Saturday, 30 March 2013

Frank Field condemns "bedroom tax"

The Government's poverty tsar, Frank Field, has condemned the "bedroom tax" as a form of social engineering which would make Joseph Stalin proud. Mr Field believes the scheme, which will be introduced on Monday, is doomed to fail. He says the change is flawed because housing associations have been encouraged to build two and three-bedroom accommodation "irrespective of what the size of the population is". He believes the Government will initially save £500m because many people will take a cut in housing benefit because they cannot move.
The Guardian, Page: 22   

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Budget - Brent Council

Cllr Butt

On Monday we passed a new budget for the Council for the year ahead.
The budget focuses on our priorities of making Brent a fairer borough, bringing more jobs and growth to Brent and strengthening our community.
In particular it focuses on increasing the living standards of our poorest residents, putting in place the foundations for a stronger economy that will provide more jobs that pay a decent wage and ensuring our fantastic young people don't miss out as a result of the recession and austerity.
The key parts of the budget are:
  • Freezing Council Tax again this year and announcing plans to do the same next year - saving the average family over £330 during the course of our administration.
  • Reducing parking charges across the borough. The first 15 minutes will now cost just 20 pence, and parking will be cheaper no matter how long you stay.
  • A new energy switching scheme which could save you up to £200 off your energy bills. You can find out more and sign up here.
  • Becoming a Living Wage borough. We will pay all staff the Living Wage, and will extend this to our contractors. We are also working with businesses in Brent to get them to do the same because everyone deserves to be able to survive on their wages.
  • The biggest school places building program in Brent's history. Over £47 million to improve our schools this year.
  • £2 million of funding to the voluntary sector and a new strategy to support them to grow and help our community.
  • A new scheme to support vulnerable families in Brent.
I am committed to ensuring that your Council will be on your side during these difficult times. The Government has severely cut our funding - it was cut by a third between 2010 and 2014. But this won't stop us fighting for a better standard of living for our residents and a brighter future for Brent.
Written by Cllr Muhammed Butt at 00:00

Parking fines figures

A freedom of information request has revealed that some roads are netting more than £1m a year for councils in parking fines. Top of the league Old Broad Street in the City of London, which pulled in £1.6m in penalty fines from a total of 17,400 tickets. Gloucester Road in Bristol topped the league outside London, with 7,774 tickets racking up £318,089.
source: Sunday Express

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Disabled children exempt from ‘bedroom tax’

The Independent reports that ministers will publish guidance to local authorities today which will allow them to exclude families with disabled children from the reduction in benefits for having a spare room. Iain Duncan Smith told MPs: “As the law stands right now where a local authority agrees that a family needs an extra bedroom because their child’s disability means they are unable to share, the family can be entitled to the spare room subsidy in respect of that extra bedroom.”

The Independent, Page: 22

Levy risks housing recovery

Builders and property developers are said to be concerned that a new levy which must be paid to councils for winning approval for construction projects will impact on a housebuilding recovery. The property industry fears that local authorities will pitch the levy too high and make it unprofitable to embark on new housing schemes. It is noted that the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has appointed Savills to liaise with councils to avoid “battles” over the size of the levy. Meanwhile, leading housebuilders, including Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey, have set aside £7m for a “fighting fund” which will be managed by the HBF.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

HOUSING-Landlords taking advantage of right to buy

The Mirror claims that some landlords who have benefitted from the right-to-buy policy are charging tenants vastly higher sums for rent. The paper examines how Charles Gow, the son of Margaret Thatcher’s former Housing Minister Ian Gow, now owns 40 out of 120 ex-council flats in Roehampton. A resident says her rent has gone from £360 a month to £800. She adds that some of the rent is covered by housing benefit. Tony Belton, a Wandsworth councillor, comments: “Speculators have made millions out of exploiting public assets. It stinks.”
Daily Mirror, Page: 15