Monday, 25 October 2010

London Housing cap upsets Jon Cruddas

In The Guardian on Sunday, Jon Cruddas blasts the new Government rules on Housing Benefits as London Councils disclosed that they were block-booking bed and breakfast establishments outside the area, in Hastings, Reading and Luton, to cope with tenants who cannot afford to pay the high city rents which landlords refuse to lower.
"It is tantamount to cleansing the poor out of rich areas – a brutal and shocking piece of social engineering", Mr. Cruddas said.

Councils in the capital are warning that 82,000 families – more than 200,000 people – face losing their homes. It would be shocking indeed if ordinary, decent working people get caught up in this. But the following are some of those in London who have taken advantage of the system -and their landlords must be complicit. The blog is from 2008, has anything changed since?:

"Essma Marjam, 34, is given almost £7,000 a month in housing benefits to pay the rent on the five-bedroom villa just yards from Sir Paul McCartney's house and Lord's cricket ground.
She also receives an estimated £15,000 a year in other payouts, such as child benefit, to help look after her children, aged from five months to 14."

"HATE cleric Anjem Choudary nets £25,000 a year in benefits - £8,000 MORE than the take-home pay of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, The Sun can reveal.
The Muslim extremist's handouts are not taxed, making his income equivalent to a £32,500 salary.
He has likened British soldiers to Nazi stormtroopers.
State handout figures leaked to The Sun show Choudary, 42, gets £15,600 a year in housing benefit - to live in a £320,000 house in Leytonstone, East London.

"Nasra Warsame's magnificent townhouse overlooks a courtyard and is in one of the most expensive areas of London.
It has four storeys, six bedrooms (some with balconies), three sitting rooms and four bathrooms - as well as a concierge service.
The property is worth a cool £1.8 million and would cost you or me nearly £1,600 a week to rent. It costs Mrs. Warsame nothing. In other words, taxpayers are picking up the £6,400-a-month bill to keep Nasra Warsame, seven of her brood and her elderly mother in the lap of luxury.
Mrs Warsame's husband and their eighth child, by the way, have been provided with a two-bedroom council flat nearby. His wife's palatial residence isn't big enough, apparently, to accommodate them all."

"Notting Hill; a £2.6million villa with wooden floors, granite work tops and roof terrace - home to single mother-of-eight Francesca Walker.
Francesca, whose mother is Jamaican, spent many years in a succession of council flats, which she claimed were virtually uninhabitable.
As a result, the council was forced to consider her as 'technically homeless'.
Unfair: 800 households in Westminster qualify for £500-a-week housing allowance, at a cost of £27.3million

"Next is a detached, double-fronted £1.2million house in Acton, West London, with three shower rooms and 'accessories' including a 50-in plasma TV, laptops, Wii, iPhone and PlayStation - home to the seven-strong Saiedi family from Afghanistan."

"Then there is the £1million mock-Tudor property, comprising two sitting rooms, conservatory and double garage, in Edgware (home to single mother-of-five Omowunmi Odia).

"Another £1million property in Barnet (home to the Connors, a family of Irish travellers).

Those are London examples, taken from This Blog

For balance, read the others outside of the capital. Are all of these the 'hard-working families' lifestyles that Jon Cruddas wishes to protect? Perhaps he'd like to pay the shortfall in their benefits, rather than the people who do work to pay them.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Spending Review 2010 for the East Midlands

We have been sent a coy of the Spending Review, outlining plans for the East Midlands this year. A lot of it is usual polit-speak by the Coalition Government but does give an insight into what we can expect.

As far as Infrastructure is concerned, capital programmes being supported in our area are:
. M1 - replacing a viaduct carrying the M6 over the M1
. M1 - hard shoulder running and variable speed limits between junctions 28 and 31;
. A46 - improvements between Newark and Widmerpool.

The Review announces a £5,000 incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles coupled with the roll out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Electric vehicle manufacturers based in the East Midlands may benefit from the introduction of these measures.

"The Local Growth White Paper will outline outline in more detail key initiatives to support growth locally and in the regions, including:
£1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund over 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14. This will provide support for projects that offer significant potential for sustainable economic growth and can create new private sector employment, particularly in those areas currently dependent on the public sector, helping them to make the transition to private sector led growth and prosperity,tax Increment Financing, which will enable local authorities, including potentially those in the East Midlands, to borrow against locally raised business rates; and
"Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS) which will provide the strategic leadership in areas and set out local economic priorities. LEPs will play a pivotal role in delivering the Government's aim for an economy "rebalanced" towards the private sector.

"In total, local authorities will have greater control over more than ?7 billion of funding from 2011-12 which is moving into Local Government formula grant, being unringfenced or is new funding for the SR10 period, so enabling them to better meet local communities' needs; and
"Reducing barriers to effective joint working by establishing the first Community Budgets in 16 local areas, including Leicestershire, and Lincolnshire, from April 2011. Pooled departmental budgets will help councils and their partners to work together to support families with complex needs. All places may be able to operate these approaches from 2013-14."

The writer of this Review tells us that we must tackle the problems now. I think we all know this must be done, after the disaster that was the Labour administration. What people need though is fairness. Help the genuine needy while curbing benefit spongers, tax in proportion to wealth, get out of the EU and cut overseas aid. The public will not easily forgive any more money squandering!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Comprehensive Housing Cuts

The National Housing Federation claims that the spending review will see housebuilding grind to a halt in the South

The construction of affordable housing will virtually grind to a halt in London and the South East after this week’s spending review, according to the National Housing Federation.
The body, without citing sources, says it believes the settlement will be less than half the £1.6bn current funding for affordable homes, effectively meaning the two regions will only be able to build marginally more than the 12,700 planned under existing commitments. This compares to 30,000 built each year in 2009/10.
The body’s analysis says just 243 extra homes per year will be able to be committed to, and that London on its own will face a £100m funding shortfall.
NHF chief executive David Orr said: “The impact of cuts of this level would lead to the building of affordable housing effectively grinding to a halt over the course of this Parliament.
“Such a slump in affordable housebuilding in London and the South East would not only be bad news for millions of people on waiting lists in the region, but it would be a hammer blow to the regional economy.”
The NHF claims that by protecting housing spend, the government would have built 103,000 homes in the next three years, saving 156,000 jobs.

Related articles:
Brace yourself for bad news
George's marvellous medicine

We have to ask:
Will the Government ensure that local people will get first chance with the housing that will be built?
Is this a clever idea to also cut immigration ("We've no more room")
Will any new housing be on brown-field land, thus saving our green belt?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Visit to Belgium

On the weekend of 2/3/4 October seven representatives of East Midlands BNP, including five from Leicestershire, travelled over to Belgium at the invitation of Andrew Brons MEP.

We travelled to the town of Waterloo where we were to stay overnight arriving around 8pm following an 11 hour coach and ferry journey.

We started the following day with a visit to the Wellington Museum where we took a very informative self guided tour.

This Museum is situated in the former stagecoach station where the Duke of Wellington stayed between 17 and 18 June 1815. We visited the Duke's bedroom, the office where he wrote his 'Victory Report’, and his aide-de-camp’s bedroom. Various other rooms have each been dedicated to an army, and include authentic relics, documents, etchings and weapons of the various nations that took part in the combat. In the final room, the phases of the Battle are depicted through a series of illuminated diagrams, and there is also an impressive collection of rare weapons, such as 'La Suffisante', a 6 pounder cannon, manufactured in 1813, which was retrieved from the battlefield.

That afternoon we were taken by Coach to the site of the Battle of Waterloo. We were first given an overview of the battle by Eddy Butler and then made our way to the visitor centre to watch two films. The first film, ‘Waterloo, History of a Battle’, captured what life as a soldier was like and showed the movements of the troops with 3D maps and scenes shot during a re-enactment of the battle.

The second film relived this historic moment through a selection of clips from the film ‘Waterloo’, made by Russian director Sergei Bondartchouck in 1970.

We then made our way to The Lion Mound, a monument dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives on 18 June 1815.
At the top of the Mound stands an enormous cast-iron lion weighing 28 tons.
We made our way up the 226 steps to the summit which is just over 134 feet high and admired the breathtaking view over the battlefield.

Our next stop was the panorama which houses a huge canvas which measures 361 ft by 39 ft and is a lifelike depiction of the battle situation at around 4pm on 18 June 1815, complete with sound effects.

Finally we headed into the Wax Museum which has figures depicting Napoleon and his generals on the eve of battle, Wellington and the Prussian commander Blucher.

We finished the day with a meal at the Le Bivouac de l'Empereur, an restaurant dedicated to Napoleon where you are transported to another moment in time. A huge fireplace, candles, and music from the 19th century created a unique atmosphere.

On the Monday the 4th we travelled to the European parliament in Brussels.

We were met by Andrew Brons MEP and taken into the parliament chamber (known as the Hemicycle) where a Latvian parliamentary official explained how the parliament works. Mr Brons then gave a short speech.

Next we went into one of the meeting rooms in the reception centre where the official gave a short presentation and there followed a question and answer session with Andrew Brons. Andrew and his Constituency Office Manager Chris Beverley then each gave an address to the audience.

Finally we made our way back to the UK arriving in Leicestershire around 10pm.

We would all like to convey our thanks to Andrew Brons MEP for the invitation and to Chris Beverley for organising such a superb weekend.