[Ben Reeve Lewis stands back and watches it happen …]
I was in lovely Cambridge yesterday, training the council’s housing advice and homelessness service on the Deregulation Act changes, the Right to Rent, unwinding tenancies and the implications of the forthcoming Housing Bill.
Another day, another dollar for me except it wasn’t.
I was actually sweating half an hour in from the effort of fielding some very astute questions from seasoned housing pros about how this would work, how that would work and ‘Doesn’t this mean?’ etc.
All correctly asked and a sign of how mad it is all going to get as, the slack wording and half arsed concepts start to rub up against real life.
I knew from the get go and warned the group that my answers would be a lot of ‘Best guesses at the present time’.
Walking from the station to the council offices you are immediately aware of the variety of races, religions and creeds that probably exceeds London’s as they moved twixt buildings and sessions and as one course delegate raised, most of them live in Cambridge, renting from local landlords, pondering how the right to rent might affect them if landlords are understandably fearful of renting to the wrong person.
I, like many others stand and watch it all unfold with a mixture of awe and apprehension and I confess, more than a little amusement.
To the news:
‘Cheap’ starter homes …
The out of touch idea of the week award goes to Camo and Osborne with their announcement that they are going to be building 200,000 starter homes by 2020 to boost home ownership at 20% discount on the market sale price.
Don’t get hung up on the percentage there, look instead to the market sale price. Shelter point out that even with the discount 98% of the country on Osborne’s ‘Living Wage’ will still be unable to get a look in.
By looking at local average wages and local average house prices Shelter also suggest that even middle income earner will struggle in many parts of the country and that the scheme will really only benefit higher earners.
So far, so Cameron.
24 Dash covered a lot of ground on the comments front regarding Cameron’s speech in relation to solving the housing crisis
Mike Brogan the Chief Exec of developers Procure Plus, who you would have expected Cameron to be keeping happy said:
“looking back on what was said, I’m feeling distinctly underwhelmed.”
“The reform also doesn’t give developers any incentive to build. While before developers could complete part of a site quickly by selling units off in bulk to RPs, they now have to sell each home separately, and at a 20 per cent discount to those aged under 40 – two reasons which are likely to prevent housebuilders from breaking ground in the first place.”
Poor little lamb.
There’s one less contributor to the party for the next election campaign, and consequently, maybe even sadly we will never hear the phrase “Arise Sir Mike Brogan”
The other side of the coin
But 24 Dash again point to the other side of the coin who are also underwhelmed where head of Unite union Len McCluskey said:
“David Cameron’s legacy will be felt all too acutely by those workers earning a low wage or in insecure work who will be shut out from his housing “.
If all it takes to be Prime Minister is the ability to propose a solution that pisses everybody off then I could do that.
Up until now I always thought the job was trying to keep everyone happy whilst actually doing very little. It appears I’ve been misinformed and was born to the job.
Anyway, for a reasoned analysis, quite frankly there are too many numbers and percentages floating about in this for my remedial level of maths to cope. I’ve already had to stop and make a cup of tea and its only been a few paragraphs.
Let me get onto the weirder stories before my head explodes.
New direction for One Direction singer
Harry Styles, he of boy band ‘One Direction’ has announced that when his singing career is over he wants to become an estate agent.
Reported on Property Industry Eye Harry seems to have discovered irony in estate agents blurbs when he says:-
“I like the little ones (houses) because then you throw in ‘It’s romantic’ which means it’s tiny, while ‘It’s cute’ means it has a window.”
Note that I am presuming that he has discovered irony. If he hasn’t then that is a frightening sentence that may simply mean he has discovered the secret to being an agent.
Droll or scary? As they say on Big Brother “You decide”.
Deal or no deal?
Jules Birch is always a reliable companion on a search through the week’s housing news and he ably reported his views on the National Housing Federation’s capitulation to government, backed by the G15 housing association group from London on the forced right to buy.
In case you missed it the NHF, backed by a unanimous G15 offered to agree to the new RTB if it becomes a voluntary affair, on the basis that if they can’t offer a sop it will get imposed anyway and that will be the end of many housing associations.
A none too stupid retort given the quote of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark:
“‘I’ll be completely candid, there are some who say that to achieve the transformation we need requires a fresh start – that the housing association sector has taken us so far but might not be the right partner for the future…That for the transformation in housing we seek we should look elsewhere. To councils through the devolution agenda, to private developers, to our own agencies in government and to new entities.”
Jules says this whole affair reminds him of the horse’s head in the bed scene in the Godfather:
“Vote No to the ‘voluntary’ deal on the Right to Buy and you may not wake up in bed next to the head of your favourite horse but you will be inviting Osborne to do his worst in the spending review in November.”
But to me it reminds me of a lesser known but equally chilling scene in Angel Heart, where Robert de Niro’s devil is eating Mickey Rourke’s soul in the form of a hard boiled egg.
But then I’ve always been melodramatic, although Clark’s little comment in there does seem a less than veiled threat to the future of housing associations.
What made me smile this week
A Facebook thing I fell across where an American listed his impressions of England and the English only to be taken aback by how it went viral.
Some of the housing highlights:
- There are too many narrow stairs
- Refrigerators and washing machines are very small
- Everything is generally older, smaller and shorter
- People don’t seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government
- Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare
- Hot and cold water faucets. Remember them?
- The bathroom light is a string hanging from the ceiling
- Doors close by themselves, but they don’t always open
- The English are as crazy about their gardens as Americans are about cars
- The wall outlets all have switches, some don’t do anything
- The water controls in showers need detailed instructions
See ya next week