Galileo goes over the top to find the Big Society in the cuts
Sorry, but it looks like capital funding for affordable housing will be wiped out in a direct hit as part of Wednesday’s CSR.
The Observatory’s fine, but Galileo’s been advised he should get out more. So he’s retired to UKR’s Big Society Trench, which is convenient, as it affords him the opportunity to sally forth selflessly in his ongoing quest to divine the future of localism and decentralisation.
Far from sheltering in some wolverine bunker, our brand new Galileo goes over the top to bring you his close-up of the steaming entrails exposed by the Treasury axe. And, well in advance of the anticipated Armageddon, here’s his first, live and un-embedded, report from the frontline.
Helmet strapped on, guided by the philosopher king, and armed with an overdose of cynical optimism, I stride across the Big Society battlefield . . .
Thank God we don’t need to sign those silly health and safety forms any more. I’m heading straight for no-man’s land, and to keep things simple I’ve brought with me just one short guide. I reckon it should be okay, because it’s been issued by Prime Minister David Cameron’s philospher king, and nagging conscience, Phillip Blond:
“The cuts could and should provide the opportunity for a new civic approach to the state. If they don’t and we simply have a smaller version of what we have now, the coalition will have lost its opportunity on the “big society”, leaving it for Labour and Ed Miliband to grasp.”
So here we go! Right. It’s okay, I know what I’m looking for: an axe, a phoenix, and a rising star.
I think I can just see the housing wipe-out. Estimates for the cuts to social housing development expenditure started at 30%, soon reached 50%, and now could be as high as 80%. http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/development/social-housing-‘to-be-hit-with-£8bn-cuts’/6512119.article
No more grant to build affordable rented housing for households in need, no more grant to house key workers at intermediate rents, no more grant to subsidise individual or collective home ownership. Construction industry walloped. Just enough cash to wrap up contractual liabilities. Double dip!
Torture by a thousand tenant panels . . . and death by the Regulation Committee
Watch out! Tenant Panels! It’s horrible!
“Where tenants are unhappy with the way a complaint has been handled by their landlord, MPs, councillors and tenant panels will be able to scrutinise the performance of landlords, and help tenants secure better services.”
“If these local systems don’t resolve the issue there will be the option to refer the complaint to an ombudsman.”
We’re suffering down here, crying out for devolution in the post-bureaucratic age, and what does the Minister slash us with?
“to ensure there is sufficient separation between the regulation of social housing and investment decisions, an independent Regulation Committee will be set up within the HCA with its membership appointed by the Secretary of State.”
Welcome to the Big Society’s social housing revolution! The TSA is dead, but lives on - ‘independent yet within’: Long live Tenant Panels; all power to the Regulation Committee!
Scramble the pilots! Bring on the bonus!
What’s the future for social housing? Is social housing destined to be delivered merely as a by-product of wider redevelopment schemes, regulated paternally by post-war style panels and committees? What about ownership through asset transfer? Plaintive cries: ‘Hand over the power you promised!’
Half a gig for co-ops and mutuals
Phoenix in sight! The Government favours the creation of a new loan facility for co-operative and mutual housing development.
I’ve just ducked into a crater, and some local intelligence informs me civil servants responded to this by indicating a sum of £500 million would be more appropriate. Yee hah! But that’s still only one sixteenth of the £8 billion cut in social housing investment. No wonder the Treasury was so keen to inflate this initiative: the economy depends on it!
Can a rising star ride a phoenix?
You know, at my age, I really should take things easier. So, I’m retrenching. Prepare to recover quickly from the shock of what’s gone, so we can carry on regenerating, using the new weapons on offer.
Will Galileo’s reserves of cynical optimism prove deeper than the Government’s cuts? Distracted we may be by many doors slamming loudly, but he observes some quiet openings. Can a rising star ride a phoenix?