- Schools closure updateThe Government is asking schools and settings to start to plan to reopen to more pupils, from the week commencing 1 JuneMore on schools closure update
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Government urged not to miss a "once in a generation" opportunity to support rough sleepers
21st May 2020
Hackney Council has called on the Government to deliver meaningful change for rough sleepers, as a task force is established to look at the next steps in providing support and accommodation for the thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation. Hackney worked fast to offer all rough sleepers in the borough emergency accommodation. During the pandemic many rough sleepers who have previously not engaged with the Council before have started to accept support and work with staff. The Council wants to ensure this work is not undone as the lockdown is lifted. In a letter to Dame Louise Casey, who is leading the Government task force, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Rennison have called on the Government to consider three key priorities:No recourse to public fundsThe Government has to be prepared to discuss the status of rough sleepers with no recourse to public funds. At the moment there is no route out of rough sleeping for this cohort. For those able to work, including EEA citizens for whom housing benefit is linked to employment, we need funding that allows for accommodation coupled with employment support that can provide a ladder back into work and housing. For those whose immgration status precludes work, we need investment that allows for specialist provision by charities that can support individuals with their immigration status, a process that can take months with funding needed both for advice, and for accommodation during this process.Additional funding There has to be a commitment to provide the additional funding required by local authorities and partner organisations. Everyone working to support rough sleepers knows what is needed to deliver meaningful change but this comes at a cost. The level of outreach and support required, the integration with services and the investment in both short and longer term accommodation. None of this can be done on the cheap - we welcome recent investment from the Government in services for rough sleepers, some of which we have benefited from here in Hackney. However, we have been concerned at the initial levels of direct funding for responding to the needs of rough sleepers during the Covid-19 pandemic, of which Hackney received just £10,000. Significant investment will be needed if we are to deliver on the vision shared by both the Government and local authorities to end rough sleeping.Integrated approachThere has to be an integrated approach, working with health partners. The multiple factors that result in an individual sleeping on the streets are complex, often involving a combination of mental ill health and substance addiction and in many cases linked to previous experience of trauma. This is especially the case for those entrenched rough sleepers we now have an opportunity to support. While housing is certainly critical, many of the individuals we work with have no chance of sustaining a tenancy without intensive support from a wide range of services, and accommodation is only one small part of that process. We have been working locally to embed joint working on everything from hospital discharge to substance misuse services to provide a joined-up package of support, built around the individual rather than the service.For more information about support available for rough sleepers in Hackney visit hackney.gov.uk/rough-sleepers
Losing a much-loved tree is never easy, but here’s why it's necessary
21st May 2020
The Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, explains why the unfortunate removal of a tree at Woodberry Down is necessary.
Update on school closures
In line with current Government guidance, most of our schools remain open to children to critical workers and vulnerable pupils (more information). The Government is asking schools and settings to start to plan to reopen to more pupils, from the week commencing 1 June at the earliest. This would include: Early years settings Reception and Year 1 Year 6 Year 10 and 12 for some face to face time Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Your school will be in touch with you to share more information as they have it. A statement from the Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble regarding the proposed phased reopening of schools: "The most important thing - and our priority - is that pupils and all of our school staff are safe and not put at any undue risk. We really want to get more pupils back at school learning - but we’ve been very clear that this must only happen when the time is right and we continue to monitor the situation carefully. "Almost all Hackney schools have been open for the children of key workers and for vulnerable children over the past seven school weeks. We thank them for all their work to support and educate the children of Hackney, both in school and at home, in these unprecedented times. "At the moment, the Council is working with school leaders to support them to open further to certain year groups from 1 June, if that is what schools decide to do, and in line with Government guidance. We all know that there is widespread uncertainty about this issue for school colleagues, parents and the community. The levels of risk, safety and the need to maintain the confidence of all those involved will be a critical part of these difficult decisions. Ultimately the decision to open will be made by headteachers and governing bodies, and we have assured them that they have our full support, whatever they choose to do. We know they are working to provide a clear, safe structure for their schools. "The lack of clarity from the Government has been very frustrating, leaving councils to step in and provide advice and support in the absence of detailed national guidance. We have written to the Government raising our deep concerns and as yet have had no reply, and we continue to engage with the trade unions. "We are aware that each family will have different circumstances that may affect their decision to send their child back to school and we will also support them whatever they decide to do. Schools will continue to provide access to resources and work for those who do not return to school before the summer holiday. "Over the coming days, with more guidance - and a firm decision - expected from the Government, we will continue to listen, reflect and support our schools, staff and families at a local level to collectively do our best for our young people and the brilliant staff who work with them."
20th May 2020
Coronavirus budget gap equivalent to half of austerity cuts, report reveals
The Government must commit to covering the full costs of vital support for vulnerable families and plunging incomes from normal council services to avert a crisis in public services when they are most needed, a Hackney Council report has set out. Additional spending on key frontline services during the pandemic, coupled with losses in Council Tax, Business Rates and other income, means the Council faces a £71million budget shortfall this year. The funding gap is equivalent to half of the £140m in government grant cuts the Council has received since 2010 – in just one year. So far, the Council has received just £17.7m from the Government in emergency financial support – with ministers U-turning on promises to spend “whatever it takes” and only committing to funding a handful of select services for a short period, and often at inadequate levels. The report, considered by the Council’s Cabinet, emphasises that while there is no immediate risk to Council services, the scale of loss of income the Council faces means maintaining existing levels of service will be impossible without further government funding. It also sets out concerns that a change in the Government’s approach to measuring the impact on council finances – asking authorities to report on the full year impact on the assumption that finances return to normal from the end of July – is designed to mask the true level of funding shortfalls facing local government across the country. Government funding provided so far has also been inadequate for the specific services it has said it will fund, such as £10,000 to support 150 rough sleepers in emergency accommodation for the foreseeable future.Examples of the additional £27m spending the Council is forecasting include: Increased adult and children’s social care costsProviding PPE to social care and other staffDelivering thousands of emergency food parcels every week to residents who cannot leave their homes or need supportThe £44m expected to be lost in income includes: Nearly £20m in Council Tax and Business RatesMore than £9m in sales, fees and charges – due to the closure of facilities such as leisure centres and other venuesRent arrears and other cuts to commercial incomeFor more information, read the full Cabinet report.
20th May 2020
Boosting recycling rates: fortnightly waste collections approved
Fortnightly waste collections are set to be introduced for some households in Hackney, as part of an effort to further boost the borough’s recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste sent for incineration. The decision, made by the Council’s Cabinet last night, follows a consultation in which nearly 11,000 people responded. The change means that, from Spring 2021, non-recyclable waste collections will switch from once a week to every two weeks at street-level properties in Hackney — generally houses, or houses that have been converted into flats and currently have green sack recycling services. These households will keep weekly recycling and food waste collections, to encourage people to recycle as much as possible and reduce the amount of waste sent for incineration. The changes will not affect estates or blocks of flats. The 15 London boroughs that have already implemented fortnightly collections in order to meet targets set in the Mayor of London’s environment strategy — which all London councils are signed up to — have seen increases in their recycling rates. If these increases were replicated in Hackney, around 4500 tonnes of waste — the equivalent of the waste contained in 450 bin lorries — would be recycled instead of incinerated every year. Recent analysis of waste thrown away in the borough showed that over 55% of the waste thrown away was recyclable — with food, paper, garden waste and glass commonly found in people’s bins. As part of the change to fortnightly waste collections, the Council will give every household a 180 litre wheeled bin — double the size of a standard round dustbin, giving households a maximum of 5-6 black bin bags worth of space every fortnight. In line with all other London boroughs that have introduced fortnightly collections, households will only be permitted to use the space in this bin for non-recyclable waste in an effort to encourage households to recycle more using their weekly green sack and blue bin food waste collections. In consultation, 39% of respondents supported the proposals, while 52% did not support the proposals — with predominant concerns among residents focussed on smell and health, vermin and overflowing bins. Those in larger households were also less likely to support the proposal. To address these concerns, the Council is giving each household a wheeled bin — which, coupled with predicted increases in food recycling rates, will help to improve hygiene and reduce vermin. In the consultation, 59% of people wanted the Council to provide a bin if the proposals went ahead. In response to the concerns of those in larger households, the Council will also make more bin space available to households with more than four people, subject to an assessment carried out by the Council’s recycling team. With fewer overall waste collections, it’s also expected that there will be reduced traffic disruption and fewer emissions generated from waste vehicles. The Council will introduce the fortnightly collections in Spring 2021. Residents can find out more about the proposals and order additional green recycling sacks and blue food waste bins at www.hackney.gov.uk/fortnightly-waste.
19th May 2020
NHS heroes stuck in cladding ‘bureaucratic nightmare’, Mayor tells MPs
The Government must provide leadership and clarity for leaseholders who are unable to sell their home and are facing huge bills to remove potentially dangerous cladding, the Mayor of Hackney has told a committee of MPs. Hackney Council has been contacted by leaseholders living in private blocks – including NHS staff and key workers – who say they are living with “considerable stress and anxiety” as they battle the owners of the buildings, mortgage lenders and the Government. Many of them are being asked to pay large sums of money – sometimes tens of thousands of pounds – due to their private building owners being unable to recover the costs of removing or fixing cladding from the Government. Some are unable to remortgage, staircase or sell their flats – even though their buildings were built to regulations at the time – because mortgage lenders are unwilling to provide a mortgage on properties that do not meet the latest Government advice relating to cladding. Some mortgage companies are subsequently valuing their homes at £0, leaving leaseholders whose fixed-rate mortgages are ending lumped with high variable-rate mortgages of up to 6%. The Council estimates hundreds of residents could be affected. Nearly three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, very few building owners across the country have been able to access funding from the Government’s Cladding Remediation Fund. The information was given in written evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s inquiry into cladding remediation on behalf of Hackney’s leaseholders. The issue is also affecting the Council’s own buildings, with mortgage lenders interpreting the Government’s guidance differently and requiring Council leaseholders and buyers to provide detailed evidence about the construction of their home.The Council has contacted more than 200 building owners in the borough to ask them to provide data on the construction of their buildings at the request of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – but in some cases, responses have been inadequate or slow.
15th May 2020