Category Archives: Housing

Thousands of renters who just voted Tory could be evicted next month – because of Tories

Stop evictions: this was a protest in 2016 – before Covid, furloughs, and eviction bans. The question is: will the Tories do anything to stop evictions in 2021? My guess is they won’t.

The short-sightedness of the voting public can be astonishing.

As a result of the Covid-19 furlough scheme that asked people to live on 80 per cent of their normal income, families – that’s right, families – are facing eviction from their private-sector rented homes when the eviction ban ends at the end of this month.

According to Citizens Advice, half a million private renters were behind with their rent in January. That figure is only likely to have increased.

Average debt is £730, but the total amount of arrears is said to be £370 million, and around 150,000 people are likely to face eviction after the end of the month.

More than 2,000 possession orders were made between October and December last year – and those tenants are likely to be forced out of their homes in June.

They had a stay of execution (of those orders) because of the eviction ban that stops landlords from sending in the bailiffs and obliges them to give six months’ notice of court action.

Of course, all that ends on May 31, meaning hundreds of thousands of people could be homeless by June 2.

They are typically in insecure jobs, often on zero-hours contracts, and in industries that have suffered disproportionately over the past year.

Strange, isn’t it? Back in, say, the 1970s, an entire family could afford to mortgage a house, cover their living expenses and enjoy a decent holiday, all on the earnings of just one parent.

Now, most people can’t afford to rent a home, even with both parents and all the children (who can legally do so) working.

That’s 40 years of Tory – or fake-Tory – government for you.

And last week, I’m willing to bet, a significant proportion of those facing eviction voted for the party that put them in danger of it – the Tories.

Source: Rent arrears put thousands at risk as end of eviction ban in England looms | Renting property | The Guardian

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Why would anyone believe Tory home-building promises when they’ve failed so badly?

Construction site: enjoy the photograph because you won’t be seeing many of these under Tory rule!

More than 1.1 million houses for which planning permission was granted since the Tories retook power in 2010 have not been built.

They just can’t get developers to put these houses up, despite promise after promise that they would.

The Local Government Association says only by building more council homes can the housing crisis be tackled and the government’s housebuilding target be met.

It is calling for councils to be given the powers to kickstart a social housebuilding programme of 100,000 homes a year.

Polling by the association has found that 80 per cent of MPs and 88 per cent of peers think councils should have more financial freedoms and powers to build new homes.

Here in Wales, one of the Tory local election promises was to build 100,000 houses over the next decade, including 40,000 social homes – and somebody must have believed them because they won 16 seats – five more than last time.

But if they haven’t built a million homes in the last 11 years across the whole of the UK, why should we believe they’ll build 100,000, just in Wales, in the next 10?

We shouldn’t.

It’s just another Tory con. It’s past time we stopped believing them.

Source: Over 1m homes in England with planning permission not built | Housing | The Guardian

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Tories are forcing ‘mortgage prisoners’ to pay up to three times a competitive interest rate

Houses: are their mortgages competitive or will buyers become ‘mortgage prisoners’ because of decisions made, not by them, but by the Tory government?

Is this part of that “bonfire of red tape” that David Cameron and his cronies were trumpeting a few years ago?

I wonder how many of the quarter-of-a-million so-called “mortgage prisoners” merrily voted Tory in the belief that this meant they would find it easier to switch lenders.

And I wonder how they feel, now they know that the opposite is the case.

The salt in their wound, of course, is the fact that it is the Tory government itself that sold their mortgages to unregulated lenders – and is now blocking a change in the law that would help them.

Tougher affordability checks have made it hard to change lenders if a home owner’s mortgage is large compared to the price of their house, if they are close to retirement or have bad credit.

While many lenders are able to switch to different deals with the same lenders, that have lower interest rates, around 250,000 are blocked from doing this because the lenders to whom the Treasury sold their mortgages don’t offer such deals.

The upshot is that they are stuck forking out two or three times what they would pay in a competitive mortgage.

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Financial Services Act to cap rates for borrowers in that position, but government whips are instructing Conservative MPs to vote against the amendment on Monday.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak reckons capping the interest rate would be “unfair” on other borrowers.

I don’t see why. How is it unfair to let these people have the same deal as everybody else?

Or does Sunak mean it would be unfair on the lenders to deprive them of one- or two-thirds of their profits?

Should we perhaps be asking questions about how the Treasury chose these particular firms to receive these particular mortgages?

Is this another aspect of the lobbying scandal that we have yet to grasp?

Source: Treasury snubbing ‘mortgage prisoners’, say MPs – BBC News

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Why have UK university students had to waste £1 BILLION on digs they couldn’t use?

Rent strike: students are permanently penniless. When you see how much this year’s alumni have had to pay – for NOTHING – you’ll understand why they’re raging.

Those Tories really are selective about who they help with the costs of Covid-19, aren’t they?

I remember being a student. Most of the time, I hardly had two pennies to rub together. The rented accommodation available to us was – mostly – diabolical. And expensive.

One place was damp. It gave me bronchitis.

But at least I got to live in it!

Since the Covid crisis started, according to a survey, the

average student has so far paid £1,621 in rent for unrefunded empty rooms.

In total, according to advice website Save the Student,

university students have wasted nearly £1bn on empty rooms in flat shares and halls of residence that they have been unable to use because of coronavirus restrictions this academic year.

The website estimates rents are so high that they take up three-quarters of their maintenance loans at an average of £146 per week, so it’s no wonder that

Students’ anger with high rents… boiled over on UK campuses this term as students launched the largest rent strike in 40 years.

There has been a patchy response from universities, private halls of residence and landlords, with some refusing discounts while others have offered full rebates.

I have a lot of sympathy for the universities, and for the landlords – as well as for the students themselves.

It is unfair for the accommodation providers to foot the bill for thousands of empty rooms when the situation was thrust on them by the government – albeit admittedly in response to a nationwide pandemic.

It just happens to be even more unfair for them to demand that students pay the bill, rather than the government. This is loaned money, remember – they have to pay it back, plus interest, over a period of decades to come.

Businesses – especially the bigger ones – have received huge subsidies, and employees have had 80 per cent of their wages paid by a government “furlough” scheme. Why weren’t students added to that, at the very least?

The Guardian story tells us the government has provided students with £70 million in hardship funding, which seems to fall quite a long way short of what they’ve had to shell out.

Considering the billions given to Tory cronies and their – let’s be honest – fake firms for nonexistent or inadequate Covid-related services, this is an insult to the next generation of the UK’s movers and shakers.

Let’s hope they remember it.

Source: UK university students wasted £1bn in a year on empty accommodation | Student housing | The Guardian

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Blatant corruption as Jenrick and fellow Tory Berry allocate millions to each other’s constituencies

Robert Jenrick: he reckons it is ‘perfectly normal’ for ministers to corruptly funnel money from their own department’s funds into their own constituencies.

“Perfectly normal” is it, Robert Jenrick?

If you are utterly corrupt, it might be perfectly normal to allocate millions of pounds from a regeneration fund to your fellow MP’s constituency in return for him giving £25 million to yours. Not if you’re honest!

Jenrick tried to brazen out the Labour Party’s accusation against him when he appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has dismissed Labour’s call for an investigation into the award of a £25m regeneration grant to his constituency.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show the decision to give the money to Newark, Nottinghamshire, had been taken by fellow minister Jake Berry.

Mr Jenrick said he had himself decided to grant funds to a town in Mr Berry’s constituency under the same scheme.

He called this “perfectly normal” and accused Labour of “distraction”.

The £25m was awarded to Newark under the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund, set up last year to help places that had “not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas”.

Here’s a clip of him doing just that:

Jenrick is the Secretary of State for Housing and Berry is a minister within the same government department.

The public has already passed its own verdict on whether the decisions were corrupt – and both Jenrick and Berry have been found lacking:

There will be no inquiry into this and neither Jenrick nor Berry will face the sack, or even any disciplinary action. Boris Johnson’s government doesn’t believe it is accountable to the public.

They’ll probably divert attention by claiming the controversy is about something different. Jenrick has already tried:

He added: “This is perfectly normal. Ministers don’t get involved in making decisions for their own constituency.

“But neither should their constituencies be victims of the fact that their MP is a minister.”

That is not the issue. Just to spell it out so it is perfecly clear: The issue is that ministers from the Ministry of Housing have colluded to funnel cash from that ministry’s Towns Fund into their own constituencies.

Jenrick’s passion for corruption is already well-established – remember the controversy over his decision to help Richard Desmond avoid paying £50 million to a community where he wanted to build a new development that did not conform to planning rules.

Now we may add Berry to our ever-growing list of corrupt Tories.

Source: Robert Jenrick dismisses call for constituency fund probe – BBC News

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Court brands ‘no benefits’ rule by landlords illegal in disabled dad’s landmark case

A disabled dad suffered unfair discrimination when he was made homeless because a landlord did not accept people who receive state benefits.

The ‘no benefits’ rule meant Stephen Tyler was banned from viewing properties advertised by a Birmingham estate agent, purely on the grounds of receiving housing benefit.

Mr Tyler, 29, had been involved in a road accident in 2016. He was made homeless because of the estate agent’s “no benefits” rule.

Birmingham County Court ruled that the estate agent had breached the Equality Act because the rule disproportionally affects disabled people, who are more likely to need some support with paying their rent.

Judge Mary Stacey ruled that: “There is no doubt that there was a blanket policy that no one in receipt of housing benefit would be considered for the three properties. It put the claimant and other disabled people at a particular disadvantage when compared to others.

“To be told simply, because of his benefit status, that he could not apply for three properties which were perfectly located for his children’s school, his GP and health needs, and extended family support, […] would be distressing.

But “no benefits” discrimination is still going on (sometimes it is called “no DSS”, in reference to the former government department responsible for benefits.

This case was brought with help from homelessness charity Shelter, which has vowed to keep campaigning until the discrimination is completely stamped out.

Source: Disabled dad wins high court battle after estate agent banned him for claiming benefits – Mirror Online

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Has Boris Johnson’s ‘mutant’ algorithm migrated from education to planning?

Robert ‘bent as a nine-bob note’ Jenrick: perhaps he’s using the algorithm so he can blame a machine when the backlash happens.

This will fuel rumours that the Tories have been using the same algorithm to boost the rich and harm the poor for many years (and only got caught when they applied it to ‘A’ level and GCSE results).

Only a matter of days after the Johnson administration was forced to u-turn away from the school exam results achieved by using this algorithm – that boosted the rich and harmed the poor – we’re being told that Robert Jenrick will be using an algorithm in his new planning process.

The same one?

Jenrick’s idea is to use an algorithm to produce targets for development in every area of England.

But The Times is reporting that “Lichfields, the planning consultancy, has said the plan will achieve the opposite of ‘levelling up’.”

To This Writer, that indicates that this algorithm will pile the most pressure on areas inhabited by the poor, while the rich get to maintain their views, their access to Green Belt land and all the other advantages the planning system can provide.

Jenrick is already tarred with plenty of evidence that he’s as bent as a nine-bob note. This will only increase calls for his removal from government.

Source: Robert Jenrick backs housing algorithm as Tory MPs fear threat to suburbs | News | The Sunday Times

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Tory u-turn over eviction ban – but is it really the reprieve renters needed?

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Faced with a widespread campaign, supported by the media, the Tories have done what they always do – and u-turned on the plan to restore tenant evictions.

Landlords would have been able to evict tenants from August 24 – for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in March.

But now the Tories have extended the ban… for just one month.

Why so short a period? And what’s going on with all the conditions and caveats they’ve applied?

Apparently, after the ban ends, landlords won’t be able to evict anybody for a further six months – until March 2021 – because they’ll only be able to issue notice of evictions from the new date the ban ends (September 20).

So when is the ban actually ending? September 2020 or March 2021?

And Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said possession cases brought by landlords will be heard again “when the courts reopen” – after the summer vacation? After lockdown restrictions are lifted? Where’s the clarity.

It is fair enough that what Jenrick calls “the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators” be handled as soon as possible.

But I wonder exactly what will be done for renters who are falling behind on their payments during the four week delay that couldn’t be done during the previous six months.

People need protection from losing their homes; they are more vulnerable to it now than at any time since This Writer was born.

But most of that vulnerability has been created by Conservative politics.

So what are the Tories going to do? And why haven’t they done it already?

Source: Eviction ban extended for another month in last-minute government u-turn – Mirror Online

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Prejudiced Tories are unfairly denying benefits to people whose relatives die of Covid-19

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Sanction centre: it isn’t a sanction as such, but anyone receiving compensation for the death of a relative due to Covid-19 will be automatically denied state benefits.

Doesn’t this show how sly, sneaky and underhanded Boris Johnson and his Tory friends are?

If any low-paid frontline NHS and social care workers die of Covid-19, their relatives are entitled to claim a £60,000 lump sum under a Tory compensation scheme.

But if they are already claiming benefits and they do this, they will lose their entitlement to those benefits, meaning they could not claim Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

Some of you might think that’s fair; £60,000 is a lot of money, after all.

But this is at a time when Boris Johnson has been dishing out huge sums – £563,400 to consulting firm McKinsey for ‘advice’ that is likely to see the new National Institute for Health Protection sink without a trace, £150 million on face masks that can’t be used, an unspecified amount to Public First for the ‘A’ level results fiasco. Why should benefit claimants lose out when these fat Tories are making such a killing?

Perhaps more to the point, other compensation schemes such as those for the Windrush scandal and the Grenfell Tower fire do not affect entitlement to state benefits. Why should this be different?

The Tories have no answer to this question. Their spokesman is quoted as saying, “It has always been one the central principles of Universal Credit that decisions on awarding the benefit should take into account individuals’ existing ability to meet their basic needs, so that we maintain our focus on supporting families in most need.”

But the Windrush and Grenfell schemes are exempt from being taken into account.

It seems the Tories have created a hierarchy of merit – and relatives of Covid-19 victims have been ruled undeserving, even while ministers’ cronies are mopping up the last coppers from the Treasury that Johnson has emptied.

Source: UK families bereaved by Covid-19 lose eligibility for welfare benefits | Universal credit | The Guardian

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Tory ministers silent as they’re urged to prevent ‘wave of evictions’

Homeless: this man was photographed living on the streets in Birmingham before Covid-19. Who knows how many more will be living there – prey to the virus – after August 23?

The government’s moratorium on evictions ends this week, putting tens of thousands of people in danger of eviction – in the middle of the biggest recession the UK has ever experienced.

The Tories have been urged to safeguard the people under threat – but they are strangely silent. One wonders whether they would be so quiet if their fellow Conservatives were being turfed out of their stately homes for any reason.

So when the ban on evictions in England and Wales ends on August 23, it seems likely to signal a wave of homelessness, with people forced onto the streets to face joblessness (as a result of the Tory recession), illness (because of the Tory failure to fight Covid-19) and the cold (because winter is coming).

Landlords in England have been able to issue notices of eviction three months in advance of taking possession; in Wales, the Labour government has ordered that they cannot take possession before six months have elapsed.

No reason need be given for them to take possession. Boris Johnson has promised to end “no-fault” evictions in a new “Renter’s Reform Bill” – but he has shown no inclination to bring such legislation to Parliament.

Previous prime minister Theresa May had made the same promise, but she never brought such a Bill to Parliament either.

And there really are a lot of private landlords stuffing the Tory benches in the House of Commons.

Of  course, evictions and homelessness will have a knock-on effect on the economy – at a time of recession – as it costs the government and the emergency services more to help homeless people than it does to keep them housed.

The Tories know this because they’ve seen the same evidence I have.

And yet they are silent.

It seems they are more keen to inflict cruelty on others than to do their job – which is to run the country efficiently. Wasn’t that always the way with the toffs?

Source: Ministers have just seven days to prevent a ‘wave of evictions’, MPs and charities warn | The Independent

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