What you won’t read in the Western Mail

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I’m using this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, to put out a letter I sent to the Western Mail that that organ clearly has no intention of publishing. Probably because it’s critical of the Labour Party and Labour’s crony state in Wales.

Late last year it became known that social housing providers had been levying unlawful charges on certain tenants. A curious business in which the Senedd’s lawyers had to explain the law to ‘Welsh Government’ lawyers!

After being informed, the ‘Welsh Government’ hurriedly introduced backdated legislation, which of course covered the collective arse of Labour’s cronies in housing associations and the third sector.

Perhaps more importantly, the legislation avoided having to make refunds to the tenants. And all because somebody in Corruption Bay cocked-up. Given the way this country is run the person responsible will probably be promoted.

Last week, I wrote a letter to the Wasting Mule trying to explain the mess housing is in. Given the matters it addresses – and no matter what the Western Mail may think – I believe the contents of this letter merit an audience.

Here is that letter:

The remarkable case of the Senedd’s lawyers suggesting the Welsh Government’s lawyers have got it wrong over allowing landlords of rented properties to levy service charges brings into focus the status of Registered Social Landlords or housing associations.

For many years RSLs were classed as Provident and Industrial Societies, regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Most in Wales held housing stock that had been transferred from local authorities and received further funding from the Welsh Government to improve those properties and build new.

But in October 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs in England would be reclassified from Private Non-Financial Corporations to Public Non-Financial Corporations.

Further announcements were made relating to the devolved authorities.

Which meant that what had always been treated as public bodies would now officially become public bodies. And this threw up problems.

Not least that the debts of Registered Social Landlords would transfer to the UK public sector net debt.

To avoid this unwanted outcome RSLs were privatised. The legislation for Wales was passed in May 2018 and accepted by the ONS a month later.

This privatisation saw Welsh housing associations form subsidiaries, often unregistered and unregulated, which are now building private properties all over the country, many marketed as ‘affordable’ in an attempt to maintain the pretence of being social housing providers.

‘Affordability’ is determined by the price of other properties in the area. In Abersoch, for example, an ‘affordable’ property would be in the region of £330,000. Affordable to the Cheshire Set, maybe, but not to locals.

Privatisation and the rush into private housing means that most housing associations no longer have an interest in building affordable rented housing. This explains why an increasing number of local authorities have started building council houses again.

And yet, despite now being privatised, and being major players in the private housing market (at the expense of social housing), housing associations are still being funded by the Welsh Government.

With much of this funding reaching subsidiaries who use it to build the unaffordable ‘affordable’ housing. Justified by arguing that the profits from the private sales will go back to the parent RSL to build social housing!

Er, why can’t the parent RSL just keep ALL the money and build social housing?

From figures I’ve received from the Welsh Government, the total amount given to RSLs between 2010 and 2020 was in excess of £1.3bn, with the annual amounts increasing since they were privatised in 2018.

Clearly, the Welsh Government still regards housing associations as public bodies. This explains both the continued funding and the current attempt to legislate in favour of these officially privatised companies.

It also tells us that the housing sector is a shambles, and sorting it out should be a priority for the administration that comes in after May’s Senedd elections.

Which could start by clarifying the status of our housing associations, their rapidly multiplying subsidiaries, and the relationship of both with the Welsh Government.

Specific attention should be paid to Welsh Government funding given to RSLs being diverted to subsidiaries for open market housing.

♦ end ♦

 




30 thoughts on “What you won’t read in the Western Mail

  1. Dafis

    Sorry about the delay in my response to your caption competition. Kinnock Snr to Kinnock Jnr –
    ” Stephen my boy, lose that hair sharpish so you can look all dignified like me and progress into the upper House and other well funded troughs. Keep the hair and you’ll end up a minor provincial politician like that cnut behind me. Principles ? Make sure you got a hefty range of flexible ideals that can be wheeled out as needed. Onwards and upwards boyo “

  2. Dafis

    Shocking to read, courtesy of Neil McEvoy, that some scoundrels have been dishing out leaflets purporting to be Labour party literature and picturing our esteemed Benevolent ( or Benito) Leader, Drakeford, in contravention of scrict rules laid down by the local Obergruppenfuhrer of SS – SWP, Adolf Michael. These renegades, who can’t be remotely associated with the core values of Socialism must be sent to the local correction centre for reeducation in the basic principles of compliance and public order. Details can be obtained from Y Llywydd at Y Senedd who will be available to personally dish out punishments by not listening, if such extreme measures prove necessary.

  3. Brychan

    Crwydro y byd.

    Well travelled is me. When I went to South Africa I noticed the black people lived in tin sheds, the white people in mansions. Then I visited Israel and I saw the Muslims in concrete shelters and the Jews in luxury apartments.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6eR-s-jjq8%5Bremovetoplay%5D

    As I now wander up the Gwendraeth to see my love bubble on my government permitted daily exercise, if I meets someone, I have to decide what language to speak. I find it’s Welsh around the estates of social housing but its English on the new executive homes with the views of the sea. The only exception is the Plaid Cymru house, but she’s moved to Cardiff.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5ySDqrEmWU%5Bremovetoplay%5D

    Please tell McEvoy I can deliver some of his “pizza” leaflets.

  4. Thanks for this letter.
    Of course it will not be published in mainstream media.
    I have had terrible problems with one housing association as my area goes to the dogs with cannabis factories and anti-social behaviour and the significant thing I noticed was that they had an “asset management team” which seemed to trump all others in the organisation. The assets are growing while the tenants are neglected.
    They really are dreadful landlords and I appreciate your highlighting this growing problem.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Dafis

    more indications that key workers within the NHS in Wales are operating in a climate of fear.

    https://nation.cymru/news/news-in-brief-clinicians-call-for-new-velindre-hospital-to-be-built-at-the-heath/

    Article focussed on the alternative idea that the new cancer facility should be built adjacent to the Heath campus, space permitting. However those who advocate such a proposal are constrained by a bullying culture according to N.C – “The 163 clinicians who signed the letter did not want to be named publicly, according to Save the Northern Meadows, for fear of bullying.” Seems like the People’s Republic of Cardiff Bay is getting its modus operandi into shape !

  6. Dafis

    Off topic, but there again everything relates to our current state of crisis, Leanne Wood writes in nation cymru : https://nation.cymru/opinion/why-labour-is-hypocritical-for-blocking-an-inquiry-into-devastating-floods/

    Nice to see her engaging in a periodic fit of distancing from her pals in the Labour government in the Bay. These sentences caught my eye in particular :

    ” When crisis strikes, people naturally look to the Government for answers to questions such as “how do I get my house and my life back?” and “what’s going to stop this happening again?”

    A year on, and more extreme weather has hit, bringing more floods, yet these communities are no closer to the answers they so deserve and the justice they seek. What’s been confusing, is that many of these communities haven’t experienced flooding before, so they’ve been left with a sense of ‘something’ must have happened to cause this.”

    Ms Wood is obviously as dim as her Labour pals when it comes to cause and effect. Something has happened for sure. They have collectively and uncritically bought into the bollocks peddled by the wind farm industry and its green advocates, allowing the destruction of huge areas of relatively absorbent upland and woodland to create space for the turbines and thus facilitating run off on an unprecedented scale. Unforeseen ? So easy when you don’t even bother to look properly. They were pissing their pants with enthusiasm for this technology, killed off funding for alternatives for years and now can’t even organise a decent bit of relief for those who suffer the consequences. So Ms Wood can put her sanctimonious pen away, put on her wellies and protective gear and get started on clearing drainage channels and sorting some new diversionary streams to direct floods away from homes.

    Your and your mates’ mess, you sort it.

    1. There’s a lot of rain forecast for the Rhondda this weekend, with the risk of flooding. The problem is that we’re in a situation now where nobody can afford to ask the obvious question without looking very, very stupid for the uncritical support they’ve given in the past to wind turbines.

      1. Dafis

        Leanne on her own in wellies and hi-viz won’t be much use in diverting the floods but others either in present regime or immediate future will have to extract their fingers and put some resources into the effort. And it’s not only in the Valleys wind turbine zone either. Other dim witted decisions made for all sorts of ill thought through ( or corrupt) reasons are feeding the flood crisis. Proliferation of planning permits to build housing on flood plains or near vulnerable water courses have also contributed massively to this situation. All decisions made by government or councillors with little or no regard for eventual outcomes, but made with huge enjoyment of the photo opportunities and banal publicity at the time. Lots of Smiler Skates types out there, mostly fat greasy over-important Labour councillors.

        1. With Pen y Cymoedd the problems are fairly local, elsewhere it’s not so obvious. Take Powys, the ‘wind farm capital’ of Wales – but sparsely populated. The run-off is into the Severn and its tributaries but the effect is felt downstream in Shropshire. It’s only a matter of time before people start putting 2 and 2 together. People such as the MP for Shrewsbury with the Polish name who already hates the Welsh. Next time there’s flooding on his patch someone should direct his gaze to the wind farms in Powys.

          1. Dafis

            Large scale wind farms by their very nature disturb the ecology equilibrium of that area. Most of our river systems now have these monsters parked in the headwater zones where grasses, mosses, bogs, trees etc have served as sponges for millenia. Then some wise guys with degrees in assorted sciences but not an iota of basic savvy come along and pronounce that it’s O.K to rip it all up in the name of a new green creed which is as false as any mumbo jumbo ever contrived by mankind.

            As for the Polish twat over in Shrewsbury he’s probably linked into these scammers by political donation or sexual preference so he’ll whine like hell when it suits him but otherwise will serve no useful purpose.

            1. Brychan

              Here is an example of a bog slide from the disturbance created from the construction of a wind turbine. Meenbog Wind Farm, Co. Donegal.

              According to Leanne Wood this doesn’t exist. Perhaps she should stop wearing those rose tinted spectacles when she wanders Pen y cymoedd.

                1. Dafis

                  Ah, say they who know better, the slopes in places like Donegal are so much more slippery than they are here in Wales cos we put out the gritters regular like, see. Still doesn’t answer residents’ questions about surface, yes surface, water the stuff that used to soak into the ground, millenia of moss and bogs and into a variety of vegetation and trees. This alone should justify chucking a large swathe of useless careerists out on their lousy ears as soon as an election presents an opportunity.

                  1. I’ve been reading about the recent blackouts in Texas. It’s a worrying story.

                    Huge subsidies have been thrown at Chinese firms to build wind and solar farms on thousands of acres of state-owned land. Despite renewable energy being so expensive to generate the subsidies allowed our Oriental investors to undercut just about all of their local rivals, surviving without subsidies.

                    In Texas – which seems to have its own grid system – you can choose between a fixed tariff or a sliding scale tariff. On the latter, during times of low usage, the suppliers of renewables often pay consumers to take their electricity. Because demand was so high during the recent cold weather, prices shot up. Some domestic consumers on the sliding scale are now in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars, almost all of it due to a few days consumption.

                    Is this a sensible system? Increase the reliance on renewables, which can’t work without wind and sunshine, and we increase the chances of future blackouts. On top of which, remember that wind turbines need rare earth metals, and China has the biggest reserves.

                    1. Significantly, perhaps, there is no mention in that article of ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’. Is it beginning to sink in that the ‘remedies’ for global warming can often be the cause of more flooding?

                2. Brychan

                  In Rhondda the slopes of the valley are not natural as in Co Donegal, they are overlain with landscaped remains of coal tips. The puncture of mountain peat above by the foundations of wind turbines and the disturbance from constructing trackways to access them can have catastrophic implications. The hillsides moraines become unstable slurry reservoirs particularly unstable if the conifer plantations are cut down.

                  The critical examples.

                  https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.657838,-3.4822406,1498m/data=!3m1!1e3
                  The turbines, forestry cut, and the village of Pentre.

                  https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6882577,-3.5617627,1497m/data=!3m1!1e3
                  The turbines, forestry cut, and the village of Blaenrhondda.

                  https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6552927,-3.5387725,2575m/data=!3m1!1e3
                  The turbines, forestry cut, and the village of Cwmparc.

                  As alternate phases of saturation and run-off occur new underground water courses appear not catered for when the tip culverts were constructed. It is this that has resulted in rapid run off after a period of rain and, or course, this has already been experienced with the horrendous events at Pentre, and the knock-on effects downstream.

      2. Neil Singleton

        Didn’t there used to be an organisation which was set up in the wake of the Aberfan disaster, specifically to remediate and reclaim the coal tips, slag heaps etc. The Welsh Development Agency it was called, and for years it’s sole remit was to do just as previously described. However, with the passage of time, increasing numbers of other tasks and responsibilities were piled on the WDA. Some of this it was successful at undertaking, such as securing for Wales 22% of the UK’s inward investment, and some not so, such as spurious “training schemes” where on many occasions, little or no training was carried out and millions disappeared into the pockets of unscrupulous “trainers and business advisers” The murky circumstances of why and how the WDA was scrapped by Rhodri Morgan have been related in previous posts, but oh, how Wales could urgently do with an entity, employing experts, and tasked with the job of “remediating and reclaiming” the tips and slag heaps. Sure as hell the private sector won’t do it.

  7. Wynne

    Hope the Wasting Mule publish your letter Jac. Your analysis is spot on. The following is a good example of abuse of process at Mill Bay Homes’ [MBH] development site at Cigerran. An open market property was sold by the subsidiary MBH to its parent company Ateb for £164,950 on 24 October 2019. Then re-sold by Ateb under a 125-year leasehold contract on 18 November 2019 for £57,733.

      1. Dafis

        Q ? – Was the £165k paid by Ateb an inflated value or was the later sale at £57.7K a deliberate undervaluation? especially as the 2 deals happened within less than a month ! Some kind of laundering operation shifting money from the public to private purse ? Of course the leasehold scam is still alive and well. Provides a valuable subject for politicians to rail on about without doing anything to eliminate the practice. Sincerity and honesty will be at a premium for the foreseeable future unless a root and branch clearout is executed.

        1. Wynne Jones

          £165k is the sale under freehold tenure [open market value]. £57.7k is a re-sale under leasehold tenure. Money is certainly going around in circles. Millions provided in grants to parent company by Welsh Government to build social housing. Millions provided in loans by parent company to subsidiary to build private housing. A private dwelling sold by subsidiary to its parent company to be then re-sold under a leasehold contract.

          1. Dafis

            Q ? – Who is currently at the end of that chain of transactions ? Who got a place at Cilgerran for less than £58k ? After all even a leasehold property at that price is unusual for that area. Has some local spiv ( possibly linked to the HA !) bought it to fill it with outcasts from a metropolitan authority, or as a “second home” ? Anything other than local family units seeking a home is dilution of the community, or what’s left of it.

              1. Dafis

                That’s O.K Wynne. Just curious about the direction that episode was taking. No doubt the info will surface soon in the local community. When it does just paste it on here.

    1. Mel Morgan

      Clearly, the transformation of the administration of real property into a palpable patrimonial interest is gathering pace. The Taffia régime in this country always did look like a plebeian version of the pre-1832 Old Corruption. The asset-stripping we’ve been witnessing is the Taffia’s operation of a manœuvre analogous to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. What worries me is that they may now look for example to another historic theft – the Highland Clearances.

      1. Dafis

        The groundwork for Clearances – Highland and Lowland – is already under way with attacks on farmers and the rural way of life by various green “evangelists” and corporate land grabbing via wind farm estates and forestry/ woodland. Add into the mix the utterly unnecessary housing developments adjacent to the Border in N.E Wales and the likely rush to similar schemes in Gwent and you have a new displacement to create urbanised colonies. All done with our Labour government and the Opposition thinking it’s good for the economy. You’d get more integrity from the Russian mafia.

        1. Mel Morgan

          And more courage as well.

          These ‘developments” adversely affect the health and the life expectancy of people without wealth.

        2. Mel Morgan

          It’s not hard to see why the Greeks have a word for it: κλεπτοκρατία. In Welsh, that would be Llafur.

Now what do you have to say?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.