Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Gavin Rider's posts

  • Posted in: DEMONISATION OF SOCIAL HOUSING TENANTS

    Gavin Rider's post | 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.

  • Posted in: DEMONISATION OF SOCIAL HOUSING TENANTS

    Gavin Rider's post | 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.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 13/05/2011 9:20 am

    To bring this back to the topic of the original article - if RtB had been used by the policeman in the programme to buy his flat, he would have been perfectly entitled to let it out however he wanted.

    The social landlord would have received money to allow them to provide other accommodation for prospective social tenants on the waiting list, and nobody would have been any worse off (except the makers of the programme, who would have had to find something else for their feature).

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 13/05/2011 9:10 am

    Matt - any contribution towards new construction is better than none, so even if a sale only contributes 50% of the cost of a replacement it is positive, because otherwise the only way to secure a new home is 100% new funding.

    If that is the case, the new homes will be minimalist to the extreme, cheaply built, cramped and likely to suffer the same rapid demise of the tower blocks thrown up in haste in the 60's and 70's.

    Building protected "Affordable Housing" that is restricted to remain affordable in perpetuity, which it can only do by continuing to receive subsidy, is destined to widen the gap between social housing and market housing. It will create a whole class of permanently dependent tenants who will have no chance at all of progression to owner-occupation.

    RtB on the other hand bridges the gap between the two. It stitches together the social housing "market" and the open housing market, allowing people to transition from social housing to home ownership relatively easily, and all without them having to uproot themselves from friends, relations and neighbours. It cycles the stock, which is a positive thing.

    All that needs to be done is to ENSURE that the social housing stock is not allowed to diminish because of it, which is perfectly feasible to do but which was not done under Thatcher or even since then under Blair/Brown.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 13/05/2011 8:53 am

    RE: Anon 11:33.

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

    I grew up in social housing. My parents were among the first to move to Stevenage New Town and my mother lived in the same home for 53 years. I have first hand experience of the rise and fall of the social housing scene there, which was quite accurately described in "The Great Estate".

    The houses there have not changed, but the people have. The one thing that has prevented the whole estate decaying in the way Thamesmead appears to have done is RtB. Many of the tenants bought their council homes and, like my parents, continued to live in them and look after them.

    These were working class families who simply wanted to raise themselves out of dependency and to have a home that they could really call their own. As the tenants featured in The Great Estate said, such long-term council tenants generally regarded these homes as their own anyway - RtB allowed them to actually make it so.

    It was not greed that drove this; there was no desire to take something that was not really theirs. This was a fulfilment of their lifetime aspirations, often driven by a desire to "leave something for the kids".

    Some of those new owners moved on to pastures new, leaving behind affordable homes for new owners to occupy. My mother finally moved after 53 years, and her home was bought by a young couple who were born within a mile of there and wanted to live near parents and friends. That is precisely the justification given for the building of Affordable Housing in rural communities - it applies just as much in the towns. But in the towns the social housing allocation schemes take no account of local connections, family ties etc., so the only way to achieve social cohesion is by buying a starter home as this young couple did.

    So, apart from the positive aspects I described earlier, RtB allows communities to evolve naturally, helps to maintain social diversity and cohesion, and it works to suppress the forces of decay that have operated in many social housing estates elsewhere and turned them into highly undesirable places for anyone to live.

    Providing that social landlords are REQUIRED to maintain a balanced social housing stock, which can be achieved by enforcing a policy requiring replacement of any homes sold, RtB is a constructive scheme. It makes a positive social contribution by helping people lift themselves out of dependency.

    So there.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 12/05/2011 6:32 pm

    Matt (and the offensive person who does not even have the decency to identify him/herself)

    The point about inflation is misplaced because the money would not just sit in a brown envelope waiting to be spent on building a new house. When a sale is made the funds would go into the authority's operational account and reduce the need to borrow money to meet its current outgoings. The rate for borrowing is higher than the rate of inflation, so not having to borrow offsets inflation.

    It is not a pointless argument to propose something just because nobody has done this yet! It is a pointless argument to criticise a workable option just because nobody has done it that way.

    My reasoning is perfectly sensible. I challenge anyone to find a flaw in the logic. Let me explain it like they do for tax self-assessment:

    CASE A: NO RtB

    Tenant A has lived in his council house for twenty years, since just after he was married. His children have grown up and moved out. He would like to own his own home but
    i) he cannot afford to buy on the open market and
    ii) he has already made the house he is living in his "family home" - so he does not want to move.
    He is therefore stuck where he is and will stay there as long as he can, which is likely to be for another 40 years.

    Outcome: The home is not available for let to prospective tenant B who is waiting for a council house but none are available. The council have insufficient funds to build more affordable housing so prospective tenant B remains on the waiting list.

    CASE B: RtB with enforced replacement.

    Tenant A buys his family home. The money is put towards the cost of a replacement property which the council has been able to start building, having projected that it would have funds coming in from RtB house sales. The council only needs to fund 10% of the cost of the new home to provide tenant B with brand new accommodation, because the cost was 90% covered by the sale.

    Outcome: tenant A and tenant B are both suitably housed. The housing stock is maintained at equilibrium. One existing social tenant has been converted to owner-occupier status, and one new social tenant has been housed. Tenant A gets to own his family home so is very happy. Tenant B gets a brand new purpose-built energy efficient home to live in so is also very happy. The council have one less applicant on the waiting list at an outlay of only 10% of the cost of a new home. The ongoing maintenance cost for the council's housing stock is also reduced, so they are also happy.

    I call that a win-win-win scenario.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 12/05/2011 11:29 am

    Matt - "Society has changed over the years to the point where the majority now see it as unreasonable for councils to provide stock."

    I don't agree.

    Most local housing surveys I have seen ask about the public attitude towards the provision of additional affordable housing, and almost without exception there is significant support for it in principle. Our own local questionnaire which had a 74% response rate (exceptionally good for such a survey) produced overwhelming support for it.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 12/05/2011 11:10 am

    Matt - the market value of a home is normally significantly higher than the construction cost, so even allowing for discount to a RtB purchaser there will be a significant contribution made towards the cost of building a new house.

    The very purpose of adopting a new strategy is to avoid the faults present in previous strategies. The fact that RtB revenues were not re-invested in new housing provision in the past is the fault, not the RtB policy.

    RtB does not cause a supply problem, failing to build enough new homes to satisfy newly arising housing need causes the problem.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 12/05/2011 8:32 am

    Managing social housing stock should be looked at more like management of a company's vehicle fleet or its other assets. It is not necessary to keep the assets "fixed" to maintain the service at a satisfactory level. In fact as I have described above there are many advantages in keeping the stock moving so that as demands fluctuate the stock can be tuned to better address needs.

    This requires a different approach to managing housing stock than simply playing the numbers game. Dogmatic aversion to RtB is unobjective and - for the reasons I describe - misguided.

  • Posted in: Panorama on subletting

    Gavin Rider's post | 12/05/2011 0:08 am

    Many do not seem to understand the difference between housing stock and housing availability.

    If a social tenant buys his home under RtB there is a reduction of one unit in the social housing stock and a reduction of one in the current demand for that stock - so the net effect on social housing availability is zero. Keeping the house as social rented would only yield an available property for relet on the exit of the existing tenant, which may not be for many years!

    However, here are some positive aspects of RtB:

    1) If you REQUIRE landlords to replace every sold property with a new one, you can convert every RtB sale into one additional social home.
    2) The RtB sale can probably cover much of the cost of the replacement, reducing the necessity for additional funding to satisfy the newly arising need for social housing.
    3) A replacement property can be specified to better suit current housing demand (e.g. single-occupancy flats or accommodation suitable for the elderly) which may be different from the needs profile that existed when the older properties were built.
    4) the new properties will have lower running costs for tenants and landlords than the older properties that are being sold off.
    5) New properties thus provided will probably have much better specifications for the tenants (downstairs toilets, disabled access, more car parking, better energy efficiency, etc) than the older properties did.

    I can go on, but you probably get the picture...

    RtB can therefore be used as a positive way to reduce the current demand for social housing (by changing social tenants to owner-occupiers) AND to help address new demand by helping fund new construction. It will also help first time buyers to get their first foot on the property ladder.

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