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Compared To What, Whinger?

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That the world isn’t perfect is just one of those shocks that adults do have to overcome. But when complaining about those imperfections it is necessary to ask Thomas Sowell’s question, compared to what?

The complaint here being that the contracting out of maintenance on council housing has led to a four day – four day! – delay in repairing some damage:

This is the story of the consequences of a flood that left me and my neighbours without water for four and a half days in the middle of a pandemic.

OK, that’s definitely an imperfection.

PFIs suited New Labour down to the ground. They could salve the conscience of the middle classes by “improving” social housing, while apparently sparing the taxpayer the cost of doing so. It was a fudge, a marvellous fudge. Everyone could have everything and no one would have to pay for it. Except, of course, the social housing tenants, who saw the regeneration, management and maintenance of their homes handed to the private sector – for-profit companies with the primary objective of minimising costs in order to maximise profits.

The flat I live in was one of 2,348 homes transferred by Islington council to the PFI consortium Partners for Improvement in Islington in 2003. A 30-year contract worth £350m, it was the first council housing PFI regeneration scheme in England to begin.

Eh? What?

No, no, compared to what? A four and a half day delay is not fun, obviously. But what was the system before? What would the alternative system be today in fact?

That would be the council’s direct labour force. And does anyone think that the council’s direct labour force would fix a burst pipe in only four and a half days? Over a weekend? In the middle of a pandemic?

You do? In a world where British Telecom could be late on a three month warning to install more telephone lines? Yes, that did actually happen. If you do then there’s a useful bridge in NYC you might want to buy.

The useful question for us is whether that lust for profit leads to a better service or not. And anyone who recalls the 1970s would have to say yes, it does.

There is though a much more important question here:

Clare Allan is an author and creative writing lecturer who writes on mental health issues

Why the hell are the rest of us subsidising her into a council flat?

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