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12 Responses to Forum

  1. Philip Leicester says:

    Sharing this from the Guardian’s Housing Network:

    Last week on the Housing Network, David Lawrenson wrote about how yet another mortgage lender has blocked landlords from letting to housing benefit claimaints, and warned that taxpayers will end up picking up the bill for expensive emergency accommodation:

    “Recent changes to housing benefit have been a step too far and clearly the lenders think that the risks of landlords getting into trouble, going into arrears and ultimately being repossessed are just too great

    “We now have a situation where more people on benefits cannot find accommodation in the private rented sector, which is the only housing option open to many of them. They then have to approach the councils who have to source expensive temporary accommodation, including in hotels and B&Bs, at great cost to the taxpayer.”

    Also on the network, Julian Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warned that welfare reform could spark “a decade of destitution” and James Derounian looked into some interesting poll results to reveal the extent of nimbyism in the UK:

    “As the 2013 poll shows, though 80% [of people] recognise there is a housing crisis, 45% still don’t believe new homes are needed in their local area. The picture drawn is of a tussle between the obvious need for more affordable homes and the selfish wish to maintain the status quo.”

    I looked into the ramifications of Moody’s decision to downgrade the credit rating of housing associations – and found that fears about investors turning away from the sector may be premature. And Ben Reeve-Lewis warned us of empty words about empty homes:

    “The coalition government and lobbying charity Shelter keep telling councils that they should use their legal machinery to deal with rogue landlords and tackle the scourge of empty properties to solve our housing problems. It’s a simplistic and unrealistic argument.”

  2. Philip Leicester says:

    News From Derby for International Women’s Day

    Women’s Rights and the Matchwomen’s Strike: What does it mean for us today?
    Louise Raw
    Louise’s research ‘changed British labour history’, showing that the strike was of immense historical importance. The true story of the wild and wonderful women of Bryant and May was, it turned out, even more interesting, colourful and inspiring than the orthodox one!

    Thursday 7th March
    7.30 p.m.
    The Quad, Derby DE1 3AS
    [the day before international women’s day]

    Also: A day for Peace and Progress. 1913 – 2013
    September 14th The Guildhall, Derby

    Contact: derbypeoplesh@yahoo.co.uk or have a look at our
    Website: http://www.derbypeopleshistory.co.uk/

  3. Philip Leicester says:
  4. Philip Leicester says:

    RE the Benefit Cap
    What if we take private landlords ‘off benefits’ – Introduce rent caps

    Just a thought

    (Today a benefit cap is being introduced in some trial areas.Some of the required benefits are to pay extortionate rents to profiteering landlords)

  5. Martin Sears says:

    The housing ‘crisis’ (in all its forms eg shortages, excessive prices, homelessness, forced repossession) can be solved by first solving the current social injustice of pension provision in this country. In addition to contributing to their state pension via NI, every person over the age of 18 should pay at least 5% of their gross income (ie before the tax calculation is applied) into a personal pension scheme (not employer based but the current employer required to also make a contribution of 5% of gross income to the employee’s scheme).

    The employee would have autonomy over which of several tightly regulated pension funds (ie a ban on hedge funds, short selling etc) except that (say) 20% of the total contributions must go to a fund specializing in infrastructure of all types but, importantly, including all housing projects and the provision of loans for mortgage arrangements (all mortgages would be on a capital repayment basis not interest only)..

    Everyone needs a home and everyone should be given the right to own their own home.

    The current system of using funds borrowed short and lent long can not be sustained if the objective is for everyone to own their own home. Using a compulsory pension fund (tightly regulated but not run by the state) to generate the required cash is a very secure method overcoming the current difficulties.

    People who lose their jobs and fall into arrears are currently in danger of having to sell their house at a knock down price. With the security of the huge pension fund behind them that danger is eliminated. The consequence would be that the pension fund would become joint owner of the house with an interest pro rata to the ‘subsidy’ for the time the person(s) are unable to meet the full mortgage repayments.

    It is a myth that this country is overcrowded. There is more than sufficient land for everyone to own their own home. People insist on living in huge cities then complain that others also live there. You couldn’t make it up.

  6. Andy Nevill says:

    I am totally convinced that the current system of (pretend) democracy has failed and that the problems we face are due to the control of power over money and investment. There’s actually nothing necessarily wrong with capitalism and in fact what we have today is not capitalism. The main issue’s with our current situation is that money isn’t the free transmission medium that it should be and successive governments have for ideological reasons forced us to ‘invest’ through pension funds etc in things that we otherwise wouldn’t want to. This also means that shareholder power is none existent.

    There is though a new paradigm that threatens to change all of this and to have a profound impact on our society and that is Crowd funding. The idea is simple, historically if you wanted to do something and it required money you had to go to a bank or similar to borrow the funds. This was a completely restricted market controlled by a small number of families and later businesses. This will be replaced by peer to peer lending or crowd funding, for an example see https://www.rebuildingsociety.com and listen to the podcasts here https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/crowdfundingpodcast.org/id648621278

    This is nothing new, it’s the investment in projects and companies by ordinary people BUT it removes the intermediaries who have controlled the flow of money and influence. On Rebuildingsociety.com each investor can read what each borrower wants to do with the money they wish to borrow and decide whether it’s a good or bad thing before investing. It’s true that the risk is borne by each investor but this is reduced by investing only a small amount in each business, a loan of £100,000 may be made up of 10,000 £10 loans from different people. The returns too are potentially staggering once the banking middle men are removed AND the cost of borrowing to the loanee is reduced.

    So please take a look at this and consider becoming part of a social revolution.

    We still need to fix money and the way that it’s created, for more on this see http://www.positivemoney.org/

    Andy

  7. Evo Kerslake says:

    Hello,
    Leicestershire County Council is consulting on its budget. Please have your say to let your representatives know how you feel about proposed cuts by completing the survey at:
    http://www.leics.gov.uk/futuresurvey
    Evo

  8. Martin Sears says:

    Thanks for the info Evo.

    I have responded to the questionnaire and would others to do so. Fortunately there is a comments/suggestions section at the end of the traditional tick box approach which enables some measure of qualitative as well as quantitative assessment of survey results

    IMHO It is not a cut in front line services that is needed. It is the bureaucracy and the way the front line services are run that creates waste. Why has Leicestershire got a county council and seven district/borough councils – each with its own premises and teams of very highly paid bureaucrats? – along with dozens/hundreds(?) of councillors paid anything up to £20k+ most of whom get in by virtue of the colour of the rosette.

    Meanwhile vulnerable elderly people are failed and fall between the NHS and local councils because we have a nineteenth century approach to a 21st century problem.

    From local councils to the house of lords and the head of state, this country is run by a totally unfit for purpose version of ‘democracy’.

  9. Lauren Foster says:

    I agree Martin. Leicester County Council is less use than a chocolate teapot. Charnwood Borough Council also currently have a public consultation questionnaire. I am of the similar opinion of it as I am the county. I feel that decisions about Loughborough town appear to be made by people who do not actually live in the town, people who just want a nice convenient place to shop. The townspeoples voices are ignored. My feeling about consultation processes are that decisions are already made, contracts are promised, backhanders are paid, and the public consultation is just a PR exercise for appearance purpose only.

  10. Martin Sears says:

    I agree Lauren. For example, were you aware of the existence of the East Midlands Shared Resource Joint Committee which (currently) majors on HR and payroll services for Nottinghamshie County Council and Leicestershire County Council? If not you may like to access its progress report dated 9 January 2013. There is also an organisation ‘LSR’ that produces statistics for the local councils and other ‘partners’ within Leicestershire. The latter’s existence again raises the question of why do all these councils still operate separately within Leicestershire.

    Regarding council tax money raised in Loughborough for spending specifically in Loughborough; IMHO It is the people of Loughborough that should decide how the money is to be spent via formal surveys, conducted prior to the fiscal year. It should not be decided by local councillors, most of whom get ‘elected’ by a minority of people on the basis of the colour of the rosette.

    I put forward a similar proposition to the electorate within the Lutterworth Division in last May’s LCC elections, standing as an independent candidate, and 518 people took the trouble to actually vote for that proposition. I suspect that a sizable number of those who voted either Conservative or Labour also agreed but could not bring themselves to vote ‘against’ the applicable colour rosette.

    The basic problem is that most people are too busy surviving day to day and have no idea how local government operates and regard council tax as just another inevitable tax that perpetuates the status quo.

  11. On Thursday morning 38 Degress will be handing in the zero hours petition to business minister Vince Cable’s department. Over 85,000 38 Degrees members have already signed, demanding that the government hold a proper consultation and bring in laws to protect vulnerable employees.

    When they walk through the doors of the government’s business department, let’s make sure they’re holding the biggest petition they’ve ever received. Can you forward this email to your friends and family and help spread the word?

    Please forward this email and ask your friends and family to sign the petition here:
    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/zero-hours-government

    Controversial zero hours contracts have been all over the news. There have been case studies of people being given no holiday pay, no sick pay and the contracts being used to threaten employees by cutting shifts. [1]

    These contracts should be a rare exception, suitable in only some circumstances. But it’s estimated that over a million people in the UK are working under these conditions. [2]

    38 Degrees members have not only helped fund a legal test case against Sports Direct, but are now putting pressure on the government to take action too. [3] Vince Cable had been sitting on the fence on whether to hold a proper public consultation, and only focussing on some of the problems with zero hours contracts. Together we can push him to do the right thing.

    Please ask your friends and family to sign the petition:
    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/zero-hours-government

    Let’s spread the word far and wide and make sure that when we hand over the petition, Vince Cable will find it impossible to ignore.

    Thanks for being involved

  12. National Housing Federation show 798 families in Charnwood have each lost £750 per year thanks to bedroom tax http://t.co/mnoheTAcuQ. Where are they all meant to move to? The bedroom tax saves the treasury £328 Million – all from the lowest earners. The 45p tax cut for high earners costs treasury £3000 Million according to treasury documents.

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