27/01/2013 Sunday Politics East


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People have been on council housing lists for decades and will still


waiting, and a pledge to create jobs for young people by the next


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2283 seconds


Hello, and a warm welcome to Sunday Politics in the East, I'm Etholle


George. Coming up later in the programme, the long wait for


council houses. We can reveal just how long people like this are stuck


on lists, while the prospect of a It is like playing the lottery, are


you pay for a ticket and you know you will never win so it does not


matter what you do. And a pledge to help those who are


young and unemployed by the time of the next election.


I started looking for more jobs I would not have considered at first,


such as cleaning, but it was just as competitive and even my


experience would not help. To discuss all of that and the rest


of the week's news, I'm joined by Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for


Harlow, and Polly Billington, Labour's parliamentary candidate


for Thurrock, in South Essex. Let's start with the landmark speech by


David Cameron, promising a referendum on whether the UK stays


in the European Union, if the Conservatives win the next General


Election. Of course, Europe plays a large part in this region's life.


64% of our trade is with the EU, far higher than the national


average. We have had �400 million of EU funding in the last five


years, and an extra 120,000 people from the accession countries in


Europe have come to live here since 2001. If there is one place where


Europe is already a big issue, it's Peterborough, where this was the


reaction to the news. In Europe, new experiences and a


new culture, there are things Stallone. We should be out. It is


not doing us any good. We should be in Europe. We should come out.


While the city's MP, who resigned his junior post in the government


over the issue of a referendum, had this to say. Had this is a good


policy because he will try to repatriate key powers from the


European Union -- this is. He will put the package to the


British people. The question for the other parties s, why are they


not prepared to trust the people. - - is. And now Labour is calling for


him to be brought back into the government.


Is David Cameron's decision in the national interest or your party's


interest? His decision is about trusting the


people, he will renegotiate our relationship with the EU and put it


to a vote straight after the election, provided the


Conservatives get a majority. We need to trust the people and let


the people decide. Is Labour offering people any kind


of say on whether we should stay in the EU, or not, because it seems


very unclear? I think we need to be able to


change our relationship with Europe and give people a choice to make a


decision about what that is. But what we see here is that David


Cameron does not have the interests of any constituents at heart,


people who are worried about jobs and growth, and they are made more


insecure by an offer of further instability for Dr four years. We


do not even know which way the Prime Minister would vote. A lot


can change in four years. We will introduce draft legislation before


election and David Cameron promised legislation after the election. Why


is it not right to trust the people? We are saying, let the


people decide, they should have a say.


Now to the extraordinary figures we have obtained showing just how long


some people are waiting for council houses. We have learned that in


Essex, there are more than 100,000 people in social housing, but there


is a waiting list of half as much again, almost 50,000 people. Nearly


8,000 people have waited five years or more for a council home. And one


family in Chelmsford has been on a council housing list for an


astonishing 52 years. So what is the point of being on a list at


all? The provision of low-cost housing for those that wanted it


used to be the norm. Now you have to be in extreme need to qualify


for council housing, leaving many, many thousands of people with


little hope of a home, as James Melley reports.


This man want to get his own place but fell on hard times a few years


ago. His business went under and he lost his house. He thought he would


have to live in his car at one stage. Things have improved and he


has a job, but he still cannot afford to rent privately. A friend


is letting him stay at his flat. He applied for social housing in


Harlow two years ago. Present a couple of emails to the council and


said, this is my situation and how desperate I am. This is my past


history, I need help. I just kept getting knocked back and pushed


from pillar to post, no help. According to Harlow Council, he has


the second lowest level of need for housing because he is on his own


and has a roof over his head. instance, 310 people here have but


on this and I came 227th. So why am I begin? The authority says it is


reviewing its policy on who gets social housing, but it cannot help


everybody. This is believed to be put all this council house in


Britain. In its 300 year existence, they have been times


in its 300 years, there have been times where -- when almost anyone


could get social housing. But this has changed. Now, in most cases,


only the most needy will get a property, with many more with lower


requirements on housing lists for many years. In one case, a couple


in Chelmsford have been on the list for 52 years. At the moment, more


than 50,000 people are waiting to get social housing in Essex.


Despite this high demand, relatively little social housing is


being built in the county. There was a booming council house


building up after the war or by the time of the Thatcher government,


this had stopped and councils could not use the money from sales of


houses to buy more. Councils stopped building. There were a few,


like Birmingham, who bought some properties off another 10 years.


But it has been a very small. A large building that went on in the


1960s and into the 1980s among local authorities just stopped it


because of the ridiculous subsidy system. But recently, some


authorities have announced plans to build council houses themselves for


the first time in a generation because new rules were anarchy the


money they raise. In December, for Iraq Council opened these new homes


and there will more planned -- off the wreck council. We will build


200 a year for the next five years, that will not meet the full need so


we need to work with our partners in housing associations and we need


to work with developers to get an element of that, either social


housing or other forms of affordable housing. But council


hopes to turn these carriages into more homes and there are similar


plans in Essex -- the council hopes to turn these garages. But with


that number wanting house is so high, some are considering taking


those with the lowest heat off the list altogether.


-- the lowest need. This week, letters have been sent


to prospective tenants in Northampton, following major


changes in the council's housing policy. Everyone who is not deemed


to be in urgent need has been informed that they have been


removed from the council housing list and all applications are to be


re-assessed. Or -- other councils have told us that they are


considering following Northampton's lead. To tell us more is the leader


of the council, David Mackintosh. You are effectively throwing people


off the housing list, but it doesn't solve their need for a home.


I think this is about being up front and honest with people. You


show that many people on housing waiting list for a long time and


this is to say, you do not have a chance are getting that property,


so we need to prioritise for the most -- prioritise that for the


most formidable and look at other solutions.


Aren't you washing your hands of these people, who is responsible


for them now? No, because nothing has changed, they did not stand a


chance. We have 1,200 properties in our housing stock and we had a


turnover rate of about 1,000 a year but we had 1,100 on the waiting


list so many were still waiting Quinn no chance of us being able to


help. -- with no chance. We are prioritising those that need it and


the rest, we will work with them to find other solutions, that is about


building more affordable housing and working with private sector


landlords. Some should say you should be doing more to provide


low-cost housing. It is simply sweeping the problem


under the carpet. We are working in partnership with developers. But


when we have been waiting list of 10,000 people and only handing over


keys to a smaller number of families, we cannot meet the need.


We are not hiding that fact with a long waiting list, but we are


saying, you will not get a council housing property but we will work


with you to find another solution. Harlow Council is one of the


councils considering cutting its lists in a similar way. Harlow has


almost 10,000 council homes, with a waiting list that is half of that,


at 5,000, and someone has been waiting 32 years in your


constituency, how concerned are you? The man in the film, one of


your constituents, living on the goodwill of a friend, 200th on a


bid for a flat, is that good enough? That is the number one


worry, but to be fair, council house waiting list has gone down by


a few thousand but there is a significant problem. There are a


limited amount of places when you housings for -- a new housing can


be built. Harlow housing is for Harlow people and the government


has changed the criteria to make sure local people have a priority,


and also, the money raised in Harlow from rent should stay in


Harlow. Have previously, �13 billion each year went out of the


district into the Treasury to be spent elsewhere, her book that


money will now be spent in Harlow. Labour kept the ring-fence around


the funds raised by selling council housing, so that it couldn't be


used to build more, which has contributed to the problem.


You need to remember that if you want to kick-start the economy,


because growth figures this week have been bad, the first thing to


do is make sure you are building homes. Whatever they do in


Northampton and Harlow, we are not building enough homes. There are


230 new house holes formed every year and in terms of housing stocks,


there is only 90,000 so far -- households. That is nowhere near a


number we need. Labour didn't back building council homes when it was


in power. We improved the quality of council housing and that is


important because they should not be seen as a last resort, but some


way you are proud to live. I would decent homes policy was good for


that. The first thing we did after the crash was introduced a


housebuilding programme which transformed the prospects of people


are able to get houses and maintain the construction industry, which is


now under threat. That is really important. We need to build homes


what we have new growths. The issue is affordable housing and 58,000


were built last year, one-third more than happened in any year and


have the last government. The government is investing �20 billion


to promote affordable housing schemes, a huge amount. They have


instituted the right-to-buy, giving people �70,000 discounts. But is


that doing enough cost? -- enough? The government's affordable homes


programme is expected to deliver 80,000 low cost homes nationally to


rent or buy, but with waiting lists in one county, your county, at


50,000 that figure is a joke, a drop in the ocean. By 2015, the


figure will be more. We are spending �120 million a day to pay


off the National Debt, and money does not grow on trees. But the


government is investing �29 billion and affordable housing.


government made a decision to cut 60% of the house building budget


when they came end and they have a target of building 170,000 homes by


2015, they are nowhere near that. It is ridiculous to have a


situation where he says there is not enough money around when we


could be using money from the bank has bonus tax to make sure we


Arkansas -- to make sure we are kick-starting the construction


industry -- the bankers' bonus tax. Now, this week has seen the latest


employment figures in the region. Unemployment has risen by another


1,000, to 207,000, bucking the national train. -- national trend.


Well, one MP has decided to take matters into her own hands and


launch a scheme to get young people a job. Norwich MP Chloe Smith is


pledging to reduce the number of young people out of work in the


city by 1,000 before the next election. She has persuaded local


businesses to sign up to a scheme which will try to give priority to


local young people, people like 21- year-old Posy Cuthbertson. She


graduated from university last year and says she has applied for


hundreds of jobs. It has been full time, trying to


find work. I had hoped my degree would help me to find the job I


wanted, but it is such a competitive market that I am having


to look through jobs I do not particularly want. If a had a bit


of experience in cleaning and so you have had applications for


cleaning jobs, but that has not worked -- you have had.


So many people are looking to apply for the same job.


The Conservative MP joins us now, can you explain how this will work?


I have launched this scheme because I am so passionate about the young


people of Norwich. And also passionate about local business


finding its next generation of talent. This scheme is to bring


some of these things together. We are planning to look a monthly at


the employment figures as they relate to the Norwich area, that is


around 2,000 people, we think that is 2,000 young people to many and


we want to half that. In two years. We want to encourage at Norwich


employers and businesses to consider what opportunities they


can give to young people, to connect people to those, and to


focus the community on a simple and common goal. We know it is


ambitious, have but we think we can achieve that and the launch showed


that. But there is no money backing the scheme and no new agency is to


be set up, it is just a talking shot, is it going to work?


everything is about money. Business confidence is what is important, we


are bringing the city together. There is no point doing nothing


about this, this is a problem, at youth unemployment, so I am doing


something about it and bringing people together to do something. A


we are making sure the information about what does exist is out there


if -- we are making sure. That is answering your questions. There are


lots of government schemes that do brink money end and people need to


know about those. You are putting your reputation on the line by


making this pledge, that is a bold step. I am not afraid of being


ambitious. City of unemployment is a problem and I think Dinorwic we


can do something about it and we should.


You must be welcoming this, they moved to ease unemployment? That is


nothing it exclusive to her or her party. The local authority where we


art is -- where we are, we are expecting the first people to get


an opportunity to know about jobs will be a long term unemployed. In


a sense, this is a scheme that works well for those furthest from


the market, the jobs market, Rowan we have lots of jobs. That is not


the situation. -- when we have. We have seen from job figures this


week in the east of England, unemployment is up and employment


falling, so we have a problem. We have long-term youth unemployment


and we need to spend money to make sure they're a real dog's. I would


be interested to see how she does. -- and there are real jobs. It is


right people know about jobs available, but if you are talking


about transforming the prospects of young people, you need to create


jobs and this Government is not prepared to do this. Which you make


this pledge, Robert? -- would you like to make this pledge, Robert?


We had a job fair recently he and hundreds of people came along and I


am glad youth unemployment in Harlow and generally is lower than


it was at the general election. Even in the boom years on the


Labour, youth unemployment reached 1 million. There are serious things


we need to do. We need to improve schools on literacy and numeracy.


We have to deal with skills and so that the government has invested in


apprenticeships and we have 78% -- a 78% increase last year in those


in Harlow. And we need to make sure there are incentives for young


people so they get more money going into work than staying at home.


Isn't this an admission that government policy isn't working?


Youth unemployment has been going down over the past year. We had a


bad time at Christmas, but year on year, the figures have been going


down. I have been campaigning in Parliament to restore the 10 ends


income rate so young people do not pay a lot in tax and that will give


them an incentive to go into work are.


-- to work. Now, we might be getting to the end of this spell of


wintry weather, but it has caused hundreds of school closures across


the region, much to the consternation of one of our MPs,


who called it pathetic. Here is Deborah McGurran with the details,


and the rest of our political round-up of the week, in 60 seconds.


Heavy snow caused almost 2,000 schools to close this week,


something that has changed since Sir Bob Russell's day. In my


generation, the snow in 1963 was far worse than it is this week, and


I do not recall any schools are shutting! But it wasn't simply the


winter weather causing problems for East Midlands ambulances, whose


response times were described as unacceptable this week.


I am really concerned about the regionalisation, everything gets


sucked into the centre, leaving us on the periphery and snot well


served. -- and not. While the Harlow MP doesn't think


that people on lower incomes are well served by tax rates and is


campaigning to restore the starter rate of income tax at 10p.


I believe that restoring for 10 ends rate would help the coalition


to counter the war-cry of its political opponents that it is only


interested in cutting taxes for millionaires.


And the government defended its decision not to include the chalk


reef of the coast of Norfolk in a list of specially protected areas.


Do you think the Chancellor is going to welcome your call to


restore the starter rate of income tax at 10p? That is a tax cut, your


government needs every penny it can get, doesn't it?


The government says it will get extra revenues from having cut the


tax rate for rich people from 50p to 45p and we lost �7 billion in


revenues when it went up to 50p, so it that extra revenue the Treasury


will raise should go towards restoring the text -- towards


restoring the 10 ends tax rate. That would help create the living


wage. What about these school closures?


The government says it is up to head teachers to decide, but are


heads too worried about health and safety?


I think they are right to be worried because the worst thing


that can happen is to have hundreds of children and accidents happen


and somebody is in a difficult situation. People can be risk-


averse when we have a culture where everybody is working out if they


can see people. But it is important for everybody to get to work and


for their children to be saved during the days. -- safe during the


day. Is it a dereliction of duty for


schools to close? Pas when it has closed during the snow we are in


the past, it so politicians have to be careful -- Parliament. I do not


think it is something government should get involved and. Could we


do better? If people feel they can make sensible decisions and will


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