Are the new laws to criminalise housing fraud really required?
14/08/2012 3:29 pm
The report in IH of a woman in Basildon being jailed for 8-months for applying for social housing whilst owning her own home clearly illustrates that the popularist measures being pursued by government are excessive, or at least simply duplicating existing laws.
There has been sporadic discussion about this through the post boards but perhaps those interested would care to explain why the new laws (which require expense and time to implement, and may then cause conflict and case law defences that currently do not exist - allowing perpetrators to escape justice) are actually needed.
It would appear that other than a press opportunity to be tough on tenants and tough on the causes of tenants - or worse, continue the picture forming of tenants being all engaged in undesirable activities - there is no justification for the measures.
Obviously, I do not think they are justified, but it would be great to hear from others with clear examples of how criminalising sub-letting or fraud helps.
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15/08/2012 11:07 am
I cannot find the article of the housing association employees who allegedly falsisifeid a grant application some weeks ago. Has it been removed by Inside Housing because it was about an allegation against Housing Professionals and not about tenants? Which is/was the exact title or the article? Maybe Inside Housing editor will tell us here?
15/08/2012 11:38 am
Are you talking about the artical about One Housing and their grant claims for starts that had not started nonny?
If so it is still there, you just need to search backwards through the articles to get there, or look through the recent archive.
I do not think IH particularly protects housing staff from exposure of wrong doing - for instance on todays front page there are a number of housing staff being sacked for their actions
15/08/2012 1:13 pm
Apologies to Anon and One, it was Swan at the center of the alleged malpractice.
(you may have to cut and paste it into your address bar)
15/08/2012 3:43 pm
Thanks... There has been a tendency and new laws to criminalise anything a tenant does. However not much or at all is being done to make social landlords and housing associations more accountable. These landlords have immense and often unchecked power and can do a lot behind closed doors against a tenant which the tenant either will have no right to accede to or if she has any right in practice will be so hard to do that she will not manage to do so. Also there is very little whistleblowing about what goes on within social landlords and I have to assume that the variousl scandal we hear about is just the tip of the iceberg. Now, you would you say this has nothing to do with topic. But it is very relevant because with by criminalising tenants all the time the state automatically takes away from tenants any power or will or resources to fight back against landlords' abuse. Having made a tenant a lawbreaker on what basis can then legally a tenant challenge against abuse?... None. In this way landlords abuse becomes legitimised and justified.
15/08/2012 4:24 pm
I cannot detract from the housing experience you have had Anon, and can appreciate how it must feel as it does. All I can say, as a housing professional, is that there are internal disciplinary procedures but also the rights of the individual. So where the rights of the individual tenant should be upheld so should the rights of the individual worker (who often may also be a tenant don't forget).
This may mean that justice is done yet not seen to be done in terms of action against individuals, but offenders do lose opportunities to progress, or even their jobs for offences they commit, just as tenants may lose their homes for offences they commit.
There are tenants who appear to only exist to offer the demonisers an opportunity to point and say see told you so all tenants are... etc, but we know these are in the minority, which is why I for one challenge every occurance I come across of liars and cheats attempting to cast all tenants with the same brush.
Equally, there are housing workers who likewise damage the reputation of the sector and fail to fulfil their duties. Again these are in the minority and it is wrong to attack an entire sector on that basis.
Yes, it may feel better to get a little tit for tat, but in an age where all providing and living in social housing are under attack from the same enemy, it is self defeating to do the enemy's work for them.
Going back to the original thread - the move to pass extra criminal laws to add to the criminal and civil laws that already exist to control tenants of social housing is simply, in my opinon, a cynical piece of propaganda to permit further demonisation and thus support even worse 'punishments' being conducted against tenants and all things tenant.
15/08/2012 5:23 pm
"Going back to the original thread - the move to pass extra criminal laws to add to the criminal and civil laws that already exist to control tenants of social housing is simply, in my opinon, a cynical piece of propaganda to permit further demonisation and thus support even worse 'punishments' being conducted against tenants and all things tenant.".... Yes, but in the real world there will be times when landlord and tenants will have to fight out things legally against each other. And the landlord will avail themselves with all and any laws out there against tenants... the fact that there are decent housing professionals is a smokescreen to excuse almost anything bad a landlord does. Saying most of us are decent, does not stop the rot... On the other hand it prompt me to ask, if most housing professionals are decent people how come the demonisation of tenants has taken such a hold?... when patients in the DHSS are in some way attacked the DHSS has stood up and said no, our patients are not demons. And when students have been under attack universities, schools, everywhere have stood up and said no, our students are not demons. And plenty of other examples. But in a full decade of social tenants full out demonisation on all fronts and even now where are all the thousands of social housing professionals and landlords REALLY standing up and saying, no, our tenants are not demons?... Maybe a handful did so, but far too fewy for what you claim as "most of us" being decent.
15/08/2012 5:46 pm
Demonisation of social housing tenants has not been the action of the housing sector but of the political class using the mass media propagandarising and converting public view in the same way that the likes of Mosley convinced people that certain people deserved to have their windows caved in if not their heads. Shapps, as I percieve him a leader in such moves, really should reflect with shame on the part he has played, or the part his party has played in this.
If you read back on these pages Nonny you will see many housing professional making the stand that you attribute to health professional for their sector. Even HA Chief Executives have come off of the fence to denounce the demonisation actions of Shapps. Perhaps you have not heard what has gone on, or perhaps you are irritated at how impotent we are against the government. Is our impotence really our own fault when the 'potent' Minister holds the purse strings, holds the cards, and holds the ear of the media who refuse to face him with the challenges we make.
Where is the party of opposition in standing up for tenants and the housing sector - only very recently they were sharing the demonising band wagon. How do you expect sector workers to achieve the outcomes that you want Nonny when neither the political parties nor the media will support us, based on the fact that the general voter takes the opposite view?
And all this on a thread pointing to the new anti-tenant laws as excessive - where are your representations Nonny to the politicians behind that which has caused your complaint?
15/08/2012 6:15 pm
I am sorry to disagree with you. Since the day I became a tenant almost three decades ago, the anti-tenant culture of the social housing sector was live and well. Most social housing professionals I have personally encountered where nothing but anti-tenant. I have got archive copies of Inside Housing threads going on back many years in which the antitenant culture of social housing professional is quite clear. The current demonisation of todays social tenants would not have ever happened without either the passive or active connivance of large sectors of the social housing industry for which their salary, position or career came before anything else and certainly before defense of their tenants/customers...
15/08/2012 6:26 pm
Nonny - do not be sorry to disagree. I'm sorry your experience is what it is. It should not be so.
You are right of course that more could have been done to prevent this situation arising. The Labour Party 30-years ago, instead of leading the campaign against this engaged in navel contemplation, ejecting those with any fight in them, and then adopting the mantel of the Tories who set us on this path 30 or so years ago. Likewise, the housing sector did what civil servants do, made the best of the instructions given. I can testify that originally many did so thinking that it was only a matter of time before the extremists were replaced, and normal service could be resumed. Plus, you must realise Nonny, even housing staff need to afford to eat and have a roof over their heads - the cost of standing up and being different is one too many can not pay.
When it turned out that Labour just continued the Tory policy and attitude, there was nothing left to fight with. If the sector had just resigned on mass, you would now be a private tenant already.
It is galling to have been let down - but the sector workers have been let down by the failure of political will or opposition over the 30 years you have been a tenant.
At best, I would suggest that your anger is misdirected. I know the price that I paid. I know the price that colleagues have paid. I also know that your experience is not unique and other colleagues have enjoyed wearing the Tories boots. What I am trying to get you to understand Nonny is that joining with the housing staff rather than forming against them is more likely to deliver the sort of housing sector both you and I wish for.
That is not disagreeing over facts of experience, but disagreeing over what must be done now.
15/08/2012 7:04 pm
I think you know very well that the worst things happen because the good people do not stand up to the few bad. History has shown time and again that the good housing professional - and it's claimed they were the greater majority - has not stood up when tenants needed them, tenants by the way that made possible for them to have jobs and careers and been repayed with abuse. These professional did not offer me the chance to be a social tenants, as you claim. I am a social tenants because of the englightened post governments social housing policy and all of you good and bad housing professional have to be thankful for social tenants otherwise you would not have had any jobs, careers or position in life and it would have been quite interesting to see how would you have survived all of you in the private housing or being just thrown on the dole and become homeless...
The rot started for what I can gather when housing association came into being and council started to hand over their tenants to them. This fact alone, by dismembering a whole compact body of council residents into customers of other other bodies took away the possibility of tenants being a political force of any kind... This at a political level. At a ground level, housing associations started to see themselves as better than councils and started into the march of then being better than all other associations and it was all about which housing association was better than the next not in terms of services and quality of homes but in terms of bigger, larger, bigger salaries for ceos and directors... and that was the end of any respect for tenants which quickly spread to anybody else including politician... As for now both these social housing professionals and the Shapps kind of politicians have to be got rid of - they are the virus, infesting social housing. No policy of any kind and from any side will ever work until these virulent social housing vermin are got rid of.
16/08/2012 9:21 am
Nonny - I cannot disagree, and only respond so you know that I am not ignoring what you say.
I hope justice will 'break-out' and those who used the forces of the State against its own people will be held to account. In a modern day Nuremburg Trials I would see Shapps as a major participent along with Porter and many in between. But pride of place must go to Mandelson, Blair and Thatcher, the unholy trinity who orchestrated so much disharmony and suffering.
I persist though that such justice will not be advanced by a worker versus worker battle. This is what has enabled the guilty to advance their cause down the years. Tenant, housing officer, are both workers in this context.