Search This Blog


Welcome to the learning4housing blog. I will be posting my thoughts and opinions on a range of issues facing the social housing sector. You are more than welcome to post your comments, whether you agree or disagree on the points. The aim here is to stimulate some debate on these issues, whether they are about current government policy or about best practice in housing management or strategy.

is an independent training provider for the social housing sector. We cover a wide range of subject areas, including anti-social behaviour, homelessness, resident involvement, void control, choice-based lettings, and complaints management, as well as personal skills development around communication, negotiation, assertiveness, influencing, managing people, etc. Please visit the main website for more information at

Please call David on 07986 246406 to discuss your training needs and how we can help, or email at

Tuesday, August 16

More on rioters, punishments and housing tenure...

As the dust begins to settle following the dusturbances of last week, the real battle has commenced. The political battle that is. With Cameron, Clegg and Miliband making major and well reported speeches, we should all now be clear where we are going. But are we? Are we confident that our politicians have our best interests at heart? I wrote yesterday that I was not comfortable with knee jerk responses and simplistic on-the-hoof policies to tackle what is a very complex issue. There is a school of thought of course that the only interests that (most) politicians have at heart are their own. A tad cynical perhaps, but then I am old enough to have witnesses too many lies and betrayals from politicians of all colours over the years. So where do we go from here? I do like the idea of some kind of period of reflection and a chance for us all to think about the wider issues. But honesty is a key requirement. And openness. Two ingedients that often seem in short supply these days. 

What I definitely do not like is the use of housing as a tool of punishment. Housing is something that is fundamental to us all. It is our base and our refuge. Something that should be a positive aspect of our lives, not something to be used in a negative way. Someone else has written about tenure. Why should Shapps propose a separate punishment, ie eviction from a social rented home, that would not be available to be used against a private renter or a home owner? More scapegoating of social tenants? Surely not. Anti-social behaviour in all its forms is not tenure specific. In addition, he is planning to use this punishment against families where a son or a daughter has been convicted of a riot-connected crime. Is this fair? I don't think so, although I know that some people will.

The debate will continue and politicians will keep on trying to seek a way forward - for themselves and for their parties perhaps. Ordinary people need to involved in this process. More inclusion, openness, honesty, and acceptance of mistakes are needed, but don't hold your breath. This could be a positive watershed if we (society as a whole) take the opportunities presented to us to and seek progressive outcomes for all concerned.

Monday, August 15

'Punishing' the rioters?

In the aftermath of the recent disturbances in some major cities, there is clearly a vast opportunity for politicians of all colours to begin their diagnosis and their various recommendations for treating the ills of society. Two of the main ones that have emerged appear to be the removal of benefits from those people who have been convicted of offences relating to the disturbances, and for the eviction from social housing tenancies of perpetrators and their families. 

Now I have never been totally comfortable with the increasing levels of responsibility for social landlords to deal with anti-social behaviour. Whilst there are some clear breaches of tenancy agreements that should be dealt with, the constant blurring of what are police and criminal justice responsibilities and those of social landlords can sometimes cause confusion on the part of tenants and others. I am also uncomfortable about politicians introducing opportunistic and populist  policies in an attempt to look as though they know all the answers, or just to look tough. The trouble is that we have not had a time to reflect on the issue in any depth, and the adoption of knee jerk responses has a real possibility of either having no effect whatsoever, or even to make matters worse. 

The causes of the disturbances are clearly complex. To adopt simple remedies as a response could be a dangerous thing.

I would be very interested to read the views of other people from the social housing world on this issue.

David Wardle
August 15, 2011.