Tagged: Surrey

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

Cuts have hit the North much harder than the South, study shows

Cuts have hit the region’s town halls nine times harder than wealthy parts of the South, a new analysis shows – despite the North facing much higher care bills.

The study highlights the areas where people suffer most from poor physical and mental health, disability and early death, imposing huge extra costs on local councils.

The worst-hit fifth of 325 authorities includes no fewer than ten North-East areas, a list headed by Middlesbrough which is ranked fourth for “health deprivation and disability”.

Not far behind are Newcastle (13th), Hartlepool (14th), Gateshead (17th), Darlington (20th), Redcar and Cleveland (21st), Sunderland (25th) and County Durham (28th), followed by Stockton-on-Tees (51st) and South Tyneside (65th).

On average, those ten councils have lost £213.04 of their overall ‘spending power’ for every resident since 2010, according to finance chiefs at Newcastle City Council.

Yet, the average loss in the ten areas with the fewest sick and disabled people, and much lower care costs, is calculated at just £23.19 per head – more than nine times less.

Incredibly, spending power has actually risen at one authority, Elmbridge, in Surrey (up £8.14 per head) – while it has plummeted in Middlesbrough (down £289.02).

The gulf is seen as crucial because social care is the biggest financial burden for cash-strapped councils, which are now also responsible for public health.

Recently, the charity Age UK warned that older people have been left “high and dry” by council cutbacks to help with washing and dressing, to day care places and meals on wheels services.

Hilary Benn, Labour’s local government spokesman, condemned the much-bigger cuts in areas with the biggest ill-health and disability burdens as “deeply irresponsible and unfair”.

 And he said:
“The A&E crisis in our NHS, driven in part by insufficient social care provision where it is needed, shows that the Tories can’t be trusted with vitally important health and social care services.”

Councils hit by the biggest cuts are already known to have slashed spending on adult social care by 12.7 per cent on average – against just 1.2 per cent in more protected authorities.

 But Kris Hopkins, the local government minister, said
“We have been fair to all parts of the country – rural and urban, shire and city, north and south, with deprived areas continuing to receive the highest government grants.”

Labour has promised a new “fairer formula” for distributing local authority grants, but has yet to give details, or say when this would be introduced.

The ‘spending power’ measure bundles together grants, council tax, business rates and the New Homes Bonus, but is widely criticised for disguising the true scale of the pain.

Newcastle’s finance department calculated the changes since the 2010 general election, after the Government refused to produce official figures.

Source –  Northern Echo,  14 Feb 2015

£250m: What Durham council must cut by 2019

The North-East’s biggest council expects to have to cut its spending by more than quarter of a billion pounds by 2019, it announced today (Tuesday, January 6).

Financial experts at Durham County Council have been frantically crunching the numbers since Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement and the Government announced its local government funding settlement for 2015-16 in December.

While the budget reductions announced by the Chancellor were widely predicted, the extension of austerity means by 2019 central government grants to Durham will have fallen by 60 per cent since 2011 and the cuts total will have topped £250m.

The Labour-led council also had to cut £18m following the Coalition’s emergency budget in late 2010.

Previously, council leader Simon Henig claimed another Tory-led government would mean “the end of local council services as we recognise them”.

Today (Tuesday, January 6), he said the authority was “largely on track” to deliver the required savings, but added: “There is no doubt that facing these continued cuts we will no longer be able to protect frontline services.”

The council is expected to cut £16.2m and spend £10m of its reserves in the year from April and the budget will be top of the agenda when the cabinet meets in Durham Town Hall next Wednesday (January 11).

A council tax hike of two per cent, the biggest allowed without a local referendum, is expected in the 2015-16 budget, which will be finally agreed in February.

The council’s opposition groups are expected to announce alternative proposals shortly.

Northern town halls are furious that poorer areas are being hit hardest by austerity.

While December’s funding settlement saw councils lose an average 1.8 per cent of their spending power across the country, Durham was down 2.7 per cent, Newcastle by 4.9 per cent and Middlesbrough by 5.6 per cent.

In contrast, Surrey’s spending power grew by 3.1 per cent. North Yorkshire will gain 1.1 per cent.

Durham expects to have cut £136.9m from its spending by April, leaving £88.5m-worth of savings still to find by 2018.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said the Coalition had been vindicated, because councils were still delivering good quality services with a reduced amount of money.

> There’s Tory thinking for you… and if you continue to cope, they’ll cut funding further because obviously you don’t need it.

If you don’t cope, they’ll cut funding anyway, because you’re in the North and don’t vote Tory, unlike Surrey and North Yorkshire.

Source – Durham Times,  06 Jan 2015

Teesside councils suffer worse than average spending cuts in latest government settlement

Teesside councils have again suffered worse than average cuts in the latest government funding announcement.

Figures released today show Middlesbrough Council‘s ‘spending power‘ – the total amount it has at its disposal through central grants and council tax – will fall by £8.9m from £158.4mm in 2014-15 to £149.5m in 2015-16.

That is a cut of 5.6% – compared to an average cut for all English councils of 1.8%.

Redcar and Cleveland will lose £5.2m, or 3.7%, while Stockton emerged relatively unscathed – down £3.6m, or 2.1%.

The list of worst-hit areas is dominated by Labour-dominated parts of the Midlands and North.

> Well, what a suprise !

Tamworth in Staffordshire faces the biggest cut, of 6.4%, followed by Barrow in Furness and Chesterfield.

At the other end of the scale, a number of councils in the South of England will actually see their spending power go up.

Tewkesbury will see the biggest increase, of 3.2%, while Surrey will get an extra £27m, or 3.1%.

Other towns and counties getting an increase include East Devon (up 2.7%), Buckinghamshire (up 2.3%), Cambridge (up 2.3%), Dorset (up 1.9%) and Cheshire East (up 1.4%).

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 18 Dec 2014

North East foodbank workers having to drive hundreds of miles to meet demand for parcels

Foodbanks in the North are so desperate for supplies they are having to travel hundreds of miles South to collect parcels.

One bank in the region needs a staggering four tonnes of food every week just to meet the massive demand in the run up to Christmas.

While another is even handing out hot water bottles and thick coats in a bid to keep children warm this winter.

The Sunday Sun newspaper has joined forces with foodbank charity The Trussell Trust to help boost stocks and make sure everyone can enjoy the festive season.

Matthew King, assistant manager at Newcastle’s West End Food Bank, the busiest in the UK, said:

“We’re at the stage now where we are having to drive to places like Surrey and Sussex just to pick up parcels to help meet the demand.

“We have a shortage up here at the minute so we’ve been driving down South to stock up and bring the food back up.

“Last week we gave out 300 parcels of food and this is increasing as we get deeper into winter.

“All contributions would be gratefully received.”

Mr King said they are currently only able to meet the demand by looking outside the North East.

He added:

“We estimate we will have fed 55,000 mouths by the time this year ends.

“We are the busiest foodbank in the country, mainly because of the large areas of poverty we have here in the parts of the West End of Newcastle.”

Now, we are urging people right across the North to pack a food parcel and hand it in to their local foodbank in the coming weeks.

Nigel Perrott is from Middlesbrough Foodbank.

He said:

“We often find it’s that period right after Christmas when there’s a real shortage.

“In the run up to the festive season people can be very generous and helpful but, once that Christmas spirit has gone, it becomes harder to meet the demand.”

Jill Coyle, from Billingham and Stockton Foodbank, said they were also taking in items like hot water bottles and children’s winter coats.

She added:

“We’ve seen children coming in with flimsy clothing on and, of course, it’s getting much colder now.

“People have been so generous in the run up to Christmas, but there is always that demand for more.”

Figures released by the Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks across the North, show that between April and September 2014, over 25,000 people were helped by the charity’s Gateshead, Newcastle East and Newcastle West End food banks alone.

That breaks down to 4,289 a month – more than treble the 1,316 people per month in Newcastle and Gateshead who accessed a foodbank in the nine month period between April 2013 and December 2013.

Meanwhile a further 912 were catered for at Middlesbrough’s foodbank during the six-month period.

Critics of the Government’s welfare reforms claim organisations like the Trussell Trust are becoming an unacknowledged and unpaid part of the welfare system.

Changes to benefits since 2012 include raising the minimum job seekers’ sanction from one to four weeks and the start of the so-called “bedroom tax”.

Mr King said there were no signs of the demand for foodbanks slowing.

He added:

“Everyone who comes here has been assessed, it’s not just like people are walking in off the street.

“They have perhaps received vouchers from health workers, school liaison officers, Citizens Advice staff or social workers.”

Naomi Stevens, from Durham Foodbank, said they have 26 distribution points right across the county.

She added:“There is always the need for more and we welcome any contribution people can make.”

Mandy Martin, of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, has had parcels to help get her and her two children through the winter.

Mandy, who has a three-year-old and a five-year-old, said:

“The hardest thing was to accept that I needed help.

“The changes to the benefit system have really affected how much money we had coming in so I felt coming to a foodbank might help get us back on our feet.”

Christopher Gallin,  who lives in Throckley said:

“The foodbank stops people from going hungry. They do so much for families who are struggling and provide hot meals to keep us going in the winter.”

The region’s foodbanks desperately need:

  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tinned meat
  • Dry pasta
  • Rice
  • Tinned fish
  • Dried milk
  • Tinned soups
  • Jam
  • Cereals
  • Tea bags
  • Biscuit and snack bars

How to give to foodbanks:

To find out about where to drop your food parcels off at go to newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk or middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk or Billingham.foodbank.org.uk or durham.foodbank.org.uk

> But don’t forget, these aren’t the only foodbanks in the North East. There may be one nearer to wherever you live, and they need donations just as much.

Source –  Sunday Sun,  07 Dec 2014