Your most recently used preferences will be stored in cookie and used for future visits.
Community Grant Fund 2013
2013 Community Grant Fund now open for bids Our Community Grant Fund 2013 is now open for ...
Rent Payments 2013-2014
An extra Monday? Most years have 365 days – 52 weeks and one extra day. Every few years that ...
Herefordshire Housing iPhone App
Herefordshire Housing has launched an iPhone App This application is a comprehensive engage...
Sign up for cheaper energy
Herefordshire Housing Ltd has joined the Cheaper Energy Together partnership - We want to help you...
Revised Council Tax Scheme
To find out more about the proposed Council Tax Changes please click on the following link: ht...
Peter Brown, Chief Executive of Herefordshire Housing, shares his thoughts on the big issues in housing.
"We get overwhelmed with information nowadays so I thought it would be helpful if I described my thoughts on topical issues. There will occasionally be guest entries, but as always, if you have any feedback, please contact me."
Way back in 2005, we started talking to residents in 8 blocks of maisonettes, about improving their homes. Nothing came of it so, when we returned in 2011 and started again, residents were dismissive. They had seen it all before and didn’t believe anything would change.
But something had changed. Our organisational culture had changed beyond recognition. Colleagues were now delivering a completely different service. Committed to delivering a great service; they were determined to make a difference.
Residents were supported and the couple who turned out for the first regular meetings then became a few who then became a dozen and more. There was hostility, disbelief, uncertainty. There was also learning, development and taking on new skills. There were arguments and there was fun. Not just construction and contract management, but working together, chairing meetings, reaching decisions through consensus.
Along the way, those that had bought their homes who did not want to contribute to the costs of improvements launched a legal challenge. Although notoriously difficult to defend, the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal finally commented that they could not fault the consultation we had done.
And what were the killer points that saw this success?
It’s not just Herefordshire Housing that has changed, everyone involved has grown, learnt new skills and friends.
We submitted this to the Tenant Participation Advisory Service award for “Excellence in Working Together”. And … we won!
Residents Rob, Julie, Maureen, Sarah, Michelle, Julie, ‘the Greens and the Suttons’ went along to the ceremony and by all accounts were noisy supporters. Now it gets even more exciting. The final is on 11th July – we'll let you know how we get on.
Posted on 14th Jan 2013
Our job is to support residents. So this blog is simple. It gives facts that contradict commonly held and repeated views. It debunks the myths that we hear regularly. Print it out and keep it near you.
MYTH 1. Keeping the rise in benefits to only 1% is fair because it hits shirkers, not workers.
Fact: 60% of the reduction falls on in-work households. Why? Because the 1% rise - which equates to a real-terms cut - affects universal benefits like child benefit and tax credits like child tax credit.
MYTH 2. Spending on benefits for those out of work is out of control.
Fact: the majority of all welfare spending is on pensioners - 53%. Also, benefits for those out of work is less than a quarter of the total welfare budget.
Second, on average, between 2000 and 2010, welfare spending grew annually, in real terms, by only 1.75% - compared to 5.5% in the 1950s and 1960s, and 3% in the 1980s.
Third, benefit spending in 2011-12 accounted for 10.4% of GDP, lower than the mid-80s (11%) and in the mid-1990s (12%).
MYTH 3. There are lots of out of work households with big families.
Fact: Families with more than five children account for 1% of out of work benefit claims. Families with more than three children account for less than 10% of claims.
MYTH 4. Work is always the best route out of poverty.
Fact: Low pay is the biggest cause of poverty in this country - a fifth of British workers are paid less than the 'living wage'. The national minimum wage is now worth less in real terms than it did in 2004.
The majority of children and working-age adults in poverty in the UK live in working, not workless, households. That's 6.1 million people - 2million children and 4.1 million adults - a million more people than are living in poverty in workless households.
MYTH 5. The welfare state is being undermined by an intergenerational culture of worklessness.
Fact: This whole "culture of worklessness" and inter-generational fecklessness is a complete exaggeration based on little or no empirical evidence.
The conclusion of a recent, in-depth report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF): "Despite strenuous efforts, the researchers were unable to locate any such families. Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was a very rare phenomenon."
In fact, a Bristol University study of Labour Force Survey figures found that only 0.3% of UK households have two generations that have never worked.
MYTH 6. The benefits bill is rising because of cheats and fraudsters.
Fact: The government's own figures show that just 0.7%, or £1bn, of benefit expenditure is overpaid due to fraud - compared to, say, £70bn lost to HM Treasury through illegal tax evasion.
MYTH 7 Housing Benefit is being wasted on lazy, out of work households.
Fact: Only one out of every eight people who receive housing benefit is unemployed - the vast majority of HB claimants are pensioners, carers, people with disability and, of course, people on low incomes (see myth 2).
MYTH 8. Means testing benefits is fairer and cheaper than having universal benefits.
Fact: According to the National Audit Office (NAO), means testing "makes the administration of benefits more complex and is associated with higher costs as well as increased rates of fraud and error". The NAO also notes that "there can be disincentives for recipients of means-tested benefits to return to work".
I visited the local Food Bank in Hereford recently. Started by a coalition of churches in 2006, last year they distributed 124 parcels. This year it is likely to reach 200. And the demand is growing. Already additional distribution points have opened in Ross and Leominster and more are planned in other towns across the county.
The demand for their services is growing so quickly that they are considering opening a warehouse to hold food stocks. The sadness is that Hereford needs this service at all. Ordinary people with no food because they have just moved into their home, their benefit has been cut or they have had a sudden call on their meagre income. There are umpteen reasons why living on the poverty line can just become too much and there just is not enough for food.
I fear that with welfare benefits reducing over the coming months, more and more people are going to suffer. It has been estimated that by the end of 2014, benefit payments in Herefordshire will have reduced by £54m per year. That’s not just £54m less in people’s pockets but also £54m less being spent in local shops.
We are preparing to support residents in a number of ways including strengthening our benefits advice. The main food distribution point in Hereford is behind the Baptist Church on Commercial Road. If you can help, particularly with donations of food, contact Tom at the Churches in Hereford Action Team on Hereford 373311. If he is not there, leave a message and he’ll get back to you. To get more information on their website click here.
Participation at its Best
Residents and advisors win Award for leading major refurbishment. [Read full article]
8 Facts to know about Welfare Benefits
Welfare benefits are changing dramatically. The changes need to be based on sound reasons. Eight commonly held views are debunked - the myths replaced by facts. [Read full article]
Food Bank in Hereford
There is now a growing need to distribute free food for those with no choice. [Read full article]
Extending Independent Living Could Save Millions
Deploying telecare and telehealth for the right user in the right way could increase independence and dignity as well as reduce the time spent in hospital. [Read full article]
Openness and Transparency
Openness and transparency underpins all that we do. [Read full article]
Our office opening times:
City Centre & South Wye Office:
|Where you can find us|
Herefordshire Housing Ltd.
Hereford, HR1 1LN.
Tel. 0300 777 4321
Fax. 01432 384198
City Centre Office:
84-86 Widemarsh Street,
Hereford, HR4 9HG.
Tel. 01432 346070
Fax. 01432 346089
South Wye Office:
Jubilee Court Community Facility
Kilvert Road, Newton Farm,
Hereford, HR2 7FE.
Tel. 01432 346091
Fax. 01432 379260