Friday, June 08, 2012

Housing staff pay price of Cameron’s Britain

Inside Housing magazine published today research showing a huge year on increase in violence against housing staff.

Spat at and slapped. Bitten. Punched. Forced to the ground and beaten. Every day in the UK a front line housing worker is falling victim to this kind of violent assault”

"Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: ‘Government cuts to housing are not only hitting tenants hard but putting at risk the safety of those who serve the public. To add insult to literal injury, changes such as the bedroom tax might see tenants vent their anger on those in the front line.’

While "Jake Berry, parliamentary private secretary to the housing minister, said: ‘Any assaults on housing staff are absolutely unacceptable’, and that Mr Dromey’s comments linking changes to benefits to violence were ‘utterly baseless and completely disgraceful’.
I was quoted as "John Gray, housing association branch secretary at public sector union Unison, said: ‘This is what happens in the everyday life of housing officers up and down the country.’

He added that tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of the government’s welfare reforms and are threatened with eviction ‘won’t blame the coalition, they’ll blame the infantry’
. So you can see which side of the debate I was on.

Since I think what Jack Dromey said is very true. Things will get even worse with the bedroom tax. Not only that but due to Coalition spending cuts in the Health and Safety Executive and local authority enforcement there will be less protection and support available for staff.

It wasn't reported that I had also said when interviewed by Inside Housing that part of the solution was  employers and trade union safety reps working together in partnership to protect staff.  However there were certain "rogue employers" who refuse to work with unions and frankly treat their staff with as much disdain as they do their residents . 

If assaults and injuries occur in organisations where risk assessments are not properly carried out or implemented, incidents not investigated or polices not enforced then the CEO and senior management teams of these organisations need to be targeted by the HSE/Local authorities and dealt with under the law as criminals in the same way as the actual perpetrators of the violence. 


Anonymous said...

Your comments are nonsense to connect benefits changes to behaviour of tenants.

In the 1950s people lived in condenmed houses, but they did not go round smashing bus stops and causing ASB and criminal activity.

Housing Associations, should only give housing when it can be proved people are of good character.

The real reason is a lack of respect. I am angry that you would use a serious issues for political gain.

Your last paragraph, is another bit of union rubbish. So instead of prosecuting the people who cause assults, you instead want the CEOs to be punish and face criminal sanctions.

No wonders, so many British companies went down the toilet with union people like you. No wonder, no wants to manufacture goods in the UK.

You still have a them and us attitude, and I would have thought you would be trying to break down class barriers.

John Gray said...

Hi anon

That's not what they were saying at the time about the Teddy Boys? Interestingly for much of the 1950's there was full employment and Governments of all political colours competed and even boasted about how many social houses they were building. Unlike today alas.

Children, the elderly and disabled make up the most users of social housing? How do you assess the character of a 5 year old? If his mum has a criminal record for shoplifting do you say “tough - live on the streets”?

So the increase in unemployment (especially the young), the reduction in real wages and the above inflation increase in rents will have no difference to attacks on housing workers trying to deal with arrears?

With the bedroom tax you will get middle aged mothers who have lived all their life in a home and brought their children up evicted because they cannot pay the rent as well as other reductions in benefit? Are they going to go quietly? Have you ever served a notice of repossession on someone or been on an eviction?

You appear to have trouble with reading and comprehension. So I'll try and make it even clearer that that the criminals who assault staff should be prosecuted as well as the criminals who due to their negligence or recklessness allow it to happen. This just happens to be the Law of the Land.

I was at a conference once where one of the speakers was a Tory MP who was also a company director. He was the one to say that if he fiddled the company books he could be jailed and struck off as a director. But if allowed one his workers to die needlessly then why should it be treated less seriously!

The only "them and us" you get in Britain today is from sections of (not all)British management and especially their professional advisors who indulge in "crony capitalism" and have been enriching themselves and ripping off their workers, customers and shareholders for years.

How many companies have gone (will go) to the wall because of this recession brought about let us not forget by fraudsters and thieves designing poisonous financial products soley to make vast unearned bonuses. Not many unionised merchant bankers (more the shame).

Countries with more successful manufacturing bases such as Germany don't have this attitude and value the unions. Successful British based companies such as in the car industry also work with the unions in partnership.

I want to work with like minded employers to improve safety however for those who break the law and allow people to be hurt should face the legal consequences.

I'm afraid you are the one with the outdated attitudes to class. You don't mind workers being injured at work and you don't want the unions or the state to do anything to protect them.

Anonymous said...

You seem more concerned about 'workers' in your union, then you do about thugs causing problems for local communities. The same people who attack your colleagues are the same ones who cause harm, ASB and criminal activities in neighbhoors.

I have been the victim of many problems from youths and thugs, who come in from housing associations estate. This has been going on for at least 20+ years. So it has nothing do to with benefit changes. When I look at the new housing associations being built, I look at it horror as you only building homes for trouble markers and people who dont deserve them. My views were never lilke this, but they have changed when I see such scumbags causing problems.

" If his mum has a criminal record for shoplifting do you say “tough - live on the streets”?"

So be it. It will get the message out, that benefits and housing in a privelege of a generous society. Wandsworth did not have the balls to evict that rioter from the council house.

Then you go on about the bedroom tax. If I understand rightly. You want me to pay for a single mother to live in her 3+ bedroom house when her kids have left home. It is possible her kids might be single mothers in their own right and in need of housing. So why should the tax man pay twice?

Why should the young people who are minimum wages pay more tax then is necessary to keep this middle aged mother in a property that is too big for her??. It is time for her to down size.

This country needs to support vunerable, like the ages, disabled, but there a lot of people who have shown they do not deserve and appreciate the generosity of this country.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon

This is pretty nasty, low and bigoted.

I have spent much of my past working life in various courts trying to evict, jail or get orders etc on drug dealers, yobs, thugs etc. What I am talking about in this post is work related health and safety and holding to account some highly paid senior managers who break the law and allow their staff to be hurt. You appear to think that is alright, I do not.

It is completely despicable to attack all "housing association" residents as trouble makers and "scum".

I can remember the same rubbish being said about Council tenants.

Yes, a tiny percentage of kids in social housing causes trouble and needs to be dealt with. To slur all of them is unforgiveable.

In the past some of the worse problems I had to deal with was kids from owner occupied homes causing massive problems on estates. Their parents didn't give a monkey about their kids smashing up a "council estate".

I don't want to live in a society where kids of 5 live on the streets.

Wansworth could not evict that rioters Mum because the law did not allow it. Don't rely on trashy comics pretending to be newspapers.

You think evicting grandmothers is a good thing - I don't.

The real spongers in our society the CEO's who pay themselves massive pay increases year in and year out are the ones who do not deserve and appreciate the generosity of this country.

Anonymous said...

YOu have failed to explain what you want you H.A. bosses to do for you (beside you wanting to send them to jail). YOu are the frontline staff. Do you want them to give you body armour?

Secondly, you call me a bigot and nasty. I take offence. My opinion, has been formed as a direct result of being a victim. I was forced out my home and not safe to live......

YOu may say it is a small number trouble makers, but that does not make a difference to me. I feel the impact from housing associations.

So having a re-think, perhaps I would like agree with you and I would like send your bosses to jail for all the probems I have faced with ASB, criminality and threats of violence.... I had my car kicked in...

It is not my fault I have lost my compassion for people in housing associations.

Newham's Mayor described a big housing association, as having turned one part of Newham into a "ghetto". It is a problem everywhere...

Bedroom tax: You have not explained why a young person, should pay tax to support a granny living in a 3 bed house, when she has not need of it. Why not downsize her to a 1 bedroom house?. There is a shortage of homes and people have to do the best they can with the resources we have. Lets say it costs an extra £100 per week to stay in a 3 bedroom property. That is the equivalent of 20 hours of extra (at minimum wage). Why should a granny get 20 hours of someone free labour???. Just as working tax payers have been helping her, it is her turn to help society. The granny should make a sacrifice....

Elderly home-owners are forced to sell their homes to fund their stay in nursing homes.

Then you read in the papers, how Bob Crow - RMT union boss is earning £141,000 a year. He is living in a council house. The man has no shame. He has launched a book. This is something which Labour should have dealt with when in power, instead you have let the Tories clean up....

I agree about the CEO are sponging and this is where unions can challenge bosses with shareholders....

John Gray said...

Hi anon
Read what I said. I would prefer for the unions and responsible employers to work together to stop these things happening in the first place.

Decent Risk assessments, investigating all incidents and assaults and making sure that lessons are learnt would be a start.

No housing officer should be in a situation that requires body armour in the first place.

How ridiculous for an anonymous troll to “take offence” on my comments. How on earth do we know you are not saying a pack of lies? Please...

Are the waiting and cooking staff who have to put up with their restaurants being smashed up by the Bullington toffs now suppose to hate all Oxford graduates? A ridiculous argument as well.

I would want to incentive a Granny to move into smaller accommodation? Evict them? No

There are badly managed housing association, Council and Private estates all over the UK. The Housing associations and Councils who treat their residents the worse also tend to be the ones who treat their staff in the same way.

We cannot just let social housing be the preserve of the very poor. Good on Bob (who I have my differences) for still living in a Housing association home (not council).

You have a point that the last government should have introduced variable rents for the better paid. Which is a different issue.

The model of social housing that I think works best is the original one that that doctors, docker’s, teachers, labourers, office workers etc should all live in the same community. We don’t want estates where everyone is on housing benefit.

So what are you doing about CEO sponging?

Anonymous said...

"The model of social housing that I think works best is the original one that that doctors, docker’s, teachers, labourers, office workers etc should all live in the same community"

John, I strongly disagree with you. This is a FAILED model. I have lived it and speak from experience.

JG: "I have spent much of my past working life in various courts trying to evict, jail or get orders etc on drug dealers, yobs, thugs etc"

Good on you. If you are a well-paid person, why would you choose to live in such surroundings?. Why would you want your car kicked in, or eggs thrown at your home, or gansta kids jumping your garden, another neighbour had youth jump in her garden and they stabbed her,....

I had a nice neighbour from New Zealand who left Newham after guns were fired down the road and the year before her 12 year daughter was sexually assulted by gangsta school boys.

You have an idealistic view of the 'poor', but for me...

When Newham attracts mild mannered middle-classes, they stand no chance in Newham....

Until, socialism addresses the criminal element... dont' expect any compassion from me.

I have lived your Uptopian dream and it has been more of a nightmare....

John Gray said...

Wrong anon. This housing model has not failed it has not been implemented. We have in the past tried to “build” communities where 90% of residents are on housing benefit? No mixed communities, no role models and hardly anyone in work.

Go to most country villages (that are not too close to big cities and the curse of 2nd homes) and you find that this model exists and works.

You cannot write off people purely by the tenure they happen to live? I have lived in Newham for over 20 years and cannot imagine living anywhere else.

The worse anti-social yobs in this country are the tax evaders who cheat hospitals and schools out of their money. The more equal the society the better it in all measures.

I live next door to private renters, owner occupiers and a social housing estate. I have (touch wood of course) never had any serious problems with my neighbours or their kids. In fact the opposite.

Look, life is not perfect in Newham (nor anywhere) but it is getting better and will get even more better in the future.