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Government to update dealings with claimants after report finds sanctions hitting most vulnerable

22nd July 2014

The government has announced that is to update the way it talks to benefit claimants, after an independent review found that the coalition's sanctions are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest. Commissioned by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), welfare expert Matthew Oakley conducted a review of how Jobcentre Plus and back to work scheme providers communicate with claimants who have their benefits stopped. Mr Oakley's study found that many vulnerable people who have been hit wi...

UK tenants' £5bn deposit mountain losing out on potential £95m in interest

22nd July 2014

The UK's residential tenants are missing out on up to £95 million in interest on the collective £5 billion in deposits held by the country's landlords, campaign group Generation Rent (GR) has claimed. And GR says that tenants can earn interest on the cash: by turning their deposits into a new type of savings account. As part of a consultation it is currently running, GR has also highlighted the following issues with the deposit system that it believes need urgent reform: • Some deposit disputes c...

HCA sets out delivery priorities for next four years

16th July 2014

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has set out the ways in which it will use its land, investment and regulation to deliver new homes over the next four years. The agency's 2014 to 2018 plan details its core targets in 2014/15, including: • Completion of 30,000 new affordable homes, with a further 22,500 affordable homes brought up to a decent standard.• Development of the regulatory framework to "better protect social housing assets in a sector where risks are becoming more complex"....

Housing benefit cuts have had 'little impact' on PRS rents

16th July 2014

Government cuts to housing benefit (HB) for around 900,000 tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) have had little impact on average rents, a new study has revealed. However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies' (IFS) research did find that the cuts have affected some tenants' housing choices. Published this week by the Department for Work and Pensions as part of the independent evaluation of the coalition's welfare reforms, IFS's analysis looked at those claiming HB in January 2011 and followe...

Are the owners of empty homes stupid? Selfish? Both?

15th July 2014

24dash reporter Max Salsbury gets irate, again. Amusing-to-some bungler Boris Johnson has revealed he has been lobbying London’s councils to apply a 50% council tax (CT) premium on long-term empty homes. Unsurprisingly, 15 of the blighters have refused to take action against those who are happy to let their properties sit and…well, do nothing. Last year, Camden Council decided enough was enough and hit empty home owners with a 150% CT bill. And the results were startling. Within n...

Parties told rejigged energy policy could save UK £12 billion a year

9th July 2014

Ambitious recommendations have been laid out to all political parties on how the UK economy could save billions by placing buildings at the heart of energy policy. Published this week, the Sustainable Energy (SEA) Association’s manifesto uses the government’s own online calculator to demonstrate how an ambitious programme of insulating buildings, while producing more energy directly from buildings themselves could net savings to the economy averaging £12.1bn per year from now ...

How Peabody got its HCA mojo back

7th July 2014

By Stephen Howlett, chief executive, Peabody Last month, the Homes and Communities Agency restored Peabody’s governance rating to G1, the highest possible standard. This followed a regulatory downgrade of a number of social housing providers in February, from G1 to G2, following the HCA’s sector-wide review of the publication of value for money information. The restoration of G1 after four months confirms that we meet the requirements of the value for money standard and that our governance...

Public urged to take part in HMO survey

7th July 2014

It's probably not its most exciting hour but Exeter City Council is eager to find out what its residents think about houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The local authority plans to broaden its licensing to cover rented properties in buildings which have been poorly converted into self-contained flats or flats in multiple occupation above shops and businesses. Landlords, tenants, partnership agencies and the general public are being encouraged to complete a short questionnaire on the council's...

Pillowcases ask MPs how they sleep at night

7th July 2014

Britain's MPs are each set to receive a pillowcase bearing the question "How do you sleep at night?". Anti-poverty charity Hastings Furniture Service (HFS) has designed the unusual campaign to draw attention to the imminent end of local welfare assistance funding. The pillowcases, many of which have been decorated by some of the vulnerable people most affected by the cut, have been embroidered with the message "When the government stops Local Welfare Assistance funding in April 2015, vulnerable...

DWP's unpaid back-to-work policy takes another legal battering

7th July 2014

The Department for Work and Pensions' attempt to remould its spluttering back-to-work scheme has been found contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The DWP composed retrospective legislation in 2013 in an attempt to shore-up the policy after it was successfully challenged by a 24-year-old graduate. Cait Reilly complained that her human rights had been breached when her jobcentre demanded she did unpaid work for Poundland. Ms Reilly risked losing her jobseeker's allowance if she didn't ta...