Tag Archives: housing

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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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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Did Tory-run DWP change rules on cancelling benefits to avoid humiliation in court?

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions has quietly changed its rules on stopping benefits of vulnerable claimants – after relatives of a man who died of starvation won the right to have a judicial review.

Relatives of Errol Graham were granted permission for a judicial review of DWP policies after the department failed to review and revise them itself, following his death.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though.

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

Not only that, but the DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Solicitors Leigh Day, acting for Mr Graham’s family, revealed they had won the right to have a judicial review last week.

And on Tuesday – the day before Parliament rose for the summer recess – the DWP told Parliament’s Work and Pensions committee that it had changed the rules.

Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield said: “If we tried all of that [contacting the claimant by phone and carrying out two safeguarding visits] we would then take that back and have a case conference about the individual and particularly, obviously if it’s someone with vulnerabilities that we know about, then we would seek to involve other organisations that might have a different way of knowing about that individual.

“And then we would seek to understand what do they know about that individual and how can we support them.

“And if that fails that could then be escalated to the safeguarding leads. And in that way basically what we’d seek to do is provide support not removal of benefits.”

Do you believe that?

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day seems sceptical, still: “Today’s announcement that the procedures have changed is news to us and news to our client.

“Whilst we cautiously welcome the announcement, it is imperative that the Secretary of State publishes the relevant guidance immediately so that our client and the public can see whether it actually requires decision makers to liaise with different agencies in cases like Errol’s and whether enough has been done to ensure that the vulnerable are adequately protected.”

This Writer thinks the best way to achieve that aim is to go ahead with the judicial review. Why were these changes only brought in when the Tory government was facing humiliation in court?

Source: DWP chiefs quietly change rule on stopping benefits after man starved to death – Mirror Online

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‘Build, build, cut’? Or did Johnson simply announce continuation of Budget promise?

Caught out again: but if anyone demands clarity from Boris Johnson, isn’t this the best response we can hope to get?

Boris Johnson seems to have painted himself into a corner with his claim to be putting more money into building affordable homes.

Read this:

Boris Johnson’s claim to “build, build, build” his way out of the coronavirus pandemic was thrown into confusion amid claims that he appeared to have cut funding for affordable housing.

As he delivered a speech in Dudley, No.10’s website suggested that £12bn would be spent on housing over the next eight years – even though the Ministry of Housing said after the Budget in March that the same amount would be spent over five years.

The PM faced fresh claims that the Tory party was doing favours for its “housing developer mates” after he unveiled sweeping planning reforms to allow high street shops to be turned into housing.

A government spokesman insisted there had been no cut to funding and that the eight year timeframe was a reference to the delivery of the new homes, rather than the five-year allocation of cash for them.

“This is in line with what was announced at Budget – there has been no cut in funding or delay in delivery.”

If it’s in line with what was announced in the March Budget, then Johnson isn’t offering any extra money.

And in fact, it seems he’ll be giving cash to his “housing developer mates” to do cheap conversions of shops into housing.

So it seems clear that Johnson’s speech was, if not riddled with lies as such, at the very least misleading.

It’s what we’ve come to expect from the Tories – and from Boris Johnson in particular.

You can’t ever take him at his word.

Source: Johnson ‘Build, Build, Build’ Pledge Under Fire Amid ‘Cuts’ Confusion | HuffPost UK

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United Nations warns UK could be breaking international law over cladding

The cladding at Grenfell Tower explained: The materials used were flammable – not flame-resistant.

What do you think the Conservative government will do about this, considering it is now three years since the Grenfell disaster and the Tories haven’t lifted a finger to replace flammable cladding on thousands of other tower blocks?

This Writer is willing to bet we’ll hear a load of flannel about the UN not doing its job properly – or misinterpreting its role in some way, and some minister – probably Robert Jenrick – will make some sabre-rattling suggestion that it should keep its foreign nose out.

You know how it would be – like the Tories did when the UN accused this country of institutional abuse of people with disabilities.

The last thing the Tories want to do is spend money on poor people who are living in firetraps.

The UN has warned Britain that its failure to strip combustible cladding from high-rise buildings containing tens of thousands homes may be a breach of international law.

The global body is demanding answers about the UK government’s delayed programme to fix hundreds of blocks wrapped in flammable panels and with other fire safety problems.

Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, wrote to the government to express “serious concern about allegations of multiple violations of the human right to adequate housing, of which safety is a key component – contrary to international human rights law”.

Source: UK could be breaking international law over cladding, says UN | Society | The Guardian

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Westferry development scandal grows as Jenrick admits he knew he was saving tycoon millions

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he has also been mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

Calls for Robert Jenrick to be removed from his role as a housing minister are escalated after he admitted he knew he was saving tycoon Richard Desmond between £30m and £50m by approving plans for a £1 billion development at Westferry, London – in defiance of planning rules.

Desmond subsequently gave the Conservative Party a £12,000 donation, raising questions about this being a “cash-for-favours” scandal.

According to the Mail:

He insisted ‘all the rules were followed’ over the 1,500-home development in east London.

But he told MPs he knew that the timing of his decision would save the businessman a fortune.

Steve Reed, Labour’s housing spokesman, urged Mr Jenrick to make a full Commons statement, publish all correspondence and ‘disclose all conversations with all Government ministers and officials’.

In response, the Cabinet minister said information relating to the decision has now been passed to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

So he knew he was breaking planning regulations – in fact Jenrick had to quash the planning permission he had granted, as a result of the scandal, and he knew that doing this would benefit the developer, who subsequently rewarded the Tories with a donation. And he isn’t publishing anything.

He still says he’s innocent of wrongdoing, but Jenrick must know how suspicious his behaviour looks.

Indeed, anti-corruption expert Elizabeth David-Barrett, a professor of governance and integrity who is also the director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption at the University of Sussex, has already said he should have resigned:

“In most previous governments, Robert Jenrick would have resigned well before now.

“The questionable conduct that is tolerated and defended in this current government is creating a dangerous new world in which standards in public life are seen as a concept from the past, and personal patronage and loyalty are now prized higher than combatting corruption.

“Although Robert Jenrick eventually reversed the decision on the Westferry scheme, under threat of legal action, this should not be the end of the matter.

“If there is no subsequent investigation into alleged misconduct, then the message that sends is that ministers can do whatever they like and just reverse the decision if their actions are questioned. The system needs to be preventive and act as a deterrent.”

Fat chance of that, under Boris Johnson!

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Housing minister Jenrick faces ‘resign’ demands after approving donor’s £1bn scheme

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he was also mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

The news seems to be full of stories alleging corruption by Tory minister. Does the Covid crisis mean they have nothing better to do?

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is facing calls to resign after he admitted “unlawfully” signing off a 1,500-home development that saved a Tory Party donor millions of pounds.

The £1bn project on the former Westferry Printworks site on London’s Isle of Dogs was approved in January by Jenrick – a last-minute reprieve after the council and then the independent Planning Inspectorate both deciding it should be refused. They had said it lacked enough affordable housing and conflicted with local conservation policy.

But the housing secretary’s decision came just a day before Tower Hamlets Council approved a new rate for its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – a move that would have increased the property owner’s financial liability to the local authority by between £30m and £50m.

That money would have been spent mitigating the impact of the development on the local area, and improving local services. Instead, thanks to Jenrick’s timing, it stayed in the pocket of the developer.

So this was a development proposal that did not meet planning conditions.

It did not provide enough affordable housing.

It conflicted with conservation policy.

It should not have been approved.

But Jenrick stepped in to do just that – and on the day before a new rule was imposed that would have compelled the developer to pay between £30-50 million that would have minimised any harmful impact on the Isle of Dogs.

The money would also have improved local services. All lost, due to this Tory minister’s intervention.

We need to ask who benefits from this decision?

The local authority? No.

People who need affordable housing? No.

The public? Certainly not!

The environment? Don’t make me laugh!

But the developer did.

The land is owned by publisher and former Tory donor Richard Desmond.

The local council – Tower Hamlets – began legal action in March, alleging that the timing of the decision appeared to show bias. It asked the High Court to order the government to disclose documents that, it argued, would show Jenrick was influenced by a desire to help Desmond save money by avoiding the charges.

Faced with the prospect of having to publicly release documents relating to the case, Jenrick accepted his decision letter was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias” and confirmed it was deliberately issued before the new CIL policy could be adopted. He agreed planning permission should be quashed and decided by a different minister.

So the minister admitted interfering in the planning process to grant planning permission to a development that should not have been allowed, and to save a developer connected with a Tory donor from paying extra costs.

This is not the standard of service the public should expect from a government minister.

Should he step down? Should he face disciplinary or legal proceedings for corruption?

Source: Robert Jenrick Faces Calls To Resign After ‘Unlawfully’ Approving Tory Donor’s £1bn Housing Project

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Council’s ‘rape clause’ blunder leaves family with disabled child homeless

This is what happens when you give too little cash to the poor – and too much power to bureaucrats.

A single-parent family were thrown out of their home after the London Borough of Haringey wrongly told their private landlord they owed more than £8,000 in overpaid housing benefits.

The council had failed to properly apply the rules which limit benefits to a family’s first two children (two-child limit).

The so-called “rape clause” demands that a family can only claim benefits for more than two children if the mother can prove the additional child or children were the result of non-consensual sex.

It has been attacked as an extra humiliation for women who would already have suffered enough.

And in this case, it was irrelevant: the mother should have always had the allowance for her third child because her youngest son was born before April 2017.

Worse still, the council failed to handle the families homelessness applicatoin properly, failing to refer the case to the appeal tribunal – as it was obliged to do by law.

Why so many errors?

Well, we may find out. The council has agreed to investigate why it made calculation errors, audit cases where it calculated overpayments applying the two-child restriction and, if necessary, consider how to detect and remedy any systemic problems.

This Writer’s guess is that we’ll find the mistake happened because the Tory government has piled too many overlapping penalties on the poor, overcomplicating the system and creating injustice.

Source: Young family with disabled child left homeless after benefits blunder

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Family can’t afford one-bedroom flat despite full-time work in Tory Britain. Time for a change

Tory tragedy: The Conservatives have created a housing crisis. Can Labour end it?

The Conservatives keep telling us work is the way out of poverty, but in the run-up to the election, let’s remember that they have put an end to all that.

Consider the plight of Penny Sterling, who lives with her husband Garrett and 8 month old baby, Daniel in a one-bedroom flat in Richmond.

They privately rent a one bedroom flat but struggle to cover the rent and have had to borrow from family members, despite Garrett’s full time job at a major UK airport.

She says the rent takes up most of the family income and says she “hasn’t got a clue how people worse off than us even feed their families”.

So much for the Tory claim that they’ve been “making work pay”!

Oh, and Penny had to give up her own job in a care home because the cost of child care in Tory London would have put her in even deeper financial trouble than her family is already suffering.

The Tories have said they will make £1 billion available to fund affordable childcare places – but this is over several years and they do not say who would qualify or whether it would be paid to local authorities or individuals.

So much for the Tory claim to be improving access to child care!

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Shelter has published research showing that families are paying £11 billion more than they can afford on rent.

This indicates that Tory “social cleansing” – forcing poor people to move out of areas by making it unaffordable for them to stay – is still in progress.

The Sterlings have said they would consider moving as far as Bracknell – but this would trigger high commuting costs.

And it is possible that they would move into a situation that is just as bad, if they end up renting from another private landlord.

Their current property is in extreme need of repair, and so could any other privately-rented abode.

Labour is proposing a scheme to stop landlords from forcing tenants to pay extortionate rents while refusing to carry out repairs – under it, they would have to sell properties to tenants.

So, if you’re a private tenant, it seems clear that Labour is the party for you in the general election. Right?

Source: Family who can’t afford 1 bed flat show bleak reality of Britain’s housing crisis – Mirror Online

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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