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This is News in Brief - a weekly round up of the latest news and events affecting the Housing industry and communities in the Wakefield district and beyond.

Help to Buy building new homes across the country

Nearly 40,000 homes have been bought through the Help to Buy scheme according to figures from the new Housing and Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis.
It is reported that Help to Buy is achieving its aim of providing assistance to working families, while expanding and accelerating the supply of new homes.  Of the total 39,800 homes, 32,500 were new build and bought through the equity loan and NewBuy options, whilst 7,300 sales were made through the Mortgage Guarantee scheme. 
Mr Lewis said: “Almost 40,000 households have now achieved their dream of becoming homeowners through Help to Buy.  Hard-working families are getting the homes they want, while house building has increased to its highest level since 2007.”
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WDH says: It is encouraging to see many people benefiting from the
Help to Buy scheme, particularly in the Yorkshire region, with Leeds accounting for 457 sales.  The number of sales recorded in the Wakefield district up until the end of June is 258, an increase from 218 in May.
Although the Help to Buy scheme has helped the house building industry to climb to its highest level since 2007 and is providing jobs for construction workers, it only accounts for 3% of total house sales nationally. The first phase of Help to Buy is coming to an end in September, and as a result the
Lloyds Banking Group has reduced the amount it will lend to first-time buyers from £500,000 to £150,000 - a reduction of 70%.
Our Shared Ownership scheme helps people to get on to the property ladder who cannot afford to buy a house through a mortgage scheme.  In total,
102 properties have been successfully sold through this scheme, with a further 17 shared ownerships available.  We also offer the Rent to Buy scheme, subject to available properties, to people who want to save for a deposit, with the option to buy a share of the property at a later date.
Care UK: Third of Brits would not look after elderly parents

A new survey from Care UK has revealed that a third of Brits (32%) would not care for their parents full-time.

The research indicates that 41% of Brits do not want their parents to live with them, whilst 20% do not think it is wise to care for their parents due to the lack of expertise and necessary skills.  Worryingly, only 7% have plans to look after their parents when they get old and are not able to look after themselves.  

In response to the survey, Jeni Rushton, Care Manager at Care UK, said: “Parents need a level of care which families may not be able to provide. This can lead to a big decision that nobody was prepared for, which only heightens the anguish for parents and their families."

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, added: “Most people prefer to stay in their own home - as long as those who need care receive enough high quality support to give a worthwhile quality of life."

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WDH says: Care for elderly people has become a hot topic due to the ageing population.  According to the Office for National Statistics, the population of adults aged 65 and over rose from 8.3 million to 9.2 million over the last decade in England and Wales. 

On average, 17% of people in the Wakefield district are over the age of 65. The older population of the Wakefield district is expected to grow by over 50%, increasing the number of older people to nearly 100,000, by 2031.

To help people to remain in their own home and remain independent, we offer Care Link, a 24 hour service at the touch of a button.  Currently over 15,000 people are using our services, with overall customer satisfaction of 90%.  
Our specially-trained Community Support Workers also provide a face-to-face home visiting service for anyone who feels they need a little bit of extra support in their home.

We also offer 46 independent living schemes and have created our first
flexible bungalows to meet the changing needs of older people.  They are built as lifetime homes to allow tenants to live comfortably throughout their lives without having to change homes.

Our Chief Executive Kevin Dodd said: “The care agenda is changing, with more and more older and vulnerable people choosing to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Landlords and developers must adapt to this.”
Number of people in work claiming housing benefit soars

New statistics show that nearly one million people in work are being forced to rely on Housing Benefit - double the figure from five years ago.  The cost to taxpayers has also more than doubled from £2.2bn in 2009/2010 to £4.6bn this year, and is projected to increase to £6bn in 2018/2019.
According to House of Commons statistics, 962,000 people are expected to claim Housing Benefit this year, in comparison to 478,000 people in 2009/2010.  If this trend continues, the number of claimants will increase by a further 276,000 to 1,238,000 people in 2018/2019.
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, blames the increase on the Government’s inability to “tackle low pay, insecure work and the cost-of-living crisis.”
She said: “Thousands more people have been forced to rely on Housing Benefit to make ends meet.”

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WDH says: It is worrying to see the constant rise of working people claiming Housing Benefit.  The current figure of working people claiming
Housing Benefit in the Wakefield district has nearly tripled in the last five years, with 4,701 claimants compared to 1,776 in 2009.

We are always looking at ways to help people save money and secure employment to remove reliance on benefits.  Our WDH Hub in Wakefield city centre has not only been designed to tackle digital exclusion but to also reduce living costs by providing help and guidance on finding jobs and saving money on energy bills through Switch & Save.
We are committed to providing financial advice to our tenants through our Cash Wise initiative, helping social housing tenants and prospective social housing tenants manage their money and budget more effectively.
We also recognise the importance of the living wage in our district and are working towards becoming a living wage employer.
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