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The government has unveiled a new plan to stamp out benefit cheats who claim state handouts while living abroad.
UK taxpayers lost £66million last year from fraudsters living overseas including Spain, Portugal and the USA who fail to tell officials they have moved abroad or continue to claim benefits for people who have died. Fraudsters have also claimed cash while working overseas, have exaggerated disabilities or have failed to report assets, including savings, property and even yachts.
The Airport Group, which consists of 15 housing associations including Incommunities, have been given two awards at the Northern Housing Consortium silver screen awards firstly for its partnership efforts in getting people back into work and training and secondly as the overall prize for 2010.
Geraldine Howley, Incommunities group chief executive, said: “As a key member of the Airport Group we are delighted to share in this double success. Encouraging local people into work and training is a key priority for Incommunities through our open field service. We also work closely with our partners in the Airport Group to promoting opportunities in communities across the north of England.”
The Airport Group is an informal alliance of 15 stock transfer housing associations and are committed to working in collaboration on issues of common interest.
Two housing associations based in East Lancashire - Prospect Homes Group, which runs Twin Valley Homes, and Housing Pendle -will merge forces with TransPennine Housing and the Chevin Housing Group next April 2011 saving £5 million in efficiency savings.
Bosses have reassured Prospect Homes’ 550 staff, based in Blackburn and Colne, saying the merger would not result in any compulsory redundancies and the group's 12,000 tenants in East Lancashire have been told their services will continue to run as normal.
David Clegg, who chairs Housing Pendle and also sits on the Prospect Homes board, said: “It has already been decided at board level that there will be no job losses in the organisation. I am pretty sure that if that had been the case, it would have been a deal breaker among the four housing associations.Our commitment is clear: there will be no job losses and service will not be affected.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) are councils and housing associations (social landlords) to operate as 'accredited' Green Deal providers starting in 2012.
The new Energy Bill offers housing associations the opportunity to partner with energy companies and financiers to provide tenants and the wider community with retrofit services.
The DECC spokesperson said: "We're hoping to work with social landlords. Basically there are different roles they can take. They could become a Green Deal provider if they wanted - this could be seen as a real business opportunity for them or they might want to partner up with another company offering the Green Deal like an energy company. We're really working with them at the moment to help make their stock more energy efficient which actually is already energy efficient anyway. We're looking at how we can progress that through the Green Deal."
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary has announced that the government has allocated £100 million to the national affordable housing programme. The money will be used to bring empty homes back into use of which England currently has 762,000 empty homes, around half of them long-term vacant.
The news was welcomed by SmartShare whose spokesperson said "This is great news for all those who are on the affordable housing waiting list and will go someway in helping those who desperately need housing. It is incredible that there are so many empty homes available and it is obvious that the government needs to make housing a higher priority. Reducing the affordable housing budget from £8.4 billion to £4.4 billion in the next four years is devastating news."
SmartShare is the leading property website in the UK for affordable homes, please go to www.smartshare.co.uk to view the largest range of affordable homes to buy or rent today.