Overall Benefit Cap reduction hits poorest in north London

cap rents not benefits

Responses by Camden and Islington councils to Freedom of information requests show that the reduced Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) is hammering the poorest sections of the working class. The measure, which limits the total benefits a family living in London can receive to £23,000 per annum, hits 885 families in the two borough, with over 2,500 children. Housing benefit is cut when a family’s benefits exceed this level to keep within the limit. For a single childless person living in London, the benefit cap is £15,410 per annum.

The figures show that in Islington, 309 single people without children living in private rented accommodation will receive an average deduction of £35.34 per week, an annual deduction of £1,837.68. This is because the Local Housing Allowance for a single bedroom self-contained flat is £260 per week, or £13,520 per annum, allowing a single person to retain only £1,890 each year from their Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. Their only option is to move out of Islington – social cleansing of those out of work.

 

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Greater Manchester council cuts

Greater Manchester is set to welcome its first Mayor into office later this year as the centrepiece of the Devolution Agreement imposed on its three million inhabitants in 2014. However, no matter what grand promises will be offered during the upcoming mayoral election campaign, the fact is that 2017 will witness the continuation of brutal cuts to public services, as Labour-controlled councils in the region continue to do the government’s dirty work.

Manchester City Council announced late in 2016 it would be implementing a cuts package totaling £30m. Despite a proposed 8% hike in council tax, the council still seeks to trim £12m from the social care budget, directly affecting some of the city’s most vulnerable. This will be accompanied by savings in the deployment of school crossing wardens – jeopardising child safety – and cuts to parks and recreation budgets, affecting many public spaces in the region. The council undertook a ‘public consultation’ regarding the impending cuts. Its supposed aim was to ‘use what you tell us as part of our budget setting process’. Yet, with just 1,700 residents taking part and the limited scope of options offered, the exercise was less a consultation and more an attempt to frame any proposed cuts as having public approval.

 

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Housing: No respite for the working class under London’s Labour Mayor

Homes for Londoners

In December 2016, London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan launched ‘Homes for Londoners’ – his much-touted draft of plans to ease the capital’s housing crisis. In May, while running for Mayor, he described the election as ‘a referendum on housing’, and his manifesto promised that 50% of all new builds in London would be what he called ‘genuinely affordable’. The destruction of London’s council housing estates – so-called ‘regeneration’ – would only go ahead, he pledged, with majority resident support, and only where there was no loss of social housing.

These were just some of his lies. His Affordable Homes Programme 2016-2021, and its accompanying Draft good practice guide for estate regeneration, are a hotch-potch of broken promises, weasel words and sops to the middle classes and better-off sections of the working class who aspire to own their own homes and whose votes Labour is desperate to retain. Meanwhile, it will accelerate the dismantling of social housing, making it easier for private developers to push through their plans and harder for residents of working class housing estates threatened with demolition to resist.Cat Wiener reports.

 

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Housing In Brief

Bristol: private housing plans generate community fightback

Following a spirited campaign by local housing activists, with support from the RCG, in December 2016 Bristol City Council’s planning committee deferred granting planning permission for 135 luxury flats until plans were amended to include social housing. Now, developers are seeking to undermine this setback by appealing to national government at public expense.

Protests outside the council’s Planning Committee meeting in November 2016 marked the culmination of the first stage of campaigning that began six months before against property developers ducking their obligation to provide social housing. Under pressure, the committee – against the advice of its officers – decided that it could not rubber-stamp plans to develop Easton’s Chocolate Factory in their current state, and requested that the developers amend them. The site, located in a working class and largely black area of Bristol, was due to be turned into luxury apartments, of which only six would be sold at the slightly discounted ‘affordable’ rate.

 

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Who owns England’s green and pleasant land banks?

William Blake’s poem, Jerusalem, the anthem of conservative sentiment, gives a surprisingly true vision not just of England but of the whole of the United Kingdom. The majority of the UK’s 60 million acres are lightly populated and comprise vast swathes of empty countryside. Urban plot makes up just 6% of the land and is where 90% of the population of England, Wales, Scotland and the north of Ireland live and work. The rest is 42 million acres of ‘agricultural land’ and 12 million acres of ‘natural waste’ – mountains, bogs, moors, estuaries and so on. Only 5% of England remains ‘common land’.

 

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