Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, Local Government House
Leader of the Labour Party, Smith Square
House of Commons, London
London SW1P 3HZ
We are heartened to hear reports that Labour might commit to scrapping the Bedroom Tax at Party Conference this week. We are writing to offer you our support in making that commitment.
As Leaders and Mayors of Councils we know how hard people are being hit by rising bills, frozen or cut wages and cuts to the services they rely on. We know how hard the Government’s benefit cuts are hurting the most vulnerable in our society. We also understand the difficult financial constraints a future Labour Government would have to work under. We know that Labour will not be able to get the economy on track straight away, that the cuts will continue to bite and that the welfare reforms will continue to hurt people long into a Labour Government. As leaders we know that difficult and unpopular decisions sometimes have to be made. And we know that you will have tough messages to give our supporters in the months to come. But people need hope
That is why we are writing, to ask you to announce at this year’s conference that if Labour wins the next General Election it will scrap Bedroom Tax at the earliest opportunity.
Our Party’s current public position is that Labour wants the Government to scrap the Bedroom Tax, but as we won’t say what we will do if we win the next election our position seem disingenuous. It gives space to our political opponents from parties who are not in Government to attack our party for a policy we oppose, it is demoralising for our activists and most importantly it allows our potential supporters to say that there is no difference between us and the Conservatives. 2
Announcing our position on this now will galvanise our activists, give us a real dividing line for the European and local elections and most importantly give the people who are being hurt by Bedroom Tax something to believe in.
We know that rightly you want to make sure that our Party has a strong reputation for financial responsibility. We all know that the Government has never made a proper financial analysis about the hidden costs of bedroom tax. Forcing people to move from a socially owned property to a privately owned property costs more in housing benefit. Chasing people for small debts can cost a lot more than it brings in. Evicting people for not paying rent and rehousing them is very expensive. Some councils and housing associations are no longer able to let out three bedroom properties and this is hurting our rental income and our ability to finance more property building.
We will supply you with whatever cost information you need be we also know that whatever financial argument we make for the abolition of the Bedroom Tax the Conservatives will not listen to it and they will go on the attack.
For us the finances are not the main issue. This is an argument about principles, the true costs of the bedroom tax are human and are far worse.
We know that that the Bedroom Tax is disproportionately hitting disabled people, 420,000 people who need space for carers, washing space and equipment are being affected by it. People are getting into arrears which is causing them anguish. They are forced to move out of their neighbourhoods and away from their support base because there is a shortage of one bedroom properties - a situation that has built up because councils listened to governments of all parties and built properties big enough for families. We know that the Government gave local authorities discretionary housing payments but that money only covers £1 in every £7 cut from the benefit changes and in many councils it has already run out. We know that many of our residents are not getting in to arrears yet because they are turning to pay day leaders and we know what the impact of that will be. The Bedroom Tax is forcing people who cannot work out of their homes and in to debt. The Bedroom Tax hits the most vulnerable in our society and it hits them hard. We cannot have a One Nation Britain while Bedroom Tax exists.
Committing to repealing the Bedroom Tax also sends an important signal to our supporters; We know times will be difficult but Labour will do things differently. Labour will offer hope.
We offer our full support in making your announcement and working with you to repeal the Bedroom Tax. 3
Friday, 20 September 2013
Monday, 16 September 2013
Allan Hepple Policy Board member for Housing and Regeneration said:"Cambridge doesn't have to drain or build on its areas of outstanding natural beauty to accommodate additional companies, those companies simply need to think about the advantages moving to the clean north east can bring to their industry, facilities and their family lifestyles."
Planning Permission approved for Commissioners Quay Development
Plans for the first phase development of the Commissioners Quay site on Blyth Quayside were approved last month by Northumberland County Council’s South East Area Planning Committee.
The landmark new development, referred to as Blyth Workspace, will help to regenerate the long term vacant site and help to enhance Blyth Estuary’s reputation as a centre of excellence in renewable energy and research. Over the next three years Arch, The Northumberland Development Company is leading the delivery of a mixed use development of the wider Commissioners Quay site as part of the broader regeneration of Blyth Estuary and town centre.
Arch’s vision is to create a high quality mixed use scheme, which could include commercial, residential and retail/leisure uses. To realise this vision, Arch has appointed a specialist team led by award winning Xsite Architecture to produce a new masterplan for the site, of which Blyth Workspace will be a centrepiece and first phase of the development.
Blyth Workspace will be a high quality, well designed, sustainable and contemporary workspace, targeted to attract organisations within the energy sector. The superb new serviced office accommodation will consist of 1,950 sq. m (21,000 sq. ft.) of high quality new office space to let with a range of office sizes; informal meeting and social areas; conference room facilities; high quality landscaping and access.
Arch is currently in the process of procuring the main contractor to build the Workspace with a target start onsite this winter and completion the beginning of 2015.
The development has received £2.977m investment from the North East European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 and £2.5m from the Homes and Communities Agency. Funding of £2.6m is currently being considered from the NELEP North East Investment Fund.
Peter McIntyre, Arch Group Managing Director said: “This is a flagship project for Arch, our partners and Blyth, designed to build on key business strengths of the sub-region and to establish facilities which will attract and grow new jobs and high growth enterprises. Our aim is to offer high-quality serviced office accommodation aimed to attract businesses in the energy sector which will add an exciting new dimension to the site and wider development and regeneration of the Blyth Estuary”.
Dave Ledger, Arch Group Chair & Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council said:
“The approval of the planning application is a major step forward for the project and we are excited about turning the plans into reality. There is currently no workspace of this type on offer in Northumberland and it will be central to the wider regeneration of the Quay.”
Richard Wildsmith, Project Advisor at the Homes and Communities Agency said:
“This planning approval is great news since it will help create and protect jobs as the local economy starts to recover. The HCA’s investment of £2.75m will support the Enterprise Zone and help ensure that the scheme is delivered as quickly as possible”.
Cllr Neil Foster, Deputy Chair of the North East ERDF Local Management Committee, which engages key partners in the overseeing of the strategic delivery of the Programme in the North East said:
"ERDF investment in Blyth Workspace will bring benefits to the community and businesses working in renewable energy sectors by creating high quality office space aimed at enhancing the competitiveness and growth of small and medium businesses, generating high quality jobs. The project will have a positive physical impact through new quality premises located close to the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) and this coupled with the benefits of being located on an Enterprise Zone will work to attract businesses to Blyth creating further jobs and allow existing businesses to expand and thrive."
Notes to Editors:
The project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs
Arch, The Northumberland Development Company has been established by Northumberland County Council as an arms-length development company to drive capital economic development, physical regeneration projects and business growth in Northumberland.
Arch brings together five subsidiary companies delivering services in housing, commercial enterprise facilities, digital change and physical regeneration. The company has a clear economic focus and will help Northumberland develop credible sites and propositions to win new jobs and businesses for the area.
Contact for further information
Alexandra Wiley, Arch Marketing and Communications Manager:
Tel: 01670 528495