Deposit-free renting – another government scam to benefit its donors!

The government is touting the information that it is going to make it easier for renters to begin a tenancy without a big deposit.

What the small print does NOT tell people is that they will need to pay the equivalent if (at least) a week’s rent for a NON-REFUNDABLE insurance policy to cover potential damage!

“… Groups representing tenants say they cannot see the benefits for most of their members.

Dan Wilson Craw from Generation Rent says zero-deposit schemes are an unnecessary expense for tenants.

“This is money that you will never see again, whereas with a standard deposit if you take care of the property you should get all that money back,” he says. “People need to realise that it’s not taking away their responsibility for keeping the home in good condition and paying the rent. If there are problems you will have to pay what they ask for.”

Even landlord groups are concerned. John Stewart, policy manager at the Residential Landlords Association, says he can see the potential for a loss-loss situation with this type of scheme.

For tenants, he says “it might cut the upfront fees but it is an absolute cost at the end of the day”, while for landlords it was unclear how long claims would take to be paid and what would happen if a scheme went bust.”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/19/could-renting-without-huge-deposits-become-the-norm

Knowle Flog It – yes, it IS public property, officers and councillors

Sidmouth Herald has finally put up the story about the Knowle Flog it scandal on its website:

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/public-property-auction-rumours-quashed-1-5855743

Yes, it is PUBLIC property – NOT councillors’ and officers’ property!

And Owl wonders what is going to happen (or has happened) to public property such as the rather lovely globe lights in the Council Chamber, the beautiful fireplaces and the MANY square metres of still very serviceable Axminster carpets, for example …

Austerity – carries on after you die with “funeral poverty” thanks to your local authority

Owl says: EDDC expects to make £150,000 from crematoria fees next year – up from £105,000 last year – a 50% increase.

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/papers/cabinet/020119bpcabinetcapitalestimatesbook2019-20.pdf
(page 40]

“Inflation-busting rises in cremation and burial fees meant council profits from funerals leapt to almost £100 million last year.

Fee increases have been so steep that local authorities’ cremation, burial and mortuary services are operating on an average profit margin of more than 43 per cent. If these services were collectively listed as a single publicly traded company, they would make the FTSE 250 index of leading businesses.

Critics have described the level of charges as immoral and accused local authorities of pushing residents into “funeral poverty”.

Source: Times (paywall)

Want to change things in East Devon – become an independent councillor

You don’t have to do it alone – East Devon Alliance is happy to help those who want to help their communities, who have that necessary independent streak, and who are happy to adhere to the Nolan Principles of Public Life:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

Elections take place on 2 May 2019.

Young people, women, minorities and people with disabilities are particularly unrepresented on councils – there is a government fund for helping disabled people to become councillors:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cash-grants-to-help-disabled-people-in-standing-for-election-extended-for-another-year

If you are interested, you can attend the EDA AGM on Saturday 23 February 2019 at 11 am (Dissenters Hall, Sidmouth) where you can meet current councillors or you can contact EDA at:

secretaryeastdevonalliance@gmail.com

The more independent councillors there are, the sooner East Devon can be changed for the better. No following party lines, no party whip, no instructions from people who know nothing about your area and care only about party policies … what’s stopping you!

East Devon Alliance AGM – Sidmouth, Saturday 23 February 11 am

East Devon Alliance Annual General Meeting

Saturday 23 February 2019

11.00 am – 12.30 pm

Dissenters Hall, The Old Meeting Unitarian Chapel,
All Saints Rd, Sidmouth EX10 8ER

All East Devon Alliance Members & Supporters are cordially invited to attend the Annual General Meeting

Further information available from the EDA Secretary: secretaryeastdevonalliance@gmail.com

“Number using food banks in part of Devon doubles in six months”

“The number of people using food banks in the Sid Valley has more than doubled in the last six months.

The Sid Valley Food Bank’s co-ordinator Andie Milne told East Devon councillors on Wednesday night of the alarming numbers of people and the stark rise in numbers of people they are seeing.

She said that six months ago, they were dealing with 15 families a week, but last week, more than 30 families came through their doors, with 36 children being helped.

And she added that last week they helped a family from Axminster as there was no help available in the East of the county for them, and raised concern over what would happen to the emergency food bags located at the council’s Knowle HQ, that sometimes are refilled four times a week, when the council offices move to Honiton early in 2019.

Her comments came prior to the full council unanimously supporting a motion brought forward by Cllr Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance, calling for a report on the potential impacts of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in East Devon and whether there was a need for further support from the council in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.

Proposing her motion, Cllr Gardner said: “Most of us are doing okay and are comfortable, some are doing extremely well, but some are struggling, and we have a civic duty to see if we can do more. I would be horrified to learn if a child suffered as we failed to something in some way to help.

“I am not criticising the council or the hard work that our officers do to help people but simply to ask if there is anything more that we could do, as we know that people are struggling with Universal Credit.

“If the report says it is all perfect, then we can rest easy, but I want the report to come forward so we can be seen as outstanding, caring and vigilant.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson, supporting the motion, added that some people are being forced to use food banks just to make ends meet, even though they are in employment. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/number-using-food-banks-part-2323249

Knowle Flog It: statement raises more questions than answers

An “explanation” of the Knowle Flog It fiasco appears in today’s Sidmouth Herald. It appears to be printed verbatim from a council statement.

Owl wonders why this statement was printed without challenging some of its very, very vague claims – one hesitates to use the word ‘facts’. “Journalism”? Not as Owl knows it!

Guess some answers MIGHT come from the Freedom of Information request by an Exmouth resident on 8 January 2019:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/01/10/the-knowle-flog-it-scandal-rumbles-on/

In the meantime:

Amongst Owl’s questions:

It seems Councillor Skinner paid £400 for the table he wanted so urgently – earlier reports mentioned it being valued at a very low price, much lower than £400. Which is correct? And including just how many chairs?

Who decided on the “three disposal methods? It does not appear to be the Asset Management Group.

Which councillors have bought items? Have they declared these on their Registers of Interest?

Which groups were offered ‘free’ items, how were they chosen and by whom? Have any of these groups taken items – and if so, which groups and how much did they pay for them?

What exactly is the Chairman’s Civic Fund and how and when has it been used recently and in the past? What are its rules? Who oversees the disbursements?

Which local groups and charities will be able to bid for what is left after officers and councillors have taken their pick? How have they been chosen and by whom?

Are internal and external auditors happy with the procedures?

Will the Scrutiny Committee be scrutinising these actions?

Owl is sure readers have many more questions!