Err, yes love, yes

Utopian thinking: Free housing should be a universal right

Whut?

Just think for a moment what the state of play might be if Britain was a place with free state housing for all.

Err,

New housing inherited by the government from the deceased, or those moving elsewhere, would be allocated to an annually defined number of people from outside communities.

Don’t these people ever look at the world around them?

We’ve actually tried this system. Multiple times in fact. Just go and look at any East European or other ex-Soviet city. Wander around the vertical slums of the panelaki, Khrushyovka. The report back to us on the government provision and allocation of housing for all.

Fuckwits.

44 comments on “Err, yes love, yes

  1. or if their housemates decide to move out and new ones haven’t been found.

    What she’s really alluding to here is empty nesters who selfishly still live in the family home of 40 years rather than downsize to some one bedroom hovel.

  2. I think that what we need is more fairness. Specifically people who do not recognise my human rights cannot expect me to recognise theirs.

    That is, she can try to take everyone’s home. We can summarily blow her brains out. Seems fair to me.

    Less visible forms of homelessness can also be life-limiting. Hostel living can feel like a life as a character in a play, moving from one claustrophobic, impersonal set to another. In council housing, you might end up with a person you don’t know rewriting the script, too. That person can ship you out of your local area at a moments’ notice, uproot your children from their schools, take you away from your job – and from your friends, family and local connections.

    Yes. Of course. Living in a Hostel is horrible. So …. the solution it to make everyone live in a hostel provided by the government where you could be shipped out at a moment’s notice, with your children uprooted from their schools etc etc?

    Do tell. I am sure we are all very interested how that would work.

  3. I worked in Social Housing for a decade.

    The issue isn’t really the amount of housing, it’s the allocation. That’s compounded by the tendency of government bodies to decide that they need to be more involved and do more stuff rather than less.

    There is one little problem with any housing provider deciding to utilise their assets at a sub-market rate- it increases scarcity in the free market part.

    Social housing comprises a third of the housing in the U.K.- if we abolished social housing and just gifted the homes to the tenants, the market would sort out the allocation problem quickly enough, and house building (at a much reduced level) would address the remaining undersupply.

    The issue around allocation in the social sector is that the incentives to downsize from a (e.g.) three bed to a one bed are far lower than they need to be to get the old dears to shift. When they own their place and that incentive is 200k, all of a sudden they move- most RSL’s only offer £500 and help shifting furniture. It’d also solve the social care issue- granny would be able to pay for whatever she needs.

  4. — “Don’t these people ever look at the world around them? We’ve actually tried this system.”

    Yes but I think The Guardian has made special provision for the saboteurs and the Kulaks this time, so it’ll be different.

  5. Actually- I just checked my figures, social housing is around 25% of the total stock, depending upon how you class tenure (some organisations lump certain kinds of leasehold in OO, and other kinds in rental)

  6. Was this not the idea from the 50’s that council housing would be so Super Great that most people would *want* to live in it and it would basically expand to become the majority of housing?

    Progress, comrades!

  7. In fairness, Poppy did manage to get one thing correct:

    You might find some of the arguments flawed

    Tomsmith

    In my experience, it’s usually stupid “or” dishonest, but you could be right.

  8. Looking at the author I doubt she would know the real world if she was kidnapped and forced to ‘star’ in a recruiting video for Islamic State by it.

    However, this is the policy of certain opposition think tanks – forced purchase of All housing at substantial discounts to market prices and establishment of a ‘Central Housing Committee’ to allocate housing to favoured groups. What could possibly go wrong?

  9. @abacab

    “Was this not the idea from the 50’s that council housing would be so Super Great that most people would *want* to live in it and it would basically expand to become the majority of housing?”

    That thinking still exists in the sector. New entrants are told ‘it’s not housing for the poor, its an alternative form of tenure’.

    The deal (if you can bear to cede control of your home, albeit with good protection as a tenant) is a good one- Free repairs service when stuff breaks, new kitchens, heating, bathrooms, windows and re roofing when required (expecting a 15 year lifespan for the interior and 30 years for externals), gas safety checks once a year, emergency cover for plumbing, central heating and so on, bigger rooms, parking and a rent of gbp130 a week for a three bed. Oh, and in some cases your kids get to continue the tenancy after you die (esp if you are a council tenant, as opposed to a HA one). If a tenant can do this, each new home built is basically out of circulation for a century- which comes back to this allocation problem again

    We tried to find out what the value of these services were, so we could give a total value figure for a tenancy- problem is, no commercial organisation seem to do what HA’s do.

    I wonder why?

  10. The stupid runs deep with this one:

    Between 2007-2011, the government committed to spend approximately £1.162tn bailing out UK banks. In 2016, the government forecast that £1.4bn was needed to build 40,000 new homes. In other words, the sums hastily agreed to put right the wrongs of our financial industry could have built 33.2m houses – enough for just about everybody in the country. Why do we support the state giving out huge amounts to the super rich and irresponsible, but so ardently object to the idea of it being spent on us, the people?

    The government did not *spend* £1.162 trillion on the banking crisis. It *lent* it. It expects to get it back. Well the government says it will. Building the houses is not the problem. Getting the permissions – as TW often says – is.

    Above all, that money was not spent defending the rich and irresponsible. The stock holders in banks like HBOS lost all their money. The government was bailing out the average ordinary depositors of the banks. If they banks collapsed the people who had been saving would have lost their money. You know, ordinary people.

    How can a paper print something so, what is the word now?, false?

  11. Abacab: Council housing from that period was actually good quality construction. The problem as always was the tenants. When I were a lad I did Christmas posting, and one day my round was in Belfield, a council estate in Rochdale. Although I had lived near another Rochdale council estate when I was little, that visit to Belfield was an eye-opener. The amount of crap, rust and general rubbish was amazing. The rent collectors went around in pairs and I was glad to get out. I suppose a lot of those houses are now sold off and hopefully the status of the area has improved a bit. I’ve never been back to see though.

  12. John Square

    Isn’t a lot of this stuff (both revenue and capital) already subcontracted out in various parts to the private sector, or otherwise benchmarked (internally) using NHF SoR’s; so in that sense it is often commercially benchmarked?

    Ie, councils do the same as HAs in this context, and HRAs / ALMOs etc have lots of data / info?

  13. @Tractor Gent

    I worked in Rochdale for a fair while. It’s still shit. The Housing Association there isn’t bad, but you hit the nail on the head- tenants cause the problems. Not all, or even many of them, but the impact of a dodgy tenant in an otherwise good area is massive.

    I live in a lovely little Hampshire village now. There’s about 150 houses there, around 30 of which are social. There are two families who don’t treat the properties well, and as a result, the value of those properties at that end of that street are all 20-30k lower than those at the other end. Having a shit neighbour, in this instance, knocks 10% off yer house price

  14. “The government did not *spend* £1.162 trillion on the banking crisis. It *lent* it. It expects to get it back. Well the government says it will.”

    It needs repeating every time this old canard is trooped out – the total risk exposure at the height of the banking crisis was over £1tn, it was never more than £133bn in cash, and the current exposure is down to about £85bn, and that is expected to largely all be eventually recouped. The loss to the taxpayer is likely to be under £20bn, which while a lot of money, is 2-3% of what the State spends every single year.

    https://www.nao.org.uk/highlights/taxpayer-support-for-uk-banks-faqs/

  15. Just a thought that occurred. Suppose an individual is on benefits. And that individual has split up from their partner so their child no longer lives with them. And they have a two-bedroom flat. Of course they no longer need two bedrooms so it gets allocated to someone new. For that is the equivalent of Poopy’s “roommates moving out and new ones not yet found”.

    So that is her idea of Social Justice. Which is so.much more SOCIALLY JUST than simy reducing the housing benefit of the claimant who no longer needs the extra room, otherwise called the “Bedroom Tax”.

    Oh well done Poppy!!!!

  16. And there is her argument that the swathes of new flats in London have exacerbated the housing crisis. That’s right; building new homes has exacerbated the housing crisis.

    Oh very very very well done Poppy. There is a new progressive star rising in the Guardian’s columns; Polly Toynbee had better start looking over her shoulder.

  17. “we put limits on immigration so that the financial prosperity of our country falls mainly on those British-born”

    This, as a good thing, in a Guardian article! I thought people who believed this were racist bigots in Guardian-world.

  18. “New housing inherited by the government from the deceased, or those moving elsewhere”

    Err…. I use that property when I move elsewhere to pay for the elsewhere I’m moving to!

  19. @PF

    “Isn’t a lot of this stuff (both revenue and capital) already subcontracted out in various parts to the private sector, or otherwise benchmarked (internally) using NHF SoR’s; so in that sense it is often commercially benchmarked?”

    Generally speaking, HA’s contract out capital works, and revenue stuff is split between inhouse and outsourced, depending upon the size of the association.

    Smaller associations (1-4k homes) generally outsource, as they’ve not got the capability to run their own repairs service. Larger ones (supra-regional and National) too, and for the same reason- too hard for them to do a service that large at all well.

    Midsize (5-10k homes) often have their own repairs service, with their own staff, vans and stocks. Councils often have their own services, sometimes being run by a commercial partner on a fees basis.

    For that mid size tier VAT savings by having your own service often are greater than the efficiency gains generated by having a commercial group look after your repairs service.

    On the SoR’s used- NHF/NatFed v6 is the most common one, and for in-house services they provide the committed cost of repairs, with actuals used once the job is completed- they are basically the source for estimates.

    Where a service is outsourced, NatFed SoR’s form the basis for the commercial agreement, but actuals are often billed if the variance is more than (eg) 10%- depends how savvy the contracting customer is (!). Most oursourcing arrangements (in my experience) are more focused on service levels than costs, usually because that’s what HA’s are most likely to be criticised over (athough that was starting to change by 2014, when I stopped doing this kind of work).

    Are standard schedules of rates a good benchmark? Not sure about this- I looked at certain SoR’s and compared with the actuals and found big variations in some cases- possibly because housing stock often has only one kind of (eg) boiler, and the standard SoR numbers are averages across all types of boiler, so there’s a bigger variance than what happens in practice.

    In addition, irrespective of the service arrangements (in house/outsource) in place, custom SoR’s are very common- one HA I worked with had a grand total of 16 SoR’s, using those for estimates, and they varied 90% or repairs orders to get accurate actuals.

  20. @Ironman

    “Of course they no longer need two bedrooms so it gets allocated to someone new.”

    That’s the problem- it doesn’t. There are incentives to downsize (five hundred quid and a hand moving furniture), but most people who are under occupying don’t take them, as the utility value of the spare room is greater than the incentive to give it up.

  21. For context, on the subject of that £133bn in loans and the expected £20bn actual loss Jim pointed out:

    Googling “financial services tax contribution per year” gives total industry tax revenue (corp, PAYE etc) of about £70bn a year (about half of that looks to be from banking).

    You give me £5 a week, every week. After a few weeks, you tell me you’ve dropped a bollock: you desperately need me to lend you a tenner or the fivers stop. I do so. The £5 a week then continues, and you slowly pay back the tenner I lent; though it looks like I’ll not be getting £1.50 of it back. But I absolutely refuse to shut up about that bloody tenner!

  22. JS

    All makes good sense.

    I agree that individual SoRs can vary hugely but it’s usually a total quote (+/-%) in any case, hence swings and roundabouts. The +/-% is hence a genuine commercial response (yes, point taken about priorities / QoS & SLAs etc).

    “16 SORs”

    Or even “price per house” / no variations…

  23. PF

    16 SoR’s was the lowest no I had ever seen ‘working’. One London borough was trying 4- an hour’s labour for sparkies, brickies, carpenters and heating repairs folks, but that seemed destined to fail.

    People were looking at price per house, but only as a benchmark measuring investment (split capital vs responsive repairs). an SOR per room would probably have worked, if what you were interested in was time allocation rather than estimating your parts bill…

    My experience is that the best use for the data around cash spent on responsive repairs was as an indicator of the quality of tenant…

    (It’s been a fair few years since I thought about this stuff- I’m mildly alarmed I’ve retained so much of it….)

  24. Her photo made me realise that sometimes one can recognise stupidity in the features irrespective of race.

  25. oh- and remembering to answer your point:

    “I agree that individual SoRs can vary hugely but it’s usually a total quote (+/-%) in any case, hence swings and roundabouts. The +/-% is hence a genuine commercial response (yes, point taken about priorities / QoS & SLAs etc).”

    I’m not sure if people use them as a benchmark though- Thinking about it, they were viewed maily as a good way of simplifying and standardising the repairs ordering process. I don’t recall anyone doing anything else but adjusting the NF pricing to better match their observed medians. It was the structure, more than the specific costs that people liked, IIRC.

    Repairs services managers are a retrograde bunch, however, and it may be that saner heads are prevailing nowadays.

  26. John

    Interesting stuff..:)

    In the little that I helped a few of these a short while back, I think I experienced some slightly different outcomes (to the ones you describe), re quotes / basis of, etc, but it’s a large sector.

  27. In my experience, most tenants are “live and let live” type who you never see.

    Then you have 1 idiot who lets his dog foul everywhere, or dumps garbage because he is too lazy to call the council who would pick it up for free.

    If you’re not the type who goes round breaking idiots kneecaps, you soon realise that exactly no help is forthcoming from council or police unless you are persistent and present them with incontrovertible evidence.

    And the cherry on top is that their powers are actually very limited, which the idiots know and exploit, as the law is on their side.

    In the meantime, everyone else suffers.

  28. “In 2016, the government forecast that £1.4bn was needed to build 40,000 new homes.”
    The stupid bint must think you can build a new home for £35k. I hope Barratt/Persimmon/McCarty&Stone are racing to hire her.
    Seriously though, I think she is confused with the AHG ( affordable housing grants ) which are in that sort of price range.

  29. “Can I have a four bedroom house in Hampstead please?”

    No, those are reserved for senior party members, comrade.

  30. @PF

    Very possible thinking has changed since I was consulting there- approaches to repairs has always been a bit faddish: the death of right to repair also was interpreted differently, and I did most of my repairs work around the time that people were dealing with the Decent Homes legislation. My experience is firmly in the mid tier size range, and they were always a rum bunch- big enough to need proper systems and processes, but always falling short of real economies of scale.

  31. “No, those are reserved for senior party members, comrade.”

    Quite. And you are likely to face investigation for asking.

  32. “There is one little problem with any housing provider deciding to utilise their assets at a sub-market rate- it increases scarcity in the free market part. ”

    And whenever I point this out the solution is always to build more government houses.

    Whenever somebody expresses disbelief at London house prices I always mention that the ‘free float’ of housing stock, that is actually possible to buy and sell on the private market, is much lower than the actual number of residencies. Of the free float, the proportion of houses that most people would consider to be acceptable dwellings is even lower still.

    Have a council house next door. Current tenants are great. Polite and house trained, as it were. The previous ones kept to themselves mostly but were chavs. Then the elder son moved in – no doubt without permission. Then the new boyfriend seemed to stay there more often than not. Both of course had cars (one of which was a van) and were constantly blocking my car in (apparently the reason for this was ‘it is our driveway as well’, which is true, the point being that it was a driveway and not a parking spot.) Anyway they got kicked out eventually. I like to think my complaints to the housing association had something to do with it but in all likelihood it was because they mistreated the property.

    As was pointed out I think it is quite rare for people to be kicked out of their properties – I’m aware of many who could afford to rent privately but still live in their council houses, which seem to be passed down through the generations (which are about 15 years apart in this social class).

  33. @LPT

    Parking is consistently the biggest issue for social tenants. The bulk of the stock was built assuming one car per family (and one generation/family per house).

    All the spare income generated by the lower rent seems to get spent on cars- 4/5 car households aren’t unusual.

    And it is quite rare for people to be evicted, and as pointed out by Monoi, it’s hard to do. The culture is also against eviction- it’s seen as a failure on the part of the landlord.

    Many places have targets- one where I worked (where the HA was the primary social landlord in the LA area) had a target to evict no more than 12 a year, and that was across a stock of c8k homes.

    A cynic might point out that evictions are lots of hard work, and therefore it’s in the institutions interests to avoid them, but the truth is that it simply displaces a family back into emergency accommodation. Many hA’s also manage the emergency accommodation for the LA (who has the statutory responsibility to provide it) and in those cases it simply causes even more work for the HA.

    Even in cases where the HA has no responsibility for emergency accommodation, it sours the relationship with the LA, and that’s a relationship that is very important for most RSL’s, cos that’s where the cash comes from.

  34. Of and children succeeding their parents tenancy only usually happens in LA stock, and only on older tenancies. That practice has mostly dried up as availability for homes has dwindled, but that’s how you ended up with Bob Crowe living in one whilst earning 160k pa

  35. MrsBud and I live in a six bedroomed house although all the children have flown the coop. Occasionally MrsBud decamps to a spare bedroom, making the preposterous claim that whisky makes me snore. Whatever, we have a surplus of bedrooms and bathrooms. Presumably Poopy (thanks Ironman) would compulsory purchase (she’d probably prefer without compensation) all houses and transfer the likes of us to much smaller accommodation. Some bogans / chavs would get to live for free in our magnificent house overlooking the lower Whitsunday Islands while we would be forced into a single bedroom unit in the seedier part of town, a way for the likes of Poopy to punish us for having been part of the ‘inequality’ problem.

  36. @DocBud

    Naturally.

    The sensible thing to do is to give the properties currently lived in by social tenants to the tenants, and let the market sort the allocations problem out.

  37. John Square – “And it is quite rare for people to be evicted, and as pointed out by Monoi, it’s hard to do. The culture is also against eviction- it’s seen as a failure on the part of the landlord.”

    Which is a problem because it means that problem tenants are not penalised. We should have a rating system like Amazon’s that will show every landlord and everyone who has ever rented, and allow them to rate each other.

    Governments need to get out of the housing business once and for all. It was always a stage on the road to complete government ownership anyway on the Soviet model. So the Tories ought to force every government body to sell all their social housing.

  38. “So the Tories ought to force every government body to sell all their social housing.”

    Not only that. Housing benefit needs to cease. Plenty of privately owned rental housing, which I think technically includes some housing association stock, is occupied by ‘social tenants’, or ‘anti social tenants’ would be more apt.

    I don’t see why current houses should be given to the occupants. Seems deeply unfair to the ‘just about managing without benefits but still struggling’ group of people. Just raise the rent gradually over a couple of years (importantly period must not straddle an election) until it reaches market levels then give the occupiers the option of purchasing the flat at market prices.

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