A Guardian Live discussion today brought together housing association professionals (HAP’s) to discuss how to ‘manage’ the fast-approaching bedroom tax, which comes into force on the 1st of April.
There were representatives from Liverpool housing associations, including Liverpool Mutual Homes and One Vision Housing; lackeys from the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation; and benefits managers from Oxford City Council.
So, what did the HAP’s come up with? Well, it was the usual, unsurprising stultifying crap that they’ve been regurgitating in the media over the past few weeks.
HAP’s were quick to distance themselves from the government legislation in order to mitigate any rage aimed at them from tenants. Unfortunately for HAP’s, tenants have been placing housing associations firmly alongside government when it comes to who to blame for this fucking mess.
A lot of talk focused on the recent reclassification by Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) of their 3- and 2-bedroomed properties in order to lessen the impact of the bedroom tax; and a lot of talk from HAP’s in response to KHT’s reclassification acknowledging that they won’t be doing the same:
“however attempts to artificially red[es]ignate properties could undermine the viability of associations”
Angela Forshaw, Liverpool Mutual Homes
“I agree with Angela's point about the redesignation. When discussing this we also thought it would be very difficult to manage”
Katie Moore, WM Housing
It would be extremely dangerous for tenants to begin relying on the 'pondering' of housing associations (HAs) on reclassification to avoid the bedroom tax. And if the failure of the so-called ‘lobbying’ of government that HAs got up to last year is anything to go by, it would only add to the dismpowering top-down attitude that HAs have taken from day 1:
“We did our best to campaign against the 'bedroom tax' and demonstrate how this was really going to hit people. Now that it's happening we're doing whatever we can to support those affected.”
Hilary Burkitt, Affinity Sutton
Really? You did your best?
Again and again the HAPs repeated what they were doing for tenants. Sadly, this revolved around the Gov's staying and paying, moving, getting more work, etc. At no point, after it was repeatedly raised, would they agree to make a stand with tenants or defend tenants in anyway.
In the round up, all the HAPs reeled off the same mantra of how important it was to ‘stay in touch with tenants’ and how “Housing providers need to be working with their customers and customers need to be working with their housing provider.” Wtf! They even had the gall to replicate further the wait-and-see-what happens policy that the government is taking. Short shrift for those tenants about to be thrown into chaos.
Today’s discussion made it blatantly clear that housing associations continue to offer reformulated government advice that disempowers the tenant to the point of least financial impact on housing associations. Fortunately, tenants aren’t taking crap from the government and the HAs, who are both being targeted by anti-bedroom tax campaigns across the country.
HAs have failed tenants and continue to fail tenants who are furious by the business-centric approach impacting on the lives of working class people being torn apart by the bedroom tax; and their continual evasion, especially over making a stand with tenants, shows that long ago they chose which side they were on.
HAs do not know what solidarity is, they do not know what direct action is. It's up to tenants to show them.