Parish and town councils raising bills at a higher rate than larger authorities

“Villagers paying council tax are seeing their parish bills rise at a higher rate than the share they pay to larger authorities.

BBC News analysed the bills of more than 8,500 town and parish councils from 2013-14 to 2016-17.

Parish councillors say they are being asked to take on more responsibilities as their larger local authority counterparts make cuts.

The government said it expected parish councils to “demonstrate restraint”. …

BBC England’s data unit and BBC Newcastle found:

The total amount of tax collected by parish councils rose from £361m to £434m from 2013-14 to 2016-17

That saw the average bill rise from £50 to £57, a rise of 14%

Some parish councils have raised their share of the bill by far larger amounts

Parts of Kettering, West Berkshire, Peterborough, Rutland, Pendle, Harborough, Cornwall and Copeland saw the largest increases

Some 318 parish and town authorities out of 8,583 issued levies in 2016-17 that were at least double the amount they charged in 2013-14

Larger authorities are obliged to hold a referendum for any increases above 2%, although those responsible for adult social care are now allowed to increase bills by a further 3% for this purpose only.

Parish councils, which generally represent people with populations of less than 2,500, are not subject to the same cap. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38827421

Lib Dems and Indies unite against Tories – in Torbay, not East Devon

Here in East Devon it seems the larger group of Independents is working with Tories and very recently ex-Tories (called TiggerTories by Owl), leaving the smaller Lib Dem and East Devon Alliance Independents groups out in the cold. Not what most non-Tory voters were expecting. … or wanting.

“The new political leadership of Torbay Council has announced plans to invest £100m in the local economy.

The authority’s Liberal Democrat leader Steve Darling revealed the initiative to drive economic growth in a video posted on social media.

He said they had told council officers to develop business plans for £100m worth of investments.

The strategy was a key election pledge by the Liberal Democrats, who saw a big rise in support at the election in May.

The party’s councillors have joined with the Independents in a formal alliance to take control of the authority, leaving the Tories in opposition. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/new-council-leaders-announce-100m-2949176

“2.4 Million Britons In Poverty Despite Having Jobs”

“An estimated 2.4m working people were in poverty in 2017, of which 31% also experienced in-work poverty in 2016, new data has shown.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed that a third of people cannot face unexpected expenses, while 23.7% cannot afford a one-week annual holiday.

However, persistent poverty rates in the UK in 2017 are comparable to levels in 2008, equivalent to roughly 4.7 million people, or 7.8% of the population.

Peter Briffett, co-founder and CEO of the income streaming app, Wagestream, which campaigns against payday poverty, said: “For nearly five million people in the UK to be living in persistent poverty is a damning indictment of the state we’re in.

“It’s the 21st Century and yet for far too many households life is borderline Dickensian.

“High inflation and negligible wage growth will have accentuated persistent poverty in recent years, although some will invariably point the finger at austerity measures.

“Hopefully strengthening wage growth and inflation returning to target will be helping more people out of persistent poverty.

“For many people, the knock-on effect of persistent poverty is recourse to high cost credit simply to keep their heads above water and this only makes matters worse. The result is a cycle of debt from which it is near impossible to break free …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/24-million-people-in-the-uk-are-in-poverty-despite-having-jobs_uk_5cf8c5bee4b0638bdfa4b29d?

Women cheated out of their pensions have no right to fairness says government lawyer

“Nearly 4 million women who lost up to £47,000 each when their retirement age was increased from 60 to 66 have no right to expect fairness from the government, according to a lawyer representing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

On the second day of a judicial review at the high court brought by the campaign group Back to 60, many of whose members received little or no notice that their pension age had been changed, Sir James Eadie QC also argued that the group had no right to expect either notification of the changes or legal remedy to soften its impact.

“Parliament has no substantive, freestanding obligation of fairness,” Eadie told a courtroom so packed that many supporters of the action had to wait outside. “It’s clear from case law that the enactment of primary legislation carries with it no duty of fairness to the public.”

But Michael Mansfield QC, representing the protest group, argued that a “subclass – of women, not men – has been created by this discriminatory legislation.”

Citing the case of a woman known only as PS, who after a lifetime of working and never drawing benefits was now reduced to what she described as a “degrading and humiliating life” visiting food banks and subsisting on tinned food and biscuits, Mansfield said: “They have pushed women who were already disadvantaged into the lowest class you can imagine.

“They’re on the brink of survival, and I’m not overstating that. This group – especially the percentage of the group affected born in 1953 onwards – are increasingly having taken away from them four to six years’ worth of state pension. We’re dealing with very serious sums: £37,000 to £47,000. I think any citizen would be concerned by that withdrawal.”

Eadie said there was no onus on the government to advertise changes to primary legislation or to individually inform the 3.8 million women affected by any changes.

“There is precisely no obligation on parliament to notify those affected by its judgments,” he said. “Indeed, any such suggestion that a duty of that kind exists would be contrary to established principles. There is no basis in principle for the creation of any such duty.”

Pressed by Lord Justice Irwin on whether there could be legal remedy for the women for the lack of notice of the changes, Eadie said there were no principles of natural justice or principles of fairness in play. “There can be no legal remedy,” he said. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/06/no-duty-of-fairness-to-women-hit-by-pension-age-rise-court-told?

Guardian satirist’s view on Swire’s choice for PM

“With every new appearance, Dominic Raab increasingly resembles a man who views Hannibal Lecter movies as self-help documentaries. The anger is so barely repressed you expect his hand to explode through the screen and slit your throat. All done with the perfect rictus smile. It’s what you would have wanted.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/06/rory-stewart-seems-to-have-forgotten-its-the-tories-he-wants-to-lead?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Cities (with highest wages) too expensive for young people to buy homes in

So, what happens when the towns and villages you do come from are just as expensive as Bristol (with wages in Exeter lower than those in Exeter)?

Well, in East Devon, you are mostly funnelled into Cranbrook – as that is where most so-called “Help to Buy” new homes are being built.

The national article uses an example of someone moving from East Devon to Bristol.

“More young people are getting stuck where they grew up or went to university because they cannot afford rents in places where they can earn more money, according to the Resolution Foundation thinktank. It found the number of people aged 25 to 34 starting a new job and moving home in the last year had fallen 40% over the last two decades. …

In 1997, moving from east Devon to Bristol increased median incomes by 19%, but rising rents cut that increase to 1% in 2018. …

Landlords blamed the government for failing to sufficiently increase the supply of new homes. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) also criticised measures which appear to be encouraging landlords to sell up, including reduction in mortgage interest relief for landlords and an increase in stamp duty.

“The biggest threat to rent levels are the policies being pursued by the government which are choking off the supply of homes for private rent as demand is increasing,” said the RLA policy director, David Smith.

The findings came as the affordable housing commission released research found 43% of all renters were now facing affordability problems and that 5.5 million renters were unable to buy a home of their own.

The commission, which was established by the Smith Institute thinktank and chaired by the crossbench peer Richard Best, said that when rents or purchase costs exceeded a third of household income for those in work, it could lead to financial difficulties and these problems became critical where housing costs were 40% or more of household income.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/06/high-rents-in-english-cities-forcing-young-to-stay-in-small-towns?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other