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Thread: Affordable Homes Fraud

  1. #1
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    Default Affordable Homes Fraud

    I see that Pentland housing Association is building 24 homes, half for rent, half for sale.
    Frankly I fail to understand why taxpayers are subsidising companies to build houses that are then sold at full market value to homebuyers when there is a desperate need for rented housing in the Highlands. Why not make all 24 homes available for rent?

    A very interesting piece on the government's 'Homestake' scheme can be found here:

    http://www.hast2006.org.uk/hsfraud.htm

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    We bought a house using this scheme and it brought with it so many problems that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
    We had a faulty connection that was under the sink in the kitchen that had been pouring water out under the floor.They argued it was covered by contents insurance and that company argued quiet rightly so it was fixtures and fittings.It ping balled back and forth until the housing association blamed the plumber who had gone bust.It was eventually sorted by the company who had done the work of building the houses supplying the material and my x doing the work on his own house for no payment
    Building insurance had to be taken out with housing association ,regardless even if you got a cheaper quote.I could go on....
    Never judge someone until you have walked two moons in their moccasins.

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    sorry to hear about the building problems. These can happen with even the best-built houses, but unfortunately Homestake houses are built for profit, not for endurance.

    The article on Homestake is an eye-opener, but you won't find Caithness.Org mentioning it. The man who runs this site is in favour of privatisation so little else appears here.

    For an alternative view, here's a good site:

    http://www.hast2006.org.uk/

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    Start a thread Pussycat then we can have our own wee vote now.
    Never judge someone until you have walked two moons in their moccasins.

    Native American Indian saying.

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    What i find really unfair is the points process when applying for a house. I feel that I am being penalised because:

    1) I have two jobs and don't claim any state benefits
    2) I have been a good boy and don't have any criminal convictions
    3) I am not a single parent
    4) I get along with my parents and am not being evicted from my own house

    The only thing which does seem to go my way is a health condition which I have. My condition may add a few points to my score so I guess thats something to smile about! (sarcasm folks!).

    I have been on a list for approx 2.5 years now. Had a telephone interview with one housing association the other day only to be told that because my brothers have both moved out I would LOSE points for the house is no-longer overcrowded!

    Does anyone else feel the same?

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    Hi Moncur, although I sympathise with your position I think its a bit unfair to use your list of points to make it appear that unmarried mothers and good parents are responsible for you not getting a rented house.
    Theres always rumours about rented housing but I suspect if half of them were true people would be living on luxury liners berthed in Thurso bay next to another luxury liner packed full of lifers and dope fiends.
    Seriously though, I think Pentland Housing have been great for the town. They have built some choice housing in select areas of Thurso and are still doing so.
    I know this thread is more about the politics but thats all down to the small print.

  7. #7

    Default Housing

    Hi Gleeber .
    Sorry ,but i think you've been smoking what Pentland is shovelling. Pentland write the rules that suit them when it suits them .If you say anything else you must either work for them or have family/friends that do...I agree that the houses are of crap designed and quaility and if they spend the same on the upkeep as they do on there present stock (17% as to the councils 34%) ,the houses will be in a skip within 15 years ....

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    Quote Originally Posted by gleeber View Post
    Hi Moncur, although I sympathise with your position I think its a bit unfair to use your list of points to make it appear that unmarried mothers and good parents are responsible for you not getting a rented house.
    Theres always rumours about rented housing but I suspect if half of them were true people would be living on luxury liners berthed in Thurso bay next to another luxury liner packed full of lifers and dope fiends.
    Seriously though, I think Pentland Housing have been great for the town. They have built some choice housing in select areas of Thurso and are still doing so.
    I know this thread is more about the politics but thats all down to the small print.
    Sorry, I should have worded my points differently. I didn't mean to offend single parent families, I actually know quite a few single parent families and have respect for them all as their role as a parent is probably more than twice as difficult. The same respect goes to having such a good, close family unit.

    My point was more aimed towards people on benefits who do not bother looking for jobs (much respect and sympathy goes out to those who cannot find the right career, I have been in that same boat myself before) and simply wait for the benefits to roll in.

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    I was just having a laugh but I am aware of that whole nightmare.
    I hope dozy goes back to bed and gets up on the other side next time.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by moncur View Post
    What i find really unfair is the points process when applying for a house. I feel that I am being penalised because:

    1) I have two jobs and don't claim any state benefits
    2) I have been a good boy and don't have any criminal convictions
    3) I am not a single parent
    4) I get along with my parents and am not being evicted from my own house

    The only thing which does seem to go my way is a health condition which I have. My condition may add a few points to my score so I guess thats something to smile about! (sarcasm folks!).

    I have been on a list for approx 2.5 years now. Had a telephone interview with one housing association the other day only to be told that because my brothers have both moved out I would LOSE points for the house is no-longer overcrowded!

    Does anyone else feel the same?
    I know the feeling. Because I live with parents in a 4 bed, I am bottom of the heap, Even when I applied when the ex lived here with us all we got points for was the fact we shared a kitchen and living room with parents.

    Also, because I have a decent job at Dounreay, I don't (I believe) qualify for the grant to buy a first house (upto 15k, anyone know more about this??) So for me to afford the mortgage on my own for a reasonable house with more than just a box room and a shower, I'd have to sell my kidneys and half my right arm.

    I think I will just by a cardboard box and live outside Dounreay........ Wonder if it needs to be painted Hi-viz yellow with reflective stripes??
    Eagle my fly, but when was the last time you heard of a weasel being sucked into a jet engine?

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    Scaraben, you've hit the nail on the head.

    The 'Homestake' scheme is a fraud - according to the article on the HAST2006 website, only 4 of 160 'affordable' homes could be bought by a person on the average wage. Incredible!

    The same website also shows the admin costs of Pentland housing association and others - yikes!!

    The other scheme you mention I think is a grant for council tenants to move out and buy a different home. This was I think 10K and may have applied in England only, and only to the name on the tenancy. It may now be defunct anyway.

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    No it applies to scotland too.The housing asociation offer a grant to first time buyers here too.What you have to do is find out how much of a morgage you can get and the difference if realistic is given as a grant.
    Found out yesterday that no one else has too want the house so in these times of increasing housing turnover dont know how this will work
    Never judge someone until you have walked two moons in their moccasins.

    Native American Indian saying.

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    Take a look at http://www.nethouseprices.com/index.php?con=sold_prices

    It's a free site, it's simple to use and shows the prices that properties, new and old, have sold for in other areas. You can check for premises by post code, by street or for a whole town.
    It will give you an idea of how prices here compare with places elsewhere.
    Animals I like, people I tolerate.

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    another good site is www.ourproperty.co.uk - it includes properties not shown on Jaws' link.

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    It's fairly clear that some people contributing to this have a limited understanding of what Housing Associations do and are for. And before going any further, no, I don't work for one neither do I have any interest in any of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by pussycat View Post
    Frankly I fail to understand why taxpayers are subsidising companies to build houses that are then sold at full market value to homebuyers when there is a desperate need for rented housing in the Highlands. Why not make all 24 homes available for rent?

    A very interesting piece on the government's 'Homestake' scheme can be found here:

    http://www.hast2006.org.uk/hsfraud.htm
    Housing Associations have to raise the capital to build the houses, which they do like you and me - they get a mortgage (effectively). Theyt borrow large amounts, though, and can set one lender against another to get the lowest interest rates. Tell me, how much taxpayer's money goes into subsidy?

    Houses are not sold at the real full market value. They're sold at the Valuer's assessment of the market value. Under the Scottish system (supposedly so superior to the English system of house buying) people expect to receive offers over the market value, forcing a premium onto the value of the property. Mortgage lenders will lend only on the value of a property as security (should it have to be force sold), so a purchaser of a non-HA house has to find up to tens of thousands of pounds as a deposit because he / she has to pay the "market premium" which a lender won't lend on.

    Housing Associations are not-for-profit organisations, registered Charities, and regulated as to what they can and can't do. They don't write the rules, they just have to live with them. Some people are happy to rent; others want to buy. Who are you to dictate to someone that they can't have an opportunity to buy a house?

    Quote Originally Posted by cuddlepop View Post
    We bought a house using this scheme and it brought with it so many problems that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
    We had a faulty connection that was under the sink in the kitchen that had been pouring water out under the floor.They argued it was covered by contents insurance and that company argued quiet rightly so it was fixtures and fittings...... <snip....>
    Building insurance had to be taken out with housing association ,regardless even if you got a cheaper quote.I could go on....
    If your view of HA housing is founded on a leaky sink, then you're looking at the wrong things entirely. The insurance claim would be known as an "escape of water" claim and therefore damage to your floor coverings and other items would be covered by your contents policy (which you're free to take with anyone you choose). HA housing is generally all covered by a 10 year guarantee from the builder under NHBC or a similar scheme; the faulty worknanship or fittings would be his liability to replace. If he'd gone bust, the liability would be with the indemnifier - i.e. NHBC or whoever.

    Buildings insurance is taken through the HA because lots of their smarter purchasers wouldn't bother, leaving a debt if the house was damaged or destroyed. It's usually people on low incomes who say they can't afford buildings insurance....... also, because you can't get buildings insurance from Direct Line and the like for a house you don't own. Try it some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by pussycat View Post
    sorry to hear about the building problems. These can happen with even the best-built houses, but unfortunately Homestake houses are built for profit, not for endurance.

    The article on Homestake is an eye-opener, but you won't find Caithness.Org mentioning it. The man who runs this site is in favour of privatisation so little else appears here.

    For an alternative view, here's a good site:

    http://www.hast2006.org.uk/
    Rubbish. The houses are built by a builder, who must make a profit to survive. But the HA puts work out to tender and accepts the best quote. The HA does not need to make a profit but does need a supply of good quality, well-built homes.

    HAST are misguided and giving misinformation. If they had the slightest grasp of statistics and a little less interest in politicking they'd see the "fraud" is market forces. No one "forces" young couples to buy; they've all become convinced they have to to make money.

    Quote Originally Posted by dozy View Post
    Hi Gleeber .
    Sorry ,but i think you've been smoking what Pentland is shovelling. Pentland write the rules that suit them when it suits them .If you say anything else you must either work for them or have family/friends that do...I agree that the houses are of crap designed and quaility and if they spend the same on the upkeep as they do on there present stock (17% as to the councils 34%) ,the houses will be in a skip within 15 years ....
    Dozy, you're as ignorant of reality as you are rude. If an insurance company thought the housing quality was so poor it "would be in a skip" in 15 years, do you really think they'd insure it? And I repeat. Pentland do not write the rules. Perhaps they spend less on upkeep because the houses are newer and better built? And they're more efficient in administration than the Council?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scaraben1976 View Post
    Also, because I have a decent job at Dounreay, I don't (I believe) qualify for the grant to buy a first house (upto 15k, anyone know more about this??) So for me to afford the mortgage on my own for a reasonable house with more than just a box room and a shower, I'd have to sell my kidneys and half my right arm.
    How about this for an idea; go to all the people who're sitting on houses massively increased in value and ask them for a sub from their profits? The rise in house prices is hardly the HA fault and is simply market forces at work. I sympathise with your plight, but you're not alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by pussycat View Post
    Scaraben, you've hit the nail on the head.

    The 'Homestake' scheme is a fraud - according to the article on the HAST2006 website, only 4 of 160 'affordable' homes could be bought by a person on the average wage. Incredible!
    Yes, but what do you propose? Would you control house prices? Limit how much people can sell for? Force them to sell at lower prices? The real problem is the low wage economy in the Highlands colliding twith high house prices. And don't kid yourselves it's the English, moving up with pots of money; there's an amazing number of people owning two or three houses "as their pension scheme".

    Quote Originally Posted by pussycat
    The other scheme you mention I think is a grant for council tenants to move out and buy a different home. This was I think 10K and may have applied in England only, and only to the name on the tenancy. It may now be defunct anyway.
    And it goes to show the stupidity of government, local and national, who think grants are the answer to everything. If you give someone 10k to move, the price of the property they're wanting to buy will go up 10k as well. Always did, always will.

    Scaraben may be referring to the Rural Homes Ownership Scheme where qualifying first time buyers and some others can get a grant of up to 29%, subject to conditions. It really only works for people self-building because again, the Scottish "offers over" system ensures people have to pay a premium over market value which the grant rules won't fund.

    The RHOS is more a loan than a grant; it has to be repaid if you move within 10 years, and is secured by a Second Charge on the property - which is why most lenders won't touch them with a bargepole.


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    Thanks for doing some of my homework for me j4bberw0ck!

    I don't know the first thing about housing associations and haven't (or hadn't) a clue whether they're better or worse than councils at what they do. However, I read most of the HAST 2006 website yesterday and concluded that housing associations must be ok if that's the best their opponents can do to put them down.

    Seriously, I think the website says more about its publishers than it says about housing associations. After reading page after page of poorly-argued prose and dozens of disingenuous comparisons of chalk with cheese I decided I'd have to go elsewhere to find any reliable analysis. But I wasn't sufficiently interested so I left it to someone else to explain what's going on.

    Did you manage to find a half-decent, relatively-unbiased analysis of the pros & cons of housing-association vs council housing? A personal opinion would suffice at this stage - but I don't want a reaganomic rant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSzin View Post
    After reading page after page of poorly-argued prose and dozens of disingenuous comparisons of chalk with cheese I decided I'd have to go elsewhere to find any reliable analysis. But I wasn't sufficiently interested so I left it to someone else to explain what's going on.
    Your servant, sir...... ish......

    Quote Originally Posted by DrSzin View Post
    Did you manage to find a half-decent, relatively-unbiased analysis of the pros & cons of housing-association vs council housing? A personal opinion would suffice at this stage - but I don't want a reaganomic rant.
    If you cut me, do I not bleed?

    Let's just say that at one or two points in a varied working life and list of interests, that I've come across Housing Associations a few times. The main difference between Councils and HAs is that HAs can raise funds in ways Councils can't (not directly, anyway) which is why Councils often hop into a warm and cosy bed with HAs. Also, HAs are subject to oversight on a scale that'd expose the incompetence of your average Council Housing Department in a heartbeat; but to be fair to Councils, they're usually expected to do the impossible with what they have - like deal with tenants who trash houses (one council house here cost 35,000 to put straight quite recently; every piece of plasterboard in the place had to be replaced, every piece of sanitary ware, every door, and all pipework - someone got busy with a drill), people who turn up homeless at one in the morning (no, not blaming them - just illustrating the variability and unpredictability of demand) and a statutory duty to house people which HAs don't have. Also limited powers to extract rent arrears from toerags (the "won't pays", rather than the "can't pays").

    HAs are helping people to get good quality rented accommodation where they can't get on the Council list, and to buy where they want to buy without having to fight it out with the buy-to-let brigade and people on much higher incomes. They're definitely a force for good (imho) - and doing a different job to the Council.


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    Thanks for the quick lesson j4bberw0ck, I am beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

    Quote Originally Posted by j4bberw0ck View Post
    HAs are helping people to get good quality rented accommodation where they can't get on the Council list, and to buy where they want to buy without having to fight it out with the buy-to-let brigade and people on much higher incomes. They're definitely a force for good (imho) - and doing a different job to the Council.
    Ok, understood. However, I believe that the current controversy concerns the "transfer" of all council housing to housing associations. This is surely a huge change of role for housing associations and quite different from the one you describe. Is such a transfer a good thing or a bad thing in your opinion? What are the pros and cons?

    The transfer has already taken place in Glasgow but a similar transfer was rejected in a recent ballot of council-house tenants in Edinburgh.

    As you see, I really do know next-to-nothing about this business. I'm aware that there's been a recent divergence in social-housing policy and practice between Scotland's two largest cities but that's about all I know, and I'm in no position to hold an informed opinion.

    Despite what people often claim on this forum, I believe that some opinions are essentially worthless, and my opinion on HAs still sits firmly in that category. But I hope to become further enlightened...

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    Default Housing Problems Need Several Solutions - Part One

    Due to the size my answer is split into three parts
    This is Part One

    Affordable Homes Are One Solution To The Housing Problem

    Pussycat makes an accusation without providing any evidence other than a link to the Hast 2006 web site where so much biased and wrong information is to be found that I think that anyone reading it needs to be very switched on to the complicated problems that are today’s housing reality. It is not easy for anyone who does not have good grasp of the housing situation and the wide variety of opportunities available for housing. I will not address all of what is on the Hast 2006 web site but confine myself to the Affordable Homes Fraud accusation and its mangling of the arguments in the Stock Transfer Case.

    First - A few statements to make it easy to see where I am coming from.

    I do support the Housing Stock Transfer proposals as the best option for tenants in coming years. The reasons are well outlined in the material that has been issued to tenants and is available on the council web site.

    I have been the area chair of Housing and Social work committee for Caithness since May 2003.

    I have been an unpaid director and was involved in the setting up of the Highland Housing and Community Care Trust for the past 6 years. It is an independent body - a registered charity whose aims were to acquire the funds and build homes for the elderly and disabled in the Highlands. We achieved our goals and spent about 3.5 million on homes for these categories of people. In the process we worked in partnership with several of the Housing Associations in Highland who also acted as our managing agents for our properties. We built new houses at several locations and brought into being these homes that might not have been added to the Highland housing stock if we had not acted. We have recently transferred ownership of the houses we built to the Housing Associations and we now have small surplus of funds after all of the work of the past six years. We have been involved in other work in the area of housing and our most recent venture has been to look at setting up a Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme for private landlords to enable homeless people to get into tenancy that would otherwise be denied to them in Highland. I like several of my fellow councillors are involved in not just council housing but in looking at other ways of trying to ensure housing is available to everyone in the community. We are not entering into these things blindly.

    I currently live in a house with joint mortgage with my wife but used to live when we first got married initially in a privately rented one bedroom flat in Edinburgh and then in a three bedroom council flat at Wester Hailes also in Edinburgh. We subsequently moved to Glasgow and bought three-bedroom semi with a mortgage and then moved again to Wick and bought another house again with a mortgage. I do therefore have experience on a personal basis of renting and home ownership. Also I was brought up in one of the slum areas of Edinburgh and my parents were on the council waiting list for 10 years ( I was 10 years old when we finally moved) only achieving their first council house when my second sister was born as the points finally took them to higher place on the list and we moved to a three bedroom council house on the outskirts of Edinburgh finally leaving behind the mice, bugs and damp walls of the old tenement of private landlord. I truly wish that we never return to those days again for anyone. I do look at the current position with all of that in mind.

    I do not see the fat cat people of the Housing Associations referred to by HAST 2006 web site. I see a number of dedicated people working hard in Highland Housing Associations to bring forward solutions to the housing problems of their individual areas and yet were prepared to join with Highland Housing and Community Care Trust to help offer their expertise in ensuring that it could be successful in bringing forward a number of housing projects - all of which were completed and =have tenants who might otherwise have struggled to find homes suitable for their varied needs – some with disabilities or families with multiple problems e.g. children with disabilities.

    To me this is not about political dogma - it is about finding practical solutions to one of the major problems that can face individuals and families and how to help the people of the Highlands prosper and live comfortable lives in a secure environment.

    The majority of Caithness councillors are in favour of a YES vote on the transfer.

    The fact that the Highland councillors agreed to take parting the programme moving towards a Stock Transfer vote to be placed before tenant has already released funds from the Scottish Executive at the rate of 10million per annum and the affect of that release is already showing up. The Highlands is seeing an increasing number of new hosing projects being started by the Housing Associations as the funds move forward. The Highland council has not built houses for several years and cannot under the conditions pertaining in the past few years. It has worked through the Housing Associations to bring forward new housing and continues to do so. Although there are other factors at work undoubtedly the current and rising increase in the numbers of new house starts is in part due to that process. It is re-invigorating the economy of the Highlands. It is also a problem in that there is now so much building work going on that prices are rising and cost are going up. This is all well and good but we need to be able to ensure that this growth is not choked off and be in position to ensure that more needed investment in new homes will continue. I would rather deal with the problem of the boom caused by building more houses and more shops and offices etc than that of unemployment through lack of investment.
    The way forward is partly the Housing Stock Transfer. If more evidence is needed and no doubt HAST 2006 and the Solidarity/SSP who heavily support it will dispute this a minute or two looking at what they say might be useful –

    Let me take few points from HAST 2006 web site-
    Housing Transfer is privatisation.
    Housing associations are not private landlords. Highland Housing Association is a not for profit organisation governed by a voluntary committee, none of whom are paid. The Association will have an open membership policy and by law is run for the benefit of all tenants. By law any surplus must be used to benefit tenants e.g. by improving their homes or housing services. The Association aims to become registered as a charity.

    The Scottish Executive will write-off debt or provide extra money to the
    Council if tenants vote ‘No’.
    The Scottish Executive has clearly and consistently stated that transfer is the only route through which the UK Treasury will write off the Council’s housing debt.
    The table below has been provided by Communities Scotland and compares what was
    included within the overall proposed transfer package for Edinburgh City, with what has resulted from their No vote in December 2005. Much of the information has been assembled from the City Council’s Statutory Stage 1 Notice, issued to all tenants prior to transfer, and following liaison with colleagues in the Communities Scotland Area Team, who were involved with the transfer.

    Housing Transfer has not been successful in other areas.
    An anti-transfer newsletter also alleges that evidence from Glasgow and areas where housing transfer has already gone through show a catalogue of failings. This is completely untrue. In March 2006 Audit Scotland published a report on Council Housing Transfers, which examined:
    • the housing transfer policy and its impact on councils, central government and tenants;
    • how well the council housing transfer policy is being implemented; and
    • whether transfers have provided good value for money.
    The key findings of the report are that new landlords are delivering higher investment, rent increases are being restricted to within the guaranteed limits, and that tenants consider the service is better. In addition the Audit report found that transfers have promoted greater tenant control, though there is still more to be achieved.
    A copy of the Audit Scotland report is available on Audit Scotland’s website:
    www.audit-scotland.gov.uk
    See Specifically http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/index/05pf17ag.asp

    I and my fellow councillors have attended a substantial number of meetings in the past 18 months where reports and feedback from officials have been made regarding the move towards the Stock Transfer vote.

    My main and guiding principles have been
    “What is best for the tenants of Highland?”
    ”How can the council ensure that more houses can be provided in the future? This taking into account a population made up of an increasingly elderly population, more couples living apart and hopefully more people moving into the Highlands as one of the best places to live and work.
    Housing is also about communities and sustainability. Councils have not always been best at providing the solutions. You only need to look at the multi story blocks in many of our larger towns and cities with many of these having now been demolished and many more destined to go. Hopefully we have learned lessons and are now coming up with new solutions.
    Last edited by Bill Fernie; 25-Oct-06 at 16:21.

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    Default Housing Problems Need Several Solutions - Part Two

    I have problem with the Hast 2006 web site in that many of the statements are unsubstantiated with neither evidence or references as to where the facts they refer to can be found. Often they appear to be aimed at making political points to backup the dogma that public ownership is best. Several references are made to privatisation and yet that is not what is being proposed under Stock Transfer. Housing Associations are not for profit organisations. That is not to say they do not make a profit in accounting terms but the difference is that the profits are reinvested in new properties and/or repairs of existing housing stock.

    Personally I might have been more inclined to say I was in favour of the council retaining control over the housing stock if a different set of circumstances was on offer. The government is making an offer to councils that put the Stock Transfer proposal to their tenants. Should I put at risk the prospect of more houses and stable rents for the next few years on a dogma that public ownership is better for the tenants? Yes if the government was offering to write of the debt for the council I would probably say that was good option. The fact is it is not on offer.

    I am a practical person and look at the facts of what is on offer and not what I would like to happen. I do not feel that I can recommend a No vote and have people risk having to pay higher rents under the council and not have access to range of benefits. The HAST 2006 campaign seems to want tenants to take a political gamble and that by rejection they can force the government to change it mind. Not only is that wrong it also completely fails to explain how the debt could be written off for the council. It is not as simple as just paying off the council debt as some would suggest. It is a complicated issue that going down the simplistic route would increase the public sector borrowing requirement - something that the chancellor will not allow. As I say this is very complex issue but not something the council can do anything about.

    Moving On To Affordable Homes Fraud.

    Pussycat refers to “ A very interesting piece on the government’s ‘Homestake’ at the Hast 2006 web site. It is interesting that it has many glaring inaccuracies and comparisons that start with assumptions that do not stand up in the real world. The item compares the amounts to be paid under Homestake with renting a house but it fails to make any points about the benefits of owning a home. The item tried to make it seem that ownership is somehow a burden. There is also no reference to anyone saving in advance for a deposit to reduce that burden. Most people who have bought homes in the past have saved for a deposit and do not take a100% mortgage. It also fails to point out that many folk start off in small house or flat and only later once they have built up equity in their existing property do they move on to a larger house.

    The HAST 2006 web page has completely wrong information on the position in Caithness. The HAST 2006 page says – “Inverness is the location of most Homestake properties. Caithness & Sutherland are neglected completely.”
    This is completely wrong and the facts are -

    Pentland Housing Association in Caithness was the first to launch Homestake via a scheme completion (Edinburgh Homestake's though the first were Rent off the Shelf schemes) at Naver house where they offered 6 properties for Homestake. Prices for the properties at Naver House were between 55000 for a 1 bed flat and 67000 for a 2 bed flat.

    Pentland Housing have also made 14 units available at Harrow Hill, Wick for shared ownership in a scheme of 28 units.
    Next year Pentland Housing will next year have 8 Homestake units in a scheme of 24 units at Mansons Lane, Thurso and a further 4 Homestake units in a scheme of 13 at Springpark Farm, Laurie Terrace, Thurso.

    In order to purchase at the 60% tranche level single applicants would require incomes of between 11000 and 13000 respectively, both less then the average Highlands wage quoted by HAST2006.

    Further to these schemes above Pentland Housing also have a further 160 units in the pipeline with the emphasis on providing affordable rented accommodation.

    There is also the option of Rural Home Ownership Grants to help people become owner-occupiers either via self-build or purchasing off the shelf.
    For more information on this option see -
    http://www.communitiesscotland.gov.u...cs_006245.hcsp

    The point is that Pentland Housing along with other Housing Associations are offering diverse affordable tenure options for a diverse market. The days of the simplistic one size fits all approach to housing in the public sector have long since gone. The build as many houses as possible approach was a solution in the past to a post war situation and we have spent many of the past years and administrations trying to deal with that legacy that no doubt was necessary at the time but is hardly a credible model for helping individuals and families acquire a decent home in a safe environment and as part of a vibrant and prosperous community.

    For those of you who would like to read more on the facts rather than the rhetoric here are a few places where reports etc can be found
    Communities Scotland
    Strategic Housing Investment Framework
    http://www.communitiesscotland.gov.u...cs_012537.hcsp

    Shared Ownership
    This is changing rapidly as more folk decide to go with this option. The position at 2005 can be seen at -
    http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonly...hiphousing.pdf

    Audit Scotland – On Council House Stock Transfers
    http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/index/05pf17ag.asp
    The transfer of council housing ownership is bringing benefits for tenants, says this report. It finds that management of transfers is improving but better, clearer measures are needed to assess impact and value for money. The report says the hand over of more than 100,000 council homes to new landlords since 1998 has brought more investment in properties - doubling it in Glasgow - and promoted tenant control. It is facilitating increased repairs and maintenance and the building of new homes, and is keeping rent increases down.

    The Highland Council section on Housing Stock Transfer can be found at -
    Community Ownership and Housing Transfer
    http://www.highland.gov.uk/livingher...ngtransfer.htm
    There are links to many of the documents, reports and updates being provided to councillors and all available to anyone who is interested to read them.

    A Guide To Housing Options At Highland Council
    http://www.highland.gov.uk/livingher...housingoptions
    This has sections on Shared Ownership at
    http://www.highland.gov.uk/livingher...eownership.htm
    Homestake
    Rural Home Ownership Grants
    Highland Small Communities Housing Trust
    Grants for Owner Occupation
    Low Cost Home Ownership Contacts
    Buying or Building a House
    Self Build
    Buying Sheltered or Retirement Housing

    September 2006
    Views and Experiences of Right to Buy Amongst Tenants and Purchasers
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publicati.../09/15085602/3

    More
    30 May 2006
    MSP hails record investment for new affordable homes in Highland
    http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/aff...ehomeshighland

    14 November 2005
    Skye's the limit for affordable homes
    http://www.scottishexecutive.gov.uk/...05/11/11121045
    Last edited by Bill Fernie; 25-Oct-06 at 16:38.

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