Saturday, 27 August 2011
Local authorities should encourage residents to live on boats to ease Britain’s lack of affordable housing, the Housing Minister has said
Grant Shapps said that boats with residential moorings could be used to allow people to live in areas of the country where they could not afford to do so otherwise. Around 15,000 people live on the UK’s waterways and many more “would like to do so”, the minister said. Half the population lives within five miles of one of Britain’s waterways.
Mr Shapps said that new moorings could be eligible for the Government’s New Homes Bonus, meaning that councils could receive funds to invest in waterside areas. The UK’s current housing shortage requires around 60,000 new homes to be built per quarter for the shortfall to be met. Mr Shapps said that houseboats are an example of how “unconventional housing” can be used to tackle the crisis.
“Whilst they will never overtake bricks and mortar in putting a roof over the heads of families, innovative new ways of housing families – such as residential moorings – play an important role in allowing people to live near to their place of work, children’s school, or family, and where perhaps they would not be able to afford to otherwise,” said Mr Shapps.
He said that the Government’s localism agenda could be an opportunity for houseboats to be given “a new lease of life”. Sally Ash, head of boating at British Waterways, said: “The number of people visiting and enjoying our canals and rivers has grown in recent years and this waterways renaissance has triggered strong demand from people wanting to live afloat. We welcome the minister’s encouragement to local authorities to support the creation of purpose built residential mooring sites.”
Alan Wildman, chairman of the Residential Boat Owners’ Association (RBOA), said: “Living afloat is arguably the most sustainable, lowest impact way to live.”
Can you think of any other examples of “unconventional housing”, children?
Friday, 26 August 2011
Private investors will be encouraged to fund intensive help programmes for troubled families under a trial launched by the government on Friday, writes Randeep Ramesh in the Guardian.
Ministers want philanthropists, charities and other organisations to plough cash into projects for 120,000 families to reduce the number of days their children spend in care, lower the rate of teen pregnancy and cut the number of visits to hospital accident and emergency wards.
Investors who put cash into a "social impact bond" will be paid a dividend for any successful project. Nick Hurd, the minister for the big society, says £40m could be raised by four bonds to be launched in pilot schemes in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster and in Birmingham and Leicestershire.
These areas contain more than 6,000 "troubled families", leading such chaotic lives that taxpayers fork out more than £100,000 a year per family. But this cost can be shrunk by a dedicated team working intensively with the families to keep children in school, end domestic violence, force adults to kick drugs and drink and deal with mental health issues. Last week, in a response to the riots, David Cameron said all such troubled families would be helped within four years.
Although such "family intervention projects" were introduced by Labour more than five years ago in the four boroughs now targeted by the government, ministers said fewer than 150 families had been aided. The first of the new schemes will be running by April 2012. Investors will take a share of savings made by the government in a four-year period.
These profits could be substantial, with a pilot scheme in Westminster showing that £20,000 "invested" in a problem family could save £40,000 that would have been spent deploying social workers, police and child protection staff.
"We want this to take off pretty quickly," said Hurd. "I have had meetings with all the banks representing high net worth individuals who all wanted to talk about social impact bonds. Eventually we want a new asset class, social ISAs, where even me with my paltry savings could invest and get financial and social returns."
Hurd said the new bonds were a step change for the idea of social finance, with only one other bond proposed by the government. That first £5m bond, backed by the Ministry of Justice, aims to resettle 3,000 ex-offenders in Peterborough and reduce reoffending. If crimes committed by the former offenders fall by 7.5%, the funders could see an £8m payout.
Natasha Bishop, head of family recovery at Westminster council, told the Guardian that its scheme had been successful enough to bring more than a dozen families into work. "The biggest issue for us in Westminster was controlling the domestic violence issue. "We worked hard with police on getting information from families on how many times people had been hit or throttled."
She said the bonds would help councils recoup their own investments. "However, in the evaluation for our cutting-edge pilot with 50 families, the council helped to save 42% of the costs but received zero return on our investment. That will change."
Monday, 22 August 2011
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Saturday, 13 August 2011
London “mayor” Boris Johnson has suggested he will be providing a measured analysis of the week’s events, saying: "There are rich ideological pickings for both left and right. And there are issues here that can cause heart-searching on both sides of the political argument. I do not think we can simply ascribe it to wanton criminality or simply ascribe it to 'Tory cuts’ or whatever."
Monday, 8 August 2011
Police Commander Christine Jones said the police had "extra resources" on duty across the capital on Sunday. "Anyone else who thinks they can use the events from last night as an excuse to commit crime will be met by a robust response from us." she said in a statement. Three shops were damaged, and two of them looted, in Enfield and the rear window of a police car was smashed, police said, adding that several people had been arrested.