A nautical parable
Surfing the internet at the weekend I fell across a page showing the 1st class menu on the Titanic the night she sank.
Freshly cooked Lobster was available, plucked from a tank and plunged into boiling water and it set me thinking that perhaps the only living souls who cheered when the ship went down were the Lobsters, saved at the last minute from death by a chance encounter with a friendly iceberg.
I’ll bet they couldn’t believe their luck.
A Lobster’s tale
I’m told Lobsters live to well over 100, so there is a chance that somewhere, right now there is a Barnacle-encrusted old survivor, regaling a load of little Lobsters with “And then Lord luv a duck, you’ll never guess what happened next?”.
And I was reminded about this question of perspective reading a piece in Landlord Today:-
“Welcome relief for landlords as rents rise 2.4% in August”.
Lest you miss the metaphor, the landlords in this instance being the Lobsters and the tenants, the musicians tuning their instruments with shaking, icy fingers to play “Nearer my God to thee”.
Staying with the metaphor’s ….
The good ship ‘SS Housing Crisis’ still seems to be going down whatever way you look at it, while the government sits, like the SS Carpathia a few miles away watching the distress rockets go up and wondering what they mean.
Reading through the plethora of relevant articles out there in the past 2 weeks the emphasis is most definitely on the UK housing situation taking on more water than she can handle, having hit the combined icebergs of the lack of homes available, rising rents, the diminution of social housing stock under the right to buy, the death grip of welfare reforms and increasing homelessness.
Spoilt for choice
On those topics, most of which, in all honesty, add nothing new to the depressing narrative, I read a curious piece in the Guardian claiming that we as a country had dealt with homelessness but that it had returned:-
We had dealt with homelessness. Why has it now returned?
Having worked in housing and homelessness since I was 18 and seen only minor fluctuations in trends I thought I might have fallen asleep and missed something so read with interest.
The author writes:
“Once Labour entered power in 1997, visible homelessness pretty much disappeared within a few years.”
I was a TRO based in a homelessness unit and a trainer of homelessness workers up and down the land under every government since and including, Margaret Thatcher and I can assure you, it didn’t ‘Pretty much disappear’ under Labour’s tenure, it was ‘pretty much business as usual’.
Homelessness has not improved
Granted it has gotten worse under the Tories in recent years but it never disappeared. I cant have been asleep that long.
The article’s author says that she was shocked as a teenager to see the cardboard city under the big roundabout at Waterloo.
It’s certainly gone now but only because they built a gigantic Imax cinema on it, not because Labour solved the homelessness crisis and even when I went there to see ‘Dunkirk’ a couple of weeks back, street homeless people were still begging for change from the people sitting outside the coffee shop.
“Now homelessness is back in all its forms”
states the author….it never went away you Wombat.
Minefields in Malta
Ever interested in how they do things abroad I found an article about the rental market in Malta and read with alarm the follower sub-header:-
“Johanna Axisa Macrae, founder of Malta tenant support discusses the literal minefield that is the local rental market”.
“A literal minefield”??? I didn’t realise it was that bad. London may have its problems but the landlords don’t lay down minefields, even the ones I deal with aren’t that zealous.
Read if you will the weird system they have there for utility meters and the Orwellian sounding “Form H”.
Hot on the heels the Landlord Today piece setting out the bunting for the August increase in rents the Guardian reported on the destruction being wreaked by Universal Credit pushing up rent arrears while a parliamentary enquiry was handed a ‘Catalogue of concerns’ from landlords, councils, and charities.
The bad news being that in the areas where UC has been rolled out the level of rent arrears has grown from between 3 and 5 times the old pre-UC system.
Long delays makes the cause worse
Whilst UC is supposed to be paid 6 weeks after applying, the Trussell Trust, Britain’s biggest food bank report that they are having families referred to them who have been waiting 10 and 13 weeks before receiving any payments.
That’s 3 months worth of rent arrears from the get-go and straight away into ground 8 for mandatory possession.
Never ending spiral
Whilst I can understand landlords unwillingness to rent to tenants living under this system, if a person can’t afford the rent both parties accrue debts and eviction is inevitable but the family then go to the homelessness unit for help, which the whole country pays for.
These are the kinds of distress rockets that the government looks through its binoculars at while the ship sinks.
An unnamed DWP spokesperson is quoted as saying:
“Universal credit is getting more people into work than the old system. It mirrors the way most people in work are paid, helping to ease the transition into employment. The majority of claimants are comfortable managing their budgets, and for people who need extra support, advance payments are available.”
Reports tell us differently
But that is the opposite of what the reports are telling you Mr Deliberately Anonymous.
For one thing rising employment isn’t housing and secondly, this report is telling you that many aren’t ‘Comfortable managing their budgets”. Neither is this what is being said by some of the government’s own members, who are calling for a re-think before the intended accelerated roll-out looming on the horizon like a …….well……an iceberg.
And Nearly Legal also tore into this kind of civil service double speak at the DCLG in an angry and articulate rage against the government’s attitude to the homeless. J said:
“Now, DCLG employees reading this (and we know there are some) will say that this isn’t their fault. They can’t stop wider government policy. But there are two answers to that. First, I don’t care. This isn’t about you and whether I’m being fair to you. It’s about the 120,540 children who are sleeping in t/a. Being fair to civil servants really doesn’t come into it.”
Well said that man.
What made me smile this week
Keeping the nautical metaphor going, Frazzy is on a Mediterranean cruise with a mate so I’m luxuriating in being able to watch what I want on TV., no more Corrie or Strictly, I’m spread out with beer cans and crisps,
No more Corrie or Strictly, I’m spread out with beer cans and crisps, binge-watching stuff on Amazon prime. American Revolution drama “Turn” (looks good but if anyone can tell me whats going on there I’d be obliged), ‘The man in the high castle’ and I might take a look around ‘Hand of God’, that series where Ron Perlman plays a vigilante judge, like Jan Luba with a .45 automatic.
See ya in a fortnight.