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Government mouth pieces defending the indefensible – in my humble opinion. The most senior of them conveniently sidesteps a key question from MPs, ‘If you sell a house at a discount, how do you buy another one to replace it?’. Answer, ‘Spend what money you do get, fixing up the houses you’ve already got’. That’s helpful isn’t it.
The MJ online By Martin Ford | 22 January 2019
A top Marsham Street official has defended the Government’s Right to Buy policy as ‘good value for money’ following demands for its abolition.
The scheme came under fire from MPs and the London Assembly this week, when it was accused of undermining councils’ efforts to build social housing and sapping funds.
At yesterday’s meeting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Labour MP Liz Twist said: ‘How can you expect councils to invest in new social housing if they have to sell the house at a discount under Right to Buy?
‘It seems a bit strange we are wanting councils to build and yet they are having to sell these houses at a discount down the line.
‘It doesn’t seem to make financial sense.’
Permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Melanie Dawes, said: ‘What we get in terms of economic benefits is that housing associations have receipts they are able to build with so we get the usual benefits from new housing supply.
‘We also get distributional benefits because generally we are talking about lower-income families who are able to buy who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.’
Highlighting London Assembly research published that found 42% of Right to Buy homes sold in the capital are now in the private rented sector, committee chair Clive Betts said: ‘It’s unfortunate many of them end up as buy-to-let properties.’
The London Assembly research by member Tom Copley also found the capital’s boroughs spend £22m each year renting back right-to-buy properties.
Mr Copley said: ‘Something has gone very wrong when tens of thousands of homes built to be let at social rents for the public good are now being rented out at market rates for private profit, sometimes back to the very councils that were forced to sell them.
‘Right to Buy is failing London and should be abolished.’
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing, said: ‘These figures reveal the immense costs and inefficiencies caused by misguided policy at a national level and, with boroughs enduring a 63% cut in core funding since 2010, it’s clear we can’t carry on like this.
‘The Government should end its restrictions on the use of Right to Buy receipts so that all money raised from council house sales in London goes back into building more homes.’
MHCLG director general, Jeremy Pocklington, told the select committee: ‘We think it is good value for money.
‘The case for Right to Buy is it helps people into home ownership that would not otherwise be able afford their own home, which is something this Government strongly supports.
‘It does release resources that councils can use to invest in their stock.
‘While homes are being sold – which is enabling people who would not otherwise be able to own their own home – a great many more homes are being built through all the interventions, looked at in the round.’
It’s probably a bit late to ask this question, given that this scheme has been in place for 30 years now.
That said, the proof must already be there, especially in London where working class areas, that were a foreign land for those with means, are now fashionable and sort after locations for the young professionals, earning big money.
Exposing social housing to the open market , in high demand areas, where demand is the through roof and prices constantly rising, inevitably means the original tenant, very soon becomes the ex-owner.
It might seem like a a very worthy ambition, giving everybody currently sitting at the bottom of the pile and trapped in social housing – as certain people view it – a chance to own their own home. However, assuming that hat was even the original intention and it wasn’t just about killing off the bulk of social housing as we knew it, it’s also had the effect of depopulating our city centre of those of modest means, otherwise known as the working classes.
So all those people who used to empty the bins, sweep the streets, dig up the roads, drive the delivery van, serve in the local shops and do the thousand and one other menial, but vital jobs that keep a city running, now live a journey away from their workplace.
in some cases that journey may mean up to an hour spent on a bus, or train, travelling in from a remote housing estate where everybody else is doing exactly the same thing. The effect of this, is that nobody actually knows who their neighbours are anymore and therefore certainly little, or no sense of community, because there’s so little actual time spent in the company of those who live near us.
Back in what used to be the social housing areas that haven’t been flattened and turned into expensive apartment blocks for the upwardly mobile, the housing has been gutted, extended and beautified, to make it desirable and more importantly, significantly more expensive than it was. Again, just like the workers they displaced, the lack of community will be clear, but this will be by choice in most cases, because their social lives take them elsewhere and opportunities more diverse.
Job done. All those rundown, poorly maintained sink estates cleared out from our city centres And that ‘unpleasant’ working class riff raff removed to where it belongs, when it not actually doing the work that needs doing.
The added bonus is, those who grabbed the social housing as soon as the first tenants where starting to sell, can now maximise their returns, over and over again, by renting to the high earners who need to live close to the city centres.
If Right to Buy was really about getting those of modest means on to the housing ladder, it was a fatally flawed concept. It depopulated our cities of the ordinary working class people, by selling off the only type of housing they could ever have afforded to live in. If that was always the intention, shame on you Margret Thatcher.
The Housing should have been retained and those who wanted to buy their own property should have offered equivalent grant funding to purchase their own home elsewhere. This could have been in a privately built, or publically funding housing developement, such as in the new towns.
It was claimed that this would have forced people to move out of houses, or places they’d been in for many years and possibly spent money on. This is complete nonsense and just a smoke screen used by government to justify to the orignal scheme.
Why should social housing tenants have been given that benefit on top of the massive discounts they received for the ‘equity’ they’d supposedly built up? How was they were any more entitle than somebody forced to rent a property in the private sector, where the end of lease meant the most you were likely to get back was your deposit if you were lucky?
All the plastic you can and cannot recycle
Most people are trying their best to recycle plastic – but the many different ways in which recycling is collected by different councils across the UK has left them confused.
What can be recycled and what can’t? We are putting more plastic in the recycling than ever before – but pictures of sea life tangled in all manner of waste plastic mean the pressure is on to do more.
The government is now considering changing the way plastic is recycled in England. In the rest of the UK the strategy for recycling is a devolved issue.
Each council collects their plastic recycling differently. BBC analysis shows there are 39 different sets of rules for what can be put in plastic recycling collections:
- Most collect bottles
- Others collect pots, tubs and trays
- Some collect a much wider range
Around the UK, all four nations are hoping to improve their recycling rates. The review by the government may change the target for recycling in England, but currently the aim is that 50% of waste will be recycled by 2020.
Scotland has a target to recycle 70% of waste by 2025 as does Wales. Northern Ireland has a proposal that 60% of municipal waste is recycled by 2020.
Waste plastic is collected is different ways too:
- Some local authorities collect all their recycling in one bin
- Others ask households to separate their plastics from the rest of their recycling
Councils also employ many different companies to collect and sort their plastics.
And having different recycling schemes in different areas – for example, in some areas you can recycle margarine tubs and in other areas you cannot – makes labelling difficult.
Most people in Britain regularly recycle plastic but almost half have had disagreements at home about what type they can put in which bin, a ComRes poll for the BBC suggests.
And more than a quarter have these disagreements at least once a month.
What to expect from the government’s review?
Of all the things we recycle, plastic is the most complicated. It comes in a profusion of very different types.
Many products carry labels about recycling but some do not. And the labels themselves can be a problem.
Your eye might fall on a recycling symbol but miss the very small print saying the item will not actually be collected from your home.
If you see the phrase “widely recycled” on a packet or carton, it means many councils will take it but not necessarily all of them.
Each of the UK’s local authorities has come to its own decisions about what to accept and what to refuse:
- In Reading, a yoghurt pot can be thrown into recycling
- In Manchester it cannot
- Swindon has plans to join the small band of councils recycling no plastic at all
The government realises the arrangements can be confusing, even irritating. And in England it’s undertaking a review of the whole recycling system.
- Ministers could order manufacturers to use only the types of plastic that are easiest to recycle – but might that lead to higher prices?
- They could insist on labels that everyone can see and understand – but how would that work on tiny pots and bottles?
- A more controversial idea is to get councils to harmonise their plastic recycling systems – but that risks provoking an uproar over local democracy
The desire to boost plastic recycling rates is clear. But every option comes with challenges. The word is, we’ll see the government’s plans in November.
Plastic can often become too contaminated for recycling and have to be sent to landfill or incinerated instead. This happens for several reasons:
- People are confused about what goes in which bin
- People are not always very careful about what they put in
- The plastic is contaminated with food waste
- In areas where all recycling is collected in one bin, one type of waste can contaminate another
Plastic packaging is made from seven different types
- Bottles are mainly made of PET and HDPE and these are easy to collect and recycle
- Most trays are made from polypropylene and this is pretty easy to recycle too but not all councils have access to the right facilities
- LDPE, used to make some carrier bags and cling film, is easy to process but more difficult to sort and can often be contaminated with food
- Polystyrene, used to make some yoghurt pots and plastic cutlery, is not widely recycled
- PVC makes up small amount of packaging but can contaminate other plastic recycling
- Biscuit wrappers and meat trays can be made from a mixture of many different types of plastic, making them the most difficult type of packaging to recycle
All plastic can be recycled – but it is not always economical to do so.
- Bottles attract the best prices, especially clear ones, which is why almost all councils recycle them
- Coloured plastic is less desirable because the colour cannot be removed, restricting its reuse
- Polystyrene is almost never recycled because there is no market for it
Most bottles will be sent for reprocessing in this country.
But plastic that is less valuable – about two-thirds collected for recycling – goes overseas and this figure has been rising.
Earlier this year, the National Audit Office reported the plastic sent abroad could be highly contaminated, meaning it may not be reprocessed and could end up in landfill or contributing to pollution.
Some countries are refusing to take any more of our waste.
- China and Thailand have banned waste imports
- Malaysia is considering banning imports of waste plastic
These bans are having an effect on the prices paid for waste plastic.
And this year the prices of the more contaminated plastics have fallen below zero, meaning companies are now expecting to be paid to take them away.
Design: Debie Loizou. Development: Eleanor Keane.
LGA warns May’s focus on associations ‘misses the point’ about council-led building
The Conservative head of the Local Government Association (LGA) has hit back after Theresa May suggested councils are not able to build at the same scale as housing associations.
Councils hit back after May comments #ukhousing
In a landmark speech to the National Housing Summit today, the prime minister said she wants housing associations to lead on creating “large-scale, high-quality developments” because the sector can “achieve things neither private developers nor local authorities are capable of doing”.
She pointed to the Thamesmead Estate in south east London, which is currently being regenerated by Peabody after two councils had “problems dealing with the unique challenges and opportunities” of the project.
But Lord Gary Porter, chair of the LGA and leader of South Holland District Council, said Ms May’s comment “misses the point about why we are not able to build at scale”.
“Since RSLs [registered social landlords] took over building social housing they’ve built around 40,000 a year, we have never got to the numbers we need to have as a country,” he told Inside Housing.
“That’s not to blame the RSLs, it’s because we have not been part of that mix as councils.
“And what we need to do is get the Treasury to get off our backs. I don’t need more money, I just need freedom so I can spend my money.
“Let me deal with Right to Buy in the way that works for my area and then get Housing Revenue Account debt off the government balance sheet because there’s no need for it to be there – and then job’s a good’un and we can start fixing the housing crisis before the end of parliament.”
However, Mr Porter did also praise the prime minister for emphasising the value of social housing.
In her speech, Mrs May said the rise of social housing “brought about the end of the slums and tenements, a recognition that all of us, whoever we are and whatever our circumstances, deserve a decent place to call our own”.
In a statement, the LGA said: “Councils have always been proud of their housing and tenants and the positive recognition of social housing by the prime minister today must be shared by all.”
The government has offered councils £1bn of additonal borrowing headroom to build new homes, but this is limited to areas where there is a large gap between private and social rents. It will not be available until April 2019.
Councils have long called for caps on the amount they can borrow to be lifted to allow them to build new social housing at scale.
More on Theresa May’s NHF speech
All our coverage of Theresa May’s historic speech on 19 September, 2018, in one place:
Orr: ‘penny has dropped’ for government on housing The outgoing chief executive of the National Housing Federation gives his take on May’s speech
LGA warns May’s focus on associations ’misses the point’ about council-led building Reaction to the announcements from Lord Gary Porter, chair of the Local Government Association
Sector leaders hail ‘huge significance’ of May’s NHF speechHousing figures welcome the Prime Minister’s speech to the National Housing Federation’s annual conference in London
May’s speech shows a significant change in attitude towards the sector When was the last time a Conservative prime minister made a speech more favourable to social housing?, asks Jules Birch
In full: Theresa May’s speech to the National Housing Summit The full text of the Prime Minister’s historic speech
Theresa May throws support behind housing associations in landmark speech Read more about Theresa May’s speech which signalled a change in tone from the government towards housing associations
May’s new £2bn funding will not be available until 2022 Homes England clarifies the timescale for allocation of the new money promised by the Prime Minister
Morning Briefing: Labour hits back at May’s £2bn housing pledgeShadow housing secretary John Healey says May’s pledges are not enough
May to announce £2bn for strategic partnerships with associations at NHF conference The details released overnight ahead of the speech
THERESA MAY will today signal a major shift in Conservative policy on council housing by insisting that people should feel “proud” of living in a state-funded home.
In a speech on housing policy, the Prime Minister will pledge to spend an extra £2 billion on social housing and will say that politicians and society should stop “looking down” on those who live in council homes.
Since Margaret Thatcher’s revolutionary right-to-buy housing policy of the Eighties, a central tenet of Conservative policy has been encouraging home ownership and appealing to the working classes who aspired to buy their council-owned properties.
However, in the wake of the financial crisis, which led to a drop in home ownership, the Prime Minister will today seek to change the language used by senior Tories about council homes.
“For many people, a certain stigma still clings to social housing,” she will say. “Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.
“And on the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.
“We should never see social housing as something that need simply be ‘good enough’, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better.”
She added: “I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home.” Mrs May’s remarks signal a change in tone for the Conservatives, a generation after Lady Thatcher spoke about the pride of home ownership and its benefit to inner-city estates.
However, the comments mark a risky approach, as the Conservatives have traditionally relied on the support of home owners, or those aspiring to own homes, for electoral victory.
Mrs May will make her speech hours before she travels to Salzburg for an EU summit at which she is expected to plead with European leaders to accept her vision for Brexit.
Her speech is also designed to offer a domestic agenda to poorer areas of the country that voted Leave. It is part of a policy programme, including energy price caps, that involves more intervention in markets ministers do not believe are functioning properly.
Downing Street insisted Mrs May was not trying to dilute Lady Thatcher’s right-to-buy legacy, and that it remained her “personal mission” to get more people on to the housing ladder. However, she believes social housing is essential in fixing the housing crisis.
Mrs May will address the National Housing Federation Summit, the trade body for housing associations, and will urge it to get on with building high-quality homes the Government has already agreed to fund.
She will announce an extra £2 billion in funding over the next 10 years to give housing associations “the certainty they need” to break ground on tens of thousands of affordable homes.
So far eight associations have been given a total of £600 million to build almost 15,000 affordable homes, but Mrs May wants more to follow suit.