3 May 2015
Wow. In one of the latest election leaflets of Andrew George and the Libdems, it says inter alia
“Andrew George and the Liberal Democrats get results. He has:
secured an £800 income tax cut for 22 000 local workers
taken the poorest out of income tax altogether
halved the deficit…
increased the basic state pension…”
He has? He has? Andrew George has halved the deficit and cut taxes and… Wow, and wow again. Well, certainly he has – there’s that phrase again – added to the gaiety of the general election.
Aside from the he has, George’s financial claims are selective.
For a wider account of the impact of Tory Libdem financial changes 2010-2015 read the comprehensive work by the Institute for fiscal studies (IFS). This looks at the impact of tax changes and cuts to benefits on incomes.
The effect of the coalition’s tax and benefit changes on household incomes and work incentives James BROWNE and William ELMING, IFS, January 2015)
The IFS finds: “Low-income working-age households have lost the most as a percentage of their income from tax and benefit changes introduced by the coalition…” (Browne and Elming 2015, Executive summary to the report). Now you can rewrite the leaflet of Andrew George. He has…
26 April 2015
A Tory prime minister
A Tory chancellor, a Tory home secretary, a Tory education secretary, a Tory health secretary, a Tory foreign secretary, a Tory agriculture secretary, a Tory defence secretary, Tories in charge of work and pensions, local government, transport, justice, environment, universities, planning, culture and sport…oh, and you got the bedroom tax and food banks
All propped up by the Liberal Democrats
26 April 2015
The new rates for local housing allowance (LHA, housing benefit for renting in the private sector) for April 2015 to March 2016 are here. (LHA 2015 tables, then tab for table 4 in the spreadsheet.)
Cornwall falls into three broad rental market areas (BRMA) for calculating housing allowance rates: Kernow West; North Cornwall and Devon Borders; and Plymouth. I have put links to maps of the areas below.
20 April 2015
A project collating the excavated evidence for the rural settlement in Roman Britain: it began three years ago and the first part, rural settlement in England, has just been published with more to follow. Details are here.
You can access the list of forty three sites in Cornwall by putting Cornwall in the query search box: then download the text file. The result is a list of Cornwall sites in csv form (translatable into excel) and includes at the end two sites in Devon. The data given includes the type of fieldwork, who undertook it, and the grid reference. The sites are not necessarily Roman as such but rural settlements in Roman Britain.
An excellent project well presented. And free to access. Congratulations and thanks to the authors for their work.
Cornwall : discussed in the papers of the southwest seminar 19 June 2014
16 April 2015
We have a serious housing crisis in Britain. Houses are being built at half the rate that is needed, public housing is desperately short, and private rented housing is in need of reform. In 2013/14 in England we built only a pitiful 30 590 affordable homes for social and affordable rent and 12 130 intermediate affordable homes for rent and ownership (see tables 1b and 1c in Affordable housing supply in England: 2013 to 2014, published October 2014, here).
I’m wary of the political parties’ new found interest in housing. The Labour/Tory/Libdem record in office is appalling and the approaching election seems to over-influence their views; they and the others are profligate with heady numbers and conjured funds. Nevertheless, what Labour and the Conservatives say matters: one of them will be the major party in government in May.
I have already looked at Labour’s views and, oh dear, practicalities and will apart, they are now on the right track and comprehensively embrace both public housing and private rented housing. The Conservatives have had an ideological seizure; their housing policy is a long-term project to diminish public housing and, they hope, catch votes. It will make the shortage of public housing worse. The likely result of the Tory project is that we shall see the stock of public houses in Cornwall shrink and the added shortage will lead to open market house prices and private rent increasing.
The details of the Tory project are not clear but the Tory first part is to compel councils to sell their most expensive council houses as they become vacant. There are about 10 000 council houses in Cornwall and I’m unclear of the exact effect of the Tory policy on that stock. As I understand it – the Tory manifesto has only ninety or so words on the council and housing association aspect of housing – with the money got from the sales, councils will build in cheaper areas replacement public housing, probably at dearer affordable not cheaper social rents, and hopefully in larger numbers than those sold; some of the money will be used in the second part of the Tory plans.
I should say at this point that the Tory record in building replacement houses for those sold is an utter failure. The Thatcher government of the 1980s did not wish to see them replaced and the housing stock available for public rent shrank and that initiated our current shortage. Since 1980 1.88 million public houses and flats have been sold and only 345 000 replacements built. Labour did nothing with effect between 1997-2010 to deal with the Tory stupidity. The Thatcher desire to increase private ownership has been frustrated and a failure: there are proportionately fewer owner occupied houses in England now than when Thatcher was prime minister. The replacement record of the Tory Libdem government since 2010 is, well, unencouraging: see the post I wrote recently about the dire figures. The likely effect of these forced sales is a net loss of council housing stock available to locals wishing to, only able to, rent.
The Tory figures for the amount to be raised by the enforced sales are speculative of course. That’s a courteous way of saying they don’t know how much they would raise.
On top of the loss of council housing the second part of the Tory project will add the compelled sale of housing association social housing at large discounts (up to about £77 000 in Cornwall) to tenants who have been in the house/flat for three years, a random redistribution of public money to the comfortably housed.
There are several problems.
First, these houses belong to housing associations which are not part of the State but independent organisations and often charities. If a Tory government tries to compel them to sell their possessions, they will probably contest that in the courts. Result: uncertainty, which will also affect investors as in the next paragraph. It would be bizarre to see the Tories, the party of private property, seizing others’ properties.
Second, the associations raise money for building more affordable houses based on their assets, the houses they presently own. If those are being seized, investors are likely to be shy of investing. Result: loss of funds, fewer affordable houses built.
Third, if the houses and flats are sold to present tenants, they will not be available to rent as public housing to people on housing waiting lists. Result: a loss of public housing, longer waiting lists. Actually, history suggests that many of them will be sold on and become buy-to-let properties in the private rented sector: there will be a double cost to taxpayers, an initial purchase subsidy and then housing benefits.
Fourth, People will increasingly be pushed towards the private rented sector where rents are higher than in public housing. Tenants will need financial support in paying the rent. Result: a higher bill for housing benefits.
Fifth, The Tory hope is that the funds from the sale of dear council houses will not only build replacement houses but also compensate the housing associations for the loss of their house/flat assets. Some hope.
Sixth, if tenants of housing association properties are to be enabled to buy their house, why should not tenants in private rented housing be similarly enabled? Is it just to exclude them?
Note that many former council houses sold to tenants have been sold on to landlords and are now in the private rented sector and attracting housing benefits for the new private tenants: the double cost to taxpayers I mentioned above.
On benefits, note that the Tories plan to cut them by £12 billion if they win the election. Presumably housing benefit will be in that cut.
Selling the dearest council houses and moving the tenants to replacement houses in poorer areas is in effect cleansing well-heeled areas of the poor and creating and entrenching class apartheid in housing. Public housing will increasingly be seen and stigmatised as housing of last resort for the poor. The Tory housing policy is probably the worst of all the election policies of any party.
There are about 29 000 on Cornwall Council’s housing waiting list.
Right to buy 28 February 2015
10 April 2015
This is a final list at 9 April 2015 of all prospective parliamentary candidates for Cornwall seats at the 7 May 2015 general election. I have indicated the 2010-2015 MPs.
Camborne and Redruth
Conservative: George Eustice MP
Green: Geoff Garbett
Labour: Michael Foster
Liberal Democrat: Julia Goldsworthy
MK: Loveday Jenkin
UKIP: Robert Smith
Conservative: Scott Mann
Green: Amanda Pennington
Labour: John Whitby
Liberal Democrat: Dan Rogerson
MK: Jerry Jefferies
UKIP: Julie Lingard
South East Cornwall
Conservative: Sheryll Murray MP
Green: Martin Corney
Independent: George Trubody
Labour: Declan Lloyd
Liberal Democrat: Phil Hutty
MK: Andrew Long
UKIP: Bradley Monk
St Austell and Newquay
Conservative: Steve Double
Green: Steve Slade
Labour: Deborah Hopkins
Liberal Democrat: Stephen Gilbert MP
MK: Dick Cole
UKIP: David Mathews
St Ives and Isles of Scilly
Conservative: Derek Thomas
Green: Tim Andrewes
Labour: Cornelius Olivier
Liberal Democrat: Andrew George MP
MK: Rob Simmons
UKIP: Graham Calderwood
Truro and Falmouth
Conservative: Sarah Newton MP
Green: Karen Westbrook
Independent: Loic Rich
Labour: Stuart Roden
Liberal Democrat: Simon Rix
MK: Stephen Richardson
National Health Action : Rik Evans
Principles of politics: Stanley Guffogg
UKIP: John Hyslop
9 April 2015
The Tory Libdem coalition has been a nasty government. It has hit the poor and vulnerable, savaged public goods like funds for affordable housing, and used austerity as an opportunity to undermine the state and the collective endeavour for the good of the many that the state enables. The Tories and Libdems are marketising the health service and comforting the rich. For five years they have stretched out their coalition hand and visited us with a darkness that can be felt.
Here are some very recent examples of their government:
Forty percent of new teachers quit within a year Guardian 31 March 2015
NHS damaged Guardian 7 April 2015
Doctors say “this administration’s record is characterised by broken promises, reductions in necessary funding, and destructive legislation, which leaves health services weaker, more fragmented, and less able to perform their vital role than at any time in the NHS’s history”.
Tory Libdem benefit sanctions policy has led to food banks Guardian 9 April 2015
Children coming to school hungry Guardian 5 April 2015
NHS hospital waiting time figures worst in seven years Guardian 9 April 2015
Trussell Trust: written evidence to Works and pensions select committee with examples of job centre ‘sanctioning’ 12 December 2014. Evidence to the committee from others is here.
And this too:
Schools forced to act as ‘miniature welfare states’ with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils Independent 1 May 2015
Darkness that can be felt: Exodus 10.21