Opinion: Have you seen Breaking Bad?
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
By Alistair McIntosh, chief executive, the Housing Quality Network
Have you seen Breaking Bad? It’s just the best thing on the telly. The star is a mild mannered teacher. He starts out as a model citizen. Life throws a lot of problems at him. What does he do? He hits back. Bit by bit he turns into a monster taking revenge on his foes. Let’s just say he switches from corduroy to Corleone as things go from bad to worse. I am beginning to wonder if the government is trying to provoke the housing world in much the same way.
Councils are building homes again. Associations are doing what they do with almost no money from the government. You would think the government would be pleased and leave well alone. If only that were so.
The government has ripped up the rule book on rents. They want to change the formulae that puts rents up and do away with rent convergence. The long and the short of it is that landlords will get less money. Some could lose up to £20million over 10 years say the NHF. ARCH tell us that there will be casualties at councils too.
As you would expect this is not going down well. The NHF has started to walk towards the old weapons cabinet. Silks are telling them that it’s time to dust off the judicial review revolver. You must remember it. It was the weapon of choice whenever Thatcher or Major asked us to do anything.
I hope we don’t have to go back to this. We spent more time concocting brilliant legal positions than running services. It took years to put this right. Go back and read some of the early housing inspection reports if you don’t believe me.
What do I think needs to happen? The government should give social landlords more freedom to agree rents with their tenants. In return we need to get better at proving we are VFM. That’s a fair deal.
The spats in Breaking Bad make for great television. Of course the housing press would love a full on battle between the government and landlords. It would be great to read about. But it would be such a silly distraction at a crucial time. Let’s hope both sides can reach agreement.
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