The Housing Crisis in Brighton & Hove has hit the point of no return and this Saturday the people affected and left behind finally have a voice with a radical new housing conference set to launch a movement to push for more accountability and transparency from Brighton and Hove City Council.
This is a new vibrant campaign launched based on action not words
Caroline Lucas MP and Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP will lead off at the launch of the Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition this Saturday by answering questions from more than 200 housing activists in Brighton.
Around 20 organisations are coming together to establish a Housing Coalition that will challenge the moribund policies of our City Council and national Government.
Steve Parry, acting Chair of the Coalition, said “With co-operation on this scale we intend to challenge in a real way homelessness, housing squalor, housing for profit rather than for people, and the payment of £millions to overseas tax havens for so-called emergency and temporary accommodation”
He emphasised that “the Coalition is bringing together those that build homes with those that occupy empty properties, those that help feed the homeless and those that will be opening up community night shelters, those that have a vision for all to have a right to shelter and those who are advocating for those discriminated against by our local authority due to vulnerability or disability.”
It is a welcome sign of possible change that Larissa Reed, the newly appointed Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing at the City Council will be spending an hour discussing the policy and practice of the council.
Local housing campaigner Daniel Harris said ” The time has come for change, for too long vulnerable people have been exploited and neglected, all whilst greedy landlords line their pockets at the expense of people’s lives.
Standards in some places have improved recently but we have a huge crisis with government funding cuts which are hitting the most vulnerable, recent government figures show Brighton and Hove already underperform against national average standards, this is a great concern”.
Council residents, leaseholders, private renters, the homeless, and those in temporary accommodation will be working together and participating in workshops ranging from Community led housing to ‘Alternative housing choices and well-being in later life’, from Living Rents to the horrors of some privately rented housing, from accessibility to the need for respect to be shown to those who are disabled or vulnerable.
A Brief Background Before I Expose the Truth on Housing in Brighton & Hove
For almost four months I have been living in Emergency Accommodation which is not fit for purpose, back in March I exposed the scandal that is Emergency Accommodation in Brighton and Hove. I successfully managed to single-handedly campaign against this wrongdoing and expose this democratically through a petition, which have 1600 supporters, before I presented this to the city in person at the Full Council Meetingat the end of March.
In June this petition and the 10 point plan to improve Emergency Housing will be discussed at the new homes committee meeting, when I hope the cities councillors adopt my plan which will help the vulnerable in the cityandsave the British Publican absolute fortunein Housing Benefit Payments currently paid to private limited companies.
A Freedom of information Request in Feb 2016 reveals that the amount paid to companies who sub-contract properties out to Brighton and Hove City Council in 2014 was £8,341,572.00, the Amount paid to companies in 2015 was £8,711,572.00
For Hostels in 2014 it was £1,590,181.00 and in 2015 it was £1,551,686.00.
A Shelter Report shows
Analysis – dominance of housing benefit Housing benefit is widely recognised as having facilitated a switch from supply side to demand side subsidies.13 The period following 1975 saw a move away from investment in bricks and mortar with a corresponding rise in expenditure on housing benefit.
This was not an accidental shift. Successive governments remained committed to the idea that support should be targeted at individuals rather than bricks and mortar investment to increase the supply of housing
Look at the graph, enough said.
Lets now look at the trend for overall Housing Benefit Spending.
Before you blame the welfare state, remember the reason for the increase is the Private Rented Sector, at a whopping 53%
Here is a graph showing the change in Social Housing Tenants vs. Private Rented Sector Housing
High reliance on temporary accommodation to house homeless households, fuelled by a shortage of social housing, also drives up housing benefit expenditure. Pre-recession it was estimated that a tenth of the housing benefit bill related to rents in temporary accommodation. Expenditure on temporary accommodation costs amounted to £587 million in 2005–06, up from £116 million in 1997–08.5
This isn’t an attack on the welfare state, this is an attack on the current government for trying to destroy social housing in favour of the Private Rented Sector.
Homes to live IN, NOT OFF
Helgor Trading Ltd’s Directors are Named in the Panama Papers
According to Companies House Helgor Trading Ltd have Three Company Directors;
Mr Abraham Aharon DODI, MR Nir SHAMIR & Mr John Simon HELFGOTT.
They have around 130 rooms in the city providing Emergency Housing to the homeless and often vulnerable. It is Temporary Housing because essentially we have a non secure nightly licence agreement (like a hotel) as per the contacts above. The nightly cost is £27.86, this is £847.00 a month or £10, 168.90 a year, their is also a £12.50 per week service charge or £55 a month.
Now If I was to live in Social Housing, which I am currently fighting the council for, due to my current circumstances, the average 1 bed flat on http://www.homemove.org is about £75.00 a week Rent, or £3,900 per year, thats £325 a month.
When I searched for the director Mr Abraham Ahoron Dodi on this online database one of the many 66 companies he is a director of Ordan Property Limited Shows up registered in the British Virgin Islands – a known Tax Haven.
Some more Facts
The British Virgin Islands Since 2005 have a corporation tax rate of 0%.
When I searched for the director Mr Nir Shamiron this online database one of the many 18 companies he is a director of Nurit Invest Limited Shows up registered in the British Virgin Islands – a known Tax Haven.
Both of these directors are in the property development business. I am making no claims that both these individuals are doing anything illegal, owning a company in a Tax Haven like the British Virgin Islands is legal.
What I don’t understand is why when they are operating in the UK through many businesses and have contracts with local councils like Brighton and Hove do they need to have companies paying Zero Percent Tax, What I don’t understand is why I am living in a room which is costing tax payers here money and Housing Benefit Payments of 10k plus per year per person.
What I don’t understand is why the hot water here in Percival Terrace is so bad? what I don’t understand is why the windows here are so bad?
One Final Fact – People are committing Suicide here, I know of 4 separate people who have died in this place since Nov 2015.
Another Company who own many Emergency Accommodation rooms in the city is Baron Homes, linked to baron estates and baron developments. Caroline Lucas asks this about one of the properties Windsor Court.
So why does Brighton and Hove City Council continue to house so many vulnerable people there? It’s a question I’ve asked many times. – Caroline Lucas
Caroline then goes on to state
Windsor Court is privately owned so the Council lease it from a private landlord, Baron Homes, who profit from the arrangement. I’ve repeatedly urged the council to put pressure on the landlord to improve conditions, or to simply not renew the agreement at all. Caroline Lucas
Check out some of the other addressed in this FOI Link
THE BARON HOMES CORPORATION LIMITED Director is Named in the Panama Papers
Firstly before I reveal the information, this is what one teenager recently said about the Emergency Accommodation leased from Brighton and Hove City Council to Baron Homes.
About a hundred people are housed in three separate blocks here. Many 18 or under, probably thirty of us altogether. Obviously the people here have a wide range of issues, they’re drug addicts, alcoholics or they have mental health issues. There are definitely a few who are suicidal. It can be a frightening place to live.
I have a plastic mattress and my own cooker, technically I have a lock on the door but they have keys and in any case its quite flimsy. There are two toilets for the whole block and one communal shower, they might be cleaned once a fortnight. Were banned from allowing guests (even family) into our rooms.Crucially, Baron Homes tenants have to find an additional £10 a week service charge from their usually low incomes.
If Brighton City Council are handing over £150 a week per tenant then that’s in excess of £40,000 a week going from council tax payers straight into the coffers of Baron Homes.
Brighton is the homelessness capital of Sussex, as many people come to the city seeking opportunities in the City by the Sea end up broke, desperate and thrown on this trash heap. The percentage of people using Basics banks and emergency accommodation is so high that the council simply cant provide enough property or food. The new squatting laws have meant that as the poor and homeless try to organise their own accommodation they are ruthlessly evicted, leaving them with nowhere to turn except for Emergency Accommodation. Nice little earner!
The Companies House Link shows two Directors currently, but many resignations over the years such as Mr Richard Blencowe, Mrs Nazila Karimi BLENCOWE a director of 4 companies was found on the Panama Papers Database Linked also to Manor Developments Limited which was incorporated in the Zero Tax Haven British Virgin Islands
Baron Estates have recently purchased Ex Local Authority Owned Council Offices on Bartholomew Square these have been converted into luxury Apartments which are currently advertised on Rightmove for £950PCM. Check Out the Images in the gallery below.
Baron Estates Ex Brighton and Hove City Council Building Redevelopment
Again I am not saying that this is illegal, what concerns me is that in a recent blog post I showed you what the Emergency Housing Properties look like from Baron Homes, when you take into account again over 10k is spent on housing benefit payments paying Baron Homes and the Squalor people are living in, and then see a sister company buying up ex council property and converting into luxury homes, many unaffordable to people on average incomes you have to ask the question, firstly is this right? and is their a conflict of interest.
I want to end this blog post by telling you that I recently complained to the Head of Housing about the victimisation I received from the Head of Temporary Allocations, My complaint was upheld.
I have Bi-polar 2, I am dealing with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to some historic sexual abuse I suffered, I was originally rejected for my homelessness application, which was over turned. I recently spoke out on national TV because of mental illness and kids in care.
I am in recovery and currently having counselling and am on strong medication, why am I living in such conditions when companies are making millions and millions from hard working tax payers, like myself.
Their is seriously something wrong in Brighton and Hove and I call for a formal investigation into what is going on at the housing department in Brighton and Hove.
I want everyone who reads this to share this locally and expose the wrongdoings locally.
Other Facts Just In.
House prices In Brighton and Hove are 44% above the average
Brighton and Hove are the 4th most housing deprived area outside London in England
Private rents across the UK increased by 8.2% in 2014
Ave 3 bed house rent dec 2013 £1449 per month
37% of private rented homes are non decent (the highest group)
10 billion spent each year on benefits which go to private landlords out of 21 billion
26,284 sold under RTB with new discounts April 2013- June 2015, 3,171 replacement builds starts or acquisitions