[Ben Reeve Lewis is going a bit deaf, I SAID, BEN REEVE LEWIS IS GOING A BIT DEAF ..]
I’m going deaf. Honestly. Every few years I had to have my ears syringed and was always amazed at the clarity that comes after the act. You can even hear the breeze rustling past your lug ‘oles and suddenly the volume of the TV where you turned it off last night is deafening.
I recently had them syringed again and was disappointed to notice little change.
Between working in homelessness night shelters and becoming a homelessness case worker I had a 3 year sojourn out of housing and became a professional bass guitarist. I’m the one in the white leather jacket who slowly morphs over the years into looking, as the Daily Mirror’s music reviewer said at the time, “Like a zombie Nazi”
It was a heavy metal outfit, not my favourite type of music but a pro job is a pro job. Trouble is I think that’s when I started to go deaf. Three years standing in front of a bank of towering Marshall stacks just trying to get over the sound of those bloody drums.
As a youth I would be chewed out by my parents for listening to The Clash, “Turn that racket down”.
On Saturday I got chewed out by Frazzy for having the radio in the kitchen too loud, I was listening to people talking quietly on ‘In Business’ on the radio. Is this how far I have come? Getting told to turn down Radio 4? All that’s left to me now are the Werthers originals, the spiky purple hair having long since retired.
But ‘In Business’ were running a fantastic piece about frugal innovation. No point me putting the link to the programme here it will be down by now but there is an article on it in Forbes Business Magazine last week
Frugal Innovation is also commonly known as ‘Jugaad’, a Hindi word meaning “Low cost fix-around” and is a new business model which looks at small scale local solutions that don’t require massive finance or input. Immediate localised solutions to pressing local problems, created by people in those communities who know best what needs to be done.
Cameron is a big fan and the Jugaad model is probably the inspiration for Localism.
I am enthusiastic about such front-line led ideas and an article title on 24 Dash titled, ‘What would you do if you were Grant Shapps? connected with my thoughts on Frugal Innovation.
What would you do if you were Schapps??
Of course my immediate thought upon reading “What would you do if you were Grant Shapps?” was that I could load the pistol before passing it to him to leave him alone in the study.
But then as I day-dreamed about my footsteps faltering down the corridor at the sound of the single shot (maybe 2, you couldn’t trust him to do anything right) I realised that all that would happen is that Cameron would simply replace him with a clone. A smiling new Tory prefect, all earnestness and just the right side of middle age.
Nothing would change because for politicians, politics is their career. Housing is mine and we see different solutions. For any politician, solutions will only be workable where they fit into the grand design of running the country as a whole. For people involved in housing we can see the solutions as obvious as anything, just sitting there waiting to be picked up.
This was the basis of the answers to the question in 24 Dash’s article, effectively looking for Jugaad in housing.
The 5 candidates responding to the question all displayed great awareness of how housing problems impact on communities and what to do about it.
Joanne Claridge of Stockport Homes talked of the false economy of cutting certain services that would normally be perceived as woolly, when she says:
“The evidence for wider multi-agency working is compelling as she cites that a typical family could cost in excess of £150,000 to support currently. “Getting in early and offering a keyworker service like Act Family costs as little as £16,000,”
Money well spent.
Trainee solicitor from Midland Heart housing association Hannah Boyd suggested creating separate housing courts to tackle specific problems with specialist staff and systems in place just for housing. This would she argues get around costly delays and adjournments and speed things up all round:-
“Constant adjournments and constant challenges and appeals is all using money that could be better spent in our communities. With a Housing Court, there’d be less people going to court and less legal action in the end.”
I heartily agree.
Staying with 24 Dash I read another excellent piece by Ross MacMillan who sat in on an inter-organsiational meeting in Sheffield on how the various housing concerns around the table will deal with bedroom tax when it comes in next year.
Bear in mind that social housing in the North consists largely of family homes and moving people to smaller properties, which they don’t have, to avoid the reductions from universal credit is going to be a major headache for the landlords and their tenants.
Halton Housing Trust’s Nick Atkin pointed up part of the problem when he said:-
“If we weren’t to re-house anybody else off our waiting list – and just re-house those under-occupying – it would take us seven years,”
Obviously during those 7 years everyone would be losing around £14 per week per bedroom from their already minimal budget. Rent arrears accrue and the housing organisation runs into deep trouble along with the tenants.
Steve Hepworth, the Operational Director of North Lincolnshire Homes added:-
“We’ve got around 3,900 three-bedroom properties – and 1,049 of those households are on benefit and under-occupying. Within those, a lot of them are parents with children. So if they want to move it’s a two-bedroom home they require. We’ve only got 49 two-bedroom houses”
The bit that really points up the nonsense of this is when Ross states:
“Equally challenging is the families who have different sex children under nine? The Department for Work and Pension’s plans state that these children would have to share a room, and thus the family would have to move to a smaller home, then potentially move again as the eldest child turns 10. The estimated £1,000 cost of moving – which some landlords are funding – is more than the annual cost those families would contribute if they stayed and lost benefit”.
This is the hard, front-line end of broad brush stroke policies to introduce a bedroom tax. Nice headline grabbing policy for a country stripped to the bone, a population cutting back on food to meet the new SVR mortgage rates with little patience for those who receive state handouts. A policy that neatly pours scorn on those under-occupying without taking into account the logistics of how it will work in practice.
The polar opposite of Jugaad and enough stupidity to make you weep don’t you think?
Maybe losing my hearing by the day is becoming a blessing. I wont have to listen to all that rubbish that our government spouts.
And as if that isnt bad enough, with my impending deafness in mind I also read that the price of hearing aids has doubled recently. All over the country outraged deaf people are saying “HOW MUCH?????”
Don’t blame me, the joke was there, it would have been rude not to pick it up.
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben’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.
Picture : the clash