Saturday, 28 December 2013

Damp and mould reports in social housing soar

Experts have blamed the rise in reports of condensation dampness on increased poverty and rising energy bills. Condensation dampness is seen as a major public health risk because it can exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma and is a particular problem in northern England and rural areas where social housing tenants have been hit worst by welfare reform policies. Aragon housing association, which has 6,500 properties in mainly rural central Bedfordshire, discovered reports of damp and mould have more than tripled over the past year. Aragon’s managing director, Aileen Evans, said: "This is about poverty. It is not about a malfunctioning technical component; it is about people who cannot afford to use their heating system. These tenants are choosing not to heat." The Guardian, Page: 27

Large cities suffer from “unfair” grant cuts

The Times’ Jill Sherman examines councils’ accusations of “staggering unfairness” by the Government following Eric Pickles’ announcement that local government grants will suffer cuts averaging 8.5% over the next two years. Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and several London boroughs, who depend heavily on central grants, are facing a much tighter squeeze than many councils in the South and South East, who can rely more on charges and council tax income, writes Ms Sherman. Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "Put simply, the less well-off areas with the greatest needs, such as large, regional cities, are seeing spending slashed, while richer areas in the South East will see increases in funding next year."
The Times, Page: 37

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Quintain gains approval for Wembley Park homes

The second phase of the scheme includes the construction of a number of buildings near Wembley Park tube station to comprise 475 homes, of which 433 will be privately owned. Under the previous phase 1.8m sq ft of development was completed, including a four star hotel, Brent Civic Centre and the London Designer Outlet. “Londoners want to live in a neighbourhood with soul as well as excellent amenities," said Quintain chief executive Maxwell James in a statement. "With a century of history as a leisure destination, two iconic world-class entertainment venues, London’s only designer outlet and Bond Street within 20 minutes by Tube, this new development at Wembley Park will be unique in London and highly attractive to those seeking a great place to live,” he said. Quintain said construction on the phase two homes is expected to start in the summer, with the first homes to be completed in 2016.

Car Parking in Brent

CPZ permits entitle permit holders to park in car parks owned and managed by Brent.
 The Brent managed car parks are:

Barham Park Car Park , Elm Road Car Park, Kingsbury Road Car Park, Lonsdale Avenue Car Park, Neasden Car Park, Preston Road Car Park, Salusbury Road Car Park, St John’s Road Car Park and Wendover Road Car Park.

Street Parking- Revenue

Councils collect £502m in parking revenues Town halls in London have been accused by the Government of "ripping off" motorists by raking in more from on-street parking schemes while cutting their costs. Councils in the capital received revenue of £502m in 2012/13, up by £7m from a year earlier. In contrast, their expenditure for providing on-street parking fell from £273m to £259m. Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "It is clear from these figures that some councils are ripping off motorists by cutting their own costs but increasing revenue from on-street parking at the same time. The law is extremely clear that on street parking may not be used as a source of general revenue."

With courtesy of Evening Standard

Friday, 13 December 2013

New migrant tests

Migrants will be able to claim benefits only if they pass a series of tough new tests, including a check on their fluency in English, the Government is to announce today. The moves, which will come into force a fortnight ahead of the removal of transitional controls on Romanian and Bulgarian workers, are designed to send a strong deterrent message to potential "benefit tourists". From next Wednesday, foreign-born benefit claimants will face more questions in lengthier interviews. The rules apply to all overseas nationals, regardless of whether or not they are from the EU, and to Britons returning after living abroad. For the first time, claimants will be challenged to demonstrate their proficiency in English and to prove they were genuinely looking for work before they came to this country. "It is vitally important that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of our benefits system. The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country, and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system. We are taking action to ensure this is not the case," Iain Duncan Smith comments.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Business rates capped 

Increases in business rates in England are to be capped at 2%, instead of being linked to inflation, the Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement. Business rates were set to rise by 3.2% next year, based on September's Retail Prices Index measure of inflation. Mr Osborne said he planned to encourage small businesses on to High Streets by cutting £1,000 from their rates bill. Firms will also be allowed to pay their rates in monthly instalments. The Chancellor claims the cap could save businesses up to £3,375. The £1,000 discount will apply to retail premises, including pubs, cafes and restaurants, with a rateable value of up to £50,000 for two years. He also pledged help for the High Street by introducing a "reoccupation relief" - halving business rates for businesses moving into vacant premises. BBC News Financial Times, Page: 6