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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #54

[Ben ReeveBen on a chair Lewis considers relocating to Scotland ..]

Stoopidity is my theme this week.

I have had a difficult time at work with interminable meetings that come to naught and criminal landlords getting away with nothing more than another get out of jail free card, of which I obviously cant speak, and take finger to keyboard (when did it stop being ‘Pen to paper’?) with a fair amount of frustration.

Trawling through my week’s reading I find myself alighting on the stories where insanity rules and muse, not for the first time, why we don’t put our politicians and senior managers in the stocks and throw cabbages at them.

ducking stoolI am storing up BBC4s Mediaeval Mind series to watch at the weekend and hope that I find some sort of common sense for dealing with policy makers that was de rigeur in the 14th century.

A ducking stool perhaps.  A Scold’s Bridle?

No HB for under 25s?

Nobody reading about housing issues this past week could have failed to notice the government’s stated plans to cut public expenditure by announcing that the latest area to draw their attention is the possibility that they might withdraw housing benefit for the under 25s. Covered in a number of publications, including Inside Housing

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, commenting on the subject said that if these cuts do end up being implemented then:-

“These people would have to be identified and supported in other ways, such as through council emergency accommodation services, which could increase administration and lead to higher costs”

Er, excuse me? Why are the council again being asked to foot the bill for cuts in benefits?

Do we have this fabled “Emergency accommodation”? No we don’t. Can we afford to procure and manage it? Not with viscous government cuts we can’t.  Its fantasy land.

The presumption seems to be that the under 25s can just stay at home being supported by their parents, who might well be trying to survive on funds denuded by incoming Universal Credit.

What about the under 25s who support their own families? Those in their own accommodation? Those who may not have parents that they can live with?

All this was prompted by the Treasury assessing that another £10 billion needs to be cut from the welfare benefits budget in order to keep the rich in their Tuscan Jacuzzis.

Stocktakers all

Have any of you seen the superb film ‘Jabberwocky’ with Michael Palin? There is a wonderful scene when his father is dying. Angry that his son knows nothing of the world other than accounting he grabs him, pulls him close and with his dying breath, spits with Contempt “STOCKTAKER”!!!

That’s what I feel like doing to Cameron. You don’t count Clegg he is just a sidekick, Walter Brennan to Camo’s John Wayne.

While politicians continue to indulge themselves in simplistic bean-counting people in the real world are seeing the bigger picture.

Homelessness and Health

24 Dash highlighted a report published this week called “Making it matter- Improving the health of young homeless people”  The result of a 3 year focus partnership between Depaul UK and Astrozeneka.  The report on how homelessness and health are intertwined was presented to government, Minister of State for Care services Paul Burstow who said;

“I very much welcome the research carried out by Depaul UK and AstraZeneca on the health of the young homeless population”.

Yeah Paul, welcome like a wasp in a car on a motorway. You can just picture the gritted teeth as the report arrived in his inbox. Another inconvenient truth to spoil his River Café lunch.

Why does it need a report to inform government that people’s health suffers when they are homeless?

Homelesslink’s Helen Mathie said in the same article:-

“Over 70% of homeless people have a mental or physical health problem. Issues that cost tax payers up to eight times more than the general population to address”.

The words ‘False Economy’ have never been so pertinent. When will government realise that cuts are impossible? You only push the true cost elsewhere.  [Very true, see also this article - Ed]

The trick is to monitor figures and publicise results in the areas where you impose the cuts, whilst at the same time not monitoring or recording the figures where the true cost is being pushed over to.

This gives the illusion of effective cuts whilst at the same time covering up the real picture. For us lot living day to day lives it is called ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’, not a sound, sustainable financial model.

High rents again

Rents in London have also been reported this week as being so high that the London PRS has become a separate animal from the rest of the UK, requiring different initiatives and solutions.

Hometrack, reported in 24 dash  warned that tenants have a limit beyond which they can’t go and that London rents are on that line right now.  The report said:

“Renters are more reliant on unsecured loans and borrowings where interest charges have risen in recent years. The net result is that renters are price sensitive and there is a maximum level to which they can afford to pay for rent versus other living costs.”

No news to London tenants like me but what is worrying is that the report suggests that people will have to resort to sharing accommodation in order to stay resident in the capital.

Now before you non Londoners get on your high horse and say we should move to less expensive areas bear in mind that London people like me don’t live here because it is fashionable and hip. We live here because we were born here, its our home. Its where our families live, where we work and went to school, just like Manchester for a Mancunian, Oxford for and Oxfordian, Stockport for a ………………?????

Yes I am angry today but I don’t want to be completely negative so I will end with an interesting development taking place in Scotland, again ably reported by Inside Housing (You really should follow their website if you want to keep on top of things).

Fed up waiting for Westminster to get its arse in gear about the PRS, the jocks have picked up the baton and are doing it themselves.  They have launched a consultation aimed at improving the lot of Hibernia’s 270,000 PRS tenants.

They have realised something that people who work in the PRS have known for some time and completely missed by Parliament, that to tackle conditions for all in the PRS you need to take into account housing, social services, education and Police.

The director of Shelter Scotland, Graeme Brown, said;

‘We welcome the proposed introduction of a simpler, more targeted regulatory system and believe that responsible landlords will rise to the challenge of regulation to raise standards. The consultation will also give a voice to tens of thousands of tenants who call the PRS home, and help to ensure their consumer rights are protected.’

Here’s a radical idea. Large swathes of Scotland want independence from England. Why don’t we join them?

Why don’t we all annex ourselves from England and declare ourselves Scottish at heart? The Scots don’t feel that Westminster represents their interests and frankly neither do I.

Hoots mon, it’s a braw, bricht moonlit nicht tha nicht!!!!!

Ben Reeve Lewis

Follow Ben on twitterBen’s runs  Home Saving Expert, where he shares his secrets on defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties,  catch up with him on Twitter and check out his free report “An Encouraging note on Dealing with your Mortgage Lender” and have it sent right to your inbox.

Ducking stool pic by sammydavisdog



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About the post author:

Ben Reeve-Lewis

Ben is an enforcement officer for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes for the Guardian & occasionally pops up wittering away on TV. He also runs Easy Law Training with Tessa & Graeme. Occasionally he sleeps. Find him on Google, and Journalisted. Any opinions expressed are Ben's personal views & don't reflect those of any organisations he may refer to.



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