[Ben Reeve Lewis is suffering from landlords revenge this week …]
Another crack in the wall?
Have you ever seen the Dambusters? Of course you have, its drummed into the English psyche, even if you hate it. The music that has sound-tracked a thousand Christmas dinners down the years.
The film tells the story of a bomber squadron in WW2 trying to knock down 3 dams in the Ruhr Valley. Conventional bombs couldn’t touch it so inventor Barnes Wallace designed a weapon specifically for the job.
Curiously, in the film Barnes Wallace’s home is a little cottage with roses around the door but his real house, which has a blue plaque on it is actually directly opposite New Cross bus depot, at the bottom of the Old Kent Road, amongst the drunks and the psychos, a far less salubrious plot.
Anyway, the idea being that the infamous ‘bouncing bomb’ would hit the dam and drift down a few hundred feet against the wall itself so that when it exploded it put a crack in the concrete and the force of the water pushed the thing down.
Following this week’s news stories I can see the cracks appearing in Mr Shapps’ dam, with the metaphorical bouncing bombs coming from a variety of directions.
I ended last week’s newsround by hoping that Jack Dromey would come out fighting in his new role of shadow housing minister and I have to say, the new boy done us proud.
The Wing Commander comes out fighting
Wing Commander Dromey entered the fray at zero feet above the lake with a stinging attack on how useless the Con-Dems have been in tackling the housing crisis following publication of a joint report published by the Chartered Institute of Housing, The National Housing Federation and Shelter, not normal bedfellows.
Wing Co Jack said of the report
“This is a damning (spot the link?) indictment of the Government’s failing housing policy and it just goes to show that like their economic policies, their housing policies are hurting but they’re certainly not working.
“The Government’s housing minister Grant Shapps should be ashamed by this report. He appears to be blissfully unaware that there is a housing crisis in this country, and he is making it worse not better. We need to build more homes so that everyone, not least our young people and families getting started in life, can find a decent place to live. Yet house building is plumbing a record low.”
Way to go Jack.
Traffic lights go against the government
The report, which can be found here rated 10 housing topics using a traffic light system and the overall result for the Government was a punishing ‘RED’! with only 1 single green light in 1 single category.
Now this wouldn’t be so surprising if it were a report written by Labour or even Shelter on it’s own, but the CIH and NHF tend to tread a more moderate line. So for them to jump in with a damning indictment it really is something.
Group Captain Hilary Benn then swung his mighty Wellington Bomber towards the dam with his own support for the report saying
“There is a housing crisis in the country, and the Government’s reckless economic policy is making it worse”.
Waiting for Shapps to DO something
I have to say we have been listening to Grant Shapps for some time now with his strangely woolly and occasionally downright daft ideas, like canal boats for the homeless, but so far not much has actually happened. Just as the country as a whole is getting wearied and a bit impatient for a change so those of us in the housing world are also waiting for something we can all nod in agreement with.
Even the house of Lords has been getting in on the act this week and dropping it’s own marker flares. Independent peer Lord Best teamed up with Baroness Thomas to vote against a 10% cut in HB for the most vulnerable, taking advice from Shelter, the CAB and others
The ‘Local Government’ website has also been reporting on private rental sector rents being ‘Out of control’ and unaffordable Shelter’s head, Pilot Officer Campbell Robb swinging his plane in and out of the searchlights urged government to do something to tackle a situation where tenants are having to cut down on food in order to meet escalating rents and unstable security.
More rent arrears repossessions being defended
One interesting side issue for this, reported in ‘Investor Today’ shows that there has been a rise in the amount of tenant’s defending their cases in court for rent arrears from a previous 9% last year to 13%, often with last minute defences being used to delay possession dates.
Online eviction specialists Landlord Action, who have been monitoring this sea-change also report that judges are cutting more slack for private tenants even on claims made under the notorious Ground 8 – mandatory possession where there are more than 2 months arrears. Courts being increasingly mindful of people’s parlous financial situations being made worse by the recession and the out of control private sector rents that Pilot Officer Robb is talking about.
Nearing breaking point now
And with the final sweep of the final plane even the Association of Residential Letting Agents has pronounced that the Private Rental Sector cannot shoulder the housing crisis on it’s own. The article says the sector is near ‘Breaking point’. President of ARLA Tim Hyatt saying
“The Government is doing little to encourage landlords to invest in new properties therefore we are running out of quality stock to offer to tenants. This is reflected in rent increases and a lack of choice for consumers”.
Ground troops on a variety of blogs such as this one have been saying all of the above for the past year but now it is being picked up by the big squadrons. As I have searched around for news articles in the previous 6 months I would maybe come across the odd report on these issues but now they are everywhere you look.
I don’t think the government can get away with press releases and pointless stunts like sleeping on the streets to make a point and gain credibility. You don’t need a sleeping bag Mr Shapps, just some decisive action. And action based on tackling the housing crisis, not just tackling it as a simple component within the greater, philosophical framework of the big society and financial savings.
The one about the Buddha, the philosophers and the arrow
One of the most famous stories of the Buddha is where a deer in a forest park had been wounded by an arrow and was writhing on the ground in agony. Two philosophers were looking at it and debating about who may have shot the arrow, while the Buddha simply stepped up and pulled out the arrow.
That’s the kind of action I mean.
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben has started Home Saving Expert, to share his secrets to defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties and catch up with him on Twitter and check out his free report “An Encouraging note on Dealing with your Mortgage Lender” and have it sent right to your inbox.