Friday, 23 January 2015

An argument waiting to happen.

I’m angry, I’m an argument waiting to happen; I actually wanted to get into an argument today and couldn’t think of a reason to. I’m frustrated.

Back in 2004 my mum spent a long time in hospital after breaking her ankle. To free up her hospital bed, she came out with some intensive support at home. We had to make alterations and install equipment to make it all possible.

One of the requirements was to install an alarm she could wear around her neck.

We had to rent one – from a local housing association.

Recently, I discovered there were a number of cheaper alternatives; we didn’t realise it at the time and no one told us.

Then they stopped sending us statements of how much we had paid – so we overpaid. After a struggle, we got some of the money back but they kept a chunk to pay the rent ahead of time.

Now my Mum has died I need to get the overpayment back and to stop the continuing rent which I could only do by returning the machine (that we have paid for many times over in the last ten years).

They don’t collect – so I had two ‘choices’;

a) Leave it at Windsor’s Council offices. Windsor is a town where it’s impossible to park without getting fined or clamped. No one at the council will have any idea what I’m trying to do. The machine will be lost and we’ll just go on paying. Plus, I’ll get yet another parking ticket.

b) Go to their offices in Maidenhead which is miles and miles away.

I chose b), which is where I ended up getting angry that I couldn’t find a reason to pick a fight with them.

Of course, no one who is working could do this.

I ended up queuing up with a number of women and children with rent problems; a ‘housing association’ isn’t an association at all. It’s a nominally non-profit making supplier of social housing. It’s taken over the housing stock of the democratically controlled local council (all paid for the tax payers) and turned these homes into the assets of a corporation.

Despite not (apparently) making any profits, lots of well-paid people work for them. Hugely profitable City of London Corporations lend them very expensive money which has to be repaid with interest by those poor tenants in the queue. A horde of professionals and advisors profit out of it all.

They actually need security windows to protect them from the ‘beneficiaries’ of the ‘association’.

As I queued up, I was thinking about how it is that over their lives the poor pay many times over for the homes they live in yet they never end up owning them – just like us with the alarm.

Their generosity is repaid with a kind of contempt that you wouldn’t get from a high street shop.

That many of the people working at the counter are just one little step up from the people on the other side of the glass and they ought to remember that when they are dealing with people.

As it was, I couldn’t think of any particular reason to get into a fight with them….so I’m feeling grousy.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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