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Opinion: Why the bedroom tax is not political

2nd September 2014

By Rob Gershon, a housing association tenant known in the Twittersphere as @Simplicitly, takes a deeper look at the government’s under-occupancy policy. Despite all the evidence about how badly the bedroom tax is failing tenants and failing to meet any of its own policy objectives, the government seems intent on proceeding with it.  I've always believed that politics is a personal thing - that a person's vote is private and that the strength of some conviction some people feel about ...

CIH: Regulation and tax breaks needed to improve PRS

1st September 2014

Private sector landlords who sign up for a hypothetical national accreditation scheme should be offered tax breaks as an incentive, the Chartered of Institute of Housing has said. In a joint report with think tank the Resolution Foundation, the CIH claims that "targeted incentives" for private landlords would encourage them to improve the maintenance and management of their properties, offering a "something for something deal". Private landlords already receive around £7 billion of tax a...

Council 'optimistic' about flat-to-home war with government after Pickles admits numbers wrong

29th August 2014

Islington Council believes a compromise can be reached with the government on halting unrestricted office-to-flats conversion in the borough, after Eric Pickles admitted his department got its numbers wrong. In July 2013, Islington became the first local authority to make an Article 4 direction, which are designed to remove government-given rights for developers to convert offices to homes without planning permission. However, though the council gave one year's notice of its decision, in line with leg...

Bedroom tax under threat: Lib Dem MP launches private members' bill to cut back policy

29th August 2014

A Liberal Democrat MP is seeking the backing of fellow MPs for his private members' bill that aims to curtail the controversial bedroom tax.  To be debated next Friday in the House of Commons, Andrew George's Affordable Homes Bill is focused on introducing "significant exemptions" to the under-occupancy policy. When George, who is MP for St Ives, introduced his bill to parliament last month, he originally proposed four elements to be negotiated with the government and opposition parties - to see...

Not too cosy: £3,000 fine for housebuilder that ignored stop notice

28th August 2014

A housebuilder that ignored a stop notice issued by Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has been fined £3,000. Cosy Homes (York) is currently constructing a detached house at its New Forge development site in Great Ouseburn, for which permission was granted in August 2013. However, the plans were subject to a number of conditions including one which required that the council receive a report on land contamination before the development started. In May 2014, HBC received complaints that the hou...

HCA restores social landlord's top governance rating

28th August 2014

The Homes and Communities Agency has restored a social landlord's governance rating to the top notch after the registered provider heeded the regulator's recommendations. In February, the HCA downgraded Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association's (ISHA) governance rating from G1 to G2 over concerns about value for money. The downgrade followed new rules that demanded a transparent, accessible and robust self-assessment on value for money must be published within six months of the close of the...

Social housing sector is 'financially stable' says HCA, as money pours in from capital markets

20th August 2014

The Homes and Communities Agency has said that the social housing sector "continues to demonstrate financial stability and has access to sufficient finance". The HCA's latest quarterly survey (2014/15 Quarter 1) reveals that the sector is overall in a "strong position in relation to its future financing needs" with £13 billion in undrawn borrowing facilities and £4bn held in cash. The HCA's latest report is based on a survey of all private registered providers owning and/or managing ...

Pickles vows council repairs cap after 93-year-old 'dies of shame'

14th August 2014

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has vowed to introduce a cap on the amount councils can charge for repairs after a 93-year-old tenant "died of shame" when she was landed with a £50,000 bill. Newham Council presented elderly Florence Bourne with the hefty charge for repairs to her roof. However, it later transpired that not only did the bungling council fail to conduct a proper survey on Mrs Bourne's property, basing the massive fee on a guess, it turned out the work was completely unnec...

Exclusive: Lib Dem president calls for ministerial housing taskforce

14th August 2014

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron has said that a new ministerial taskforce is urgently needed to oversee a “long-term strategy” for the housing sector. Writing in the forthcoming September issue of 24housing magazine, the MP says that a “new consensus” is needed to broach the housing crisis, and that government must agree that “housing cannot continue to be side-lined or lost between at least three different government departments”. In his article, Mr Farr...

Major study to recommend further benefit cuts and child support cap

13th August 2014

A major study is due to recommend that the government slashes the benefit budget even further and caps child support at four children. Set for publication in two weeks' time, think tank Policy Exchange believes a future government should apply another 10% reduction to the current benefit cap of £26,000. By lowering the cap to £23,400, a future government would save an extra £100 million a year. However, the think tank believes the 10% reduction should be applied to London or...