[Ben Reeve Lewis has had a difficut fortnight …]
Its been a difficult fortnight.
Two Mondays ago Hector, our 18 month old Cocker Spaniel nutbag swallowed a piece of wood that got wedged in his gut.
He was in agony and had major abdominal surgery to remove it. £2,500 worth of vet bills later we finally have our little fella back to normal…..thank god for insurance but we are still about £700 in the hole with the excess.
I’ve never had a dog before but during this crisis I discovered the meaning of the phrase “A dog is for life, not for Xmas”.
Now he is back to chewing my socks (I don’t have a single pair without holes in) and sitting on the bed while you are trying to make it.
I seem to spend my whole life shouting “GET OFF, GET OFF” and “BACK, BACK”, in an increasingly and yet pointless way that has me laughing tears.
As a puppy class trainer said to me “Ben, if I said you are the source of the problem I’d be being kind”.
Success in Lambeth
But I reserve no such kindness for people who exploit other people and so I was pleased to read about the success of my mates in Lambeth council rogue landlord enforcement team (Obviously I wont name them) who got a sound result against Mr Gilbert Garrick.
Mr G had converted properties without planning permission and started renting them out. He got fined £30,000, was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £15,000 and a confiscation order for £382,000 was issued.
As usual the press article doesn’t go anywhere near explaining the real story and even I, as an ex-enforcement officer, was amazed at that result.
I couldn’t get hold of any of my contacts today to get the real scuttlebutt but there was obviously some other skulduggery going on there for a result like that. Although the article goes on to point out:
“Once paid, around a third of the £382,000 confiscation order will be handed to Lambeth council to fund further work in this area, with the rest going to the Home Office and the courts.”
Councils to keep the money?
Next week the Housing Bill 2015 will be published where it is proposed to let councils keep all of the fines.
Watch rogue landlord chasing turn into the ‘Glorious 12th’ if that comes off.
Much must surely be down to Lambeth council’s legal team there, which is a major surprise, given that most local authority legal teams show a risk aversion that would make Neville Chamberlain look like Evil Knievel.
The Millenial Generation
Ever heard of the Millenial Generation?
Nah me neither but it seems to be the next ‘Generation Rent’ tagline that someone is pushing on us. Courtesy of a press release by estate agents Benham Reeves.
According to BR a Millenial Generation is comprised of people who are:
“typically younger and more likely to be British. – deliberately choosing to rent rather than own a property as a lifestyle choice – do not view homeownership as a goal and recognise that they can often afford to rent a much better property than they can afford to buy “
Hmm. I don’t think I have ever met one of these but I’m sure they exist. BR told me so and I don’t think government are onto this either, being as they are so fixated on the idea that everyone desires to own their own home.
What I love about the Benham Reeves viewpoint is best expounded by lettings director Marc Von Grundherr who says:
“They’re simply not willing to scrimp and save for years to afford a deposit but prefer to ‘live for the moment”
Wow…..and all this time I presumed that PRS tenants were stuck there because they couldn’t afford to do anything else. I didn’t realise we are all ‘Living in the moment’.
So PRS tenants are essentially Buddhists. Thank god that is settled.
I could say Benham Reeves announcement is a pile of old cack but I’d be being kind.
Groucho Marx Challenge
Well you know me, I couldn’t ignore an article with the title “The Groucho Marx challenge for public services” could I?
New Start write of the Groucho Marx comment “I’ve had a good experience….but that wasn’t it” in relation to a survey which reveals that 76% of respondents to an Ipsos Mori poll felt that the way public service operatives treat you is every bit as important as the service they provide.
Having spent most of my life in local authority housing and homelessness advice services I can freely own up that attitude is patchy. There are some brilliant people who go the extra mile at all times. I like to think I was one of those and there are those who are only in it for the magic middle of the month when so many get paid.
However it has to be said that even saints have an off day and when the job entails sorting out problem after problem after problem even the best need a day off if the smile isn’t to fix into a rictus grin.
The article’s author Henry Kippin points out:
“Public services must face up to the Groucho Marx challenge in the context of massive cuts and sustained social demand (£14.5bn supply and demand gap by 2025 by our last count, but let’s wait for the CSR for an update). Add in a national political narrative that is still trying to work out whether the state is a force for productive good or the root of all dependency, and we are at a curious staging post.”
Yes indeed Henry.
No name, no pack drill …
As mad as it sounds I remember back in the early 1990s when Lewisham council first suggested staff where name badges we nearly all went out on strike. The prevailing wisdom being “YOU MEAN TELL THEM WHO WE ARE?…………….HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND????”
Sounds crazy now but the concern at that time was for safety which is fair enough. Housing officers in one local authority I know had to be bussed to the tube station from the estate office every day because attacks were so rife.
A word of advice from one of those who delivered good service. If you need to ring your support worker/housing officer/case worker don’t do it at 9am, particularly on a Monday. Likelihood is they wont answer it.
You just know that whoever is on the other end of the phone has been stewing all night or weekend, waiting for the second hand on the kitchen clock to reach 9am.
Would you want to begin your day with a phone call like that?
What made me smile this week
Frankly one of the most bizarre news stories I have seen for some time.
A passer by in Sweden spotted a large group of bearded men acting suspiciously under a black flag and called the terrorist police who duly attended armed to the hilt only to find it was a meeting of Swedish beard fans.
Founder member of the ‘Bearded villains’ Andreas Fransson said:
“The police saw of course that we weren’t terrorists, just very happy and nice bearded gentlemen,”
You couldn’t make this sort of thing up.
See ya next week.