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.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
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: www.brent.gov.uk/prslicensing
Thursday, 27 November 2014
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.
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.
Friday, 21 November 2014
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.
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.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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,
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
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
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.