Week commencing 11 June 2018

In today's bulletin

- Urgent Right to Buy overhaul needed, warns LGA
- Adult social care provision on a knife-edge

- Passenger numbers fall for UK rail
- Plastic classification would encourage sustainable design

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Crisis unveils homelessness action plan

Crisis has launched a detailed plan for ending homelessness, including the predicted costs of preventing and solving the issue as well as the policy updates required to facilitate change. It was developed in response to predictions that the worst forms of homelessness will double in the next 25 years – affecting over 314,000 households.
Recommendations include the delivery of 100,500 new social homes every year for 15 years, funding for local authorities to actively prevent homelessness and housing benefit that truly covers the cost of housing and rent rises.

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Urgent Right to Buy overhaul needed, warns LGA

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that councils will be unable to replace Right to Buy homes within five years unless the scheme sees drastic reform. Research conducted by Savills (published 11 June) found that this was in large part due to rules that require councils to hand a sizeable portion of their Right to Buy receipts over to the Treasury.
According to the LGA, 60,000 homes have been sold off in the last six years at around half the market rate, leaving councils with enough money to build just 14,000 replacements.

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Adult social care provision on a knife-edge

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ (ADASS) latest budget survey has found that adult social care continues to face serious challenges. Data collected from 152 local authorities in England found that the sector continues to struggle to meet demand and maintain quality of service against a backdrop of rising costs and increasingly complex care needs.
The survey highlighted that long-term, preventative strategies were required rather than short-term injections of funding

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Mortgage lending down in Q1 2018

According to data from the Bank of England (12 June), mortgage lending decreased in the first quarter of the year. First time buyers were included in this reduced figure, which saw the value of lending decrease by 5.9 per cent down to £61.1 billion.
Despite the slump, buy-to let and re-mortgaged loans did increase by 3.2 per cent, now accounting for 32.9 per cent of new lending.

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UK house prices rise 1.2 per cent

Statistics from the government’s April House Price Index (13 June) show that UK house prices rose by 1.2 per cent compared to March 2017 with the average property valued at £226,906.
In England, prices rose by 1.1 per cent, with average properties costing £243,639 while in Wales a 1.6 per cent rise took average house price up to £156,495.

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Cost of renting sees little rise on 2017 figures

Research from the Office for National Statistics has found that rents in the capital dropped in May 2018 with the wider market showing only sluggish rises.
Average private rental prices across Great Britain rose by one per cent in the year to May 2018, with the slightest increase found in Scotland – just 0.6 per cent. In London, rents fell by 0.2 per cent, representing the first decrease since September 2010.

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Passenger numbers fall for UK rail

Rail journeys fell in 2017-18 for the first time in eight years according to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). London and the South East were particularly hit by falling numbers, with a 2.1 per cent overall drop in passenger journeys compared to 1.4 per cent nationally.
Season ticket journeys also reported a 9.2 per cent fall, only offset slightly by a 3.8 per cent increase in Ordinary tickets. The ORR suggested this was indicative of a shift in the types of tickets being used by passengers.

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BEIS awards £22 million to projects driving electric car innovation

The government’s Faraday Battery Challenge announced the winners of £22 million in grants across the UK (12 June). This is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which will provide £246 million of investment to support research and development in UK science and business. Notable recipients in this round include projects to develop electric car batteries with ultra-fast charging capabilities, industrial-scale battery recycling and accelerated development of electrified powertrains.

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Regulator orders Network Rail to review its investment plans

Network Rail’s regulator, the Office for Rail and Road (ORR), has said that the operator should amend its spending plans for the period to 2024, known as Control Period 6 (CP6). The ORR identified a series of ten measures to boost reliability and safety for passengers and freight customers.
These include an extra £1.08 billion on renewing worn-out assets and additional safety-related measures and the creation of a £10 million performance innovation fund. It also recommended strengthening controls on the System Operator, which manages the timetabling process and is to receive a £127 million funding increase compared to CP5.

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Energy and environment

Manchester air pollution at lethal level

According to think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), air pollution in the centre of Manchester is both toxic and illegal. It points to analysis by King’s College London (KCL) which revealed that an estimated 1.6 million life years will be lost in Greater Manchester over the next 100 years due to poisonous air in the city.
As many as 1,781 premature deaths have been attributed to NO2 pollution alone, with KCL predicting that compromised air quality could result in a £1billion annual cost to the Greater Manchester economy.

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Plastic classification would encourage sustainable design

A report by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the Resource Association and WRAP, has recommended that waste plastics are categorised according to their use.
The report, Eliminating Avoidable Plastic Waste by 2042: A Use‐Based Approach to Decision and Policy Making, suggests that doing this would allow individual approaches to be taken for each category, encouraging sustainable design and production choices. The report recommends classifications of everything from small, single use plastics like coffee stirrers to long-use plastics such as cladding or window frames.

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Other News

Royal wedding and good weather boost sales

Warm weather and the royal wedding prompted shoppers to go on a spending spree, retailers have suggested, following a rise in retail sales.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the quantity of goods bought rose 3.9 per cent compared to April with online spending continuing to grow particularly in the clothing sector.

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Inflation stays at one year low even though petrol hit four-year high

Inflation in the UK has stayed at a one-year low in May at 2.4 per cent, the latest Consumer Price Index shows.
This is despite average petrol prices rising to the highest level for nearly four years between April and May 2018.

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