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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday newsround #95

[Ben ReeveBen on a chair Lewis is worried about his retirement prospects...]

Life stages are weird aren’t they? We all go through times when our social life revolves around clubs, parties and general hedonistic mayhem.

In the next stage we start attending friend’s weddings, then it’s christenings, then their kids 15th and 18th birthday parties and then, their own kids christenings.

CakeFinally its more funerals than anything else but in between is the explosion of 40th, 50th and 60th birthday parties.

A comfortable place?

I’m in that comfortable place where the kids are no longer at the shindig, having moved onto their own hedonistic treadmill of one night stands and the dreadful embarrassed realisation that washes over them the next day as the alcohol slowly wears off and they blearily try to remember if the phone number they gave was theirs or the tried and trusted made up one.

Sorry is that just me?

The parents aren’t plugged into life support yet and everyone at the do has fun. Nobody is partying to pull, or sitting on the floor of the chill-out room tearfully questioning why they are putting up with their lying scumbag partner.

If life continues to get this good as we progress through it I’m looking forward to it.

Two steps forward or three steps back …

Frazzles and I went to a blast of a 60th last Saturday at the Motown Bar in Catford with the insane Gunter clan, dancing till 3am with 150 mad Jamaican party animals of all ages (even the pensioners getting down to ‘Stepping Razor’ by Pete Tosh) and after the bash I was even looking forward to retirement until I read the revelation on Planet Property  that there has been an increase in retirees looking for flat shares.

Shouldn’t that be back in the hedonistic phase? I did it then and had a wonderful time but I don’t want to be doing it now, let alone when I am 65.

As Planet Property point out:-

“One more thing to look forward to in old age: scribbling your name on your milk and sharing the loo with strangers.”

Apparently Easyroomate.com have twigged to the idea that retirees are forming a growing customer base. The article goes on to say:-

“Many of these retirees have equity locked in their homes which they need to access to boost their retirement income.

How terrifying is that??????? You thought arguing over who stole your Kit-Kat or trying to broach embarrassing conversations about loud, wee small hours sex sessions in the room next door to yours was a thing of the past.

Being of the Baby Boomer generation I always assumed my old age, like that of my parents, would be governed by well ordered pension plans, paid off mortgages and insurance policies. Now I am starting to realise that my retirement, that’s if I even get one, which is looking unlikely, will be more akin to Mad Max 4 than Werther’s Originals in the pocket of your cardy and a hacking cough.

Social housing organisations

Staying with issues of times gone past, I read with interest an article on 24 Dash about the value of social housing organisations.

There has been an increasing hostility across the nation towards social housing as an ethos. The government constantly using the word “Fairness” like a meditational mantra and being joined by many citizens who don’t see why they should be working their lives away to keep the cast of ‘Shameless’ in Special Brew and Skunk.

The Northern Housing Consortium have taken a different and very interesting angle on things, pointing out what hard benefits to the community come from the presence of a social landlord company.

Saving the taxpayer

For instance Stockport Homes employs 450 local people and supports a further 743 jobs directly, their mortgage assistance team helped 170 people in mortgage difficulty and prevented 51 families from losing their homes.

Do you realise how much that last one alone would have saved the taxpayer in rehousing costs? Just under 1 million pounds, using the conservative £18,000 average per family figure that is often quoted. Stockport Homes is only 1 housing association in the report.

Investing in the community

People commonly think of housing associations as mere recipients of taxpayer’s money, just cash drains.  Periodicals jumping on this bandwagon would do well to look at what the community is really getting for their money in wider terms, not just housing provision.

Inside Housing this week reported on the changing role of housing associations in moving more towards property development to improve the housing shortage.

Broadacres Housing Association in Yorkshire are set to become the majority shareholders in Mulberry Homes, who already have plans for a 1,000 home development near Thirsk, taking advantage of the HCA’s £3.5 million grant to kick start stalled building projects.

PriskGuess which party is building less affordable homes?

While we are on the subject of stalled building projects, the Guardian highlighted an interesting set of facts, that councils who are Tory led are building 30% fewer affordable homes than LibDem controlled councils and 40% less than Labour ones.

So who is taking the housing crisis more seriously?

Prisk and Cameron talk about housing being centre stage in the rebirth of the economy and yet there is still no housing secretary post in the cabinet and their councils are the worst performers in this respect.

Now as I keep saying on here, I have no political axe to grind. If Labour were in power and the same was going on I would reporting on that too. I just point to incompetence where I see it.

The PRS is more subsidised than social housing

At the tail end of last week, after Newsround #94 went to bed I caught up with Joe Halewood on SPeye  pointing out that in fact, of the two housing sectors the Private Rented Sector is more heavily subsidised by public money than social housing.

Joe says:-

“Hence we the taxpayer pay the additional amount of £2,174,660,514 per year more to private tenants in housing benefit than we pay to social tenants.”

There’s an interesting challenge to perspectives. Take him on at his argument if you want but bring your calculator. He is not a man to be messed with.

Zombie households

Finally I have noticed increasing references in the housing press to the term ‘Zombie households’. The ever compassionate Daily Mail describes them as:-

“These specimens of the financially undead are households unable to pay what they owe, even if interest rates stay where they are”.

Of course the rest of us would refer to them as people struggling to keep their families and homes together. Thank you Dan Atkinson of the Mail for this illuminating piece of smirking.

I hope to one-day represent you in court when your mortgage lender is seeking outright possession on less than £2,000 arrears, with £100,000 equity. Because that’s what is going on out there in the world mate.

Cake picture

About the author

Ben Reeve-Lewis Ben is a TRO for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes regularly 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.

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2 Responses to Ben Reeve Lewis Friday newsround #95

  1. HB welcome says:

    Don’t bother bringing a calculator.

    He has arrived at his conclusion by claiming that private HB tenants receive £25.20/week more than social HB tenants, therefore they cost more.

    He has not taken into account the cost to the social side for building, maintenance, administration, upgrades etc, etc.

    Quite frankly, it is nonsense.

  2. Rentergirl says:

    Elderly flatshares? Fat chance: the ‘elderly’ (ie anyone over 40!) are often rejected by PRS landlords. I was contacted by a desperate home-seeker who couldn’t find a place:
    http://rentergirl.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/my-advice-dont-grow-old.html




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