Cornish coastal village shows the way on second homes

“Mevagissey is following St Ives’ lead to stop too many properties becoming second homes.

Residents of the Cornish fishing port voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting the “primary residence policy” in yesterday’s referendum, making it the fifth place in the county to decide that newly-built homes should only be available to people living there permanently.

A third of eligible voters turned out – 90% voted in favour.

When you get up to one in four of the properties being a second home, you can’t deny the right of people to sell to additional homeowners. All we’re trying to do is to discourage the development of more second homes by putting this restriction on new builds.”
Garth Shephard
Mevagissey Parish Councillor”

“Fury as housing associations redevelop and sell affordable homes”

“Housing associations have made at least £82.3m from auctioning homes in five London boroughs since 2013, according to figures seen by the Guardian. Analysis by the Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, shows that Westminster, Brent, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea sold 153 properties at auction through Savills estate agents – with more than half in Westminster where sales totalled £36.4m. The true figures are likely to be much higher as the data only covers sales made by one agency. The auctions are part of a wider trend of some housing associations selling off social housing in expensive central London to fund new developments, which tenants say are unaffordable or far removed from their families, schools and work.

Buck says: “I’m dealing with a family who are statutorily overcrowded and in the highest medical priority and I haven’t been able to get them moved in over eight years. That’s because housing associations [in general] say they don’t have the stock in the area and yet they’re still selling off homes.”

Nationally, sales of housing association social homes to the private sector have more than tripled since 2001, with 3,891 social homes sold in 2016. Overall, more than 150,000 homes for social rent have been lost since 2012. …”

“Pensioner households paying out nearly £9bn in income tax per year”

“Households with one or more people who are past state pension age are paying out nearly £9bn in income tax a year, analysis has found.

Of the 8.7m so called pensioner households in the UK, 1.4m of them contain a worker generating taxable income.

The research by pension and investment provider Aegon found that the number of people still working past state pension age had increased from 12 per cent in 1997/98 to 17 per cent today.

A growth in people working past pension age was accompanied by a rise in average earnings, as pensioner couples saw their weekly wages after inflation increase 30 per cent from £410 to £534 today.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon said:

“Gone are the days when reaching state pension age meant a total end to work. Many people are choosing to keep working and earning, perhaps by cutting back gradually on the amount of work they do, even once they’ve started taking their pension.

These people are contributing significant amounts to the nation’s finances through the tax they generate while also helping the broader economy through their work.”

Cameron also said that despite the current climate being favourable for pensioners, with many living on decent incomes, this “golden era for pensioners” could not last forever.

“Both final salary pensions and inflation busting increases to the state pension are unlikely to continue indefinitely so it’s important that society is changing with more people able to choose to work past traditional retirement ages,” he added.”

“Bank Closures Can Be Devastating For Disabled Customers – Where Is Their Support?”

Dr Lisa Cameron SNP MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow:

“… Whilst it is true that online banking has opened the doors for many, it has also shut the door to others. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability, which I chair, has recently published research revealing the devastating impact bank closures have on disabled customers, for whom the alternate services are found to be both inaccessible and inadequate.

The banking industry must stop leaving disabled people behind as they move forward with their plans. This is a customer-led industry, and this industry is simply failing a sector of society. I’m inclined to point out that if this group of customers were perhaps, wealthy business owners, the service they offer would improve remarkably quicker.

90% of disabled people surveyed in the Disability APPG’s inquiry reported that their use of bank services had already suffered due to the branch closures. Some now have to travel for up to three hours to be able to do their banking at an accessible branch, and others reported being forced to be more reliant on family and friends, losing a sense of their independence. One even said: “My wife has to find time off work to take me [to the bank]”.

These problems are only going to increase as branch closures continue to roll out. While online banking may be presented as a solution for those with mobility disabilities, it is not a complete solution by itself. 93% of respondents to the APPG’s survey felt that online banking services are not a “sufficiently accessible and a satisfactory alternative”. For those with visual, cognitive, memory and learning disabilities, the complexity of online banking and the need to remember passwords and “memorable information” make it overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Many elderly disabled people also lack the necessary internet connection and technical skills. And, of course, doing something like paying in cash to your account still requires an actual branch anyway.

The overall image is that the move to online banking cannot be made in its entirety. Accordingly, some banks have also started to offer mobile bank replacement services – vans that travel around local areas providing a temporary replacement for areas without a permanent branch. According to the inquiry, however, only 12% of survey respondents who had experience with the mobile replacements found them to be an appropriate replacement.

Firstly, the vans used for this mobile service were frequently described as inaccessible, having large stairs that require individuals to climb into. Secondly, many respondees reported that the services offered by these mobile replacements are “extremely limited”, and that the vans did not stay long enough in each place.

All in all, the inquiry indicates that disabled people are significantly and disproportionately disadvantaged by the closure of physical bank branches. For some disabled people, anything other than face-to-face banking is an impracticable and stressful experience, and the only real solution is to retain access to physical bank branches or provide, well-located alternatives with the full range of services.

This failure to account for disabled people is not only a disservice to valuable customers, but may also breach the law. The Equality Act 2010 requires public bodies not to put disabled people at a “significant disadvantage” if they can avoid this by taking “reasonable” steps. The closures, for many respondents, cause extensive difficulties and have left them isolated and dependent, unable to access vital services that are important to everybody, and the alternatives provided are clearly insufficient.

Disability groups have done the job of the UK Government once again and proposed solutions to this problem; community banks. These accessible and well-located buildings can house a number of different banks under one roof, reducing the costs to the banks to keep branches open. Whilst banks in competition with one another might resist such plans, perhaps the needs of the customer for once could take precedent.”

“Ageism widespread in UK, study finds”

“Ageism is rife in Britain, with millennials holding the most negative attitudes to ageing, according to a study.

A quarter of millennials believe it is normal for older people to be unhappy and depressed, while 40% believe there is no way to escape dementia as you get older, research from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) shows.

Across all age groups, almost a third of people surveyed agreed with the statement “being lonely is just something that happens when people get old”, while two thirds had no friends with an age gap of 30 years or more.

“Ageist attitudes abound in society and have a major impact on the public’s health, and yet they are rarely treated with the seriousness they deserve,” the RSPH chief executive, Shirley Cramer, said.

“Too often ageist behaviour and language is trivialised, overlooked, or even served up as the punchline to a joke – something we would rightly not tolerate with other forms of prejudice.” …

The RSPH also called for the Independent Press Standards Organisation to include age in the editors’ code of practice to prevent discrimination.

“[T]he common media portrayal of older people blocking beds could be framed instead as ‘older people trapped in hospital because they can’t afford the care they need when they go home’, states the report, About That Age Old Question, which surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK.

“[W]e need realistic portrayals of ageing that overall reflect both the challenges and opportunities in later life.”

The report recommends housing nurseries and care homes under the same roof.

“Intergenerational contact and care offer huge benefits for the groups involved, but also to the facilities operators,” it says, adding that it was an opportunity for local authorities and private providers to save costs “as well as offering genuine wellbeing benefits to ‘young’ and ‘old’ customers alike”.”

Shock revelation suggests the NHS’s ‘new model of care’ is more about switching intermediate care from community hospitals to ‘block bookings’ in private nursing homes – saving costs and freeing up assets

Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance councillor for Seaton and Colyton, Devon County Council:

Press release:

“There was a staggering revelation yesterday at Health Scrutiny from Liz Davenport, Chief Executive of South Devon and Torbay NHS Foundation Trust, that they had made ‘block bookings of intermediate care beds in nursing homes’ when they introduced the ‘new model of care’. South Devon has closed community hospitals in Ashburton, Bovey Tracey, Paignton and Dartmouth and is currently consulting on the closure of Teignmouth – where I spoke at a rally last Saturday.

The ‘new model of care’ is supposed to mean more patients treated in their own homes, and there does seem to have been an increase in the numbers of patients sent straight home from the main hospitals.

But the idea that all patients can be transferred directly from acute hospitals to home is untrue. There is still a need for the stepping-down ‘intermediate care’ traditionally provided by community hospitals – the only difference is that now it’s being provided in private nursing homes instead.

It’s likely to be cheaper to use private homes, because staff don’t get NHS conditions, and crucially it frees up space in the hospitals so that the CCGs can declare buildings ‘surplus to requirements’ and claim the Government’s ‘double your money’ bonus for asset sales. It seems NEW Devon CCG has also made extensive use of nursing home beds, but we don’t yet know if there were ‘block bookings’.

However the private nursing home solution may not last – DCC’s chief social care officer, Tim Golby, reported that nursing homes are finding it difficult to keep the registered nurses they need to operate, and some are considering reversion to residential care homes.

This may be where the South Devon trust’s long term solution comes in – it had already been reported that it is looking to partner with a private company in a potential £100m dealwhich will include creating community hubs that contain inpatient beds.

The new model of care is also about privatisation.”

“Persimmon pay panel chief unable to tell MPs firm’s average pay”

“Persimmon’s executive pay row was reignited on Wednesday after the head of the housebuilder’s remuneration committee said she did not know how much the average worker was paid by the firm.

MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee were stunned by the admission from Marion Sears, who was giving evidence after Persimmon angered shareholders earlier in the year by handing its chief executive Jeff Fairburn a £75m bonus.

“The average … I don’t have that figure to my finger tips,” Sears told MPs, when asked by the committee chair, Rachel Reeves, what average pay was.

“You’re chair of the remuneration committee at Persimmon aren’t you? And you don’t know what average pay is, as chair of the remuneration committee?” asked an incredulous Reeves.

After the meeting had concluded, the Labour MP tweeted that Sears’ lack of knowledge was a disgrace.

She added in a statement: “Executive pay at Persimmon is a tale of corporate greed and incompetent pay management, financed on the back of a tax-payer funded housing scheme [help to buy].

“Persimmon paid out huge bonuses to the men at the top of the firm and yet this morning we have heard that Persimmon are unable to tell us how much average workers at the company are paid.”

A spokesman for the firm later confirmed the average salary at the firm is £35,600.

During the bruising session, Sears also appeared confused about the sum Fairburn received last year, at first answering “£675,000”. Prompted by Reeves to give the total pay figure, she said it was “about £45m”. The total figure shown in the 2017 annual report and accounts was £47.1m.

When asked by Reeves whether or not Persimmon was a living wage employer, Sears said yes, but then went on to clarify that the FTSE 100 firm was not accredited by the living wage foundation. …”