Category: Housing

Research shows average North-East worker can not afford to buy a home

Buying a house is now of reach for most first-time buyers in the region, according to auditors and tax-advisors KMPG.

The company says that its research shows that the minimum annual wage a first-time buyer would need to buy a home in the North-East is now just under £24,000, with the actual average annual wage at £20,000.

A poll commissioned by KMPG showed that 67 per cent of people in the region believe there isn’t enough affordable housing in the UK, 69 per cent of North-Easterners would rather buy than rent and 52 per cent agree that owning property helps save for retirement.

Research from KPMG also shows that the divergence between house prices and wages has grown so that a first time buyer in the North-East would need an annual wage of £23,616 to get onto the property ladder, with the actual average annual wage in the region at £20,149.

However there was some good news for North-East potential house buyers. The survey showed that the North-East has the closest gap between required and actual annual wage in England, with a UK average of £40,553 annual income needed to buy a home while the national average wage is £22,044.

Of those not already on the property ladder in the North East, 39 per cent would like to buy within the next ten years. However there is 22 per cent more non-homeowners in the North-East than in the rest of the UK who intend to buy.

Mick Thompson, office senior partner at KPMG in Newcastle, said: “These figures make for concerning reading and show that housing affordability in the region is no longer just a problem for lower wage earners.”

Summary findings and the full KPMG/Shelter ‘Building the Homes We Need’ report can be found on a dedicated website at thehomesweneed.org.uk

Source – Northern Echo, 04 May 2015

Millionaire Private Landlords Abusing Britain’s Welfare System, Says GMB

Greedy private landlords are raking in billions of pounds of public money in housing benefits payments, new research shows.

Freedom of Information Requests by the GMB union reveal that private landlords received a staggering £9,296 billion in housing benefit in 2013/14.

GMB says this abuse of Britain’s welfare system has been allowed to go on for far too long. Millionaire landlords are exploiting low-income families in need of housing and who could otherwise be left homeless.

There are 4.2 million households living in private rented accommodation in Britain. 1.59 million of these (38%) pay part or all of their rent using housing benefit.

More people now rent privately than from councils and housing associations. The switch away from cheaper social housing to the more expensive private sector has resulted in an increase in private tenants claiming housing benefit.

The Conservatives have pledged to open up social housing to buy-to-let private landlords. This could reduce an already dwindling social housing stock and further increase the housing benefit bill.

GMB has named and shamed twenty private landlords abusing Britain’s welfare system. These include:

  • Private landlord Mr Mohammed Taj was paid £3,219,858 of taxpayer’s money direct as housing benefits by Watford in 2013/14.
  • Investing Solutions Ltd was paid £2,239,915 by Merton, Brent, Lambeth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing and Wandsworth councils.
  • Thorney Bay Park Ltd was paid £1,924,226 by Castle Point council in 2013/14.
  • Mr Alastair Kerr was paid £1,616,951 by Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow in 2013/14.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said:

“This research lifts the lid on the mainly secret payments to landlords who are the real winners from Britain’s welfare system.

“We see taxpayers cash subsidising buy-to-let empires with £9.2 billion of hard earned taxpayer’s cash paid into private landlords’ bank accounts – much of it ending up in tax havens.

“The abuse of housing benefit by private landlords has gone on for too long.

“Millionaires take sackloads of cash for exploiting those in housing need or stuck on low pay. It’s incredible that the Tories want to extend this billions pound rip off.

“It’s time to close the offshore tax dodgers charter, cap rents and use the billions being sucked up by property speculator landlords to build affordable homes for people again.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly, 28 Apr 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/millionaire-private-landlords-abusing-britains-welfare-system-says-gmb/

Bedroom Tax Victim Forced To Live In A Tent Loses All His Toes To Frostbite

A 32 year-old homeless victim of the hated Bedroom tax had to have all his toes amputated after being forced to spend winter living in a tent, it has been reported today.

Mitchell Keenan, from Skelmsdale in West Lancashire, was rushed to hospital by family members after being discovered with severe frostbite.

Mr Mitchell and his 62 year-old father Keith were evicted from their four-bedroom home after falling behind on rent repayments, due to being hit by the government’s bedroom tax.

Keith has since been diagnosed with a range of serious health problems including scabies, dementia and malnutrition.

His sister Dawn Doyle, 54, tried to find emergency accommodation for the two men “but nowhere would take them”, she said.

Dawn told the Liverpool Echo:

“It’s absolutely outrageous what has happened to my brother and nephew.

“They lived in their home for thirty years and got into difficulty last year.

“They both have neurological conditions and disabilities and kept missing job interviews, so the problem got worse and worse.

Unable to find suitable accommodation, Dawn was eventually forced to buy her brother and nephew a tent.

Dawn says she was unable to house her relatives due to disabilities and being a single parent, but added that she had provided the men with food parcels from a local food bank.

“I felt awful that I couldn’t take them in, but I’m a single parent, with my own disabilities and I just knew I couldn’t cope.

“I tried my best for them and contacted so many different organisations, but just kept getting turned away.

“Social Services said they couldn’t come and assess them because they were in a tent – it was just farcical.

“When we saw Mitchell’s toes we were horrified, that this can happen to people in the 21st century is disgusting.”

“In July they lost their home and I tried everywhere to get them accommodation but nowhere would take them.

“The bedroom tax is an awful thing, it’s affecting people’s lives all over the country and needs to be repealed.”

West Lancashire Borough Council has now provided Mitchell Keenan with temporary accommodation, while his father Keith has been given supported housing.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the men “continue to be supported through benefits and by jobcentre staff”.

They added: “We have given their local council hundreds of thousands of pounds to support vulnerable people through our housing benefit reforms”.

Source – Welfare Weekly, 27 Apr 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/bedroom-tax-victim-forced-to-live-in-a-tent-loses-all-his-toes-to-fostbite/


Brixton Rises Up As Rage Against The Rich Explodes Across The Capital

the void

reclaim-brixton1On the Sunday Politics show yesterday Labour MP Tessa Jowell admitted that her party’s proposed three year tenancies are voluntary.  Tenants will be able to ‘negotiate’ a three year contract but landlords will be under no obligation to provide one.

What a fucking joke, and one that shows the Labour Party are every bit as out of touch as the chinless toffs they pretend to oppose.  According to one property firm there are currently 5 tenants chasing each private rental property on the market across the UK and in London that jumps to 8 people desperately competing for every home.  If Jowell thinks that tenants have any bargaining power at all when the odds are so heavily stacked against them then she is living in a fucking dream world.

When one of our most basic human needs, like a securing a place to live, is an impossibility for millions of…

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New changes to Universal Credit roll out.

The poor side of life

Today I learnt of some new developments in the universal credit roll out. These changes are devastating and they left me lost for words. I’ll explain now but please share.

When universal credit first came out you could not apply for it if you were already claiming housing benefit. There was a glitch in the system and the computer said no. They’ve sorted this so here goes.

They are now transferring people onto universal credit from JSA. There’s no option to say no, they are simply changing their claim. Their existing claim will be shut down, as will their claim for housing benefit. The claimant will also have to go to the local council offices to sort out the council tax payments, if not they will be left with a massive bill.

Why am I so worried? If you are already in debt with your rent due to the bedroom…

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Leazes Homes chairman pens open letter to David Cameron on extending Right-to-Buy

A stark warning setting out “grave concerns” about extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants has been issued to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Bill Midgley, chairman of Newcastle-based social housing provider Leazes Homes, accuses the politician of using “the sanctity of a person’s home” as an “election bargaining chip” after the pledge was revealed in the Conservative Party Manifesto last week.

Mr Midgley echoes fears voiced by others in the sector as he outlines how a policy that forces associations to sell off their assets would mean they have less borrowing power.

Because of this, he says, associations could not build more homes for some of the most vulnerable in society, including “older people, those with learning disabilities and those with mental health problems.

The letter reads:

“If organisations like us are unable to secure loan funding for supported housing properties then the potential damage is unthinkable. It is essential that such accommodation can be provided by the affordable housing sector.”

The Tories say the plan opens the possibility of home ownership up to thousands of people who may otherwise be locked out of the market.

The National Housing Federation estimates there are 19,620 people in the North East who would be eligible for a mortgage under the plans and that it will cost £808m to implement the policy.

But Mr Midgley fears poor people may be forced to pay higher rents in the private sector.

Signing off the letter to Mr Cameron, he said:

“I urge you to reconsider this proposal. We have a duty as a society to provide our citizens with good-quality, affordable housing, but the sanctity of a person’s home is not something to be used as a bargaining chip to secure election votes.”

Guy Opperman, the Conservative candidate for Hexham defended the policy –

“We want more people who work hard and save up to be able to enjoy the security of owning their own home.

“Right now it is too difficult for housing association tenants to buy their own home. Until now the Right to Buy has only been available to tenants in local authority properties. This means there are around 500,000 housing association tenants who have no right to buy their home.

“The Right to Buy scheme has already helped around two million families to realise their dream of owning a home. By now extending the Right to Buy to housing associations tenants, we will help more people who want to move on and up the housing ladder.

“Our proposals will increase house building, increase home ownership and reduce waiting lists. Right to Buy improves social mobility and builds mixed communities.

“It gives something back to families who worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules and gives people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood.”

The Conservatives have pledged to improve their help-to-buy scheme and have also committed to 200,000 new starter homes in their manifesto.

Similarly Labour says it will build 200,000 new homes by 2020 and that private sector rent would be capped should Ed Miliband be Prime Minister.

The Lib Dems have pledged 300,000 homes a year, and ten garden cities as well as a rent-to-buy ownership scheme.

UKIP plan to build one million homes on brownfield sites by 2020, and Nigel Farage wants to restrict right-to-buy and help-to-buy schemes to British nationals.

Should the Greens win power they will regulate private sector rent and build 500,000 social homes.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015

Nick Clegg Wants Even More Debt For The Young, Why Is This Dick Still Talking?

the void

NickClegg-looking-like-a-dickWhen Nick Clegg was negotiating with the two main parties after the hung election he could, if he had really cared, insisted on scrapping tuition fees before entering a coalition agreement.  At the very least he could have argued for fees to be reduced, or even frozen over the course of the Parliament.

But instead he threw away the educational chances of a generation in favour of a stupid referendum on what wasn’t even Proportional Representation when it came to the vote.  And he lost.  Because he is a dick.  Remember that if you have recently graduated with a huge debt.  Every time you make a payment remember you are in debt because Nick Clegg is a dick.

Now he wants young people sucked even further into debt by luring them into taking out huge loans to pay for a deposit on a tenancy agreement.  Deposits that will be far…

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Row looms over Tories ‘right to buy’ election pledge

Tory plans to allow 1.3 million tenants to buy their housing association homes have been condemned by the boss of one of the region’s biggest social landlords.

The Conservative election manifesto includes plans to extend the Right to Buy, which was granted to council tenants under Margaret Thatcher.

David Cameron placed home ownership at the heart of the Tories’ election campaign at the launch of the manifesto in Swindon yesterday.

He said: “Part of having a good life is having a home of your own.

 “That’s why Conservatives have committed to building a property-owning democracy for generations, and today I can tell you what this generation of Conservatives is going to do about it.”

But Michael Farr, executive director of development for Isos Housing, which has properties on South Tyneside, said the move would be ‘a catastrophic mistake’.

Being forced to sell off its housing stock would reduce the association’s ability to raise funds for new building, he said.

“Like any independent business, we borrow money based on our assets. If a government obliges us to sell a proportion of those assets, we will not be able to borrow in the same way, or at the same rates.”

“If the Government proposed supermarket chains must sell off stores, or a bus operator should sell its vehicles, people would say it couldn’t be done, and they had no right to do that.

“So why is it considered acceptable to sell off housing association assets?”

Mark Littlewood, director-general of think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said he was “staunchly for” the approach.

He said:

“All of the evidence suggests that, when you transfer the housing stock away from state ownership and into the hands of individual citizens, they feel a greater stake in society.”

> Well he would say that, wouldn’t he ?

The IEA enjoyed its highest influence during the right-wing Tory administration of Margaret Thatcher. Milton Friedman believes the IEA’s intellectual influence was so strong that “the U-turn in British policy executed by Margaret Thatcher owes more to him (Antony Fisher, one of its founders) than any other individual.”

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Institute_for_Economic_Affairs

Source – Shields Gazette, 15 Apr 2015

Durham County Council sells its last 18,400 homes to not-for-profit housing group

Thousands of former council tenants have a new landlord today after the North-East’s largest local authority sold its last 18,400 homes to a new independent group.

Durham County Council sealed the £114m deal with the newly formed, not-for-profit County Durham Housing Group (CDHG) late last night (Monday).

Supporters say the historic transfer will pave the way for £800m of investment in the homes over the next 30 years and the £80m construction of 700 new properties within the next seven, plus the cancellation of the council’s remaining housing debt of £130m.

CDHG chief executive Bill Fullen said there was an opportunity to create something “really significant” in County Durham, while council chief executive George Garlick said communities across the county would be regenerated.

CDHG now owns and manages 18,400 homes across the former Wear Valley, Easington and Durham City districts.

It comprises three new landlords, or Community Benefit Societies Dale and Valley Homes and East Durham Homes, previously Arms-Length Management Organisations (Almos) responsible for managing council-owned houses, and Durham City Homes, previously an in-house council service.

 The switch was agreed following a ballot of the 22,000 tenants last year. Just over half voted, with 82 per cent of those supporting the transfer.

It went ahead despite delays and a government deadline having been missed.

Sites for the new homes have been identified, mostly around existing estates, but details have not yet been released.

Mr Fullen said:

“The results of last summer’s ballot told us that tenants wanted to see change and that’s exactly as a group what we set out to achieve.

“I want people to say that they are proud to call Durham home and that doesn’t just come from bricks and mortar.

“It’s about improving lives beyond the garden gate and I’m confident that by working with Dale and Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes we can achieve this together.”

Mr Garlick added:

“The completion of the transfer allows for millions of pounds to be invested in current social housing as well as building new homes, helping to regenerate communities across the county.”

For more information, visit countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk

Durham City Homes can now be contacted via durhamcityhomes.co.uk, 0800-068-0013 or email: admin@durhamcityhomes.co.uk

Dale and Valley Homes’ and East Durham Homes’ contact details remain unchanged.

Council houses in other areas of the county have already been transferred to landlords Cestria Community Housing, Derwentside Homes, Livin and Teesdale Housing Association.

Last night’s (Monday) deal was signed hours before the Conservatives pledged to extend the right-to-buy to 1.3m housing association tenants.

Source – Northern Echo, 14 Apr 2015

Average Teesside home is worth £25k LESS than it was five years ago

The average homeowner in parts of Teesside has lost £25,000 off the value of their house since the coalition came to power in 2010 – while prices in London have soared.

Exclusive analysis of Land Registry data show the average house price in Redcar and Cleveland has dropped by 21.3% since May 2010, the date of the last election.

The average price is now £92,785 – or £25,134 LESS than it was then.

Only two places in the country – Merthyr Tydfil (down 27.1%) and Blackpool (down 24.9%) – have seen a bigger percentage fall.

In Middlesbrough, prices are down 6.6% since May 2010.

That means the average property is worth £5,904 less now than then.

And Stockton-on-Tees has seen a 2.6% fall, equivalent to £2,944.

Across England and Wales as a whole, house prices have actually gone up by 10.8% since May 2010, with the average property worth £17,595 more than it was then.

Across England and Wales as a whole, house prices have risen by 10.8% since May 2010.

The biggest increases have all been in London – with the 29 top-rising areas all in the capital.

Top of the list is Hackney, where house prices are up 76.3%.

The average house is now worth £634,045 – or £274,491 more than it was five years ago.

In the City of Westminster, meanwhile, the average price is up £464,941 from £610,767 to £1.07m.

When London is taken out of the equation, Tory-run areas seem to have done markedly better than those controlled by other parties.

Ten of the 20 ‘non-London’ areas that have seen the biggest rises are held by the Conservatives, with nine in no overall political control and just one – Slough – held by Labour.

Tory Wokingham (up 25.7%), Hertfordshire (up 24.6%) and Surrey (up 24.6%) have seen the biggest rises outside London.

By contrast 19 of the 20 areas to have seen the biggest falls in house prices are run by Labour.

The only one that isn’t is Lancashire (down 13.6%) – which is in no overall control.

Source – Middlesbrough Gazette, 13 Apr 2015