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Loan shark prosecuted

27th February 2015

A loan shark has been prosecuted on two charges of illegal money lending. Nondon Roy, 25, from Prestatyn was sentenced yesterday via video link to four months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 in costs. Roy, the owner of a food takeaway, was lending in the Rhyl area to members of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community. He previously appeared at Caernarfon Crown Court in January to plead guilty to two charges against him. Th...

Opinion: Charitable transparency

27th February 2015

By William Norton How much public money do the largest charities receive?  In a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies (Transparency Begins At Home), I analysed the accounts of the 50 highest-income charities.  Apart from honourable exceptions (which I acknowledge), there is widespread failure to quantify public funding.  Despite the annual report mentioning that a charity receives public money, often the accounts merely report aggregate categories of income without specifying ...

Housing association board members should not be paid, says minister

27th February 2015

A member of the Welsh assembly has said that she is not in favour of the principle of paying housing association board members. Speaking at social landlord Community Housing Cymru Group’s (CHC) governance conference, Lesley Griffiths, minister for communities and tackling poverty, said that “while there were clearly strong views, both for and against” there was no clear evidence to say that payment would attract a better calibre into the sector. The minister also said that, at a ...

Bedroom tax victims facing council tax support cut double whammy

27th February 2015

Thousands of people hit by the Tory-led coalition's controversial bedroom tax may also be facing cuts to council tax support, new research has revealed. A study by the New Policy Institute (NPI) shows that 270,000 people affected by the under-occupancy policy will have their council tax benefit slashed as well. Victims of the bedroom tax have seen their housing benefit slashed by £15.61 a week on average, and they are also having to pay £2.86 a week in rates since communities secretary Eric P...

UK rents up yet again in January

27th February 2015

UK rents went up 2.5% in January, with the average monthly rent now £889. The latest HomeLet Rental Index has revealed that 9 out of 12 regions in the UK have seen prices rise, with only the North East, Northern Ireland and the West Midlands seeing a decline in rental costs. Rents were £867 a month at the end of 2014, and £799 in January 2014. The index’s figures show that renters were hit hardest in the East Midlands, Scotland and East Anglia with costs rising 6.2%, 5.7%...

Social landlord issues £250m bond

26th February 2015

A social landlord has announced the successful pricing of a £250 million bond (including £100m retained bonds) to refinance existing syndicated bank facilities.  The bond, Swan Housing Association’s first, carries a coupon of 3.625% and has a maturity of 33 years.  The announcement comes after Standard & Poor’s assigned an AA- rating with stable outlook to Swan.  Jamie Smith, Swan’s deputy chief executive, said: “This is fantastic news and ref...

Opinion: You should have stood up and thumped him, Tony

25th February 2015

By Tony Stacey, CEO of South Yorkshire Housing Association, and chair of the PlaceShapers Group  "You should have stood up and thumped him, Tony. I would have done." This was said to me by the well-respected chair of one of our neighbours in Yorkshire after I challenged the Policy Exchange's Chris Walker at today’s National Housing Federation's Leaders' Forum. The last time I was on the receiving end of name-calling was in the school playground. Year 8, I think it was. In response to...

Flexible Direct Debit days could see rent payments rise 20%

25th February 2015

A public sector payment specialist has urged housing providers to adopt ‘any day’ rent payments for Direct Debits, after an industry report found that landlords offering more flexible DD arrangements could increase tenant take-up by up to 20%. ‘The Impact of Flexible Direct Debits’ report, produced by the Housing Quality Network’s (HQN) Rent and Income Excellence Network (RIEN), analysed a sample drawn from 25% of its local authority, ALMO and housing association members, ...

Zero hours UK - 'millions living hand to mouth existence'

25th February 2015

The latest figures on zero hours contracts have exposed the "hand to mouth existence of millions of people in the UK", the union Unite has claimed. Responding to today's official figures showing an increase of the use of zero hours contracts to 1.8 million, the union has said the figures reveal the true nature of the UK’s 'jobs miracle'. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “These figures make an utter mockery of the government’s claim to have inspired a ‘jobs mi...

Opinion: Reading the House of Cards – the UK’s parties’ plans for housing

25th February 2015

By Robert Flint, solicitor, Winckworth Sherwood  The shuffling of the pack due to take place in the general election on 7 May looks set to produce either a minority government or a multi-coloured coalition. But what will the new House of Cards deal the housing market?  Labour puts their cards on the table, planning to build 200,000 homes a year by 2020. This target is for the parliament-after-next of course, so the relevance to this election is dubious.  They pledge to unblock t...