“Labour would rip up definition of affordable housing, Corbyn says”

“A Labour government would rip up the government’s definition of affordable housing and instead bring in a measure linked to people’s incomes, Jeremy Corbyn will say on Thursday.

A report, Housing for the Many, accuses ministers of stretching the term affordable to breaking point to include homes let at up to 80% of market rents – more than £1,500 a month in some areas – and homes for sale up to £450,000. “It has become a deliberately malleable phrase, used to cover up a shift in government policy towards increasingly expensive and insecure homes,” it says.

The Labour leader and John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, set out the party’s plans to link affordability to people’s incomes on tenures including social rent, living rent and low-cost ownership, in the 40-page green paper, to be launched on Thursday.

Labour says one “common yardstick” is whether rent or a mortgage costs more than one-third of a household’s after-tax income.

The green paper says Labour is keen to help not just the poorest in society, but also “the ‘just coping’ class in Britain today who do the jobs we all rely on – IT workers, HGV drivers, joiners, warehouse managers, lab technicians, nurses, teaching assistants, call centre supervisors, shop staff. They are the backbone of the British economy and heart of our public services.”

Britain faces an acute housing affordability crisis, with around 1.7m private rented households currently paying more than a third of their income in rent and 1m owner-occupiers paying more than a third of their income on their mortgage.

Corbyn will say: “When housing has become a site of speculation for a wealthy few, leaving the many unable to access a decent, secure home, something has gone seriously wrong. We need to restore the principle that a decent home is a right owed to all, not a privilege for the few. And the only way to deliver on that right for everyone, regardless of income, is through social housing.”

The paper includes a series of other measures, including creating a new Department of Housing and an independent watchdog, along the lines of the Office for Budget Responsibility, to assess the government’s policies and ensure they are delivered.

A Labour government would also end the right to buy, which the Cameron government extended to cover tenants in social housing, risking the depletion of the supply of social housing. Labour would also lift the cap on borrowing by local authorities, to allow councils to build more social housing themselves.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “Labour would kick away the housing ladder from everyone living in council houses by taking away their right to buy, just as Labour did in Wales. Under the Conservatives, we are investing £9bn to build more good-quality homes that people can afford and have seen the highest number of new homes being built for a decade.”

Healey will say: “The housing market is broken and current Conservative housing policy is failing to fix it. We have to build more affordable homes to make homes more affordable.”


Swire sees the light on hospital beds (because it could be a big vote loser?)

Owl is concerned that local MP Hugo Swire is very, very slow in the uptake. After resting on his laurels by seeing community beds in his constituency staying while those in Neil Parish’s patch of EDDC have all gone (except for Tiverton – not part of East Devon which can’t be closed because it is a PFZi hospital), he finally wakes up and realises that it has left a black hole that will stop many people voting for either of them next time! AND result in people switching their votes to Claire Wright (Independent, East Devon) and maybe Caroline Kolek (Labour, Tiverton and Honiton)!

Sir Hugo Swire said the area’s demographics are 20 years ahead of the national average and it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ the two services should have separate funding.

This comes after Dr Mike Slot raised concerns to Devon’s health watchdog that carers are not available to implement ‘care at home’ – the model the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) moved to after it closed 140 community hospital beds across the county.

Dr Slot said: “The loss of community hospital beds was intended to be offset by increasing the capacity of community care so that patients could be cared for in their own homes.

“This may or may not have been realistic since many of the patients in the hospital system cannot be managed in the community, even with excellent community services.

“However, with or without community hospital beds, it is an excellent idea to expand community services so that all those patients who can be cared for out of hospital can remain at home.

“Unfortunately, there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services to do this job.

“When GPs ring the single point of access number asking for rapid response or night sitting, the carers are not available.”

In a joint statement, the CCG and provider trust the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital acknowledged that recruitment had been ‘challenging’ in a few places, but the bodies were working hard alongside other agencies to address the issues.

A spokeswoman said more than £2.5million had been redirected into growing and strengthening their community teams so more people can be cared for at home.

They added: “A large part of the reinvestment has been to increase the number of nurses, therapists and support workers and in most areas we have successfully recruited the additional staff.”

Social care was brought under the remit of health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the last cabinet reshuffle – a move welcomed by Sir Hugo, who said: “I think in future there will be far greater use of hubs.

“We must look to do the same with social care. It requires brave, strategic thinking. We have to get it right.

“The East Devon demographic is where the country is going to be in 20 years’ time. Sidmouth is even ahead of that. East Devon should be a template – use us as a guinea pig for integration of health and social care.”


Swire’s recent preoccupations: bolshie young people and Nay Pyi Taw

Recent questions and comments in Parliament
see: theyworkforyou.com

It seems that Swire still thinks politics is mired in the Russian revolution and that he is still at the Foreign Office.

Or, is he just toadying up to Boris in case Bojo becomes Leader and has promised great things to (only a select few of) those who might support him in this aim?

Bolshie young people not thinking the Tory way:

“A hundred years ago this month saw the start of the Russian revolution, which unleashed misery and purges against millions of Russian people. Although we are right to remind future generations and younger people about the evils of the past, for example through Holocaust Memorial Day, does my right hon. Friend agree that we owe it to the younger generation to educate them about the warped and failed Marxist-Leninist ideology that continues to unleash misery across the world? People should be very worried about that.”
[Boris Johnson replied in whole-hearted agreement]

Myanmar – Muslims in Burma

Hugo Swire: The hon. Lady makes an extremely good point about nationality, except that the British Government have shown to the Government in Nay Pyi Taw evidence kept in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office referring to a Muslim population in that part of what is now Burma going back many hundreds of years.”

Tories funded by rich few, Labour by poorer many!

Tories funded by big donations from the (very, very rich) few, Labour funded by the (very, very much poorer) many!

“Labour generated 10 times more in party membership fees than the Tories in 2016

Labour received ten times more than the Tories in party membership fees in 2016 as the scale of the difference between the number of rank and file supporters for each was laid bare.

The Conservatives generated £1.5 million in membership fees last year while Labour coffers were boosted to the tune of £14.4 million, according to new figures published by the Electoral Commission.

Meanwhile, the Tories brought in £800,000 through membership in 2015 while the Labour figure was £9.5 million.

The size of the membership money gap between the two parties is likely to reignite speculation about the current size of the Tory party membership after previous claims that it may have dipped below 100,000.

Membership figures for the Conservatives have not been made available since 2013 when the party had about 150,000 paid up supporters.

That figure represented a sizeable reduction on the size of the membership during the 2005 leadership contest when it stood at a reported 253,000.

In stark contrast the most recent estimate of Labour Party membership from March of this year was 517,000.

The cost of standard membership of the Conservative Party costs £25 and £48 for Labour but both parties offer other, less costly membership packages for certain groups of people like young people and armed forces personnel.

The Conservative Party declined to comment on the current size of its membership.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Labour is a mass membership party, proud to be funded by our members and working people.

“It is this broad funding base that makes us the party of ordinary working people, while the Tories increasingly rely on a small pool of super-rich donors.”

While Labour enjoys a huge financial advantage over the Tories on the issue of membership income, it is the Conservatives who are ahead when it comes to donations.

The Tories received almost £19 million in donations in 2016 while Labour received £14.7 million.

In 2015, a general election year, the Tories received about £32 million in donations compared to about £19 million for Labour.

Both Labour and the Tories spent less than what they generated in income in 2016.

Labour’s total income was just shy of £50 million with the party spending about £43 million while the Tories’ total income was just over £28 million with expenditure totalling just under £28 million.

The Liberal Democrats ranked third on the list of party expenditure, spending £7.7 million, followed by the SNP on about £6 million and Ukip with just shy of £3 million.

The SNP spent more than it brought in, recording income of just under £5 million.”


“Most Tory MPs have no link to constituency”

No link here is taken as not having been born or educated within 20 km of the constituency.

Think-tank Demos reveals that 64% of Labour MPs at the last election had strong ties to their areas but only 32% of Tory MPs could make the same claim.

And their research suggests that “voters are becoming less forgiving of political ‘blow-ins’, rejecting them in favour of more local candidates’.

… In all, in 60 of the 70 seats that changed hands, 86% were won by local candidates – 35% higher than the UK average as a whole.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Well, 100% of OUR MPs (Swire and Parish) have no ties to the area and 100% of our MPs choose not to LIVE in their constituencies – Swire preferring Mid-Devon and Parish the Somerset/North Devon border.

Perhaps this is why local-born candidate Independent Claire Wright came so close to winning the last election in East Devon and why Caroline Kolek, who lives in Honiton, made a creditable and credible runner-up to Neil Parish in Tiverton and Honiton.

Our “sitting” MPs might not be so lucky next time and might find themselves sitting in their far away homes permanently!

All you have to do is vote Local! AND as a bonus you would get MPs PASSIONATE to save our local NHS, local education, and local environment.

Who watches over East Devon with its busy absentee MPs?

Neil Parish was re-elected as chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee, beating Tory former London mayoral candidate [and multi-millionaire] Zac Goldsmith.

So, the Honiton and Tiverton constituency will be seeing very little of Parish, especially as he will return to his Somerset home when not in London.

And with Swire terribly busy with his other jobs which bring him in £5,000 a month (directorship of Photo-Me and chairmanship of the Conservative Middle East Council) and retiring to his home in mid-Devon on his days off we are mostly bereft of their company here in East Devon – except for the odd whistle-stop tours and photo opportunities.

That just leaves runner-up general election candidates Claire Wright (Independent, resident of Ottery St Mary) and Caroline Kolek (Labour, resident of Honiton) to watch over East Devon in their frequent absences.

Many might feel that this is the better outcome!


In this election it REALLY DOES matter. No more posts from Owl till tomorrow – so anyone who doesn’t vote can’t blame Owl.

Don’t get it wrong, vote Wright in East Devon.

In Honiton and Tiverton, if you value your NHS, vote tactically or specifically for Kolek.

Exeter councillor goes Green because of “lack of transparency”

Swap Labour for Conservative and East Devon Alliance for Green in East Devon and you have a similar situation – an entrenched old-boys-and-girls power base that needs removing.

“Exeter has its first ever Green Party city councillor following the defection from Labour of Alphington councillor Chris Musgrave. And Cllr Musgrave says he has made the decision as he has become increasingly disillusioned with a ‘small clique making decisions behind closed doors’ and a refusal by the Labour group to accept proper scrutiny in decision making.

Cllr Musgrave says he has been drawn to the Green Party because of their deep-seated commitment to openness and transparency in local government, something he says is ‘in short supply with the current Labour administration.’

He added: “Openness and transparency is in short supply in the local Labour Party. Major decisions are increasingly made by a small clique behind closed doors with the majority of councillors locked out of the process. Whenever I have challenged the Labour Party and Labour-led council on major decisions – which is exactly what I believe I should be doing as an elected Councillor – I have been told in no uncertain terms to be quiet. …”


Labour and Lib Dems fined for election rule breaking – no news on Conservative investigation

“The Liberal Democrats have been hit with a maximum £20,000 fine by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare hundreds of items of campaign spending at the general election.

The watchdog has notified the police of a possible electoral offence after 307 payments totalling £184,676 were found to be missing from the Liberal Democrats’ spending return “without a reasonable excuse”.

In addition, invoices supporting 122 out of the 307 payments were
missing from the return. It found the declaration to the Electoral Commission may have been signed recklessly, as there was evidence indicating some people in the party knew it was incorrect. …

… It comes after Labour was hit with a £20,000 fine in October for similar missing election expenses, including more than £7,000 on the “Ed Stone”.

It found two payments totalling £7,614 missing from the party’s
election return that were spent on the stone tablet on which the then
Labour leader, Ed Miliband, had carved his six key election pledges, promising to display it in the Downing Street rose garden if he won the election. …

… Conservative spending at the election remains under intense scrutiny after a Channel 4 investigation alleged some local spending was allocated to the national account to avoid tight limits for each constituency. About nine police forces have been investigating the accusations of higher-than-permitted spending in a number of marginal seats, which could have helped the Tories gain a majority at the election.”


Labour will not back a progressive alliance – the proof

“… Labour has stuck with the usual protocol. Its candidate is campaigning hard in Richmond Park, leading to fears that he will split the anti-Tory vote. At the local party’s meeting to select the candidate on 4 November, a member called Mike Freedman suggested that proceedings ought to be abandoned. He says he was interrupted by an official sent from the Labour party’s London HQ. “He said: ‘You can’t do that,’” Freedman tells me. “I said: ‘I can.’ He said: ‘Well, I won’t let you. I’ll stop you.’ And he said if we didn’t choose a candidate the party would impose one.” …”