Race to build worst Quality housing in Europe continues

Planning system reforms
Permitted development rules have led to local authorities and residents being unable to oppose or alter proposals from developers, with no power to insist on adequate room sizes, daylight or influence the look of a building. Contributions from developers towards affordable housing or improving the pavements and landscaping around a property have also been lost under the rules, with the LGA estimating that 13,500 potential affordable homes have been lost in this way. Separately, LGA housing spokesman Cllr David Renard is due to take part in a debate on Times Radio at 1pm today about the ending of the eviction ban and protection to renters during the pandemic.
Observer – Sunday 27 September 2020

Details of funding help for councils suffering

Copied from Local Gov Chronicle online
Minister considers further funding for worst hit
30 October, 2012 | By Ruth Keeling

MPs have appealed to ministers to extend transitional funding support for a handful of councils worse affected by the government’s cuts programme.

Ministers have promised to consider the plight of a dozen district councils facing cuts of up to 29.3% in their core funding next year as transitional funding set aside for the first two years of the spending review dries up.

Graham Jones (Lab), MP for Hyndburn and one of the areas affected, said 10 of the 12 districts were among the most deprived in England and all of the dozen faced a reduction of 22% or more “despite the chancellor’s suggestion in the Autumn statement of 2010 that no authority will suffer cuts greater than 8.8%”.

Describing the scale of the cuts as “cruel”, Mr Jones called on the government to include the transition funding in the funding baseline which will be set as local government moves from the existing funding formula to a system of partially retained business rates.

Local government minster Brandon Lewis (Con) said the grant was “only ever intended as a one-off, temporary funding stream. Councils will have realised that from the fact it was referred to as a transition grant”.

Mr Lewis also said the new funding system would “create direct links between rates collected and local authority income, thereby increasing the financial incentive for local authorities to drive economic growth”, although Mr Jones argued the councils concerned would need funding to invest in the “infrastructure, skills and apprenticeships” needed for local economic growth.

The minister said the department’s consultation on the business rate retention scheme had elicited a number of responses relating to the transition funding. “I am actively considering all the views that we have received from across the piece for the need for transitional relief funding for 2013-14” in the December settlement, he told MPs.


More of our money to be spent overseas

Is there no end to this government’s duel fixations of climate change and overseas aid? These two issues seem to of now converged into yet another wasteful financial commitment, this time with a scheme to help Africa reduces its carbon footprint, to the tune of £1billion.
The government continues to tell us that all the financial pain they are visiting upon us is necessary and we just have to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it – it’ll all be worth it in the end. Tens of thousands of public sector workers are loosing their jobs, including many of the service personnel who have been fighting and dying in wars our politicians are so keen to participate in (but not literally of course).
I wonder how many more services will be cut and jobs lost in order to fund what seems to be an ever growing list of vanity projects?

Good luck Ollie, you’ll need it!

I see Oliver Letwin is calling for the cold wind of commercial reality to blow through the world of public service. Apparently, his radical suggestion is that, just like happens in the private sector, if somebody doesn’t do their job properly, they sholud be sacked and not just shuffled around the department until it’s time for them to retire.

Looked at from the outside, this doesn’t seem a particularly radical idea, until you look at the way the public sector, through it’s unions, has tied success governments and therefore the taxpayers in knots over the years. Public sector terms and conditions are based on the age old tradition of, work for peanuts, but get rewarded by a shorter working life and a better pension.

However, the confidence trick that has been played on the taxpayer over the past 20+ years, is that of ever increasing salaries, but without this being balanced by a reduction in their much criticised gold plated terms and conditions. Until that key point is addressed, the whole issue of dragging the public sector in to line with the private sector is going to remain a pipe dream.

By coincidence, I asked a very similar question when the district council was looking at how to reorganisation itself – how do we bring ourselves in the real world, by making our terms and conditions parallel the private sector? Like Oliver Letwin is no doubt already hearing, I was told that it wasn’t that easy. Apparently, the way public sector employment is structured in law, the council could not employ two people doing the same job, on different terms and conditions. If that is the case, then I can see little future for the public sector, as it seems the only way to level this particular playing field would be to scrap the public service sector completely and start again. Ultimately, is that what the Big Society is all about?

A credit card non-story and easy street for MPs

Two stories have caught my attention this week. The first one strikes me as something of a non-story once you scratch the surface and is about the amount government depts spend on credit cards. The very terms credit card and government seems to cause Daily Telegraph reports to break out in a hot flush and grab for the nearest keyboard.

Putting aside the claims of 5 star hotel rooms and Michelin star restaurant meals and you see that the majority of the spending is on legitimate items. Using a credit as opposed to the incredibly bureaucratic and expensive claims system I remember from my military days, can only be seen as an improvement. Despite its bureaucracy, that system was open to wide spread abuse, something that is much less likely with a credit card.

The other story that caught my attention is the ongoing storm surrounding public sector pensions. Apparently public sector workers are going to have to pay a lot more in to their pension scheme in order to maintain the levels of payout currently enjoyed. The list of those affected included, doctors, teachers, civil servants and no doubt just about every other public sector worker who gets their pay from the public purse. However, there appears to be one notable exception – Members of Parliament – what a surprise!