A guide to recognising your saints

For those slightly out of the loop Right to Buy is basically the sector’s kryptonite (the green version, not the red one, no-one is going to go BS-mental on Metropolis just yet).  It raises passion, anger, worry and acts as a unifier to a sector so often at odds with itself.  Though funnily enough, like green kryptonite it does severely weaken us.

The reaction of the sector to the potential rolling out of Right to Buy has been fairly standard (i.e. we all went a bit cray cray, myself included).  But what has been surprising is that all these emotions appear to be coming from people outside of the sector as well.  Media that has usually at best been ambivalent, and often borderline hostile, have come out against the move (here’s looking at the Daily Telegraph).  Hell even the general public is a little bit unimpressed (hats off to YouGov for that poll), not even those who considered themselves pro-Tory.  Commentators, ‘experts’, housing insiders and a whole host of politicians have come out against it.  Embarrassingly for the Conservatives, so did they, well at least to members of the Coalition in 2013.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

In terms of popular policies Right to Buy is up there with the best.  But a counter attack via the Daily ‘racist in public so you don’t have to’ Mail (fyi still one of Russell Howard’s best jokes) has highlighted how negatively the policy has been received this time round.  But as Colin Wiles notes even at the Daily Fail not everyone is on board.  Peter Hitchens providing some unflattering comments on the policy (that being said I still always prefered his late brother, Chris).  Either way you know things are getting nasty when pay gets involved.  I could make snide comments about Conservative MPs, duck ponds and public money.  But I’m above all that.  Actually I’m not, what an utterly moronic set of circumstances.

So what does this all mean?  Well the answer, is partly provided by Julia Unwin and the guys and gals over at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  Julia et al quite rightly point that the debate over housing has long been skewed to home ownership. And that arguably the most efficient way of helping to alleviate poverty and provide stability and security (social housing) is ignored.  Right to Buy, rent to buy, the promise of buckets more housing (to buy) are all geared around a political consensus that buying votes is preferable to renting.  Consequently each party is keen to show that they will provide the best opportunity people to purchase their own home.  Sadly for all the fluff and bluster little has been put forward as to how to increase supply as well as actually deal with an acute affordability issue.  Though the boys in blue fare particularly poorly and the public is definitely not convinced.  Especially those who rent, with the Tories polling badly around housing policies.  On a side note a majority of the public appears to back greater borrowing to build more affordable housing.

Elsewhere the BBC Panorama programme the Great Housing Benefit Scandal showed that for once a TV could tactfully highlight the plight of ordinary people on benefits.  Showing the suffering of folks like you and me (only they are poor, apparently that makes them different) at the hands of sub-quality housing as opposed to being some glitzy Jeremy Kyle look at the poor people hate-fest.  It also did a very good job at showing some of the sorry excuses of landlords out there.  Before the National Landlords Association gets its knickers in a twist I doubt any of those highlighted in the show were paid up members.  Good private sector landlords do exist.  But it is hardly surprising when a few rogue private landlords put profit before both the quality of the housing they provide and the unfortunate souls who reside in their dwellings.

So where does this all leave us?  Well frankly in exactly the same place we always have been.  A country with a housing market that is fundamentally failing to meet the needs of the suckers who live in it.  I will leave you with a quote from a mate of mine, it neatly sums up the situation for a lot of people.

“I just want a house, not a mansion or anything like that, just some stability for my little boy. I’m fed up of moving all the time.”

As always you can follow me on Twitter here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

Social landlords have often been left open to the charge of being too quiet on the issues that affect their customer base. In the interest of self-preservation it may now be necessary to become a bit more vocal.

The social housing sector is often caught between a rock and a hard place. We operate in, provide homes for and work with, those on the margins of society. However we are also compelled to work within a highly political context. Not only dealing with whims of Central Government, contradictory policies from different departments. But also muppets who have epiphanies on inner city housing estates in Glasgow (who then go and miss the point of said epiphany). And that is before the minefield of dealing with a myriad set of Local Authorities and councillors with their own agendas. As a consequence we tend to be a bit vanilla in our criticisms of Government.

A couple of pieces caught my eye earlier this week.  The first involving Isabel Hardman and how we as a sector can get more of an influence in westminster.  Noting that moaning about a policy and then using it isn’t the best move.  And that as a sector we have an image problem with the ‘Right’.  The second was from Hannah Fearn noting that too much power lies with social landlords and not enough for their tenants.  Whilst I don’t agree with all her points I am firmly with her on the statement that we should serve best our tenants, not Government.  Key to both these pieces is that they reinforce the problem for our sector.  In an attempt to be all things to all people (politically speaking) we become not much of anything.  Or worse still, we piss off all sides.

The current set of welfare reforms have never been about just getting people into work. They are cost cutting measures, part of a long-term move to reduce state support and intervention. In short, they are a neo-liberal wet dream. The problem with such fantasies is that they are often only workable for the people who dream them up. It always narks me that those who make ‘tough decisions’ have probably never really had to make a tough choice in their personal life. Well I guess if you include the horrific decisions to be made over chilli humus or quiche then maybe, but you get the point.

Yet despite the impact the reforms have on our customer base we have always been too focused on the direct impact of the changes on our bottom line and not openly angry about indirect ones.  At least not uniformly. For me this is all the more bizarre because from a housing point of view we are paying for these reforms (and associated cuts in budgets for Local Authorities) 3 times over. 1) In higher rent arrears as more draconian sanctions cut benefits for a larger group of people, who then can’t pay us. 2) Because we then have to pay for interventions to help assist those having to deal with the fall out of ‘tough decisions’. 3) We then have to pay for schemes that provide a service formerly under the auspices of local authority but jettisoned due to budget cuts. As a sector we appear to have failed to be convinced by the moral argument to publicly oppose the reforms, at least en masse. Maybe a financial one will do the trick?

There are a few that have been systematically quantifying the impact of the reforms and being very vocal about their impact.  Real Life Reform, the JRF and the LSE have all produced research pieces showing the detrimental impact of the reforms.  SHOUT have also been very active in promoting the case for more social housing and the negative impact of the current Government’s policies. But as a sector we have more often than not done the equivalent of tutting, going “too bad” and moved on.  The consequence? Just look at the figures.  The number of social homes is at its lowest for years. Capital grant is at its lowest point for decades. The number of households relying on food banks is rising, as is the number of working households claiming HB. We have gone through 3 (or is it 4?) housing ministers since 2010. Frankly that paints a picture of being crap at influencing.

The Benefit Cap and right to buy policies are popular but when people learn more about the ins and outs of many of the welfare reforms support falls (as G.I Joe always said, knowing is half the battle…). We have a Government that relies on soundbite policies delivered to an uninformed public to drive through its agenda. It is part of our duty to address this imbalance when those policies affect us and the communities we ultimately serve. But maybe that’s just me being a bit naive.

Regardless of who wins the next general election we need to look at our approach to influencing.  We need to be better at understanding how housing influences (and is influenced by) changes in other policies areas.  We need to be better at supporting our tenancy base in its battles against the unintended (and intended) consequences of poor policy decisions.  We must accept the fact that in the game of politics passivity is not an option.

You can follow me on Twitter here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.

Das Capital

Right to Buy, the Russians acting like an empire (again), big hair, leggings and electro music being popular amongst the ‘yoof’, a Government pushing policies that continuously undermine those further down the food chain.  You’d be forgiven for thinking this is the 1980s with Thatcher in her prime.  Regrettably it is 2015 and it’s an election year.  Whilst Cameron and co may be stopped I can’t do a lot about the fashion choices and poor taste in music amongst the hell spawn younger than even I, sorry.

As if it needs spelling out Right to Buy is a bit like kryptonite to our beloved sector.  It is the perfect political weapon to decimate social housing.  In a country obsessed with home ownership and asset based capital it is a highly potent mix of aspiration and access to cold hard cash.  It’s better than Help to Buy, it’s better than Shared Ownership and pretty much every other initiative designed to assist those with lower incomes acquire a property.  Why?  Because you can buy the property you are currently living in, in the neighbourhood where you have built up substantial local networks.  More importantly you can do so for a fraction of the cost of even the best low cost home ownership products out there.  Though frankly as a sector we have been bumbling through the provision of those products for years.  Even better you can sell it on for large profit after a few years, especially if you are in the right part of London and the South East.  It’s the postcode lottery (the good kind, not the one where your local hospital is shit).

Unsurprisingly it is bloody popular.  The figures below show just how many people have bought their council/housing association property through Right to Buy (and it’s watered-down cousin Right to Acquire).  So it is no surprise that the announcement last week that Right to Buy may be extended to include Housing Association properties has caused nothing short of alarm.  Though nowhere near its heyday peak of the early 1980s allowing Housing Association tenants to purchase their home under Right to Buy will give the figures below a significant kick up the bottom.

On a side note for a beautifully biting critique of our reaction as a sector and attempts to nullify other policies of the Coalition I do suggest you read Rob Gershon’s piece in 24 Dash.  The chap has a wonderful way with words.

Depressing Chart 2 – Right to Buy Sales – England

Right to Buy SalesIn addition to decimating social housing stock (see depressing graph 2 below) Right to Buy provides piss poor value for money to the tax payer.  As a policy it has the dubious honour of being paid for by the taxpayer twice.  The first time to build the property then, after it has been sold, we pay again as the property is rented back by the Local Authority that sold them, at higher rents.  For a (slightly) oldie but goldie report on this utterly stupid situation please see Tom Copley’s report.  His report, a year old today (Mazel Tov my friend) highlights the cost of Right to Buy in London, but it is a situation likely to be repeated up and down the UK.  You know this, I know this but does the general public care?  Probably not.

Depressing Chart 2 – Dwelling stock by tenure, UK, 1980 to 2012
Dwellings by Sector

As Colin Wiles notes (I really do need to write my blogs quicker) Right to Buy is bollocks on a number of levels.  It is an ideological weapon to suit the needs of those who wield it, a means by which to rid the country of a housing sector that has no real place in the vision of the UK held by those in Government.  Interestingly, for me at least, Right to Buy’s second lease of life raise a number of questions in relation to the long term direction of our sector.  Is this another nudge towards going it ‘alone’?  How would it work if housing associations were allowed to buy their way out of historic debt/grants?  Will this serve to discourage future uptake of grant (no grant, no strings, no Right to Buy)?

So what do we do?  Fight the inevitable an uphill battle, because in essence we need to convince the general public that social housing is worth fighting for.  But more critically that they should sacrifice the opportunity to make a quick buck in order to maintain it.  Telling the Treasury to keep its dirty mitts off the Right to Buy sales receipts would also be worth doing.  Cheeky sods.

If you feel so inclined (I wouldn’t advise it, you will be disappointed) you can follow me on Twitter here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.

New Year, Same Issues

A new year has arrived but the omens already look bleak.  It is time the housing sector made a few changes before we really are up the proverbial creek with no wooden implement.

It’s a new year but it is not a new dawn and I am definitely not feeling good. Though in fairness that might be the post Christmas come-down.  Those of you who keep an eye on such things will have noticed the pre-election bollocks is in full swing. As predicted by none other than yours truly (and pretty much every political commentator in existence) the rise of UKIP has seen Mr Cameron and co shift to the right.  Talk of a coalition with the ‘live off EU brigade’ has been left in the air, further budget cuts are looming large and there may even be a referendum on membership of the EU earlier than planned. Goodie, haven’t had a proper white elephant in politics for a while.

On the subject of white elephants, the notion of rent controls appears to have gathered momentum again.  I have blogged on this before and without wanting to sound too Milton Friedman-esk, as that guy is a monumental bell-end, this sort of state intervention is not the answer, at least not on its own.  I have sympathy with Civitas, the think tank whose report  promotes rent controls (as well as Generation Rent) and certainly there appears to be public support for such measures (see Mr Birch’s excellent article on the subject).  However as Civitas notes, ultimately it is more housing that is needed. On its own rent controls will merely act as a mild dampener on a housing market that is only working for those already in an advantageous position.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to be bit more helpful in my criticisms, so after slagging off housing policy for the umpteenth time here are a few of my suggestions for a glorious new world.  You can thank me later, or even better pay me.  Some of these are for the housing sector as a whole, others for the incumbents in power, enjoy.

  • Stop with the brooding introspective bollocks.  The social housing sector is not Ryan from the O.C #mancrush, whilst I have also been guilty of bemoaning the fact we aren’t the most popular kid in school it is time to stop looking moodily in the distance and go talk to somebody, anybody.
  • Find a friend.  Campaign under one unified banner (Homes for Britain is the closest to doing this) a splintered set of competing pressures groups is about useful as a chocolate teapot (at least I could eat the teapot…).  Though whoever thought of the Ho Ho Homes for Britain bit please don’t do that again, ever.
  • Grow a pair (of balls or boobs, I’m an equal opportunity muse so take your pick) and get over providing properties for private rent and sale.  I’ve lived in private accommodation, I’m about to go back into the sector.  The majority of the muppets currently pretending to be landlords know as much about renting as they do astrophysics.  Get into the sector, outperform the rest of the competition and reap the benefits for all your customers.
  • Scrap Right to Buy. Because this policy provides about as much value for money to the tax payer as throwing fifties off a tour bus in central London.
  • Scrap the bedroom tax and the benefit cap.  Neither would pass the so called ‘family test‘ supposedly being carried out against new Government Policy and because fundamentally they don’t do what they are meant to do.
  • Pay a living wage.  Whether you are a social landlord, investment bank, social enterprise or a high street store pay your staff a living wage.  Aside from the fact to not do so is a total d**k move.  The number of working households in receipt of housing benefit is sky-rocketing because the cost of pretty much everything is outstripping wages.  In addition cycles of low pay, no pay are key part of poverty and failure to act will mean further reliance on the state to make up the shortfall.  Make profit through good products and efficiency savings, not through underpaying your staff you cheap son of a rabid water vole.  Invest in the people who work for you and reap the benefits.
  • Scrap affordable housing (the type of rent not social housing in general!).  Or at the very least call it Intermediate Market Rent and let those properties out to people who don’t qualify for social housing.  Because it damn well isn’t affordable for the people who need it the most.  And for the love of Michael Flatley don’t complain that the housing benefit bill is going up when a policy as stupid as this is in place.
  • Invest in social housing, whether the economy is in good nick or going the way of Old Yeller there will always be a need for social housing.  Invest in it, it is a cost we can all share.

Positive rant over, I feel like a new me already…

As always if you want to follow me on Twitter, simply click here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.

Generation Mildly Peeved

After the euphoria of Housing Day 2014 earlier this month those involved in promoting housing be it in the private, public or 3rd sector have been brought back down to Earth with a rather large bump.  For whilst we celebrated (and rightly so) all that we do as a sector, the acts of Messrs Philip Davies and Christopher Chope on Fri 28th November have again served to highlight how much more work is needed to be done.  Despite Shelter, Crisis, Generation Rent and Citizens Advice (to name but a few) in support, alongside cross-bench backing in Parliament, the Tenancy Reform Bill is dead as it stands.

That Davies and Chope managed to successfully filibuster the Tenancy Reform Bill (jargon for talking out your arse for a long time) is largely due to the nature of the Bill, a Private Members one. Such Bills are limited by procedures about when and how long they can be heard in Parliament. Meaning they are a target for blocking tactics such as filibustering. That this wasn’t part of the Coalition Government’s legislative programme in the first place again shows how far down the pecking order housing policy, of any kind, is for this Government. And whilst I applaud Sarah Teather for attempting to get it through, she shouldn’t have had to. This should have been part of the Government’s general programme of legislation, it should be on its way to being law.

I am 21 (plus 5years) old, I have lived in 5 different houses in the last 3 years.  Including my time at Uni I have lived in 9 places in the last 7 years.  In that time I have lived in University Halls, in the properties of several buy-to-let landlords, dealt with muppets who simply rented out the house of a dead relative and even an IMR property.  I have had to deal with amateurs who didn’t know their legal responsibilities in terms of property maintenance or deposits and those parasitic beings know as lettings agents aplenty.  As you can probably guess my experience of the private rented market is largely negative.  I have had one or two decent, honest landlords, the rest weren’t exactly bad, just incompetent, clumsy and slow to react to repairs issues.

By and large I am lucky, many others are not.  In their piece supporting the Tenancy Reform Bill, Shelter noted that over 200,000 renters were evicted or served no fault notices in 12 month period.  That is 200,000 renters who lost their tenancy simply because they reported a repair and/or general issue with their property.  1 in 12 renters have stated they have avoided reporting a repair because they fear retaliatory action.  I have had friends in the past ‘put up’ with crappy living conditions because it was all they could afford.  But this shouldn’t be the case.  A home is the keystone on which you balance the rest of life’s crap.  If the place where you rest your head is unstable the rest of your life will also be.  Health, mental and physical, is strongly linked to a decent, secure home.  Revenge evictions, and frankly poor landlords in general, put that at risk.

I don’t know what pisses me off more, the actions of Philip Davies and Christopher Chope, or their reasons behind it. In reality it doesn’t matter because it just means another curve ball for me and my peers to deal with. Only one of my friends owns the property they live in. Everyone else either lives in privately rented accommodation or with their parents. None are particularly in a position to buy or qualify for social housing and in my neck of the woods there is not a lot of IMR stock. So it is live with mum and dad or deal with the lottery of renting in the private sector.

Don’t get me wrong this Bill wouldn’t have been a world changer, the reality is that despite being an issue for a significant minoirty revenge evictions is a relatively contained, if growing, problem. But it would have meant there would be fall back if your landlord attempts to screw you over when you report a legitimate repair.   The Bill accounted for lousy tenants and good landlords would have had little (if anything) to fear.  It would not have become some bureaucratic nightmare.  It did not look to introduce full blooded regulation to the private sector, it did not seek to restrict the private sector.  But hey, Phil and Chris know better…

I will leave you with a point made by Hannah Williams in the Independent.  Other countries have had this sort of legislation for 50 years.  Even the USA, that bastion of small Government does.  My addition to this would be why the hell have not we?

As always if you want to follow me on Twitter simply click here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.

Cause and Effect

It’s pretty hard to escape the fact that the current incumbents at Westminster don’t particularly like social housing.  It is even harder to avoid needless introspective bouts of Balotelli-esk ‘why always me’.  Sadly this week has rather kicked home the point that, like a wronged (and incredibly persistent/vindictive) ex, we are persona non grata with the boys in blue.

A while back I was moved to write to my local MP, it was a moment of weakness/dizzying optimism and one that is likely not to be repeated.  The response was reasonably well thought-out, albeit strewn with the toeing the line malark you would expect.  It was an insightful experience as it showed just how deliberately singular government thinking has become on social housing.  The ‘S’ word wasn’t used (no Social Housing here please, we’re British), everything was affordable housing, definitely not social.  As John Bibby notes in his blog for Shelter (an excellent, if depressing read) this is a rather broad term.  More to the point it gives the boys in blue a lot of room for manoeuvre when talking figures.

So far, so already known, but the key thing to note is just how effective the Coalition Government has been at reining back the building of of truly social housing.  It really is quite shocking, when housing need is at its highest for decades.  When low pay is becoming a real issue for millions in the UK, the very housing that can help ease some of the crisis is at its lowest level for years.  The last time new social housing building was this low we were still mopping up after a short, angry Austrian decided to go smashy-smashy across Europe.  However, it is not just the low level of Social Housing being built, but the type of housing being built in its place that is of interest here.  Affordable is not so much the new black, but the new social.  When the Coalition is talking about Affordable Housing it means Affordable, not Social.  It also means stuff like help to buy, sneaky sods!

Borrowed Graph 1 – Breakdown of Affordable/Social Housing builds

Shelter Graph2 When you look at graph numero dos from Shelter it is even more depressing and for all the sector’s guff around developing and building (borrowing a lot of money in the process) we are still building nowhere near enough homes as we should be/need to be.  Yes there are a plethora of mitigating factors, reduced grant, an economy that would embarrass even Soviet era Russia in terms of performance, the culling of badgers Section106 agreements, Right to Buy’s re-birth, the desolation of Smaug Council house building.  Regardless, we need to do more in order to ensure that we can build more.

Borrowed Graph 2 – Social Housing Built Since WW2

Shelter Graph

Whilst I have previously stressed the need for financial prudence we must still develop as a sector.  Remember JC and his parable of the talents?  That story stands as true here as it does in Sunday School rooms up and down our increasingly secular land, even for an atheist like myself.  Use what you have got to the best of your ability.  No-one likes a landlord who buries his/her kitty in the middle of a middle-eastern desert and leaves it there.  It is for the large part why I question the long term viability of smaller organisations.  If you are small and grant is scarce you can only borrow so much against the value of your assets in order to grow.  Otherwise you will be trying to squeeze more and more from the same resource.  Ever tried squeezing an orange?  Only so much will come from it…

So what can we do?  As a sector we often talk about the need for innovation and creativity but very rarely act on it.  Now more than ever is the time to think outside of the box because, as both the graphs show, the funding game is changing and we need to change with it.  That being said some green shoots are appearing.  Pre-fab houses are back en-vogue, albeit in a more sophisticated form.  Borrowing a feck-tonne of private finance in order to fill the grant void is also being trialled.  Rent to buy, deposit free mortgages, wage linked tenancies/rents are all in place or being mooted.  So despite the doom and gloom there is a healthy air of ‘fuck it, what’s the worst that can happen’ in the sector.  More of this is needed otherwise the graphs above will continue to look as grim as the Labour Party’s PR team when they heard Ed beat his brother to become leader.

As always if you want to follow me on Twitter simply click here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.

One more time, with feeling

It’s nearly two years to the day that my old dear dropped dead.  Having only very recently spoken to her, and not too long after she had been given the all clear following a battle with cancer, it was a bit of a shock.  I’m not one for crying, or showing much emotion apart from anger, that day I shed bucket loads.  Regressing back to the scared pre-teen kid, uncertain of what the hell would happen next.  My parents had been planning how to spend their semi-retirement, a camper-van purchase (much to my embarrassment) was in the pipeline.  This was not how it was supposed to be.

The old bat had many, many positive facets, often described by mates as a whirlwind I simply referred to her as ‘momma Goodrich’.  Despite being a white middle class woman under 5’5″ she always seemed to have the presence of a powerful Afro-American matriarch.  Being the mum of 4 lads this was probably a good thing. What I will remember her most for is her compassion and her energy.  I’ve never met anyone who has come close to her relentless drive and passion.  Never have I met anyone so willing to help others.  Her faith, deep and strong but not rigid (she saw the Bible as a moral guide, not a set in stone rulebook) played a role, but she was forever helping those who needed it.  I’ve lost count of the people she helped with HR matters (her speciality), how many of my friends she pointed in the right direction over CVs or disciplinary action.

In stark contrast, what we have seen time and time again since the election of the Coalition Government is policies that lack this most basic facet of human nature, of compassion, of empathy.  A couple of weeks ago David Cameron lauded a ‘family test’ to be used when devising legislation.  It was a quite frankly breathtaking statement, completely and utterly ignoring the irony of the fact that many of the policies enacted under his stewardship have done so much to undermine the family.  The bedroom tax and the benefit cap have had severe repercussions for families up and down the country.  But because they are not the Tory core the Blue Brigade don’t give a crap.  Austerity hits the poor hardest, the most vulnerable hardest.  Those most likely not to vote, hardest.  And in the run up to a general election those at the bottom who don’t vote, don’t count.

The Guardian (yes I read the Guardian, no I don’t wear socks with sandals) recently published an article highlighting the difficulties facing local authorities in undertaking their statutory duties around homelessness.  Central Government and Local Government cuts are meaning already overworked, unfunded staff are feeling the squeeze even further.  And bizarrely Councils are having to shed out so much wonga housing homeless people that it makes more financial sense to buy property and then let it out.  The scale of the increase in homelessness is equally striking, equally horrific.  Other reports highlight the increase in food-banks and the rise in cases of rickets and malnutrition.  We are a developed country in the 21st Century, how the fuck is malnutrition an issue!?

Austerity is fine and well on paper, on the balance-sheet, in Whitehall.  Unfortunately, like any ideology, when it hits a little thing called life everything goes out the proverbial window.  We have a cabinet of which 36% went to private schools, 59% were educated at either Oxford or Cambridge.  They are a group of people who’s only idea of what being poor is comes from gogglebox tv programmes like Benefit Street.  Compassion doesn’t enter into the equation because they can’t get their head round the fundamental situation.  Worse is yet to come, 60% of the austerity measures aren’t due to hit until post 2015.  This is not going to get better any time soon.  But you can make small differences with small bits of compassion.  Simple things, buy the big issue, invest time, money and effort into organisations like Shelter, Crisis, Refuge.  Write to your local MP, be vocal in your criticism.  Hell, even write a blog.  Do not sit idle.  Compassion is a proactive trait as much as a positive one.  As Michala Rudman stated in her blog for #UKHousingFast, do all the good you can, by all the means you can.

As always if you want to follow me on Twitter simply click here or find me using the handle @ngoodrich87, you can view the rest of my blogs here.