“Help to Buy mess as taxpayers subsidise thousands of homes for couples earning more than £100,000”

“Thousands of wealthy families are taking advantage of a taxpayer scheme designed to help struggling first-time buyers get on the housing ladder.

More than 6,700 households with incomes over £100,000 have bought homes using Help to Buy, according to the government’s own figures.

The scheme provides taxpayer cash to people seeking a mortgage. But despite its original aim to help people who could not afford big deposits, nearly one in 20 households with support have six-figure incomes.

And families with incomes of £50,000 or more have now received 40 per cent of loans, according to the report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Of the families who used the scheme, 136,700 were first-time buyers. A fifth of families using the scheme were not first-time buyers.

There is no maximum income on the Help to Buy scheme, which applies to new-build homes.

The scheme allows house hunters to purchase new-builds worth up to £600,000 using deposits of only 5pc – or £30,000.

The Government loans up to another 20pc interest-free for five years – or £120,000. In London, the taxpayer loan can reach 40pc of the value of the property – or £240,000.

When the house is sold, the government takes the same proportion of the sale price. If it goes up, the government makes money. If it goes down, the taxpayer makes a loss.

Campbell Robb, Joseph Rowntree Foundation chief executive, said a lack of cash invested in affordable housing meant more pressure on families forced to rent.

A government spokesman said: ‘The majority of those using our Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme had household incomes of £50,000 or less.’ “

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6068919/Help-Buy-mess-taxpayers-subsidise-thousands-homes-couples-earning-100-000.html

Consultation: new case law a game-changer

Owl reported all these cases as the happened but it is useful to see them all in one place.

Consultation is going to have to mean consultation!

Four JR judgments in fifteen days with profound implications for public consultations! Almost every current public consultation – or those under preparation might be affected by one or more of these important judgments.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/appeal-over-criminal-legal-aid-decision-still-on-the-cards/5067256.article

“Former Carillion boss takes reins of UK’s HS2 project”

Owl says: The breath-taking brazenness of it is so shocking.

“Former Carillion boss Mark Davies has been appointed as the managing director for the HS2 joint venture between Balfour Beatty and VINCI.

The project is one of the world’s largest construction projects with billions of pounds-worth of contracts put up for the first phase between West Midlands and London.

Davies joined Carillion in 2008 and rose to managing director of its UK Infrastructure business until the firm went bust in January 2018.

The liquidation cost hundreds of jobs and was the most drastic procedure in UK insolvency law, with liabilities of almost £7 billion.

MPs claimed the demise was down to “recklessness, hubris & greed”, with directors focusing on bonus pay-outs to senior executives even as the firm teetered on the brink of collapse.

But that hasn’t stopped Davies heading up contracts for Lot N1 and N2 of the HS2 project, between the Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel to Delta Junction / Birmingham Spur and from the Delta Junction to the West Coast Main Line tie-in.

Combined, these two contracts are worth approximately £2.5 billion.

The joint venture is also currently bidding for further railways systems packages and Old Oak Common station, together valued at £3.8 billion.”

https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/former-carillion-boss-takes-reins-of-uks-hs2-project/15/08/

“Chief exec suspended over election failures leaves council by mutual consent”

Amongst other things, our CEO “misplaced” 6,000 voters by using inadequate means of registering them and had to explain himself (not terribly well in Owl’s opinion) to a Parliamentary committee:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/10/14/official-transcript-of-eddc-ceo-evidence-to-parliamentary-committee-on-voter-engagement/

“A chief executive who was suspended over failures in the running of the 2017 general election process has left by mutual consent.

John Sellgren was suspended from his post at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council in November 2017 after a review by Andrew Scallon, of the Association of Electoral Administrators, which found that more than 500 postal voters were disenfranchised, and close to 1,000 potential electors not included on the register.

A statement from the council on Sellgren’s departure said: “We would like to place on record our thanks for John’s efforts during his seven years with us. The council recently had its first all-out elections and the new administration has an ambitious manifesto and many significant projects to deliver in the years ahead.

“With this in mind the authority will now consider what management leadership arrangements to put in place to support this programme.”

Sellgren said: “I have enjoyed my time at Newcastle and send my best wishes to the dedicated team of staff and partners with whom it has been a pleasure to have worked.”

The council said it wanted to point out that there had been no additional payments made to Mr Sellgren.

Labour’s Paul Farrelly held the Newcastle-under-Lyme seat by 30 votes with 21,124 to his Conservative rival’s 21,094.

The Scallon report was commissioned shortly after the election when claims were made that some students at Keele University and postal voters were unable to vote despite following the correct procedures.
Some said they were turned away from polling stations despite having polling cards with them, and others who said they had registered to vote by the deadline were turned away for not having provided extra information required.

Scallon’s report said: “Human error and judgement and a lack of knowledge were responsible for the things that went wrong and led to the disenfranchisement of a significant number of people, raising questions about the mandate of the candidate declared elected as Newcastle-under-Lyme’s member of Parliament.”

He noted inadequate performance by Mr Sellgren (as acting returning officer/electoral registration officer) and consultants, worsened by a lack of experience among elections office staff and over-reliance on a software system, which was not properly managed.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36393%3Achief-exec-suspended-over-election-failures-leaves-council-by-mutual-consent&catid=59&Itemid=27

“New Zealand bans sales of homes to [many] foreigners”

It can be done.

“New Zealand’s parliament has banned many foreigners from buying existing homes in the country – a move aimed at making properties more affordable.

The ban only applies to non-residents. Australians and Singaporeans are exempt because of free-trade deals.

New Zealand is facing a housing affordability crisis which has left home ownership out of reach for many.

Low interest rates, limited housing stock and immigration have driven up prices in recent years.

Is it a total ban?

No, only non-residents are affected by the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which was passed in a 63-57 vote on Wednesday.

They are now banned from purchasing most types of homes – but they will be able to make limited investments in new apartments in large developments.
Foreigners with residency status in New Zealand – as well as non-resident Australian and Singaporean nationals – are not affected by the ban….”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-45199034

“Fears seafront consultation internet portal could stop third of town having their say”

“Concerns have been raised that plans for an online portal for consultation on the vision for Exmouth seafront could leave 30 per cent of the town unable to have their say.

Hemingway Designs has been tasked with coming up with a vision for ‘phase three’ of the Exmouth seafront regeneration scheme and it was revealed at a town council meeting the seaside specialists will soon be launching an internet consultation website.

At the council’s August meeting, concerns were raised that if this was the only form of consultation, nearly a third of residents in Exmouth would be left unable to have their say.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has since said there will be hard copies available for those without access to computers.

Speaking at the meeting, cllr Lynne Elson said: “My concern is that the majority of comments will be through the online portal.

“More than 30 per cent of residents in Exmouth don’t have access to online and if they do as suggested by EDDC and ‘go to the library’ they will have to pay as they will exceed the time allowed.”

Cllr Tim Dumper added: “We do need other ways of consulting.

“In the past East Devon (district council) hasn’t always covered itself in glory when it comes to consultation. “This time things are going very well.

“I wouldn’t like to let those 30 per cent or so down. Particularly involving residents who feel very strongly about our seafront and I think it would be wrong not to involve them fully in any consultation.”

A spokeswoman for EDDC said: “Hemingway Design will shortly be launching their survey to hear people’s views and ideas for this piece of Devon’s seaside.

“It will be easy to complete as you can do it online through the portal that Hemingway Design is setting up.

“When the survey is launched if you need access to a computer then you will be able to use the ones that we have in Exmouth Town Hall reception for free or paper copies will, of course, be available.

“The survey is being finalised at the moment and will be available soon.

“There will be an announcement to that effect.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/hemingway-designs-consultation-portal-plans-for-seafront-development-revealed-1-5653129

Social housing: sticking plaster on a haemorrhage

“The Government’s long awaited social housing green paper has concentrated on improving relations between residents’ and landlords but has disappointed councils by offering no new powers to support house building.

Among the main proposals in A new deal for social housing are publication of key performance indicators to allow residents to compare landlords, a revived stock transfer programme, a right-to-buy exercisable in stages and more effective resolution of complaints.

Judith Blake, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, said: “This green paper is a step towards delivering more social homes but it is only a small step, compared with the huge and immediate need for more genuinely affordable homes.

“The Government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils, across the country, to borrow to build once more.”

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr – who represents housing associations – said: “Our members fully share the Government’s commitment to ensuring tenants get the quality services they need – and that they can hold their landlords to account if they don’t.”

He added: “Without significant new investment in the building of more social housing, it is very hard to see how it can be a safety net and springboard for all the people who desperately need it.” …”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36407%3Acouncil-concern-at-lack-of-new-powers-in-green-paper-to-support-housebuilding&catid=60&Itemid=28