DEMONISATION OF SOCIAL HOUSING TENANTS
04/09/2011 11:47 pm
Location: Macclesfield CHESHIRE
Is it any wonder that social housing tenants get more than a little aggravated with being demonised or should they just suffer in silence?
Sort: Newest first | Oldest first
06/09/2011 12:39 pm
Demonisation of social housing tenants is a very real thing and one that has caused me a great deal of stress over the past eighteen months.I've lived in social housing since the late seventies - I have always worked, have never claimed housing benefit. I rarely call on the HA services, prefering to fix things myself if I can.
I planted the garden, decorated, took the council to court when they left a leaking roof for 12 years, took them to court again when they failed to fix the house in the time allotted - called in English Heritage when the contractors ripped out original features. Got compensation for contractors stealing my furniture. Have a leak again that has taken 12 weeks and ten letters but has not been fixed. Have live, wet electric sockets.
Two of my children were born in the house. I would have bought in RTB but it has always been too expensive.
I love the house, have taken great care of it, when the council and now HA seem to want it to fall down, or burn down. Since this government came along I have felt like a low life, scrounging off the state. My sense of stablility has disappeared, my desire to think of the house as my home is fading fast. I don't know what will happen to me and my family as I get older but I no longer feel safe.
And yet I see empty homes everywhere, I have countless luxury £350 per week properties being built around me, devlopers who don't seem to meet with any obstacles for planning.
The demonisation of social housing tenants feels very, very real to me.
06/09/2011 1:05 pm
I feel we being Demonised for Fighting for our Rights - we being Neglected
06/09/2011 1:59 pm
It's not new and it's not just the current Govt. For years people have pointed their finger at people living on Council estates and accused them of being feckless or implied they are just troublemakers.
35 years ago I lived on an estate in Leeds and felt compelled to write to the local paper following an article suggesting Council tenants tended to be less intelligent and less hard working than the rest of the population.
35 years on and I have now worked in Social Housing for more than 25 years. Whilst it is true to say that the number of vulnerable and desperately needy people being housed in this sector is increasing, this is not the same as saying that such people are the cause of all the wrongs in society.
The Govt. is not focussing all its attention on tenants in the Social Housing sector, it has many targets. Unfortunately, not many of the targets are the right ones.
I can't really influence the Govt. but I can try and work with the vulnerable and the needy to try and empower them to improve their lives. We, as individuals, really can make a difference despite the current Govt. and their supporters.
We can, however, only make a difference if we get off our knees, drag our faces out of the mud, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and say, "Enough is enough."
06/09/2011 2:32 pm
Are you saying that all collectives are fascist Jono, or that all collectives have the capacity to lead to fascism, or something else?
06/09/2011 4:30 pm
Whilst I'm often as bad as others I think people in forums are great at dispensing wisdom and suggesting what everyone else should do in government etc without doing anything themselves.
I think its up to us to do something about it if we are remotely articulate and can evidence what is happening. You can write to your MP privately and also in your local press and take part in campaigns on these issues. Peope like Housing Justice are gathering advice about how to challenge alot of the reforms.
I wrote to my MP in the local press and he had to respond as I had pointed out that he has remained silent and unconcerned by the housing benefit cap and the thousands of families that will be made homeless. This got another local councillor involved as he was so shocked by my MPs indifference.
Any other ideas?
06/09/2011 5:23 pm
The Press Complaints Commission for when our leaders infer scapegoating and use demonisation against groups of people.
The Parliamentary Standards Commission for when those leaders use parliament as a shield behind which to behave as fascists.
Direct lobbying of the MP's to request that they represent their consituents and not just their own hobby horses.
And getting many others to do the same.
07/09/2011 12:34 pm
It is interesting that the ones complaining about being demonised seem to be the ones who make the most outrageous statements. I don't see such statements being made by the ones who are supposedly doing the "demonising". I also don't see the "labelling" described by Chris actually taking place - this is an exaggeration of his own invention.
It is not unreasonable to point out the significant proportion of social housing tenants who are economically inactive and have been so for much of their lives. Yet social tenants who might feel "victimised" by being included in the same classification as those people would perhaps perceive that this was an attempt to "demonise" them unfairly. Wrong - it is just "calling a spade a spade".
I was a social housing tenant at one time. I did not feel personally demonised by being in that situation even though a large proportion of my neighbours were definitely wasters - and scroungers and were widely recognised as such. It is true that a high proportion of such people are found in social housing simply because they can survive there whereas they would not survive anywhere else.
It doesn't mean that everyone in social housing is a scrounger and a waster. But conversely, being a social tenant who is not a scrounger and waster does not mean that the problem of such people does not exist and does not cause a problem that requires fixing.
07/09/2011 2:16 pm
Gavin is absolutely correct in that no Minister has, publicly, stated that social housing tenants are demons or such direct statement. The process is more sophisticated with allusion here and negative phrasing there, supported by media briefings and story slants that complete the drip-drip propaganda technique to ensure the message is delivered without needing to be stated.
So we get story after story of negative behaviours associated with social housing tenants, with Ministers and political spokesperson on hand to condemn and claim evidence of broken society etc. The perception thus becomes that as social landlords enforce ASB that ASB is a problem of social tenants. Shapps lost no time rolling out from the riots calling for tenants to be bought to book and evicted for their criminal action.
We have seen on this forum, indeed from very recent contributors how the belief that all tenants are living off of benefits has achieved popular acclaim, despite being untrue. So the further action against benefit cheats is aimed at the whole depicting of tenants in a poor light. And of course, the expenditure on benefits is now the cause of the economic collapse of the western world economies, and so is the fault of those tenants who not only claim the benefits but sue all those public services that cost us too much. The exampling of the indirect statements could go on for pages, but even the most unobservant of readers will recognise how politicians have been doing this for decades, and how tenants have become increasingly the target of the abuse.
To put it into another context that may be easier to understand. Some planning decisions are taken by Parish Councillors. Publicising this fact, and emphasising how society has been changed by localism allows the blame for unpopular decisions to be placed at the lowliest members of the planning regime. The populace happily lap up what is fed to them. Even if you explain how the local planning officers, the planning committee, the full council, the DCLG, let alone the law all caused the decision that was made it will still be the fault of those nasty Parish Councillors.
So people who try to make ends meet in low paid work, needing top up benefits to afford the rent become in that position through their own fault – end of, no protest nor argument can break through the decades of propaganda build up designed to avert eyes from real issues and real blame.
If you still disbelieve that such is the case here is the proof – Coulson / Campbell – their sole reason for existing was to ensure the message was planted, repeated, and served the wider political purpose. The spinners and defamers are at the heart of the demonization of (insert name of who ever needs to take the blame) in order to ensure the continuation of power for those behind them.
The demonization of tenants is not my invention any more than the demonization of trades unionists or single parents was under Thatcher or the demonization of the poor or Muslims was under Blair.
07/09/2011 11:03 pm
Chris - "I understand where you are coming from", I really do.
But it does not help your cause to make silly statements, even if you are joking. Parish Councillors do not make planning decisions - we are consultees only. It is just as likely we will be ignored and a decision will go against what the planning committee decides as it is likely that we will be listened to.
Parish Councils have no power to decide planning matters, which is why Localism is actually a lie.
And I would be just as worried about planning decisions being made improperly if we were given the power to decide them, because there are plenty of undisclosed personal interests among Parish Councilliors. It kind of goes with the territory.
08/09/2011 9:29 am
Exactly Gavin - but the spin machine is already moving popular thinking towards decision making actually being at the local level. We both know this to not be the case, and so do many others, but if this lot are allowed to it will not be long before blame is firmly set where it does not belong.
The vast majority of people are decent, law abiding, people, trying their best to live their lives with the least impact upon others. Tenants are no different to this description. Some people are not decent, others are law breakers, and some seem to only exist to impact upon others. Some such people are tenants. Some such people have been Members of Parliament, leaders of industry even. No one tenureship has a monopoly on deviants, no one group a majority.
However, the slant in the press, the political commentry, and the rationalle explained behind punitative policy making would all have one believing that tenants are the cause of all ills - that is the demonisation referred to.
As has been said before, it is easy for some to support such falsehood on the basis of when the bullies are elsewhere they are not beating on you; but that may only be transitory, only a matter of time before your group, your caste is the one in their sights. Better then to defend the weak so that we all may be strong.
08/09/2011 9:58 am
As with all things in life it is the actions of the few that affect the views of many. After all look at many peoples assumptions of Muslims.
I have worked in Social Housing for15 years, and the vast majority of people are normal. Its just the odd few with the 'me me me' mentality that make things tough.
Society and the media have to shoulder the blame. We are all scared if we speak out agianst something we will recieve a torrent of abuse, or be accused of being racist / sexist / fatist / etc etc.
We all need to be a little less PC, and be more respectful to ALL regardless of income / tenure / race / age.
08/09/2011 10:54 am
Jasmine I agree with you. I also agree with the warning from Chris that we should be on guard against prejudice and "demonisation" of anyone, but I don't agree that there is such demonisation taking place against social tenants.
This government is almost exclusively focused on financial matters, not surprisingly because of the economic mess they inherited from the previous lot. With that focus they tend to prioritise their attention on areas where they can achieve maximum financial savings or gains. That has an unfortunate side-effect because it appears to victimise some unfairly or benefit others unfairly.
Any change they make will have that effect, so they are virtually damned if they do and damned if they don't. But their policies are so extreme and badly thought through that they risk "throwing the baby out with the bath water" in many cases.
My "focus" at present is the effect that proposed changes in planning law will have on the open countryside, which will be increasingly exploited for financial gain by developers if the draft national planning policy framework goes through as it is.
The thing being exploited in this example just happens to be the open countryside - if it were any other policy it would be a social grouping that was being singled out for attention, or a tax band, or immigrants, or travellers... there is always someone or something that suffers in creating a benefit or reducing the deficit for the rest of us.
What I am concerned with is making sure the negative effects of new policies are fully discussed, publicised, understood and properly taken into account.
Ideally that means speaking out objectively about the quantifiable harm that a policy will cause, backing it with hard evidence not just opinion. It does not mean making sweeping and non-specific complaints about abstract effects like "demonisation". That is about as constructive as name-calling, which some contributors on this site persist in using as a debating tactic purely to intimidate others whose views are not aligned with their own.
08/09/2011 11:15 am
Look at the facts of what governements and social landlords and housing asscociations have been up to:
social tenants have been transferred, decanted, told they should leave their communties and go somewhere else;
secure tenancies abolished or stolen from tenants who had them;
new and continuous attempts to bring in new eviction grounds;
massive unaccountable service charges brought in;
lack of a national body tenant represntation elected by tenants themselves;
new iniatives and changes in the complaint procedures and ombudsman brought in without beringing in new powers for tenants to control these are properly applied;
lack of legal aid, the ultimate resources for social tenants to have justice against landlords abuse;
asbos policies which do not give the victim any legal aid to prosecute social landlords and housing associations who do not protect them....
All these attacks and demonisations has come from above, governemnt and social landlords and housing associations, the very people who should have been protecting social tenants. If all those attacks and demonisations had been carried out against any other group in society you'd have more than riots in the country... But tenants are defenceless, without an indepedent national body elected by them to represent them or organize them, and so the vultures and jackals keep relentlessly scavenging on on what's left of them.
08/09/2011 3:44 pm
...yes, the attacks have come from above, but that is because social housing is a political football that is always going to be kicked, and kicked hard by a conservative government. Let's not forget that the conseratives are the party of the wealthy ( in general terms) and labour are supposedly the part of the working man. In reality both parties have moved towards the centre and have no real competition to the left and to the right.
For decades we have had labour governments trying to please the right and conservative governments trying to please the left. Is it suprising that social tenants are caught in the middle.
I was a social tenant until recently and can honestly say that I never felt demonised or victimised. I often felt that decisions about my home were made without me that should have involved me. I had to give up my tenancy because the exchange/transfer system was (and is) still so poor that it may be a tenancy for life if you want or need to move forget it. BUT in honesty I was just damned grateful to have had the opportunity of a home.
I have a mortgage now, on a home I will never own and one that I may likely lose because I can't really afford it. Whilst many would probably shout me down and say that people should not have to be grateful, it needs to be recognised that social housing is now such a scarce resource that an affordable home is a privilege, even if it is one that shouldn't be!
Social Housing may be under attack right now, but name a government influenced service that isn't!
08/09/2011 7:25 pm
Of course an alternative approach for those of you that spend so much energy moaning about the demonisation of tenants could be to just wind your necks in and get on with your lives like most tenants do without blaming the govt., press, society etc for all their woes.
08/09/2011 9:02 pm
Techno Dave thinks social tenants are like Frankenstein's monster, apparently.
08/09/2011 9:32 pm
What, you mean in the way that they are tragic innocents, victims of their rulers, who did not ask to be put in the position that they find themselves in, that regardless how hard they try they are suffering the manipulation of their maker who is evil and/or mad, and also suffering the misunderstanding and hatred from the baying pack who think themselves civilised - he could have a point.
08/09/2011 9:36 pm
Techno Dave, if as you say the governemnt has no blame for social housing whose responsibility is it then?... Are you saying all the housing ministers since ww2 have been figments of social housing tenants' imaginations? That all the housing laws have been brought about by phantom governments? The there is a country wide conspiracy that social housing does not and never existed?
08/09/2011 9:56 pm
Surely when Thatcher sold off the most decent and larger social houses to the cream of social tenants - i.e. those with a little bit of money - what did people expect to be left if not the rump of humanity.
So no, the tenants depicted by Daily Mail advocates are not demonised but simply the creation of Thatcherism. British society will only remain stable if there are hate figures, so social tenants aer fulfilling a marvelous role by being such figures of hate at the moment. I'm sure that other groups will be identified once the public grow immune to seeing tenants hanging from satellite dishes around the estates.