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Live webchat with Grant Shapps, local government and housing minister, Tues 7 Dec, 2.30pm - 3.30pm

(250 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 02-Dec-10 12:06:24

Grant ShappsWe're very pleased that our webchat guest on Tues 7 Dec is local government and housing minister Grant Shapps. He has recently been in the news over homeowners' rights and the government's social housing policy.

On Mon 6 Dec, he's setting out how the government intends to put more power into the hands of local councillors. Part of this is that the govt wants to encourage women, particularly mothers of school-age children, to consider becoming councillors. Grant would like to know what you think about becoming a local councillor? Are there any obstacles to you doing so? If you're already a councillor, what are your experiences, and what do you think are the opportunities for women in local government?

Grant is the MP for Welwyn Hatfield, he's married with three children - a boy aged nine and six-year-old twins.

Hope you can join him on Tues, 1.30pm-2.30pm. But if you can't and you have a question or comment, please post it here.

LadyBlaBlah Thu 02-Dec-10 14:50:40

Doesn't he want to talk about housing benefits then ?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 02-Dec-10 16:31:17

Hi LadyBlaBlah, he's housing minister, so I'm sure he's expecting to be asked about housing benefits. Please post!

Unprune Thu 02-Dec-10 16:32:12

You have put a photo in a post.
It's a slippery slope towards tickers shock

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 02-Dec-10 16:37:42

biscuit

lankyalto Thu 02-Dec-10 18:26:44

I'm not a local councillor and have no wish to become one. My family has provided a number of councillors, mayors etc and I have seen first hand how much work is required. Much of this is in the evenings, at least in my experience. Tht won't suit everyone, but I don't think there is an ideal solution.

What kind of power are we talking about? Because local people can get a bit power crazy and hung up on issues. There are usually only a few people who might be given responsibility for things they don't really understand and aren't really qualified for.

I would like there to be a lot less emphasis on party politics and more on getting the best out of people, regardless of the party they support. Local government would be a good place to start, then hopefully we could work up to national level and get rid of all that pitifully childish baying that goes on in the House of Commons.

superv1xen Thu 02-Dec-10 18:28:31

oooh can't wait for this. and i am not in the least bit interested about women becoming councillors and all that shit

superv1xen Thu 02-Dec-10 18:30:25

whoops didnt mean to post! i meant i am more interested in his shit ideas about screwing over coucil and housing association tenants. as will lots of other angry interested people.

domesticslattern Thu 02-Dec-10 18:55:12

Thank you for coming on MN.

Can I ask a question which will sound a bit rude, but it is not really meant to.

The papers report that you are a millionaire with your own plane.
You report to a Cabinet in which 23 out of 29 members are reported to have assets and investments estimated to be worth more than £1million.

Genuinely, is it difficult for you and- not wanting to single you out in particular- others in your Party, to understand the realities of life for people at the other end of the income scale, in particular life in/ waiting for social housing?

And yes, I did watch you rough sleeping for a TV documentary. smile That was you wasn't it?

superv1xen Thu 02-Dec-10 19:20:36

ok. now i have calmed down a bit blush

first things first. -applauds domesticslattern for her fab question-

right. now for my questions.

can you PROMISE existing council/housing association tenants that the proposed changes to local authority tenants will NOT affect us?

and what can we expect the household income before familes are kicked out told to find a private rented property is going to be set at?

are you going to do anything to help mere mortals on or just above the minimum wage get on the property ladder so we do not have to spend our whole lives moving our families around insecure, substandard and overpriced rented accomodation.

and, speaking of landlords, is anything going to be put in place to stop them charging extortionate amounts to rent out their aforementioned "properties" ?
you know, just so half the country don't spend their whole lives on housing benefit.

Jcee Thu 02-Dec-10 19:57:48

I think encouraging people to get more involved in local government and having a say in where they live is great in principle, however in practice it throws up all sorts of issues.

I'm not a councillor but I am a voluntary trustee of a local charity and whilst it is certainly one of the best things I've ever got invovled in, it's hard work, it can be unrewarding and tends to involve a lot of evening meetings and that can be extremely hard to manage with family and work commitments.

How are you going to encourage people to take that step to get involved and overcome these barriers?

The changes to the planning system for instance will allow local residents to block developments, which might be great to stop another supermarket but what about the youth centre, affordable housing development or drug and alcohol treatment centre?

How will you ensure that those getting involved have the necessary experience to do the job and are not power mad meddling nimbyist nutters truely represent the communities they will be serving?

stretch Thu 02-Dec-10 20:55:04

I would like to become a councillor. Unfortunately, I have 4 children and childcare would be an issue. Also I live in a HA house, so not sure I'm the 'sort' of person they would like. hmm

I would like Superv1xen's question answered.

madamimadam Thu 02-Dec-10 21:07:39

Another one who would like superv1xen's question answered.

granted Thu 02-Dec-10 23:09:37

I would like to know how he intends to help those priced out of buying a house (as opposed to a teeny tiny studio flat) to house their families in, or alternatively when he intends to improve security of tenure and rights for tenants so that they are at a comparative level to other European countries. I would like to hear him agree that it is unreasonable for children to be brought up in homes where they can be moved on the whim of a landlord every 6 months and where they are not allowed to decorate their romms in any way or have pets.

I would like to make it crystal clear that first time buyers do NOT want easy access to ridiculous multiples of their salaries to enable them to buy a house, or shared ownership, or rules to enable us to borrow enough to see us in debt we can never conceivably repay. We just want CHEAPER houses, and preferably more of them.

What policies does he have for building, or encouraging the building of, thouands (or even millions) of new homes, including new socially rented homes, to replace all those lost under Right-toBuy?

Can he confirm how many properties he personally owns and whether he is a buy-to-let landlord?

Thanks.

dietcokesholidaysarecoming Thu 02-Dec-10 23:17:44

Supervixen just asked every thing I was going to.

More work needs to be done so that rentals are long term and less expensive.

superv1xen Fri 03-Dec-10 08:31:00

granted - absolutely brilliant questions (and fantastic point about buying a home) made there.

glad other posters liked my questions. i am sure they will be echoed many many times on here.

colditz Fri 03-Dec-10 10:50:34

We need more social housing, not less, not more 'schemes', not new rules. We simply need more social housing.

We could start by turning all the buildings that have been unused for more than 5 years into social housing. We could continue by stopping this "part rent part buy" crap - NOBODY wants it, do you KNOW how hard it is to sell one of those? They are usually in HORRIBLE areas, and are horrifically over priced. 'Half' of the price of the house is, realistically, about 3/4 of the price of the house in exchange for half the house. That's not fair, is it? A 2 bed house round here goes for £120 grand, but 'half' is still about £75 grand - way more than half it's value. And once it's entirely bought - it's gone, isn't it?

This country needs fewer home owners, not more.

Also, I cannot believe that you, as the minister for housing, have come here to try and point us towards being local councillors when you must know that this ISN'T what we would want to talk about with you.

We want to talk about the huge numbers of families in inadequate housing. We want to talk about the horrendous price of housing. We want to talk about the shameful amount of homeless children in this country. Why don't you want to talk about that?

earwicga Fri 03-Dec-10 11:41:17

Welcome to Mumsnet. Lovely to see you have twins, I do too. My twins are 8 now, and they will become homeless with me because of your government's housing and housing benefit policies.

My question is: How much do you laugh when you watch Cathy Come Home - is it a slight chuckle throughout, or a hearty belly laugh?

sincitylover Fri 03-Dec-10 13:26:56

another one here who can't see the point of devolving more power regarding housing to local councils. They need a backbone of a coherent national strategy - housing policy in this country isand has been a disgrace from selling of council housing, to making everybody think they should aspire to the property ladder which is fine if you are LUCKY and very uncomfortable if you are unlucky.

To the extortionate and insecure private rental market. Housing is simply too important to be left to the market.
(We didn't let our banking industry become fully exposed to the market)

Having been on and off the ladder (due to divorce) I would be more than happy and have peace of mind if I could a have secure affordable house to rent.

As it is I am in very expensive but modest property with no security of tenure. It's very important for children already destablised by divorce to have some sort of security. I get a small amount of housing benefit (thankfully) but earn a reasonable salary and work full time. I think that in itself shows how expensive rental prices have become.

sincitylover Fri 03-Dec-10 13:28:46

I would also like to become a councillor or become involved in civic life but again with a full time job and two school aged children it is very difficult to get out at night when these meetings are held.

granted Sat 04-Dec-10 00:04:52

I'd love to be a local councillor, but it's not even remotely feasible with small children - not enough hours in the day as it is.

Unless local councillors work part-time in family friendly hours, and earn a very good wage, I couldn't afford to be one in either time or money terms. And I suspect this is not the case.

You know what, Grant? You could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak - combine your two roles. Make housing much, much cheaper and then mothers won't need to work such long hours, and will actually have the time to devote to being things like councillors, David Cameron's fantasy Big Society etc.

How about it?

longfingernails Sat 04-Dec-10 04:47:07

Hi Grant,

My question is: can you please make squatting a criminal offence in England, coming with the possibility of a long prison sentence, and for foreign squatters, automatic deportation? Can you also make it straightforward to evict squatters, and until we have directly elected police commissioners, liaise with Theresa May and Eric Pickles to move squatter removal up the police priority list.

If I can be allowed a cheeky second question (sorry) - do you not feel in the medium term it would be sensible to get rid of housing benefit altogether for the non-disabled, and use the money to put up income tax thresholds at the bottom end instead? I guess something similar is part of the universal credit idea - but one slight problem with the otherwise excellent universal credit (which replicates an existing problem with housing benefit) is that employers will have financial incentives to keep wages at the bottom end artificially low, knowing that the State is ready and willing to pick up the slack.

Overall, well done on a fantastic set of policies on housing. The vast majority of the country is behind you - you can ignore the loudmouth provisional wing of the Guardian that seems to dominate MN!

ZephirineDrouhin Sat 04-Dec-10 11:55:15

<wonders whether longfingernails has in fact been planted by the opposition to make Coalition supporters look like loons>

The Coalition are not committed to local government or local accountability, after all funding to local councils has been cut by 25%. It is a fallacy that those savings will come from efficiencies like "shared services" etc. They simply DO NOT SAVE ENOUGH MONEY. Instead the vulnerable people suffer, for example in my area the Supporting People budget is being cut by almost 50%.

As for changing the elected member profile, the only people who can afford in terms of time or money to do it currently are people who are retired. That is why our council chambers look like adverts for Saga.

I'd like to ask why the Govt don't get rid of the second homes discount on Council Tax altogether, so the richer elements of society are not being funded by the poorer?

IntergalacticHussy Sat 04-Dec-10 15:43:47

Hi Grant,

I'd like to know what you'll do to help those who have been ripped off by Shared Ownership schemes and find themselves trapped in limbo; neither having the rights of home-owners or tenants, and yet being accorded either label when it suits the housing association in question from a legal perspective. This area has virtually no legislation to protect those involved, and needs urgent consideration from government.

snowmash Sat 04-Dec-10 22:33:07

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that there is a shortfall of 300 000 wheelchair accessible homes in the UK (social housing or not).

I know of many wheelchair users who have been 'rehomed' into nursing homes or residential homes, due to lack of social housing (and otherwise accessible housing).

Do you feel this is appropriate in this day and age, and if not what does your government plan to do about it?

10poundstogo Sun 05-Dec-10 00:56:26

Time limited tenancies for social housing will not work. You underestimate entirely people's desire for safe, secure accomodation. Many tenants would give up work for fear of being judged as "no longer in need" of thier social tenancy when it comes to thier review. Hardly sits well with your policies on worklessness and making work pay. Where I am based you would need a £17,000 deposit to get an entry level 2 bed house, and most private landlords won't take anyone getting even partial housing benefit. So I'd like you to explain EXACTLY how you see this working out.

I'm afraid this is nothing to do with housing and isn't even a question!

I just wanted to say thank you for your research looking into the postcode lottery of IVF funding. Thanks to you (and to the MNer who sent me a link to your article) my husband and I got a second funded IVF cycle after discovering that our PCT had changed their criteria. I would not have been aware of this if it hadn't been for your report as we had already been seen under the old criteria and the one cycle we'd had funded then did not work out.

Our second cycle earlier this year was succesful and we now have a wonderful 7 week old son

CammieP Sun 05-Dec-10 14:13:07

I was also wondering about how it has become impossible for young (ish) couples like us to buy a house. We actually live in your constituency in Hatfield and the house prices and rents around here are extortionate.

We are desperately trying to save up so that I can take a full year of maternity leave. In order to buy a house we would need a deposit of at least £20,000, probably more, which is half our annual salary before tax - it would take years to save up that amount, and that's before things like having children gets in the way.

Do you plan to do anything to make housing more affordable for people like us? I spent several years at university/training and feel a little bit cheated that from a financial point of view I'd probably have been better off not bothering (although I love my job).

CP

mellicauli Sun 05-Dec-10 20:00:55

No one seems to be interested in councillors I note.

Given that, why do you think giving them more power is a good idea? What powers are being so wrongly exercised at the moment that need to be devolved? And what mandate do you have for doing it?

Or would you just like to foist off a lot of unpopular decisions on a load of mug Mums so you don't have to take the flack for it anymore?

I can tell you why Mums aren't interested in being councillors. This is because it is a poorly paid job with unsociable hours for little or no thanks. Most Mums already have a job that meets just this description.

I am very interested in whether the government have a policy on second / multiple home owners. My husband and I have very good professional jobs but no hope of buying a small house where we live, as almost all the properties are owned by landlords. They range from people with more than ten to people like my friend, who has just bought an 'investment property' with the help of her parents' retirement payout.

I, personally, believe owning second homes to be immoral when there is such a shortage of housing. I do not expect a Conservative to agree with this (!) and I know that the situation we are in now is the result of Labour's policies. However, I was wondering if you have any plans to rectify this situation - increased council tax or capital gains on second properties, for example.

thanks

Jaybird37 Mon 06-Dec-10 11:05:59

Hi Grant

Is this the kind of behaviour which you would make criminal?

link here

If not, given that the current government are abolishing standards boards, and the Conservative party believe that control over local representatives should be through local parties, what are local people supposed to do?

Cheddacheese Mon 06-Dec-10 11:11:48

Hello Mr Shapps

I would like to ask about the current social housing allocation system in my area call Herts Choice Homes. I am on this waiting list and have been since 2004.

My circumstances changed last year which means my priority date changed to November 2009 even though my circumstances became more urgent. I also feel that we have not been placed in the correct band. My Aunty wrote to you in detail on the 14th October and your office confirmed receiving it on the 15th October. We still have not received a reply.

Will your rethink include how people are prioritised on these lists?

Thank you

policywonk Mon 06-Dec-10 11:40:30

I've thought idly about becoming a local councillor (although being a fully paid-up Guardianista I'd never get elected in my True Blue backwater), but surely the next four-and-a-half years are going to be absolutely murderous for local councils. Funding cut, powers devolved, revenue-raising powers taken away - responsibility without power is going to be the motto for councils up and down the land. Services for the most vulnerable (families fleeing domestic violence, asylum seekers, people with chronic health problems) are going to go down the tube all over the country. Now is not the time to get involved in town hall politics, I'd have thought.

Question: the principle of 'localism' is great in theory - motherhood and apple pie. Everyone wants to see people getting more involved in local politics, and local councils being more responsive to their electorates. But given that the Coalition is busily removing all ringfences and cutting local authority funds (except those to the richest councils, which are being increased), aren't you just - to quote Polly Toynbee - devolving the axe? If you really believed in localism, wouldn't you allow local councils more revenue-raising powers?

LornMowa Mon 06-Dec-10 11:54:17

I am worried that although, people are currently meeting their repayments on their mortgages, they are not actually repaying the capital. Surely this means that they have to continue working forever, or that they will become a burden on the public purse as their housing costs will have to be paid by the taxpayer?

Perhaps another way to increase the supply of houses (in addition to building) would be if the government could find a way to "nudge" the current older generation out of their large houses and let those who are currently bringing up children buy their own houses. I suggest some form of under-occupation tax.

Any suggestion that I am jealous of my parents and PILs who between them have 9 spare bedrooms is quite justified!

Ewe Mon 06-Dec-10 12:31:32

Becoming a local councillor doesn't appeal to me at all, around here it is party politics and ego at play, not people being concerned about actually getting stuff done.

Plus the only way to get yourself elected is by being a councillor plus a million other things such as scout group leader, run church/toddler group, volunteer at charity, run performing arts group etc. If anyone thinks a parent with young children has the time they're living on another planet.

I think there needs to be reform of the entire renting market, both social housing and private lets. My landlord has just put my rent up by 25%, forcing me to move, yet again. My daughter is 2 and a half and has lived in three homes because landlords in my experience, force the rent up at first renewal as they know you're settled and it's expensive to move. I wouldn't even mind a small increase reflecting inflation but 25%!?

Surely there needs to be an option for people like me who are good tenants and want to do a long term let but can't afford to be shafted at every annual contract renewal?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Dec-10 12:53:35

Hi there, ahead of tomorrow's webchat, Grant Shapps has asked us to post this message to Mumsnetters:

With the pressing need to get the nation's finances back on track every community will face tough choices in the months ahead.

When there is less money every decision is key – we need talented people who are part of their communities to make these decisions.

That's why this week I will be launching a new type of talent show. It's called 'Your Community Needs You!' and I am looking forward to discussing it with you tomorrow.

There are tens of thousands of people across the country already playing their part getting things done in their local area – school Mums and Dads are a prime example.

Looking at Mumsnet it is clear that you have a proven track record of achievement. I am impressed by the passion expressed in your forums, your mutual support and breadth of knowledge displayed through your posts. Whether fundraising, volunteering as Governors, running football clubs or sharing the school run you skilfully juggle competing priorities and work together to solve complex logistical problems. You have energy, you have passion, you know what needs doing and go out and do it. And you are networked like never before.

That's why I would like some of you to think about becoming a councillor. We need talented community champions to have their names on the ballot papers for next year's local elections.

You are exactly the sort of people the country needs to become councillors. But I suspect that being a councillor is the last thing on your mind. I don't blame you for that. You might want to change things in your community but becoming a politician?

Politics has become a turn-off in recent years. That's no surprise when you realise the people you elect to help have been tied down in red tape – held back by Whitehall bureaucracy with little freedom to do what needs doing. It has become a pretty thankless task that sapped the energy and enthusiasm of some really committed people.

But times are changing. In the last six months a quiet revolution has been going on in town and city halls across the country. The Government is giving power away – pushing power from Whitehall to your town hall and from Downing Street to your street.

The Localism Bill to be published this week will put councillors at the heart of their communities. Councillors will have more clout than ever before to get things done.

So now becoming a councillor is more important than ever.

Whether it is that playground at the end of the street that needs new equipment, that bus service that should run or bin collections that get your blood boiling, as a councillor you will have the power to get it sorted.

Or if you think you need more housing, better shops or a new leisure centre, you will help make the decisions. We are putting councillors in charge of what is happening in their communities.

This talent show might not be as glamorous as the X Factor but if you win you will perform a crucial role in your community and will be able to bring change to real lives in your community. I understand that you may struggle to see how you could fit this into your busy lives. But is lack of time the only reason why the average age of a councillor is nearly 60? Or is there something else – a distrust of the system or a lack of understanding of the role? Why don't you tell me tomorrow?

ZephirineDrouhin Mon 06-Dec-10 13:05:53

Good God. That made me cringe so much I think some of my internal organs have just inverted.

ZephirineDrouhin Mon 06-Dec-10 13:14:03

But putting aside the unfortunately patronising tone of this missive, I would very much like to see policywonk's question answered. What will councillors actually be able to do to address, for example, the acute shortage of affordable housing?

Eleison Mon 06-Dec-10 13:17:50

"But is lack of time the only reason why the average age of a councillor is nearly 60? Or is there something else – a distrust of the system or a lack of understanding of the role? Why don't you tell me tomorrow?"

I think policywonk put the reasons for staying clear of the role of coucillor very well in her question:

"Funding cuts, powers devolved, revenue-raising powers taken away - responsibility without power is going to be the motto for councils up and down the land. Services for the most vulnerable (families fleeing domestic violence, asylum seekers, people with chronic health problems) are going to go down the tube all over the country. Now is not the time to get involved in town hall politics, I'd have thought."

And after reading your contribution I would also add that the government's stunningly bold dishonesty about both localism and the Big Society is another reason for non-involvement.

Flattery about our community-building skills as parents, combined with patonising twaddle about a talent contest, all to disguise the fact that every push towards giving more 'power' to local communities and 'civil society' groups is a way of hemorrhaging functions from the state and finding local fallguys to take the flak for the disappearence of services. This disappearance of services is allegedly to control the deficit but actually done in the name of the most ideological redrawing of the state's functions since the days of Thatcher.

Eleison Mon 06-Dec-10 13:24:51

Yes, and what ZephirineDrouhin said about internal organs. That was one of the most ill-judged and offensively patronising contributions by a politician on Mumsnet that I have ever read. You are encouraging people the step up to the plate as partners in power and at the same time talking to them with contempt. So naturally people are distrustful of becoming politically engaged.

stretch Mon 06-Dec-10 13:26:29

I think I was just a little bit sick.

Don't think I'll be watching this thread, he is not going to answer any of our questions, just plug his little gameshow hmm

I wonder if he's come across the Friday Night Topic afetr the extensive enquiries he's made of MN?grin

ohmeohmy Mon 06-Dec-10 13:44:05

dear oh dear.

Whilst I would also like answers to the various housing questions, would like to tell you that no I never will want to join you for a fundraising fish and chip supper, am tempted to ask about your governments decisions to take money from the most vulnerable in society with you 'get the DLA scroungers' policy the question I will ask is:

Why is the government not immediately stopping the detention of minors in immigration centres?

QueenOfFlamingEverything Mon 06-Dec-10 13:48:08

Right.

Yeah.

Hundreds of thousands of people (including some MNers) across the country are facing homelessness due to the HB cuts, lack of truly affordable housing, and changes to social housing policy.

And one of the ministers responsible wants to come on here and discuss why we are not flocking in our droves to become local councillors, and plug some sort of crappy Big Society gameshow.

A gameshow FFS angry

When families face losing their homes.

He can Go Away.

me1984 Mon 06-Dec-10 14:09:39

hi there!
great to see an MP that takes an active approach. i have read about the housing sistuation. why dont the council wright in to the tents agreement that when there children move out of the family home, then the tenant has to down size? its very annoying that there are so meany people in council houses that do not use all the bedroom and loads of familys that are living in a cramped flat, seams like a fair thing of the council to ask, re-right the tenacy agreements! not that everyone would be happy about it, but it would definantly sort out a big issue!

LadyBlaBlah Mon 06-Dec-10 14:13:41

ROFL @ "Good God. That made me cringe so much I think some of my internal organs have just inverted."

This bit was my favourite:

"I am impressed by the passion expressed in your forums, your mutual support and breadth of knowledge displayed through your posts. Whether fundraising, volunteering as Governors, running football clubs or sharing the school run you skilfully juggle competing priorities and work together to solve complex logistical problems."

Yeah, it's well complex getting the kids to school in the morning. Hurts my pretty little head

granted Mon 06-Dec-10 14:18:09

Grant - that was stunningly patronising guff-speak.

Believe it or not, you are talking to people about your own age and I suspect rather more highly educated on average, with more real life experience.

According to Wikipedia, your CV includes a night experiencing being homeless as some sort of PR stunt.

Apparently this has made you all carey-sharey about homeless people.

So why do so many of your policies lead directly to homelessness for so many people?

Please stop patronising us - we're not teenage Sun readers, we're grown-ups with jobs and a lot of anger about your government's poicies.

madamimadam Mon 06-Dec-10 14:20:16

I've just read Mr Shapps's little missive. Apart from the fact that he conveniently chooses to ignore what has got a lot of people's 'blood boiling' (changes to welfare policy and social housing, not the bloody bins, ffs), what hope would potential councillors honestly have if this is the tone of government?

Policywonk and the others here have been far more eloquent than me, Mr Shapps but I'd like to tell you that I don't find politics 'off-putting'. I find it depressing and frustrating.

Partly because of most of our elected representatives have conducted themselves in a way that would see benefit claimants behaving the same way jailed. Partly because political parties can apparently drop core policies like used hankies when it suits them and partly because I am absolutely appalled at your party's welfare 'reforms', which are going to crucify the most vulnerable in society despite the fact that your party did not receive a mandate for these reforms at the last election.

And if you do not want a virtual shoe flung at you tomorrow, you'll avoid such patronising and offensive references as the X Factor one above and answer the housing questions people have already posted. Or did you just plan to show us pictures of kittens and bunny rabbits on Tuesday rather than actually engage us in a proper debate? hmm

Mr Shapps, your proxy post has made me so cross, I may have to go and kick something.

Like my Tory MP.

madamimadam Mon 06-Dec-10 14:30:04

Oh, and another one ROFL @ Zephirine

Ewe Mon 06-Dec-10 14:36:52

"Mr Shapps, your proxy post has made me so cross, I may have to go and kick something.

Like my Tory MP"

What madam said, I don't think I could word it any better.

Ewe Mon 06-Dec-10 14:49:43

Actually, I do have another question about your encouraging people to be local councillors initiative.

In my local area, which is very Conservative, becoming a councillor is not as simple as saying - me please! You have to be a very active member of the local Conservative/Labour/Residents Association party and then once you have put in the requisite years you will be given an unwinnable seat. Then in the elections after that you'll be given the chance to run as a councillor in a seat you can actually win.

Please don't say run as independent as we all know that is rarely successful.

In addition, 10 - 20 hours a week is the estimated time commitment for a local councillor and you currently receive approximately £9,650 as an annual allowance before tax. Assuming it's 20 hours a week, if I were to do that and use childcare to cover even half the hours that it suggests as an average I would have spent over £3500 on nursery fees.

I could go on but surely you can see that this doesn't exactly inspire me to be bashing down the door of my local political party begging them to let me stand?

cakeywakey Mon 06-Dec-10 15:14:28

Hello Mrs Chaps, I think that you've been given a poisoned chalice of a portfolio. Just a few observations on the questions posed.

I've worked in local government before and councillors were overwhelmingly stale, male and pale as they were seemingly the only ones who had the time, money and political support to take on the role.

You almost have to make it a full time job to take on all of the reading, research, committee meetings, visits, parish/town council meetings and local surgeries. As other posters have stated, motherhood is a full time job anyway.

I have seen councillors do well by being portfolio holders on district and county groups, you can make quite a bit in allowances, expenses and pension contributions, but this in effect makes it a real fulltime job. Why would mothers want to take this on when their children are young?

Also, if you are not part of the controlling party, your opportunity for input and really making a difference is limited. The main party will just have everything rubber stamped as a matter of course.

There are also the rules that mean that you cannot be seen to be involved in decision making on areas where you are judged to have a personal and prejudicial interest, meaning that people who are elected on a campaigning ticket - particularly in relation to planning matters - often cannot take part in debates or decisions on matters that they were elected by local people to address.

Aligned to this is that fact that councillors are often in seats for decades. How are new candidates supposed to come forward when incumbents are constantly reselected?

I don't think that there are any easy solutions to encouraging more mothers to become involved in local democracy. There would need to be a complete overhaul of how local government works and what it is responsible for. Can't see that happening any time soon.

mrsden Mon 06-Dec-10 16:53:39

Mr Schapps,

Why would anyone want to be a councillor when your Government is determined to push tough decisions onto Councils so that you can turn around and say "it wasn't our decision, talk to your Councillor"?

Pickles talks down Councils all the time, only this weekend he was moaning about how much Chief Execs get paid. Being a councillor or working for a council is a thankless task and is only set to become harder now that your Government is slashing budgets and at the same time expecting councils to do more and more. Do you really think that hard working, talented people want to take the blame for your spending cuts?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Dec-10 17:05:22

Stop press!!!

This webchat has had to be put back an hour - Mr Shapps has Commons business, which is immoveable (and his job!) so we're off to Westminster to start as promptly as we can at 2.30pm.

He has asked us to apologise on his behalf and says he is looking forward to the webchat and thanks to the people who've posted questions and comments so far.

Hope you can manage the new time tomorrow.
Thanks
MNHQ

strandedatseasonsgreetings Mon 06-Dec-10 18:02:55

Lamb to slaughter.

I will enjoy reading this one.

KeithTalent Mon 06-Dec-10 18:28:28

This is going well isn't it?

RespectTheDoughnut Mon 06-Dec-10 19:40:56

Mr Shapps,

I am a university student receiving housing benefit. Currently, this is not so much of an issue (ha), as I am a single mother. When my husband lived with me, we could only claim housing benefit during the summer holidays (July & August, despite exams finishing in the middle of June & not returning until the end of Sept), as we were told that our student loans should cover our rent otherwise. As a student parent, a financially allowance is made for some of the additional costs & 85% of the childcare costs are (currently hmm) paid. This is of course very helpful & I am appreciative that I am able to continue to study despite having a child. However, this left us having to pay for the rent on a 2 bedroom child-suitable home out of thin air. We have substantial credit card debts as a result.

Worse still is that the initial advice that I received from the 'FirstPoint' centre (on at least 3 occasions) is that we would be entitled to 'full' (if you can call it that) housing benefit throughout the year. We took this, after many reassurances, to be the case &, as complete newcomers to the world of benefits (me & my husband are from working families & had no prior knowledge of the workings of the system) we did not realise that we had to inform the government that we'd returned to university in the September. We believed that because it was known that we were at the beginning of our courses, that it would be assumed that we would continue to attend university unless we stated otherwise. We now realise that this is not the case, but were not told anything to the contrary (not at any time in person, or by letter, etc).

We (or should I now say I) am almost £3000 in debt from housing benefit 'overpayments' & lost the initial appeal. I have a tribunal arranged for the 23rd December (& can't help but wonder if that timing is deliberately awkward, seeing as this all started in April, I believe, when they started doing 'random checks') & have no faith in the system at all. I am losing money weekly as it's taken away in order to repay these 'debts', and when I finally graduate & get a job & no longer qualify for housing benefit, I will have to pay it out of my wage.

This system is unfair. I feel as though I am being punished for the incompetence of others (the professionals alleged to be the experts, who are paid to know these things!) because I did not have a working knowledge of the paperwork involved in claiming benefits.

Believe me, my situation is apparently so unusual hmm that even the manager at the FirstPoint centre has given me incorrect information pertaining to the case (about how much of my student income should be considered in the benefit calculation), which has been illustrated by the lovely people at the CAB (& then thrown out of the appeal without any regard for the regulations). The people I have dealt with at FirstPoint have often been rude & patronising too, as though I am an inferior being due to relying partially on benefits at the moment. That alone is a disgrace.

So, after a lengthy rant (sorry - I've condensed it as much as I can), I suppose my question boils down to this:

How can you allow the vulnerable to be treated in such a confusing & disrespectful way? If we can't trust what we are told repeatedly by exactly those who are paid to know what they are telling us, why should we be punished? I am a highly intelligent (normally more modest than this, but I have a point to make!) literature student & I cannot understand some of the reams of nonsense which gets thrown against me in order to make me pay up for a mistake which isn't mine. Are you not ashamed that people, most of whom are more disadvantaged than I am - people who aren't as highly educated, some of whom are illiterate, even, are paying out of their own empty pockets because your system requires them to do so? I sincerely hope that as it seems inevitable that those of us on housing benefit are going to be receiving less for one reason or another very soon, that you spend some of that money on retraining the staff which put it into practice, because frankly they are rude & worse than useless.

ISNT Mon 06-Dec-10 20:11:19

Please can Mr Shapps confirm how many people will be forced to move due to the effect of the cap on housing benefit, how many of these are in London, how many children will be affected, and what plans are in place for their relocation (where are they going to go, will there be places at local schools for their children etc).

domesticslattern Mon 06-Dec-10 20:18:07

That post from Grant Shapps at lunchtime today is by some distance one of the must buttock-clenchingly ill-judged spiels I have ever seen on MN. And I have seen a fair few, as politicians have attempted to court us over the years.

Rather than whiffling to us about talent shows and our talents in getting children to school (urg), please understand- I have an MA in Public Policy (far from unusual on MN), a huge concern about homelessness and social housing, and would like to be spoken to like an adult. There are some very sensible questions on here about local politics and housing, so it would be fantastic if you or your aides could try to address them and not warble on about talent competitions. Otherwise this is going to be the most awful webchat ever. Thank you.

grannieonabike Mon 06-Dec-10 21:48:01

Grant Shapps: 'The Government is giving power away – pushing power from Whitehall to your town hall and from Downing Street to your street.'

No, it isn't. Governments never give power away. This government is preparing the way for the privatisation of all local services, including the NHS, and it is trying to set us against each other by 'elevating' some of us to the ranks of local councillors - who, as it has been pointed out, will have no money and therefore no clout.

'Councillors will have more clout than ever before to get things done.' No they won't, not unless they have links to local companies.

However, you might have a point with this:
'So now becoming a councillor is more important than ever.' Yes, it is more important than ever before that we become politicised, because we need to wise up to the way in which you are fundamentally redesigning society.

'Whether it is that playground at the end of the street that needs new equipment, that bus service that should run or bin collections that get your blood boiling, as a councillor you will have the power to get it sorted'. No. As tax payers, we pay for schools to buy new equipment, the council to sort the buses out and run the bin collections! You have the duty and responsibility to do these things. We don't want private companies making a profit out of our education and health services. That's what we pay our taxes for!

'Or if you think you need more housing, better shops or a new leisure centre, you will help make the decisions. We are putting councillors in charge of what is happening in their communities'. If this was true, you would give us the money to do it with. What you mean here is that you are opening the door to private developers and global supermarket chains, who do have the money.

So my question is this: 'Can you assure us that your government is not trying to prepare us to accept the mass privatisation of the NHS and Higher Education systems and the involvement of for-profit organisations in local services, by getting us to accept your Big Society idea?'

stretch Mon 06-Dec-10 21:53:02

Wow, 2.30? I, and many others, will be on the school run then convieniently. Skillfully juggling our petty lives and managing our football clubs hmm

Have fun. smile

grannieonabike Mon 06-Dec-10 22:01:32

And please don't say 'What's wrong with privatising everything, and 'profit isn't a dirty word'. Private schools can choose who they admit, so can hospitals; private landlords don't have to let their flats to vulnerable people. The Council has to do all these things.

We need services to be run by the state so that we can be sure they are impartial. And we do pay for them, after all!

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 00:25:55

Dear Grant

You'll have to forgive me for some pre-amble here - I promise there is a question at the end of it.

I am a councillor, elected to a unitary authority in a city with around 250,000 residents. Having achieved a first-class degree and having worked in the construction industry, I can honestly say that being a locally-elected representative is the hardest, most challenging thing I've ever done.

Why? Because the pay's crap (£11k pa for at least 28 hours a week, which I juggle with a part-time job and caring commitments - meaning I often end up working late into the evening and at weekends on constituents' correspondence etc), the hours are anti-social, and the Kafka-esque workings of the Independent Remuneration Panel locally mean that it's almost impossible to claim for childcare costs incurred by out-of-hours meetings.

My DH is a saint and I could not be a councillor if it wasn't for his support, both financially and at home. It's no coincidence that many of my female colleagues struggle to maintain relationships and plan families - I am truly lucky to have met my husband before I entered local politics.

What could you do to enable more women to become councillors? Well for starters you could set a basic allowance which is comparable to professional remuneration, ensuring that being a councillor isn't just an option for the rich or retired.

Also, you could introduce "democracy leave" to enable all people of voting age in the UK to take one afternoon per month of leave from work to allow residents and councillors to attend daytime meetings, precluding the need for evening meetings which eat into precious family time. Again, it's no coincidence that the vast majority of "community activists" are of an age where their children have left home and so are free in the evening - but this is not representative of huge swathes of the community.

But Grant - these obstacles aside, why would anyone want to be a local councillor under your Government's programme of cuts? policywonk hit the nail on the head above when she said "surely the next four-and-a-half years are going to be absolutely murderous for local councils. Funding cut, powers devolved, revenue-raising powers taken away - responsibility without power is going to be the motto for councils up and down the land".

A colleague of mine also commented earlier today: "Did you agree to become a local councillor because you felt that you had lots of spare time to offer your efforts towards the mitigation of painful expenditure decisions at a local level?"

Your 'Localism' agenda is utterly toothless without ensuring that a) local authorities have real powers to raise revenue, and b) your Government gives LAs sensible financial settlements. Yes you've removed a lot of ring-fences, but that's not worth the shit on my shoes if you're cutting my Council's overall settlement by 30% this year hmm

Anyway - to summarise:

Grant - your Government's policies are confused and conflicted;

MNers - DON'T sign up for being a councillor until Grant and his millionaire mates make sure you'll be paid properly for the pain privilege.

My question:

Mr Shapps, will you end the 'right to buy' and will you empower local authorities to build new social housing without the need for a costly ALMO / LDV, in order to solve this country's housing crisis, reduce local waiting lists, and help those most in need?

Eleison Tue 07-Dec-10 09:13:08

Somerset council has made a 100% cut to support for its voluntary-sector support organisations; and councils everywhere are slashing support for the voluntary sector.

This is combined with a slashing of funds for the Charity Commission, and a castration of the Comapact agreement that regulates parnership working between state and third sector. You are not even any longer committed to full cost recovery for voluntary organisations that provide public services. It is at local level -- council level -- that third sector organisations will suffer most from these changes. They lack the infrastructure of national charities.

How can you claim that the rolling back of the state at national and local levels is an exercise in building community action when you are acting so decisively to undermine the established third sector?

Do you really think we believe you when you say that the handing over of local public service provision is an opportunity for community rather than business? Even your newspeak references to 'civil society' equivocate between for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, unlike talk of the 'third sector'.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 10:56:24

The Chartered Institute of Housing predicts that the private sector will be closed to social tenants by 2020 and housing associations have warned that banks will raise interest rates and refuse fresh borrowing once they realise that income streams – rents – are no longer secure.

Is this the sort of ethnic cleansing that Boris was talking about?

stretch Tue 07-Dec-10 10:59:34

LadyBlah, what does that mean??

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 11:40:51

It means that some important people with experience of the housing sector think that Grant's policies will mean that socially disadvantaged people will be excluded completely from the private sector, and this was described by the Tory Mayor of London as a form of social cleansing - i.e. keep the scum confined to their enclaves only, and segregated from the nice hard working people.

Marking place, though frustrated by time move which means will miss most due to rather pressing and non negotiable school pick up.

Question: Will they let me take the children into the council meetings when I'm elected? They are the souls of discretion & I'm sure most councils are family friendly.

As a single parent with little money & no family near, have no other choice.

Jaybird37 Tue 07-Dec-10 12:47:03

Agreeing strongly with Eleison - Barnet Council is looking at a 45% cut to Third Sector organisations over 2 years, so I look forward to answer to her point.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 13:10:45

test

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 13:17:30

Does this gov share nu-labs desire to keep property prices at their current artifically inflated levels? If not what changes in fiscal policy can we look forward to in order to bring about a much needed correction?

Agree with others re your posts and desire to discuss councils
you're housing minister we want to discuss housing.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 13:27:46

Grant wrote "That's why this week I will be launching a new type of talent show. It's called 'Your Community Needs You!'"

I am really looking forward to hearing about the glorious details of this project......who will be on the judging panel?.........will it be rigged like the X Factor?...........what is the prize for the winner? (we know how much your Dave likes winners)

My only thought for now is that there has clearly not been much thinking behind the name: "Fall Guy Idol"?
"Strictly Big Society" ?
"Trading Mums" (for fuck all)"
"Council SOS"
"Saved by the Mums" (for fuck all)
"Community Knocks"
"Britain's Next Top Mum"
"Hell's Council"

Just a few suggestions that might more capture the theme hmm

stretch Tue 07-Dec-10 13:31:19

Is he here already?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 13:38:18

nope, just testing log-in here at MNHQ

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 13:39:38

OK

so what biscuits are on the table?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 13:42:44

Some reduced fat Rich Teas and Danish Butter cookies, but webchat is happening at Westminster, so not sure what the others be scoffing there. Commons Cookies, and the like.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 13:43:09

'will be scoffing there' even

So, Geraldine - the $64,000 question. Has Mr Shapps read the comments so far? wink

Is he ready for us?

stretch Tue 07-Dec-10 13:48:11

Ah, shame it's been moved back. have to go on the school run at 2.30.

NicholasHomerton Tue 07-Dec-10 13:51:15

Hi Grant,

in our last house (a rental in Tower Hamlets), our bills went through the roof each winter - heat just seemed to pour out the windows. Before we moved into our new place (which is quite good for heating), we saw quite a few other places that we just couldn't live in - they were in a dreadful condition (cold, damp, old fittings, etc). Our new place is quite good - so all i can say is thank God my wife and I didn't have our child in our old house. My question is, are we going to get a minimum (legal!) standard of energy efficiency for rented homes?

Thanks
Nick Beuret

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 13:57:48

BIWI, I'm assured that he has. But is anyone ever 'ready' for MN? (rhetorical question!)

grin

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:08:39

I'm sadly not as articulate as grannie on a bike, planning committee or the other posters. But I do know, Mr Shapps, that my (Tory) council is currently in the process of a 'consultation' exercise, here:

www.surreyhaveyoursay.info/survey/respond?survey_i d=2470522

We've been asked to prioritise services according to family priorities and then what we think our community needs. And then which ones we'd be prepared to pay for.

I was under the impression that our councillors were elected to make these decisions on an informed basis for us, as part of the democratic process. And that we already pay for these services from our taxes. And that we reward our councillors for making these decisions for us.

When you - or your gifted aide - wrote about 'that playground at the end of the street that needs new equipment, that bus service that should run or bin collections', do you in fact plan that local councillors in fact become fundraisers for the community? Where do you think people will find the money for this as I'm not sure how many people have the odd grand stuffed down the back of their sofa that could pay for this sort of thing. Not when jobs are being cut, prices and bills are rising and some families face the prospect of being made homeless.

I'm glad to see that finally your government has appointed some one to 'look into' tax avoidance schemes but have little hope that you actually intend Philip Green, Vodaphone and their ilk to pay their way. But ooh, £6bn or so really would make a World of Difference to local services, wouldn't it?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:13:59

We've also been asked to identify services that we'd like to volunteer for in the same survey.

Is this also planned as part of the Localisation Bill? That we step in and run services that you cut? If you do expect people to volunteer as carers in homes, run education services etc, who will pay for the CRB checks? And, as I am unqualified for such a role, who will pay for my training?

Or will you take anyone who's keen and has the time, no questions asked?

And what then of the people who have the skills to do these jobs but inconveniently also need to be paid for them?

Aren't you actually asking the public to cover the jobs of public service workers for free?

That's not a BIg Society to me, it's a Sub-Third World one.

Cheddacheese Tue 07-Dec-10 14:15:41

TEST !

I'm ready, with baby in lap, waiting to see how this goes grin but will like most, have to go on that darn school run half way through....

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:20:08

I know, Chedda.

And we'll never know if we've won a Blankety-Blank style cheque book at the end for our local community. hmm

stretch Tue 07-Dec-10 14:23:18

ROFL at Blankety-Blank!! grin

Jcee Tue 07-Dec-10 14:26:22

ROFL at blankety-blank, but isn't it more likely to be the pen than the cheque book grin

Or one of those rubber ones grin

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:29:27

Ah, stretch and Jcee. It's going to be neither. We're on the Weakest Link...

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 14:29:50

Hi all,
Grant has just arrived after legging it from his cabinet sub-committee meeting early, so he ready to rock and roll any minute now.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:29:53

Hello Grant Shapps here.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:29:54

drums fingers on table

Hi Grant smile,

How do you justify the fact that before the election your manifesto and white paper on housing promised to increase social mobility by giving social housing tenants more of a stake in their homes (i.e. by rewarding good tenants with a 10% share and creating more opportunities to buy the home they currently live in) - however, since you came to power all the proposals you've made have been about decreasing tenant's rights, (i.e. by creating short term contracts and removing the right to an assured tenancy), thereby making sure social housing tenants have far less of a ‘stake’ and making estates more transient and less socially mixed places to live?

Is this a good example of the coalition government’s commitment to the see new verb 'to clegg' entered into the OED? hmm

Many thanks,
NANN

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:33:11

Hi all,

I know that quite a few of you have joined the chat but based on questions in advance I know the first question is where on earth would I think you'd get the time to become a councillor.

As a Dad of three I know that life can be really busy, but what people don't realise is that councillors can do their work on quite a flexible basis.

And even if that's not always the case now, it's the situation we'd like to see in the future.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:33:46

Lankyalto

I'm not a local councillor and have no wish to become one. My family has provided a number of councillors, mayors etc and I have seen first hand how much work is required. Much of this is in the evenings, at least in my experience. Tht won't suit everyone, but I don't think there is an ideal solution.

What kind of power are we talking about? Because local people can get a bit power crazy and hung up on issues. There are usually only a few people who might be given responsibility for things they don't really understand and aren't really qualified for.

I would like there to be a lot less emphasis on party politics and more on getting the best out of people, regardless of the party they support. Local government would be a good place to start, then hopefully we could work up to national level and get rid of all that pitifully childish baying that goes on in the House of Commons.

Hi Lankyalto, There are expectations of a councillor; you may need to meet council staff and you'll need to be able to communicate effectively with your local residents. But dont forget you've got an entire council there to support you; that is what council officers do.

As for party politics, they are part of how democracy works in Britain. There are plenty of independent councillors, but as in politics, just as in real life, people tend to get more done in a group. But there's nothing to say that members of different political natures canít work together to make things better at a local level. We have a coalition Government - that proves it is possible to achieve this at a national level.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:35:25

NotAnotherNewNappy

Hi Grant smile,

How do you justify the fact that before the election your manifesto and white paper on housing promised to increase social mobility by giving social housing tenants more of a stake in their homes (i.e. by rewarding good tenants with a 10% share and creating more opportunities to buy the home they currently live in) - however, since you came to power all the proposals you've made have been about decreasing tenant's rights, (i.e. by creating short term contracts and removing the right to an assured tenancy), thereby making sure social housing tenants have far less of a ?stake? and making estates more transient and less socially mixed places to live?

Is this a good example of the coalition government?s commitment to the see new verb 'to clegg' entered into the OED? hmm

Many thanks,
NANN

Hi Nann,

Thanks for your question. Perhaps what you've read about our proposals doesn't give the full picure.

For example, when it comes to tenants rights we are providing huge new powers to tenants by scrapping the Tenants Services Authority and instead putting tenants in charge of calling their landlord to account. These are real powers, not operated by some distant quango, but used by local tenants through their tenants panels and councillors.

Will get back to you on some of your other thoughts throughout the chat.

swanker Tue 07-Dec-10 14:37:04

The largest authority in the country is cutting its workforce by 11,000- that is almost 40% of non-schools based staff... there won't be any council officers left to support councillors Grant.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:37:36

Jcee

I think encouraging people to get more involved in local government and having a say in where they live is great in principle, however in practice it throws up all sorts of issues.

I'm not a councillor but I am a voluntary trustee of a local charity and whilst it is certainly one of the best things I've ever got invovled in, it's hard work, it can be unrewarding and tends to involve a lot of evening meetings and that can be extremely hard to manage with family and work commitments.

How are you going to encourage people to take that step to get involved and overcome these barriers?

The changes to the planning system for instance will allow local residents to block developments, which might be great to stop another supermarket but what about the youth centre, affordable housing development or drug and alcohol treatment centre?

How will you ensure that those getting involved have the necessary experience to do the job and are not power mad meddling nimbyist nutters truely represent the communities they will be serving?

Hi Jcee,
Being a councillor is about more than attending meetings. Indeed the legislation only requires that a councillor attend one meeting every six months, recognising that a councillor can sort out problems over the telephone, through an e mail or through surgery with their local residents. A councillor should not be locked up in the town hall, they can be public-facing members of the community, but with a mandate to be an advocate for their community.

Councillors can arrange surgeries, deal with local residents or speak to council officers at times to fit in with their family or work commitments

You don't need any formal qualifications to be a councillor, but the skills and experiences you have picked up in your everyday life or your career will help. Many people already have the skills required to be a councillor, like being a good communicator, working with others, analysing a problem and suggesting solutions, organisational skills and working with their community.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 14:37:49

"As a dad of three I understand how busy life can be......"

<Boak>

I do believe you are a man Grant, and a very rich one. So that doesn't really address the issues that most mothers would have in being a councillor.

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:39:33

Actually the first question was about housing
And so were most of the others!

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:39:58

stretch

I would like to become a councillor. Unfortunately, I have 4 children and childcare would be an issue. Also I live in a HA house, so not sure I'm the 'sort' of person they would like. hmm

I would like Superv1xen's question answered.

That ís exactly why I came on here. I am interested in why you think someone in a Housing Authority house couldn't be a councillor? Although I understand why you might be busy smile From that brief description I would say you sound like ideal councillor material. Somebody like yourself might have experience of health care, of childcare, of education and of the facilities available to children, play areas and green spaces to say the least, right down to the detail of street clutter blocking a buggy. Then there's personal experience of living in social housing - that sort of first hand experience is invaluable.

In terms of childcare, allowances for carers are available when councillors attend meetings.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:40:24

madamimadam

We've also been asked to identify services that we'd like to volunteer for in the same survey.

Is this also planned as part of the Localisation Bill? That we step in and run services that you cut? If you do expect people to volunteer as carers in homes, run education services etc, who will pay for the CRB checks? And, as I am unqualified for such a role, who will pay for my training?

Or will you take anyone who's keen and has the time, no questions asked?

And what then of the people who have the skills to do these jobs but inconveniently also need to be paid for them?

Aren't you actually asking the public to cover the jobs of public service workers for free?

That's not a BIg Society to me, it's a Sub-Third World one.

It definitely isn't the case of replacing paid people with volunteers. It is though a question of how we think about society.

Do we think that the ONLY people with a duty to look after others are employed by the state?

No of course not.

We live in neighbourhoods and it is right that people should be able to look to their community to help out.

That's how all kinds of services from running the local scout group to the local museum operate and there's every reason to expand this concept further.

If people had more power and control over what goes on in their communities then this would help a lot. And that's exactly the kind of power that we're about to provide through our localism bill. More power to people to help make sure that change is in your hands.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 14:40:39

Even experienced MN'ers cannot type answers that quickly. 2 mins between posts hmm

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 14:42:59

LadyBlaBlah

Even experienced MN'ers cannot type answers that quickly. 2 mins between posts hmm

(Yes one of his team is sitting next to him doing some he prepared last night, it makes sense because it means we cover more ground - Jamie had five typing for him!)

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:43:04

Jcee

How will you ensure that those getting involved have the necessary experience to do the job and are not power mad meddling nimbyist nutters truely represent the communities they will be serving?

Of course you're right to point out that there are no qualifications for being a councillor or by the way an MP, or even a Minister.

However there is one hurdle that you have to climb which is to get elected. Once elected most people do take that responsibility seriously and I don't think there's much evidence that power-crazed individuals are running around destroying their communities.

Of course if this did start to happen then theyt would doubtless be booted out at the next election!

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:44:37

Housing please
I need to go and feed my baby!

swanker Tue 07-Dec-10 14:44:45

That large authority also recently advertised for volunteers to carry out statutory duties (statutory data collections) because there has been a staffing freeze for so long there are no longer enough paid officers to manage the workload. (advert had to be rescinded of course, once people noticed!!!)- so how is that not replacing paid people with volunteers?

madamadore Tue 07-Dec-10 14:44:48

Dear Grant
we lived until recently in a local authority block of flats and benefited, along with our neighbours, greatly from the Decent Homes programme. We had our grotty old inefficient windows replaced with doubled glazing - which meant our heating bills dropped dramatically - and the block generally got a bit of a facelift which made it a more pleasant place to live.

What is this government planning to do in this area i.e. making improvements to the council housing stock (as well as the rest of the housing stock), in particular to make it more energy efficient - which saves money at a time when most people are struggling to keep up with cost of living.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:45:20

granted

I would like to know how he intends to help those priced out of buying a house (as opposed to a teeny tiny studio flat) to house their families in, or alternatively when he intends to improve security of tenure and rights for tenants so that they are at a comparative level to other European countries. I would like to hear him agree that it is unreasonable for children to be brought up in homes where they can be moved on the whim of a landlord every 6 months and where they are not allowed to decorate their romms in any way or have pets.

I would like to make it crystal clear that first time buyers do NOT want easy access to ridiculous multiples of their salaries to enable them to buy a house, or shared ownership, or rules to enable us to borrow enough to see us in debt we can never conceivably repay. We just want CHEAPER houses, and preferably more of them.

What policies does he have for building, or encouraging the building of, thousands (or even millions) of new homes, including new socially rented homes, to replace all those lost under Right-to-Buy?

Can he confirm how many properties he personally owns and whether he is a buy-to-let landlord?

Thanks.

Hi Granted, A lot of issues to cover in your various posts. I've already mentioned that councillors can get carer's allowance, so help is available. But, just like being a mum, there are no fixed hours for councillors. Meetings apart (and I've already covered those), being a councillor is a great job for somebody who wants to read their correspondence in the morning, organise their thoughts in the afternoon and fire off some e-mails as and when they want. You really can set your own hours here.

I have come on to encourage people to consider being a councillor but am happy to discuss anything else in my remit.

In answer to your question about how we will encourage building of new homes, we have secured a package that will help deliver the homes this country needs and are investing nearly £6.5 billion of taxpayers' money in housing over the Spending Review period (between 2011 and 2015).

£2bn is to be invested in refurbishing and repairing social housing through the Decent Homes programme and almost £4.5 billion to fund new affordable homes to provide up to 150,000 homes to households who cannot afford to meet their own housing needs in the future.

We are giving housing associations much more flexibility on rents and use of assets, so our aspiration is to deliver as many as homes as possible through our investment and reforms.

We need a more flexible system of affordable housing- offering stability when it's needed; helping people move for work; and protecting vulnerable households.

Housing associations will now have another option to offer households who only need support for a fixed period. We are calling it Affordable Rent. This new funding model will allow greater flexibility, focus state support on those in greatest need for as long as they need it and secure greater value for money for taxpayers. We will be publishing further details on affordable rent in early next year.

The only property I own is my own. I've never had a property that I've let or a second home.

Jaybird37 Tue 07-Dec-10 14:46:17

Brian Coleman?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:46:40

Could you please answer Superv1xen's question about housing, Grant? I'll repost it below to save you or your aide some time:

ie can you PROMISE existing council/housing association tenants that the proposed changes to local authority tenants will NOT affect us? &#8232;&#8232;and what can we expect the household income before familes are kicked out told to find a private rented property is going to be set at?&#8232;&#8232;

Are you going to do anything to help mere mortals on or just above the minimum wage get on the property ladder so we do not have to spend our whole lives moving our families around insecure, substandard and overpriced rented accomodation.&#8232;&#8232;and, speaking of landlords, is anything going to be put in place to stop them charging extortionate amounts to rent out their aforementioned "properties" ?&#8232;

You know, just so half the country don't spend their whole lives on housing benefit.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:47:27

mellicauli

No one seems to be interested in councillors I note.

Given that, why do you think giving them more power is a good idea? What powers are being so wrongly exercised at the moment that need to be devolved? And what mandate do you have for doing it?

Or would you just like to foist off a lot of unpopular decisions on a load of mug Mums so you don't have to take the flack for it anymore?

I can tell you why Mums aren't interested in being councillors. This is because it is a poorly paid job with unsociable hours for little or no thanks. Most Mums already have a job that meets just this description.

Hi Mellicauli, It's not bad; but it could be better. That's why we want to remove interference and red tape from Whitehall so that councils can get on with the job of deciding for themselves what their electorates need. We have talented councillors but we need more, we need people who are representative of their community. Imagine seeing an issue in your neighbourhood and instead of just being in a position to complain about it, being in a position to pick up the phone and do something about it.

In terms of poor pay - it's important to remember that being a councillor is not a job, it's a vocation. There's no salary, but there are allowances to compensate people for their time. If you saw my mailbag, you'd know that many people are amazed that councillors get paid at all, and think those that do get paid too much. While the levels of allowances should be realistic, we also acknowledge that councillors can't be expected to work for nothing. That work is valued.

Jcee Tue 07-Dec-10 14:47:48

I think it's apparent that lots of mumsnetters have varied and relevant real life and career experience, are articulate and are ideal candidates to be councillors.

However being realistic, the system, processes and current set up mean being a councillor is inaccessible to many due to family,carer or work commitments and if you want to create a true big society where everyone has the option to get involved then the infrastructure needs addressing otherwise it'll just be the same old White middle aged men old same old

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:48:11

we need realistic house prices

not everyone who is priced out is eligable for social housing

a 1 bed flat is 350k where I am a 3/4 bed house over 750 and usually closer to 1 million

how much would you need to earn for a standard mortgage for one of those?

pleased you don't own multiple homes? do you commute in each day?

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:48:31

mrsden

Mr Schapps,

Why would anyone want to be a councillor when your Government is determined to push tough decisions onto Councils so that you can turn around and say "it wasn't our decision, talk to your Councillor"?

Pickles talks down Councils all the time, only this weekend he was moaning about how much Chief Execs get paid. Being a councillor or working for a council is a thankless task and is only set to become harder now that your Government is slashing budgets and at the same time expecting councils to do more and more. Do you really think that hard working, talented people want to take the blame for your spending cuts?

It's definitely true that councils will have to face their share of the deficit reduction. Let's not forget that you only have to look across the Irish sea to understand what happens if you don't get the deficit under control.

So, yes councils will need to take their share.

However, in addition to budgets being lower, we are un-ringfencing lots of spending meaning that local councillors will be in a far better position to decide how the money is spent. This extra flexibility will make the job of councillors a little bit easier.

You ask why we keep pointing out that some Chief Execs are earning more than the PM and the answer is that this demonstrates that some Authorities haven't worked out that they need to take care of their backend spending - like on these top salaries - rather than cut front line services.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 14:48:43

Yes, localism - we'll cut your cash and trim away the very limited powers you had and then we call that localism and devolving power to the community in the hope that you won't notice.

Worcswoman Tue 07-Dec-10 14:48:51

I've no objection to becomming a councillor but I wouldn't know how. My question is: Does Mr Shapps not think the recent cuts encourage an 'own nothing' benefits culture given the near 50% reduction in housing benefit for homeowners (on benefits) when those who rent are much better off - they get their rent paid with at most a 20% reduction and also do not have to fund buildings insurance and maintenance costs? Why work? Why buy? Why try?

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:52:49

ilovecrisps

Does this gov share nu-labs desire to keep property prices at their current artifically inflated levels? If not what changes in fiscal policy can we look forward to in order to bring about a much needed correction?

Agree with others re your posts and desire to discuss councils
you're housing minister we want to discuss housing.

Hi ilovecrisps

I think that one of the reasons why housing is in such a mess is that prices shot through the roof during a ten year period from 1997 to 2007. This left housing unaffordable in this country for too many people.

We think that what's required is stable house prices. We will ensure that the top level financial scrutiny is in place to prevent banks from lending after they can no longer afford to do so - like Northern Rock did.

Many other policies to ensure that more homes are built too.

But I think your basic thought is right. You would now need to be 37 on average to buy a home in this country, unaided by parents, and that can't go on.

Appreciate that quite a lot of the discussion so far has been on Local Government, that's because I happen to cover both briefs and launched a call to encourage people to put themselves up for election as councillors today.

Best.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 14:53:00

I am getting a bit overwhelmed with the number of posts hence reading. Less chat, more of a shoe horning in of soundbites.

Hi again Grant grin,

Thanks for not answering replying to my question. It's great to hear that you may indeed be sticking to the promises about your made about giving social housing tennants more of a stake in their homes in your pre election white paper and manifesto.

Please can you direct me to where this part of your proposals are outlined in more detail? Since May I have googled 'tories give tennants more of a stake in social housing' etc almost everyday and even the greatest search engine on earth can't find them! shock

Many thanks again and good luck sleeping soundly in your bed at night when you have worked so hard to make normal families live in fear of losing the roof over their heads,
Nann

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 14:54:49

I would love to become a councillor, but I have 3 dc and just found that I am pg with dc4. I work nights and I am a cub leader and assistant scout leader. I would not have the time unless I drop something.

bosch Tue 07-Dec-10 14:55:38

I'm one of around 1,200 Planners who volunteer with Planning Aid. Please reconsider cutting the entire Planning Aid budget.

It's been estimated that for every hour of work by a planning adviser (ie funded through Planning Aid), an additional five hours of professional volunteer time is secured.

I really love volunteering with Planning Aid, it's one of the best things about being a Planner. But as volunteers we need someone to put us in touch with the people who need our help.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:56:47

Worcswoman

I've no objection to becomming a councillor but I wouldn't know how.

The To Be A Councillor http://www.beacouncillor.org.uk/howto/ website will give you all the info you need about where to start.

Worcswoman

My question is: Does Mr Shapps not think the recent cuts encourage an 'own nothing' benefits culture given the near 50% reduction in housing benefit for homeowners (on benefits) when those who rent are much better off - they get their rent paid with at most a 20% reduction and also do not have to fund buildings insurance and maintenance costs? Why work? Why buy? Why try?

Not quite clear on the further point you're making. Get back on this and I'll try to fit in an answer if we have time.

policywonk Tue 07-Dec-10 14:59:03

Removing ringfences (not all the Coalition's doing, Labour did it too) is utterly disastrous for things like domestic violence services providers. Anything that's not electorally popular will go down the tubes, leaving the most vulnerable people even worse off. Some things require national strategies and directives.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 14:59:41

superv1xen

ok. now i have calmed down a bit blush

first things first. -applauds domesticslattern for her fab question-

right. now for my questions.

can you PROMISE existing council/housing association tenants that the proposed changes to local authority tenants will NOT affect us?

and what can we expect the household income before familes are kicked out told to find a private rented property is going to be set at?

are you going to do anything to help mere mortals on or just above the minimum wage get on the property ladder so we do not have to spend our whole lives moving our families around insecure, substandard and overpriced rented accomodation.

and, speaking of landlords, is anything going to be put in place to stop them charging extortionate amounts to rent out their aforementioned "properties" ?
you know, just so half the country don't spend their whole lives on housing benefit.

Hi Superv1xen, if I can answer the last point first. The current system of tenancies was introduced in order to encourage landlords to put their properties onto the rental market, by enabling them to charge market rents and regain possession when they needed it. If rents were capped landlords may be reluctant to let their properties, leading to less accommodation being available for rent, which would not help landlords or tenants. There are, however, safeguards in place to protect tenants from excessive charges. If a tenant considers that their rent is significantly higher than the rents for comparable tenancies they can ask for the rent to be referred to the rent assessment committee for a determination, which becomes the maximum the landlord can charge.

In answer to your question about changes affecting current LA tenants, we have made a firm promise that current LA tenants will not be affected by proposed changes. In fact these changes are nothing whatsoever to do with existing tenants. And nor will they be in the future.

Income is not the only factor that an individual landlord will consider when deciding whether or not to reissue a tenancy, that decision will be based on the particular circumstances of the tenant. Central government is not setting a level of income above which you won't qualify for a social home - this is set at a local level.

I should mention that the new Affordable Rent that we're introducing is designed to provide far more flexibility over the homes available for different types of people on the social housing waiting list.

MmeLindt Tue 07-Dec-10 15:00:49

150 000 houses. Does not sound like a lot when there are many times that in substandard houses and flats.

Drop and ocean come to mind.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:02:45

Sorry, Grant. I'm clearly not adept at this copy and paste lark. There's only one of me here...

No, we don't think only the state should look after people. Which is why you'll find so many people on this boards are also carers. They know much more about that than you or I do. And why I was so dismayed to see my council asking me to place care for disabled children, care for the elderly, adoption and fostering and children's services in a list that also contained recycling, pavements and gritting.

<That's how all kinds of services from running the local scout group to the local museum operate and there's every reason to expand this concept further.>

Where, Grant? Do you really think this concept is as applicable to social care as it is to conservation & heritage? Really Can you not see any problems with this?

<If people had more power and control over what goes on in their communities then this would help a lot. >

No, Grant. Local elections and campaigns allow us to do this. In the meantime, as a working mother, I was under the impression that in return for a proportion of my taxes, my local council take care of the vulnerable in my community, seeing as I have to work and all.

I am also unqualified to work in areas I would perhaps be inclined to volunteer in, if I was to have more time on my hands by eg being made redundant. Will the council fund my training? Or is it fine for me to be unskilled?

<More power to people to help make sure that change is in your hands.>
I don't want to see change, Grant. I want to see my local services maintained and the vulnerable protected. Something that won't happen if the current settlement for local councils goes ahead.

And is the aide who is helping you the one who wrote that cringe-inducing message from you last night? I do hope not.

SimonGBRefurb Tue 07-Dec-10 15:03:32

Hello Grant, with your coming changes to the way planning is judged (rural shift to referendum-based decision making) do you anticipate an increase in new homes in the green belt?
Cheers

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:04:36

When the cap is introduced, people will lose their homes. Private landlords, eagerly welcomed by Thatcher to replace social housing, will return to private tenants as, particularly in London, the LHA will be significantly LESS than market rents.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:04:52

domesticslattern

Thank you for coming on MN.

Can I ask a question which will sound a bit rude, but it is not really meant to.

The papers report that you are a millionaire with your own plane.
You report to a Cabinet in which 23 out of 29 members are reported to have assets and investments estimated to be worth more than £1million.

Genuinely, is it difficult for you and- not wanting to single you out in particular- others in your Party, to understand the realities of life for people at the other end of the income scale, in particular life in/ waiting for social housing?

And yes, I did watch you rough sleeping for a TV documentary. smile That was you wasn't it?

Hi Domesticslattern, don't believe everything you read in the papers. I take your point that it is difficult to represent everyone through one party but I am also trying to encourage all sorts of people, who represent all walks of life to consider becoming a politician. If people care deeply about something they need to be given a voice, one way to do this is to become involved in local politics.

And yes that was me smile

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 15:05:17

Capped rents = less likely to let their properties out? Erm, what else are they going to do with their properties? We all know many many people who rely on their property empires being funded by the housing benefit system - apparently that is fair game.

And instead it is a single pronged approach at the favourite Tory targets - the poor. Never mind that the billions spent on housing benefits has not actually ever touched the pockets of the poor and instead has been lining those 'hard working middle class property developer's' pockets.

Jcee Tue 07-Dec-10 15:05:28

Correct me if i'm wrong but i thought the driver for a landlord to offer the new affordable rent product is to create an income stream for new build? Which is, by default, incompatible with tenants needs and wishes...

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:05:42

<Many other policies to ensure that more homes are built too>

Can you give us some specifics on this please, Grant?

All we have over here are 'luxury' apartment blocks as that's what makes the developers the most money.

What will you do to increase the stock of social housing?

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 15:06:24

Do you own a plane or not, though?

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:06:26

NotAnotherNewNappy

Hi again Grant grin,

Thanks for not answering replying to my question. It's great to hear that you may indeed be sticking to the promises about your made about giving social housing tennants more of a stake in their homes in your pre election white paper and manifesto.

Sorry, didn't get into as much detail on that part as you wanted, but we are keen to ensure that people can have a stake in their homes. I think you're probably referring to our 'foot on the ladder' proposals here and I can say that we're incorporating these ideas into our new Affordable Rent product which has been announced and we're about to legislate for.

NotAnotherNewNappy

Please can you direct me to where this part of your proposals are outlined in more detail? Since May I have googled 'tories give tennants more of a stake in social housing' etc almost everyday and even the greatest search engine on earth can't find them! shock

Okay, this is the document that you'll want to read www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/social housingreform

NotAnotherNewNappy

Many thanks again and good luck sleeping soundly in your bed at night when you have worked so hard to make normal families live in fear of losing the roof over their heads,
Nann

I don't know what kind of scaremongering stories you've been hearing, but there's absolutely NO REASON for you to be concerned about losing the roof over your head.

Why would you even say this?

We're not making ANY changes to any existing tenures. So if you live in a social home of any kind then there's no change.

What isn't fair is that the housing waiting lists have doubled over 13 yrs and all those people without a roof over their heads would be keeping you awake at night if you were the Housing Minister. That's the issue that keeps me awake and it's absolutely right to do something about it.

So please don't listen to those who scaremonger, you've heard it direct. There is NO CHANGE to whatever your social housing arrangement happens to be. And there never will be under us.

Worcswoman Tue 07-Dec-10 15:06:38

Thank you, sir. My point is that the recent housing benefits changes discourage rather than encourage people to store assets in property. If you work and get made redundant you are better off selling your house and blowing the proceeds so that you get your rent paid, whatever the landlords charge, and your children do not go hungry. People who have worked and tried are persecuted more than someone who has never tried and never worked. Good changes? I don't think so. I would be most interested in your views.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:06:39

There are, however, safeguards in place to protect tenants from excessive charges. If a tenant considers that their rent is significantly higher than the rents for comparable tenancies they can ask for the rent to be referred to the rent assessment committee for a determination, which becomes the maximum the landlord can charge.

At which point the lanlord rents to private tenants, from whom demand is on the increase because nobody can buy a home.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:06:47

Jaybird37

Hi Grant

Is this the kind of behaviour which you would make criminal?

link here

If not, given that the current government are abolishing standards boards, and the Conservative party believe that control over local representatives should be through local parties, what are local people supposed to do?

Hi Jaybird. I can't comment on individual cases. The Standards Board regime unfortunately developed into a vehicle for vexatious complaints that wasted councillors' time and the council's resources. We're scrapping it, but we remain serious about conduct, that's why we are making it a criminal offence to misuse public office ie if a councillor lies about or conceals a personal interest with the intention of putting their own interests before those of the public.

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 15:07:47

Tell us more about the promised gameshow, ppppplllllease.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:07:48

So please don't listen to those who scaremonger, you've heard it direct. There is NO CHANGE to whatever your social housing arrangement happens to be. And there never will be under us

Oh how those words will haunt you.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:07:59

Policywonk <Removing ringfences (not all the Coalition's doing, Labour did it too) is utterly disastrous for things like domestic violence services providers. Anything that's not electorally popular will go down the tubes, leaving the most vulnerable people even worse off. Some things require national strategies and directives.>

Exactly, Policy, which is what my council seems to be encouraging in its survey.

Could you explain what you will do about this, please Grant/aide?

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:08:52

domesticslattern

The papers report that you are a millionaire with your own plane.

A sure reason NOT to believe everything that you read in the papers. My family and I fell about the floor laughing when we read that I was a multi-millionaire in the weekend paper. If only. Sadly not even a millionaire I'm afraid.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:09:09

policywonk

I've thought idly about becoming a local councillor (although being a fully paid-up Guardianista I'd never get elected in my True Blue backwater), but surely the next four-and-a-half years are going to be absolutely murderous for local councils. Funding cut, powers devolved, revenue-raising powers taken away - responsibility without power is going to be the motto for councils up and down the land. Services for the most vulnerable (families fleeing domestic violence, asylum seekers, people with chronic health problems) are going to go down the tube all over the country. Now is not the time to get involved in town hall politics, I'd have thought.

Question: the principle of 'localism' is great in theory - motherhood and apple pie. Everyone wants to see people getting more involved in local politics, and local councils being more responsive to their electorates. But given that the Coalition is busily removing all ringfences and cutting local authority funds (except those to the richest councils, which are being increased), aren't you just - to quote Polly Toynbee - devolving the axe? If you really believed in localism, wouldn't you allow local councils more revenue-raising powers?

hi policywonk, We're not devolving the axe, we're devolving the right tools for councillors and councils to get on with the job of successfully running their local authority. There's no getting around the fact that public finances are under pressure, but we want councils to cut waste, inefficiency and red tape, not services.

Jaybird37 Tue 07-Dec-10 15:10:29

Thanks for your reply Grant, but it does not really answer the question which is, as a resident, what would you suggest I do? Alternatively, if you are serious about this, will you be looking into it?

policywonk Tue 07-Dec-10 15:10:39

madam I'm in the same area as you wink

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 15:11:12

Sorry Grant, but a lot of people are in fear of losing their homes. Yes you might not be changing existing tenures but there has been a cap on hb which is the source of people worrying. Please do not laugh of our fears.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:11:42

<Central government is not setting a level of income above which you won't qualify for a social home - this is set at a local level.>

And that will be us local councillors, will it? And who will monitor that or which body could you appeal to if it was deemed necessary?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:12:39

<What isn't fair is that the housing waiting lists have doubled over 13 yrs and all those people without a roof over their heads would be keeping you awake at night if you were the Housing Minister. That's the issue that keeps me awake and it's absolutely right to do something about it.>

I couldn't agree more, Grant.

Perhaps you could start by building more social housing hmm

It's just a thought.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:12:48

packof - They are Tories. They don't care. The poor don't count. Remember?

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:12:49

SimonGBRefurb

Hello Grant, with your coming changes to the way planning is judged (rural shift to referendum-based decision making) do you anticipate an increase in new homes in the green belt?
Cheers

Thanks for your question. The answer is that we won't be deleting the green belt from here in Whitehall any more. We think that this was the wrong approach and unsurprisingly got people very annoyed.

Instead we're going to leave these matters in local hands and in rural areas people will be able to make their own decisions about whether a few more homes in their own village would be a better use of space.

They'll have to have a refendum about it and can only go ahead if they secure the support of other villagers.

Also the developments will be small scale in nature.

There's a really useful Q&A on this policy right here Q&A on Community Right to Build

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:13:19

colditz

We need more social housing, not less, not more 'schemes', not new rules. We simply need more social housing.

We could start by turning all the buildings that have been unused for more than 5 years into social housing. We could continue by stopping this "part rent part buy" crap - NOBODY wants it, do you KNOW how hard it is to sell one of those? They are usually in HORRIBLE areas, and are horrifically over priced. 'Half' of the price of the house is, realistically, about 3/4 of the price of the house in exchange for half the house. That's not fair, is it? A 2 bed house round here goes for £120 grand, but 'half' is still about £75 grand - way more than half it's value. And once it's entirely bought - it's gone, isn't it?

This country needs fewer home owners, not more.

Also, I cannot believe that you, as the minister for housing, have come here to try and point us towards being local councillors when you must know that this ISN'T what we would want to talk about with you.

We want to talk about the huge numbers of families in inadequate housing. We want to talk about the horrendous price of housing. We want to talk about the shameful amount of homeless children in this country. Why don't you want to talk about that?

Hi Colditz, I am very happy to talk about housing issues which I take very seriously as Housing Minister. As I explained to Granted (but repeat here just in case) despite the public deficit, the Government is investing over £6.5 billion in housing, including over £2 billion to make existing social homes decent and nearly £4.5 billion to fund new affordable homes over the period 2011-15, which will deliver up to 150,000 new affordable homes.

We are introducing a new delivery model for Affordable Housing. As part of this, participating housing associations will be able to let some of their properties at an affordable rent (which is up to 80% of market rent). This will secure greater value for money for the taxpayer, whilst still providing protection for the most vulnerable.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:13:21

Ah! Policy, we should run for local councillor together!

As independents, obviously!

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 15:14:43

Hully, good point.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:14:43

Hullygully

packof - They are Tories. They don't care. The poor don't count. Remember?

That's complete nonsense and untrue.

What everyone else has realised is that unless you tackle the problems of a huge deficit which costs £42bn a year just to service the interest, then it is the poor who suffer the most.

So the steps we're taking are to help the most vulnerable. Failing to tackle these problems is precisely what hurts the poorest in society.

AllSheepareWhite Tue 07-Dec-10 15:15:52

My husband is the main carer of our child (I work as a science teacher, but still cannot afford private rents/to buy), but my borough says only I can be the main tenant even though if we separate our child will stay with her father because that is what we have decided is best for our family. If he was a woman in this position he would be given the tenancy, but as he is a man it seems he has no right to be the main tenant. Why are my borough allowed to decide the structure and living arrangements of our family, contradicting the Equalities and Human Rights Act when there is no provision to do this in the Housing Acts or the borough Housing Allocation Policy? Equality should be for everyone, not just women.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:16:03

Just as an aside - and I know you were one of the MPs whose expense claims were deemed 'saintly' by the Telegraph:

'That's why we are making it a criminal offence to misuse public office ie if a councillor lies about or conceals a personal interest with the intention of putting their own interests before those of the public.'

Please refresh my memory (down with flu at the moment), there is legislation like this at national level too, isn't there?

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:16:25

"Everyone else" eh?

Interesting then that it is both the poor and women who stand to lose the most from your proposed changes, according to every measure used apart from that of the Tories and their little lapdog LibDems.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:16:31

longfingernails

Hi Grant,

My question is: can you please make squatting a criminal offence in England, coming with the possibility of a long prison sentence, and for foreign squatters, automatic deportation? Can you also make it straightforward to evict squatters, and until we have directly elected police commissioners, liaise with Theresa May and Eric Pickles to move squatter removal up the police priority list.

If I can be allowed a cheeky second question (sorry) - do you not feel in the medium term it would be sensible to get rid of housing benefit altogether for the non-disabled, and use the money to put up income tax thresholds at the bottom end instead? I guess something similar is part of the universal credit idea - but one slight problem with the otherwise excellent universal credit (which replicates an existing problem with housing benefit) is that employers will have financial incentives to keep wages at the bottom end artificially low, knowing that the State is ready and willing to pick up the slack.

Overall, well done on a fantastic set of policies on housing. The vast majority of the country is behind you - you can ignore the loudmouth provisional wing of the Guardian that seems to dominate MN!

On 8 November I published an online guide for home owners affected by squatters. This sets out homeowners rights and the action they can take. We are also taking steps to help get empty homes back into productive and lawful use, thus reducing the scope for squatting.
In view of public concerns, we are reviewing the options for strengthening the law in relation to squatting and the way in which it is enforced. We hope to conclude this work early next year.

I think there continues to be a role for housing benefit to support those who are genuinely in need.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:17:25

Worcswoman

Thank you, sir. My point is that the recent housing benefits changes discourage rather than encourage people to store assets in property. If you work and get made redundant you are better off selling your house and blowing the proceeds so that you get your rent paid, whatever the landlords charge, and your children do not go hungry. People who have worked and tried are persecuted more than someone who has never tried and never worked. Good changes? I don't think so. I would be most interested in your views.

Well I think you're certainly right that up until now people have found that when they work hard and play by the rules they're quite often penalised for having done the right thing.

I don't agree that our housing benefit changes are likely to lead to an increase in this problem and there are certainly many other policies which are designed to make sure that work always pays. Our wider benefit reform package in particular.

Anyway, take your point and we'll carefully consider how best to ensure that doing the right thing always pays in the future.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:17:36

Or are those legal challenges being brought by The Fawcett Society inter alia sadly misguided, perhaps due to their little woolly female heads?

ISNT Tue 07-Dec-10 15:17:42

"There is NO CHANGE to whatever your social housing arrangement happens to be. And there never will be under us"

So no-one will have to move due to the cap in housing benefit then? That's excellent news...

hmm

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:18:36

Anyway, take your point and we'll carefully consider how best to ensure that doing the right thing always pays in the future.

Oh, that is my quote of the decade. <Wipes eyes>

Does Dave know that's the agenda?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:20:45

<What everyone else has realised is that unless you tackle the problems of a huge deficit which costs £42bn a year just to service the interest, then it is the poor who suffer the most.>

Can you really not see that we are concerned that the vulnerable in our society are bearing the brunt of this when Vodaphone manages to do a deal over a £6bn tax bill and Philip Green's can pursue his tax avoidance schemes?

Can you really not see that this is why we think the poor suffer most?

We're not all in this together.

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 15:20:55

Grant, I am sorry but I don't believe that. Things are going to be a lot worse for the poorest 20% of our country. From our point of veiw there has been a cap on hb, child benifit has been frozen vat going up from Jan. Where our we supposed to find the exta money from?
(dh and i don't claim hb as when we had it the council keept messing it up and it was costing us more to travel to rectify the errors that had been made!)

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:20:59

ISNT - Guess what?

Oh yes they will. But that's ok, because er, well, we, er, have carefully considered. Innit?

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:22:42

snowmash

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that there is a shortfall of 300 000 wheelchair accessible homes in the UK (social housing or not).

I know of many wheelchair users who have been 'rehomed' into nursing homes or residential homes, due to lack of social housing (and otherwise accessible housing).

Do you feel this is appropriate in this day and age, and if not what does your government plan to do about it?

Hi Snowmash,

Thx for the question. From my experience each case is different and what's appropriate in one situation isn't in another.

There is a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) which is administered by local housing authorities. It helps to fund a wide range of home adaptations, for instance, grab rails, walk-in showers, stair lifts and if appropriate extensions or conversion of existing property. Following the Spending Review, the DFG is being increased from £169million in 2010-11 to £185million in 2014-15.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:22:49

Grant, LFN will be on here in a mo, telling you that putting the homeless on St Kilda would be a votewinner.

Please tell me you don't have any plans to do that.

(It'll just be the Home Cunties, won't it)

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:23:01

packofcards

Sorry Grant, but a lot of people are in fear of losing their homes. Yes you might not be changing existing tenures but there has been a cap on hb which is the source of people worrying. Please do not laugh of our fears.

Sorry, I hadn't twigged you were referring to Housing Benefit changes here.

We don't think it's fair that working people should pay their taxes to ensure that others can live in the kind of homes that they themselves could not possibly afford.

However, the changes we're making are pretty moderate. The maximum that will be paid under Housing Benefit will still be £21,000 per annum.

How many people can afford a rent of £21k? Not many and that's AFTER we've made these changes.

Obviously I don't know your exact situation, but I'd be happy to answer in more detail grant.shapps@communities.gsi.gov.uk if you'd like to take me up on that.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:24:03

Argh! You see it can happen to anyone! That's what happens when you type too fast.

I've had my Naughtie moment!

(PS LFN is lovely btw. Just makes Thatcher look like Red Rosa Luxembourg)

madamadore Tue 07-Dec-10 15:24:17

What are you going to do about making the housing stock more energy efficient? You mentioned a figure for the Decent Homes programme - how does that compare to what has been spent so far?

Worcswoman Tue 07-Dec-10 15:24:45

Mr Shapps, thank you for your reply, but basic maths should tell you that you've made it MORE difficult for those who've 'done the right thing'. The right thing has now become the stupid thing - I would be better off if I sold my house and spent the proceeds. Expect an invite to the champagne sell-up. I'm not prepared to see my children go hungry any more.

SimonGBRefurb Tue 07-Dec-10 15:25:04

Follow-up to planning question

Would it make sense to tie planning approval in green belt areas to above-standard environmental credentials. Maintaining some form of equilibrium? In fact should this be extended to all conversions, extensions, and other planning-triggered chances to improve the energy performance of our homes?
Cheers

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:25:18

earwicga

Welcome to Mumsnet. Lovely to see you have twins, I do too. My twins are 8 now, and they will become homeless with me because of your government's housing and housing benefit policies.

My question is: How much do you laugh when you watch Cathy Come Home - is it a slight chuckle throughout, or a hearty belly laugh?

Earwicga,

You couldn't be further from the truth on this. Actually
I am committed to preventing and tackling homelessness. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why I became an MP in the first place! One of the first things I did when I became a Minister was to establish a cross-Government Ministerial Working Group on homelessness, and to ensure that we have an
accurate picture of rough sleeping across the country by getting information from every local authority. As I mentioned above, I have also maintained levels of funding for homelessness services with investment of £400 million over 2011-15.

In relation to the changes to Housing Benefit, you are right that these are concerning many people. But it is important to point out that in 32% of cases, households will experience no shortfall in their rent, because they are currently receiving an excess. Around a third of properties in London and at least a third outside London will still be affordable on Local Housing Allowance rates, and families will continue to be able to claim rents of up to £21,000 a year. The Government is also making £190m of additional funding available to help local authorities to provide support where it is needed e.g. helping people to stay in their home or to move to cheaper accommodation. As a result, no-one should be left without a home owing to the changes we have announced.

Thanks Grant - I did a quick 'ctl f' for 'stake' in the in the document you pointed to and found one instance of it, in the word 'mistaken' grin.

But seriously, I know you think you can placate a lot of people by promising them that the new proposals won't affect existing social tenants - but what you probably fail to understand is that some people have a social conscience and do not want the ladder to long term affordable housing pulled up behind them.

The kind of 'mobility' I'm interested in is social mobility - e.g. through mixed communities. Not just 'mobility' that you're proposals are aimed at encouraging (i.e. to get ordinary people out of the nice areas of central London and other big cities).

Also, on another point, can I just say that this government has done more to encourage me to become more directly involved in politics and become a councillor myself than any other previous administration. A Labour councillor, that is wink

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:25:59

<We don't think it's fair that working people should pay their taxes to ensure that others can live in the kind of homes that they themselves could not possibly afford.>

Well, Grant. I work. And I'm over the higher tax threashold. And I have no problem at all with funding a benefit that keeps families in their communities and gives children some security and permanence in their lives.

Do you have a problem with that?

Thanks Grant - I did a quick 'ctl f' for 'stake' in the in the document you pointed to and found one instance of it, in the word 'mistaken' grin.

But seriously, I know you think you can placate a lot of people by promising them that the new proposals won't affect existing social tenants - but what you probably fail to understand is that some people have a social conscience and do not want the ladder to long term affordable housing pulled up behind them.

The kind of 'mobility' I'm interested in is social mobility - e.g. through mixed communities. Not just 'mobility' that you're proposals are aimed at encouraging (i.e. to get ordinary people out of the nice areas of central London and other big cities).

Also, on another point, can I just say that this government has done more to encourage me to become more directly involved in politics and become a councillor myself than any other previous administration. A Labour councillor, that is wink

MmeLindt Tue 07-Dec-10 15:27:00

Re: capping rents

Not sure if this is necessary but a way of safeguarding tenants would be to improve their rights with regard to landlords being able to turf them out at short notice.

I lived in Germany for many years and this was not possible. A tenant could only be evicted IF the landlord under very strict conditions.

Long-term or unlimited rental agreements are the norm there and it means that people are happy to live in rented accomodation.

Would this be something that your government would look at? Improving renters rights?

madamadore Tue 07-Dec-10 15:28:29

"We don't think it's fair that working people should pay their taxes to ensure that others can live in the kind of homes that they themselves could not possibly afford."

I am a working person and actually I am happy to pay my taxes so people who are vulnerable and can't work, and can't afford to pay extortionate rent levels can have a decent place to live. The problem is that rents are too high, higher than most other countries and somehow that has to be brought under control. I don't see any serious attempts to do that.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:29:00

32%. So that's all right then.

And if people have to move away from existing social networks where they have help with child/ elderly parent care to an area where they have no support network and where there is even less likelihood of work - because let's face it, it's cheap for a reason - what exactly is it that differentiates that from a dumping ground?

I hear there might be some cheap rooms in some of Rio's favelas.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:29:42

Exactly, NotAnother. I couldn't have put it better myself.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:29:51

Cheddacheese

Hello Mr Shapps

I would like to ask about the current social housing allocation system in my area call Herts Choice Homes. I am on this waiting list and have been since 2004.

My circumstances changed last year which means my priority date changed to November 2009 even though my circumstances became more urgent. I also feel that we have not been placed in the correct band. My Aunty wrote to you in detail on the 14th October and your office confirmed receiving it on the 15th October. We still have not received a reply.

Will your rethink include how people are prioritised on these lists?

Thank you

Hi Cheddacheese, The law currently provides that people with identified housing needs the homelessness, people in overcrowded housing get clear priority for social housing.

Social housing costs the taxpayer a lot of money. So, I think it's right that it should be focused on those who need it most when they need it most.

Having said that, there is scope within the law for councils to take into account factors other than housing need, such as whether people are in work or otherwise contributing to their community - and an increasing number of councils are changing their allocation schemes to provide for this.

Under our changes to social housing allocations, councils will be able to operate a more focussed waiting list - which better reflects local circumstances and can be more easily understood by local people. It will also be easier for council to manage unrealistic expectations -by excluding from their waiting list people who have little or no prospect of ever getting social housing.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Dec-10 15:30:00

Thanks all. We have to close now but Grant has said he's happy to address any outstanding themes over the next few days so we'll be back with those answers in the next little while.

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 15:31:03

NANN, yes I would, if I had timestand for Labour as well.

Grant as I have said I work and so does DH but with both of us working, we can not afford privet rents where we are. Thank god that we have a social housing house.

madamadore Tue 07-Dec-10 15:31:26

MmeLindt I agree - I am from Italy and my dad lets out a property there. Contracts are for 5 years. Yes, it can be annoying at times, having to think ahead whether one needs to give notice (1 year notice). But then it's not a big deal either. When I came to this country I found that it's uncivilised how landlords can kick people out so easily.

GrantShapps Tue 07-Dec-10 15:32:59

nomoremagnolia

I'm afraid this is nothing to do with housing and isn't even a question!

I just wanted to say thank you for your research looking into the postcode lottery of IVF funding. Thanks to you (and to the MNer who sent me a link to your article) my husband and I got a second funded IVF cycle after discovering that our PCT had changed their criteria. I would not have been aware of this if it hadn't been for your report as we had already been seen under the old criteria and the one cycle we'd had funded then did not work out.

Our second cycle earlier this year was succesful and we now have a wonderful 7 week old son

Fantastic news smile Really delighted to hear it.

Thanks everybody, have enjoyed the chat and will try to get back on any major themes that haven't been covered.

Jaybird37 Tue 07-Dec-10 15:34:34

It works the opposite way in Paris though. It is so difficult to get tenants out that basically no-one is prepared to rent to you unless you have references from a previous landlord and can show salary slips (so my self-employed brother who owned his own home until he nad his partner split, was really stuck).

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:36:05

Hully, where I live there's been such an influx from London that our schools are oversubscribed. Developers have built lots of 'luxury' accommodation (ie it has a roof) but there's no infrastructure to support the additional population. The school's issue alone has been a headache for the council.

And this influx is of MC families who can afford to move out. They're not being wrenched out of their communities because they don't 'deserve' to be there.

So where do you intend these displaced people to go? Will you fund the additional services that such an influx will create?

Grant, can you really not see why we think these measures haven't been properly thought through?

Or do you just not care as long as they're out of Zone 1?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:36:51

<Social housing costs the taxpayer a lot of money. >

Tax avoidance schemes cost us more.

Eleison Tue 07-Dec-10 15:37:19

Glad to hear he will be getting back on some major themes. Hope these will include the question as to how it is that the community-building of both localism and the Big Society can go hand in hand with the active undermining of local third-sector organisations.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:37:53

What Lady Porter began...

Still, they'll soon regret it when there's no one to clean their houses, mind their kids and drive their cars about. Oh, and clean the hospitals and schools, paint and decorate etc etc etc

I'ts all total lala land.

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 15:38:58

Hully sounds about right.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:39:51

Thank you Grant.

<Thanks everybody, have enjoyed the chat and will try to get back on any major themes that haven't been covered.>

Could you please ensure it's not the gameshow oaf who posts back though? Otherwise, my Tory MP will end up with two shoes thrown at him.

And they'll be stilettos, obviously. [Smile]

Cheddacheese Tue 07-Dec-10 15:39:59

I just got in !! I hope you will still respond to my Aunts letter though ??

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:41:06

And most children living in poverty are children of the working poor. And guess why they have to claim housing and other benefits? Could it be because wages are so low? Surely not! How about increasing the minimum wage so that families can afford to support themselves?

Let's have a sweepstake as to how long it is before the reintroduction of the workhouse.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:42:16

Hully, couldn't agree more.

May be then they'll bus us in to do it for them though. They might even try to present it as a gameshow for volunteers: "Who Wants to Clean A Millionaire'.

No. They'd never be that insulting.
Would they? hmm

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:42:36

And as for the Big Society...

<weeps with mirth>

So as well as working longer hours harder than ever, we've all got to find time to run our own schools and hospitals and attend a few council meetings. Oh yes.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:44:59

I thought Thatcher was bad enough.

Who'd have guessed that this lot were on the horizon? Playing: Let's abolish the state completely.

Why don't they understand we all like the state. We don't like them tho.

And as for locals running everything - who remembers Rotten Boroughs?

Thank you Madamimadam & packofcards.

HUGE thank you to Justine and m'net for arranging this webchat.

Unfortunately, due to my career, I am unable express my views under my own name on social networking sites, much less stand for councillor. Housing is the one issue that has been making me want to spit fire since the formation of the coalition government. It was really great to have the opportunity to tackle Mr Shapps directly. You've probably prevented me from getting an ulcer.

Well done ladies, I'd say we wrapped him up in foil, squirted him with a huge semen collecting device and gave him a thoroughly good roasting [completely non sarcastic grin]

Now please take his bloody photo off the front page, it's making me feel sick every time I log in!!

LadyBlaBlah Tue 07-Dec-10 15:51:00

That was some lecture

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:53:23

I know, Hully. I know. It's just so bloody depressing, isn't it?

Still, the Localisation Bill will be their monkey's paw won't it? Or at least, I fervently hope so.

Rotten boroughs, the undeserving poor. We really are being governed by the New Victorians, aren't we? But without their social conscience or thirst for improvement.

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 16:07:39

Yes, Thank you very much, Justine - and Geraldine. It was good to get him on here. And Geraldine, how you managed to type that email from him earlier, I'll never know. I really don't think it helped him get off on the right foot...

NotAnother. It was my first real webchat and, don't know about you but I just couldn't keep up with the soundbites. It's a shame as I'd have so much more respect for him if he'd really answered as a human being, rather than all these vague wafts of manifestoguff.

And Policywonk, if you ever do want to plan our campaign for local councillorship --throw shoes at our MPs/eat cake -- , do PM me.

LeninGrad Tue 07-Dec-10 16:13:31

You could jobshare.

Eleison Tue 07-Dec-10 16:26:08

Pleeese tell us, Geraldine, just how round and wide your eyes were as you posted his pre-chat missive, and whether you muttered anything about there being 'tears before bedtime mark my words'.

SantaIsAnAnagramOfSatan Tue 07-Dec-10 17:03:31

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

granted Tue 07-Dec-10 20:16:15

Well, I bet he enjoyed that immensely, and Tory HQ will be sending loads more victims ministers to discuss policy with us.

Such a shame I couldn't be there to laugh at chat with him personally.

grannieonabike Tue 07-Dec-10 20:36:11

GS: 'Thanks for your question. The answer is that we won't be deleting the green belt from here in Whitehall any more. We think that Instead we're going to leave these matters in local hands and in rural areas people will be able to make their own decisions about whether a few more homes in their own village would be a better use of space.'

Translation: 'We don't want to take the flak for unpopular decisions, so we're going to throw you to the dogs (developers) and watch them tear you and your community apart.'

There are some decisions that need a longer perspective than someone in the village shop thinking that some new homes will be good for business.

GS: 'They'll have to have a refendum about it and can only go ahead if they secure the support of other villagers.'

Translation: See above

GS: 'Also the developments will be small scale in nature.'

Says who? What real safeguards are there?

This is another thread, I know.

Feel really sad now. Thing is, mustn't let him split up the existing tenants from the prospective ones with his bogus reassurances. We are all in this together, and we do need to stick together.

<Goes off to chew on a light bulb>

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 21:15:28

Thanks for responding only you didn't quite make it clear whether you wish to keep prices stable and high or make them more rational? wink

I take it you really mean that you do wish to keep them artificially high because that looks like what you said

however if you control reckless lending and correct the need to be 37 (as per your post etc etc) then something has to give and it looks like it's going to be house prices.

High house prices help no one you know they create an illusion of wealth whilst transferring money from poor to rich and young to old

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 21:25:35

OK
I have a question for some on here.

Surely a cap on HB wont affect social tenants? The current LHA level is pretty generous, as others have posted there are landlords on here whose business model is based on charging exactly what the cap is and very profitable it is too in a lot of areas.
How would you overcome this?

Would it help to pay the rent direct to the landlords thereby 'encouraging' more to consider DSS tenants? Could even be tied in to the state of the property then too

I am concerned about devolving local green belt planning I'm sure lots of people on here know of instances where the local council approved some dodgy and unpopular housing schemes.

How would you deal with our local case where local councillors have suddenly decided to create priority school admission areas which magically include their house? difficult one surely having such a potentially huge financial conflict of interest should mean that they can't partake in that decision?

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 21:28:29

Well no surprises that Mr Shapps didn't answer my question or address any of the concerns in my pre-amble...

madamimadam - love your description of the Localism Bill as the ConDems "monkey's paw". I hope so too. They have been blaming the delay on the release of the details on the parliamentary timetable hmm but my guess is there's a battle raging in Whitehall as beleaguered civil servants try to tell their political masters that their proposals are contradictory, won't translate into robust legislation, and are quite simply mad in many respects.

Take the bits so far released about Planning:

"Householders! No more need to apply for planning permission to build your ugly extension! You go right ahead and build whatever you like!"

"Neighbours! No more need to go through the planning system to object to ugly extensions! You can just stop them by complaining!"

Erm...

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 21:34:44

ilovecrisps - yes your councillors need to declare a personal and prejudicial interest if they are going to personally benefit from any decisions like the one you cite, and they should not take part in any debate, or the subsequent vote. One of my colleagues has recently had to absent themselves from votes concerning the possible closure of a nursery attended by their child.

If you think your councillors are not behaving in a transparent and honest manner, you should take this up with the Standards & Complaints department of your local authority and make a formal complaint. This kind of bent, self-serving behaviour gives us all a bad name.

PS I have to confess to pmsl when Grant (or his aide) said "Hi ilovecrisps"

ilovecrisps Tue 07-Dec-10 21:35:37

grin

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 21:37:12

grin

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 22:00:10

Ah, Planning, as soon as I posted that I thought 'No-one else is going to have read it. And Mr S's aide will think Saki's a drink.' I do wonder how much longer the govt can spout this claptrap about getting us all involved in politics when people up and down the country at this very moment are 'putting change in their hands' protesting about tuition fees.

The planning points you've mentioned sound bananas. It's going to be a real mess, isn't it? I don't envy you one bit sad

He should have taken up your suggestion about 'democracy leave', too. If his proposals had an ounce of sincerity, they'd go for that.

And I really, really wish they did want to improve our local communities. Might as well wish for the moon on a stick.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 22:12:10

"OK have a question for some on here.

Surely a cap on HB wont affect social tenants? The current LHA level is pretty generous, as others have posted there are landlords on here whose business model is based on charging exactly what the cap is and very profitable it is too in a lot of areas.
How would you overcome this?

Would it help to pay the rent direct to the landlords thereby 'encouraging' more to consider DSS tenants? Could even be tied in to the state of the property then too"

The LHA level is currently set at 50% of median rents. This is to be downgraded to 30%. In London (not all of London, but a lot, and certainly central), this will mean that the LHA falls well below private rents, thus making HB tenants even less attractive than now.

This, coupled with the change in legislation so that HB is paid to the tenant and therefore there are frequently large arrears accrued, makes them singulalry unattractive to private landlords, most of whom are individuals with a few properties who cannot afford arrears and less than market rents as they have mortgages, service charges and other associated costs.

Add into the mix that once tenants fall into arrears the procedure to get them out is complex and lengthy, and the backlogue of London courts means the process can take over six months, and that when eventually you do have them evicted you will never recover the moiney because they don't have it - and you will see why private landlords are so reluctant.

If rent is paid direct (and bear in mind that you don't get deposits from HB either), then at the very least they need to match private rents.

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 22:15:47

The tories are hoping that landlords will drop rents, but they won't. The rental market is growing, because no one can afford to buy, and there are always renters for central London.

The reason they have delayed the introduction of the cap is because Tory mps in poorer London boroughs suddenly realsied they were to get an unwelcome and un vote winning influx of displaced Londoners..Plus the slightly unedifying spectacle of pensioners chucked on the street.

ZephirineDrouhin Tue 07-Dec-10 22:33:23

Shame Grant Shapps didn't feel able to address ThePlanningCommittee's post of 07-Dec-10 00:25:55. It was infinitely more informative and convincing on the subject of the role of councillor than anything he posted this afternoon, and it speaks volumes that he didn't touch it.

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 23:03:13

Hully - bang on. Not just an "un-vote-winning" influx of displaced Londoners, but displaced Londoners who are highly unlikely to vote Tory. Watch out for your seats, boys!

madamimadam - I know Saki isn't just a drink wink I had actually forgotten how chilling "The Monkey's Paw" is - a most appropriate analogy for 'Localism'.

The planning stuff in the LB (what we know of it so far) is just fucking mad to be honest - officers who have been working really hard over the past 2 years to produce a good Local Development Framework (aka City Plan) are now faced with having to come up with potentially scores of "Neighbourhood Plans" (around 50 in my unitary) on a vastly reduced budget. Mmm, that's gonna be great for productivity and cohesive, robust policy hmm

Glad you liked my suggestion about "democracy leave" - life is hard enough to juggle for most people without having to factor in evening meetings. Plus there's the simple fact that everyone is more tired and less able to think well after a long day. No wonder council meetings can be fractious and result in poor decision making. Local democracy needs to be professionalised, for the benefit of both elected representatives and members of the public alike.

Re-reading this thread, I'm actually gobsmacked about some of the total bullshit uttered by Mr Shapps on the reality of being a councillor, eg:

"Councillors can do their work on quite a flexible basis" - yes, in the evenings and at weekends - how super for family life hmm

"Legislation only requires that a councillor attend one meeting every six months" - yes, but the reality is that most councillors sit on policy committees and have at least one meeting every week - or at the very least, around 8 Full Council meetings a year (where all members are expected to attend) - believe me, residents and officers get pissed off very quickly if councillors are repeatedly absent from timetabled meetings. Indeed, by-elections have been known to be called...

"In terms of childcare, allowances for carers are available when councillors attend meetings" - not true for all meetings, and notoriously difficult to claim.

"Being a councillor is a great job for somebody who wants to read their correspondence in the morning, organise their thoughts in the afternoon and fire off some e-mails as and when they want" - what, like retired people and millionaires and that? hmm

"In terms of poor pay - it's important to remember that being a councillor is not a job, it's a vocation. There's no salary, but there are allowances to compensate people for their time. If you saw my mailbag, you'd know that many people are amazed that councillors get paid at all, and think those that do get paid too much. While the levels of allowances should be realistic, we also acknowledge that councillors can't be expected to work for nothing. That work is valued." - hahahahahahahhahaaaaaaa angry Listen Grant, being a Nun is a 'vocation'. Being a councillor is basically being a punch-bag for angry residents, for less than minimum wage. With no real powers to do anything to help. Especially not now your government has slashed our finances.

Grant, love, you are living in cloud cuckoo land. I note from your biog that you were never a councillor yourself (unlike Mr Pickles). I sincerely hope that between the Student Fees vote on Thursday and the car-crash that is your Localism Bill, your government falls and we return to the polls ASAP. Byeeeeeeee!

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 23:03:44

Thank you ZephirineDrouhin

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 23:10:13

absolutely, zephirine

Do you think it would be an idea to round up all the outstanding questions so that Mr S's aide can answer them? Or would that be a waste of time for me to do that?

But yes, Planning's comment at 00:25, would be the place to start, Mr S/MrS's aide.

Right off to bed, to sleep all the more soundly for being so throughly reassured here today hmm

Triggles Tue 07-Dec-10 23:28:51

Wow. Having now read through the whole 9 pages, I can see I didn't miss much. I could easily have gotten all that info off a pamphlet instead. That was a jumbled mix of standard, pat answers that often didn't even address the questions to which it was supposedly responding. I am disappointed, but hardly surprised.

Just once I'd like to see someone in government come on here and actually just answer our questions and be a normal person, not spouting the party line the whole time.

sigh... what a waste of time....

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 23:53:30

Triggles - I agree that Grant's sesh today was "MN by proxy" ie he had a gaggle of aides doing it for him.

In fairness to MNHQ though, other live chats with politicians have been genuinely "real time". IMO it's pretty symptomatic of the current govt's attitude that pat answers, written by poorly-paid interns, are preferable to genuine debate and engagement.

Can MNHQ organise a real live (not intern-aided) chat with 'Dave' or 'Nick' in the New Year... please...?

madamimadam - would be great if you can round up some of the unanswered qs for GS. While I would always do everything I can to encourage more women to get involved with the democratic / electoral process, to me GS's cant needs challenging as it's based on the assumption that being a councillor is easy. It's not. How can we make this better?

Sorry for all the long posts this evening, but I am pretty angry about this.

Triggles Tue 07-Dec-10 23:57:53

sorry TPC, wasn't trashing mumsnet... agree it seems to be standard policy of the current government to trot out standard answers instead of actually listening and discussing things.

ThePlanningCommittee Wed 08-Dec-10 00:12:57

No probs Triggles - I know you weren't dissing MN. It's not their fault or yours if politicians choose to be deliberately evasive or obtuse (or to employ less-than-minimum-wage labour to trot out their tired lines).

As someone who's in politics - albeit at a local level - I can completely understand how people feel like they're being just bullshitted repeatedly sad

Personally this is not my style and not why I stood for local election.

granted Wed 08-Dec-10 08:48:16

ThePlanningCommittee - you don't fancy being Prime Minister, do you?

You'd get paid a tad more than the minimum wage, and I'd vote for you! We need more of your type of politicians, and less of Grant's.

'His' answer to me started with a whole long preamble that bore no relation to anything I'd written, and then neatly sidestepped most of the questions I had actually asked, substituting a few random figures for overall analysis.

granted Wed 08-Dec-10 08:54:04

ThePlanningCommittee - you don't fancy being Prime Minister, do you?

You'd get paid a tad more than the minimum wage, and I'd vote for you! We need more of your type of politicians, and less of Grant's.

'His' answer to me started with a whole long preamble that bore no relation to anything I'd written, and then neatly sidestepped most of the questions I had actually asked, substituting a few random figures for overall analysis.

ilovecrisps Wed 08-Dec-10 11:00:51

Hully the LHA where I am would give me 1,700 pounds a month

Substantially more than we can afford to pay and have ever paid (and we both work)

how is it right that since it is that some landlords who will accept DSS charge that for what can often be grotty properties and we as taxpayers have to pay it

how would you overcome that?
(or wouldn't you)

My LA was proudly crowing the other day that they are about to restart their RTB scheme, I was shock to hear that

policywonk Wed 08-Dec-10 11:22:08

madam I will do!

Must say I think it's fair enough for webchat victims to post pre-prepared answers - god knows we gave Cameron enough stick for not answering quickly enough. Can't have it both ways. (Whether these were Shapps's answers or written by his spads is another q.)

Catchthewind Wed 08-Dec-10 11:26:38

What a missed opportunity for a spoonerism.

Hullygully Wed 08-Dec-10 16:42:03

As I said before, LHA should be based on the local market private rent. And deposits and and direct payments to landlords should be standard.

WilfShelf Wed 08-Dec-10 22:01:18

I have a break between worky things so I've just come here to say:

AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHA and, er, HAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA just a wee bit more.

Another quality Tory brain they've got there. And so much persuasive competence. grin 'Two Brains' Willetts must gnash his teeth in cabinet meetings.

madamimadam Thu 09-Dec-10 00:48:20

Planning, so sorry I missed your post at 23.00 or so yesterday in my Beechams-induced haze. I can't support granteds comments about you standing for PM enough!

You don't happen to live in Surrey, do you? I really, really hope you do. I'd vote for you and then vote for you some more (if they haven't sorted out the postal vote racket)

So sorry not to have rounded up the questions yet. I spent today emailing anyone I could get my hands on about the tuition fee vote tomorrow. I feel Mr Shapps would be proud of how I've thrown myself into politics recently. It's not 'off-putting' after all, is it? All it takes, it seems, is a government that doesn't actually have a mandate to govern, more regressive policies than you can shake a stick at and, goodness me, an X-factor-viewing mum suddenly becomes politically active. Who'd have thought it, eh Grant?

Am I through to the next round? Will I win the chance to shut down care for the elderly where I am?

Will post the questions tomorrow if that's ok, Planning. (Just hope I get it all right now!)

Sorry, everyone. That pre-chat missive still really rankles.

SantaIsAnAnagramOfSatan Thu 09-Dec-10 07:49:15

are you sure that's not 1700 as the maximum - so meaning if you had ten kids or something? it wouldn't be 1700 for a woman and one child i'd imagine. these things need to be looked at in their context. very few people get the maximums.

some really interesting posts since the chat. thank you.

Hullygully Thu 09-Dec-10 08:05:58

I think a weird thing happens to them once they become MPs - apart from the fact they're a teensy bit thick to start with (or why on earth would they want to become an MP?), the minute they are one they start thinking everyone else is a terrible dunderhead who can be bought off with a few soothing platitudes.

stressedok Thu 09-Dec-10 14:38:54

Why aren't the government reviewing the houseing problems for families. There are so many older people out there in council properties who got given a large council house because of their family sies. Their kids have now grown up and left home. Why not rehouse these people in smaller homes more suitable for their sie occupancy and then you would have a lot more larger properties for families who are in smaller overcrowded properties. What these older people need to realise is they don't own the houses just rent them. Once occupancy numbers are reduced in the large house they should no longer have the right to keep them.

SantaIsAnAnagramOfSatan Thu 09-Dec-10 15:40:02

and you need to realise that many of 'these older people' would love to be rehoused in their community in a smaller, more suitable property that they can cope better with. sadly they don't exist.

Catchthewind Thu 09-Dec-10 16:30:47

Well I'd just like to say, in any case, a Merry Shitsmas, Mr Crapps.

oops. <coughing fit>

Triggles Fri 10-Dec-10 10:53:51

I can see the reason why it would be difficult to relocate some of these elderly people in larger properties.
- it's the only home they've known for years and moving them could cause great stress for them
- if moved to another location, it then means they leave everything familiar to them - support, surgeries/GPs, transport routes, shopping locations for groceries and meds
- if moved, they are then unfamiliar with the people and more likely to be afraid of communicating with others, leaving them alone and more vulnerable
- some moves may put them in a position that is worse off in terms of transport - such as moving them from a home that is right near the bus line to one that is a long walk which they can't manage - again, leaving them alone and more vulnerable

I do wonder why the government can't purchase properties that are run down and fix them up and use them for council properties. It then does two things - gets a run down property repaired which automatically improves the area around it and makes one more house available to someone who needs it. God knows there are tons of these types of properties all over.

Hullygully Fri 10-Dec-10 13:23:37

I wonder what happened to Grant answering more queries?

Perhaps he ran out of hot air and meaningless platitudes.

SantaIsAnAnagramOfSatan Fri 10-Dec-10 14:16:05

the key thing is that there is nowhere to move them to. we need to be investing in elderly people's units in every community that are specifically close to amenities and can offer wardens, basic care and support to those who need it.

i just don't like the portrayal that these are selfish old gits sitting in big houses refusing to move - it just fudges over the fact there is no housing to move them to and they'd love to move them if they could but short of turfing them onto the streets they can't.

madamimadam Fri 10-Dec-10 22:52:59

Hi everyone. I'm sorry not to have posted the summary of the outstanding questions, but - being fairly new to MN webchats - I think I may have been overly scrupulous in detailing each query. It’s a pretty long list! I also got myself in a twist over whether I should include questions that were responded to but not really answered iyswim. (and then was concerned that would just be a matter of my opinion…).

I’m clearly not councillor material.

What’s everyone’s opinion? Should I put it up as pretty long post (if it includes specific case questions) or should I put up, say, six questions and we all add any others that we are particularly keen to see GS or his aide respond to?

Look at me, being trusting and thinking that they will actually come back and answer them...

ukgladiator Tue 14-Dec-10 19:37:16

I am suffering from mental health probles and learning difficulties, I am under medications.My landloard told me he wants his flat back ,I am facing to be homeless.
how can I stand on my feet without support?
I need to have a secure place to live.what dose short tenancy for 2 or 5 years mean?
social house is for vulnerable people, thats why they should be in reasonable price!!!!!!!!!!
If you take away the hope from these poeple how
they will be encouraged to change their life,to find the job,to buy their home?
If the rent goes up to %80 of the market,ones who earn £500 a month, how to pay the rent???!!
you should help people(sepecially vulnerable ones)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ukgladiator Fri 17-Dec-10 20:25:37

have you ever been living in hostle for five years?
do you have disability,mental health?
are you valurable person?
are you on low income,on the benefit?
If not how did you make this decision?
we the poor need low cost social housing.
we need support to stay on the feet.
we need more social housing for pepole on low
income.
this decision means the poor get poorer,the rich get richer.
what dose two years short tenancy mean?
what dose up to %80 rent of the market mean?
dosenot the poor have a right to have a permanent place?

ukgladiator Fri 17-Dec-10 20:27:10

have you ever been living in hostle for five years?
do you have disability,mental health?
are you valurable person?
are you on low income,on the benefit?
If not how did you make this decision?
we the poor need low cost social housing.
we need support to stay on the feet.
we need more social housing for pepole on low
income.
this decision means the poor get poorer,the rich get richer.
what dose two years short tenancy mean?
what dose up to %80 rent of the market mean?
dosenot the poor have a right to have a permanent place?

madamimadam Thu 30-Dec-10 22:58:26

Apologies, anyone who's still watching this thread. I meant to get the questions up but then my computer crashed with a virus and it's taken me this long to get back up and running, as my phone is virtually clockwork in its antiquity...

Anyway, Mr Shapps or callow aide (not that I think we'll ever see hide nor hair of either of you on this thread again...) here are the questions that, to this MNer at least, were still outstanding - and that you so kindly promised to answer hmm.

(Though they are being posted more to fulfill a promise to fellow MNers than in any expectation that they'll be answered.)

I've grouped them into 'areas' for clarity. There are a few, mind, so apologies for the less-than-succinct posts that follow:


Councillors
ZephirineDrouhin Mon 06-Dec-10 13:14:03
What will councillors actually be able to do to address, for example, the acute shortage of affordable housing?

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 00:25:55
Why would anyone want to be a local councillor under your Government's programme of cuts?

Ewe Mon 06-Dec-10 14:49:43
I would have spent over £3,500 on nursery fees {if work as a councilor took 20hrs a week}. Surely you can see that this doesn't inspire me to bash down the door of my local political party begging them to let me stand?

VoidofDiscovery Tue 07-Dec-10 12:17:09
Will they let me take the children into the council meetings when I'm elected? As a single parent with little money & no family near, have no other choice.

cakeywakey Mon 06-Dec-10 15:14:28
How are new candidates supposed to come forward when incumbents are constantly reselected???

ThePlanningCommittee Tue 07-Dec-10 00:25:55
Why would anyone want to be a local councillor under your Government's programme of cuts?

Will you end the 'right to buy' and will you empower local authorities to build new social housing without the need for a costly ALMO / LDV, in order to solve this country's housing crisis, reduce local waiting lists, and help those most in need?

ZephirineDrouhin Tue 07-Dec-10 22:33:23
Shame Grant Shapps didn't feel able to address ThePlanningCommittee's post of 07-Dec-10 00:25:55. It was infinitely more informative and convincing on the subject of the role of councillor than anything he posted this afternoon, and it speaks volumes that he didn't touch it.

(And Planning’s suggestion of democracy leave in the same post was also ignored by GS)

madamimadam Thu 30-Dec-10 22:59:16

Localism
policywonk Mon 06-Dec-10 11:40:30
If you really believed in localism, wouldn't you allow local councils more revenue-raising powers?

grannieonabike Mon 06-Dec-10 21:48:01
Can you assure us that your government is not trying to prepare us to accept the mass privatisation of the NHS and Higher Education systems and the involvement of for-profit organisations in local services, by getting us to accept your Big Society idea?'

Policywonk Tue 07-Dec-10 15:07:59
What will you do to ensure that anything that's not electorally popular will go down the tubes in local spending cuts, leaving the most vulnerable people even worse off?

Eleison Tue 07-Dec-10 15:37:19
How can the community-building of both localism and the Big Society can go hand in hand with the active undermining of local third-sector organizations?

Do you really think we believe you when you say that the handing over of local public service provision is an opportunity for community rather than business?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 14:13:59
If you do expect people to volunteer as carers in homes, run education services etc, who will pay for the CRB checks? And, as I am unqualified for such a role, who will pay for my training?

swanker Tue 07-Dec-10 14:44:45
A large authority also recently advertised for volunteers to carry out statutory duties (statutory data collections) because there has been a staffing freeze for so long there are no longer enough paid officers to manage the workload. How is that not replacing paid people with volunteers?

madamimadam Thu 30-Dec-10 23:05:13

Housing
superv1xen Thu 02-Dec-10 19:20:36
What can we expect the household income before families are kicked out told to find a private rented property is going to be set at?

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:11:42
<Central government is not setting a level of income above which you won't qualify for a social home - this is set at a local level.>??And that will be us local councillors, will it? And who will monitor that or which body could you appeal to if it was deemed necessary?

Are you going to do anything to help mere mortals on or just above the minimum wage get on the property ladder?

granted Thu 02-Dec-10 23:09:37
When do you intend to improve security of tenure and rights for tenants so that they are at a comparative level to other European countries?

Would you agree that it is unreasonable for children to be brought up in homes where they can be moved on the whim of a landlord every 6 months?

MmeLindt Tue 07-Dec-10 15:27:00
Re: capping rents ?{One} way of safeguarding tenants would be to improve their rights regarding landlords being able to turf them out at short notice. Would this be something that your government would look at? Improving renters’ rights?

Hullygully Tue 07-Dec-10 15:29:00
If people have to move away from existing social networks where they have help with child/ elderly parent care to an area where they have no support network and where there is even less likelihood of work - because let's face it, it's cheap for a reason - what exactly differentiates that from a dumping ground???

madamimadam Tue 07-Dec-10 15:36:05
Where I live there's been such an influx from London that our schools are oversubscribed. Developers have built lots of 'luxury' accommodation but there's no infrastructure. The school's issue alone has been a headache for the council. Where do you intend these displaced people to go? Will you fund the additional services that such an influx will create?

AllSheepareWhite Tue 07-Dec-10 15:15:52
Why has {is?} my borough allowed to decide the structure and living arrangements of our family, contradicting the Equalities and Human Rights Act when there is no provision to do this in the Housing Acts or the borough Housing Allocation Policy?

Housing benefit
ISNT Mon 06-Dec-10 20:11:19
Please can Mr Shapps confirm how many people will be forced to move due to the effect of the cap on housing benefit, how many of these are in London, how many children will be affected, and what plans are in place for their relocation (where are they going to go, will there be places at local schools for their children etc)?

ISNT Tue 07-Dec-10 15:17:42
"There is NO CHANGE to whatever your social housing arrangement happens to be. And there never will be under us"??So no-one will have to move due to the cap in housing benefit then?

packofcards Tue 07-Dec-10 15:20:55
Grant, I am sorry but I don't believe that. Things are going to be a lot worse for the poorest 20% of our country. From our point of veiw there has been a cap on hb, child benifit has been frozen vat going up from Jan. Where our we supposed to find the exta money from??

madamimadam Thu 30-Dec-10 23:11:18

I've posted all the housing questions in their original form, as it seems the most 'proper' way to do so but, with Hullygully's help, the following seem to be the most succinct key questions here:

Wouldn’t it be much fairer to set LHA according to comparisons of specific properties? Eg if you rent a two bed flat in Victoria, what are the market rents for the six nearest and most similar flats?

Where are social tenants (most of whom are low waged, not necessarily unemployed) supposed to live?

Do you have any plans to create a new contract between landlord and tenant that is fairer to both sides and offers protection to both sides?

And many, many thanks to Planning Committee and Hullygully for giving my summaries the once over and helping me trim it all down.

A very happy new year to one and all. Who knows? We may even hear from Mr Shapps in 2011...

karausedtobekelly Fri 21-Jan-11 23:52:13

hi my ame is kara i live in sheffield i have had a letter to get out of my house by my land lord by the 22nd january i have 4 children a 3 year old 1 year old and twins at 5 months which were 3 months early i have been to the council and they have will not give me priorty untill my land lord files for 2 more letters for court only then will they give me priorty,but by that time i have to leave the house i have no where else to go and one of the twins has chronic lung disease,i have postnatal depression and dont know who to turn to or what else to do i am so unhappy about my situation and because i work i dont get the help others get that are on benefits and because i work i think i should have more help

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