The Pensions ‘Feelgood Fortnight’ – Evidence of a Coming Buy to Let Boom and Bust and Financial Instability

What’s the point of boosting the house purchase market, when there’s already a well publicised shortage of said houses?
Worse still, the buy to let market nearly always targets the lower end of the market, because this is where those desperate for housing, are also the ones least able to afford to buy their own.
So there’s a double whammy in the wind here. Not only will an already under supplied market see a reduction in the available stock, those who are able to look to buy from this limited pool of housing, will quickly see prices increasing at a rate that pushes them out of the buyer market and back into the rental market.
Is this really what the government are aspiring to? A farcade of majority home ownership, that is in fact just hiding a massive private rental market, with all of its uncertainty and exploitation, becoming the order of the day?
Well, if you are only interested in the headline figures and the BS statistics so beloved of the political classes these days, then reducing the social housing numbers, by hiding it in the private sector, is probably a move straight out of the manual for political spin.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The flagship of the March 2014 Budget was the Pensions Reforms crafted by Liberal Pensions Minister Steve Webb and enthusiastically backed by the Chancellor.

Pensioners will soon be free to do what they like with their retirement savings after the chancellor promised to scrap compulsory annuities in a bombshell for the pensions industry. The move almost immediately wiped £5bn off the value of shares in the firms that provide annuities – and provoked fears of a fresh buy-to-let boom as pension pots are used to buy property as a retirement income.

Guardian 19/3/2014

The theory being that pensioners didn’t need to be nannied and could take what risks they wanted.

RBC Capital Markets warned:

“We expect the individual annuity market to shrink by 90 per cent . . . we forecast that only 10 per cent of customers will now buy an annuity.”

It was likley that the Chancellor was not unadverse to a…

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Comedy, irony, or just childish spite against Michael Fish?

From: j b [

Sent: 27 February 2015 12:44

To: Customer Services SHDC
Subject: Recycling


Dear sirs,


I thought I would bring to your attention a blatant disregard for recycling policy I came across the other day.



Any reasonable person knows it’s imperative to remove all screw tops from bottles to be recycled, however the perpetrator carried on regardless and also the person involved was ,oddly, happy to pose for a photo almost proud to be flying in the face of council policy.


I’ve attached a photo of said perpetrator ( who could possibly be a relation of tv weatherman Michael Fish) and trust you will investigate this matter with all means at your disposal.


Kind Regards


Concerned recycler.


View album

This album has 1 photo and will be available on SkyDrive until 28/05/2015.


Why Pickles Redefinition of ‘Travellers’ Will Create a Far Worse Enforcement Problem

It won’t and it can’t work!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Travellers Times

SoS Pickles has decreed that Gypsy and Traveller people will, in the very near future, have to prove that they ‘travel’ for two months every year in order to qualify to own or occupy a ‘traveller pitch’ (lower case t courtesy of CLG).

Okay Mr Pickles that really stings.  We know your feelings were hurt when the court identified that that you had discriminated against people according to their race and denied them timely justice.  But really?  Do so many communities in the UK need to experience an increase in un-authorised encampments, made up of people having to prove that they really, really are a Gypsy (oops sorry, I mean traveller) in order to qualify for Mr Pickles dubious beneficence?

According to Mr Pickles’ new definition most of the people currently living, in relative contentment, on Gypsy sites (publicly or privately owned) may not qualify to be there…

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Ministers – A Dozen Reasons Why Local Plans Take Geological Time

Very insightful analysis, that should be read by all those who continue to criticise the under resourced planning policy teams that are chasing DCLG’s constantly moving targets.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

A recap

Last week Keith Holland of PINS – (so well known for his indiscretion that one Essex Authority invited him to do a presentation to members just so they could film it and send it to Eric Pickles and say – look this is your real Green Belt policy) said:

I think ministers are losing patience with planning,” 

“They wonder ‘why is it taking so long for local plans to be put in place?’

They would appear to have lost patience already after Brandon Lewis in November last year quieter deliberately stressed that local plans are entirely optional.

The number of submitted plans is slowing to a crawl, and if the number of newly adopted plans each year is likely soon to be in single figures.  More plans have been published in draft (the only stat the DCLG mention in speeches) but not getting any further…

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Another damaging legacy from the previous Labour government

Call for review of scrutiny post Rotherham
4 February, 2015 | By Sarah Calkin

Councils should consider changing the way chairs of scrutiny committees are appointed in the wake of recent high profile reports into failings in health and children’s services, the Centre for Public Scrutiny has recommended.

A survey of officers and members involved in scrutiny found in almost two thirds of councils’ overview and scrutiny committee chairs were appointed either by the council leader or the majority group, with no input from the opposition.

In the majority of local authorities (65%) all scrutiny chair positions went to the majority party, which also took all vice chair positions in almost half of councils. Only 35% of councils filled their scrutiny positions in proportion to the political make up of the council.

The survey was carried out by the CfPS in the wake of Alexis Jay’s report into council failings in handling of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and Sir Robert Francis’s report into care at failings at Stafford hospital.

It said the findings of the survey echoed concerns raised by the Francis and Jay reports about a lack of robust challenge by members, political culture issues and obstructiveness from senior officers, members and other public agencies.

In total, 36% of respondents to the CfPs survey reported regularly or sometimes being blocked in their attempts to get hold of information from officers or cabinet members.

The CfPS said the findings meant it was “becoming urgent” that “proper research” was carried out into the effectiveness of scrutiny, noting no research had been done since 2004. The centre said this review should include looking at the impact of council cuts on overview and scrutiny.

Jessica Crowe, the body’s outgoing executive director, said: “CfPS’s work over the years has highlighted the value of effective scrutiny in improving local services and giving local people a voice in shaping service plans and decisions.

“However, what we are now seeing is a twin threat to that effectiveness from resource reductions – with resources for scrutiny down to their lowest level in a decade – and a political culture in a small minority of councils which seeks to control and limit its effectiveness.”

The report also recommended that all councils should review the governance arrangements of their scrutiny committees in light of the Francis and Jay reports.

Ms Crowe added: “Ultimately in my view, it is weak leaders who seek to control and limit scrutiny; confident leaders can face effective challenge and recognise the value it adds to their decision-making and efforts to improve services.”

The survey was carried out between September and November 2014. The majority of respondents were scrutiny officers with 5% of them members and 11% from a mixture of other backgrounds.