Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Liberation of Council Tenants

Two news stories have got to me recently. One led me to rage, the other to tears.

Let's start with the rage. David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime council tenancies | Society | The Guardian

It seems our ConDem overlords have decided that the destruction of state provided housing will continue unabated. The transfer of housing stock to private agencies has led to the concept of a 'life tenenacy' to all but disappear. To further bury this 'undeserved perk of the great unwashed' the government has now announced available changes to tenancy agreements.

In come short term tenancy agreements to 'help increase social mobility'. Basically this means a review of a tenancy after as little as five years. Not enough people living there? Out you go. Earning too much? Out you go. Mum died and an empty room? You can sod off and find somewhere else to live. The true face of capitalism. It can't bear the thought of common people being in receipt of anything that could be thought of as benefits and could be generating wealth for the monied classes.

The second story, the one which brings me to tears and which is intrinsically linked is that of pensioner Edward Meakins as reported in this local paper http://bit.ly/aoYquH.

Edward faces eviction for the crime of having his sister die. He's lived at the property in Cricklewood for 74 years and has been part of a family that has paid rent and looked after the place for all of that time. Edward is in his twilight years and following the death of his sister has been told that he's to sling his hook. As he says:

“This has been my life in this house since I was nine. Why do they want to turn me out? I don't suppose I have got many more years to go, so why can't they just leave me here until I die?”
Barnet Homes, the ALMO which took over council housing services and stock responded:

“We sympathise with Mr Meakins’ position, and we appreciate that the prospect of leaving the family home after so many years must be very difficult for him.
“However, Mr Meakins is living in a three-bedroom council house, which are in very short supply in Barnet.
“We have to balance our sympathy for his position against the needs of the large number of people on the borough’s housing register who are desperate for a good quality family home.
“We will continue to offer Mr Meakins all the support we can in finding suitable alternative accommodation.”

Better start packing Edward.

Council accomodation is in short supply because the witch Thatcher decided to transfer as much stock as possible to the private market with the right-to-buy policy. Then they started the process of transferring council stock control to third party organisatons. They they denied councils the ability to use council house sale receipts to build new housing. That's why council houses are in 'short supply'. And this political dogma is also responsible for the existence of organisations like Barnet Homes.

Barnet Homes, we salute your inhumanity to the most vulnerable in our society.

I've also discovered that my widowed mother in law, together with all the other widows in her street is going to be visited by inspectors from the housing association in the next few weeks. I wonder why?