Archives for category: Housing

Some time ago West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street travelled to Finland – thought to be the only country in Europe where homelessness is falling.

He said: “We have got to be realistic about this. This can’t be about a sticking plaster. We have got to ask ourselves the question, are we prepared to make a similar commitment?”

Emmaus has the answer to rehabilitation of the long-term homeless, offering both accommodation and work of a socially useful nature.

As its website says, “overcoming homelessness means more than a roof over your head”. Without a purpose formerly homeless people placed in ‘permanent accommodation’ become lonely and still feel like ‘outsiders’ and eventually have to leave because of alcohol, drug or debt problems.

Mayor:  travel to Cambridge Emmaus to see the homeless rehabilitated

The mayor of Birmingham may visit the Coventry Emmaus, probably the nearest, or better still, go the centre in Cambridge, the ideal aimed for by Emmaus, where housing and workshops are on the same site – and also a place where locals can come and buy restored goods at modest prices from restored people.

The secular Emmaus movement flourishes on the continent where it was started in 1945 by a French priest to help homeless ex-servicemen to repair war-damaged houses.

Men and women come off income support, collect, refurbish and repair goods and offer them for sale. In exercising a skill and offering goods at quite a low price they meet a need and know that once more they have a useful role to play.

Those who had an alcohol addiction, go out for a drink but are expected to behave acceptably. Even if they are asked to leave because of bad behaviour they know that they can always return after a while.

The four storey Trinity Centre (a former church, a listed building) in Camp Hill near the city centre, highlighted on this site in 2014, would offer a suitable site, as Emmaus prefers to have the residential, working and retail activities on the same site.. It housed many homeless ex-servicemen and workers displaced by machinery.

The ground floor was a dormitory, with three aisles, like the one below and the centre led up to the chantry altar in which a Sunday service was held each week. All meals were cooked in a splendidly fitted kitchen, there was a recreation room, a visiting library (taken round by the writer) and a rehabilitation flat on the top storey.

When the Centre was put up for sale some local people suggested that this converted four storey Anglican ‘Commissioners’ church and the land nearby would be perfect for an Emmaus Community.

 

Could Trinity Centre become the city’s first Emmaus?

Bishop David Urquhart is a Church Commissioner: should the Mayor contact him?

 

 

 

enquiries@emmauscoventry.org.uk

 

– though in Coventry this has not been possible.

Mayor Andy Street and Bishop David Urquhart could begin to address homelessness

Some time ago West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street travelled to Finland – thought to be the only country in Europe where homelessness is falling.

He said: “We have got to be realistic about this. This can’t be about a sticking plaster. We have got to ask ourselves the question, are we prepared to make a similar commitment?”

Emmaus has the answer to rehabilitation of the long-term homeless, offering both accommodation and work of a socially useful nature.

As its website says, “overcoming homelessness means more than a roof over your head”. Without a purpose formerly homeless people placed in ‘permanent accommodation’ become lonely and still feel like ‘outsiders’ and eventually have to leave because of alcohol, drug or debt problems.

Mayor Andy Street:  travel to Cambridge Emmaus to see the homeless rehabilitated

The mayor of Birmingham may visit the Coventry Emmaus, probably the nearest, or better still, go the centre in Cambridge, the ideal aimed for by Emmaus, where housing and workshops are on the same site – and also a place where locals can come and buy restored goods at modest prices from restored people.

The Emmaus movement flourishes on the continent where it was started in 1945 by a French priest to help homeless ex-servicemen to repair war-damaged houses.

Men and women come off income support, collect, refurbish and repair goods and offer them for sale. In exercising a skill and offering goods at quite a low price they meet a need and know that once more they have a useful role to play.

Those who had an alcohol addiction, go out for a drink but are expected to behave acceptably. Even if they are asked to leave because of bad behaviour they know that they can always return after a while.

The four storey Trinity Centre (a former church, a listed building) in Camp Hill near the city centre, highlighted on this site in 2014, would offer a suitable site, as Emmaus prefers to have the residential, working and retail activities on the same site.. It housed many homeless ex-servicemen and workers displaced by machinery.

The ground floor was a dormitory, with three aisles, like the one below and the centre led up to the chantry altar in which a Sunday service was held each week. All meals were cooked in a splendidly fitted kitchen, there was a recreation room, a visiting library (taken round by the writer) and a rehabilitation flat on the top storey.

When the Centre was put up for sale some local people suggested that this converted four storey Anglican ‘Commissioners’ church and the land nearby would be perfect for an Emmaus Community.

 

Could Trinity Centre become the city’s first Emmaus?

Bishop David Urquhart is a Church Commissioner: should the Mayor contact him?

 

 

 

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Birmingham is described by Cllr Ian Ward, ‘showcasing’ investment opportunities at this year’s global property and real estate show MIPIM, as  ‘a destination of choice’ for international investment and blue-chip occupiers.

Airbrushed: the existence of more than 12,000 people sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation, with another 6000 or so on its housing list, which had 17,040 households on its books in April (Mail).

See: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/revealed-shocking-extent-homelessness-birmingham-13228087

John Clancy, as council leader, proved able to balance MIPIM drum-beating with attention to the needs of thousands of Birmingham’s people shown in action: building and maintaining homes.

Where now is news of Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) set up in January 2009 to lead the development of the Council’s new build housing programme and the maintenance team set up to keep council housing in good condition? In 2014/15 the Council built more social rented and affordable homes than all of the housing associations in the city combined.

In 2016 a parliamentary select committee was told projections suggested that Birmingham would need to accommodate a minimum of an additional 150,000 people by 2031, with around 80,000 new homes required to meet this need.

Will MIPIM attendees hear about that?

 

 

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This question was posed last week and I replied cautiously, “Wait and see”.

However a link from Welfare Weekly sent by a Bournville reader led to forebodings.

It included information taken from the website ‘They Work for You‘ which shows that Esther McVey, who has been appointed as Secretary for Work and Pensions:

  • consistently voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the “bedroom tax”),
  • consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices,
  • consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability,
  • generally voted for making local councils responsible for helping those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such support,
  • consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits and
  • generally voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed.

Then a message about Dominic Raab’s appointment as new housing minister appeared in the inbox 

It recalled that only a year ago, Labour attempted to get an amendment added to the Housing and Planning Bill requiring that houses rented to human beings be ‘fit for human habitation’.

Raab voted against making it a legal requirement for rented housing to be fit for people to live in. Indeed, as the party voting record for the amendment shows, not a single Conservative MP voted to support it.

Another cause for concern was his remark about foodbank users in his constituencies, first reported in the local media: “I’ve studied the Trussell Trust data, what they tend to find is the typical user of a foodbank is not someone that is languishing in poverty, it is someone who has a cash flow problem episodically”.

But the Cobham Foodbank in Mr Raab’s constituency, affiliated to the Trussell Trust, has issued figures on referrals to its service from April 2016 to March 2017: low income was the main reason more than 910 adults and children received foodbank aid over the 12 months. Debt was the second most likely cause to seek assistance, with 669 people, including 362 children, helped by the foodbank. And more than 160 people were referred due to benefit changes and delays.

Most of the comfortable merely feel uneasy about these appointments, but people struggling on low incomes, in poor-quality housing or homeless must be taking these appointments to heart and feeling profoundly worried about their future.

 

 

 

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In 2017 housing rose to the top of the British political agenda for the first time in a generation. But despite the media spotlight, few stories examined the catastrophic long-term failures that resulted in a chronic shortage of social housing in the United Kingdom.

For some people, a housing crisis means not getting planning permission for a loft conversion. For others it means, quite simply, losing their home.

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle (available as DVD) is a feature documentary directed by Paul Sng (Sleaford Mods: Invisible Britain) and narrated by Maxine Peake. It explores the catastrophic failures that have led to a chronic shortage of social housing in Britain.

Event Details:

Wednesday 28 February 2018. Arrival from 17:00, doors at 17:30 with the film to commence at 18:00, ends at 21:15

Great Hall | People’s Palace | Queen Mary University of London | E1 4NS Mile End Road | United Kingdom

A limited number of free tickets for individuals facing financial difficulty are available. If you would like to request one of these, please e-mail lawevents@qmul.ac.uk.

 

 

 

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There is a substantial and interesting article about the work of Joseph Chamberlain on the website of the Centre for Retail Research.

It ends with the reflection that Chamberlain’s ideas about the need to protect people in lower income groups from oppression and bad faith seem resonant today and continues:

What does Chamberlainism mean for Mrs May and industry?

Probably a recalibration of policy with a much greater focus on work, opportunities and living standards using an expansionist industry policy. We can discern five themes relevant to today:

  • A comprehensive industrial strategy, based on local needs and using local knowledge intended to replace imports and create the vital supply chains needed by British business.
  • New housing, potentially a provider of 1mn new jobs and a swift way of improving the living standards and opportunities. 
  • For education, an increased focus on science, maths, technical subjects and foreign languages; abandoning the current emphasis on university as the only useful goal for young people; and increased focus on vocational training, retraining and part-time study for adults. 
  • A concern for manufacturing industry and jobs once again, rather than assuming that retail, service industries, banking and the City of London are all one needs to worry about to provide work.
  • Requiring Government permission before a significant UK business is purchased by a foreign company.

Read the whole article here: http://www.retailresearch.org/chamberlain.php

 

 

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Corbyn’s core philosophy

We must recognise that every single child in this country has talents and every single child deserves the chance to flourish and thrive to their maximum potential in whichever field suits them best. That focus on the individual child is what drives our determination to reduce class sizes. We know that half a million children have been landed in super-size classes of 31 pupils or more.

He opened by setting out an all-embracing programme:

  • a government for the many not the few
  • invest in our economy and public services.
  • give the richest and largest corporations tax hand-outs worth tens of billions.
  • The NHS and social care have been pushed into a state of emergency.
  • Housebuilding has fallen to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s.
  • Schools across the country face real terms cuts in funding per pupil,
  • and class sizes are rising –
  • while those young people who want to go to university face huge debts.

His undertakings:

Labour will introduce a National Education Service, ensuring excellent learning opportunities for all from early years to adult education and halt closures of Sure Start centres and increase the funding for them.

Universal free school meals for pupils at primary schools will be introduced to help teachers who will see the benefits of improved concentration and improved attainment in the classroom. It will also help parents who will not only save money but have the peace of mind in knowing that their child is getting a healthy school meal during the day. Investing in the health of our nation’s children, is investing in our nation’s future.

If we are to build an economy worthy of the 21st century, we need a schools system that looks forwards, and not backwards to the failed models of the past.

The task is clear: we must build an education system that suits the needs of our children and the opportunities they will have in the jobs market of tomorrow.

 

Read the full text here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/jeremy-corbyns-2017-election-address-to-head-teachers/

 

 

 

“100 tenants a day lose homes as rising rents and benefit freeze hit”The Observer July 2017.

In the same month, a Joseph Rowntree Foundation study attributed 80% of the recent rise in evictions to the “no fault” process under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Two months’ written notice is all that private landlords need to do: they don’t need to give any reason when they ask tenants to leave.

It allows the worst landlords to ignore disrepair – tenants who complain are given notice – a process officially recognised under the name retaliatory eviction’.

Read more about retaliatory eviction’ – the subject of Commons Briefing paper SN07015 by Wendy Wilson – published on June 13, 2017.   

 Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue forcefully in today’s Prime Minister’s Questions

His exchange with the Prime Minister may be seen here, courtesy of Steve Walker and the full transcript in Hansard may be seen here.

Mr Corbyn reviewed the government’s record:

  • Homelessness is up by 50% and rough sleeping has doubled. Homelessness and rough sleeping have risen every single year since 2010.
  • Evictions by private landlords have quadrupled since 2010. There is no security in the private rented sector.
  • One-for-one replacement of council housing sold off through the right to buy was promised, but just one in five council homes have been replaced.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people are on housing waiting lists.

Shelter is calling for the introduction of a stable rental contract – to become the norm in England.

Campbell Robb, chief executive, said: “With the possibility of eviction with just two months’ notice, and constant worries about when the next rent rise will hit, the current rental market isn’t giving people – particularly families – the stability they need to put down roots. The stable rental contract offers renters a five-year tenancy and gives landlords more confidence in a steady income, all within the existing legal framework”.

Scotland for best practice to date: the Scottish secure tenancy

In Scotland, under Jack McConnell’s Labour government, by an order under section 11 of the 2001 the Housing (Scotland) Act tenants of local authorities, housing associations & tenants who are members of fully mutual co-operative housing associations, from 30 September 2002, became Scottish secure tenants.

Read the excellent terms here. Will a Labour government in this country adopt this Rolls Royce standard model and also introduce a stable rental contract for those in private accommodation? Or will the profit motive win the day?

 

 

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One of the charms of Stirchley is the active community bonding between many of its residents, regardless of age, income or education.

This may be seen by attending its neighbourhood forum, its market, its local history group, its renovated park, its library support group and many more activities housed in the re-opened Stirchley baths community centre (below) and the former Stirchley Institute.

Samuel Clark, development director at Seven Capital, looks forward to the ‘gentrification of this important Birmingham suburb’.

Gentrification (aka more expensive ‘aspirational’ housing) – the influx of more affluent people concentrated in a block on the nine-acre site on the corner of Hazelwell Lane and Pershore Road – would be a retrograde step.

Many who admire this active and creative neighbourhood, hope that developer Seven Capital, with bases in the city, London and Dubai, will really listen to ‘local stakeholders’ and, together with the council, design plans which include affordable, social and more profitable ‘gentrified’ housing for the new ‘mixed-use scheme’.

As one resident said on Stirchley online:

Mr Clark, please note. An appropriate scheme would counteract ‘Which’s designation of Seven Capital’s ‘worst case’ offer of housing as an investment opportunity.

No more empty ‘investment’ flats should be seen in the city; let house-building mean home-building.

 

 

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In the Financial Times, Jim Pickard, its Chief Political Correspondent and one of Mr Corbyn’s consistent detractors, writes: “After largely ignoring Labour for two years, many business leaders are now scrambling to work out what a Jeremy Corbyn premiership could mean for their industries”.

Today, Mr Pickard opens by saying that, given increasing concerns about the housing market among young voters, ministers are drawing up plans to make housebuilding a priority in this month’s Budget. Just 32,630 affordable homes were built in 2015-16 — the lowest number in 24 years and down from 61,090 in 2010-11. But 16,000 were built as “affordable rent”, a new category under which landlords can charge up to 80% of market rents.

Under the “Section 106 agreement”, developers bargain with local councils over local amenities and affordable housing that they have to build in return for planning permission. But a loophole involving “viability assessments”, which was first introduced in the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), allow developers to negotiate away their Section 106 affordable housing commitments on the basis that they would make the scheme less profitable. If expected profits are below 20%, defined as a “competitive return”, the number of homes built can be reduced.

“This provides a safety net for developers, who can overpay for land to guarantee they win sites, safe in the knowledge they will be able to argue down community benefits to make their money back later,” said Shelter.

Last week Alok Sharma, the housing minister, admitted that the viability assessment system was “not working” and suggested that he favoured changing the process. “Clearly the system as it is does not work. We are proposing a set of improvements we believe will make it work better,” Mr Sharma told a Commons committee. “Let’s see what views come forward as a result of the consultation.”

John Healey, shadow housing minister, said Labour would carry out a review of the future of social housing that would look at how to maximise the number of genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy on new developments. “Changing the rules to capture more of the value created by the granting of planning permission will not only help fund new affordable housing, but help increase local support for new housing, too.”

In every major speech, Corbyn addresses the housing issue. On a site which records many of these references, see the housing section in his 2016 conference address.

Today, Labour will set out plans to tighten this housebuilding loophole, responsible for halving the number of “affordable homes” built in Britain over the past five years.

 

 

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Bournville Village Trust has agreed to acquire and manage some of the 138 homes at the Manor House site, which is being developed by Crest Nicholson. Work on the site will also include plans to rebuild Northfield Manor House, off Bristol Road South, which was demolished after being severely damaged in an arson attack three years ago.

Northfield Manor House was the residence of the Trust’s founder George, and his wife Elizabeth, until her death in 1951. In 1953 it became a hall of residence for the university, but has been empty since 2007 as the University decided it was too expensive to upgrade.

It is not legally listed with English Heritage, but has an informal grade A status on Birmingham City Council’s local advisory list of historic buildings. The English Heritage website (no general access) records that a farm house, part of the Manor of Northfield belonging to the Jervoise family, was recorded as being on the site circa 1750. In 1809 the estate was purchased by Daniel Ledsam, a London merchant. It is believed that he made alterations to the house and was responsible for the current main building.

This picture came from coverage on this site in 2014.

Local historian Dr Carl Chinn urged the university to stop the demolition of the fire-damaged building and consult local people through community groups and their elected representatives over the future of this building. He advocated restoration of the building, in partnership with the community.

The University’s vice-principal, Professor Adam Tickell, said that the planning application had been revived and now included provision for the rebuilding of the manor house, despite the demolition of most of the structure.

The Manor House is to be rebuilt in the original style with Georgian and Arts & Crafts facades and the decorative details of the exterior of the building in stone and brickwork, render and timber. The form and proportions of the 18th century manor will be retained but the interior will be divided into apartments.

 

 

 

 

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