Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Localism Bill - or actually the non-Localism Bill

In previous posts I have pointed out that whilst the Localism Bill makes provisions for local referenda, it allows the local authority to disregard the result if it so wishes - which is hardly devolving power downwards and thus retains power amongst politicians.

It has come to my attention that there is yet another example within this Bill that takes power away from local people, in this particular case residents in social housing. Presently, those residents whose landlord is a housing association and who have a complaint against their landlord must follow the housing association's internal complaints procedure (which normally contains three stages) and then have the right to approach the Housing Ombudsman as a 'last resort'.

In the Localism Bill, Chapter 6 (158) (1) (7a) (1) & (2) states:
"(1) In Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1996 (social rented sector: housing
complaints) after paragraph 7 insert—
“Complaints must be referred by designated person
7A (1) A complaint against a social landlord is not “duly made” to a
housing ombudsman under an approved scheme unless it is made in
writing to the ombudsman by a designated person by way of referral
of a complaint made to the designated person.
(2) For the purposes of this paragraph “designated person” means—
(a) a member of the House of Commons,
(b) a member of the local housing authority for the district in
which the property concerned is located, or
(c) a designated tenant panel (see paragraph 7B(1)) for the social
What this means is that yet another layer of political interference has been inserted between tenant and landlord as under this Bill any tenant's complaint must be made through an MP, local councillor or tenant's panel. 

Whilst it is every tenant's right, if they so wish, to involve an elected politician or advocate of their choice, forcing them to go through a third party must surely disempower them and create significantly more bureaucracy and cost for all the parties concerned. The point must also be made that this proposal would force tenants who might have an in-depth knowledge of the policies and law surrounding the particular issue at hand to make their complaint via someone who, in effect, would be a third party generalist, one whose knowledge of the subject matter may well be less than that of the tenant.

This provision in the Localism Bill is but another example of how the political elite are intent on keeping power away from the individual. It is also, now, a fact of life that when the government’s boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence.


PeterCharles said...

I say it again, do not listen to what they say, look at what they do.

You are indeed correct in that this is a non-localism bill, designed not to empower the individual but to empower the 'vested interests', the local wannabe politicians and the 'I know best' interferers that are the implicit front line directors in Cameron's big society.

And naturally it all fits perfectly with the EU Local Communities Strategy.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Yup PC, I get the message. All I am in effect doing is underlining that message?

Repeated often enough, even the thickest of the thick must surely understand?

And oh yes - in respect of your last paragraph!