Full Steam Ahead…

Whilst we’ve been a bit quiet with our web presence, we’ve been busy behind the scenes working on two active campaigns and monitoring several other developments.

Our Local Housing Benefit Petition is nearing its finish – please sign it and share the link with friends. We have paper signatures to add, but we’re quite a way short of our 500 target for both on- and offline versions.

Banner from local Workfare protests

The issue of forced unpaid Workfare hasn’t gone away, and we’ll be returning to the City Centre with a visual protest on Saturday 31st March, starting at 1pm at the Fountain in Parliament Street. We need lots of people to come flier, hold the banner and be part of our protest.

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Sign York Welfare Campaign’s Housing Benefit Peitition

York is facing a housing crisis. In 2010/2011 homelessness in York was up 40% on the previous year. Private Rented Accommodation is expensive and insecure. A recent report by Shelter noted that York is one of very few exceptions in the north where ‘average rents are on a par with those seen in the South East and East of England’.

On top of this, the changes in Housing Benefit mean that of 6299 private rented properties previously affordable in the city, 3700 will be lost, almost 50%. This is effectively driving people out of York and away from their jobs, families and friends.

York’s Broad Market Rental Area which determines the level of Housing Benefit available currently includes Tadcaster and Selby, Pocklington and surrounding areas, all of which have lower rent levels and which has the knock on effect of driving down the average rent for the whole area and setting an unrealistic low level of Housing Benefit in York as a city.

We call on the Housing Minister to make a simple administrative change – to change the boundary of the Broad Market Rental Area to only include the city. This will much reduce the pressure on people and mean that people can stay in the city they call their home.

Sign the petition here:
http://www.change.org/petitions/hm-government-and-housing-minister-grant-shapps-change-the-boundary-used-to-set-housing-benefit-levels-in-york

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York protest against workfare

Saturday 3rd of March is a National Day of Action Against Workfare. Called by Boycott Workfare, the day sees protest groups around the country take action against the government schemes which force unemployed, young and disabled people into working full-time jobs while continuing to only receive basic benefits. Allowing high street stores to make money from compulsory labour, while claimants who refuse to take part face sanctions including having their benefits suspended or cut altogether.

In York we will be meeting at 1pm at the fountain on Parliament Street and then moving off to visit some of the offenders in York’s city centre.

This protest has been called by York Welfare Campaign (https://yorkwelfarecampaign.wordpress.com/), affiliated to York Stop the Cuts. Our next meeting takes place at 7:30pm in the Corner Pin (just off Rougier Street) on Tuesday 6th March.

For more information see:
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/
http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/national-day-of-action-against-workfare-3312/
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/tag/workfare/

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Press Release

York’s Housing Crisis: A meeting with Hugh Bayley MP
18th February 2012, 1pm, Conference Room, St. Clements Hall

York is facing a housing crisis. In 2010/2011 Homelessness in York was up 40% on the previous year. Private Rented Accommodation is expensive and insecure. A recent report by Shelter noted that York is one of very few exceptions in the north where ‘average rents are on a par with those seen in the South East and East of England’.

On top of this, the changes in Housing Benefit mean that of 6299 private rented properties previously affordable in the city, 3700 will be lost, almost 50%. This is effectively driving people out of York and away from their jobs, families and friends.

York Welfare Campaign are hosting an open meeting with Hugh Bayley MP on 18th February, 1pm, Conference Room at St Clements Hall. This is a chance for all those affected by York’s Housing Crisis to make their voices heard.

Hugh Bayley is campaigning on this issue and has set up a meeting with Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister in early March. Hugh Bayley says:

“York is the most unaffordable city in Yorkshire for private rents which are on a par with rents in the South of England. The number of jobs in York increased by 17,000 when Labour was in power, but the city didn’t build as many new homes and the shortage has pushed up rents and house prices for those lucky enough to be able to buy.

The government calculates housing benefit on what it calls a Broad Rental Market Area, which includes places such as Selby and Malton where rents are much lower. Two people out of every three in private rented housing in York have to pay more than their maximum housing benefit entitlement, which leaves many people unable to afford to live in their own city and forced to move away. Some will lose their jobs because they can’t get to work for early or late shifts and so it will cost the Government more in unemployment benefits in the longer term.

The Broad Market Area for York should reflect the actual rents which people pay in the city and not in cheaper areas. I want to meet the Minister to persuade him to treat York as a special case.”

Michelle Cooper, a mother of three, who has long been keeping an eye on housing York says the rent levels in York exclude many people:

“Simply the numbers do not add, if you want to privately rent in York from a lettings agent the criteria is minimum income is effectively £28k and most don’t accept housing benefit payments. Some lettings agents accept a guarantor, but the guarantor must be working and show enough disposable income to cover the rent, they will not accept retired people even if they have no mortgage. With the new cuts and the criteria, there is no affordable private lets in York!”

York Welfare Campaign calls for all those who care about housing in York to come together to discuss the issues and plan for coherent future action.

We call form:
• a reappraisal of the boundary of the area (Broad Market Rental Area) under which York’s Local Reference Rent is determined which in turn sets housing benefit levels. York’s Broad Market Rental Area currently includes Tadcaster and Selby, Pocklington and surrounding areas all of which have lower rent levels and which has the knock on effect of driving down the average rent for the whole area and setting an unrealistic low level of Housing Benefit in York as a city. Some of the negative effects of this policy on families in York could be mitigated if a new Local Reference Rent was determined.
• Regulation of rents – excessive profit should not be made from the places people live.
• Long term lets – to stop the insecurity of short term tenancies.
• A sustainable strategy of building affordable family homes, and not one and two bed ‘city living’ flats.

Contact: Helen Graham (York Welfare Campaign)
E-mail: helengraham23@gmail.com

York’s Housing Crisis
18th February, 1-2.30pm
Conference Room
St. Clements Hall
Nunthorpe Road
YO23 1BW
York

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How the cuts are affecting people in York

On the N30 strike day, York Welfare Campaign handed out postcards and collected stories of how the cuts are affecting the lives of people in York. Here are some of the stories people wanted to share. If you have a story about how the cuts are affecting you, get in touch through writing a comment below.

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Next meeting

10th January 2011

7.30pm

Corner Pin Pub (room at the back, behind the bar)

17 Tanner Row, York, YO1 6JB

All very welcome indeed!

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