Lambeth Council Watch - news and updates about the 'co-operative' council

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by editor, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. blameless77

    blameless77 Well-Known Member

    I don't quite understand this. Is there a limit on being able to change things yourself? I've also waited 12 years for a new bathroom, but that's because I have to pay for it myself and I haven't prioritised it...I could have chosen to save up though...
    Khmer likes this.
  2. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    As a long term council tenant, the landlord (i.e the council) has a duty to ensure that what you're renting is up to scratch. A thirty year old bathroom is clearly in need of a replacement, and that's what we were promised 12 years ago, with repeated pledges that the improvements were 'coming soon.' Just like any tenant living in a flat in need of improvement, I don't see why I should have to save up and pay for it myself and gift them a shiny new bathroom suite when I leave.
    Gramsci and kikiscrumbles like this.
  3. blameless77

    blameless77 Well-Known Member

    As a ‘long term council tenant’ who presumably plans to stay a while wouldn’t you be prepared to make an investment for your own comfort? Especially given how strapped councils are? Especially if you plan to be there for the long term?
    Khmer and alcopop like this.
  4. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    You're sounding a lot like a Tory here. Why should tenants be expected to pay for the services and the upkeep of a building that they're already paying the landlord for?

    And 'cash-strapped' or not, the money coming in from rents is sufficient to pay for these repairs and updates - because they calculated that sum themselves.
  5. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    Cllr Andy Wilson is busy shooting himself in the foot on Twitter

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  6. Tricky Skills

    Tricky Skills Well-Known Member

    Ah, Andy Credibility Wilson.

  7. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    Councils have finite resources and, while it is clear that questionable allocation of funds, significant wastage and incompetent leadership all have a part to play, blameless77's suggestion is a good one and not a uniquely Tory thing to say. If you plan to live somewhere for a long time it is entirely reasonable to assume that if you wish for your immediate environment to be bettered more quickly than the council is evidently able to do so (whether through policy choice or financial necessity), you should put your hand in your pocket to make appropriate improvements if you can afford it and the need is sufficiently strong. The talk on this board of the desire for Labour in Lambeth to follow a more Corbynist approach suggests general approval of socialist principles. Socialism encourages sharing of resources and surely there is nothing more socialist than leaving as a legacy to your community a new bathroom for the tenant who is lucky enough to move into your flat when you leave.

    Your sense of entitlement, your belief that the council should do everything for you while you sit back and pay a rent that is subsidised by taxes collected from those who receive no benefits and must house themselves entirely at their own cost and your unwavering view that anyone who disagrees with you must be a "scumbag filthy Tory" is insulting.

    Plenty of people in private rented accommodation have bathrooms that are thirty years old. They make a choice to live there, based on a combination of factors including their income, the amount of rent, the property's location and what is important to them. If the poor quality of the bathroom becomes a factor that overrides any positives that the property may have, they can move. Similarly, if the quality of a bathroom in a council property becomes a factor that overrides the fact that that property is in a central location that many private renters cannot afford and is available at a rent that is significantly below market, that council tenant is free (subject, it is recognised, to issues with proving income, providing references, etc.) to make a choice to rent a privately-owned property that is further out of the city centre, thus with rent at a level comparable to their older council-owned property, and with a nicer bathroom.
    Mr Retro, Khmer and alcopop like this.
  8. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    Ah yes. The old Tory 'push the poor people out of town' argument.
    Gramsci likes this.
  9. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    As opposed to the old Tory "I won't pay to renovate my own bathroom just in case someone else in need might be able to benefit from it in the future" argument, you mean?
    Mr Retro and Khmer like this.
  10. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    Why do you think rent paying council tenants shouldn't be entitled to decent homes?

    The council took their money and promised to refurbish the properties, yet failed to do so for over a decade. Seems strange to try and blame the tenants.
  11. tim

    tim Well-Known Member

    Excellent, a pompous Tory bleating on local election day, I shall definitely be in the ballot booth tonight, ticking for the leftiest lefties standing
    Gramsci and editor like this.
  12. organicpanda

    organicpanda cat herder extraodinaire

    disingenuous cherry picking at it's worst, it takes between 20 and 30 years for councils to get back their original investment in building council houses/flats through rents, which means that the rent they continue to get after this is paid back is profit. if you want to go down the business route then surely it is better for councils to invest in their properties as a private landlord would presumably do to make sure their investment keeps it's value
    editor likes this.
  13. snowy_again

    snowy_again Slush

    This is priceless.
  14. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    I have not said that council tenants should not be entitled to decent homes.

    Equally, I am not blaming the tenants for the council's failures.

    In an ideal world councils should have enough money to ensure that council tenants are housed in the best conditions possible. Regrettably, we do not live in an ideal world and, as I said, a council's financial resources are finite. Leaving aside myriad arguments as to whether council funds are allocated rightly or wrongly (which in my view is far too often the latter), the reality with which we are faced is that, for whatever reason, Lambeth council does not have (or claims not to have) sufficient resources to bring all its properties up to scratch.

    I have no desire to see "poor people" pushed out of town. I am not a pompous Tory bleating on election day. Those "poor people" (not my words) very often do essential jobs that require them to live closer to the city centre than they otherwise might be able to do and a diverse mix of people is vital to a successful community. But everyone contributes to a community in their own way, be that through performing those essential jobs, raising children, volunteering to plant trees and tidy neighbourhoods, or paying taxes.

    The difference between those contributions is that some are voluntary and others are not. If I could volunteer to pay less tax, would I? No, because I am lucky enough to have enough money to live in relative comfort and I believe that I have an obligation to ensure that the community in which I live, whether at a local, national or international level, is the best that it can be. I do not sit there and complain that I have paid enough to fund the maintenance of the roads only on which I cycle, or the collection of my wheelie bins alone, or the single visit that the police have paid to my house when it was burgled. I recognise that I must pay more, because I can, to ensure that our world is a better place in which everyone can live in comfort, health and happiness, even if there is no direct benefit to me. Should I stop donating to schools, universities or medial research on a regular basis because they have already received funding from me through taxes? No, because sometimes more is needed than what is provided by funding, regardless of whether that funding is (objectively) correctly or incorrectly allocated.

    If you have no spare money at all to renovate your bathroom that has not been updated for 30 years, then I am sorry. I sincerely hope that the council sorts out its priorities and stops wasting money on vain, self-serving projects. It is not your fault.

    But if you do have the cash and you object to taking action on the basis that you would be paying for something that someone else might have the benefit of in years to come, and you are not prepared to pay a penny more than the rent that you pay to the council in order to contribute to the greater good, then you show nothing but contempt for anyone who ever tries to do anything to help anyone else.
    blameless77 likes this.
  15. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    Agreed. But that is what socialism is, no?
  16. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    In principle, yes. And councils should do that. But in practice the council will rob from one department to pay another and thus it uses profit it receives from rents to shore up other, unfunded areas.

    I am not claiming that Lambeth council's budgeting ability is anything other than shambolic, but the knee-jerk reaction from some on this board to any view other than the leftest of left view being that of a "scumbag filthy Tory" or an affront to everything that Lambeth and its residents stand for is unhelpful and obstructive to any sort of progress (which, before someone leaps on, I have no desire to see become progression towards eviction of council tenants and a descent into Thatcher conservatism).
    Khmer likes this.
  17. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Reminds me of a local person I know. Rents privately. Boiler wasn't working right. Plumber came and told landlord new boiler was required. Landlord told tenant he would get new one fitted but would put up her rent to cover this cost.

    Second example, which you would like, is Evening Standard

    London tenants spending £300 million a year on repairs their landlords fail to carry out

    Im unfortunately of an age to remember when private renters paid less than Council tenants in my town. As the post war Council flats had mod cons like bathrooms.

    The issue imo is that both Council tenants and "private" tenants should have same standard of accommodation, security of tenure and right to repairs.

    The reason post war why Councils and government ( Tory and Labour) built decent affordable housing post war was that the private sector had failed to do so.

    Since Thatcher this country has had a long experiment in reducing social housing stock with replacement that the market knows best.

    This has failed.

    One thing that could be done is to give back to private renters security of tenure, rent controls and support in getting private landlords to do repairs.

    I was talking to someone last week. They have leak in bathroom roof. They are worried if they complain they may not get tenancy renewed.

    Complaining that Council tenants have "sense of entitlement" is the wrong target.
    Last edited: May 6, 2018
    sparkybird, editor and Southlondon like this.
  18. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    I agree with everything you say about how the rental market needs to be improved and I recognise the issues facing many tenants.

    To make myself clear, I did not say that I “like” that tenants are having to put their hands in their pockets to cover repairs that landlords are not covering from existing rental profits. Remarks like that are unhelpful and unnecessary.

    Nor have I at any point lumped together council tenants generally and claimed that they all have a sense of entitlement.

    What I take issue with is that editor was not even complaining about putting his hand in his pocket to pay to renovate his bathroom in order that he would benefit from it. His sole objection (leaving aside the view that the council should be paying for it, with which I have already said that I agree) appears to be that someone else might benefit from the work in the future. That is selfish, and entitled.
  19. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    You previously posted that if a private renter does not like his bathroom they should move.
    editor likes this.
  20. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Where do I start.

    This is really right wing.

    Socialism isn't about sharing resources.

    There are two approaches. One the reformist. Corbyn is reformist.

    Reformism accepts Capitalism can't be got rid of easily. Its not about sharing resources. It accepts that in a class based capitalist society the workers produce wealth of society. Therefore a (reformist) socialist government redistributes wealth , that is made by the workers, back to them. One way is to build Council housing. This isn't a subsidy. Its giving back to the people some of the wealth that is expropriated from them by capitalism.
    blameless77 and editor like this.
  21. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    So I'm "selfish" if I insist on receiving a long delayed improvement to my home that I have already paid for? That really is fucking priceless.

    No idea what your last point is as I have no intention of moving, unless the council gets taken over by people with your disgusting ideology of forcing poorer people out of the centre of town.
  22. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Here is what you said in post 67:

    If that's not saying Council tenants have sense of entitlement I don't know what else it means. If it applies to Ed then it applies to all.
    editor likes this.
  23. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    And just to put to bed that ignorant "subsidised by others" claim:

    "In fact, council housing has been making a profit since 2008, which has been paid to the Treasury"
    Who really gets government subsidised housing? | John Perry
  24. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    Interesting article. Your interlocutor was suggesting also that councils would need to raid other departments to pay for unfunded repairs.

    I was under the impression that the Thatcher regime introduced ring-fencing round the housing revenue account - which suggests housing costs are not mixed with other council costs. I guess this still applies?

    The article above refers to owner occupiers being subsidised more than council/social housing tenants. This may be so when it come to help-to-buy etc but people who simply own their homes - having paid off the mortgages do not get any subsidy.

    Added to this - if they feel they cannot afford a new bathroom I guess they put up with what they have. There is a big business in bathroom sales (like double glazing sales and kitchen sales). The fact these 'improvements' have to be SOLD indicated a certain consumer resistance in my view.
  25. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    Some people on here seem to misunderstand what is being said. I don't know whether that misunderstanding is deliberate or not, but if it is then it unnecessarily misleads people and polarises opinion. For example:

    No, I did not. I posted that if a particular private renter placed a particularly high importance upon the quality of his or her bathroom, and the quality of the bathroom in the property prevented that private renter from enjoying living in a particular property, they were free to move if they wanted. That is could, not "should".

    Again, no. Let's look in particular at your post #62:

    You have stated that your reasons for not paying for a new bathroom are twofold: first, by paying rent to the council you have already paid for the bathroom renovations and the council should make good on its promise; second, by doing so you would "gift [the council (and, indirectly any new tenant)] a shiny new bathroom suite when I leave". I agree with your first point. I have repeatedly said so. It is your second point with which I take issue. That is selfish and, given that you apparently have "no intention of moving" does not cast you in a good light.

    Similarly, I have never expressed any desire to force "poorer people out of the centre of town". All but the wealthiest of people have to make a compromise on something; be it neighbourhood, proximity to work, friends and family, size, quality of accommodation, security of tenure, and I have simply said that people are free to prioritise one factor over another as they in their individual circumstances wish. I do recognise that some people are compelled to accept substandard accommodation because they need to live near work, for example, and as I have already said, the council is failing those people badly and I am not on the council's side. My issue is not with them. My issue is with you who has offered no reason why you need to live in the flat in which you do and every reason why it is a personal affront to you that it should even be suggested that, if able to, you might want to improve your own flat using your own money.

    Regarding my post #67 and your interpretation that:

    Once again, no. Editor's sense of entitlement comes from the second of his reasons above. He appears unprepared ever to go beyond the boundaries of what he has paid for himself, just in case it risks helping anyone else. And that is despite the fact that other people have initially funded the cost of his housing, which is reformist socialism at work (and note that I say initially because I recognise that his rent has, over the years, paid for it in absolute terms at least) and despite the fact that on a daily basis millions of people pay taxes towards things from which they themselves derive no direct benefit. I am sure that not all council tenants are so selfish, in the same way that not all women are the same, not all men are the same, not all youths hang around bus stops. Gross generalisations are unhelpful.

    Agreed, interesting article. The article does argue that people who simply own their homes are subsidised because they pay no CGT upon the disposal of that home, and that is indeed an argument, but to get into its validity or otherwise would be to stray from the current discussion.

    To your point on ring-fencing still applying, yes it does, and my apologies if my earlier comment was unclear or incomplete. As I understand it, the way in which the council funds repairs means that it borrows money to do so against the value of housing stock and the cost of repaying that borrowing must be met by funds available from housing income. However, in order to obtain better borrowing rates, local authority borrowing will generally be on an all-budget level with a pro rated amount applied to each department benefiting from that borrowing. Thus, the value of housing stock does in fact assist other departments with their funding. What is perhaps more pertinent to the current discussion is the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, which requires councils to reduce rents by 1% per annum until (I think) 2020. Lambeth has done this but, as a result is unable to borrow as much as it had originally budgeted for because it has less housing income to meet repayments on the original borrowing. That is perhaps (although I speculate) one reason why council tenants who have been promised repairs may still be waiting for repairs and renovations to be carried out.
  26. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    I can't be arsed with your constant twisting of my words and the subsequent wriggling out of your backfiring arguments. People can read your words and I think the meaning is crystal clear, despite your subsequent back-pedalling.

    The council made a commitment to update 35 year old bathroom suites that were in a poor state of repair. The tenants' rents had already paid for those improvements, yet they still had to wait over a decade for the work to be done. I see no reason why council tenants should be expected to pay thousands of pounds out of their own savings for this work or - as you suggested earlier - be compelled to move away into a poorer area.

    And that isn't about a 'sense of entitlement' - it's about having more pressing financial priorities, like being able to pay the rent, and the bills and getting food on the table.
    Tricky Skills likes this.
  27. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    Then why not accept that it was wrong of you to give as a reason for not paying for it yourself the fact that someone else might benefit in the future? That is what I take issue with.
  28. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    A reminder of what was said.
  29. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    Show me where I said I had a problem with a future resident having my paid-for bathroom suite. I referred to gifting the council with a new bathroom, so kindly stop this devious misquoting.
  30. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    One follows the other. The council is not going to live in your flat, another tenant will.

    If you think I'm twisting your words I'll put it another way. You have a problem with giving something back to a council that has provided you with something that a lot of people have to pay a lot more for.

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