Being the low level minion that I am I don’t tend to do much of the meet and greet malark. Most of my days involve spreadsheets, pivot tables and reams of data, so much so that the team I work in occasionally has the moniker “the Geek Squad”. We take it on the chin as the good banter it is. Personally I largely attribute this nickname to the fact that we can competently use Microsoft Excel, or as others in the organisation seem to think of it, “black magic”. I’m not sure how I feel about the nickname because (A) I can talk to women without wetting myself and (B) I don’t know computer coding, I don’t play Dungeon & Dragons and I have certainly never messed around with Linux* so I don’t see myself as much of a geek. I guess it is all a matter of perception.
This weekend saw me get away from my beloved Excel documents and brave the bright lights of outdoors. My ever patient and long suffering girlfriend dragged me out to help her and her netball team, Scarletts Netball Worcester, complete a Cyclothon for Asha Women’s Centre. I have to admit, my burning quads aside, that it was a lot of fun and helped to raise money for an organisation that can always use a bob or two. As councils across the country continue to slash spending organisations like Asha, who deal with the vulnerable and those on the margins, are likely to feel the squeeze even more. Fortunately it appears that Asha at least has a diverse set of funders and will carry on doing the good work that it has always done.
Someone else who appears to need some spare change is Iain ‘why always me’ Duncan Smith. After claiming everything is tout sweet (again) the treasury seems a little jittery at signing off further funding for the beleaguered project. I could make a joke about state dependency and government funding here but that would be too easy. Cheap shots aside it is deeply worrying how much of train wreck Universal Credit has become. And although the DWP expects its business case to be signed off soon it is all a bit of a mess. Frankly I am bored with writing about the subject. Reform of the welfare state is needed, and I do support Universal Credit in principle. However many of the reforms are crude short-termist cost cutting measures that penalise the poor and vulnerable. They are also highly unlikely to save the money they were projected to and place ever more burden on charities, local authorities and social landlords. It is a Grade A balls up and those in power need to recognise it as such.
The gift that keeps on giving aside another interesting development was the announcement of infrastructure funding, largely scheduled for post 2015, for ‘the regions’. Based on recommendations from Lord ‘right to buy’ Heseltine it is probably the closest we will come (i.e. not very) to an announcement of government funding for new housing before the next general election. It is a welcome departure from a heavily London focused approach to sorting out our economy. Though it remains to be seen what impact the funding will have and dollar for housing is (again) heavily focused on getting largely private developments up and running. That being said the deals do appear to provide for a number of mixed tenure developments and frankly as long as more housing gets built I can’t complain too much. A point I would make is that if you can fund projects to facilitate private housing developments, you can fund public housing.
A final point. Some lovely chaps and chapesses at
@ukhousingfast are holding a #UKHousingFast day on the 15th July. The idea is to get sponsored to fast & raise money for a #UKHousing related good cause. You can follow their blog at ukhousingfast.wordpress.com to find out more, I would suggest looking at Michala Rudman and Rob Gurshon’s guest blogs they are as insightful as they are excellent.
*For the uninitiated this is not some form of recreational substance but a free/open source operating system that requires a fair amount of technical skill and knowledge to use.