[Ben Reeve Lewis is neighbour watching as well as blog watching this week …]
Frazzy’s mum lives in their joint owner occupied house on the edge of Bromley, a very leafy and middle class area of South London.
The property next door, a nice corner plot 3 bed house built in the 1920s is still under Lewisham council and new tenants moved in 2 weeks ago. Nice quiet, polite people so I’m pleased for the Mum in law, she doesn’t want the cast of Shameless on her doorstep at her time of life.
I dropped her Sunday papers off at the weekend and smelled something wonderful cooking but it wasn’t me mum in law’s roast, it was the new neighbours in the back garden bent over a wood fire made from old palettes with a cooking pot precariously balanced on the top. Frazzy tells me they have been cooking that way every night, even in the rain and frost.
Can they just not afford a cooker or is this a post apocalyptic sign of the times?
My 22 year old daughter Thommo, is travelling for 6 months and is currently in Australia having a whale of a time. She doesn’t want to come back and is busting a gut to get work there. I don’t blame her, no recession, loads of sun the photos look like another world, a carefree 22 year old’s world.
What has she got to come back to? Unemployment, a rise in homelessness a government who cant seem to get a grip and people cooking on palette fires in their back gardens.
Beds in sheds
The Daily Mail this week reported on Greg Farkas of Oxford who advertised a shed for rent in his back garden, no gas, plumbing or electricity @ £450 month.
Mr Farkas cheekily advertised it as “Double room in a garden house” until the council got wind of it and advised him about a little thing called ‘Planning permission’.
Oxford Council board member Joe MacManners said:
‘You do hear anecdotally about people who rent out their sheds or make funny little extensions. It’s difficult to know the exact scale of it but it is not acceptable in the 21st century for people to be living in sheds.’
Are our leaders to blame?
Walk into any branch of Waterstones these days and look in the business section and you will see hundreds of titles written by the CEO’s of MacDonalds, Toshiba, Walmart etc, all espousing the same views that what goes on at the top trickles down to the bottom. The best, most successful CEO’s know this and lead by personal example, embodying the values and mission statements at the heart of today’s big players.
In the less successful companies the leaders don’t lead and this trickles down to the bottom too, so is our current situation of renting sheds and cooking in gardens resulting from the trickle down of our leader’s and their lack of coherent ideas?
Shapps’ little ideas
Shapps has ideas, sure but they all smack of desperation don’t they? It started with his daft houseboats idea and he has been slowly becoming a joke ever since.
The Telegraph gave Shapps a podium for his latest desperate idea to release homes for families by encouraging the elderly to downsize into smaller more suitable properties, leaving the council to rent out their old homes.
“With nearly a fifth of our population expected to be over 65 by 2020, radical and urgent change is needed to ensure the nation’s housing needs are met.”
Another good one? Or maybe …
His latest scheme was inspired by a pilot project that ran in Redbridge on the edge of East London. Shapps said of the project, called “FreeSpace”;
“They can live independently for longer and enjoy more disposable income without selling their home, and other families can benefit from living in an affordable home”.
What a fantastic idea wouldn’t you agree?………until you get behind the political flim-flam and look at the actual report.
I don’t claim any lead on this one, an excellent bit of whistle blowing was done by Joe Halewood on his blog “Speye – keeping an eye on supporting people” who did a bit of research on the report in it’s fullness and found it doesn’t paint a clear cut picture at all.
Shapps trots out FreeSpace’s ideas as a one size fits all scheme on a nationwide basis but Redbridge’s report actually states;
The pilot scheme is showing that ‘the devil is in the detail’ when it comes to implementing the scheme. Legalities around agreements and unusual financial situations, personal requirements of individuals and of course finding alternative accommodation for the owner all have to be addressed and are unique to each case.
The report acknowledges that circumstances in Redbridge are different to many other areas, with a high level of home ownership and the fact that it is not an inner city borough. It also comes with several case studies that hardly shine as completely satisfactory examples, some elderly taking advantage of the scheme having to be rehoused out of borough.
As with so many of the housing schemes we are being presented with they look great in the shop window but, like a 1980s Moscow department store you only have to go through the doors to find very little on the shelves.
And while Shapps has been busy putting chocolate sprinkles on a turd Cameron has been indulging in his own bit of desperation.
And so to Housing Benefit (again)
Announcing to Parliament that housing benefit cuts are proving to be a success in what they were designed to do, push down rents in the PRS.
This frankly astonishing piece of mis-information was not lost on anyone working in housing.
Inside Housing were one of the many publications to report on shadow housing minister Jack Dromey’s incensed reaction to the mendacious 6th form prefect’s claim Dromey said:
‘Either David Cameron was being deliberately misleading or he is clueless about the day-to-day struggle many families are facing in paying the bills.’
He has demanded an apology and a correction from the Prime Minister. This article will go to Tessa before Thursday’s parliament session so I don’t know what the fall out is at the time of writing.
Are government so desperate for good news that they have to make it up now?
And so to the irony. The other day Frazzles and I went shopping at Borough Market. For those non-London, Non-Foodie types among you, Borough market is a frighteningly expensive produce market on the edge of London Bridge where Jamie Oliver does his shopping. The quality of the produce and the range are astonishing but you need to take out a secured loan just to buy a single carrier bag’s worth of stuff.
I bought some Sardines (Cheap) as I’ve never cooked them before so was quite excited. I have a Sicilian recipe where they are grilled with raisins and lemons but Frazzy said she didn’t want the flat stinking of oily fish for weeks, a good point …. what to do?….. so I built a small fire in the back garden ……………………..
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben has started Home Saving Expert, to share his secrets to defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties and 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.