Devon school likely to close on Friday afternoons to save money says councilor

“Devon’s schools could soon be forced to shut on Friday afternoons due to budget pressures, a leading councillor is predicting, while a headteacher has warned: “It’s not going to be long before a school goes bankrupt.”

Cllr Rob Hannaford, the chairman of Devon County Councils Children’s Scrutiny Committee, said he is convinced a school in Devon will soon join schools nationwide closing on Friday afternoons to give teachers the preparation and planning time required, because they cannot afford to pay for an additional teacher to cover those sessions.

A group of more than 80 cross-party MPs who have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond urging him to increase school and special needs funding before permanent damage is done to the education of children across England. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/school-could-soon-go-bankrupt-3045143

11 housing associations reject affordable homes as far too small

“New-build “affordable” homes are standing empty after nearly a dozen housing associations rejected them for being too small.

The five properties were deemed to be lacking the square footage required to meet “modern standards of social housing.”

Developer Monument Two Ltd is currently building 42 homes at Derby’s former Calder Aluminium site in Repton Road, reports DerbyshireLive.

South Derbyshire District Counciil signed off on the scheme in 2010 but it has not yet been completed.

Now the firm has told the council that the affordable homes built on the site have been seen as too small by 11 housing associations that were offered them.

The housing associations also said that there were not enough affordable homes on the site – with just five built due to the cost of developing the site.

Of the five homes, two are three-bed homes and three are two-bed homes.

The council says that the square footage of the homes does not meet modern standards of social housing – which have been upgraded since 2010 when the homes were approved. …”

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/developer-built-new-homes-small-16515537

“UK builders suffer worst monthly decline in a decade”

Owl says: time to stimulate sales with price drops, perhaps? Bringing that profit-per-house at Persimmon down from £77,000 to, say, £27,000 would certainly bring a lot of buyers in! Of course, then there would be no masdive director bonuses, so guess that’s a non-starter (home).

“Britain’s construction sector suffered as “sharp drop in momentum” last month, says data firm Markit.

In a very worrying healthcheck on the construction sector, Markit has found that business activity and incoming new work both fell at the fastest pace for just over 10 years.

Housebuilding, commercial construction and big civil engineering work all contracted during the month — a bad sign for the whole construction sector.

Builders across the country blamed “risk aversion among clients in response to heightened political and economic uncertainty.”

That suggests people are simply unwilling to take risks while they don’t know how the Brexit crisis will be resolved.

This has dragged the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index down to just 43.1 in June, down sharply from 48.6 in May. Any reading below 50 shows a contraction, and this shows the steepest reduction in overall construction output since April 2009.” …

UK builders also reported that new orders dropped at the fastest rate in over 10 years, while demand for construction products and materials fell at the sharpest pace since the start of 2010.”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2019/jul/02/london-house-prices-fall-brexit-slowdown-construction-pmi-business-live?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Water, water everywhere, but ne’er a drop to drink …

“The owners of Britain’s water companies received almost £5 billion in dividends over the past five years, according to analysis by a union campaigning for renationalisation.

The GMB union said shareholders had “pocketed eye-watering sums” from the privatised water industry, which it called an “abject failure”, including a further £1.4 billion in the form of interest on loans.

Industry returns are in the spotlight after Labour vowed to renationalise the industry and after Southern Water was fined a record £126 million in penalties last week after systematically covering up sewage leaks over seven years.

There are 17 water companies in England and Wales. Three are listed — Severn Trent, United Utilities and South West Water, part of Pennon Group — and the rest privately owned.

The GMB analysis calculates £4.7 billion in dividends were paid out to shareholders between 2014 and 2018, including more than £800 million last year. It counted a further £264 million in other payouts such as share buybacks. It said owners of the water companies had also received £1.4 billion in interest on loans and had accrued a further £520 million in interest, giving a total of almost £6.9 billion it said shareholders had made.

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, said: “If you needed a poster child for abject failure, the privatisation of the water industry is it. Bills up 40 per cent above inflation, billions of litres of water lost in leaks as families face hose-pipe bans and all the while shareholders are trousering billions in profit.”

A spokesman for Water UK, the industry’s representative body, said: “Privatisation of the water and sewerage industry has achieved a great deal over the last 30 years — nearly £160 billion of investment, a healthier environment, better water quality and improved service to customers.

“Customers are now five times less likely to suffer from supply interruptions, eight times less likely to suffer from sewer flooding and 100 times less likely to have low water pressure than when the industry was in government hands. Nationalisation would risk turning back the clock to the days when service and quality failures were far more common, and cash-strapped governments wouldn’t pay for the improvements needed.”

Mr Roache called it a “complete disgrace” and urged the government to do “something about it”.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)