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Morning Briefing: Universal Credit ‘Orwellian’, says former High Court judge

The Universal Credit system is “Orwellian” and is repeatedly failing to meet its legal obligations, a former High Court judge has said, and the rest of today’s housing news

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Morning Briefing: Universal Credit ‘Orwellian’, says former High Court judge #ukhousing

Sir Stephen Sedley, who also worked as a judge of the Court of Appeal between 1999 and 2011, told The Guardian that the current system has a tendency to create and exacerbate misery for claimants, while professing to be rescuing them from hardship.

The comments accompanied a report by the Child Poverty Action Group, which revealed that hundreds of claimants risk falling into debt because the system had miscalculated their monthly benefit payments.

The charity criticised the “opaque way” in which individuals’ monthly payments were calculated and said the lack of information for claimants was awful in some cases.

The Times runs a piece looking at research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) that has found that private housebuilding is currently propping up the country’s construction sector.

The report found that 21% of respondents to RICS’ quarterly construction survey claimed that there had been a rise in workloads in private housing.

This compared with just 9% of respondents who said that they had seen an increase in workloads across the industry.

Speaking to the paper, Jeffrey Matsu, senior economist at RICS, said that Brexit-related uncertainty had taken its toll on business investment. He also said that the financial constraints on companies continued to impede growth as lenders responded to events such as the collapse of Carillion.

In mainland Europe, scuffles between police and protestors have broken out in Berlin at a march where thousands of the city’s residents came out to complain about the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Reuters reports that protesters in the east of the city were targeting new property developments, in what was seen as a protest against gentrification.

In Scottish news, Wishaw and District Housing Association will allow tenants to vote on a proposed merger with Edinburgh-based housing association Trust, per the Daily Record.

In other Scottish news, Scottish Construction Now reports that the country’s government has made an additional £80m available over the next two years to help councils deliver more affordable homes.

The new fund will include an extra £42m this year to be spent on affordable housing, and another £38m in 2020/21.

Leading housing charity Shelter has criticised a deal by Perth and Kinross Council to allow a construction firm to “buy out” its obligation to build affordable homes.

Local paper The Courier reports that a contractor paid the council £17,500 to get out of building affordable homes at the 58-unit development in East Perthshire.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said that the sum would not come close to covering the cost of providing land for affordable homes. However, the government said that there was already enough affordable housing in the area.

On social media

Nathaniel Barker, one of Inside Housing’s reporters, was at Tai 2019, Wales’ biggest housing conference, yesterday. Here are some highlights from his day:

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