Friday 15 April 2016

Plus ça change...


  1. Thank you for running this. It made me wonder if the Thatcherite drive for home ownership was a response to this too. Home owners moving out of the responsibility of the state to rectify the political mess the housebuilding competition caused.

    I remember going to a meeting once where every speaker placed a high value on having their own house. I realised then that politicians - ever eager to please - picked up on that and competed to provide housing.

    The modern equivalent is tertiary education. Never mind the quality, feel the width.

    Saor Alba

    1. How I agree with you.

      The British obsession (becasue it's present here too) with owning your own house, no matter how poor you are, is frightening, but hugely encouraged by all types of politician.

      I imagine it's encouraged by the state as some sort of way of making sure you don't get out of line. If you own your house, you probably wont go on strike, no matter what they throw at you.

      My German friends couldn't believe that people who hadn't a pot to pee in, had the massive debt of housing. What, they wondered, did they do if they were paid off.

      Particularly those in blocks of flats who suddenly get hit by a bill to repair the roof, or replace the drains... paint the stairs or some other communal job that would have been taken care of by landlords.

      I agree about tertiary education to.

      I wish it were a little more 'tertiary' sometimes.

  2. I have been a social housing tenant for forty two years. Most of the houses around me have been bought under the right-to -buy system. Most of these people are now on their second mortgage due to the escalating cost of repairs to what are now ageing ex-council houses.In the past two years my own house has had the roof re-tiled and the loft insulated,complete insulation of the outside fabric,a new bio-mass heating system, a new kitchen and new bathroom suite,all at a cost of exactly zero. Although I am past retiring age I am still in employment so still pay full rent and council tax. I don't mind as I shudder to think of the cost of these items had I bought the house.

    1. Bang on.

      New roofs do not come cheap.

      Indeed houses are for people with a fair bit of money.

      It's certainly pretty bad living in a block with some people who simply don't have the money for absolutely necessary repairs, or repairs that would enhance the value...

      In any case there should never have been a scheme that sold off houses without rebuilding on a one for one basis.

  3. tris

    A must read

    Smith, who says she has been in almost continuous employment since she left school, said: “Because I was working I just didn’t understand

    1. Quote from the article: "Experts have warned that the initiative risks blurring the government’s attempt to draw a clear political dividing line between so-called “hard-working families” and those caricatured as out-of-work “scroungers”, because it extends the negative connotations of welfare dependency to those who have a job."

      I don't think they care. I genuinely believe that people like them look at ordinary working class people pretty much all the same. Working or not, if they are dependent on help they are a sub species to our public school educated, Oxford/Cambridge grads.

      This idea that if you get unstable work and need to have some sort of help from the state to keep yourself alive you aren't entitled to a holiday seems to be how they think of people 'not of their station in life'. It even seems strange to write in in 2016, but I think that's how it is.

      Tax Credits are paid because the tax threshold is so low. £11.000 (which Kezia says is fine) is some £6,000 below the poverty level.

      That's a nonsense.

      The fact that people's working hours are changeable means that the Jobcebntre needs to be flexible too. But they don;t seem to understand this. it spoils their outcomes.

      And of course, sanctioning people is how they make targets now.

      As for their claim that they are supporting low paid people to "increase their earning and potential"... What a load of unutterable crap.

      It shows that the architects of such schemes have not the foggiest idea what life is like outside their cosy little world where they get paid vast sums for doing very little.

      Agreed Niko, a must read.

  4. Sorry to go off topic again, Tris, but you may recall that I mentioned a leaflet from a local Labour candidate which made no mention whatsoever of Labour's proposal of a tax-rise of 1p across all tax bands and I wondered if this was a 'one-off' omission by the local candidate or whether it was wide-spread by all candidate? Perhaps some of your readers might have received similar leaflets? Incidentally, despite the fact that the proposed rebate for those less well-off has apparently been cancelled it is still up on their web-site the last time I looked, further confusing people? Perhaps Niko could shed some light on the issue?

    1. Never a problem to go off topic, John. You know that.

      So this is an appeal to all readers... and I'll repeat it on a new page, and the question about the cancelled rebate.

      To be fair I doubt Niko would have much of an idea about the vagaries of the Labour webpage... but his opinion would be welcome!

  5. Tris,we had the misfortune of having occupancy of one of those homes built in the New Town of Livingston. The flat was damp, certainly not noise proof When we moved in we had no idea why every room had different and bizzare wallpaper. We moved in April 1976 so as it was a dry summer we set about redecorating. Well September the rain started and the mould started. Driven mad by the upstairs neighbour who played Johnny Cash records all day and night. Well to keep it short my boss found me in tears one lunch break and when I told him my woes, he sent me off to fight the good fight. We got rehoused, they did offer to put in a second inner wall. I should have said it was a single skin concrete ice box. I met a girl on the bus who was about to become a neighbour. She was a single mum working in the Dreaded jpb centre and she was worried about her wee boy who was having nothing but chest problems. Yes they then after a few years modified these houses, they should have knocked the lot down but considering the cost of these houses, hard to do.
    I lived in the new house for a good many years, they are still standing, though again lack of maintenance but nothing like the lack that happens in private housing. We bought our first bought house in 1980, moved in and found how badly IT was built and no council to approach. Owning a home should not be so difficult but it should also be accepted if you are struggling to pay for it how do you maintain it, most of the housing stock is unacceptable in the way of condition after a very short time and that I would say is in the private sector. I think it would be less "class" driven if everyone rented as they do on the Continent specially in high cost countries and we got shot of the Rachhman landlords.

    1. You make really good points there Helena.

      Most of us know someone who lived in the concrete monstrosities that they put up in the housing booms when both parties were falling voer themselves to build, and there were few regulations.

      The money it all cost!

      In Dundee famously they knocked down the mediaeval centre of the town and build a concrete monstrosity call the Overgate. Then they housed the people from it 5 miles away from the town centre in another concrete monstrosity, Whitfield. Problems were damp, lack of insulation (you could hear a pin drop from next door)and distance form the centre (you could see fields from the Whitfield estate).

      But private housing seems to be little better. I know Jim will have something to say about this, but I know from my leafleting that some of the new houses in expensive estates, look as if they are falling down within a few years of going up. Letter boxes that are falling off, guttering that is dripping and worst of all that cladding that shows all the marks from the pins that hold it on...

      In my brother's fairly expensive (by Dundee standards... it was well over quarter of a million) house you could hear every single thing from neighbouring rooms. Fortunately it was detached... although the space between it and the next door neighbour was prey small!

      We seem to pay more and more for less and less.

      Again I'll defer to Jim if he can dispute this from the inside! :)