Obscene Persimmon bonuses – add nearly £41,000 to cost of each house

Guardian Letters:

What do management bonuses mean to the average customer? Persimmon’s CEO will receive a bonus of £110m. Senior staff bonuses will exceed £500m. Persimmon builds approximately 15,000 houses a year. Arguably, therefore, the CEO’s bonus adds at least £7,333 to the price of a house and the senior staff bonuses add £33,333. It is unlikely that the customer would think it money well spent.”
Martin Jeffree


“Surely the housebuilding company Persimmon can now afford to run its own help-to-buy scheme.”
David Simpson

“Theresa May Says Just Because Children Are Homeless It Does Not Mean They Live On The Street”

Theresa May has defended the government’s record on homelessness by arguing that just because there are thousands of homeless children it does not necessarily mean they have to sleep on the streets.

Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan said 2,500 children would wake up homeless in Wandsworth, south London, on Christmas Day. “When will this austerity driven government say enough is enough and put an and end to this tragedy?” she said during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday. …

… This morning the Commons Public Accounts Committee accused the government of being “unacceptably complacent” after an investigation revealed as many as 9,100 people are sleeping rough on the streets of the UK every night.

More than 78,000 households, including over 120,000 children, are classed as homeless and housed in often substandard temporary accommodation.

According to evidence gathered by the cross-party committee, the average rough sleeper dies before the age of 50, and children in long-term temporary accommodation miss far more schooling than their peers.

Homelessness has been steadily rising since 2010, with the number of households in temporary accommodation skyrocketing by more than 60%.

Since March 2011, the number of people who sleep rough has risen by 134%. …”


Exmouth sees drop in second home sales

“The number of second homes in Exmouth has fallen by almost three per cent since 2015. But, the town still has the second highest number in East Devon.

An FOI request, submitted by the Journal, revealed that on average, for every 38 properties in the town, there was one second home.

The statistics revealed there were 16,987 households in Exmouth and of these 422 were second homes, meaning they made up around 2.6 per cent of the total number of properties.

Over the last three years, the number of second homes across the district has slowly been decreasing. Across East Devon there are 69,333 households, with 2,339 being used as second homes. This has fallen by 2.8 per cent since 2015.

In Exmouth, the drop was slightly more, with a three per cent decrease from 459 to 442. Estate agents have suggested this is down to the increase on stamp duty when purchasing a second house. Mike Dibble, a director Bradleys Estate Agents, said anybody who bought a second home now paid an extra three per cent in stamp duty. He added: “For example, if you are a first-time buyer and purchase a home for £250,000, the stamp duty would be £2,500.
“But, if you are buying a second home or a buy-to-let then you would pay an extra £7,500, paying a total of £10,000 in stamp duty”.

Mr Dibble added the estate agents sold ‘nowhere near’ as many second homes as they used to.

The town with the most second homes was Sidmouth, which by April of this year, had a total of 471. The town has half the number of households compared to Exmouth and statistically, of Sidmouth’s 7,885 properties, six per cent are second homes.

The third highest was Seaton where around 5.4 per cent of the total number of properties are second homes – for every 19 properties in Seaton there is around one second home.

An East Devon District Council spokeswoman said: “There are a large number of second homes in East Devon for which the owners pay council tax in the same way as do all other home owners in the district.”

Journal 14 December 2017

The original article:

“London Mayor refuses permission for major scheme over loss of affordable homes”

Well, what do you know, developers don’t have to get their own way – at least in London!

“The Mayor of London has refused permission for an estate regeneration project in Barnet which he said would result in the net loss of 257 affordable homes.

Sadiq Khan described the scheme as “a classic example of how not to do estate regeneration”.

His decision related to a scheme to redevelop the Grahame Park estate in Colindale. This included plans to demolish 692 homes currently available at social rent and replace them with 435.

The planning application was approved by Barnet Council last month.
The Mayor said he had told the council it must replace the lost affordable homes.

The application was also deemed unacceptable because it failed to provide a minimum of £840,000 to deliver additional bus capacity and suitable alternatives to private car use.

Khan said: “I fully support improving social housing on this estate and across the capital, but this scheme falls far short of what I expect of London boroughs.

“As I have made clear in my new London Plan, estate regeneration projects must replace homes which are based on social rent levels on a like-for-like basis. Londoners so urgently need more high-quality housing, not less, which makes this scheme completely unacceptable in its current form.

“I have asked Barnet Council to work constructively with the applicant on alternative plans with greater density, which do not result in the net loss of affordable homes. Given its recent record in this area, I hope the council recognises the need to replace what would be lost at Grahame Park.”
A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “We are clearly disappointed by this decision. We will now be reviewing this with our development partner to agree the next steps.”


Interesting petition in Cornwall demands resignation of Chief Planning Officer!

Almost 5,000 signatures already!

“Cornwall is being destroyed. Since Mr Mason took office, Cornwall’s natural and built environment has experienced continued and accelerating degradation. Our precious, unique landscape and cultural heritage is disappearing through the continual facilitation of ugly and inappropriate hyper-development. Shockingly, this development has even failed to address local housing needs, as it is clearly not designed to meet that objective, being cynically marketed up-country. Nor has it benefited our persistently weak economy. Apart from the obvious damage to Cornwall’s landscape integrity, increasingly angry and upset residents are afflicted by soaring levels of traffic congestion and air pollution. Flooding risks have increased, and surgeries, schools and Treliske hospital are all failing to cope with the huge population growth created by the facilitation of rapid in-migration.

The Council’s short-sighted, mass-urbanisation culture, which has become utterly out of control under Mr Mason’s tenure, fails to recognise that Cornwall’s rural nature is one of its most important and highly valued assets. Planning blight, seemingly encouraged by the Chief Officer, is often, and increasingly, imposed against the wishes of parishes and residents. Why Mr. Mason and the Council should want to turn Cornwall into a replica of ugly, depressing and blighted parts of the UK cannot by answered by sane and rational argument. Soon, everything that gives Cornwall its charm and distinctiveness will be obliterated for ever. Mr Mason’s idea of planning is one of the reasons the Council is viewed with contempt by so many people.

Cornwall and its people deserve better – much better. Mr Mason has conspicuously failed to demonstrate any intent to try and protect us from the predatory, hyper-development agenda of national developers, as the unsustainable Local Plan target of 52,500 new houses demonstrates. It is time he went and is replaced by someone who has Cornwall’s best interests at heart.”


“Second-home owners face 500% tax rise in the Yorkshire Dales”

“Second-home owners in the Yorkshire Dales could see council tax on their properties rise five-fold after a landmark vote.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have backed an initiative designed to “halt and then reverse” the decline in numbers of young people in the region.

The move follows concern from residents that the number of second homes has contributed to younger people leaving the area, schools closing and a loss of services, thus creating “hollowed out communities”.

There are about 1,500 second homes in the Dales, representing more than 10 per cent of the total housing stock. Last night members of the park authority voted by 12 votes to nine in favour of working with local councils to develop a specific proposal on second homes.

A figure of at least five times the present rate of council tax has been mooted for second-home owners, equating to an annual tax bill of £8,500 for a band D property. The proposals would not apply to holiday lets.

The national park’s constituent local authorities will consider the proposals in the new year. If they all back the scheme a fully developed proposition to attract more young people and families will be put to central government.

Carl Lis, chairman of the park authority, said that the verdict “demonstrates that we are not prepared to sit idly by and watch Dales communities slow decline”.

He said that while unemployment in the national park “barely exists”, employers “cannot afford to pay the sort of wages you need to buy a home in the Dales” because their prices have been so inflated by the second-homes market.

“A lot of effort is going in to getting new affordable homes built, but it is being cancelled out by the number of homes going into second-home ownership. Any initiative to attract and retain families in the park which did not at least try to address the negative impacts of second homes would be like ignoring the elephant in the room.”

He added that he recognised that the proposals were controversial and that second-home owners did help to contribute to the local economy, but said that permanent residents would contribute much more.

Richard Foster, a member of the park authority and leader of Craven district council, went public with the second-homes proposal last month. He said: “I hope we might have pricked the social consciences of those who leave their properties in the Dales empty for most of the year, but our central concern is not about them, it is about the viability of local communities.”

Yvonne Peacock, another member of the park authority, said: “A few years ago there were 70 children on the roll of the school in Bainbridge where I live — now the number is 25. There are simply too many second homes.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

Council tax: up to £100 year increase (for fewer services) and Devon to retain 100% business rates

“Local authorities are to be allowed to raise council tax by up to 5.99% next year, after a further relaxation of the government-imposed cap to address shortfalls in funding for social care.

Families across the UK could see their bills rise by up to £100 a year as a result of the announcement, which will also see councils increasing the charge without holding local referendums.

The move, which has been widely criticised and called “woefully inadequate” by leaders in the social care sector, could see the average band D council tax bill rising to £1,653.30. …. “


In a separate announcement, the DGLC announced that a pilot project will see 10 areas retain their full business rate contributions:

“Communities secretary Sajid Javid has today announced a shake-up of the formula for distributing funding to local authorities.

He has also set out plans to allow councils to retain 75% of their business rates and a 1% increase in council tax raising powers, revealing the local government settlement in the House of Commons.

Javid confirmed plans to end the revenue support grant and allow councils to retain 100% of local business rates by 2020 would be put on hold, over concerns that some councils could be left out of pocket.

Instead, he said there needed to be an “updated and more responsive distribution methodology”, and that councils would be allowed to retain 75% of business rates by 2020/21.

He said: “I am today publishing a formal consultation on a review of relative needs and resources. “I aim to implement a new system based on its findings in 2020/21.”

In addition, he announced 10 further councils would be taking part in a pilot to retain 100% of their business rates. …”

Foreign doctors [and nurses] – we need them more than they need us

And before anyone whinges about time-wasters going to A and E remember Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been one of them:


“Doctors who trained abroad account for almost half of all those working in parts of the UK as the profession faces “crunch point” and more young doctors take time out due to stress.

The General Medical Council’s annual report said that many regions and specialities relied on foreign-trained doctors, who could leave the UK. It added that there were too few doctors to treat rising numbers of patients, and doctors were being “pushed beyond their limits”.

The State of Medical Education and Practice showed that 54 per cent of junior doctors took a break after finishing foundation training, a rise from 30 per cent in 2012. “Goodwill and commitment to always go the extra mile” kept the NHS running, it said. “This level of sacrifice is neither right nor sustainable.”

The number of doctors on the medical register has grown by 2 per cent since 2012. Over the same period in England there has been a 27 per cent increase in patients going to A&E, and the GMC said that an ageing population was putting pressure on services.

While the number of UK graduates on the medical register rose by more than 10,700 between 2012 and this year, the rise was offset by a fall of 6,000 in foreign-trained doctors.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: “We have reached a crucial moment — a crunch point — in the development of the workforce. The decisions that we make over the next five years will determine whether it can meet these demands.”

A fifth of doctors in training said they felt short of sleep while working. In 2014, when 43 per cent of new doctors took a break from training, 22 per cent took a one-year break and 8 per cent took a two-year break. Others may never return. More than half of those taking a break said that it was because of burnout, and most wanted a better work-life balance.

The GMC said that reducing the pressure on doctors and improving the culture and making jobs and training more flexible would be vital to recruiting and retaining doctors.

In the east of England 43 per cent of doctors were trained overseas. In the West Midlands the figure is 41 per cent, and 38 per cent in the East Midlands. More than half, 55 per cent, of specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology trained overseas.

About 14 per cent of doctors in the UK trained in south Asia, but their numbers have dropped by 7 per cent since 2012. The number of doctors from Africa, Australia, New Zealand and North America also fell.

The Department of Health said: “The NHS has a record number of doctors — 14,900 more since May 2010 — and we are committed to supporting them by expanding the number of training places by 25 per cent.” The department was working to improve retention, it added.


The health service turned to Britain’s former colonies in South Asia during labour shortages in the 1960s and again in the 2000s when there were too few homegrown recruits.

Today, too, it leans heavily on overseas doctors. A third of doctors in the NHS trained outside the United Kingdom. The reliance has raised concerns that the NHS may be fuelling a “brain drain” in poorer countries where doctors are desperately needed, although others argue that training in the UK can improve those doctors’ skills.

It comes down to the simple fact that the UK does not train enough doctors to meet the demands of its population.

Historically, NHS workforce planning has suffered because it needs to happen over a much longer period than the average lifespan of a government. Last week Health Education England set out the first NHS staffing plan in 25 years, admitting that 190,000 extra frontline staff would be needed.

Source: The Times (pay wall)