Owen Hart's discussions
DM uncovers another corker:
Surely it's about time child benefit was capped? How long is the taxpayer willing to provide perverse incentives for the feckless to breed and then demand ever larger houses at their expense?
"How thousands of council homes go to foreigners"
A classic DM article without doubt. What a soft touch basket case of a country we have become.
However how much of this is grandstanding. Local connection is used by many LAs. That does not get them around the law however. Will Shapps bite the bullet and reform the definition of statutory homelessness that the second and third worlders use all the time to get an allocation? The noises are right but without legal reform, they are precisely that and nothing will change on the ground...
Forum members are doubtless aware of the recent epidemic of attack dogs emanating from social housing estates up and down the country and the lack of powers available to tackle this scourge.
The Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group (DDASG) is a wide-ranging group representing animal welfare, local authorities and veterinary professional organisations which includes representation from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Wandsworth Borough Council and Wood Green Animal Shelter.
DDASG has persuaded Lord Redesdale to table a Private Members Bill in Westminster which provides for the following
• Repeal of the Dogs Act 1871, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997 including breed specific legislation The police expend significant resources on enforcement of the Dangerous Dogs Act in the UK, with large amounts of money being spent on the seizure and kennelling of dogs simply because of their breed type - many of these dogs are returned to their owners once proved to be of good temperament. Removing breed specific legislation would allow resources to be used more effectively elsewhere, and preferably concentrated on those dogs showing unprovoked aggression. • Introduce Dog Control Notices The vast majority of dog attacks are a result of the irresponsible actions of dog owners, who have either not taken the time and trouble to train their dog correctly, or have indeed trained them to behave aggressively. Dog Control Notices will apply to all types of dog that have acted dangerously without provocation, caused an injury to another animal, caused harm, or caused a person to reasonably believe it will cause harm and aims to prevent serious incidents of aggression occurring by allowing preventative action. • Apply to both public AND private places A large proportion of dog attacks occur in the home and involve a dog that is known to the victim. The Dog Control Bill will make attacks on private property a criminal offence. Greater responsibility is therefore placed on owners to ensure that their dogs are not out of control in any place.
Sign the petition at
It's got nearly 9500 names, around 9000 more than IH's petition on the HB reforms....
Very good article on the laughable Simon Hughes' recent outburst by LibDem think tank Liberal Vision. They should just boot him out of party and tell him to go and join the SWP instead:
"Less than a week after criticising the Prime Minister for making up housing policy on the hoof without consulting coalition channels, Simon Hughes is campaigning for an option for Councils to suspend the Right to Buy scheme. This would be a bad idea.
Right to Buy, the facility for Council tenants to buy their homes, before it was a Conservative Policy was supported by the Liberal Party, whose 1950 manifesto states:
“Housing: The main plan is, first to get people decent living conditions and then to give them the chance to become owner-occupiers, even in Council houses and flats”
Simon’s motivation is to ensure more Council homes remain Council homes in order to maintain the social pool and reduce waiting lists.
But stopping the right to buy does not increase the housing stock, it just increases the barriers between the social and private sector, ensuring that it is harder for aspirational tenants to move on. The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for some time for there to be more links between RTB receipts and new build or regeneration.
Right to Buy also ensures mixed communities. Tenants sell on, young professionals and families move in. Ending the scheme would means needs-assessments were the only condition for tenancy. A recipe for concentrating social problems.
I think it strange that some self-defined social liberals campaign rigorously for mixing pupils in schools through lotteries and LEA selection, but think in housing communities are better segregated. Make your minds up.
Simon’s long-term vision is also questionable. Bermondsey already has one of the highest percentages of social housing in the country, the London Borough of Southwark is the UK’s largest landlord. That means it also has some of the highest demand for more.
But the conclusion of endlessly responding to that demand is to continually increase the percentage, concentrating social problems and poverty across entire areas not just estates. That in turn reduces money coming into an area, spent in the area, local employment and the tax base.
In that regard, as has been said previously, what Bermondsey needs most is mixed housing and business parks as part of a sustainable economy strategy. Diversity and opportunities not homogeneity and subsidies.
What Simon’s proposal would mean instead is ongoing polarisation. Aspirational Councils wouldn’t use the power, left-leaning Councils would see it as an opportunity to gerrymander wards. How Bermondsey got into such a mess in the first place."
Interesting stat in the DM coverage of the HB capping proposals:
"In total, 3.3million tenants- 70 per cent of housing benefit recipients- live in the social sector at an annual cost of more than £12billion."
Have the Tories missed the elephant in the room here? £12Bn of the £20Bn annual cost of HB is spent in the RSL sector not the PSL. Surely the next step has to be doing something about the RSL slice of the HB pie? Making work a condition of new RSL tenancies like H&F are doing with one third of their allocations seems a no-brainer here...
Everyone who reads Inside Housing needs to read this article. It written by a housing officer from a London HA and perfectly illustrates the reality behind everything I have ever written about the corruption and venality generated by so-called "needs" based allocation. This comes comes straight from the horses mouth and is essential reading - especially for Eric Pickles Special Advisors:
The Politics Show this Sunday had a piece on Barnet's move to merit based allocation:
"The council say their proposals are designed to recognise positive contributions to society and improve the mix of people who live on estates, so that they do not become dumping grounds or magnets for crime and deprivation....Barnet are not the first local authority in the capital to try and improve the mix of people on their estates.
Labour-run Newham runs a "first come, first served" policy, meaning that apart from those in the most desperate need, like women fleeing domestic violence, you get a home according to how long you have been waiting for one. Conservative Hammersmith and Fulham reserves homes for people in work, so long as they don't earn more than £40k a year.
Watch the piece on i-player at about 56 mins in:
Well done Barnet!
Check out this charmer:
Another one of those "only in England" stories...
Another totally expected story from an Inner London borough with 48% "social" (sic) housing allocated under the wonderful "needs" based allocation system:
10 pitbulls are seized in 'puppy farm' raid
19 August 2009
TEN pitbull terriers have been seized by police in a "dangerous dog" raid - including nine pups that could be worth thousands of pounds.
Around 15 police officers swooped on a suspected "puppy farm" in a ground-floor flat in Avenell Road, Highbury, just after 7am last Wednesday.
They found a three-week old litter of nine pit bulls and their adult mother.
The owner was unable to control the adult pitbull during the commotion and an expert handler from the Metropolitan Police's new Status Dogs Unit was bitten on the arm as the adult dog launched an attack to protect its pups.
The officer, who asked not to be identified, said: "The owner has wound the dog up and not got it on a lead. It was getting ready to lock its jaw but I managed to get it off."
Police also found substances thought to be cannabis and crack cocaine and two top-of-the range bicycles believed to be stolen.
They were acting on a tip-off from a builder employed by Islington Council, who claimed he was attacked by the dog as he carried out repairs at the flat last month.
Officers say the puppies - worth between £700 and £800 each - would probably have been bought by criminals to be used in organised dog fights or for protection and intimidation by drug dealers.
Sergeant Dean Akinola, who set up Operation Bark last month to target a rise in dog attacks in Islington, said breeding pitbulls was "a nice little earner" for people who are "probably on benefits".
He said: "Some of the dogs are forced to have several litters. The owners breed them to fight and for protection. I know of a drug dealer on my ward [Hillrise] who's using them for protection and intimidation, trained to his command."
It is not known whether the seized adult pitbull terrier will be destroyed. The fate of all 10 dogs will be decided in court.
Sergeant Akinola said: "It's a bit of a grey area. The dog is a banned breed but if the owner gets it chipped, neutered and insured and it's kept on a muzzle, he can keep it. However it's unlikely he can keep eight pups. It's entirely up to the court."
The Status Dogs Unit was joined by a specialist break-in team for the raid, as well as by community police officers and uniformed police from Highbury East Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
Inspector Andy Mariner, who is in charge of Safer Neighbourhoods Teams in the north of the borough, said: "It's surprising the limited knowledge of officers when it comes to dangerous dogs. But now Dean's pushing the message out with Operation Bark, Islington is top of the game. We
Further to the commendable "The New Blue" research piece at:
"A post-Budget YouGov/Daily Telegraph poll put the Conservatives 18 points ahead of Labour. With the prospect of a Tory government looming large, the symbolic importance of a Conservative-controlled capital is not lost on the national party. For anyone keen to know what the next government’s housing policy might be, London has become the Petri dish to examine Conservative power in the 21st century....London is culturing the spores of a radical new Conservative housing politics. Last week Stephen Greenhalgh, the influential leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council, published a blueprint for sweeping deregulation of social housing"
That 76 page blueprint, published by Localis and entitled "Principles for social housing reform" is available here:
Given that the chance of still having a Labour government this time next year is about the same as getting hit by a meteorite, readers may wish to consider what the next Government is thinking now.
The document is well argued and complete with an appendix of all the necessary legislation that will need to be amended or repealed to make it happen. Homework has been done.
An excellent history of social housing is also provided (which may be revisionist or not). All in all a potential white paper in the making and it would be surprising if some, if not much, of the content became policy sometime in the next 10 years.
Definately essential reading for future social housing policy observers. All informed comments welcome, so please do read it before commenting...!
Islington Leaseholder Action Group