YEP Letters: December 1

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There are many affordable homes in Leeds

Russell Manning, Manning Stainton estate agents

Re: Evening Post Headline 26/11/15- ‘Why you need to earn £40,000 to buy a house in Leeds’ and the subsequent article with it.

The headline in itself is entirely misleading implying that unless you earn £40,000 per year you will not be able to buy a house in Leeds, this is entirely incorrect.

Yes, given an average house price in Leeds according to this survey of £178,000 a single buyer would require earnings in the region of £40,000 or more in order to purchase. That however is rarely the reality in practice.

At Manning Stainton we sell significant numbers of properties between £50,000 and £130,000 across the greater Leeds area. This clearly gives prospective house buyers ample opportunity to purchase property well below the ‘average’, as suggested. Further many purchasers buy jointly with partners essentially doubling up income and therefore increasing significantly affordably.

Whilst the market in Leeds over the last couple of years or so has been quite robust with much improved activity from the difficult post-crash years and whilst there has been an improvement in house prices during that time they have tended to be in lower single figures rather than the hysterical headlines we often see, these tend to refer to London and the South East.

At Manning Stainton we recorded an average house price increase in 2014 of approximately four per cent across our market. We expect 2015 will be broadly similar. Ever increasing house prices in excess of earnings can and will create problems but for the moment at least there are many affordable buying opportunities in our region.

That said we do fully support the Government’s objective in the creation of more new housing and in particular affordable property for sale and rent especially for first time buyers. A more balanced overview would be more helpful to those seeking to purchase a home especially for the first time.

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Take part in consultation

Cllr Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults

I am writing further to your recent article relating to non-residential Adult Social Care charges and delayed discharges from Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. It is a mark of the success of our NHS and care services in Leeds that we have a growing older population and people living much longer than in the past, including those with multiple long-term conditions and learning disabilities. However, this means we have had a significant increase in demand for our services which will continue to grow as our budget continues to be cut by central government.

The two per cent “Adult Social Care Precept” on Council Tax announced by the Chancellor last week would raise £5 million in Leeds.

We know the shortfall for Adult Social Care in the next year alone is £20 million - so it is a drop in the ocean compared to what we require to meet the needs of people in Leeds.

As central government funding to local authorities continues to be slashed and demand grows, Leeds City Council is under pressure to find more efficient and cost-effective ways of doing things.

In Leeds Adult Social Care has been protected as far as possible from these budget pressures and has retained a greater percentage of the reduced Council Budget. Council Budget spend on Adult Social Care has risen from 29 per cent in 2010/11 to 37 per cent in 2015/16 - a bigger slice of a smaller pie.

However, the financial pressures and increase in demand for services means that the situation as it stands is unsustainable. It is important to note that the Council receives a far lower income from fee charges to service users in comparison to other local authorities.

This is why we are undertaking a full and genuine consultation with services users and the public to look at how we can make non-residential services more sustainable for the future.

Two of the options we are looking at is the raising of the cap on costs or the removal of that cap.

Of our six neighbouring authorities four have no cap and of those who have retained a cap, Calderdale set it at £380 and Wakefield set it at £420 (both roughly double the cap Leeds currently has).

As part of this consultation, we are listening to all the views received and I hope that people are reassured by the fact that we have a very good track record of carrying out consultation, for example with previous decisions made in relation to residential care back in 2011 and 2013, where we listened to all of the views received and made changes to proposals accordingly.

I therefore want to encourage people to take part in the consultation, which they can do in several ways: by calling 0800 1381910 (between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday), by emailing charging.review@leeds.gov.uk or by texting (for deaf customers only) on 07891 279113.

Tackling the challenges

Cllr Dan Cohen, Shadow Spokesman for Culture & Skills, Alwoodley Ward

I am writing in response to your recent article regarding proposals to introduce, or increase, charges for a number of council provided services (‘We must get brutal to boost city coffers’, YEP 25th November).

It is really positive to see fellow councillors, particularly from the ruling administration, recognising what needs to be done to help tackle the financial challenges all councils are facing.

We are working together to maximise sensitively the way in which the council can examine the full range of options for generating additional funding, and it was heart warming to see administration councillors embracing this at Scrutiny Board meetings this week.

However, whilst the council may be shifting itself to a more commercial basis, it is important to remember that ultimately any increased fees and charges will lead to the people of Leeds footing the bill; the council should be cautious it is not simply introducing stealth taxes that hit people in their pockets.

Fiddling while Rome burns

Andy Hodgson, Selby

Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on his party’s strife over the ISIS issue in Syria reminds us of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

YEP Letters: August 18