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Local Government Must Be Held To Account

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Open & accountable local government

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the right to obtain information under the Freedom of Information legislation is critical in ensuring that all levels of government are held to account and are seen to act in the interests of those they purport to represent.

In a few weeks time, for all tenancies signed from 1 April this year, new legislation will take effect in what is known as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Maxima Cap.

This will have a major effect, in particular, on those people living in rented sheltered accommodation, supported housing, and refuges for those suffering domestic violence and abuse.

On 17 January I submitted a request under FOI to Brighton and Hove City Council asking for any estimates made in relation to the effect of the LHA maxima cap on BHCC income and expenditure from April 2016?

Its effect on the levels of homelessness from April 2016, and any re-assessment, in particular, of rental income from rents charged by Brighton and Hove Seaside Homes which has purchased nearly 500 leasehold properties from the Council.

I also asked for the same information for the period from April 2018. The City Council today (21 January) refused to provide the information.

BHCC were also asked for information on housing refurbishment costs charged by Mears and if or how Seaside homes were paying for Major Works on the blocks in which they now owned leaseholds.

The Council refused to provide the information which, given the recent exposé of £300,000 fraud over plasterboard and flooring, begs the question; what have they to hide?
These refusals can be added to a further five requests for information relating to the sale of properties that are now subject to internal review because information has not been provided.

BHCC also refused to say which properties had been sold although this information was later provided by Companies House and the Land Registry.

Local Government should act in our interests – we should not be kept in ignorance of decisions taken in our name!

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