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Full council meeting 06/07/22 (Sorry starts halfway through!)


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  • Malcolm Robinson changed the title to Full council meeting 06/07/22 (Sorry starts halfway through!)

I've not watched the video ... so my comment is about the misleading use of language especially spouted by some politicians.  The term "affordable housing" is often used to disguise the lack of rentable 'social housing'.  There's a chronic need to build affordable rented properties in the UK, not loads of housing stock that folks can't afford the mortgages for!    

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15 hours ago, Symptoms said:

I've not watched the video ... so my comment is about the misleading use of language especially spouted by some politicians.  The term "affordable housing" is often used to disguise the lack of rentable 'social housing'.  There's a chronic need to build affordable rented properties in the UK, not loads of housing stock that folks can't afford the mortgages for!    

I see affordable housing as a two bedroomed terraced house where the mortgage, normally around £100,000, would be cheaper than the cost of renting a similar property. 

So in todays market a first time buyer would have to have a £5,000 deposit + solicitors fees etc. to buy an affordable house. 

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Symptoms, I see where you’re coming from when you mention misleading language. The question we should be asking is whether or not there is deliberate intention to mislead. The english language, or any other for that matter, doesn’t have too many ’absolute’ things – most are variable because they are subjective to the perceiver/user. We all have our own unique perspective on things which is influenced by our own personal tastes, feelings and opinions . These, in their turn, have been influenced by our uppbringing, culture and education. Let me clarify: a dog is a dog - that’s absolute. However, as soon as we get round to putting labels on the dog we are being subjective. A dog that jumps up and licks your face after licking its genitals may be labelled ’disgusting’ by you but labelled ’friendly’ by its owner. Two different ways of perceiving the same thing.

And so it is with labels on housing. as well They are also subjective. and have variable meaning according to our own perspective on what is: affordable, expensive, nasty, nice etc.etc. - one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Then, of course, English has a host of words that have both a positive AND a negative meaning. Cheap is a perfect example which in one context retains its original fourteenth century, positive meaning of ’a good bargain’ but in another context adopts the more modern, negative meaning ’of poor quality’.

I’m very much aware that this lexical ambiguity can, and is quite often, used deliberately by and to the advantage of politicians, not to mention the field day reporters have with it! Malcolm clearly understands this so I think he did right in asking for the term affordable to be defined. A clear answer, subjective though it may be, (subjectivity can’t, unfortunately, be siphoned off) allows everybody to understand just what is being discussed.

For that reason I thought Malcolm’s question was very relevant. He wanted to know the meaning of ’affordable’ according to the person using the term. Its interpretation was vital to everybody ’s understanding of just what was being discussed and, in my opinion, Clr, Hardcastle gave a clear reply in saying that it was a government definition set at 30% below the market rate for that area for rent and shared ownership. This left no one, regardless of their own definition of ’affordable’, in any doubt as to what was being discussed.

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Canny lass, I’ve since had to opportunity to ask the head of planning the same question and while I was given the correct definition at the meeting it is only one definition?????????  Every sub category of housing/planning has its own variation and if fact the government web site I looked at defined it as 80% of market price. 

So depending on what we are talking about, renting, ownership, part ownership etc. this ambiguous term has a multiple of meanings.  Can that be right? 

 

For me it’s a misnomer because to the average guy in the street with no planning experience the term means something other than what’s being talked about. 

Also affordability has to take into account the local wage structure because clearly what’s affordable in the South East cannot be the same as up here! 

I still think basing anything on a super-heated market will inevitably produce the wrong outcome and if we are talking ‘council houses and social rents’ then we should be able to use a more local and affordable matrix. 

 

I think it’s a good initiative I’m just worried that if it’s pitched wrongly we might not actually help the people we should be helping. 

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1 hour ago, Malcolm Robinson said:

So depending on what we are talking about, renting, ownership, part ownership etc. this ambiguous term has a multiple of meanings.  Can that be right? 

It can indeed be right. Affordability means different things to different people because what’s affordable, cheap or expensive to one person is related to that individual’s perception – influenced, as I said previously, by that person’s tastes, feelings and opinions and even circumstances. So every person at that meeting could, and probably did, have their own idea of what was being discussed as ”affordable housing”. It’s a minefield for misunderstanding made all the more explosive if even the various planning instances involved are not working to the same definition.

Clearly, in the case of the report under discussion, some body of people somewhere, has defined the term ’affordable’ for the purpose of that project/report – otherwise, Cllr Hardcastle wouldn’t have been able to produce it. Myself, the least I’d expect is that such subjective terminology be defined at the outset of such a report. In that way, no one is left with any doubt as to what is being reported on or being discussed. In the absence of that then it’s good to know that there are people like yourself who are prepared to ask for a definition.

Naturally, everyone will not agree with it. As i said, it’s subjective terminology but it has to be called something and provided everyone knows what is meant by the term ’in just that report’ then there is no room for ambiguity – only for differing opinion.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Malcolm, but I understood from the government definition provided that the term affordable was specific to just one area - ”30% below the market rate for that area ”. Naturally, I’d expect that 30% to be based on, among other things, wage structure and not just the current market rate and hopefully that is the case. Perhaps market rates reflect the economic status of the area in question? I do, however, take your point about the outcome of basing anything on a super-heated market and, unfortunately, I have to agree.

Keep up the good work!

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Thanks for the link to the Commons Library. I’ll be saving that for future perusal. Having read the document, am I right in understanding that central government has defined affordable as ”up to 80%” but ileaves it to local government to set the bar on a scale of 0-80% for their own area (30% in the case under discussion)?

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