Jan 092014
 

In my recent posts I have dealt with the projected increase in households Wales will see in the next few decades. Predictions made by civil servants answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London, and who are provided with a fig leaf of ‘Welsh’ credibility by Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration in the self-styled ‘Welsh’ Government.

One problem is that these household projections made by the DCLG’s Knowledge and Analytical Services unit (KAS) have been used to formulate Local Development Plans that insist Welsh local authorities plan for the building of new dwellings in quantities that cannot be justified by any future Welsh demand. But we mustn’t overlook the fact that, while the majority of these new properties will be for sale, a sizeable percentage will be for rent. Which is an opportune moment to introduce you to the Housing (Wales) Bill, new legislation proposed for the rented sector in Wales. This Bill is currently being nodded through by the buffoons down Cardiff docks, with Carl Sargeant again acting as ‘fig leaf’.

Let’s look at the Bill; click here or read it below to appreciate the emotional-ideological triggers designed to elicit the right response from the right-on: ‘Social housing’ – ‘Hooray!’ ‘Private landlords’ – ‘Boooo! Bastards‘ ‘People with “problems”‘ – ‘Ah! Poor dabs.’ ‘The Homeless’ – ‘Bloody market forces’. ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ – ‘Innocent victims of persecution’. Among other things, this Bill is an attack on the private rented sector. For it seeks to ensure that housing associations, charities and the like, have a virtual monopoly in the rented sector. Which would be bad for Wales. We know what housing associations are guilty of now; if this Bill becomes law it will give them carte blanche to ignore local need and concentrate on taking in England’s problems. Before explaining the Bill’s other intentions, I want to mention something that throws light on issues raised in recent posts, and also helps us better understand the Bill.

I previously mentioned that the household numbers projection came from the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit of the Department for Communities and Local Government but, so the KAS claimed, was based on population projections made by the Office for National Statistics. So I contacted the ONS to ask if they produced their own households projections. By way of response, I was provided with this link, which takes us back to the DCLG! (The ONS has subsequently confirmed that household projections “is sourced to the Department for Communities and Local Government”.)

Clicking on the link in the second paragraph takes us here. Scroll down and you will read what I have reproduced in the panel. What struck me was the phrase “changes in household formation contributed about 3% of household growth”. Which means that, as the ONS predicts Wales’ population will increase by 247,000 between 2012 and 2037 then, with an average household size for Housholds contribution to growththe period of 2.12, and allowing for the 3% (changes in household formation), the projected increase in population could be accommodated with roughly 120,000 new dwellings. Yet the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit, speaking through its mouthpiece, Carl Sargeant, says we must prepare for 323,009 or even 331,168 new dwellings between 2008 and 2033. Doesn’t add up, does it? Let’s go back to the Bill, and something else that caught my eye.

If you go to the ‘Welsh’ Government website page for the Bill, and click on the link for Explanatory Memorandum, scroll down on that document to Section 3.4, you’ll see that alongside the opening word “Research” is a tiny 4, directing the reader to a reference that, in this case, takes us to Housing Need and Demand in Wales 2006 – 2026, by Alan Holmans and Sarah Monk of the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research. On this document scroll down to 2.12 and you’ll read what I’ve reproduced in the panel.one-person households This research tells us there will be an increase of 269,000 new households between 2006 and 2026, to cater for a projected population increase (ONS) of 282,600. With an average of some 2.12 persons per household this is a very high figure . . . but there’s an explanation – 66 per cent of that increase will be made up  of one-person households, and 21 per cent one-parent families!

If these predictions are correct, then they presage either the end of family life as we have known it, or they warn us to anticipate an influx of the elderly, the unemployed / unemployable, ex-cons, substance abusers, single mothers, ‘battered wives’, etc. This, let me remind you, is the “research” that underpins the Housing (Wales) Bill and the Local Development Plans. (The figure used by Sargeant is just an ‘updated’ version.) Reliable “research” that elsewhere – Table D6, page 98 – informs us that Denbighshire will see over 80,000 more households between 2006 and 2026! To put this into perspective, at the census of 2011 Denbighshire had just 40,500 households.

The evidence presented in this post, and recent posts, suggest strong linkage between the Department for Communities and Local Government in London and Carl Sargeant, the ‘Welsh’ Minister for Local Government and Communities. The Local Development Plans, for which Sargeant acts as front man, are ruthlessly pushed through by the Planning Inspectorate using ‘statistics’ concocted by the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit (aided by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research). Both are arms of the DCLG. Now it appears that the linkage may be getting even stronger.

A comment to my previous post provided this link. It tells us that the DCLG is providing funding – made available by the European Investment Bank (EIB) – to social housing providers. Something that should be of little interest to Wales . . . except that down among the English organisations listed as recipients of this funding we see the Wales and West Housing Association, which is receiving “up to £25m to build 251 homes in Wales & West HousingWales”. Does it qualify because it’s a cross-border outfit? I don’t think so; the website says it has offices in Cardiff and Flint (convenient for Merseyside) but says nothing of any activities in England. So why is an English government department giving money to a Welsh housing association to build properties in Wales? Why isn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government handling this funding? One suggestion is that this is devolution being secretly rolled back. And here’s another oddity. This Bill is, supposedly, Welsh legislation, dealing with housing and building in Wales – yet in 85 pages it contains not a single reference to the Welsh language!

In fact, the Bill abounds with curiosities. Here’s another. I was struck by the number of references to ‘England’, thirty-nine in all. So, for comparison, I consulted the Housing (Scotland) Bill, and do you know what? – it doesn’t contain a single reference to ‘England’. Because the Scottish Bill is precisely that – legislation for Scotland; whereas the ‘Wales’ Bill is yet more Englandandwales treachery, legislation that seeks to fully integrate social housing provision in the two countries. But not equally. For the Bill seems to suggest that someone refused social housing in England because of criminal or other behaviour must be housed in Wales. And that a local connection to any English local authority counts as ‘local connection’ in Wales!

Thirty-nine references to England and no mention of the Welsh language should tell you all you need to know about this Bill, and why it should more honestly be renamed the Housing (Englandandwales) Bill, for that’s what it is, and it’s been handed down by the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. It’s a plan to give more money and powers to ‘Welsh’ housing associations – bodies exempt from Freedom of Information legislation – in order that they can take in tens of thousands of English tenants. Why now? Well, for a start, there’s the ‘bedroom tax’, and the changes in benefits, which will result in many thousands being moved out of London. Now the UK government is talking about reducing housing and other benefits for under-25s. We could be moving towards a situation where, with legislation being slightly different in Wales to England, Wales takes in a large part of the London exodus; a paedophile refused accommodation in Birmingham could be housed in Bargoed; a young criminal evicted from a flat in Bradford will be dumped in Barmouth; and non-working families with 7 or 8 unruly kids will become your neighbours in Blaenau Ffestiniog or Blaenau Gwent. Because, don’t forget, the Department for Communities and Local Government is calling the shots, framing the legislation and dishing out the cash.

It would be nice to think that some, at least, of our AMs will see the Housing (Englandandwales) Bill for what it really is, but most will fall for the ‘triggers’ and think it ‘progressive’. And all the while, those who wish to destroy Welsh identity through colonisation will be smiling; and the parasites of the Third Sector, Labour’s Fifth Column, will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of the increased power, and more money, they’re being handed by a Tory minister in London! Wales carved up by the Brit Right and the Brit Left, both getting what they want. With we Welsh losing out, yet again.

The consultation period ends on January 17th.

Please make your feelings known about this disgraceful Bill.

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18 Comments on "Lebensraum and the Rented Sector"

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Cymru Rydd
Guest

Great work Jac. This is the type of “unseen” influence and pressure from powerful forces which most of us can sense is causing massive change in our communities, although we may not be able to put our finger on things precisely. But, how to have a real public debate about it and engage our fellow citizens?

As one who was a big supporter of Y Byd project- a Welsh language daily paper- I know feel that a new English-language daily newspaper in Wales actually is more of a necessity at this point in time. Y Byd would probably cater only for the converted at the start, but a new English-language newspaper, sympathetic to Wales and the Welsh language, could be a game-changer. Surely it is not beyond the realms of possibility for a group of people who have Wales’s real interests at heart to get such a project off the ground? What about a column to kick things off?

Red ²
Guest

From the written statement issued by Carl Sargeant
Part 1: Regulation of Private Rented Housing
The private rented sector is playing an increasingly important part in meeting housing needs. The Bill sets out requirements with respect to registration and licensing of landlords operating within the private rented sector. This will help improve standards in the private rented sector, make more information available on landlords for local authorities and tenants and lead to raised awareness by landlords of their rights and responsibilities.

Please explain, Jac, how this “seeks to ensure that housing associations, charities and the like, have a virtual monopoly in the rented sector.”

Cymru Rydd:
A newspaper that concentrates on instances, and there are many of them, where national dailies mislead and lie to their readers would be helpful. It is not a difficult task to identify total BS as all it takes is an independent mind and the internet.

gogarth
Guest

Without identifying myself via any details, I work within the health sector within central north Wales, and I am involved with screening new referrals into a particular speciality. The referrals we receive are notable in that those who are referred into the service are not representative of the local demographic in that the service we provide is predominately made up of individuals relocated into north Wales from invariably England (Liverpool and Manchester primarily). In a recent referral meeting we had one local individual out of a total of fifteen referrals…this is the norm. Staff are noticing this pattern and have done for some time and it has become somewhat of a grim joke. Invariably these individuals are very vulnerable and come from very damaged backgrounds and have little by way of social networks and rely heavily upon public services and social housing. No official data is captured on patient origins so it will not be accessible via the freedom of information act, our managers are by and large English and appear oblivious of this trend and certainly suggesting this data should be collated would fall on deaf ears and would likely cause the clinician significant problems.

Red ²
Guest

Is this a reciprocal arrangement where vulnerable adults in central north Wales are referred to England’s social services?

gogarth
Guest

It may in part be reciprocal but if it is the ratios would be weighted as Jac stated. Often it seems to be an attempt by the individual to escape from an invalidating home environment and north wales is often viewed as a place that people have been on holiday to and a place to start again. These individuals often have very poor lifestyles with comorbid health problems and are economically inactive and often are being seen by a myriad of different departments and agencies to address their problems.

It would be interesting to see though if there is any awareness of these apparent trends though at a governmental level to consider the impact upon services, budgets and the wider community culture and welbeing

Red ²
Guest

Surely the intake of vulnerable adults from another region should depend on the availability of social services staff etc., and their ability to cope. If Council services have been given extra resources to deal with a large number of clients from outside of the local boundary it would suggest that there is a deliberate policy. Follow the money and find out.

Your point about data 12/1/13 7:16pm:
Most government forms ask for full name, date of birth, place of birth, nationality.
In the case of social services there will be an entry on the database about which organisation referred the individual. Collating the data is a doddle.

gogarth
Guest

I can’t comment on social care generally but working with colleagues from social care I do not think that a departments resources is taken into account. Many colleagues start work early, finish late and come into work on their days off to keep up with statutory requirements for providing case work this is quite straight forward evidence that services are struggling to cope. This is the case with health services too.

Demographic information is recorded in referral information but is not recorded on data bases. There appears to no will to collect it at a service level and politically I would have thought this would be highly contentious and would not be encouraged by Cardiff either. Looking too closely at the demographic change in Wales and the utilisation of resources used in health and other services would be politically very uncomfortable for all political parties.

Red ²
Guest

Government security services can track every adult who has a mobile phone and/or a bank/credit card but heaven forbid anyone keeping tabs on people at risk.

Anonentity
Guest

Red – Do government forms ask for nationality? Maybe you mean ethnic origin which is always asked for and is quite a different thing.

Red ²
Guest

A quick look at DirectGov forms on the internet confirms that they do ask for nationality. You are right ethnic origin is different from nationality.

Galés Patagónico (@gwynn10)
Guest

“The consultation period ends on January 17th.” I did not awaken already, is this the period for adding comments, or something else?

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