Thursday, July 05, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
THE DISSAPEARING HOMELESS
The Scottish Tenants’ Organisation asks all candidates and parties to look again at how the Scottish Executive and local councils calculate housing need. They argue that the current method allows councils with growing housing waiting lists and homelessness to claim that they have surplus housing, leading to untold misery for thousands of families.In particular, they are asking that politicians look again at the assumptions that they call ‘social housing’ should only be made available as a last resort (with the presumption that everyone else should rely on the market even if it leaves them just above benefit levels) and the completely arbitrary decision that councils should only have to meet 1/10 of the backlog of housing need each year.
_Background for editors_
In planning their housing policy, local councils make use of the Local Housing Need and Affordability Model for Scotland, drawn up by academics at Heriott Watt University for the Scottish Executive and Communities Scotland. This includes a daunting number of tables and equations, which can be expected to put most people off looking beyond the headline figures. But it is not necessary to work through these – or even to question whether it is possible to predict incomes or house prices or household numbers fifteen years ahead – to have serious concerns about this model.
In fact the two basic assumptions that underlie all the figures should raise the alarm for anyone who is hoping to be allotted social housing (council or housing association). Social housing need is made up for the most part of the needs of new households plus the existing backlog. (There are also some people moving from owner occupation and variations due to migration.) (page 11 table 2.2) In estimating the need from new households, the model assumes that there will be no need to provide social housing for any family who can afford to buy or rent in the private market, and that this may reasonably involve a mortgage of 3 ½ times the household salary, or rents of up to 30% of income, and a /residual income after housing costs only just above benefit level./ (p 87) Social housing in these assumptions is reduced to a safety net service for those who absolutely cannot afford any other option – a very far cry from its post-war role as a source of good quality housing, and a tenure of choice.
The other basic assumption concerns the backlog of people inadequately housed. While those families who make up the ‘backlog’ might be forgiven for thinking that they should be recognised as having an immediate housing need, the model allows this need to be met in annual instalments of 10%. The authors explain that they are following government guidelines that say that local authorities should not plan to exhaust the backlog. The government recommend a maximum quota of 20% per annum, and in choosing to reduce this further the authors hope that families will be pushed to find other sources of housing. (p 89)
So, to take the example of Dundee, although the report acknowledges that the city has a backlog need for 6061 homes (p 117) – almost half due to overcrowding and sharing – this is translated into a backlog quota of 605 homes a year (p 11), which – with the restrictions on social housing eligibility – can be more than met by current turnover. That allows the report to claim Dundee has a net _surplus_ of social housing relets of 700 homes a year (pp 11 and 8), and the council to conclude that there is no need to increase its production of new social housing from 200 homes a year (note AN 90-2007 to Housing Committee Agenda for 19^th March 2007) – less than the number of homes currently being lost to the public sector under the Right to Buy.
(For Glasgow the figures are: backlog 29,603 – annual surplus, 4,590, Edinburgh has a backlog of 23,626 and an acknowledged need of 2,480 homes a year.)
The /Local housing need and affordability model for //Scotland// – Update (2005 based) /was published in November 2006 and can be downloaded from the Communities Scotland Website
For more details contact Dr Sarah Glynn 01382 774370
or call The Scottish Tenants Organisation on 01698 281 488 0r 07976 718 111.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Housing Conference Saturday, February 10th 2007
Scottish Monitoring Group on Housing & Homelessness
9:30 Registration (and workshop sign-up)
10:00 Convenor’s Opening remarks/housekeeping etc - Andrew Fraser
10:05 Welcome to Pollokshaws – Cllr. Stephen Curran
10:10 Messages of Support, Introduction to speakers -
10:15 Colin Deans, former board member GHA & GHAM.
“Couldnae run a Menogè”
10:25 Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor, Govan Law Centre.
“GHA - A Legal Report Card”
10:35 Dr. Stirling Howieson, University of Strathclyde.
“How our homes are making us ill”
10:55 Coffee/tea/comfort break
- Real Tenant Participation/Empowerment” (Sam Harper+)
- Second Stage Transfers” (Jimmy Black + Cllr Keith Baldesarra)
- Homelessness (Maggie Brunjes of GHN+ Mike Dailly)
- Accessible Housing (Cllr Billy McAllister+Frank ??)
- Racism in Housing (Dave Le Sage+Mehri McAvoy)
- Fuel Poverty V affordable warm healthy homes” (Grant Thoms + Neil Philips)
- Langlands Principles of Governance” (Colin Deans + Rose Bowie)
- Freedom of Information”.
12:30 Break for lunch (soup and sandwiches avail here at nominal cost)
1:25 Workshops:- as morning
2:40 Coffee/tea/comfort break
2:50 Plenary session –Convenor: Bernard Ponsonby, Political Editor, Scottish Television.
Feedback from workshop rapporteurs, Policy statements from
Conservatives (a parliamentary candidate,name TBA)
Greens - Patrick Harvie MSP
Labour - Des McNulty MSP, Deputy Minister, Communities
Liberal Democrats - Isabel Nelson
SNP - Sandra White MSP
SSP - Cllr. Keith Baldesarra
Solidarity - Graham Campbell
Question and Answers session – Panel of politicians & rapporteurs
4:40 Summation of conference and closing remarks
It is hoped there will be exhibits from Unison, PAIH, EAPN, FEANTSA, CECODHAS, GHN, GLC and others, literature stalls, a bookseller and YOU!
There is no participation fee for the conference (which includes tea, coffee and biscuits) but we suggest a donation of £2 from unwaged or £5 from waged.
A simple healthy lunch will be offered at cost.
Mr Neil, however, has unearthed executive paperwork that shows officials were told of the problems long before October. He said: "The Scottish Executive has known for the last five years that there has been a huge black hole about how to fund second-stage transfers. Despite repeated denials, they have now, belatedly, come round to admitting the scale of the problem._ "Why they have tried to kid people on for the last five years I do not know, but it is coming back to bite them, big-style." "Whoever forms the administration in May is going to face a fundamental dilemma of whether they commit to fund SST or whether they abandon it altogether. It's going to be a Hobson's Choice." [ I seem to remember Tenants being facred with a Hobson’s Choice namely; vote for transfer it’s the only way you’ll get investment in you housing. They lied there are lied compounded on lies! Within their own terms they lied. We were told to buy into a load of lies. This is all much more expensive than the public sector alternative and being so prone to market fluctuations is too risky a bet for people’s lives.] Mr Neil has used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of advice received by the executive by consultants. Experts from Pricewaterhouse Coopers in October 2005, a year before Mr Chisholm signalled more money could be made available, warned that SST would "generate costs" and suggested some of these might be met from within GHA's own budget, perhaps its fund for redundancies. But experts also warned the executive to be careful over making additional demands on an already stretched GHA business plan. Four years earlier, consultants working for Glasgow City Council measured the shortfall at around £300m. Their findings, Mr Neil said, were shared with the executive. [ I seem to remember Tenants being facred with a Hobson’s Choice namely; vote for transfer it’s the only way you’ll get investment in you housing. They lied there are lied compounded on lies! Within their own terms they lied. We were told to buy into a load of lies. This is all much more expensive than the public sector alternative and being so prone to market fluctuations is too risky a bet for people’s lives.]
The executive, meanwhile, yesterday stressed the PwC document was one of many drawn up over the years for various parties to the drawn-out debate over SST.
Officials believe a "joint team" - set up under a progress group chaired by former Housing Minister Johann Lamont has got to the bottom of the issue, recognising that there is a difference between the price GHA wants for its stock and the amount successor organisations are prepared to pay for it. The shortfall, however, will depend on how many units GHA is split into.
A spokesman said: "Ministers have always recognised that there were significant financial complexities involved in moving to SST, and all the analysis by all parties over the past couple of years bears that out.
"Thanks to the hard work of the Joint Team and the Progress Group, there is now a clear path
"We are not interested in going over sterile arguments of the past. We want to work with everybody to fund solutions that will further benefit tenants "It is nonsense to suggest that the executive has misled anyone."
10:17pm *Monday 5th February *2007 *Evening Times*
Monday, February 05, 2007
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Messages From Residents Associations Maxwell Residents Association Survey report In the summer of 2006 the Maxwell Residents' Association carried out a survey of the residents in and around the Maxwell Grove/Gardens area. The purpose of the survey was to gauge what issues in terms of housing and our local environment are of concern to local residents and those areas where residents are satisfied. This is their full report. As yet GHA and Communities Scotland have yet to action anything as a result of the survey. We've uploaded it so that people can see for themselves. Open Letter From Cedar Tenants Association -- Upcoming Glasgow Residents Events Scottish Monitoring Group On Housing & Homelessness, 2nd Conference Saturday 10th February 2007, 10am till 5pm, Pollokshaws Burgh Hall (Opposite entrance to the Burrell Collection) Plenary sessions, workshops:- Real Tenant Participation/Empowerment; Second Stage Transfers; Homelessness; Accessible Housing; Racism in Housing; Fuel Poverty; Langlands Principles of Governance; Freedom of Information. Who should attend?:- housing specialists, academics, RtB owners and especially TENANTS Further information: www.monitoringscottishhousing.org.uk Glasgow Homeowners Group Meeting Every Thursday, 7pm, Central Hotel Group meeting to co-ordinate action across the city against charges faced by right to buy owners factored by the GHA. The meetings are aimed at homeowners, but tenants are welcome
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