Simply messing about in boats

There has been a ground breaking housing policy development that Red Brick readers may just have missed. It’s the government’s Houseboat Strategy.
In genuinely out of the box, beyond the blue-sky thinking, the government plans to help more people live on boats.
In a new bout of press release-based policy making Grant Shapps has said that:
“new moorings could be eligible for the New Homes Bonus, which sees the government match council tax from new-build homes.”
Erm, so maybe not quite helping people live on boats, but saying that the government is considering something that’s just about interesting enough to be covered in the news.
British Waterways cut to the real heart of the issue and were “pleased to note the reassurance from Mr Shapps’ department that people can qualify for housing benefit for help with mooring fees.”
You’ve got to give it to Mr Shapps as a tactical politician: no band-wagon goes by unleapt on and every eye-catching line gets a policy thrown together behind it.
But surely someone in DCLG, No10, Cabinet Office, CCHQ must be concerned that at some stage the total lack of interest in any type of strategy, plan or vision may cause them a problem?

0 replies on “Simply messing about in boats”

There has been a documentary waiting to be made for some time entitled “Park Homes & Houseboats”. Anybody with their eyes open on traveling around the country will have noticed the growth of Park Home parks mostly hidden behind 6ft wooden fences, on former railway land or brownfield sites.
Houseboats have become a real nuisance here in Cambridge and it is noticeable that the growth of them (and in Oxford) has corresponded with the decline in the building of new council houses and the growth of so called “affordable homes” (spit).
There was a time just after the 2nd World War when people were so desperate for housing that they squatted empty Army barracks (of which there were of course far more at that time) and any empty housing they could lay their hands on. While we are not yet at that stage the policy you write about smacks of the kind of desperate thinking such needs engender.
If the idea of living on boats were coming from the people in need themselves that would be one thing. But to be coming from the lips of the man responsible for the nation’s housing then heaven forbid, this is a disgraceful abdication of his true role which should be making a plan to start funding the building of council houses in large number once again, but of course this is Grant Shapps and that will never happen.
In many parts of London he is supporting the idea of doing away with what council housing remains as it is (H&F). When Mr Shapps sells his own house to live on a houseboat then I might be able to take him seriously. As it is this is yet more proof if any were needed of the complete abdication of responsibility within the coalition for those unable to afford to buy their own home.

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