[Ben Reeve Lewis is not happy with his landlord this week …]
Sod’s law. At the first sign of the cold months of the year our gas boiler blew a circuit board on Saturday.
No time to get a replacement until Monday but the landlord began arguing with the agent about the costs of it, feeling the agent was ripping them off.
While they were arguing costs we, the rent paying tenants, were sitting with woolly hats on and having to take turns re-jigging our lives with Frazzy’s elderly mum about to be rushed in to hospital for a spine operation and taking it in turns waiting in for a heating engineer who may or may not turn up at any time depending on the feud between landlord and agent.
Not best pleased.
By the time it was done, Tuesday afternoon it, transpired that the landlord had saved £15, while we went 4 days without heating or hot water.
If I had the opportunity to hold my landlord’s head, roll up little balls of silver paper and push them into his fillings I would. We would have given him the £15 if it was that important to him.
Car key woes in Cardiff
The hassle compounded by me travelling to Cardiff on Tuesday to train some homeless workers for the Chartered Institute of Housing only to find, while I was 230 miles away, that I had mistakenly picked up Frazzy’s car keys when I left bleary eyed at 4am.
When I returned Frazzy rolled up little balls of silver paper and stuffed them in my fillings. It was a toss up as to whether it was me or our tight-fisted landlord who were the least popular men in her life.
B&B issues for Councils
It was interesting in Cardiff to hear the views of the Welsh homeless officers on a range of issues not least of which were their use of bed & breakfast accommodation for homeless families. Council’s are only supposed to use B&B in emergency and then only for 6 weeks, but the growing number of homeless applicants makes it an impossible rule to stick to.
Even for stalwart conservative councils like Westminster it appears as it was reported this week. Westminster fessed up that they had received 50% more homeless applications between April and September 2012 than the same period in 2011.
But where are they to go?
Labour councillor Paul Dimoldenburg said;
“When will the Government and Westminster Conservatives acknowledge that their housing and economic policies are not working?”
I agree with that sentiment but Cllr Dimoldeburg went on to say;
“It is simply not acceptable for the Council to continue to place homeless families in B&B accommodation for more than six weeks.”
Which is a comment I find a tad unrealistic. Most councils break this rule because of the rise in homeless applications coupled with the deities placed on local authorities to provide accommodation. Where the hell else are they supposed to put them, when the government and press criticise councils for also sending homeless people out of borough?
‘Close to’ is the new ‘far away’
In the same article I noticed a nice piece of political flim-flam by Conservative councillor Jonathon Glanz who said:
“We have ambitious plans in place to increase in and close-to borough supply”
Er Jonathon….isn’t ‘close to borough’ the same as ‘out of borough’? The question is “How close is close?”, one man’s tepid being another man’s luke warm – and all that.
Luff to join Wonga outrage
What caused me the most outrage this week, although it isn’t directly housing related, was the news in the Independent that Cameron’s adviser Jonathon Luff had been offered a lucrative new job as government lobbyist for payday loansharks Wonga.
A few weeks back I reported on Alex Marsh’s article in which he accused government of commoditising the poor and if you need any further proof that this is going on Jonathon Luff is it.
Why should government even be talking to a payday loan company who are responsible for so much debt and misery? Let alone have one of their own in an advisory position? A company that has been criticised for charging 4,000% interest to people with nowhere else to turn.
A Wonga victim
I picked up a case last week of a lovely woman who got messed around by the DWP who lost her documents and mis-assesed her claim for months.
She was so terrified of not being able to pay the rent she turned to payday loans and ended up in debt to them and couldn’t pay the rent anyway, now she is facing repossession because of these parasites who are obviously now connected to the higher echelons of government.
Where are those little balls of silver paper when you want them?
Pilot scheme on benefit direct
Some of you may be aware that several social landlords are participating in a pilot scheme to see how payments of housing benefit going direct to tenants will work in practice when it comes in for real with Universal Credit.
You may recall that the government in it’s eagerness to show that it will work, published figures after just 1 week of the pilot pronouncing it to be a success because 80% of people paid on time.
But 80% is not a result, it’s a disaster and could bankrupt many social landlords.
The DWP promised to publish more detailed findings at the end of October, but instead they substituted the promised results from a survey of tenants views, not the much anticipated data.
Inside Housing picked up on this. The only figures we got were that in the opinions of tenants 54% thought they will be able to cope while 30% said they would need help.
Lord Fraud, once again making a bid to have himself declared the most arrogant man in Britain proclaimed this a success, saying:
‘These findings show most people on low incomes manage their money well and for most tenants the switch to universal credit will be straightforward.”
I remember once seeing John Cleese being interviewed on the South Bank Show and he was talking about politicians. He said:
“I’m not surprised that politicians come out with such rubbish but what astonishes me is why people don’t throw rocks at them”
My sentiments exactly.
Three little pigs
But to end on a lighter note than our lying, duplicitous backstabbing politicians I read over on Planet Property of how the 3 little pigs would fare in terms of getting mortgages for the different houses.
They found that although the straw house offered better insulation the brick house came out tops:
“Piggy Three’s wolf-proof structure, was also the cheapest, if least stylish option”.
It may be wolf proof but is it Freud proof? I very much doubt anything is Freud proof apart from earning £100,000 a year, nobody else is safe.
Ben Reeve Lewis