Councils forced to sell off parks, buildings and art to fund basic services

From The Guardian: Analysis shows the financial predicament facing councils across England. Government funding has fallen by nearly 50% since 2010. Combined with increased demand for adult and children’s social care and homelessness services, as well as paying higher national insurance contributions for staff, growing numbers of unitary and county councils are relying on their reserves to balance their budgets.

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A mother given 50p a week for housing: the benefit cap one year on

The head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing writes in the Guardian: “A year on from the introduction of the lower benefit cap, its abiding legacy is to push people closer to homelessness.

“The cap, introduced on 7 November 2016, reduced the total amount any family can receive in benefits from £26,000 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside the capital, leaving families with significant shortfalls between the benefits they get and the cost of their housing.

“In our most recent research we spoke to 18 families with capped benefit across the UK and each time we heard a familiar story – one of stress, struggle and a daily fight to remain in their home.

“Half of those families said they had gone without food, fuel or were otherwise in debt as a result of the cut. Among a raft of other hardships a third said they had been forced to use food banks.”

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The Guardian view on homelessness – do ministers care?

Editorial comment in the Guardian: “The National Audit Office report into homelessness lays bare the legacy of human waste caused by the callous indifference and intellectual vacuity of Compassionate Conservatism, a Tory creed – promoted by David Cameron – where responsibility shifted from the state to individuals, families and communities. Read more

Third of private rented homes fail basic health and safety standards, new analysis finds

From The Independent: The extent of the crisis facing Britain’s private renters is revealed today as new analysis shows millions of tenants are living in homes that contain dangerous safety hazards and have been deemed unfit for habitation under Government standards. 29% of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet the national Decent Homes Standard.

[Read full article on the Independent website…]

Tory member of London Assembly: Overseas investors buying up blocks of new homes benefits us all

Channel 4 News video: Watch Tory member of the London Assembly for West Central, Tony Devenish, literally claim that new blocks of housing being bought up en masse by overseas billionaire investors benefits us all, and that there’s no alternative.

'New homes are not for Londoners or affordable'

“We are building lots of homes but who are they for? They’re for billionaire investors, they’re not for Londoners.”Author Anna Minton argues that new homes in London are not affordable.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

100 tenants a day lose homes as rising rents and benefit freeze hit

From The Guardian: A record number of renters are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 tenants a day losing the roof over their head, according to a shocking analysis of the nation’s housing crisis. The spiralling costs of renting a property and a long-running freeze to housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions among Britain’s growing army of tenants.

More than 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015, according to a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It is an increase of a third since 2003 and the highest level recorded. The research appears to confirm fears that a mixture of rising costs and falling state support would lead to a rise in people being forced out of their homes. It will raise concerns that even those in work are struggling to pay their rent.

High numbers of “no-fault” evictions by private landlords is driving the increase. More than 80% of the extra evictions had occurred under a Section 21 notice, which gives a tenant two months to leave. The landlord does not have to give a reason and there does not need to be any wrongdoing on the part of the tenant.

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Number of government-funded social homes falls by 97% since Conservatives took office

From The Independent: The number of new government-funded houses built for social rent each year has plummeted by 97 per cent since the Conservatives took office in 2010, official statistics have shown. In the same period the total number of affordable homes built with government money more than halved – from 55,909 to 27,792.

[Read full article on Independent website…]

7 reasons the Tories will never fix the housing crisis

From Radical Housing Network:

Seven reasons the Tories will never fix the housing crisis

7 REASONS THE TORIES WILL NEVER FIX THE HOUSING CRISIS. Want safe, secure and affordable housing for everyone? KICK OUT THE TORIES.Video by Harriet Vickers for RHN. #ukhousing

Posted by Radical Housing Network on Sunday, June 4, 2017

  1. The Tories say everyone should own their home… but who can afford to buy?
  2. Tory policies help the wealthy. To afford a starter home in London you need to be earning at least £70,000
  3. We could solve the crisis by building council housing… But the Tories won’t do this. Building council housing would save huge amounts of public money.
  4. Millions of us are stuck renting… One third of Tory MPs are landlords. So are they on the side of renters…?
  5. The Tories promise us affordable housing… but they are stopping councils from building it.
  6. The Tories are putting private profit over our need for homes. We don’t need more expensive flats. What we really need is planning regulation and public investment.
  7. Tory housing policy is all about enabling demand, not tackling supply.

“To solve the crisis, we need massive public investment. Not going to happen with the Tories. Want the housing crisis to go away? Kick out the Tories.”

The Tories’ housing record in one meme

Tory record on housing. Judge for yourselves. #ToryManifesto

Posted by The Pileus on Thursday, May 18, 2017

Housebuilding under the Tories drops to lowest levels since 1920s

From Huffpost UK: House building under the Tories has fallen to its lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s, HuffPost UK reveals today.

An analysis of house building going back more than a century shows the most recent years of Conservative rule has seen the lowest average house build rate since Stanley Baldwin was in Downing Street in 1923.

According to figures compiled by the House of Commons Library, an average of 127,000 homes a year have been built in England and Wales since the Tories took office in 2010.

This is the lowest level since Baldwin’s first stint as Prime Minister in 1923, when just 86,000 homes were built.

Labour MP John Healey: Homelessness has doubled since 2010 – the Tories are to blame

John Healey MP writes in the Independent: “It should shame us all that in the 21st-century, in one of the richest countries in the world, the number of people sleeping on our streets has doubled in just five years. Over 100,000 children are now sleeping in temporary guesthouses and hostels – accommodation that’s often cramped, unsuitable and short-term.”

[Read full column on Independent website…]

Number of affordable homes built in England slumps to 24-year low

From The Guardian: Fewer affordable homes were built in the past year than any time in the past 24 years, while there was a 52% fall in the supply of new homes in just 12 months.

Builders put the finishing touches to 32,110 affordable homes in England in the year to the end of March 2016, compared with 66,600 over the previous year, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Of those, just 6,550 – about 20% – were for social rent, which critics say is the only truly affordable housing tenure, with the rest made available to rent or buy at “affordable” rates of up to 80% of market value.

Critics said the figures were disastrous, and called on the government to do more to encourage housebuilding. They come as the proportion of households that own a property is at a 30-year low and rising house prices have driven the cost of buying a home to more than 10 times the average salary in a third of England and Wales.

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“You’ll notice bus cuts when your neighbours lose their independence”

Mary O’Hara writes in The Guardian: For five years colossal cuts to local bus services have decimated provision across much of Britain yet, despite the impact on people’s lives, the losses have failed to register in the same ways as cuts to other public services.

At a time when almost nothing in local government has been left unscathed by the budget-slashing scythe you may wonder if cash being shaved from bus services matters. It does – immensely.

Every day millions of people rely on local buses to get to work, school, their GPs, supermarkets, and even to stave off isolation and loneliness. Research shows that for older and poorer people, as well as for those with disabilities, buses can be the difference between being able to get around and feeling trapped, especially in rural areas with few other options. Buses are critical to the economy of local communities too, ensuring people can get to or find employment, and can spend their money with local businesses.

But here we are with cuts to services already running into millions of pounds and another tranche on the horizon. The Campaign for Better Transport has published some alarming new research on cuts to supported bus services in England and Wales – those that receive funding from local authorities and often cover non-metropolitan or isolated routes.

Massive cuts of more than £27m are on the cards, and many isolated and rural areas will be left “with little or no bus services”.

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

Labour furious as 83% of fund to ease council cuts will go to Conservative authorities

From The Guardian: Labour MPs have expressed their fury after Tory rebels dropped their objections to council cuts because of a new £300m government fund to ease funding difficulties in mostly wealthy Conservative-run areas.

Greg Clark, the communities secretary, insisted the new cash was not a “political bung” to stop up to 30 Tories revolting against the local government settlement.

However, several Tory MPs openly acknowledged they were persuaded to back the government only after the new “transitional relief” was announced, of which about 83% will go to Conservative councils.

Labour MPs were furious that only 5% of the new relief will be going to areas run by Labour. The rest goes to councils with no overall control, coalition or run by other parties.

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New research shows rural bus services are being wiped out

Campaign for Better Transport has revealed the shocking state of local subsidised bus services across England and Wales with millions of pounds being cut from essential everyday services.

New research shows people living in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Somerset, Dorset, West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire will be hit particularly badly with local authorities proposing massive cuts from local bus budgets over the next few years totalling more than £27 million, leaving many rural and isolated communities with little or no bus services at all.

Campaign for Better Transport’s Buses in Crisis report shows that since 2010 £78 million has been axed from local authority bus funding in England and Wales resulting in over 2,400 bus services being reduced, altered or withdrawn from service. 63 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales have cut funding for bus services in 2015/16, with 44 per cent reducing or withdrawing services entirely.

[Read full press release on Campaign for Better Transport website…]

Local councils warn of critical funding crisis as £18bn grant is scrapped

From The Guardian: Town halls are facing a £4.1bn a year black hole in their budgets that not even the closure of every children’s centre, library, museum and park could fill, council leaders have warned.

George Osborne’s decision to axe the central government grant to councils over the next four years came in a comprehensive spending review that the Local Government Association (LGA) chairman described as a tragic missed opportunity to protect the services “that bind communities together, improve people’s quality of life and protect the most vulnerable”.

Some of the most stretched councils warned that the changes would hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, where there were fewer businesses and taxpayers to make up for lost Whitehall grants.

The Labour leader of Newcastle city council, Nick Forbes, said the move would leave a £16m hole in his budget.

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