First of all, a guilty secret: I love Silk, the BBC show. It makes my Tuesday nights. It is completely and utterly implausible but take it for what it is – fiction and drama – and it’s a great show. After a late Supper, my partner called me and said there was another programme which I must watch on BBC. So I sat and shouted at “Neighbourhood watched” – a title which pretty much sums up much of the literature on the governance of social housing. It’s a real-life documentary, apparently a series, following housing officers of two or three PRPs trying to manage their properties. In the main, the housing officers appear to be true to type – committed and sensitive, trying to do their best for their residents. But, by contrast to the fiction of Silk, there are some pretty appalling misrepresentations of the legal position of at least some of the occupiers. Last night, for example, the voice over in relation to one such household said “Mr Ali and his wife have separated so his joint tenancy has ended”. Well possibly, but the word “so” in the sentence hides a multitude of procedural steps before the termination of the joint tenancy, and advisers might have wanted to ask a series of questions about it all. He was an over-occupier and the allocations officer was trying to do her best to re-house him but on the assumption that he would otherwise be evicted without question (setting up what for the PRP was a novel three-way domino allocation). Then there was another situation where a grandma had been allocated a property on a warden-controlled estate and her grandson was causing hassle and nicking her money. He was convicted for the latter but without a CRASBO having been applied for – or at least, it did not appear so as the PRP was going for an ASBI with power of arrest. So, one felt, this issue could have been resolved at an earlier phase. Then there was the estate which was going to be redeveloped before the new government pulled the funding (I think I’ve got that right but, if that was the case, it might well have been a reviewable decision). The remaining occupiers were living in HHSRS Category 1 properties by the look of it (subject of course to an assessment). The housing officer held a meeting at which the residents rightly complained about the delay in their decanting, but there seemed to be issues over the transfer. The housing officer was obviously trying to do her best, and really trying to do so, and had raised some money to partly refurbish the properties for the winter, but really … I left the room after that for a long soak (alcohol) and rant.
What are we to make of it?