[Ben Reeve Lewis is Back for the New Year ...]
Happy New Year one and all.
As usual I still have enough cheese and ham left over from Xmas to start my own food bank but it should all be gone by the end of the weekend…….with the help of the dog.
The Turkey was a dry, tasteless disaster area as usual. I don’t know why I let people talk me out of Goose every year.
People love to keep the traditions flying and at the mere tentative mention of possibly not having a Turkey everyone looks sorely disappointed, even though they all know that the Boxing Day curry is, in reality the best you can do with the hideous bird.
I went Caribbean on its ass this year, including the stuffing balls but even the spices couldn’t disguise it.
Having had time off from writing Newsround I rolled up my sleeves to see what minimal stuff has been happening in renting land while I was swanning around in my new pyjamas quaffing Port.
Shelter are optimistic
It turns out that for once Shelter are fairly optimistic about 2015 citing the fact that housing is fast becoming a key election issue at last and that according to pollsters housing is among the top 5 issues of concern to the public.
A figure immediately contradicted by the latest Ipsos Mori Poll which put housing at number 11 in the interests of the general public.
The rest of the article is about bigging-up the success of their various campaigns:
“While we’re still a long way from ending our housing crisis, Shelter, our supporters and partners can be very proud of important progress in 2014, which forms a strong base for us to build on as we head into the 2015 election – and beyond.”
But there you go. Campaigning is what they do well, even if I don’t always agree with all of them. I know they aren’t ever on most landlord’s Xmas card list but housing life for many on the rougher end of the stick would be a lot worse without them.
But before we get too celebratory, lets also acknowledge recent figures from Xmas that 87,420 children spent the festive period in homelessness temporary accommodation
These are Labour’s figures mind. I’m sure that the Con-Dems will come back with some knee jerk counter argument that this was 87,000 less than under Labour and therefore represents a 1,000% decrease in real terms.
Why is it that whenever a political party announces some sort of figure that makes the other look bad they produce statistics and arguments that basically amount to no more than simply denying it?
Remember the ‘Argument sketch’ from Monty Python?
“-But this isn’t an argument, this is merely contradiction.
-No it isn’t
-Yes it is”.
If you read the piece in inside Housing they refer to the amount of homeless families in Bed and Breakfast accommodation illegally, because the law states families must not be in B&B for longer than 6 weeks.
The Finger of Shame
Saying that councils are breaking the law makes it sound like a deliberate act but the fact is, social housing has all been sold off, a huge portion of it now in the hands of private landlords and in areas of high demand and benefit capping the local authorities find it nigh on impossible to entice private landlords to offer up accommodation cheaper than they could rent it on the open market.
So homelessness units simply have nowhere to put these families and their 87,420 children.
Point the finger of blame and shame where it should pointed, at politicians not councils.
The social problem it really is
Local authorities already bend over backwards to keep homelessness figures down through gatekeeping. If they deserve any criticism in acting unlawfully it should be for not meeting the real problem head in their refusal to stand up to the hucksters in Westminster for fear of being branded incompetent by people for whom the word ‘Incompetent ‘was invented.
If all councils refused to indulge in gatekeeping the true homelessness figures would sit at the feet of the cabinet like the festering dog’s turd of a social problem it actually is.
Nobody likes a fall from arrogant grace than I and my well developed sense of Schadenfreude was sated in reading of the disastrous collapse of letting agent Janine Pickett who was jailed for three years for nicking £375,000 from landlords and tenants alike
She spent the money on a BMW, Mediterranean cruises, holidays in France and America and more bizarrely Welsh Ponies.
I recently had the pleasure of raiding a property owned by an imprisoned gangster who the attendant police informed me owned 14 race horses and 4 Jamaican mansions.
How much more classy is that? Welsh Ponies my arse.
I’ll bet she also spent a fair amount of the embezzled funds on nick-naks of Dragons holding pieces of crystal, or a collection of small, chunky ceramic cottages.
Housing Offences – the faulty map
Landlordzone gave us details of what they refer to as:
“A new on-line resource will collect names of rogue landlords and agents convicted of offences relating to their property businesses.”
Apparently the Ministry of Justice have been forced by the Information Commissioner to make public the names of all property firms that have been prosecuted for housing offences.
Obviously this is of great interest to me as an enforcement officer but looking at the map of prosecutions they all seem to be based in the North West, with London having only 2 prosecutions across the entire capital.
Either the map is faulty or only in its early stages.
The newly incorporated Rental Raters looks a far more promising initiative for renters, where ex tenants can leave messages about landlords and properties by actual address.
You could be forgiven for thinking this could be a complaints fest but it isn’t actually. There seem to be as many good comments as bad. It works effectively like a ‘Guest Book’ in a B&B or holiday cottage and to my mind has an encouraging future if it gets widely known.
For my part I am very fond of leaving surreal messages in Guest Books for others to read. Back in July we went to a wedding and stayed in a lovely place near Folkestone where I left the mysterious comment “I particularly enjoyed the topless camel racing”.
What made me smile this week
Having spent my entire life suffering the hell that is the London Underground I was mightily pleased to come across this website where a bunch of wags decided to make fake signs to stick over the real ones on the trains.
“No eye contact £200 fine”
“iPods must be worn at all times. If you don’t have an iPod then play with your phone, read a newspaper or pretend to be asleep”
And my personal favourite:
“Parents with children – walk on the left – Aren’t you wonderful taking little Hugo to the museums?”.
See ya next week.