YEP Letters: May 9

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Leeds council development bosses have written to the Government to demand “radical” changes in policy - and the opening up of building rules - to help plug the city’s growing homes crisis. It comes in the wake of the Government’s Housing White Paper which admitted that the industry was dominated by volume house builders. Responding to the key findings in the report Leeds City Council claims in a new housing report that the policy document has “missed key opportunities to fundamentally address market failures” and to “boost regeneration including the reuse of brownfield land through more specific interventions and to support housing growth”.Here’s what YEP readers had to say about the issue..

Heather Douglas

How about anyone that has a council house, who doesn’t really need “affordable housing” (eg people earning well above average) should move out and pay private rent like the rest of us do? I know people on benefits earning more than I do, cheap house etc however I’m the one the working paying £1k per month rent.

Richard Edwards

When you can get a back to back in Holbeck for £55k, or a four-bed through terrace in Beeston (where I live) for £80k, I don’t understand how there’s a housing crisis in Leeds.

No, the older parts of inner Leeds may not be everyone’s first choice of areas, but maybe that’s the problem - people expect something in Horsforth or Chapel A that looks like it’s straight out of Homes and Gardens, for their first place on a graduate salary.

These houses were good enough for our grandparents and parents. And less desirable areas nevertheless have their advantages - big, cheap houses, lots of local facilities, close to town. And if people start moving here, the area, and its reputation, will begin to improve. Taking it back from the slum landlords and HMO barons will be the icing on the cake.

Lyndsay Kay

Maybe the council shouldn’t have torn down thousands of houses in east Leeds then sold the land to private developers who couldn’t sell the homes they built and so stopped building anymore! The council should now buy the land back and build the houses they should have done in the first place!

Ras-Levi Bassett-Williamson

Social housing built using the labour of those who need them. Skills learnt plus rent to repay the costs. Five to ten years and it’s all profit to be spent on other council departments, oh except the rent we all have to pay to the Duke of Westminster.

Nigel Bywater

I am surprised people are not blaming the EU for the housing crisis, everything else gets blamed on the EU. Let’s leave the EU to solve our housing crisis?

Elisa Stanley

Allow housing associations to build more and take over the running of neglected council estates! Look at Swarcliffe massive improvement since Yorkshire housing took the management from the council! Do the same in Middleton, Belle Isle, Gipton etc.

Chris Calvert

Leeds City Council is a Labour run council who have put forward plans to develop greenbelt land in Horsforth. Despite objections from locals they have chosen to ignore them and go ahead with their plans.

Keeley Princess Casling

Throw out tenants who don’t pay the rent... especially the ones that are paying back thousands at £3 a week!

Bill Palfreman

Move all greenbelts one mile out. Allow single family homes to be built without planning permission.

Mark Richardson

Stop discouraging private landlords by implementing additional stamp duty but instead fine those who offer sub standard accommodation.

Michaela Regan

What is the housing crisis? Don’t we have already a tonne of uninhabited council properties?

Tara Cook

Before the facile “build more houses” solution is quoted as canon, let’s just take a look at the empty and dilapidated houses all over the area. Currently the government charges VAT on a house renovated from uninhabitable, on top of that capital gains tax on its sale in a renovated state, plus council tax for an uninhabited property of up to 150% of usual rates when there is nobody living there, even if the property is completely uninhabitable.

This needs a supply side solution- 1: Allow building inspectors from local authorities to certify buildings as uninhabitable and charge a nominal amount - say up to £300- for certification.

This would be for things like missing kitchen, bathroom, boiler, serious structural damage etc 2: Exempt uninhabitable buildings from stamp duty to make them more attractive to buy. 3: Refund the council tax from uninhabitable certified properties for the period of renovation once it has been renovated (this still charges landlords from keeping empty properties whilst not discouraging renovation) 4: Remove capital gains tax from all sales of domestic dwellings and replace with a progressively dissuasive tax on buy-to-let property to encourage large-scale landlords to sell up.

Exempt social housing associations from the tax.

We need to get empty properties improved and used.

Robin Banks, via website

The “housing crisis” consists of many aspects, too many “expensive” houses being built, not enough low cost starter homes, not enough social housing etc.

There’s a long list of priorities but I speak as a local landlord who experiences simple to solve issues every single day. So here’s my contribution; government policy is to pay housing benefit directly to housing benefit tenants (a continuation of the policy introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government). Housing benefit tenant gets into arrears because broadly, they can’t manage their finances , which means landlord has no choice but to commence eviction process after a minimum of two months rent arrears because he has a mortgage to pay.

After a court process and roughly six months, the landlord gets their property back. Is that landlord going to rent to housing benefit tenant again? I’d say it’s highly unlikely.

And it gets better, the local housing authority will call landlords advertising their properties for rent to see if they can rehouse said tenant and so the merry go round starts again! And all of this could be avoided if the government policy was to pay housing benefit directly to approved landlords, you couldn’t make it up!

Jackie Thompson, via website

No-one is going to build 70,000 new homes for the simple reason that there won’t be 70,000 new households and no-one is going to build for non-existent customers/tenants.

The household growth predicted by the government for the Leeds area from 2012 to 2028 is 39,000. That’s the period covered by the Leeds Local Plan. The figures are on the governments’ Household Projections Live Tables.

Defective, via website

As a Conservative I will say what i said back in the 80s, Mrs Thatcher got it wrong when she decided to sell off council houses.

I said then if that had to be the case then for every council house sold two should be built by the council not allow housing associations to build them then recoup the money spent out of the housing benefit thus filling their wallets with taxpayers’ money.

Support for people coping with dementia

Judith Donovan CBE, chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign

May is the month of the Alzheimer’s Society’s annual Dementia Awareness Week (14-20 May).

The week asks people to unite against dementia by raising awareness and offering help and understanding to those coping with the condition. Every three minutes someone in the UK develops dementia in the UK – the equivalent of 225,000 people a year. Dementia is a difficult and challenging illness for those suffering and their carers. Caring for someone with dementia is physically and mentally exhausting – in many instances carers are not only responsible for the physical wellbeing of a patient, but also their financial welfare.

For the last four years, we have been working hard to address the growing issue of companies taking away consumers’ rights to receive their financial information in the format that is easiest for them – be it text, paper, email or a mixture of all three.

We have heard organisations pushing people to receive electronic communication, often without their consent and sometimes even without their knowledge. People suffering with dementia can struggle to remember the passwords, email addresses and pin codes needed to access online accounts. If a person receives paper statements, a carer can easily give financial guidance and provide support, enabling a sufferer to maintain their independence for longer.

We will continue our fight to ensure that consumers’ rights are honoured by companies and we ask your readers to do the same this Dementia Awareness Week. If we let organisations continue to overlook our wishes, it may be too late to get back what we have lost.

Continental speeding fines

Ernest Lundy. by email

France, the Netherlands and Belgium intend to fine UK drivers up to £640 for driving too fast on their roads.

All very well, many may say, serves them right if they do! But by a quirk of EU law Europeans caught speeding in the UK cannot be pursued by British police.

These laws come about just as thousands of British drivers will be preparing to set off for summer holidays abroad.

Furthermore in at least 14 EU countries the owners of vehicles will be ultimately responsible for the fines, even if they were not behind the wheel at the time.

But UK police will not be able to fine drivers from the EU. It is estimated that lost speeding fines by foreign drivers cost the British government more than £2 million a year in lost income.

Considering that those of us who travel on the continent have been paying tolls for years, while continental drivers in the UK do not, the time to impose similar charges on them is long overdue. As we are being made to look foolish in comparison.

Celebrating Nurses’ Day

Glenn Turp, Regional Director, RCN Yorkshire and the Humber

Across Yorkshire and the Humber, nursing staff are preparing to celebrate a day very close to our hearts.

Nurses’ Day is marked around the world each year on 12 May – the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

It is a time when we come together to celebrate the work that nurses and healthcare assistants do every day of the year, a hard-working army of thousands going above and beyond for their patients.

Some nurses will use the day to have a tea party, run a conference or exhibition, or simply take a short time-out from their busy schedule for lunch – something a lot of people take for granted, but which for nursing staff can be a luxury.

This year, the Royal College of Nursing is celebrating nursing staff for the superheroes they are.

Readers can help by telling your stories of how nurses and healthcare assistants have been your heroes.

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter please use the hashtag #nurseheroes and tag us @RCNYorksHumber.

Our members greatly appreciate the support they receive from the public, which keeps them going during their busy shifts and the tough times.

Our nursing staff will do their best to continue to be your heroes.

YEP Letters: August 18