Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Money to Our Friends in the North?

I thought I'd share this email with you, from someone in local government in the Surrey Borough of Waverley...
I thought you might be interested in a grossly unfair situation that my
borough council in Surrey is faced with due to the policies of this morally
bankrupt government. Waverley Borough Council is in South West Surrey and is one
of the most affluent boroughs in the UK. However, it also has pockets of
deprivation and the council owns and manages some 5,000 council dwellings
throughout the borough.

Under an iniquitous system devised by this Labour government, nearly half
of Waverley’s rental income from its council housing stock is taken by the
government every year, presumably for redistribution elsewhere in the country
(Labour marginals perhaps?). This will amount to £10.8 million in 2008/9, which
is £2,000 per home or £40 per tenant per week. As a result of this, there is
absolutely no chance that our housing stock will be able to meet the
government’s own Decent Homes Standard, which in effect means that this Labour
government is imposing a grossly unfair tax on the most vulnerable and needy in
our community.

The council has already had to cut housing maintenance in the coming
budget, and the Housing Revenue Account has now run out of reserves. Ian
Wright, the Parliamentary under Secretary in the Department of Communities and
Local Government, has acknowledged by letter that he has become increasingly
aware that the system is unpopular and widely perceived as unfair. But all he
promises is a review, with no terms of reference and no timetable. He has
refused to meet with the Leader and Chief Executive of the council. The irony of
this situation is that if these council houses were to be transferred to a
housing trust under LSVT, the government would not take a single penny. Our
tenants have twice voted to remain with the council, and by deciding to remain
with the council this Labour government is penalising them to the tune of more
than £10m a year.


Anonymous said...

Don't believe everything you get sent. I daresay Waverly BC gets robbed by central govt, but it's a Stalinist entity in its own right. You may gather I live within Waverley BC's jurisdiction. Prior to the last local elections, I had a Conservative aspirant on my doorstep promising a return to weekly rubbish collections in the event that Conservatives wrested control of the council from the Lib Dems. They did, and two weeks later they issued an edict that "there will be no return to weekly collections". Lying toerags. I will no longer vote for them, nor for Jeremy Hunt who obviously approved that position.

I don't actually care much about the frequency of rubbish collections, but I DO object to being lied to.

There isn't a wafer between the lot of them. Liars all, and they wonder why people don't bother to vote.

Vicky Ford said...

South Cambridgeshire is in a similar pickle. On one hand the government says it wants more affordable housing. 70,000 new homes are to be built in and around Cambridge by 2021.

But how does the government treat those who currently live in affordable housing? 50% of council house rents are scooped off to Westminster coffers and never seen again locally. Cash is running out and the maintenance budget will have to be cut.

Transferring the houses to a housing association will keep the rent locally but the cost of the exercise is hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Vienna Woods said...

"I am not an accountant" (Gordon Brown)

You didn't need to tell us!

George Hollingbery said...

We face exactly the same dilemma in Winchester where we also have some 5,000 council homes. Our tenants have made impassioned representations to Government with no apparent effect.

The process is charmingly known as "reverse subsidy".

Anonymous said...

English Civil War I love it Nu Labour are almost there.

Chris Paul said...

More drivel. Did you even check what happens in the rest of the country Iain? Poor, poor southern softies.

Anonymous said...

Council housing as currently operated is a basket case that should have ceased to exist long ago.
At an individual level, in all high demand areas only the Council's chosen few will secure a tenancy, and at the point the secure tenancy at below market rent is signed, the rights acquired are the economic equivalent of awarding a huge one-off welfare benefit payment equivalent to the present value of the future rent discounts.
At a Council level, the HRA is in accounting and economic la la land, with income derived bearing no relation to the economic value of the assets rented, and half stolen by the government, so the chances of a sensible economic allocation of resources to maintain the long term assets are nil.
Despite this, town halls up and down the land continually bid up the % of ludicrously named 'affordable' housing demanded in new developments, just so they can get their mits on ever more allocation rights to the new properties for deserving causes e.g. single mothers who have exercised choices to produce children they can't support without massive state intervention. Moral hazard anyone? The result is housebuilding is much slower to meet market demands as developers wriggle to avoid their 'responsibilities', those houses that are built are lower quality with poorer transport infrastructure as the economic benefit of the development gain is diverted from these areas to purchasing the allocation rights for the Council. Someone has to pay, and the biggest losers are responsible married couples on low incomes wanting a house and family who can never fit the Council's required fecklessness rating, and who face massively higher housing costs in the private sector as a result - This is grossly inequitable.
Conservative right to buy reforms transformed many Council estates, and shorthold assured tenancies allowing landlords to agree market rents stopped the Rachmans and transformed the size and quality of the private rental sector. We now need some bold policies to fix social housing once and for all. A new social housing tenure that does not lock in rent below market value in perpetuity, run by new forms of social landlords, whose main role is to help those with genuine intrinsic difficulties in obtaining private sector housing gain access to low cost housing. Legacy Council tenants should be transferred to housing associations responsible for all the assets, borrowings, income and expenditure related to the housing, with an endowment to ensure decent homes and policy dictated by tenant representatives. Then extricate new housing developments from the huge and damaging levels of state interference it currently 'enjoys', so the market can increase the supply of new housing we desperately need at a sensible rate, at a quality that existing residents won't object to, and cheaper for everyone. In every other policy area Conservatives are usually first to recognise state control is a disaster - its time to do the same with housing.

Anonymous said...

You’re far too trusting Iain. Phrase such as “morally bankrupt” and “iniquitous system” should set your spin alarm going and prompt the thought “there’s probably less to this than meets the eye”.

If Waverley Borough Council is “one of the most affluent boroughs in the UK” have they thought of putting up the Council tax? I’m sure the capping rules could be relaxed were the revenue to be ring-fenced for such a worthy cause.

Are we to conclude that the Tories will bring forth policies (now that would be a novelty) to end the system that encourages tenants to move away from direct management by local councils? Is this another move by your great party to unroll-back the state?

Anonymous said...

Dunno if its true but if it is I assume its a Tory run Council/MP so no chance of losing votes over it..

I'm guessing the location of these so called "eco towns" will not be in Labour marginals either..

With regards local Councils..don't get me started..Given up on them and nother bothering to vote next time..

Penny Pincher said...

Us 'southern softie' worms are beginning to turn. There is the beginning of a movement down here in deepeest devon ....


Windsor Tripehound said...

Troll alert!

And there's nothing wrong with Chris Paul that a brain transplant wouldn't cure.

Unity said...

Oops, I see Chris has been a little too cryptic in his reply.

To clarify, the assumption that the monies in question head North is correct...

...sort of.

It's actually more North-East than North if you're in Waverly...



...in fact it's about 25-30 miles North East because the money goes to London to subsidise housing costs in the capital - and I might add that there's plenty of money from rents in the North and the Midlands that heads South for precisely the same reason, which is what Chris is alluding to.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've been watching CNBC, but the Americans have ripped the nationalisation of Northern Rock to bits. Brown is a laughing stock of the world and so are we.

Canada, Australia, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Japan et al are accusing Britain of going back to 1970 socialism. Heck, CNBC were discussing the socialist past of Labour! An Australian newspaper has called Gordon Brown a "lame duck"

Man in a Shed said...

Effectively the value of money is different in the South than the North.

As the cost of living is higher in the South, people at the bottom of the economic scale get a far worse deal than in the North. They are also taxed at a higher rate - since the cost of living is high so is the indirect taxation. Also tax thresholds are reached far quicker in terms of purchase power of their money.

If Labour really cared about the working class ( which of course they don't ), rather than just getting re-elected, then they would do something for those people who struggle in the south.

They should also introduce flexible pay for all public and civil servants so they aren't over paid in the North and underpaid in the South.

Of course pigs will have sprouted wings before any of this happens.

fairdealphil said...

Amazing how we get Tories in Surrey saying the Labour Government robs them to give money to "our friends in the north"....

The Tories in Lincolnshire play a similar game - only they claim the Labour Government are nicking money off Lincolnshire to give to Surrey...

funny that, eh?

Anonymous said...

Local government in the UK now dances to the tune of central government. Most of the money comes from Whitehall and most of the expenditure is directed by Whitehall.

Some expenditure is supposed to be discretionary, but in practice if you don't exercise the discretion as Whitehall suggests you are penalised as a 'failing' council.

And yes, of course northern votes are bought with southern money, just as Scottish votes are bought with English money.

Elby the Beserk said...

Iniquitous? No more than Thatcher snatching all the cash from the original council house sales, so that the councils did not benefit from them? Would you not agree?

Anonymous said...

Labour "care" about seats in which there is a Labour MP - nowhere else. Don't vote Labour? Who cares about you then - we've seats to protect! After all, if a certain organisation had been called "Southern Rock" with 6,000 jobs in say - Mid-Sussex........

Mind, what I've never understood is why people living in "Labour heartlands" keep voting Labour - the areas are crap, the people are poor, and Labour have no interest in helping them get wealthier, because they want them dependant.