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News Report Page 17 of 18
Publication Date:- 2018-24-03
News reports located on this page = 3.

New Council housing company gears up to develop 1st wave of homes

LIVERPOOL City Council has set out ambitious plans to develop and acquire the 1st wave of homes for its new:- "ethical housing company," Foundations. A report to the Council's Cabinet sets out a ₤50m budget to deliver the 1st Phase of a 10,000 build and refurbishment programme over the next 18 months and recommends the approval to begin recruiting a team of housing experts to deliver the scheme.

The ground breaking housing company aims to dramatically shake up the City's housing market and accelerate the rent to buy sector over the coming decade by offering packages that take a percentage from rent towards a deposit.

The new company, which was formally established in January, will also aim to create bespoke properties for the homeless, foster carers, large families, the elderly and people with a disability and to improve the availability of good quality, affordable homes in the City.

The Mayor of Liverpool has said Foundations, which is earmarked to expand to a ₤500m programme, is fundamental to addressing both the City's need to develop 30,000 new homes by 2030 and its economic future as surveys show the City's housing supply dominated by small terraced houses, which skews the City's Council Tax revenues.

The Cabinet report has identified 4 streams of how the housing stock could be developed, financed through a series of loans which would all be subject to a detailed business case:-

1) Purchase of New Build - The Council has identified a number of sites across the City with planning permission for approx. 100 units which are due to be built out over the next 18 months (a mixture of 2 to 3 bedroom houses).

2) New Build on Council Land - The Council have identified a site within its ownership, in North Liverpool, suitable for the development of a minimum of 120 homes (a mixture of 2 to 3 bedroom houses). It is proposed that the Council itself invests in the construction of these homes and then sell on to Foundations.

3) Purchase of Existing Homes - Part of the growth strategy includes a focus on buying and refurbishing homes in areas most likely to be facing issues of housing stress. Between 140 and 300 such properties fall into this category.

4) Land Asset Transfer - The investment in land ensures a robust supply chain for the company. This land will be paid over a period of time from either future house sales or from a dividend payment. The company will appraise this methodology over its initial business plan and cash flow proposals.

Foundations, which is predicted to create 2,000 new jobs, is Mayor Joe Anderson's flagship housing policy to revolutionise the Council's role to bolster home ownership and for the Local Authority to act as a:- "high quality, ethical landlord" to help build sustainable neighbourhoods and offer tenants security of tenure.

Foundations will also enable the Council to future proof the housing market for an ageing population, ensuring people can live independently for longer and provide intermediary accommodation that help keeps people out of long term Hospital stays. It will also help reduce properties becoming void and reduce the chances of properties being converted into inappropriate Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Mayor Anderson said:- "Foundations will radically reshape Liverpool's housing market and is fundamental to ensuring the City's growth is fair to all; providing quality, affordable homes for people with many differing needs. A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to get Foundations up and running and the recruitment of the team is the 1st step to delivering a housing programme that will transform the lives of thousands of people for generations to come. I expect to see a lot of activity over the coming 12 months as the team beds in and plans develop. This will be a real game changer for the City's housing market and provide a much needed boost to our Council Tax revenues."

A major advantage for the Council would be that profits of both house sales and rentals will be returned to the Council, as the only shareholder in the company, with a percentage reinvested in new stock.

The creation of Foundations takes forward an award winning approach that has led to the build of 750 new properties with Liverpool Mutual Homes and Redrow, via the Liverpool Housing Partnership, the profits from which have been used to create 450 affordable homes.

The new housing company will also underpin the Council's other major strategic housing goals such as the renewal of older neighbourhoods and increasing the levels of home ownership in the City by offering tenants rental products that will enable residents to move from rental to home ownership.

Through Foundations the City Council will also be considering other property development and rental opportunities which may be commercially viable, for example:- shop, office or other business premises.

'Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet Member for Housing, added:- "Liverpool, like many Cities, has suffered from a lack of Government support in the housing sector and Foundations is a great way to unlock a huge amount of potential in communities right across the City. We have housing stock that can be refurbished and we have land that can be built on so the company is already in a great place before the team has even been recruited. It's an exciting prospect for the Council to be able to influence the quality of housing and support people who want to buy by turning rent into a deposit. The housing market has malfunctioned for too long and I'm delighted that through Foundations we're going to be able to correct that in this City."

Running for the community in Liverpool

A new scheme where runners combine getting fit with supporting older people and working on community projects is beginning work in Toxteth, on Monday, 26 March 2018. Instead of running for miles on a treadmill or lifting weights, GoodGym Liverpool runners will channel their energy into a workout that benefits people in their community, as well as their own health.

GoodGym group runs take place each week and involve a short run led by a trainer to support a community organisation with a task such as planting trees, shifting earth, or clearing derelict land.

As well as the group runs, GoodGym runners can also choose to be paired with an older person, aged over 60, and run to see them for a weekly social visit, called coach runs, before running home again. Liverpool City Council is partnering with GoodGym to be the referring organisation for coach runs.

Runners can also help older people with one-off household tasks that they can't do themselves, such as fitting new lightbulbs, moving heavy furniture or some gardening. These are called mission runs. The Council will also refer for mission runs but the public can also contact GoodGym directly if they know an older person who has a task they need help with:- GoodGym.Org/Request-A-Mission.

The GoodGym Liverpool group are setting off on their 1st run from the Hope Street Hotel, at 6pm, on Monday, 26 March 2018, to work at Fern Grove Community Garden, in Toxteth.

GoodGym, which started in London, has been proven to reduce isolation and loneliness and to improve well-being for both runners and the older people they visit.

GoodGym Liverpool has been made possible by a partnership with Liverpool City Council.

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ann O'Byrne; herself a keen runner - said:- "This is a fantastic scheme which not only helps people keep fit but also helps them give something back to the community. We're very excited by the support that this can bring to isolated older people.People in Liverpool are famed for their willingness to help others and there is already a vibrant running scene in the City. I'd encourage more runners to sign up with GoodGym and use 1 run a week to make a difference."

Char Binns, trainer for GoodGym Liverpool, said:- "GoodGym is a really easy way to get fit while giving something back to your community. We're delighted to get our work in Liverpool underway with a clear up at Fern Grove Community Garden.  We're still on the lookout for more people to get involved. If you've never really considered running before, or lack the motivation, then sign up. GoodGym Liverpool will be a home for new runners and old pros alike!"

Royal College of Midwives comment on NHS pay agreement

THE Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the other health unions have agreed in principle a 3 year pay package with the Government for NHS staff. This includes midwives and maternity support workers on the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay structure.

Commenting on the announcement Jon Skewes, the RCM's lead negotiator, said:- "This pay deal is the best that has been achieved for any public sector workers, and one that completely breaks the Government's pay policy of recent years. It is a real achievement and 1 that we and the other unions have fought hard to get for our dedicated and hardworking members. We have been campaigning for fair pay overdue and this deal is a very good step in the right direction. It is the start of really valuing the contribution of NHS staff. It is also good for recruitment and retention of midwives and maternity support workers, given the chronic current shortages in maternity services. This is a real about turn from recent years of pay stagnation and pays freezes particularly given the current economic climate. It is a deal that I encourage our members to accept."

The deal means many staff will see overall pay increases of 9% to 29% over 3 years. Pay for those already on the top point of each pay bands will see their pay rise by at least 6.5% over three years. As an example percentage increases for those below the top point of AfC band 6 range from 24.89% at the bottom of the band to 11.78%, at the existing penultimate point after 3 years. This is the band comprising the greatest number of midwives.

There will also be a quicker progression through the pay bands as these have been shortened, and NHS workers will now reach the full rate for the job quicker. Overlaps between pay bands have also been removed resulting in much better starting salaries on each band.

Also, no holidays will be lost by any staff as part of this agreement. The RCM along with the other unions also resisted any undermining of the value of unsocial hours payments. This is important to midwives providing a 24 hour, 365 day service where a 3rd of take home earnings may come from unsocial hours enhancements. Crucially this agreement will also be fully funded by the Government and not come out of existing NHS funding.

The RCM is also pleased to see the Government recognise the need to care for NHS staff with a commitment to improving productivity through greater emphasis on staff health and wellbeing. This is a reflection of the aims of the RCM Caring for You campaign, running since 2016.

The RCM will now be consulting its members on the agreement with the results of that consultation expected at the end of May 2018. The member elected RCM Board backs this pay deal and recommends that RCM members accept it.  Information on the pay agreement can be read online.

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