Saturday, 29 November 2014

Free parking - During Christmas

Free Parking will  be available in the Council’s ten car parks next weekend, as well as on the following two weekends in the lead up to Christmas. This is to encourage residents to shop local on Small Business Saturday and to do their Christmas shopping in Brent over the coming weeks.

Private rented licensing scheme begins 1 January

The council’s new licensing scheme for private rented properties begins on 1 January 2015. Private sector landlords in Brent are being reminded that they have just one month left to apply. An estimated 15,000-20,000 properties in Brent with need licences, and without one, landlords risk being prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.

By introducing the new scheme, Brent aims to help drive up standards in the private rented sector, ensure there is more good, affordable housing for local people and drive out the minority of bad landlords.

Applications have started to come in and it is expected that numbers will increase significantly over the coming weeks as the start date of the scheme approaches. Landlords can apply online at:


Friday, 28 November 2014

The proposal treatment and assessment unit

The proposal treatment and assessment unit will provide more beds to help address 'under-capacity' at Northwick Park Hospital, where only 68 per cent of patients are seen within the four-hour target

The proposal treatment and assessment unit will provide more beds to help address 'under-capacity' at Northwick Park Hospital, where only 68 per cent of patients are seen within the four-hour target

Clinical accommodation could be built at Northwick Park Hospital to help 'considerably elieve' the shortage of beds.
The treatment and assessment unit at the Watford Road, Harrowhospital would be a linked extension to the new A&E department due to open on December 10 and would be linked to the main NHS hospital

published on Harrow Observer.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Pickles wants councils to sell off £1m-plus homes

Eric Pickles has ordered London councils to publish, by postcode, details of their social housing, including the value of individual houses and flats and whether they are occupied, in an effort to persuade them to sell off homes worth more than £1m. The communities secretary said: “Instead of holding that money as equity in expensive empty properties, the councils should sell up those vacant buildings and reinvest the money to keep the capital building. This would allow more families to come off social housing waiting lists and get into homes." The Communities Department highlighted how Southwark sold one council home - a four-story, Grade II-listed building - for £3m, which helped to fund the building of 20 new properties.
Evening Standard,

Fall in council tax collection rates

Official figures show that nearly £750m in council tax went unpaid in England last year as collection rates fell for only the second time since the tax was introduced in 2003-4. The Audit Commission said councils in England gathered on average 97% of what they were owed in 2013/14, down 0.4% on the previous year. The total of uncollected tax rose to £2.38bn. Town halls said spending cuts meant more people were "struggling to pay". "While collection rates are high ... when we consider such large sums of taxpayers' money, even a small percentage shift can produce substantial changes in the income councils have to deliver their services," said Audit Commission chairman Jeremy Newman. However, the Local Government Association blamed the Treasury, suggesting town halls had a much better record on collecting taxes than Whitehall. Chairman David Sparks said "The slight increase in unpaid council tax will come as little surprise to those in local government, who warned that this would be a consequence of government cutting funding for council tax support". The LGA is calling for action in next week's Autumn Statement to give councils more power to set council tax discounts locally.
The Times, 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Head surprised by Ofsted inspection results

The head teacher of Sir John Cass Foundation and Red Coat Church of England secondary school, in Tower Hamlets, has expressed his surprise at the Ofsted inspection which has put the school into special measures. In a report which will be published today, Ofsted will raise concerns over safeguarding at the school. Headteacher Haydn Evans said: "We are surprised by the outcome of the Ofsted inspection, as we have always taken safeguarding very seriously. The teaching and results of this school remain good - and my priority now is to address the issues identified and work closely with the local authority and the diocese to return the school as quickly as possible to an outstanding school." Ofsted’s report is also expected to raise concerns about six Muslim faith schools in Tower Hamlets.  
The Guardian, 

Hospitals to evict elderly patients

Hospital chiefs are to take legal action to evict elderly patients they consider are well enough to go home, according to the Telegraph. The policy is being imposed by Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital Trust, which said it was necessary due to pressures caused by so-called “bed-blocking”. The hospital said it was a last resort response to families who were giving false reasons for not taking their loved ones back.

Labour to scrap targets on benefits sanctions

The Labour party has announced it will scrap any targets for Jobcentre Plus staff to reduce or stop a certain number of benefit claims. Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: "We have pledged that there will be no targets for sanctions under a Labour government so that Jobcentre staff are focused on helping people into work, not finding reasons to kick them off benefits." Meanwhile, figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions have revealed that only half of all benefit claimants ordered to go on work placements actually turn up. Of the 899,760 claimants told to turn up to "skills conditionality" training, only 492,980 attended. Esther McVey, the employment minister, said that it was vital that jobseekers attended the placements to "hold up their end of the bargain".
The Independent, 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Government has land for 2m homes

According to Savills, there could be enough government-owned space to build 2m homes in the UK. The firm's analysis found enough land owned by the government for 600,000 homes. It also highlighted the potential of land owned by the GLA and found the potential for 100,000 more homes in London. Additionally, the agency estimated that over 1m houses could be built on land held by local authorities and the NHS.

EU migrants would face two-year wait for benefits

The Labour party has suggested that EU migrants would have to wait two years before claiming out of work benefits, according to the BBC. Meanwhile, the shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour would call for an EU Migration Impact Fund within the existing EU budget to help regions that have seen populations rise because of immigration, paying for increased school places, medical staff or housing. Separately, Mark Reckless, the UKIP candidate for Rochester and Strood, has raised the prospect of European migrants being forced to leave Britain if the party wins power.

NAO raises concerns about spending cuts

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that local authority grants have been cut by 28% since 2010 and will be cut by a further 9% next year, placing council budgets under huge strain. As a result of the cuts, local authorities have had to severely reduce some services to protect adult and child social care, which they are legally required to provide. The NAO said that traffic management measures have been cut by 43%, while youth services and housing for vulnerable people have been reduced by 45.3% and 34.1% respectively. Spending on culture and leisure services has also been cut by 29%. The auditors said that some councils were now showing clear signs of financial stress, but added that the DCLG had failed to monitor the impact of funding reductions. Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said: “The Department really needs to be better informed about the situation on the ground among local authorities across England... in order to head off serious problems before they happen.”
published in The Guardian, 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tax policies benefitting wealthier half

The Observer reports that a landmark study of the coalition’s tax and welfare policies to be released on Monday reveals gains for the wealthier half of the population. According to the report by economists at the London School of Economics and the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, the poorest 5% in the country in terms of income have lost nearly 3% of what they would have earned if Britain’s tax and welfare system of May 2010 had been retained. The “better-off half of the country” meanwhile, is said to have enjoyed an increase of between 1.2% and 2% in their disposable income. Elsewhere, the Sunday Telegraph reports that a study for the Conservatives suggests “middle-class earners” will pay almost £2,000 less in income tax under the five-year term of a Conservative government than they would under Labour.
The Observer, 

Ex- Brondesbury Councillor Barry Cheese Defected to Labour

Welcome Barry
Barry Cheese has crossed the floor citing his former party’s actions did not support the majority of residents living in Brent.
The ex-Brondesbury Park councillor added: “Nick Clegg has led the Lib Dems into a coalition propping up the Conservatives and I can now no longer tell the two parties apart.
“The biggest deception was made in 2010 and I have struggled to accept why the turned their back on young people and put up tuition fees instead of cutting them. I can no longer see the same party I joined, that’s why I have joined the Labour Party who has set out a plan to reverse the damage done by this Lib Dem Conservative coalition.”
Ibrahim Jahangir, who stood as a Lib Dem candidate for the Willesden Green ward in the elections in May has also joined the Labour Party.
with courtesy of Kilburn times

Top 3,000 earners contribute more than bottom 9m

Government statistics reveal the 3,000 highest paid people in the UK pay more income tax than the bottom 9m. Earners with a declared income above £2.7m will contribute 4.2% of the total government revenue from income tax in the current financial year, while Britain's 9m poorest-paid workers will contribute less than 4% of the total income tax receipt. The figures were disclosed in a Freedom of Information Act request to the journalist Fraser Nelson as part of his research into wealth inequality in Britain. Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said: "These figures make a mockery of the idea of a 'zero-zero' economy - where high earners don't pay their way. In fact, they show just how dependent we are on a small number of high earning taxpayers for a large chunk of revenue."
The Sunday Telegraph, 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Autonomous housing associations

Policy Exchange will publish a report today which claims housing associations could build 50,000 more new homes a year if they were subject to less government red tape. The think tank’s report calls for greater autonomy, such as the right to vet social tenants, set policy surrounding rent, and to opt out of the government grant by buying it out at a discount – a move which it says would raise £1.5bn for the Treasury.
published inThe Times, 

TUC: only 1 in 40 new jobs is full time

According to the TUC, only one in every 40 new jobs created since the recession has been for a full-time employee. The TUC said that the share of full-time employee jobs - excluding self-employment - fell during the recession and has failed to recover since, falling from 64% in 2008 to 62% in 2014. That is equivalent to a shortfall of 669,000 full-time employees.
Published in The Guardian, 

Business group critical of living wage plan

Plans by Brent Council to cut business rates to encourage companies to pay the living wage have been criticised for “distorting” labour markets and putting small employers at a disadvantage. The Forum of Private Business warned that the scheme had “not been thoroughly thought through”.
Published in The Times, 

Why not wait and see?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Cross-party group calls for fair HS2 compensation for Londoners

A cross-party group of MPs and councils has called on the Government to deliver a "fair deal for London" on compensation for the HS2 rail line. They claim that people living in urban areas are not being treated as fairly as those in rural areas, where pay-outs are being offered to residents living up to 300 metres from the tracks. Sarah Hayward, the leader of Camden Council, said the capital faced a "decade of disruption" and the Fair Deal for London Alliance wants replacement housing for those in homes rendered uninhabitable during construction.
publisded in Evening Standard, 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Mansion tax opposition

The Daily Mail reports on opposition on plans for a mansion tax by the Labour group on Kensington and Chelsea Council. Emma Dent Coad, the leader of the group, has described the party’s mansion tax proposal is illogical.
Daily Mail, 

Tram success - Manchester

The Guardian looks at the success of Manchester’s new tram link, which George Osborne is now thought to see as a blueprint for local control of other big schemes. Jon Lamonte, chief of Transport for Greater Manchester, which runs the transport network on behalf of the 10 local authorities, says the scheme’s success is due to the fact that the government trusted his team to get on with it rather than trying to micromanage from Whitehall.
published in daily mail.