Lunchtime news Thursday 17 January 2015



The Migration Impacts Forum, a group of frontline practitioners brought together to advise government on how migration affects public services and local communities, has released a report showing that migrants who have moved to the UK over the past two years, have been allocated only five per cent of available council or housing association flats. Overall, foreign nationals are much more likely to own or privately rent their own home. Many workers, especially those who have come for only a short period, often accept very poor housing conditions either because they are on low pay or because they want to send money home. A further third of migrant workers live in tied accommodation provided by their employers, which they described as in poor or very poor condition.

The government has overturned a policy of giving failed section 4 asylum seekers no choice over there they live. Previously, asylum seekers refused leave to remain were unable to turn down homes offered to them – even if they were hundreds of miles from where they lived when submitting their claims. Now applicants can remain in the region where they were ‘previously in receipt of asylum support’, with the exception of London.

Last summer’s floods have pushed the cost of home insurance premiums up on average 1.4 per cent for buildings insurance and 0.4 per cent on contents. The floods displaced around 14,500 families and resulted in £750 million worth of claims, with the average cost of each claim nearly £52,000. This has resulted in the average quote for buildings cover increasing to its highest level since the index began in 1994. Insurers have said that they will continue to cover existing customers who were hit by the flooding, but will not necessarily take on new customers in flood risk areas. Without more government funding, many of these homeowners will be unable to get cover.





Popular schools should choose students through lotteries to stop ‘pushy’ parents taking all the places, an admissions watchdog said yesterday. Greater regulation is required because ‘unfettered access to the best schools is leading to social segregation’, the chief schools adjudicator said. The government backs using lotteries and ‘fair banding’, where all pupils sit an entrance test and equal numbers of studens are chosen from each ability, while it has recently banned the use of interviews to select students. Last year, Brighton became the first city in England to use the system at over-subscribed secondary schools.

Westminster Council in London has been granted a temporary injunction blocking the creation of a new rental area which it argued would result in benefit cuts of up to £40 a week for nearly a quarter of claimants. The controversial changes to the way housing benefit for private tenants is calculated was supposed to come into effect at the beginning of 2015. But until the case is resolved, London boroughs have been told to use the previous system. The review grouped councils into ‘broad market rental areas’ to determine housing benefit rates. But some councils have said the changes could price tenants in more expensive areas out of their homes.

And staying in London, property website findaproperty.com has analysed prices of homes for sale half a mile from every underground station. Unsurprisingly ‘proximity to tube stations is very important to Londoners’. Surprisingly, it’s the circle line, with some of the least reliable trains that is the most expensive. The average price of a property along this line is £1.2 million; then £1.1 million for properties on the Victoria line; and just under £1 million for the Bakerloo line – the third most expensive tube line. The cheapest line is the currently out of action East London line where properties can be picked up for an average of £460,000.