HQN Blog: A Christmas Carol – updated by Charles Dickens

“Hoots mon I’m not putting another bawbee in the meter.” And with that ageing housing consultant Alistair McScrooge blew out the candle and settled down to sleep. As the insides of the windows iced over he snored. It had been a hard day. His Fitbit was buzzing from the number of times he crossed the road briskly to avoid giving to charity. But it was not going to be an easy night.

An icy blast woke him up. Who was that at the end of his bed? It was the ghost of housing present. What a terrible sight! It was the worst housing association he had ever seen. Oh my God listen to this. They got everything wrong.

It all started when they went out to consult the people. Turns out they hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. They went round in a lovely bus. On the side it said that every tenant would get free gold taps if they voted to de-merge. Guess what, it was all a lie. Bit by bit the tenants began to smell a rat. What did the board say? Don’t worry we’ve got 58 studies of how it will all work out. But the HCA could not find hide nor hair of these studies. Nor could they find a risk register or any stress testing. And they looked and looked for a business plan. When they opened the big excel file it was full of cobwebs.

Poor old McScrooge threw off his many threadbare sheets and rushed downstairs. Each step on the lino was colder than the last. Frantically he threw floppy discs in and out of his trusty Amstrad computer. Was this housing association one that he worked with? Was it all his fault? Would he ever work again? Blip blip blip the ancient computer edged out the truth. No he had never worked for this lot. It was worse than that. There was no silver lining. None of his rivals had been there either. So he was stuck with them for another year.

He turned in confusion to the ghost. “Tell me what this is all about”. So the ghost revealed a vision. There were two blond mop tops at the top table – one man and one woman. And a bloke in a suit with piles of silver hair and tired slits of eyes. To their side was a very pleased with himself little govelin. “That’s not a housing association that’s the cabinet. They’re nothing to do with me – I’m SNP.”

With that the ghost vanished. He had made a silly mistake. A very silly mistake. McScrooge was disappointed. He’d been looking forward to meeting the ghost of housing future. Then he’d find out if all the stress testing and risk strategies in the world had indeed predicted what was going to happen next. On the plus side he did have a moment of epiphany. If the government don’t plan for the future we don’t need to either. Think of all the money we will save. For a skinflint it was a dream come true. He tore out of his house to spread the good news. But he slipped on ice that he would have known about had he put a battery in the wireless and listened to the forecast. And he spent the next two days waiting in agony in A and E because the NHS was short of £350m a week. Merry Christmas.

By Alistair McIntosh, HQN Chief Executive