Conservative county councils warn they can’t afford “dementia tax”

“Conservative council leaders have warned that county councils cannot afford to be hit by a £308m rise in care home costs if controversial social care plans dubbed the “dementia tax” go ahead.

Tory-dominated shire councils have warned they cannot afford the extra burden of the manifesto proposal that would offer state support to people with assets of £100,000 or less – a sharp increase on the current £23,250.

The County Councils Network (CCN), which represents the 37 county councils, said new analysis showed raising the threshold would push far more people into state care than local authorities could fund under current budgets. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/17/we-cannot-afford-to-fund-dementia-tax-proposals-councils-warn?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Gambling machines with £100 stake are only allowed in UK”

It is thought the Chancellor is loath to change odds because the gambling industry contributes large sums to the Exchequer (and, coincidentally, of course, to Tory funds by their directors):

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/betting-companies-ladbrokes-corals-fixed-odds-betting-terminals-philip-davies-top-list-of-donations-a7925461.html

Britain is the only developed country to have high street betting shops that allow people to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, according to a report.

The government should cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 because such high stakes destroy jobs, devastate communities and are “highly destructive” to family life, the Conservative think tank Respublica argues.

Phillip Blond, co-author of the report, said: “Conservatives should not support a piece of New Labour legislation that has wrought destruction throughout some of our most disadvantaged communities.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/gambling-machines-with-100-stake-are-only-allowed-in-uk-mm3x3l9kw

Tick-box “consultations”

“Consultations are often a legal requirement for government departments – but this sometimes means they are formulaic and ineffective. In an extract from his report, Creating a democracy for everyone: strategies for increasing listening and engagement by government, Jim Macnamara (University of Technology Sydney/ LSE) looks at some of the failings of government consultation, and the problems with one NHS consultation [NHS Mandate public consultation conducted in October 2015] in particular.”

http://www.democraticaudit.com/2017/10/16/many-government-consultations-are-more-about-meeting-legal-requirements-than-listening/

Exmouth “has too many retirement flats” – what, only Exmouth!

“The number of elderly people moving into new retirement developments in Exmouth is becoming unsustainable, town councillors have warned

Developer McCarthy and Stone is proposing 59 retirement flats on land to the south of Redgate, next to Tesco in Salterton Road.

Members of Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee were asked this week to reconsider plans for the scheme, which they had previously opposed, after additional information was submitted by the developer about why permission should be granted, on subjects including flood risk and land use policy.

However, councillors voted to continue their previous objections, which were on the grounds that site had been allocated as employment land in the East Devon Local Plan, and they felt Exmouth had reached ‘saturation point’ with developments of this type.

Councillor Brenda Taylor said: “All of that land up from Tesco is allocated as employment land.

“We need jobs here. I think we should again refuse it on those grounds.

“Years of work went into the local plan, and for what?

“They have got five or six properties in Exmouth already, and it’s a huge overload on our services.

“We can’t sustain these older people.”

Councillor Maddy Chapman said that an argument by McCarthy and Stone that employment would be provided by the development was not satisfactory.

She said: “When they say they are supplying jobs, and it’s going to be a care home sort of thing, the qualifications of people they employ, you cannot say it is a care home.

“For those number of flats, to say they are going to employ 15 people, you put them on a rota basis, and it’s absolute rubbish.

“Also we’ve got the other retirement flats being built up Drakes Avenue, so we’ve got two lots of flats going up. Who is going to look after all these people?”

Councillor Fred Caygill said: “If it’s not going to be employment land I would rather see affordable housing on the site, rather than I think probably the fifth McCarthy and Stone development in the town, which we cannot sustain.”

EDDC will rule on planning permission.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-can-t-sustain-more-retirement-flats-1-5235760

Telegraph: “There are more than 200,000 homes sitting empty in England – worth a total of £43bn”

“In England there are 200,000 homes that have been sitting empty for more than six months, according to new Government figures. This is equivalent to £43bn worth of housing stock.

In London alone there were 19,845 homes sitting vacant for over six months last year, property that is worth £9.4bn, taking into account average prices.

Kensington and Chelsea has the capital’s highest number of homes which are vacant for more than six months with 1,399 empty, up 8.5pc on last year, and 22.7pc higher than 10 years ago.

This is likely due to the buy-to-leave phenomenon, where wealthy buyers snap up homes as an investment, and leave them empty while waiting for its value to increase.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid downplayed the role of such foreign buyers in exacerbating the housing crisis, saying the problem “isn’t as bad as some people think”. A Savills’ report found that the majority of homes bought by people based overseas were being rented out, rather than left empty. …”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/house-prices/200000-homes-sitting-empty-england-worth-total-43bn/

“Low-income tenants battle soaring rents”

These people are not feckless, work-shy or scroungers – they are trying hard to make ends meet:

Low-income tenants are now spending an average of 28% of their wages on rent, up from 21% in the mid-1990s, new research indicates. They have been hit by substantial cuts to housing benefit, with government support expected to fall “further and further behind” the cost of housing, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Over the same period of time, the proportion of people renting homes privately has increased from 8% to 19%. Average private rents have gone up 33%.

“Renters are paying considerably more for their homes than 20 years ago,” says the IFS analysis, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

“In real terms, the median private rent paid in London was 53% higher in the mid-2010s than in the mid-1990s, while in the rest of the country, it was 29% higher. Those rises mainly occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s (in London) or the early and mid-2000s (elsewhere).
“Meanwhile, social housing rents have been consistently growing in real terms since the mid-1990s. …”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41601455

Number of homeless elderly doubles in 7 years

“The number of elderly people becoming homeless in England has surged by 100 per cent in seven years, figures show.

People over the age of 60 are now twice as likely to register with local councils as homeless than they were seven years ago, with the figure having risen from 1,210 in 2009 to 2,420 last year.

While overall homelessness has increased in the same period, rising by 42 per cent from 41,790 to 59,260, government data shows the figure for elderly people has surged by more than double as much.

The data shows that among the homeless elderly population in 2016, more than half (61 per cent) were over the age of 65, and 21 per cent were over the age of 75. …”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeless-elderly-people-surges-100-seven-years-local-government-association-a7997086.html