Westminster: Where houses earn more than people

  • 17 March 2015
  • From the section UK
Westminster home

Members of Parliament heading home are greeted by a poster at the tube station that reads "£30,000 wouldn't even buy you floor space the size of this poster in Westminster".

It is a graphic reminder of the affordability crisis affecting housing in London and the South East - a disparity that has turned home owners in the region into lottery winners while those not on the property ladder are denied a roof over their head.

Research by the National Housing Federation to mark the Homes for Britain rally on Tuesday reveals that property values in England increased by £289 billion in the first three years of the current government, but £282 billion of that wealth growth (97%) took place in the capital and the South East.

The price of the average house in London, now a staggering £502,000, has been increasing each year by more than the average annual wage.

Most home-owners in the capital have seen their property earn more than they do. Small wonder that Generation Rent struggles to find anything it can afford.

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Pressure on a 'strained' social service

  • 10 March 2015
  • From the section UK
Child on a swing

A week after the prime minister threatened social workers with jail if they fail to protect children, the man his government appointed to keep an eye on children's services has warned that growing criticism of social workers is adding to the pressure on a strained service.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills, Sir Michael Wilshaw, uses his annual report on children's social care today to suggest that social workers and managers "do not always get the support and recognition they deserve".

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Savile: 'How could this be allowed to happen?'

  • 26 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Jimmy Savile

"How could this be allowed to happen?" That was the understandable question asked by the Prime Minister David Cameron when presented with details of Jimmy Savile's abuse.

The answers are many and various, today's investigation into his activities at Stoke Mandeville concludes, before adding that "one of the most compelling is quite simply that the basic building blocks of legislation, policy and procedure designed to maintain both public safety and probity were bypassed".

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Where's the evidence for Lincoln's legal high problem?

  • 24 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Lincoln at night

Are legal highs really causing anti-social behaviour in Lincoln's historic city centre?

The council insists they are and will rubber-stamp an area ban on their consumption at a meeting tonight. The move is being watched by local authorities across the country.

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Housing problems for the future

  • 19 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Derbyshire house under construction

With the release of the final housebuilding figures before the general election, we can judge how successful the coalition has been in its pledge to "unlock the housing market, get Britain building again, and give many more people the satisfaction and security that comes from stepping over their own threshold".

And the short answer is "not very".

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'Don't give up on us,' police tell ministers

  • 22 January 2015
  • From the section UK
Starsky & Hutch Ford Gran Torino

With crime now having fallen to levels not seen since David Soul (Hutch from US cop drama Starsky & Hutch) topped the charts with "Don't Give Up On Us" in 1977, police are worried the statistics will cue even deeper cuts to their budgets.

The argument goes that, if crime remains historically low, we don't need as many officers.

Read full article 'Don't give up on us,' police tell ministers

UK government 'most transparent' in the world

  • 20 January 2015
  • From the section UK

The UK government is the most open and transparent in the world, according to global rankings looking at public access to official data.

But web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, whose organisation compiled the table, says the country has "a long way to go" before it has a fully open government.

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Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2014

  • 26 December 2014
  • From the section Magazine
Illustration

Boxing Day wouldn't be Boxing Day without my annual Family Puzzler - now in its seventh sensational year.

This is the festive quiz for people who don't like festive quizzes because they worry they won't know the answers. In my quiz, no-one is expected to know the answers.

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Whitehall v town hall

  • 18 December 2014
  • From the section UK
Leeds town hall

The swirling wind of anti-politics that has swept across the Westminster parliament in recent times stems from a conviction that the politicians sitting on warm green leather in the House of Commons are oblivious to the harsh realities of ordinary life.

It is that sense of a London elite, out of touch with the real world, that has encouraged politicians of all stripes to talk of the importance of localism.

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What is an English law?

  • 16 December 2014
  • From the section UK
An image of the English flag with the words 'Home Rule' was projected onto the Houses of Parliament by democracy group POWER2010 as part of a St George's Day protest to demand an end to non-English MPs voting on English laws at Westminster.
April 2014 protest to demand an end to non-English MPs voting on English laws

It all sounds so straightforward - only English MPs should vote on matters that affect only England.

But defining an English law is far from easy. For a start, any law that involves government departments spending extra money in England, or which reduces the amount of money spent in England, will have a knock-on impact on how much money other parts of the United Kingdom receive under the Barnett formula - the system for allocating Treasury funds to devolved administrations.

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