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Darren comments on rising child homelessness

Upon publication of today’s (21st August 2019) report from the Children’s Commissioner into the homeless crisis facing 210,000 children in England, MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has continued to call on the government to roll-out wide-ranging housing and homelessness reforms.

Darren said:

“Today’s heartbreaking report detailing the 210,000 children classed as homeless in England should come as no surprise to any MP. If it has – they haven’t been doing their job.

Every week, my office and I support constituents facing homelessness, sofa surfing or a move into temporary accommodation. This uncertainty often follows families being evicted from private rented accommodation or sudden breakdown of the family unit.

Whilst Bristol City Council is bucking the national trend by building new council housing and working with Housing Associations to build social rent and shared ownership properties, they need more support from government. This isn’t a local issue – that’s why I’ve called for a national building programme for new council housing in Parliament.

Many families can’t afford private rents and they don’t offer long-term security. I grew up in council housing in Lawrence Weston and Shirehampton and value the security it offered my family.

I’ve also said the reckless and short-sighted loss of £1bn from homeless services budgets must be reinstated. The government should be ashamed it has continuously cut vital funding to local councils and organisations who can help homeless back into housing, employment/training and access vital physical and mental health and welfare support. Reinstating homeless budgets cut by Tory governments could help tens of thousands of people – including families.

I will also continue to support key legislation to protect tenants, and implore the government to get on with banning Section 21 evictions, as they first promised back in April”.

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Darren calls for reinstatement of homeless budgets

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has joined calls for the government to reinstate annual budget cuts of £1billion made to council homeless services budgets.

Darren said:

“You only need walk around Bristol city centre, or any city centre in the UK, to see the increasing number of street homeless. Rising homelessness is a stain upon our wealthy nation and the government should be ashamed it has continuously cut vital funding to local councils and organisations who can help homeless back into housing, employment/training and access vital health and mental health and welfare support. £1b a year could help tens of thousands of people off the streets.

St Mungo’s (a charity based in Bristol that I have visited) and Homeless Link are absolutely right to call on the government to reinstate funding levels as they were under the last Labour government.

The charities are warning that punishing cuts to council budgets are leaving increasing numbers of people at risk on the streets, and are calling on the Government to act now to make up the funding shortfall – or inevitably face missing its own target of ending rough sleeping by 2027. I wholly support their calls.

You can follow Darren’s work on housing here. 

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Darren welcomes ban on lettings fees

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West,  has welcomed the forthcoming ban on letting fees and the announcement that Bristol City Council will host a national enforcement team.

Darren said:

” I am pleased to hear Bristol City Council has been chosen to host a new nationally-focused team which will provide greater protection for renters across England from letting agents who charge illegal tenant fees. Tenant fees in the private sector are banned in England from 1 June 2019. I fully supported this bill.

The new enforcement team – being led by National Trading Standards – will be responsible for regulating the private rental sector in England, protecting tenants and safeguarding compliant letting agents.

The National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team will act as the lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Tenant Fees Act 2019. Letting agency regulation (covering England) will be led by Bristol City Council and estate agency enforcement (across the UK) will continue to be operated from Powys County Council.

This team will place Bristol City Council at the heart of influencing government policy to help enhance consumer protection“.

You can follow Darren’s work on housing here.

 

 

 

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Darren welcomes plans to ban ‘no fault’ evictions

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West,  has welcomed news of the government’s plan to ban Section 21, known as ‘no fault’ evictions.

Darren said:

“I am committed to strengthening tenants’ rights and I support the abolition of the current system of ‘no fault’ evictions. For many of the 4.7 million private renting households in England, the risk of being evicted by a section 21 notice casts a looming shadow of insecurity. While the majority of landlords are good landlords and most understand the expectations upon them, some rogue landlords and letting agents undermine the good work of the rest of the sector and give it a bad name. More needs to be done to make tenancies more secure and to ensure that homes are decent and affordable – overhauling Section 21 is a great start.

 Private tenants need clear and positive action and that is why I support a consumer rights revolution for renters to bring private renting into the twenty-first century. The Labour Party has long-campaigned to scrap Section 21, give renters greater security with a three-year cap on rent rises and introduce new legal minimum standards. This would be supported by introducing tougher fines for those who fail to meet minimum standards, with those fines funding local authority enforcement work.

Already this week alone, my office has heard from two constituents being evicted with only 8 weeks notice – they have no rent arrears and some tenants find they face eviction after asking for legitimate repairs – yet they get almost no protection from short-notice evictions under the current Section 21 process.

With ever-rising private rents, thousands on the housing waiting lists and cuts to welfare benefits, it has been clear to me that ‘no fault’ evictions have pushed many people into hostels, sofa surfing, van dwelling and street homelessness. I am glad the government have finally realised tenants deserve better protection, but it really shouldn’t have taken this long!

I will continue to press the Government at every opportunity to abolish Section 21 and reform the private rented sector to address the imbalance of power between tenants and landlords“.

You can follow Darren’s work on housing here.

 

 

 

Darren signs fire protection of property letter

Darren signed a letter asking that the Fire Safety Building Regulations are updated to protect not only lives but property such as schools. health services and peoples’ homes as well. You can read the letter below.
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Darren writes to Homes England about Astry Close

Homes England are planning on closing a funding scheme before Ambition Lawrence Weston will be able to apply for it in order to build 40 homes for community use. They are planning on closing the fund even if there is money left. Darren wrote to Homes England to urge them to think again.

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Darren visits new housing in Lawrence Weston

Bristol North West MP Darren Jones visited Curo’s site at Corbet Close in Lawrence Weston last week to find out more about the organisation’s plans to build 57 much-needed new affordable homes in the area.

The local MP was accompanied on the site visit by Curo Managing Director, Gerraint Oakley, and the project team. The development will provide one, two and three bedroom homes for social and affordable rent, as well as a number of homes for shared ownership.

Curo submitted its planning application in August and is anticipating the new homes could be completed by the end of 2021 if granted consent by Bristol City Council. Corbet Close along with Curo’s other proposed development in Lawrence Weston – for 128 homes at Henacre Road – could see the addition of 185 new homes in total for the area, of which 95 will be affordable housing.

Darren said:

” These developments will help more families from Lawrence Weston to stay in or return to the community they love and where they grew up. I am pleased that more than half of the new homes proposed by Curo will be available as affordable housing – these homes will benefit people who are on the council’s housing list. I grew up in Lawrence Weston and I’m delighted to see investment in housing in this area – these developments and others like it will not only create new housing that is urgently needed in Bristol, they’ll also deliver growth in the local economy. Housing Associations are key partners in delivering our city’s target of 2,000 new homes per year by 2020″.

Gerraint Oakley said: “We’re keen to work with the council and other partners to create even more new housing in Bristol and look forward to be able to start building both at Henacre Road and Corbet Close. We’d like to thank Darren Jones MP for taking the time to visit our site and find out more about our developments which will benefit the whole area – including our existing tenants at Corbet Close, who will enjoy better external communal areas, improved security and amenities.”

©Barbara Evripidou/FirstAvenuePhotography.com

 

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Darren continues to call on government to back new social housing

On 31st July, Darren signed a letter calling on the Government to urgently release their much-delayed Social Housing Green Paper before the housing crisis continued to spiral out of control.

Following pressure and since that date, the government has released the Green Paper, but it is lacking in detail and funding of how social housing demand will meet supply. Darren has therefore signed another cross-party letter calling on the government to act.

Darren said:

“I am pleased the government have finally got on, bowed to pressure and released this much-promised Green Paper but to be frank it is hugely lacking in any great detail (and funding!) on how to resolve the nation’s housing crisis. This is because it is quite clear, the main way to resolve the years of under-investment in, and priority given to, council and social housing is to build more of it and quickly!

Whole swathes of working Britain can’t afford their rent let alone think about buying a home for their family. Everyone should be entitled to a safe, secure and warm home – in today’s austerity Britain this is feeling far too much like a luxury not a human right.

Whilst Bristol City Council is working hard to buck the trend and build housing at an affordable rent, I once again urge the government to invest in council and social housing and give councils and housing associations the full support and funding they need to ensure those in unsecure housing, in hostels and temporary accommodation,  struggling with high rent, sofa surfing and rough sleeping have the possibility of a home in the future. Not to do so is a neglect of their duty”.

You can follow Darren’s work on housing here.