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Mr News Rent Rises Next Year Council Houses

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Some of these maintenance issues could easily be managed by offering them at a cut price, i.e. not for profit.

 

If you are unable to clean your gutters, change a tap washer etc, the authority will send someone to do it on a cost only basis. The rental agreement should be changed to show that you are responsible for reasonable maintenance costs in keeping your home in good condition. Structural repairs should remain the responsibility of the landlord but if these result from poor maintenance then appropriate action should be taken!

 

Exceptions could be made for elderly or infirm tenants.

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I don't know for sure how much the DSC is charged for work, but I'd imagine that it doesn't come cheap. The bosses of TOOMS who replaced all the kitchens in our estate must have been laughing their heads off.

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Rob (if it really is you)

 

Even on your figures, the difference between £85 per week and £200 is pretty bloody enormous. The taxpayer (like me) is subsidising public sector housing big style, and all of us know that there are 'vulnerable' households where the state ought to help and households with four or more working adults in them where help (subsidy) should not be given. Do you support the early introduction of means testing then?

 

 

 

Yes, it is Rob Callister (Onchan Commissioner)

 

Mr. Robertshaws figures of £85 per for social housing (three bedroom unit) and £250 for private sector housing per week is not totally correct.

 

I highlighted that the £85 per week mentioned in his press release for public sector housing didn't include the rates. So the actual figure should be around £97.75 per week or £423.58 per month approx. You could still pay the same price for a two-bedroom house, but I acknowledge that it is still excellent value if your on a reasonable salary or have multiple salaries coming in.

 

I fully support the introduction of means testing, in my personal opinion means testing should have been brought in before applying the new points system introduced last year.

 

Taxpayers are not subsidising public sector housing directly but the Isle of Man Government does make deficiency payments to local authorities of around £6 million each year, in order support Capital Projects such as building additional local authority housing around the Island.

Looking at your last paragraph Rob, surely a deficiency = a subsidy = from the taxpayers?

 

Is there any information in the public domain which shows how well local authorities manage their housing responsibilities? Are some generating bigger deficiencies than others? Do all of them collect rent arrears effectively? Looking at some newer posts, do all manage minor repairs at the sane level of response time and quality?

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Indeed. And this is why there is proposed amalgamation of housing authorities, with the proposal that the more efficient authorities take over the running of the whole area of responsibility, geographically speaking. Ramsey, for instance, said to be something of an example of financially efficient S/H management would take the lead in the North. The "less efficient" (and smaller) authorities would surrender (effectively) their S/H responsibilities to the newly formed amalgamation.

Edited by Non-Believer
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Non-Beliver,

 

Not sure your statement is correct, once you have reviewed the following.

 

Deficiency claims paid for 2012/13, by Authority are listed below;

 

Onchan District Commissioners 0.00

Braddan Parish Commissioners 191,473.00

Castletown Commissioners 0.00

Douglas Town Corporation 813,312.77

Peel Town Commissioners 231,480.00

Port Erin Village Commissioners 212,569.00

PSM Village Commissioners 0.00

Ramsey Town Commissioners 1,466,553.70

Rushen Parish Commissioners 8,179.50

 

Total General Housing 2,711,087.90

 

Castletown & Malew EPHC 219,375.00

Cooil Roi EPHC 74,596.99

Marashen Crescent EPHC 513,624.00

Peel & Western EPHC 306,240.00

Ramsey & Northern EPHC 0.00

Royal British Legion 25,142.42

Onchan EPHC 357,903.00

 

Total EPHC: 1,496,881.30

 

I should point out that there is a deficiency for Onchan EPH only because of daft government rules. If we could merge our general housing and EPH accounts then we wouldn’t have to claim anything.

 

As you can see, Douglas and Ramsey together claim 85% of the General Housing deficiency. If there’s any improvements to be made I would suggest that they are not going to be made by forcing the other local authorities to join up with the profligate.

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Wow I happen to know the area of Marashen Crescent as a mate lived there a while ago in the normal PS housing, half a million PA? Is that a year on year thing or was it a one off to cover refurbishment or something?

 

How many houses are there in that EPHC?

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A deficiency cannot be seen as a measure of a housing authority's efficiency or otherwise - rather it is the degree to which central government (taxpayers funds) bridge the annual gap in funding between the rents received and the actual annual cost resulting from new build for any given housing authority. Thus the more new build a housing authority has carried out - the larger their deficiency is likely to be - with the converse also applying. The move towards higher rents is designed to stabilise that level of deficiency as the programme for new build or substantial refurbishment continues. The current total deficiency level is circa £6m. per annum. Had we not acted on rents the total deficiency level was predicted to rise over the coming years (when taking into account the projected investment programme) to £17m per annum which quite obviously would have been totally unsustainable. There is no intention to stop investing in social housing as we are still playing catch up on the investment programme. Also, for many years, social housing rents levels were supressed which is why the current readjustment is difficult.

 

So - the deficiency level is a mark of the more recent investment a housing authority has put into new build which in turn is as good indicator of the age of the housing stock needing replacement in their particular area - not as might be suggested by one contributor- a guide to their efficiency. To be fair, historically, it is the housing authorities that have been pushing for sustainable rent increases and central government, in the times of plenty, that resisted for what ever reason.

 

I have also been criticised for raising rents before introducing means testing - I accept this but it would not have been possible to introduce this any quicker than is planned (April 2015) but neither would it have been possible to leave rents so artificially low until means testing is introduced as the sudden overnight hike at that point would have been totally untenable. Means testing will provide the opportunity to identify both those on very low incomes but who are outside the benefits system as well as those on much higher incomes - and adjust rents accordingly within the means testing framework.

 

Again, contrary to what another contributor here has suggested - the rent comparisons between the private rental sector and public sector housing provided by my department were fair. The observation made (by the same contributor) about rates being excluded was not relevant.

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@Chris Robertshaw....

 

Always good to see you on here.

 

Assuming most public-sector tenants fill in a tax-return, and IOMG records who gets what in benefit payments, how expensive is the means-testing framework forecast to be? It would seem that most of the information that the department require's is at the departments finger-tips.

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Rob, I was surprised to see that Onchan has ONLY 400 general units. Do you know what proportion of these are legacy and how many were added in the last, say, 10 years?

 

Onchan is an important housing provider in the east central area and I would have thought was playing a larger role in that.

 

How many units does Onchan plan to add in the next 5yrs?

 

Rather than bragging about your low deficiency, would you not have been better running a loss and providing the houses?

 

If the Housing Deficiency is to be reduced/removed. have you missed the boat for Govt subsidy?

 

Would you not be better off in a Regional Housing Auth. probably with All Island Rates, then, if the Govt launch the much needed House Building Boom, not necessarily in Onchan, you can offer your Ratepayers/Voters the excuse that it is 'Out of Your hands'?

 

Not meaning to be critical, just interested in Onchans plans and past thinking.

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quilp - There are limitations to what information can or cannot be used for means testing and we are working our way through this. For example - the vires already exists to use tax based data when cross checking a parent(s) level of entitlement to child benefit but more work must be done in other areas to achieve the necessary level of access.

 

Means testing as a concept must be kept as simple as possible. At the moment each area under consideration for means testing is being considered on its merits in order to achieve the highest possible level of sensitivity with regard to the action being taken (both to the individual contributor and the broader impact of the cumulative effect of means testing on an individual and/or family) but the ultimate aim must be to progressively move towards a single broader framework for means testing. This is a major departure for government and must be done as carefully as possible.

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My post above was overtaken by Chris Robertshaws first post, to address that first, the rent comparison is mischievous at best, you have taken a low SH rent and compared it to £1000/mth which would rent you a house in West Dlas, which is hardly a fair comparison with say, Willaston? 700 to 800 would rent a house in Governors Hill and that illustrates the overpricing of the Private sector because Gov Hill does not have good 'aspects' and the crowding make it worse than Willaston. Market Forces aside, Private rents are something that should be addressed.

 

Would it not be that if SH rents were raised significantly then Private rents would rise to maintain parity and that this would be to the detriment of those already paying too high a rent in the Private sector?

 

Is it really necessary for SH rents to be significantly higher as it is a rent payment for life with nothing at the end?

 

Manx house prices have risen disproportionately in the recent past, an unfortunate effect of the Boom that the Govt have been only too happy to brag about till it becomes expedient to forget? This has led to the disparity of Public and Private sectors which you now find you wish to close.

 

 

 

Means Testing may still require a phased introduction to be fair to those few who face a large hike and to let others know where their stand on their proposed rent, it is not their fault that they may have been paying too little rent in the past.

 

Chris, you have set one sector of Society against the other with your promulgation of the SH rent 'subsidy', there are many areas of subsidy provided, Mortgage Tax relief, OAPensions, Healthcare amongst them. I presume you are not going to remove the latter so has your ploy of highlighting the rents simply been a means to justify your actions?

 

The anti SHing venom raised in these forums and in the Pub are a pretty ugly face to our Society and not something the Govt should be encouraging.

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It's obvious that people who are struggling are going to resent the subsidised rents enjoyed by those public sector tenants who do not really "need" that subsidy. The worst affected are those who should be in public housing but can't get into it because it isn't being freed up by those with more money. Understandable in the latter's case - everyone generally prefers someone else to pay more rather than themselves.

 

There are a number of options as I see it. One is build more social housing, but the government is too stingy nowadays for that (and it leads to further costs). Another is to make it more expensive for those who can afford to pay more. I totally agree with this. Subsidies should be paid to those that need it (I want farmers' subsidies means tested as well), not to those who managed to satisfy a particular requirement two decades ago. Another is to kick people out of larger accommodation than they need. There was the bloke from Pully in the paper not long ago insisting that he should be allowed to keep his 3 bed house because, although he lived alone, his daughter occasionally came to stay.

 

The one that doesn't seem to be considered, but I think should be, is taxing empty homes. I suspect that there is no shortage of property in the Isle of Man, but there is a shortage of property available for occupation. There should be a cost associated with keeping a building that could be a home empty.

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Perhaps the thinking is if public sector rents were nearer to private sector for the wealthier tenants due to means testing then those tenants may be more likely to jump ship?

 

Personally I dont see it actually working because even if your 'rent' was identical, in the private sector you still have to pay For your own maintenance and upgrades. People will look at the annual cost and still want to stay put.

 

I realise that the house owner has an asset that could increase in value. Or go down!. And with the threat of government theft to cover care home costs if it comes to that, why bother?

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Perhaps the thinking is if public sector rents were nearer to private sector for the wealthier tenants due to means testing then those tenants may be more likely to jump ship?

 

Personally I dont see it actually working because even if your 'rent' was identical, in the private sector you still have to pay For your own maintenance and upgrades. People will look at the annual cost and still want to stay put.

 

I realise that the house owner has an asset that could increase in value. Or go down!. And with the threat of government theft to cover care home costs if it comes to that, why bother?

 

That would be a nice side effect but like you I don't think it will work in most cases. I think the thinking is that public sector housing currently costs a fair bit of money, let's make it cost the taxpayer less

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