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Friday’s week in housing review: Plains, trains and (not) building homes

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Friday’s week in housing review: Plains, trains and (not) building homes

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing

Lord Freud: The future of housing benefit under Universal Credit Lord Freud: The future of housing benefit under Universal Credit

Another week, another heap of steaming carnage and catastrophe for the government’s ‘vision’ for the benefits system.

Over the weekend, news emerged of the tragic death of social housing tenant Stephanie Bottrill, who in a suicide note to her son blamed the bedroom tax for her decision to take her own life.

The government’s minister for welfare confusion, Lord Freud (Kent mansion, 11 spare rooms) described Ms Bottril’s death as a “desperately sad event”, which proved he cares after all.

Freud represents a terrific foil for the government: his insipid delivery, monotone voice and John Majorish appearance combine to stultify MPs and hacks alike during hours of select committee hearings. The result: ground-down minds simply lose the will to scrutinise his pathetic and tepid defence of the coalition's poorly thought out schemes.

In lighter news, a Devon social tenant went sobbing to the Daily Mail (that fearless supporter of social housing) after his landlord asked him to dismantle his beloved attic-based train set.

Predictably, the Mail took the ‘health and safety / dictatorship’ angle, foaming and frothing about Mr Burdock’s treatment. However, as is the often the case, the truth wasn’t quite as exciting.

Landlord Teign Housing explained that it had asked the 61-year-old to remove his toy so a team can go in and replace missing roofing beams – essential supporting rafters that Mr Burdock had himself removed without permission.

Non-story of the week was the Macclesfield Express’ news that Peaks and Plains Housing Trust had stepped in to save a library from closure. Alas, the Trust told 24dash that such a deal was far from concluded and that somebody had jumped the gun.

Elsewhere, Southwark Council has got stern with its sillier tenants, reminding them that if they destroy their homes, they will foot the bill. According to the council, one tenant smashed up his kitchen sink in a bizarre attempt to wrangle a new kitchen. The impetuous resident was billed for the damage and still didn’t get a new kitchen.

Meanwhile, housing charity Shelter called for more new homes to be built, as “worrying” new figures showed output had fallen 8% in three months.

Shelter is quite right to be concerned, but who to turn to? Perhaps the housing minster, Mark Prisk? But where is he? Prisk’s office told us that he is currently on an important eight-week fact finding mission in Outer Mongolia, investigating the pressing issue of yak migration patterns.

And finally. Research from the Resolution Foundation has discovered that vast amounts of people in the UK are spending a great deal of their incomes on housing. Last week, analysis from the think tank revealed that the Pope is in fact Catholic.

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