Archive for the ‘local government’ Category

Grenfell Tower, a huge block of social housing flats in West London, caught fire on the 14th June 2017, killing almost 80 people. This national tragedy, which has seen Londoners mobilise to help those displaced and bereaved, has also elicited protests and anger across the capital due to the fact that the incident might have been prevented if warning signs hadn’t been ignored.

Read the full article here.

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The Grenfell Tower tragedy is still unfolding. What we know now is at least six people are dead and 74 injured, 20 critically. Going by previous disasters such as this, it will take months or perhaps years for the full story to emerge, longer still for any individuals to be held accountable if they are found to be at fault.

Read the full article here.

Last April, the ‘Social Fund’ was cut and the remaining money distributed to around 200 Councils. The fund had been used to provide Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants through the Job Centre. As part of an investigation with the Guardian, I looked at what was happening under the new localised system to the number of people applying for help – and the number of them who actually received support. Suffice to say the new scheme has been far from successful.

Read the full article here, and the associated datablog piece here.

This was an article which took a lot of twists and turns to reach the light of day. Suffice to say, if all councils were doing this type of work then illegal evictions would be less common in the UK.

“Councils have been empowered to prosecute landlords and their ‘agents’ for harassment and illegal eviction of tenants since 1977. The Protection from Eviction Act was originally passed to counter the types of ‘landlordism’ associated with the infamous Peter Rachman. Illegal eviction is where “any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof, or attempts to do so”.” Read the full article here.

Here in the UK we haven’t seen as dramatic a rise in repossessions as in the US, where it is a major problem. I interviewed Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond, for The New Internationalist. Mayor McLaughlin and her City Council are about to start using the ‘power of eminent domain’ (similar to compulsory purchasing orders in the UK) to stop foreclosures. Read the full interview here.