Showing posts with label government funding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government funding. Show all posts

Monday, 24 February 2020

‘Grant from Auditing’ dropped ‘Scotty from Marketing’ right in it and the net result is a strong stench of corruption emanating from the Morrison government


New Matilda, 14 February 2020:

Summer rains finally fell on large parts of New South Wales this week. They didn’t fall everywhere, and much of inland Australia is still in drought, but enough rain fell where it was needed to allow weary fire authorities to announce that the New South Wales bushfires were finally contained.

For different reasons, Scott Morrison has also had a difficult summer, so the Prime Minister would no doubt have been pleased the bushfire emergency he so badly mishandled is now receding. With Parliament back and the serious matter of COVID-19 Coronavirus to attend to, Morrison could be forgiven for thinking that February would be the month where the government could regain the political initiative.

But that’s not happening, because the government finds itself mired in a series of corruption scandals.

The key issue, as it has been for weeks now, is the sports rorts affair. As we now know, roughly $100 million in sports grants were distributed in a completely corrupt manner by former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie before the 2019 federal election.

The scandal blew up after the National Audit Office released a devastating report into the orgy of pork barrelling.

The government’s initial response to the Audit was to try and downplay it: a variation of the classic “nothing to see here, folks” line. Morrison himself argued many times that no rules had been broken and that all the projects funded in McKenzie’s dodgy process were eligible.

That approach proved unsustainable, as the media turned its attention to the grants program and uncovered multiple instances of highly dubious decision-making. Huge grants to fancy rowing clubs in Mosman, grants for female change rooms to clubs with no female players, grants to a shooting club that McKenzie herself was a member of, grants that sporting clubs boasted about before even receiving them – the more journalists dug, the worse things seemed.

The Audit report was always going to be difficult to wriggle away from. The report set down, in black and white, a devastating series of findings about the sports grants program.

An established funding program was subverted by a “parallel process” of political decision making inside McKenzie’s office, quite transparently driven by political interest. Questions were raised about the program’s probity by senior bureaucrats, only to be batted away by McKenzie and her staff. A colour-coded spreadsheet was even drawn up, one that had nothing to do with the merits of the funding applications, and everything to do with the Coalition’s re-election strategy.

As former senior New South Wales judge Stephen Charles QC argued, this was not just ministerial misconduct; it was corruption.

So, after weeks of defending her, Morrison bowed to the inevitable and sacked McKenzie. After a hastily convened investigation by Morrison’s hand-picked Secretary of the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, McKenzie was sent on her way.

On the day he sacked McKenzie, Morrison announced that Gaetjens’ report found that McKenzie had erred, but that the program itself was sound. Exactly how Gaetjens managed to come to that conclusion is something that has puzzled journalists and onlookers. If the program was sound, why was McKenzie sacked for rorting it? And if McKenzie rorted it, how could the program be sound?

Just to make matters more opaque, Gaetjens’ report was never released, with Morrison claiming that it was a cabinet document. He therefore kept it secret. It’s marvellous stuff, this open government business…..

In scathing testimony, Auditor-General Grant Hehir and senior auditor Brian Boyd demolished the government’s position with a few well-chosen lines.

Were all the grants eligible, Senator Eric Abetz asked Boyd? No, answered Boyd.

In fact, as many as 43 per cent were not eligible. Boyd went on to explain why. Some applications were late. Some projects had started their work before they signed the funding agreement. Some had actually finished the work.

As Boyd told the Committee, “If you’ve completed your work, or in some cases — as in this one — you’ve even started your work before a funding agreement is signed, you’re not eligible to receive funding.” Oops.

It got worse. We also found out that the Prime Minister’s office was intimately involved with McKenzie’s office in drawing up the dodgy list of grant recipients. Auditor-General Hehir told Senators there were “direct” communications between Morrison’s office and McKenzie’s, including at least 28 versions of the now-notorious colour-coded spreadsheet that laid out the various sports grants by marginal seat.

The Auditor-General described a process where key advisors from Morrison and McKenzie’s offices haggled over which projects to fund, using the spreadsheet as the basis for their decisions.

To say this looks bad for the Prime Minister is an understatement. He has been caught out in a particularly ham-fisted cover up, one that looks all the more ill-judged now the facts have come to light. Given the level and detail of communication between his office and Bridget McKenzie’s, it’s hard to see how he can plausibly argue he wasn’t privy to the rorts…..

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Morrison's refusal to release the written finding of the Gaetjens investigation into the allocation of Community Sport Infrastructure Grants during the 2019 federal election campaign is raising eyebrows


The handling of the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program during the 2019 federal election campaign - otherwise know as SportsRorts scandal - has already taken the scalp of former Agriculture Minister & Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, after poor personal polling on 12 January  and growing public anger on the release of the Auditor General's adverse report of 15 January 2020 caused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to order an internal investigation into this $100 million dollar scheme.

Ms. McKenzie has been made Leader of the Nationals in the Senate as compensation for the fact that she was forced to resign in an effort to put a lid on the whole affair.

Nevertheless disquiet remains after Morrison refused to release the written finding of the Gaetjens investigation.......

Former head of the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Finance, and Employment and Industrial Relations and currently Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Michael Keating, writing in Crikey.com.au on 11 February 2020:

In my view the Gaetjens’ report reflects poorly on its author.

It would seem on the evidence that Gaetjens has produced a report whose only purpose was to get the government off a political hook.

One suspects that finding McKenzie guilty on the grounds of political bias in her administration of these grants would have implicated other ministers and/or their offices, and therefore she was exonerated on this charge.

However, as head of the public service, Gaetjen’s first duty is to uphold its values and integrity. And as set out in its enabling legislation, the Australian Public Service is meant to be apolitical, serving not only the government but also parliament and the Australian public.

Gaetjens should be setting an example for the rest of the APS — indeed the head of any organisation has their greatest impact on its culture.

My other concern about this sports rorts saga is what it tells us about the prime minister’s attitude to the public service.

As the High Court has found: “the maintenance and protection of an apolitical and professional public service is a significant purpose consistent with the system of representative and responsible government mandated by the constitution”.

But the Gaetjens’ report reinforces doubts about whether Morrison accepts the independence and impartiality of the APS.

Furthermore, this report comes on the back of the Morrison government’s rejection of all the recommendations from the independent ThodeyReview of the APS which would have strengthened that independence, and therefore reinforces that concern.

On 5 February 2020 the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants to inquire into and report on the administration and award of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program.

The first and, perhaps the only, hearing day is today Thursday 13 February 2020 -  beginning at 4.30pm when the Auditor General Grant Hehir will be giving evidence.

The closing date for submissions is 21 February 2020 and the committee is to present its final report on or before 24 March 2020.
BACKGROUND
Terms of Reference 

1. That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants, be established to inquire into and report on the administration and award of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program, with particular reference to: 
a) program design and guidelines; 
b) requirements placed on applicants for funding; 
c) management and assessment processes; 
d) adherence to published assessment processes and program criteria; 
e) the role of the offices of the Minister, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and any external parties, in determining which grants would be awarded and who would announce the successful grants; and 
f) any related programs or matters. 

2. That the committee present its final report on or before Tuesday 24 March 2020. 

3. That the committee consist of 5 senators, as follows: 
a) 2 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate; 
b) 2 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; and 
c)1 nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens. 

4. That: 
a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator; and b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee. 
c) a participating member shall be taken to be a member of a committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present. 

5. That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy. 

6. That the committee elect as chair one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and as deputy chair the member nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens. 

7. That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant. 

8. That, in the event of an equality of voting, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote. 

9. That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider. 

10. That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit. 

11. That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President. 

12. That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public. 

The resolution establishing the committee is available in the Journals of the Senate No. 37 - Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), Award of Funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program, Report NO. 23 OF 2019–20, which found:
  • The award of grant funding was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice.
  • The successful applications were not those that had been assessed as the most meritorious in terms of the published program guidelines..... 
  • There was evidence of distribution bias in the award of grant funding. Overall statistics indicate that the award of funding was consistent with the population of eligible applications received by state/territory, but was not consistent with the assessed merit of applications. The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the Minister’s Office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 Election. Applications from projects located in those electorates were more successful in being awarded funding than if funding was allocated on the basis of merit assessed against the published program guidelines.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

SevicesNSW is inviting residents & business premises destroyed by bushfire to register for a free cleanup of their property



Residents on the NSW North Coast and elsewhere in the state should ring ServicesNSW on 13 77 88 to take advantage of the post-bushfire cleanup offer set out in the media release below.

I strongly suggest that those eligible for this cleanup of residential or business premises register immediately, as the Morrison Government has recently demonstrated that it will repurpose bushfire recovery funding at the drop of a hat and this program might just end prematurely with little notice to bushfire victims if federal funding is reduced or terminated.

Office of the Prime Minister, media release, 30 January 2020:

The Morrison and Berejiklian Governments today announced they will share the costs on a 50:50 basis for the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by the recent bushfires in NSW.

This follows the successful approach adopted by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments following the Black Saturday bushfires.

The cost of the NSW clean-up is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, though a definitive number cannot be settled until the fires have ceased and sites are assessed.

As part of recovery efforts the NSW Government has also selected Laing O’Rourke Australia as the lead contractor to undertake the clean-up.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Commonwealth Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro, Commonwealth Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding agreement would give people more certainty as the recovery process continues.

This is an important step to get the clean-up and rebuilding process moving to help people get back on their feet,” the Prime Minister said.

We know many people are still battling these blazes but where the fire-front has passed we’re deploying $2 billion through our National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help people rebuild their homes and communities.”

The destruction caused by these fires is unprecedented and the process of recovery and rebuilding will take time, but I want people to know, we will be with them every step of the way,” the Premier said.

Government is picking up the bill for the clean-up, at no cost to owners, so if you’re uninsured, this is one less thing to worry about and if you are insured, it means you will be able to use every dollar of your policy to rebuild.”

Treasurer Frydenberg said the speed at which agreement was reached between the Commonwealth and the NSW government was not only a testament to the working relationship between the two levels of government but that of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.

An unprecedented joint effort has and is required to assist with the recovery, rebuilding and future resilience of local communities,” Treasurer Frydenberg said.

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has played a key role across the board ensuring the Commonwealth’s resources are reaching the communities when and where they are needed.”

The Deputy Premier said the clean-up was a mammoth task but that he was confident the partnership with Laing O’Rourke will see properties cleared and the rebuild begin as soon as possible.

With 2,399 homes destroyed and more than 10,000 buildings damaged or destroyed all up, we have a long journey ahead of us,” the Deputy Premier said.

Despite the enormity of the job, Laing O’Rourke has indicated the majority of properties will be substantially cleared by mid-year, with a focus on residential properties.

The contractor will also be working hand in hand with Public Works Advisory to engage local suppliers and subcontractors, to keep local economies ticking over.

Our emergency services, volunteers and our farmers have been outstanding in emergency situations these past months, and we need to be as vigilant in recovery as they have been in the face of disaster.”

Minister Littleproud said the Commonwealth would continue to step up to do whatever it takes.

"We will continue to respond to changing conditions while these fires affect communities across the country,” Minister Littleproud said.

As the rebuilding begins, the Commonwealth will be there to make sure communities are well-resourced.”

Treasurer Perrottet said he expected all savings insurance companies may accrue as a result of the Government funded clean-up to be passed on to policy holders to help assist them in the rebuilding process.

I know people are anxious to have their properties cleared as soon as possible which is why the NSW Government has hit the ground running with the clean-up effort,” Treasurer Perrottet said.

Impacted owners wanting their property cleared need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land.

We are working with the new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to ensure a coordinated response to make clean-up as easy as possible for property owners.”

The NSW Government will provide regular updates to the Commonwealth on the progress of the clean-up.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Regulation, policy oversight and funding of aged care services are predominantly the role of the Australian Government - under three successive Coalition governments needs are not being met


Regulation and policy oversight of aged care services are predominantly the role of the Australian Government. It funds residential aged care, home care and home support, with state, territory and local governments also funding and/or delivering some of these services directly. However, most services are delivered by non-government providers such as private-for-profit, religious and charitable organisations.

Government subsidises a significant portion of the cost of providing aged care, but clients and residents are expected to contribute where they can and may be charged fees and payments by service providers.

In 2018-19 there were est. 3.9 million people 65 years of age or older in the Australian population.

Of these older people:

236, 213 were in permanent residential care;
64,117 had received respite care;
24,137 had received transition care or short-term restorative care;
1,072 national ATSI flexible age care program places were operational;
826,335 were receiving home support; and
131,534 were receiving home care packages. 
[Productivity Commission, REPORT ON GOVERNMENT SERVICES 2020]

That is est. 1.2 million older Australians who are receiving some form of government funded care.

Government recurrent expenditure on aged care services was $20.1 billion in the 2018-19 financial year or $4,874 per older person, with the federal government providing 98.2 per cent of the funding.

That low annual level of expenditure per person may be one of the reasons for this…..

The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 2020:

The time it takes for older Australians to enter a nursing home after being assessed as needing residential care has blown out almost 50 per cent in two years, while waiting times for the highest level of home care package are 34 months.

The Productivity Commission reports that the median "elapsed time" between getting approval from an aged care assessment team (ACAT) and going to a nursing home was 152 days in 2018-19. This is up from 121 days in 2017-18 and 105 days in 2016-17.

In New South Wales, the median wait time was 143 days in 2018-19 and 124 days in Victoria. Across Australia, almost 42 per cent of older people entered a nursing home within three months of getting ACAT approval. Almost 60 per cent of people entered a nursing home within nine months.

The Productivity Commission explained the waiting time was influenced by the availability of places as well as an older person's "preference to stay at home for as long as possible". The commission noted people may choose to try to access formal help at home or more family help, instead of taking up a nursing home place.

It said there may also be delays if people sold their family home before going into residential care.

The Productivity Commission's annual report on government services follows the aged care royal commission's recent scathing assessment of the sector. In its interim report, the royal commission slammed the aged care system as "sad and shocking", "diminish[ing] Australia as a nation". It also comes amid pleas from the aged care sector for $1.3 billion in urgent financial assistance to keep nursing homes open around the country.

The Productivity Commission's report, released today, said the median time between ACAT approval and the offer of a home care package ranged from seven months for a level one package, to 34 months for a level four (highest needs) package in 2018-19.

The commission said there was no comparable data on home care package "elapsed times" for previous years, due to a change to the approval process in 2017. Federal government data released before Christmas showed more than 112,000 people were waiting for home care. The royal commission singled out the home care wait list for urgent attention last October, noting "many people die waiting".

According to the Productivity Commission, in 2018, 84.4 per cent of those who received a formal aged care service in the home over the previous six months said they were satisfied with the quality of help they received. This was down from 89.2 per cent in 2015.

The report also found that 34 per cent of people over 65 who live at home and were classified as "in need of assistance" said their needs were not "fully met"…..

Monday, 3 February 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison & his merry band of cost cutters decided to save $9.2 million a year by cutting off CapTel phones for the profoundly deaf. Luckily this new front in Morrison's ongoing war on the poor & vulnerable was something of a fizzer


"The Commonwealth Government has awarded American company, Concentrix Services a contract to deliver the National Relay Service (NRS). One of the first things Concentrix is contracted to do is to shut down the CapTel handset service on 1 February 2020." [Deaf Forum of Australia, July 2019]

ABC News, 31 January 2020: 

Thousands of hearing-impaired Australians could face a return to 1980s technology from today after the Federal Government cancelled a deal to support text-captioning telephones. 

Phones with CapTel captioning display words on a large screen in near real time, so deaf and hearing-impaired users can make calls and see the responses. 

But in a decision criticised by disability advocates, the phones will not work as of February 1, after the Department of Communications declined to renew the service provider's contract with the National Relay Service (NRS).  
A new company won the contract. [Concentrix Services Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the SYNNEX Corporation]

It will force users to take up alternative options, with many choosing to revert back to what are known as TTY teletypewriter phones — technology first introduced in the 1980s. 

For Christine O'Reilly, the CapTel phone changed her life. Ms O'Reilly's hearing has been deteriorating since childhood and now at 62, she is profoundly hearing impaired. 

"When I received the CapTel I was so overjoyed I burst into tears," she said..... 

Critics say the decision has come down to one thing: money. 

The cost of the NRS has blown out in recent years, from $26.3 million in 2015-16, to $31.2 million in 2017-18...... 

The new NRS contract awarded last June provides for $22 million per year over three years. 

Until recently there were more than 3,500 CapTel handsets distributed across Australia. The Department of Communications estimates about 1,000 are still active. 

"I certainly acknowledge any transition of this kind is challenging, particularly for older Australians who may not be as familiar with technology," 

Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said. "We've retained a team of trainers who've been going to meet individually with CapTel users to brief them on their alternatives." .....

It is expected many users will switch to TTY teletypewriter phones, which have a small two-line screen for text above the number pad. 

"We're having to go backwards in time, and everyone else can get the latest iPhone," said Dr Alex Harrison, a profoundly deaf veterinarian in Adelaide. 

"[I feel] enormously frustrated and discriminated against," he said. 

Dr Harrison said the CapTel phone had revolutionised his practice, allowing him to easily make up to 10 calls a day. 

Making a call on a TTY phone is much more complicated. "If I want to make a phone call on the TTY, I have to call a 133 number first … and they'll put me through to an operator," he explained. 

Once you do that, you may be put on hold or told you are in a queue to make a call. 

On January 7, the department acknowledged wait times to get through were unacceptable. 

"We understand and acknowledge community disappointment about these issues and can assure you that we are focused on resolving these concerns as a priority," it said. 

To address the wait times, the relay service provider Concentrix is currently hiring and training additional staff. 

New staff took their first calls just prior to Christmas and more staff will commence during the rest of January. 

Other options offered by the Department of Communications are internet-based call captioning and apps designed to work on mobile phones and tablets. 

But users said many of the online options were much slower and less user-friendly, requiring them to fill in multiple fields just to initiate a phone call. 

"The other options are far too slow. They're primitive," Ms O'Reilly said. 

 And advocates point out the average age of CapTel phone users is more than 80. 

"For an elderly person who's not tech savvy, [these options] can be very intimidating, and often they can't do it. Some of these people are 80 or 90, and they really struggle with that," Dr Harrison said..... [my annotation in red]

"It is indeed a big shock to many Australians, and myself, who rely and need the Captel handset. It seems to me that this section of people with a hearing loss have been sacrificed in a big way so that the TTY can be ‘re-introduced’ and then plunge those who went deaf later in life and whom can speak, right back in the dark ages. It is also a direct insult to the intelligence of the people who worked long and hard to get Captel up and running in Australia. Many of our members have spoken of their dismay and disgust, particularly being isolated and the loss of their independence. In the long run, this move will cost the Australian government much more than it does now." [Deaf Forum of Australia, July 2019]


Thankfully, Captioned Telephone International, the company whose contact the Morrison Government refused to renew and, its president Rob Engelke, have bigger, kinder hearts than either Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, as Mr. Engelke has committed the company to maintaining the CapTel system for those Australians who would otherwise lose their handsets by arranging for the routing of all calls through the company's U.S. captioning centres, while it investigates long-term options based in Australia.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Clarence Valley Council receives $1 million in bushfire recovery funding


The NSW Berejiklian Government has received its state share of the $2 billion in bushfire recovery funding from the federal government and, has informed Clarence Valley Council to expect to have an extra $1 million in its coffers this week.

This money is in addition to grants already received from the NSW Government to assist with repair of certain road infrastructure damaged by the bushfires.

Council expects to use this $1 million grant to rebuild community assets such as sporting facilities and community halls, as well as creating infrastructure which will increase resilience in times of disaster.

The million dollar grant is welcome, however the financial cost of these devastating fires will be a strain on council and local communities for some time to come.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Are some homeless people being denied access to affordable housing in Australia also?


It would be foolish in today's political environment - and with society seemingly drifting mindlessly further to the right each decade - to reject the propostion outright that this would not be occurring somewhere in Australia today.......

The Guardian, 17 September 2019:


Homeless people are being denied access to affordable housing because social landlords are routinely excluding prospective tenants who are deemed too poor or vulnerable to pay the rent, a study has revealed.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found that “screening out” of homeless applicants nominated for newly available lets was widespread, as housing associations and local authorities increasingly ration their shrinking stocks of social homes.
In many cases nominees were refused a home because of the likelihood they would accrue major rent arrears after moving on to universal credit, because of the probability they would be hit by the bedroom tax or because the benefit cap had made them a financial risk.
Others were rejected after social landlords identified they had unmet mental health or addiction problems, often because of cuts to local NHS and housing support services. Individuals with unmet support needs were regarded as “too high a risk to tenancy sustainment”, the CIH said.
Homeless people were at risk of being caught in a “catch-22 scenario”, the CIH said, with some landlords’ letting practices creating a “perverse situation where the reasons why people may need access to social homes the most can often become barriers to accessing them”.
Some housing associations demanded that prospective tenants who would be moving on to universal credit pay a month’s rent up front, an impossible requirement for many homeless people. Landlords have been badly hit by rent arrears caused by tenants’ five-week wait for a first universal credit payment.
Faye Greaves, the CIH policy and practice officer, who wrote the report, said: “For decades, we have failed to build enough homes, and our welfare safety net is no longer fit for purpose. More and more people are turning to local authorities and housing associations for help to access social housing.
“But that leaves housing providers having to find a balance between people in acute need, local priorities and their need to develop sustainable tenancies. What we found is that relying solely on processes can end up having the opposite effect to that intended.”
It called on ministers to launch a major social housing building programme and scrap right to buy. There has been a net loss of 165,000 social homes in England since 2012, the CIH estimates. It adds that 90,000 of the 340,000 new homes needed every year should be set at social rent. In 2017-18 only 6,434 homes were built for social rent.
The findings will concern critics who believe some housing associations are becoming increasingly estranged from their charitable mission to house homeless people. Many were set up in the late 1960s on a wave of public outrage over growing homelessness typified by the famous BBC drama Cathy Come Home.
Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, called for proper scrutiny of social landlords’ letting practices: “Having a safe and stable home is a human need, and this report paints a sorry picture of the difficulties that people who are homeless, or who are at risk of becoming homeless, face in accessing this basic right.”
Pre-tenancy screening is causing tension between housing associations, which want to minimise the damage to their balance sheet of taking on tenants at risk of rent arrears, and councils, which want to exercise their right to nominate social tenancies to reduce growing numbers of homeless people on their books.
The research did not ask what happens to homeless people who are refused social tenancies but the assumption is that most will continue to be housed in high-cost and often unsuitable temporary accommodation in the private sector. Local authorities in England spend nearly £1bn a year on temporary accommodation.
In recent years cuts to government grant funding have meant housing associations have adopted more commercial, profit-orientated approaches, resulting in some being accused of concentrating on building homes for private sale and “affordable rent” at the expense of the people they were set up to help.
The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said its members were committed to providing homes for those most in need and on the lowest incomes but action was needed to reverse the “dire shortage of social rented housing caused by decades of underinvestment”.
David Bogle of Homes for Cathy, a group of housing associations dedicated to restoring the sector’s commitment to ending homelessness, welcomed the report. “Housing associations and local authorities need to be given additional support to develop new social homes and to allocate those homes to those who are homeless and in greatest need.”......

Friday, 26 July 2019

Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan gives working parents in rural and regional areas unrealistic advice


"Nearly 300,000 children in regional and remote areas receive formal childcare. However, unlike capital cities where a glut of childcare centres is reported, access to childcare continues to be a problem in regional areas.” [Centre for Independent Studies, 23 September 2018]

City centrism is alive and well in the Morrison Government.

Photograph: ABC
Here is the Minister for Education and Liberal MP for Wannon Dan Tehan  (pictured left) blithely assuming that every town across Australia not only has a chilcare centre it has more than one.

In Dan's world parents in rural and regional areas are apparently able to shop around for competitively priced childcare.

[cue cynical laughter]

The Daily Examiner, 22 July 2019, p.5:

Greedy childcare centres have gobbled up almost half the money parents were meant to save from new subsidies by raising their fees.

A subsidy system which began on July 2 last year was meant to save the average family $1300 in childcare fees a year.

But new data shows that in the year leading up to the subsidy’s introduction, the average parent with a child in care 48 weeks of the year is paying $622 more than they were 12 months ago.

Of this $276.50 of that came from cost increases between July and September 2018, after the subsidy was introduced.

Labor’s childcare spokes-woman Amanda Rishworth said the government should be “naming and shaming” centres who lifted fees to take advantage of the subsidies.

But Education Minister Dan Tehan said out-of-pocket costs for child care had still fallen almost 9 per cent, and urged those getting a raw deal to “vote with their feet and find a new service”.

Education Department data recording costs in September 2018, the first released since the subsidies came into place, revealed the increased costs.

It showed the average family, which pays for 28.8 hours a week, had fees increase by $13 a week between September 2017 and September 2018, including $5.80 a week increase in the quarter the subsidies were introduced….