“More than 165k social homes lost in six years, says CIH”

“The number of social rent homes in England has plummeted by 165,697 in just six years, analysis by a trade body has found.

As many as 199,000 of social rent homes will have been lost between 2012 and 2020, according to analysis of government data by the Chartered Institute of Housing released yesterday.

The housing trade body estimated 140,828 council homes and 57,869 housing association properties will be lost by 2020.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of CIH, said: “For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent.

“It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.”

The loss was mainly due to homes sold through right to buy but also demolitions and properties being converted to ‘affordable rent’, the CIH said.

Alafat added: “Government investment is still heavily skewed towards the private market.”

The CIH analysis found 79% of the central housing budget up to 2020-21 is directed towards private housing, with just 21% going to affordable housing.

“Rebalancing this budget could make a big difference – it is vital that the government supports councils and housing associations to build more homes for social rent,” Alafat said.

She added that CIH supports the principle of helping tenants move into home ownership but said “it cannot be at the expense of other people in need”.

Since 2010 funding for social rent, which tends to be around 30-40% cheaper than market rent, has been cut and funding has instead gone towards homes for ‘affordable rent’, which can be up to 80% of market rents.

CIH said the projection of 199,000 homes is lower than previous estimates because the government has made several “positive announcements” including funding for housing associations, lifting the HRA borrowing cap and abandoning plans to force councils to sell their most valuable empty homes to pay for an extension of right to buy.

Minister for housing Kit Malthouse said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is a priority for this government – evidenced by the fact we have delivered over 400,000 affordable homes since 2010.

“And by abolishing the borrowing cap, we’re also giving councils extra freedom to build the social homes their communities need and expect.”


“Flybe will wind up company if shareholders reject sale”

“Flybe has warned shareholders it will wind up the company if they do not back a sale to a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air.

The airline said failure to approve a sale would mean investors were unlikely to get anything for their shares.
The airline’s board agreed the £2.2m sale to Connect Airways group last month, but the deal needs investor approval at a meeting on 4 March.

Flybe acknowledged the offer of 1 penny per share was “disappointingly low”.

However, it said it was the only rescue plan on the table.
In a statement on Thursday, Flybe said: “If the [sale] scheme is not approved, the Flybe directors intend to take steps to wind-up the company and shareholders are likely to receive no value for their shares in Flybe.”

Based in Exeter, Flybe carries about eight million passengers a year from airports such as Southampton, Cardiff and Aberdeen, to the UK and Europe.

It put itself up for sale last November, following a profits warning the previous month. …”


“Council Cuts Could Wreck Chris Grayling’s No-Deal Brexit Ferry Plan”

“Chris Grayling’s plan to run no-deal Brexit ferries from Ramsgate is in danger of collapsing if the local council approves swingeing budget cuts to the port, a senior Whitehall source has admitted.

The transport secretary handed Seaborne Freight, a company with no ships, a £13.8m contract to lay on Channel crossings to relieve pressure on Dover if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on March 29.

But Thanet District Council is planning cuts of £730,000 to the port of Ramsgate, amid severe funding pressures.

If councillors approve the budget on Thursday night it would put the entire Seaborne venture “at risk”, the source told HuffPost UK.

The revelation prompted Labour to accuse Grayling of “incompetence on an epic scale”.

The transport secretary has already faced fierce criticism for giving the contract to Seaborne, a company which last month admitted error after apparently copying and pasting the terms and conditions section of its website from a takeaway delivery outlet.

The mayor of Ostend, at the Belgian end of the planned crossing, has also said it would be impossible to have a new service up and running by the end of March.

But the Department for Transport (DfT) said it continues to have “conversations” with the council, among other organisations, “over any plans to re-establish ferry services at the port of Ramsgate”.

The Ramsgate Action Group, which has been campaigning against the Seaborne plan, said it was now “dead in the water” unless the DfT steps in. …”


“Police force that axed PCSOs takes on zero-hours ‘scene guards’ “

“A police force that axed all its uniformed community support officers is hiring casual workers on zero-hours contracts to perform some of their duties.

Norfolk police are taking on a bank of “scene guards” to watch over crime scenes for £10 an hour. It is believed to be the first force in the country to take such a radical step, which critics say is policing on the cheap.

Labour said it was a sign of how far police forces were being stretched by government cuts.

Norfolk police say they believe it is the best way of getting value out of the resources they have. Those being recruited could be former police officers or people who have worked in the military.

Last year Norfolk eliminated its police community support officers, a decision that affected 150 people. The force said the money spent employing them had risen to the point where they cost almost the same as a fully trained police officer.

The more than £1m saved has been partly used for more police officers, who have wider powers, while some of the money will go to scene guards, who will be paid as and when they are required.

The advert for the role says duties will include “preserving the integrity of the crime/incident scene, detailing all persons entering/leaving the scene” and “dealing with enquiries from the public and media”.

Applicants need a set of skills including “ability to maintain concentration for prolonged periods” and it helps if those applying have “experience of working with confidential and sensitive information … experience of working in a police environment or similar … ability to problem-solve” and “experience of dealing with confrontation”.

Pay is £10.01 per hour and applicants must be free to stand guard four times a year at least. The advert also said: “Hours of work are on an ad hoc basis in line with the spontaneous nature of the policing environment. This post is offered on a casual (zero hour) basis.” …”


Will Exeter take the pressure off East Devon with 12,000 new homes?

Owl says: unlikely!

“Plans for 12,000 new houses in Exeter will be unveiled today as the city expands over the next two decades.

The biggest house-building project will be in Marsh Barton, where more than 5,000 new homes are planned.

Thousands of others will be built in Sandy Gate, East Gate and Red Cow village.

Other schemes are also in the pipeline, including a new bridge over the Exe, cultural spaces and new schools.”