Award-winning housing publication Inside Housing has launched a new campaign – Housing Benefits.
Stop! Don’t segue to that sharply-inserted hyperlink just yet. First, a pop quiz:
What do you think a campaign called ‘Housing Benefits’ is about?
Did you answer “Erm…housing benefit, presumably? You know, like, housing benefit payments.”
No? Cheater! You clicked the hyperlink, didn’t you! I bet you never died in those ‘choose your own adventure’ books either, did you? I see your deceitful thumb, tucked away on that previous paragraph. Remove your thumb from those literary crossroads!
Okay, maybe you’ve read the latest issue of Inside Housing or have seen explanatory tweets or are Benedict-Sherlock-Cumberbatch-Holmes; maybe you know that Housing Benefits is about:
- Promoting the positive benefits the housing sector has on health, crime, education, etc. via compiling prospectuses for Government departments.
- Challenging misconceptions re: housing providers and their tenants.
- Influence MPs and local authorities post-general election with an online resource highlighting positive local stories and best practice.
But the fact is most people outside the sector – and a few within, I’ll warrant – are not going to grok the true purpose of the campaign from its name.
Now, maybe it’s not for regular people (much like this cartoon from Penny Arcade isn’t for critics…) – the journalistic jewels of Inside Housing are now locked behind a paywall and the aims are directed more-or-less at official authorities, so the campaign is hardly looking for popular support…
…which is a shame. The New Era Estate didn’t achieve victory by delivering prospectuses to Westbrook Partners, but by causing a visible, accessible, public ruckus. It took a hastily-high-tailed heckler to highlight the horror of homelessness at last night’s #LeadersDebate.
For a campaign on the integrative benefits of housing, a sector-specific pun doesn’t send an integrated message (or, indeed, a clear one – there will be many who think this is about housing benefit payments because…well, that’s what it’s called.)
Listen, I’m not a Montague (or should that be Capulet?), so I’m not going to turn my back on the Housing Benefits campaign just because of a name. Housing does have a powerful, positive effect on many other aspects of life, and that message does need to be promoted. Still, I can’t help feeling this rose could have smelled…erm, sounded sweeter.
David Cameron Heckled Over Homelessness During Live TV Leaders Debate, Huffington Post UK, Online: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/04/02/david-cameron-heckled-during-tv-debate_n_6995784.html, Available: April 2015
Housing Benefits Campaign, Inside Housing, Online: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/home/campaigns/housing-benefits, Available: April 2015
Rising Homelessness: too much welfare reform and not enough rental reform, Shelter, Online: http://blog.shelter.org.uk/2015/03/rising-homelessness-too-much-welfare-reform-and-not-enough-rental-reform/, Available: April 2015
Russell Brand And New Era Estate Score Amazing London Housing Victory, Huffington Post UK, Online: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/12/19/russell-brand-new-era-estate-london-housing-trews_n_6355942.html, Available: April 2015
The Adventures of Twisp and Catsby, Penny Arcade, Online: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/24/the-adventures-of-twisp-and-catsby, Available: April 2015