The Tories have got a new scheme to end the recession.
They want to scrap planning laws or, as David Cameron calls them, “hoops you have to jump through to get anything done”.
The government says it want to set firms free to expand their buildings and let people build bigger extensions on their homes.
For most people, extending their homes isn’t a top priority, even for those who do have the space, cash and ability to do so.
So the Tories have focused on something people do care about—getting a house in the first place. They will make it easier for people to get into debt to buy a home. That’s nice of them.
But the bulk of their plans are geared towards chucking money at business and attacking councils.
So they will underwrite firms to the tune of £10 billion to build homes. That means that if things go wrong, we’ll pick up the bill.
Meanwhile they will give just £300 million to build affordable homes and do up houses. And they will scrap the requirement for some developers to build “affordable housing”. Of course there’s no guarantee that much will actually be built.
The Local Government Association points out that there are 400,000 prospective homes that have planning permission but haven’t been built. Firms will only invest if they think they’ll make enough cash out of it.
The latest bonfire of rules and regulations won’t apply to councils. The Tories will put “poorly performing” councils into “special measures”—and let private developers bypass them.
And it could get worse. Chancellor George Osborne wants councils to have more “imaginative” ways of building. By that he means building on greenbelt land.
The government wants to scrap “red tape” to help firms make profits
It plans to underwrite £40 billion of private sector projects
This includes £10 billion for private housing development
Developers won’t have to build affordable homes if they say it’s “commercially unviable”
There are 720,000 empty homes in England, according to the Empty Homes Agency
Some 279,000 of these are long term empty
MPs splash the cash
MPs have got their snouts in the trough once again. New figures show that their expense claims have shot up by a quarter last year.
The 650 MPs grabbed £89.4 million in 2011-12. The cash was splashed on 50 iPads, a variety of Apple accessories and second homes.
Pensions rise—for some
Great news! The value of pensions has soared over the past year, according to the TUC. It predicts annual pensions of £240,191.
Unfortunately this only applies to the bosses. Their pensions have grown faster than workers’ ones. Top bosses’ pension pots are now worth £4.3 million on average.
Poverty rockets in Cameron’s Britain
So many children in Britain are living in poverty that the charity Save the Children has launched a campaign over it.
The charity usually runs campaigns to raise money for children in poorer countries. An estimated 3.5 million children in Britain are now living in poverty.
Life is getting harder for older people, too. A new report says that millions of pensioners are cutting back on food because of poverty.
For people aged between 65 and 74, real income has plummeted by 11 percent since 2008. At the same time the cost of living has soared.
Open for business
But at least some people are doing well in David Cameron’s Britain. The World Economic Forum (WEF) says Britain is the eighth best place in the world to do business. This is up on Britain’s previous tenth place ranking.
The WEF called for more attacks on laws protecting ordinary people. This would make Britain more “competitive”, it says.
Free school under fire over fake claim
A free school in Norfolk has proclaimed itself to be “outstanding”—before it even opened.
“Outstanding” is a category used by schools inspectorate Ofsted to judge schools. The Advertising Standards Authority has instructed the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust to remove the word from publicity regarding the Beccles free school.
Gove’s pizza pals
Will Domino’s Pizza be feeding your child this term? Surrey Heath constituency Tory party has received nearly £50,000 from a major shareholder in the firm between November 2005 and December last year.
Surrey Heath is education secretary Michael Gove’s constituency. Fast food chains are increasingly opening outlets near schools as fewer children eat school meals. Gove has been accused of a conflict of interest over the donations.
Know your enemy: Sir Andrew Green
Sir Andrew Green is founder and chair of MigrationWatch. He has called for a “blitz on bogus students” to cut immigration figures, and says overseas students “take jobs from British workers”. He thinks the government is “absolutely right” to attack London Metropolitan University
Poisoned? Get a sauna from a Scientologist
The Church of Scientology thinks it has the power to deal with the impact of deadly chemicals. The US sprayed southern Vietnam with Agent Orange during the 1960s and 1970s. This led to horrific deformities and illnesses.
Now Scientologists plan to descend on the country and give people saunas and vitamins to help them “detox”. Haven’t the victims suffered enough?