when a new general election is called as it inevitably will be.

Be careful Mr Corbyn of the slightest comment from anywhere within your party, and it is very much your party as the right-wing media will jump all over it much more than the have in the last eight weeks.

You are the only credible leader of any political party to emerge from yesterday’s election and the media will be apoplectic about that.

You now have credibility and now need to prove your statesmanship.

Even those who voted Conservative will know you are credible, even they will have woken up this morning to some very strong coffee, however begrudgingly they may feel about that YOU are credible and credible as a Prime Minister as you have led your party from near oblivion and against hostility writ large within that party to a credible party of government.

Your manifesto in its detail and not just its costing was clever and there is no need whatsoever to embellish it with even more policies.  Your personal honesty and integrity has shone through and been liked immensely. That is something you cannot buy or teach or fake as so many politicians try; it is inherent and part of your DNA.  You are genuine and the real deal and so much more in-tune with the British public than anyone gave you credit for; don’t lose all that with rash and hasty utterings and make sure all of your party is similarly reflective.

Let the Tories implode as they undoubtedly will.

Let the public see the ambitious manoeuvrings of not just the immediately stated et tu Brute’s as Hammond, Johnson and Rudd have no credibility and are too much associated with May and failure in the ruthless eyes of the Tory establishment. Be wary of the many equally ambitious Tory MPs circling like vultures over Theresa May’s corpse whether it be Priti Patel and the younger MPs or IDS positioning himself as the steady caretaker leader of the post May Conservative Party and both of them were clearly positioning themselves in interviews late last night and early this morning.

Let the Tories implode!

In terms of the Labour Party you have many ambitious people too and mainly from the right of the party yet they are marginalised with that Blairite association despite the right-wing media referring to them as ‘heavyweights’ as those pundits could not believe that your (softish) left policies is what has turned around Labour fortunes so convincingly.

Getting rid of Abbott despite the outrageous and scurrilously racist and sexist diatribes against her in this election would be a smart move as she has no electoral credibility outside of her seat. The public need to see a ruthless streak in all Prime Ministers.

Barry Gardiner has shone in this election campaign and Barry Who on 18 April 2017 has become a real heavyweight today which neatly shows how yesterdays alleged heavyweights of Cooper, Umunna et al are what they are in former heavyweights not current ones.

Your loyal colleagues such as McDonnell and especially Thornberry have shone and have credibility and gravitas and represent a formidable front bench  … yet these were portrayed as no-hopers just 18 months ago and have become genuine political heavyweights.

Sit back Mr Corbyn and look at these huge positives and let the Tories implode as you have made the Labour Party a credible party of and for government which is a staggering achievement.

Enjoy what you rightly deserve

 

 

 

LHA Maxima Cap – The really nasty Conservative policy the electorate knows nothing about

What does a Tory government mean with their LHA Maxima Cap policy? Their what?  You know the 6 year old policy that takes effect in 2019 …

  • No more domestic abuse refuges – Stay and be battered and abused women after all you did promise to obey!
  • No more homeless hostels – We’ve already put rough sleeping up 234% since 2010 and closed 4,000 hostel beds thus nobody cares so we will get away with not having a roof over many more heads
  • No more sheltered housing – You’ll have to put Mum into a care home and lose your inheritance with the Dementia Tax to boot!
  • No more supported housing whatever the vulnerability – Mental Health is not a real disability is it say the Conservatives and note well the Dementia Tax applies to long term disabilities and social care and support needs of all kinds not just Dementia and to adults of all ages.  A new inheritance tax at 100% rates that has insurance companies orgasmic as how much they will make off the ill health of the vulnerable!
  • The bedroom tax for pensioners -Even pensioners who are not under occupying will be hit with this in low rent areas as the Tories levy the hated bedroom tax on around 500,000 pensioners by this back door method in 2019

That is what the Conservative LHA Maxima Cap policy means and it is a policy that Labour have quite rightly committed to abandon in their manifesto.

Yet it is a policy that has never come up in this general election campaign, a six year old Conservative policy the electorate knows nothing about and a policy that will affect somebody we know over the next  five years and what you are voting for when you vote Conservative.

All of the above statements are true in this complex policy – and by complex I mean it is deliberately intended to be complex that it can’t be easily explained in the hope the electorate will not see what it means.

It is also a policy of Machiavellian deceit that sees the Conservatives able to blame local councils when (and not if) your local hostel, refuge, supported or sheltered housing service closes.  We gave your council the money they will say and hope you don’t see the complexity beneath this superficial deceit and lie.

In Conservative ideology, the LHA Maxima Cap policy (you know the one you haven’t heard or read about) dovetails beautifully with the Dementia Tax policy as the reduction in supported and sheltered housing provision the LHA Maxima Cap policy obviates means your loved one, your parents have severely reduced options to avoid the Dementia Tax.

Imagine the look on your Mother or Father’s face when they realise all of their hard work is all for nought when they can’t pass on their home to you and your children to give you a better start in life than they had?  At least they will stop fighting and die quicker though in much more pain and anguish than you could ever imagine when they believe they have failed you and your children by this asset grabbing Conservative policy.

It makes no odd that they have paid 30, 40 or 50 years of National Insurance to pay for their care in old age and they have been fed this lie all their working lives, they will know their home, their asset to give you a better start than they had will be forcibly sold by the Conservative friends, the insurance companies to pay for their care and sees the ideology of getting old a massive financial opportunity for the private sector and not a burden on the state.

If your Mother, Father, Sister, Brother gets a long term illness in the next 5 years the Conservatives will make them pay and will repossess the home they have bought and cherished with a lifetime of hard work and paying for.

If anyone you know in the next five years gets a disability, an incapacity, becomes homeless, needs to flee domestic violence and abuse or just simply gets old they are in dire straits indeed with the LHA Maxima Cap policy of the Conservatives.

This is the policy you have never been told about except in obscure blogs such as this: Indeed it was the reason I first started blogging when the Conservatives first raised the policy in July 2011 and despite being almost 6 years old it has received no coverage in the mainstream national media.

You would have thought issues such as you will have to put Mum into a care home as there is no sheltered housing or any female you know will not be able to find a domestic violence and abuse refuge or there will be far more people homeless including children would have been issue worthy of discussion in the national media.

Yet obviously not! The Conservatives know and use well that electoral truism of never underestimate the naivety of the voter and never more so than with their six year old LHA Maxima Cap policy!

How Tory and inept is the social housing sector? … Very!!

How can the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and all other social housing umbrella groups who all claim to speak with all politicians have missed that the Labour Party manifesto will get rid of the Tories LHA Maxima cap policy that will close all supported housing including refuge, hostel and sheltered housing?

How can all the usual housing journalists also miss exactly the same thing?

How can all social landlords also miss the same thing and all of the policy officers, policy analysts and business planners and strategist also miss this?

It either describes incompetence or a knowledge of but deliberate choice not to mention, which is the same as political bias or a combination of these.  Yet there is no doubt that the housing ‘sector’ have not commented on this at all.

A question that flows from this is also how incompetent is John Healey who as Labour’s Housing Minister has not told all housing actors that Labour will save supported housing whereas the Tories will close it due to the offensive LHA Maxima Cap policy?

For a sector that is more and more focusing on holistic joined-up policy with health and social care partners in order to uprate the importance of housing – which it should have done but hasn’t done for decades – such as sheltered housing with regard to hospital admissions and bed blocking in the NHS the non consideration and non-awareness that Labour will get rid of the LHA Maxima policy is ineptitude writ large.

It is true only a minority of social landlords have significant supported housing / supported living exposure yet a great many have exposure to sheltered housing in all its forms and some are exposed to the LHA Maxima Cap policy with their general needs stock too in low rent areas, which also sees the back door bedroom tax for pensioners even those who are fully occupying hit by the policy as I have detailed previously.

This significant policy affects the politically deserving and undeserving which has always been reflected in social landlord priorities too with the sector going out of its way to bend over backwards for deserving sheltered tenants and domestic abuse provision and a come-day go-day apathy for undeserving client groups such as young single homeless and other NIMBY cases … yet this getting rid of the Tory LHA Maxima cap policy affects the aforementioned deserving sheltered housing provision in much greater numbers and has simply been MISSED by the incompetence of the sector!

Thinking that Labour has no chance of office maybe explanation but it can never be excuse for such incompetence and oversight and the fact that Labour could form a majority coalition with around 270 seats (with SNP support) or even 255 or so with Lib Dem and SNP minority partners is not far-fetched at all given the latest opinion polls.

The Labour manifesto said at p64 that

And the mini-housing manifesto doubly confirms:

Why has the sector leaders, who I regularly refer to mockingly as the ‘great and the good’ NOT been aware of this Labour Party policy. It is quite clear that Labour has canvassed and spoken with all actors about the LHA Maxima cap policy in saying “…charities, housing associations and councils all say will lead to the closure(s)….” yet there has been not one word coming from NHF, CIH or anyone else including the housing media and its ‘great and good’ commentariat either!

All the usual suspects have been deafening in their silence!

I do’t need to draft yet another post that the social housing sector is not social at all, that is had no social purpose and it cares little about its customer in the tenant.  The facts speak for themselves on that.  Neither do I need to restate that is a corporate stance of the sector and doesn’t reflect the vast majority of views of housing professionals working within the sector.  Nor do I have to correctly state this reveals that the influence of tenants groups in the sector is woeful.

Yesterday I posted why it is a no brainer for all social tenants to vote Labour as it is in their best interests by a country mile AND it is also hugely in the best interests of all 8 million private tenants too, which it is.  The Labour Party policy on housing is vastly in the best interests of around 14 million renters who are voters … now think just how much rented housing would jump up the political agenda if only tenants knew that and if only social landlord s promoted that!!!

It is also greatly in the best interests of anyone renting and saving for a mortgage deposit too!  Yet despite all of that this election like all preceding general elections we have seen rented housing be yet again a non issue, one that scarcely got any mention at all in TV debates or in the national media … yet tenants are a huge latent electorate force that social landlords once again ignore in their myopic stupidity and deluded views of self-importance.

Tenants are voters and far more powerful than even a united housing sector would be yet the great and good of the sector ignore once again …

Plus ca change!

 

Affected by the Housing Crisis? Here’s why you must vote Labour

Social housing tenants need to vote Labour on Thursday, that’s ALL circa six million or so social tenants, and because it is in their best interests to do so.  No need for any political bias as its a no brainer in every possible way as I detail here

It is also in the best interests of every privately renting tenant and in the best interests of anyone saving for a mortgage deposit and in the best interest of every social landlord to vote Labour.  Again the facts clearly show this.

Labour housing policy in its manifesto makes all the above statements a no brainer for any tenant. Among many other housing and housing-related policies in the manifesto Labour promise:

  • The bedroom tax is gone and will be ended by July.
  • The LHA maxima cap is history and thus hostels, refuges and sheltered will not close as they will under Conservative plans
  • More new housing is promised than the Conservatives in overall numbers
  • Much more social housing makes it cheaper to rent and easier and quicker to save for a mortgage deposit and more can move away from much higher private rents and no letting agent fees too.
  • Labour promise social housing at social rent levels while the Tories reneged and did a U-turn on this which sees £4000 more in rent for ‘affordable (sic) rent’ on average in London and £4000 less per year of saving for a mortgage deposit.

As always I evidence my analysis with facts and the facts are there in the manifesto and the Conservatives and Theresa May herself duped the electorate, the Financial Times, the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing and others and then did a U-turn by first promising ‘social rent’ which has a London average of £112 per week and then said they meant ‘affordable rent’ which averages £187 per week and £4000 more in rent and /or Housing Benefit ‘welfare’ per year.

The Details

Bedroom Tax – is a longstanding commitment to abandon (p58) and can be done by issuing a Statutory Instrument (SI) to repeal it that gives 28 days notice. This is what the Tories did to repeal the pre 1996 loophole and cock-up in early 2014 and needs no further comment.

LHA Maxima Cap – is abandoned on page 64 and very surprisingly has been missed by the entire housing sector.  All of the policy analysts, policy officers, and commentators have simply NOT read Labour’s manifesto which makes it clear when it says:

“We will also take action to tackle the root causes of homelessness, including safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing from crude Conservative cuts to housing benefit.”

More housing units – I detailed this here and we see the Conservatives promising over 25,000 fewer new housing numbers than Labour promises.

Type of housing – Labour policy has been very clear that of the 200,000 new homes per year that there will be half -100,000 – being social housing.  They also state significantly that they will allow local councils to borrow against their assets to build in the manifesto and that policy is exactly the same as the Daily Telegraph wanted!

Strange bedfellows indeed yet more importantly it means:

  • more chance of existing and new private renters getting social housing,and
  • saving more and more quickly for a deposit, and
  • no payments of letting fees and …

… All the many more benefits social housing provides which the social housing sector have never sold to the public in their collective idiocy for at least thirty five years!  Paying less in rent also of course means a much greater incentive to take up employment as you have to earn less to afford, just another obvious factor social housing has never sold to the public and especially the electorate.

Tory U-turn on ‘social rent’ to ‘affordable rent’

The Conservatives and Theresa May personally said in an announcement in early May they will have many more houses at “social rent” as she did here 

“That’s why we will fix the broken housing market and support local authorities and housing associations to build a new generation of council homes right across the country. Giving tenants a new right to buy these homes when they go on the market will help thousands of people get on the first rung of the housing ladder, and fixed terms will make sure money is re-invested so we have a constant supply of new homes for social rent.”

Even the Financial Times were duped into believing the policy would be for social rent and indeed so was the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing Gavin Smart in this article from 15 May

The Conservatives also promise new “fixed-term social houses”, which would be sold on after 10 to 15 years of being leased out at social rents, with tenants having the first option to buy. Mr Smart said that proceeds of these sales should be fully committed back into new housing, unlike those of the existing Right to Buy programme.

Yet a few days ago on 2 June and two weeks after the Conservatives has promised “social rent” Gavin Barwell the last Housing Minister said this:

A “new generation of homes for social rent” promised by the Conservatives will be at affordable rent levels which can be up to 80% of the market rate, the housing minister has admitted. …. Asked if the new homes would be let at “low level council rents”, he replied: “No, I think the idea is that they are what you’d call affordable rents in housing terminology, but they are social housing.

The difference is staggering in rent terms between “social rent” and “affordable rent” as the official DCLG figures show:

The average social rent in London is £112 per week yet the average affordable rent is £187 per week and £75 per week higher.  This is almsost £4000 per year more in rent and either £4000 more paid by the tenant or £4000 per year more paid in Housing Benefit.

The average social rent in the regions is £83 compare with £114 per week in affordable (sic) rent and 38% more which again is more for the tenant or the Housing Benefit bill to pay.

The difference when extrapolated to the promised numbers of new housing is around £400 million more paid in rent per year and around £340 million of that paid by Housing Benefit.

Over a parliament that is a £2 billion hike in rents and a further £1.7 billion on the ‘welfare’ bill through increased Housing Benefit which means the Conservatives need to either tax £1.7 billion more or have an additional £1.7 billion of cuts to pay for the increased Housing Benefit bill.  These are significant amounts!

Social landlords would also benefit significantly from the removal of the bedroom tax and the abandonment of the LHA Maxima policy as they would from the reinstatement of the £30 per week cut to ESA WRAG recipients and from their tenants no longer having to go through the fundamentally flawed assessment process for disability benefits which not only is a premeditated sham, it costs around £160 million more per year to administer than from the ‘savings’ it creates.

Social landlords and social tenants would also benefit from the £10 per hour minimum wage pledge which reduces Working Tax Credit yet increases Housing Benefit and overall leaves the tenant better off and the Treasury better off and the taxpayer better off too – I did a detailed example of it here to prove the point with those pesky facts called numbers!

Conclusion

The benefits for all tenants in both sectors involved and affected by the Housing Crisis (in reality many housing crises that impact differently inter and intra-regionally and in many case vary even within any local authority.

There are 4.3 million or so social rented households which means at a cautiously low figure some 6 million eligible voters in social housing alone. Those 6 million will include adult children who can’t get on in life due to high private rents and the removal of Housing Benefit for the under 22s is just another Tory policy that Labour will remove.

Existing social tenants, their children and grandchildren too, will be better off with Labour.  The existing private tenant will have more choice and at a greatly reduced cost and therefore all will be able to save for a deposit more and mire quickly.

Those who rent will be so much better off with Labour’s housing policy and if we do vote for what is in our own best interests, which is entirely reasonable and logical, then at least 6 million renters should vote Labour as they would be a fool not to.  Housing costs are typically the highest expenditure item we have and if they are going to fall (through increased supply and moving from PRS to SRS) and enable those who rent to save a deposit a quicker route up the housing ladder then it is madness for the renter not to vote Labour.

If renters voted for Labour and/or against the Conservatives in their area then 6 million or votes for Labour either directly or indirectly would happen … and every renter existing and prospective and every aspiring home owner saving for a deposit would benefit and we would much much quicker take home ownership rates back up to their peak of 71% (under Labour in 2004) and up from their now 64% under the Conservatives … a policy of greater home ownership (rightly or wrongly) is what both Labour and the Conservatives seek and the best way for that to happen is to vote Labour this Thursday.

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The Labour manifesto has its faults and scandalous omissions for example it says absolutely nothing on the overall benefit cap policy and if they do get into power (which they can with 276 seats and if the SNP retain their 50 in Scotland so not far-fetched at all) then rest assured I will be as critical of them as I have been with the hopefully last Tory lot!