Tuesday 6 July 2010

Welcome to Britain - heres your mansion

The British people deserve all they get for listening to the media and voting for who the media wanted them to vote for.

If you are as stupid as a well trained monkey, then expect to be treated like a monkey.

'Live in a £1m mansion for £130 a week? Only if you throw in a new kitchen...': Whistleblower exposes chancers and cheats who abuse social housing

Last updated at 8:00 AM on 6th July 2010

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Recently the Mail published a devastating account by a whistleblower who revealed a culture of absenteeism, rampant inefficiency and 'unsackable' staff at the London council where he works as a senior planning officer.

The article struck a chord with another official employed by a housing association in the capital. The system is designed to help the destitute, but he says it is abused by undeserving chancers and cheats.

The Mail knows his identity, but to protect his job, 'Chris' tells his story to EUGENE COSTELLO...

Not long ago, I had to do a field visit to one of our sites to show some properties to a family. The houses are new-builds in a really good, central location - I'd love to live in one myself. Three storeys, with three or four bedrooms, really nice - they were so new that the paint was still wet.

The family had just arrived in London from Somalia. It didn't take long for them to decide they'd seen enough. They didn't speak much English but they made it clear they weren't happy with the bedrooms on the top floor - apparently they didn't like the sloping eaves.
Corrupt: The housing system is designed to help the destitute but is abused by chancers and cheats

Corrupt: The housing system is designed to help the destitute but is abused by chancers and cheats

But the deal-breaker came with their next questions. First, they wanted to know if the property came with an automatic right-to-buy with a discount, which it didn't.

They are thinking of council-owned properties, but we are a housing association - a not-for-profit organisation that is funded by government grants, bank loans and rental income - so we hold on to our stock and simply let it out.

I thought that question was a bit odd, considering the family supposedly didn't have a penny to their name, which was why they were throwing themselves on the mercy of the good old British taxpayer. Where would they get the funds to buy a townhouse in central London?

This 'penniless' family also wanted to know whether they got a residents' parking space with the property. I had to tell them 'No' to that as well. They shrugged and spread their arms, as if to say: 'How on earth do you expect us to live here? Why are you wasting our time dragging us here?' And off they went.

They could afford to be so sniffy because we have Choice-Based Letting (CBL). Once, there was pressure on applicants to accept properties when they came up or risk dropping back down the list. Now that's gone, so they can just keep saying No till we deliver exactly what they want - they're actually more demanding than tenants in the private sector.

Our problem as a housing association is that we are subcontracted to local authorities and have no say over the lists of people for whom we have to find a house - we are simply given the list and if someone is on it, they have the right to take one of our properties (with their rent heavily subsidised by taxpayers).

Even if it would be overwhelmingly obvious to a five-year-old that the applicants were chancers, we have to smile and say, 'Yes, sir' or 'No, madam'. In fact, we can't even describe them as 'tenants' any more - we've been told we must call them 'customers'.

Even if it's obvious they're chancers, we can't say No

he legal position is that local authorities have a statutory duty to house those in need and will determine whether they need emergency housing (such as immediate B&B accommodation) until a long-term property is found.

That's where I come in. I've been doing this sort of work for 15 years and we see a massively disproportionate number of people arriving from overseas.

The law was changed in 2000 to say that asylum seekers would not be eligible for social housing but it doesn't seem to have hugely affected the types of people that we are seeing. I suppose that's partly because once asylum is granted, they do become eligible - and those who go on to get British citizenship can invite members of their family to come over and join them.

Overall, the system is a joke. It rewards those family members who have just stepped off a plane by giving them a wonderful property in a central location, while Britons who have been here for years or even generations have got no chance of getting to the top of the list.

This is because British applicants tend to be already living with family - parents, etc - so technically qualify as being housed. Recent arrivals with kids in tow do not and are given priority. That said, single mothers as a group are hugely over-represented among social housing tenants; the perception of girls becoming pregnant to get a council flat isn't completely without foundation.

My particular bugbear, odd as it may sound, is satellite dishes. These pose a huge problem for us, especially with our Turkish 'customers' (for some reason a lot of the families we are asked to house are Turkish).

The first thing they want to know - well, after the free parking and the right to buy, of course - is whether they are allowed to put a satellite dish the size of a small helipad on the front of the property. Some of them need to put up two dishes so they can guarantee getting all the channels they want.

As a result, some of our properties end up looking like GCHQ. I'm told the problem is something to do with the signal for Turkish TV not being strong enough.

We always say No. If they think we really mean it - because the house is a new-build or period property - they will turn the place down, no matter how nice it is.
How are they paying for it? Tenants who are supposedly on the breadline often have luxury goods like plasma TVs

How are they paying for it? Tenants who are supposedly on the breadline often have luxury goods like plasma TVs

Properties with open-plan kitchens can be a problem too, as Somalian or other Muslim 'customers' often don't want a kitchen that opens straight on to a reception room, and these type of houses are always turned down. I was given the reason by one man: If he wanted to invite other men around to play cards or whatever, he didn't want them to see his wife making food in the kitchen.

I really have no idea how some of the people who come to us become eligible for such heavily subsidised properties, although I have my theories.

One of our 'customers' is a musician of west African descent who is doing really well and often appears on TV. Certainly, tributes on his website as well as comments from his agent are effusive about just how successful he is. Yet he and his family recently rang us to arrange some property viewings - they were on the council list and wanted rehousing in a more central location.

He was very fussy: it had to be a period, character property and it had to be in London Underground's Zone 1 - ie, central London.

We showed him a beautiful, four-storey Georgian property in a central London square with a park in the middle. He seemed delighted, as well he should be - this is a house worth well over £1 million and a normal rental would be £1,000 a week. He's getting it subsidised for £130 a week.

My personal view is that this house should be sold and the money invested in new-builds - we could have a dozen flats for the same money, and so help lots of families, not just one.

But no one else in the department seems to agree. I can't understand it: surely we are supposed to provide a safety net for as many people as possible, not the keys to the palace for just one family?

Anyway, this family didn't seem to appreciate their good fortune. As soon as they moved in, they bombarded us with a litany of complaints. Nothing was ever right.

For example, we had just installed a new fitted kitchen, leaving space for white goods - we don't supply those, that's down to the tenants. Sorry, customers!

Anyway, this family had brought with them a 'slim fit' dishwasher. But the space we'd left was for a standard-sized unit. Believe it or not, they wanted us to come back, take the kitchen out and refit it with units that matched their dishwasher.

In any case, I don't know how that family qualified for social housing. If I were being charitable, I would guess that they had got on the list before they had a better income and managed to stay on it.

They bombarded us with a litany of complaints

The truth is that once you're on the list, you seem to be there for life: the system isn't continuously means-tested. What should happen is that tenants - customers - should be retested periodically to ensure that they still qualify for this enormous subsidy from the taxpayer. As I say, it should be a safety net, not a state-sponsored bonanza for a lucky few.

It really rankles that someone who is clearly earning a lot more money than me gets to live in Millionaire's Row at taxpayers' expense, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. I commute into work from a small flat outside of London as I can't afford to buy anything more central.

A less charitable explanation for why this musician and his family got the star treatment (and one that a lot of my colleagues believe to be the case) is that there are cliques in local authority departments - be they West African, Indian, Pakistani, whatever - who 'look after their own'.

These cliques bump friends and relatives to the top of the list, even if they don't fulfil any of the criteria for social housing. This is done either as a favour or in return for a backhander.

I know it happens. One area I deal with is in South London. There is a large Portuguese community there and I would often get a call from one local lady, a Portuguese grandmother who seemed to act as an agent for new arrivals. She'd ring me regularly and say: 'Chrees, you have nice flat? I have lovely family who just come from Portugal, need nice three-bed flat.'

The first few times I'd say: 'Luisa, you know I can't do anything unless they're on the list.' She'd reply: 'Don't worry, Chrees, they will be on list tomorrow, please just show them some nice flats.'

And sure enough, the family would be on the next version of the list we'd get.

She clearly knew someone in the housing department who would put her families on the list in exchange for cash - which she could afford to pay as she was charging these families a lot of money in return for her securing a council flat for them. Of course, the family was happy to pay a big one-off fee because once they were in the system they were in for good, and they would get a centrally located flat for a peppercorn rent for life.

I'm speaking out now because I find the whole system corrupt and unfair - and, above all, a monstrous waste of taxpayers' money. Our houses often go to those who have been in the country for less than a month and have no intention of ever contributing anything to Britain through taxes. Meanwhile, those who have been here for years paying tax have got little or no chance of getting a flat.

I went to see a woman recently in her lovely three-bed flat to arrange a follow-up visit. When I got my diary out, she said: 'Can't do July or August - I'm abroad twice this summer.' Then she winked at me and said: 'Not bad for someone on the social, eh, Chris?' and laughed. But I don't find it funny.

Just a few decades ago, if you lived in social housing, people would come and look at your property, and the rules dictated that if you had possessions that were worth anything, the authorities would force you to sell them to contribute towards your rent.

Of course, no one is saying we should return to such harsh attitudes, but the system does seem to have swung far too far the other way.

My colleagues and I go on field visits to see families who are supposedly on the breadline and cannot subsist except by the largesse of the British taxpayer. Yet they have nice cars, top-end plasma TV screens, the latest games consoles for the kids, Sky TV and all the rest of it. How on earth are they paying for it?

I'd love all those luxuries, but I can't afford them - because I work for a living.

* Some names and details have been changed to protect the interviewee's identity.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1292336/Whistleblower-exposes-chancers-cheats-abuse-social-housing.html#ixzz0stPoWeZs

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Anonymous said...

"I'm speaking out now because I find the whole system corrupt and unfair"

How long has this moron and others just like him/her been happy to sit and milk this corrupt system before writing about it (for a fee, and just prior to retirement no doubt)? They are like fat maggots crawling out of the rotten corpse.

Anonymous said...

lee this story is propaganda, made up bullshit, their may be a hint of truth to it in that some cases may be close to this at times but when the hell did the media give a crap about the country sliding down the tubes on ANY level, crocodile tears are the best you can expect and outright deception the norm.

The aim is simply to cut state funding and here they have found the scape goat, same as their kicking the sick, they think the middleclass will buy into it.

The housing asociations are a NWO mafia trick, the rents are higher than buying and they are a poverty trap, the money destined for projects gets syphoned off by the big boys and it is jobs for the boys - who you know not what you know.

While the staff who do the maintenance etc are `training`(training not worth a shit or recognised by anyone as it happens) in other words - free slaves, expect another expansion of the slave trade under the tories, always keen to get their workhouse mentality out of mothballs, but this time the NWO are asking for it, not conservative ignorance and dogma.

So now the Lib Lab Con have got everyone in their not too well concieved trojan hoarses inside the gates they pull the drawbrige up and get out the billy sticks.

Now we are a destroyed society no more pretence is needed, strait to the robbing and abuse.

Anonymous said...

Again this piece is a propaganda hitpiece and the intended victim is the poor and needy, they have plans to smash social housing to kick you out if you have been their 40 years and your wife died and they now I presume considering they are the only expanding group in the country that they want some immigrants in your house and you in some squalid squat or care home.

Labour came up with this plan a couple of years ago, it is NWO and a way of spqueezing more people in while kicking the poor and needy brits and british communities, while some of the cases may even be fact let us not believe for one second as they would like you to believe that they give a flying f*ck about the British.

This is simply the sales patter, the grease, the tories are basically pulling the chain and flushing the poor down the toilet just as was planned by Labour, but this time with a right wing spin.

Don't buy into such evil propaganda just because it `appears` to make a case for the cause, it in reality, undermines the cause.

the media is ALL lies - everything, their is NEVER a strait article, which is why they repeats the same pathetically small 5 stories (non stories) all day on all chanels, and fill the rest with sport, they don't have time to turn all the news of the day into pure propaganda and hit pieces.

what scares me most is how people are lapping up this bullshit like Nazi Germany pre war!

The majority will bay for the total destruction of the poor, and then it is their turn!

This was a vile hitpiece on the poor working class, nothing more nothing less.

One step away from slave camps/ gulags/workhouses.