Sunday, 27 July 2008



I have moved to HERE.

Hopefully you can join me in my move :)

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Shooting myself in the foot?

As another week of seeing homeless clients who have been told utterly the wrong thing by the various Local Authorities goes by I was pondering the fact that around 70 pct of my cases come from clients dissatisfied in one way or the other with the assistance provided to them by the Local Authorities in my area.

I think it's rather ironic (I hope, not wishing to be compared to Alanis Morissette in not being able to actually define irony, or maybe it was a double bluff) that should I be free to actually complain about the Local Authority and be free (for I'm not working at a CAB) to formulate social policy attacks on the Local Authority then by making the Local Authority do the right thing then I might well find myself out of a job. Without all the dissatisfied customers the CAB wouldn't have enough matter starts!

Just imagine a world where the DWP runs like clockwork, where LA's take approaches from all, where Landlords know the difference between on and after. What would we do!?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Slacking, sort of.

Apologies for the slack nature of my posting lately. I'm attemping to train for the London Triathlon in a few weeks time so this has rather eaten into my spare time.

I shall attempt some further random pondering posts when I get back from the gym later but I may be unwell as I'm attempting 80 lengths swimming, 6 miles running and then preventing my body collapsing on the floor in a heap.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Handy Tip and Shelter where are you!

Tip for day. If you are dialling from a phone that withholds your number dial 1470 as before calling your client. I find a lot of clients will not pick up withhelds as they think they are debt collection agencies.

Also it appears calling Shelter's specialist support line at 13.04 is not between the hours of 10.00 and 16.00 as that's when they are open according to the nice automated lady telling me they were closed. Odd!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Quick question

Where do the 20,000 families go once they are evicted?

Presumably they then make a homeless approach. Now if it was perhaps the dependent son or daughter of the applicant that caused the applicant to get evicted then they may well not be intentionally homeless. They then all get put into emergency accommodation together and then wait for a Part VI offer of accommodation should a duty have been accepted to them under 193.

What has this solved exactly?

Has it helped an already dysfunctional family unit?

Any CLAC workers here?

I would love to hear from any workers in CLAC's in regard to their experiences and how they might be better or worse than the pre CLAC days.

I know it's a bit of a long shot as this blog is probably only read by about 20 people.

Ho hum :)

A4e vs The CAB, round 1

'Since 1991, A4e has touched the lives of over one million people, helping them to improve their circumstances and realise their potential.'

Well it appears that A4e won't be touching the lives of any more inmates in Kent having announced announced that it cannot continue to run the Offenders' Learning and Skills Service from August 2008 to July 2009. According to this months LAG this is due to the fact it stands to make a loss of some £892,000.

With the aid of some random Google browsing A4e certainly seems to have 'touched' the lives of some other people to.

Take some lives 'touched' as part of their Gateway to work programme

This months LAG also has a very interesting article on A4e and the possible arrival (if it isn't already here of 'Tesco Law'. Read all about it here. 'Tesco Law' = cheap, filling, but not particularly good?

It's also interesting to note that A4e who are now the second largest provider (who's the largest?) advertised for telephone advisers at a less than confidence inspiring £16.5k a year with no experience necessary.

Friday, 11 July 2008


Well I told the MP's that most my time was spent dealing with the increasing use of gatekeeping practices and how the LA's were not doing what they were lawfully required to do most the time.

Safe to say the MP's weren't very interested...

Ho hum. At least I told em!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

On the fiddle!

Good lord Lindon is claiming £256 a week in benefits whilst he might be working!

Instead of watching another programme about benefit cheats why can't we have a programme where an undercover team of investigators follow MP's and MEP's as they repeatedly make 'dubious' expenses claims.

For instance it would, I reckon, be so much more fun to have someone tail the Commons Speaker's wife when she gets a taxi to see just where she's going.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Storing trouble for later, another sign of the times?

In my experience of mortgage possession cases the mortgage company have always been pretty quick in applying for a warrant for possession and getting the former owner out pretty quick in order to sell the property.

However I had an interesting case recently where the mortgage company (one of the biggest subprime lenders) had informed the former owner that they wouldn't actually be applying for a warrant for at least 6 months knowing full well that the former owner couldn't pay a penny towards the mortgage.

As the property had no equity (an increasingly common phenomena it seems) it perhaps wasn't surprising in the current market as one can only presume the subprime lender would be hoping that the housing market turns around. It also made making a 'homeless approach' based on not reasonable to continue to occupy a little trickier than usual.

One wonders (for I have no clue at all) how this particular mortgage and presumably many others appear on the balance sheets of the mortgage companies involved (as one thinks they might be rather optimistic in their forecasts in order to show smaller future losses) and just what happens if the market doesn't turn around.

It should be said that the last paragraph was mainly the result of a chat with my brother in the pub so is probably not based on any actual real knowledge of subprime balance sheets at all.

Moral dilema for the day, CABx lack of independence strikes again

My manager has just informed me that he would like me to give a little talk to our local MP's about the housing problems that I face as they are coming to our bureau in a few days.

Now in my opinion if our CAB was independent and impartial as we claim to be then I would tell them about our Local Authority's obsessession with statistics, its gatekeeping practices, the fact they have had 1 homelessness forum meeting in 2 years, the fact they are understaffed, the fact they take weeks to respond to even simple requests, the fact that they are therefore screwing over the homeless of our Borough.

However as we wouldn't want to kick up a fuss it has been made clear that this wouldn't be appreciated by 'el boss'.

Should I or shouldn't I ignore 'el boss's' request?!

CLAC's and CLAN's

A thought provoking post here on CLAC's and CLAN's.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Landlords, got to love them

I think the favourite part of my poorly paid and probably soon to be non existent job (go go LSC and CLAN's) is helping clients who come in with notices from their landlord. I hesitate to use the word notice as they seem to take all sorts of rather strange forms.

Most of the tenants I see are statutory periodic assured shorthold tenants. Amusing mistakes (yes my job IS that dull) range from the common section 21 4a 'I require possession on X date' rather than after X date fatality to 'here is your 4 weeks notice to quit I'll be around on X date to pick up the keys'.

By far the best was a landlord who made the same mistake (requiring possession after X date where X date was in fact 1 day to late) TWICE. Having been to Court they proceeded to do the same thing again. They spent about a year trying to get rid of their tenant :).

I do actually feel sorry for you landlords who decide not to get any sort of legal advice before issuing a notice but I have to say thank you for brightening up my day.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Stupid days?

Does anyone else have days where they just can't seem to remember fairly basic housing stuff? Days where you just sit there and think doh I really shouldn't have advised the client to do that, better ring them up and somehow retract the advice...

Lying bastards

Further proof that Local Authorities are lying bastards comes from the release of the Statutory Homeless figures for the first quarter of 2008 (hat tip to Smoking Gun). My Local Authority made ONE! homeless but not in priority need decision. Fortunately for my semi pretence at anonymity quite a few LA's had just one :)

Now to me that means that either they found that every single homeless person bar one had a priority need for accommodation or are adept in telling single homeless people to fug off.

Take a case I had recently. Single homeless person under 25. Little support in the area, only on JSA, and just released from prison. They had been to the LA for help with their homelessness only to be told to bugger off. Had they accepted a 184, were they considering whether they had a priority need as per 10.24 and 10.33 of the Code? Had they shit, I bet they are trying to get down to 0. I bet they were really angry about that 1 bastard who had ruined their stats.

The amusing thing is that in the pursuit of reducing these magic figures my LA do odd things. Four times in those same 3 months my LA,where they could have taken a homeless approach and just come to a reasoned not in priority decision after my threat of JR etc, just randomly rehoused my client straight into permanent (my clients having previously had bugger all points on the register) thus avoiding having been 'homeless' altogether. In all 4 cases my clients had of course been told to bugger off before coming to me.