Local government

  1. Hackney sees UC claimants rise by 140% in seven months

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The number of people claiming Universal Credit in Hackney has rocketed by 140 per cent in just seven months, as the economic fallout from the global pandemic continues to bite.

    According to Department for Work and Pensions figures, there were 12,395 people on UC in the borough in January , rising to 13,125 in February.

    By September, this had risen to 31,522 people.

    According to council documents, while London’s overall employment rate continues to appear high at 76.5 per cent, the full scale of the jobs crisis caused by Covid-19 is not yet apparent in these figures.

    The Institute for Employment Studies finds that employers across the country are planning to make double the number of redundancies than were made at the height of the financial crisis – 380,000 from May to July 2020 versus 180,000 from January to March 2009.

    The Town Hall has been preparing for large numbers of people moving on to the government’s contentious UC system since earlier in the year, with officers warning of a risk not just of increased unemployment and unsecured debt, but “blighted” neighbourhoods if large numbers of businesses are forced to close.

    This represents a sharp contrast to the council’s pre-pandemic expectation that the East End would see high employment growth, particularly in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney.

  2. Flammable cladding at former Olympic Village to be removed

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Grenfell-style flammable cladding will be stripped from tower blocks in the former Olympic Village by the end of the year, Newham Council has said.

    Eleven blocks of flats in Stratford’s East Village, next to Westfield, were found to contain aluminium composite material (ACM) after a review by the town hall and Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government.

    The material has been blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, which caused 72 deaths.

    Newham Council said the cladding, which was used in small areas for decorative features on balconies and as larger panels, will be removed by the end of the year.

    Building managers East Village Management said safety measures in the buildings, including the sprinkler systems, meant the risk to residents was low.

  3. Residents 'disappointed' with Kensington development plans

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Hotel

    Residents are hoping the government will halt a plan for a £1bn, 30-storey hotel and flats in Kensington.

    The deputy mayor of London has given the green light to the Kensington Forum 749-bedroom hotel plan, despite opposition from from 800 residents and 30 residents and amenity groups.

    The scheme will create one of London’s largest hotels. It includes 62 affordable homes but residents in the nearby conservation area said the building would block their light and was over-development.

    It was initially turned down by Kensington and Chelsea council after a six-and-a-half hour meeting but called in by the Mayor of London who approved it.

    This was followed by a challenge at the High Court where the council won its bid to overturn the scheme.

    However, the London Mayor had the right to make the ultimate planning decision.

    Ward councillor Greg Hammond said he was disappointed that the Deputy Mayor “sadly approves the Forum Hotel application based on the extra affordable homes and hotel rooms and ignores the harm to the conservation area. Wrong decision!”

    Jason Kow, CEO of Queensgate Investments said: “Kensington Forum is an extraordinary scheme of exceptional quality, which will benefit both London and Londoners.”

    He added: “The new world-class hotel will establish a new benchmark for visitor accommodation in the capital that will doubtless become a landmark for the city.”