Saturday, 29 March 2014

Londoners’ pay rises by half as much as workers in Scotland

Londoners are at the bottom of the UK league table for pay rises, startling research reveals today.
Pay has crept up by half as much in the capital as in some other regions over the past three years, the study based on official figures shows.
Someone on median earnings in London saw their pay packet rise by 30p an hour from 2010 to 2013.
In Scotland the equivalent rise was 59p, in the North-East it was 62p and in the Eastern region 65p.

read more

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Two-thirds of councils freeze taxes

Eric Pickles has said that 251 English councils, or 60% of all authorities, had signed up to the Chancellor’s offer to freeze council tax for 2014-15. “In the last decade, council tax bills went through the roof,” Mr Pickles said. “This Government has been working to keep council tax down.” The majority of councils who have implemented rises have kept them below 2%. The Welsh Government came in for criticism from Mr Pickles for refusing to freeze council taxes. “Labour councils across the country charge more and deliver less,” he said. The Daily Telegraph noted that the average bill in England has fallen in real-terms for the fourth year in a row.

Daily Telegraph, 

Recovery slows but rising pay brightens outlook

The CBI’s latest growth indicator report shows that the pace of recovery in Britain slowed to an eight-month low in March, with the private sector indicating weak growth in all sectors, but particularly in the services and retail industries. Of more than 600 firms surveyed, a balance of +19% said output was up, down from +32% in February and the lowest level since July last year. The outlook was brightened, however, by predictions from other organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses of rising pay across the UK economy. Anna Leach, the CBI's head of economic analysis, said: "As this year progresses, we expect further increases in business and consumer confidence. Productivity and earnings should also start to recover."

The Guardian, 

Welfare cap approved

MPs have overwhelmingly backed plans to introduce an overall cap on the amount the UK spends on welfare each year. Welfare spending, excluding the state pension and some unemployment benefits, will be capped next year at £119.5bn. The idea, put forward by Chancellor George Osborne in last week's Budget, would in future see limits set at the beginning of each Parliament.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Eviction risk rises

Citizens Advice staff dealt with nearly 87,000 problems relating to social housing arrears in 2013, a 10% increase on 2012, with 10,702 of those facing eviction - a 26% rise from the previous year.

source Independent i, 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Key issues for London Councils …

  • Government Property Unit’s Strategic Land and Property Review has identified scope to generate £5 billion of receipts from land and property nationally
  • Help to Buy: equity loan scheme extended to March 2020
  • £150 million fund to be set up to kick-start the regeneration of large housing estates through repayable loans
  • The government will work with the Mayor of London and the GLA to develop proposals for extending the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside
  • It will also work with the GLA and the London Borough of Barnet to look at proposals for the Brent Cross regeneration scheme
  • Government will publish a prospectus by Easter 2014, setting out how local authorities can develop proposals for bringing forward new garden cities
  • Welfare cap to be set at £119 billion in 2015/16, rising with inflation to £127 billion in 2018/19
  • Phase 2 of the Troubled Families programme to be rolled out in 2014/15
  • £50 million for an early years pupil premium, to help improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged three and four year-olds
  • £140 million of new funding to repair flood defences that have suffered damage
  • £200 million “potholes challenge fund” established across UK
  • Public Works Loan Board borrowing limit to increase from £70 billion to £95 billion
courtesy of LC

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Barnhill Residents Association -Mar 2014

Since the beginning of the New Year, there have, to the best of my knowledge, been three power cuts on the Barn Hill Estate, two in January and one on Sunday 9th March.  I have reported this to Brent Council, as our street lighting was not working for some hours on the last occasion.  This problem has not affected all properties consistently across the Hill;  some have suffered full power cuts , while others have experienced reduced voltage.  This is highly unusual and leads me to suspect that there may be an ongoing problem at the local sub-station.    I have today written to the CEO of UK Power Networks, who own and maintain the electricity cables in this area, alerting him to the problems and asking him to investigate the underlying cause and to remedy it.
John Woods       
March 2014.
BURGLARIES:  There theft have been a number of incidents recently involving the or attempted theft of cars.  In the last Newsletter, I reported that a house in Preston Road had been targeted.  It was broken into twice with the sole purpose of stealing the keys to the Mercedes parked outside.  On the second occasion the thief was successful in finding the keys and stealing the car.
In another incident, this time in Uxendon Hill, a youth drove a motorcycle into a driveway and attempted to break into a car.  The owner, who was at home, tried to apprehend the thief, who fled, abandoning the bike, which the police later established had itself been stolen.
Please take care to secure your vehicle at all times and do not leave your car keys where they are visible or vulnerable to theft.
NEW POLICE SERGEANT : Suzanne Hopper can be contacted on 020 8721 2966 or 07920 233755. Email address is
TRAFFIC CAMERA IN FORTY AVENUE / BRIDGE ROAD:   The new Traffic Enforcement company, Serco, who took the contract over from Apcoa in November 2013, appears to have cut down on parking wardens and CCTV camera cars, in favour of using  static cameras to enforce parking regulations. A large number of residents have contacted me to tell me of parking notices issued as a result of monitoring by the static cameras mounted above traffic signals at the above junction.  These cameras survey only a limited  area, outside of which there is often traffic chaos further along the road caused by parents dropping and collecting children at the Ark Academy. These cameras have been in place for years, for the purpose of monitoring the flow of traffic on Wembley Stadium Event Days, and residents feel that their change of use is just a money raising exercise by Brent Council and does not address the overall problem of illegal parking.
I have taken this matter up with Brent Council's Parking Department and I am not happy with their response.  I have therefore written to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, to highlight the problem.
SCAMS:  Please beware if you are asked to call back any so-called business with a number prefixed by 0809, 0284 or 0876.  This is a scam and you may be charged £1,500 per minute.
OUR LOCAL COUNCILLOR:  Councillor Shafique Choudhary can be contacted on 07962 356570, email

with courtesy of Barnhill Resident Association.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Pickles may introduce law on bin collections

Eric Pickles has said that he may introduce new laws forcing councils to reinstate weekly bin collections after admitting the Government's previous efforts have done no more than slow the decline. The Communities Secretary said it had taken Labour ten years to “destroy” the traditional weekly service and suggested it would take as long to restore it. Mr Pickles said that the Conservatives were looking at setting down “minimum standards”, making it more difficult for local authorities to offer fortnightly collections.

Daily Mail,

DWP to shut down jobs site

The Guardian claims it has seen leaked internal communications from the DWP that reveal that the government has drawn up plans to scrap its official jobs website, Universal Jobmatch, after recognising it is too expensive and that its purpose is undermined by fake and repeat job entries.

The Guardian

Saturday, 15 March 2014

CCTV to be banned from issuing parking tickets

Councils are to be banned from using CCTV cameras to issue parking tickets. The move, to be announced by Eric Pickles next month, comes after figures show that councils have collected an extra £80m a year from parking tickets in the past seven years, with some more than trebling their income last year alone. The figures, from the Communities Department, show that town halls’ income from parking tickets rose from £275.6m in 2005-6 to £352.8m in 2012-13, an increase of almost 30%. In the 12 months to April 2013, the income rose by 4% from £340.4m. Mr Pickles said: “The law is clear that parking charges and fines should not be used by local authorities to raise revenue. Public confidence is strengthened in CCTV if it is used to tackle crime, not to generate cash."

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Named co-ordinators for elderly

Labour have proposed that elderly people should be provided with a single carer to co-ordinate all their care needs in plans to overhaul the way the NHS looks after patients. Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said: "I want to cement the right to a named, single point of contact so there is one person to email or one person to ring if things aren't working. That named person is there to deliver a personalised plan.”

Rise in pothole damage claims

A survey of local authorities responsible for highway maintenance by the Sunday Telegraph has revealed that compensation claims to councils for injuries or damage to vehicles from potholes rose to 39,249 in 2013 from 25,977 in 2012. Only a fifth of claims were successful with the average payout falling to £375 from £1,565 in 2012. The news comes as David Cameron announces that local authorities will be given an additional £140m to help repair roads following one of the wettest winters on record.

The Sunday Telegraph,

Monday, 3 March 2014

Councils spending £2.9m on food poverty

An investigation by BBC’s Panorama has revealed that more than a third of councils in England and Wales are subsidising food banks. The programme claims that £2.9m has been set aside by local authorities over the past couple of years to combat food poverty. Panorama asked all 375 councils in England and Wales about food banks for its programme, Hungry Britain?, which will be broadcast tonight. Of the 323 councils that responded, 140 said that they were providing funding. The programme also claims that the two councils covering the constituency of Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, have between them spent almost £70,000 to combat food poverty over the past two years. Professor Liz Dowler, a food policy expert and one of the authors of a recent government report about food banks, said there was a danger the lines between food banks and the state were becoming blurred. "Food banks are an inadequate plaster over a gaping wound," she said. "They do not solve the problems. And that they should be enshrined as an inadequate solution is deeply immoral."

Gove reforms would be kept by Labour

Labour has said it would not repeal any of the major school reforms introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove if it wins the next general election. Tristram Hunt, shadow education secretary, said he did not want to "waste political energy" by "tinkering" with changes made to the curriculum and academy schools in England since 2010.

Council house sell-off prevents downsizing

 The Independent reports that thousands of one and two bedroom council homes have been sold off since 2010, preventing tenants affected by the spare room subsidy from downsizing to avoid the penalty. Figures obtained by the paper under an FoI request show that a severe shortage of smaller council homes across the country is being exacerbated by the right-to-buy scheme - leaving many victims of the so-called “bedroom tax” with no choice but to accept reduced benefits.

The Independent, 

More Londoners turning to food banks

A charity that runs food banks has revealed that an increasing number of Londoners are using them. The Trussell Trust said that in 2011-12, people visited food banks 12,639 times while in 2013-14, this increased to 63,367 - an increase of 400%. Trussell Trust chairman Chris Mould says there are more than 40 food banks in London. He added that in areas such as Hackney and Tower Hamlets, the need for help was substantial due to the high levels of child poverty there. Elsewhere, charities have warned of a rise in people using food banks and relying on food parcels in Jersey. The Grace Trust said almost 80 households each month relied on food provided by the charity. It added that since 2008 the number of people needing a regular bag of food has doubled.