Tuesday, 8 July 2008

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?!


William Flack said...

If I was in your shoes I would try and provide the MPs with an accurate picture of what is going on but without using the sorts of words used in your post. For example instead of "screw over" perhaps use "seek to assist within the the very real constraints of limited housing stock and staffing". Hopefully politicians will be able to read between the lines and you won't end up looking like a trouble maker.

House said...

hehe thanks William,

I can be diplomatic but realise that it might well seem otherwise from my blog!

Although on second thoughts why shouldn't I be able to say screw over! :)

Anonymous said...

Tell the truth, obviously. There is no way your manager can even attempt to discipline you in any way for presented a accurate picture of current housing office practice in a calm and professional way (which means, unfortunately, that the phrase 'screw over' is out!)

And if I were you I would start with the gatekeeping problems that you describe so eloquently, because IMO that is the most pernicious of behaviours, which can successfully hid a multitude of other problems by just pretending they don't exist.

houseangel said...

Rarely a blogger, yet came across your dilemma of the day & couldnt resist.
Being the rebel that I am... I think you should tell it how it really is...seriously! Short sharp & straight to the point - delivers the message. Verbal 'swings & roundabouts is for fellow golfers & challenges on policy.
oh oh I know, you could show some real brownie-point-potential by
inviting a 'real' homeless family in to share their 'Cathy come home' experience. Few yrs in temp accom or something worthy of a ethical rant should be suffice!

Hey, on a serious note...It's commendable you see the system for what it is..& admit it! (ignorance is bliss n all that)
What you describe is quite the norm (& more) although staffing issues wouldn't be 'as bad', if the housing depts & H.A's actually spoke to each other. Moreover, actively working together. Gate-keeping happens wherever there's a budget/target. Tut-tut say no more.

By the way, I think this says it all really:
William: "Hopefully politicians will be able to read between the lines and you won't end up looking like a trouble maker."
(wait a sec..eye-rolling moment) OK. Hope is good... cause its just about the only thing a homeless person has got! hence the word home-LESS! Round two:
If they speak out, then they are seen as Trouble makers!! - What Poppycock!!...grrrr humbug!
Square wheels, the ark, dinosaurs all in the past now.


OK OK..Hands up all those unfamiliar with the term/phrase 'screw over'..... - enough said!

Hey house dont you change a thing. Reality is exactly what it is. (blimey this was a 'brief' comment) now look...oops! x

House said...

Thank you for your kind words Houseangel.

Brings me back to my lottery idea. If I won it I'd fund my own advice centre, fill it with jolly good solicitors and beat the Local Authority into oblivion.

Whilst it obviously wouldn't solve the underlying problems of all things homelessness it would at least amuse me.

Ho hum.

Ethan said...

How about you find out about the MP? does he really care the issues? If not then there is probably no point running up against your manager etc...otherwise go for it! The guy did ask for your views, its not your fault that he may well not be prepared for the answers taht come back!!

Nearly Legal said...

Umm, could you pitch it as a 'problems experienced by service users' approach. So, the failures to respond, the lack of communication/discussion with housing advisors on practical problems. Throw in a few anecdotal but actual case studies (preferably of no-question duty cases) illustrating delay/confusion and its effects on the clients.

Then leave it there, having set up the questions the MP can then put to the LA and let them try to explain it, rather than telling the MP what is wrong with the internal workings of the HPU