Archive for September, 2008
The campaign group END CHILD POVERTY are holding a massive demonstration in London. On Saturday 4th October 2008 thousands of young people, families and supporters of the campaign from cross the country will be coming together in London’s Trafalgar Square to demand the government keep their promise to end child poverty. But while people from more than 120 organisations including childrens charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trades unions and others concerned about the unacceptably high levels of child poverty in the UK march in London, Birmingham council has its head firmly stuck in the sand. The campaign states that the Government has recognised the contribution that tackling bad housing can make on the lives of millions of children in the UK and have taken welcome steps to address this. In July 2007 the Government pledged to deliver 3 million new homes by 2020 and approximately 2 million of these by 2016.
The campaign to END CHILD POVERTY believes that if we are to achieve an adequate home for every child it is imperative that these building commitments are met, that the housing built is affordable and that around a quarter to a third of these new homes are available for social renting. This would help lift hundreds of thousands of children out of homelessness and bad housing and give them a brighter future.
BUT WHAT ARE BIRMINGHAM COUNCIL DOING? NOTHING
The refuse to sell land to the housing associations at an affordable price to allow 2,000 new homes for social rent to be built. Their housing management is in disarray as will be shown on these pages shortly and this combined with the total lack of social housing is forcing desperate families into privately rented homes. This usually adds to the issue of poverty as many private tenants have to use part of their benefits to pay the short fall in their housing benefit. those that are left in poor and/or overcrowded homes have to put up with poor health and all the other issues that such housing brings.
FAR FROM ERADICATING CHILD POVERTY IN BIRMINGHAM THIS COUNCIL IS INCREASING IT.
For more information on the UK’s biggest ever event to end child poverty click here
For more information on the campaign group END CHILD POVERTY click hereRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Councillor Lines emailed JUSTICE NOT CRISIS and stated he wanted a real debate.
On Saturday 27th September we sent councillor Lines the following email:
In your email to JUSTICE NOT CRISIS on the 14th September you wrote “Come from under your stone and we’ll have a real debate”.
We accept your offer of a debate on this most important of issues.
We can arrange for a venue and invite the press, housing associations, political activists, defend council housing and members of the public
All you have to do, councillor Lines, is give us a date.
If you would prefer to arrange a public meeting yourself that’s fine by us.
We look forward to hearing from you.
We now await councillor Lines response IF HE HAS THE BACKBONE FOR A REAL DEBATE. Needless to say we aren’t holding our breath.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
At the full council meeting held on Tuesday 9th September, the Lord Mayor presented cabinet member for housing, councillor John Lines, with two awards for housing projects in Birmingham.
Lines received the awards and then turned, faced the assembled members with arms aloft, as if showing the F. A. Cup at Wembly, to rapturous cheers from Tory and Lib Dem back-benchers and a cry of “That’s Justice”.
Err, well no. It’s not Justice at all. In fact it’s total hypocrisy.
The awards were for the redevelopments at Ley Hill and Turves Green.
Both redevelopment schemes started years before the present Tory/Lib Dem administration took charge of the council. It was a Labour Party administration, an administration that had the vision to SELL LAND TO THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE, that helped to devise the schemes which saw new homes for social rent being built.
The truth is that if John Lines was in charge of the housing department at the time the future of either Ley Hill or Turves green were being discussed there wouldn’t have been any new development. Instead the council would have tried to refurbish as much as possible, as they have done else where in the city, and any land made available through partial demolition would have been sold on the open market and of course that means to the developers and therefore no new homes for social rent.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
COUNCIL BLOCK £100M SOCIAL HOUSING GRANT
AND SO STOP 2,000 NEW HOMES FOR SOCIAL RENT
On Wednesday 10th September The Birmingham Evening Mail published a joint letter from the cabinet member for housing, councillor John Lines and the chair of Birmingham Social Housing Partnership Tim Sewell. Yet again councillor Lines cleverly sidesteps the issue of the £100m that is available to HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS in Birmingham and the fact that they can’t draw down this money because THEY CAN’T BUY LAND FROM THE COUNCIL AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE ON WHICH TO BUILD.
Why has Tim Sewell put his name to this misleading letter? BECAUSE HE KNOWS, AS DO ALL THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS IN BIRMINGHAM, THAT IF THEY UPSET THE COUNCIL THEY MAY LOOSE THEIR PREFERRED PARTNERSHIP STATUS THUS STOPPING ANY CHANCE THEY MAY HAVE FOR EVER GETTING LAND IN THE FUTURE.
Those housing associations who don’t have preferred partnership status won’t speak out for fear that any chance of being a partner in the future may be lost.
In the letter it states that:
1. “The Government (through the Housing Cooperation) does not allocate money to particular local authorities. Housing associations bid to the Housing Cooperation for grant for individual schemes and that meet the strategic requirements of a local authority and the region in which it operates. The housing Cooperation allocates to schemes from a regional fund, not from a pre-determined fund for a local authority.”
We know this and have never said anything different. To put some figures to the above, the government has allocated £8.9BILLION in the present round of allocations. Of this Birmingham can expect to see housing associations receive around £130m. To date only some £30m has been allocated BECAUSE THE COUNCIL WON’T SELL LAND TO THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE. No land means no development means no draw down of grant.
The fact that £100m is available for socially rented homes in Birmingham has been confirmed to JUSTICE NOT CRISIS in an email from a serving Conservative councillor after they spoke to housing officers. We have withheld the name to protect our source.
2. “Housing associations deliver 800 new affordable homes in Birmingham every year.”
This is yet another clever distortion of the facts. The term affordable homes covers three types of home. 1. Low cost starter homes which are subsidised and are for out right sale. 2. Shared ownership. 3. Homes for social rent. Housing associations do deliver shared ownership BUT anyone interested in obtaining one of these homes will either need to have a large sum of money available to buy their half or they will need a mortgage. Needless to say people on benefits or earning the around minimum wage CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY A SHARED OWNERSHIP PROPERTY. It isn’t affordable to them.
The housing associations are also continuing to build new homes for social rent on developments that were agreed with the council more than two years ago. THE ONLY NEW SOCIAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN AGREED WITHIN THE LAST 2 YEARS ARE RETIREMENT VILLAGES.
Add the number of shared ownership homes being built to the number of homes for social rent in the developments agreed more than 2 years and the retirement villages and it is possible that there are 800 new AFFORDABLE homes being built every year but families and young people can’t afford shared ownership and won’t be allowed a home in a retirement village.
All the above still doesn’t answer the question WHY WON’T THE COUNCIL SELL LAND TO THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE SO THEY CAN BUILD 2,000 MORE HOMES FOR SOCIAL RENT?
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
The planned demonstration outside the council house today was cancelled due to the heavy rain and the forcast of more to come.
We managed to let most people know of the cancellation but if you turned up we’re sorry for a wasted journey.
More action is planned in the coming weeks so please keep in touch via the web site.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Cllr Lines, Conservative Cabinet member Housing, continues his now regular habit of only reporting half the story! Today’s (3rd September 2008) Birmingham Mail quotes him as saying ” We work very closely with Housing Associations, to provide good quality homes for the people of Birmingham”
The Chair of Birmingham Social Housing Partnership Tim Sewell also quotes “We are working closely with the City Council and the Housing Corporation to provide affordable housing”
We entirely agree with both the above comments they are acurate. What the quotes don’t say is that the City Council Housing department under the leadership of John Lines is not selling land to housing associations at an affordable rate to allow Housing associations to build socially rented homes.
Homes built for shared ownership are not “affordable” if you are on benefits and can’t raise a mortgage to buy a share opf your own home !! What is desperately needed are socially rented homes for the vast majority of the 30,000 people on the councils waiting list.
We accept that there are some developments in Birmingham, Cllr Lines, Ley Hill in Northfield, Whychall Park in Kings Norton, Attwood Green in Central Birmingham that have seen social housing for rent built by Housing associations in partnership with the City Council.
These developments were started several years ago ! Apart from some social homes in retirement villages there have been no new developments for social housing in the last 2 years.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
JUSTICE NOT CRISIS held a roof top protest on Monday 1st September to highlight the councils refusal to work with the housing associations and use the governments £100m grant to build 2,000 new homes for social rent.
The demonstrtion took place on the side of the Town Hall where campaigners held a banner with the slogan
£100M AVAILABLE 30,000 ON WAITING LIST
SO SELL THE LAND AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE
Other campaignes displayed more banners and handed out information sheets to people passing.
Central TV carried the story.
The demonstration was very peaceful and there were no arrests.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )