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Great British sell-off: how desperate councils sold £9.1bn of public assets


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https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/mar/05/great-british-sell-off-how-desperate-councils-sold-91bn-of-public-assets

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Bureau for Investigative Journalism research shows more than £9.1bn worth of publicly owned assets offloaded to plug gaps left by government cuts

Far-reaching research by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism has found that nine years of swingeing central government cuts to local council budgets have resulted in a vast and irreversible sell-off of public assets. Of England’s 354 local authorities, 301 replied to the primary Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which revealed that between 2014 and July 2018, more than 12,000 publicly owned assets have been offloaded by local councils. In total more than £9.1bn was generated.

Some of the assets sold off are grand historic buildings; some are small scraps of land. All are now gone forever, in a one-off fire sale of public assets accumulated over many decades, intended to serve the public good, and now generating profit for their new private owners.

Replies to the Bureau’s second set of FOI requests were even more comprehensive (342 out of 354) – and alarming. These concerned the use of “flexible capital receipts”, and showed that in many cases local councils have begun offloading their assets – playing fields, community centres, libraries, youth clubs, swimming pools – to fund redundancies made necessary by central government cuts.

Until new legislation was introduced in April 2016, councils had to to use any proceeds raised from selling land and buildings they own to buy new assets. David Cameron’s government changed all that by allowing them to invest the proceeds of any assets sold by April 2019 to fund frontline services.

 

The privatisation of capitalist UK continues apace. We were always serfs in thrall to the landowners.

 

 

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In some cases, desperation has driven local authorities to offload these public assets at knock-down prices. Northamptonshire – which relied on selling assets to plug huge gaps in its finances – got rid of land or buildings it owned for less than they were worth on 12 separate occasions, potentially missing out on income of £6.3m. Half of these under-value sales were to property developers.

Luxury apartments, luxury apartments as far as the eye can see.

 

 

Edited by PeanutButter
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I'm a member of the conservative party (in reality an entryist who wants to vote for a brexiteer in any potential leadership election) somewhere in rural Berkshire and I attended the most recent conservative council general meeting.

Regarding local governement essentially the situation is there used to be 3 tax payers for every adult in social care. It is now 2 tax payers.

In area's where lib dems and labour control the councils, they overspend and can't manage the budgets. The conservatives are masters at managing the decline and in my area have so far been able to just about balence the books, but they explicitly said in the latest meeting that without central government help the council will eventually fail - primarily due to social care needs.

In the same meeting they spoke about the lack of affordability of housing preventing young people from moving to the area but at the same time spoke about preventing building becuase the infrastructure couldnt cope.

They mentioned that raising council tax was out of the question as people won't vote for it - but that is what the Lib dems would do.

Most local councils will fail, with conservative local governments they will just fail more slowly.

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15 minutes ago, APerson said:

In area's where lib dems and labour control the councils, they overspend and can't manage the budgets

Northampton council, which was effectively bankrupt, was a Tory council. 

Somerset, which might be next, is a Tory council. 

The idea that conservatives are economically competent has no basis in reality. 

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1 hour ago, btl_hater said:

Can some Tory fan boy take the time to explain how these activities should be acceptable to the general public? Thanks.

The likelihood is that these sales are a mixture of very sensible business decisions and outrageous short-termism, all lumped together and totaling £9 billion.

The language of a biased article like that doesn't help in a sober assessment of the situation either, using words like "fire-sale" (I'm assuming in fact sold at market price) and "irreversible" (whilst also noting many were bought using compulsory purchase, and could be re-bought the same way if desired).

Clearly selling buildings to fund services is not sustainable behavior.  But equally Guardian articles tend to badge "cuts" as always bad, and spending as always good (with no reference as to where the money comes from).

I don't think any political party, or the public at large, has yet managed to find the level of expenditure that is universally agreed as acceptable, and also equal to the amount of tax money that can be raised.

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50 minutes ago, BorrowToLeech said:

Northampton council, which was effectively bankrupt, was a Tory council. 

Somerset, which might be next, is a Tory council. 

The idea that conservatives are economically competent has no basis in reality. 

Given the unprecedented scale of UK govt borrowing it takes an extra special ineptitude to leave local councils perpetually flirting with bankruptcy. Is Grayling involved in any way?

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The problem we have is how do we pay for all the needs of our society. The social care bill in this country is going to be massive and Millennials will have no appetite to pay for it.

Sooner or later, social care will fail and older people will just have to fund themselves, with no government funding. These policies are already moving in.

We cant just keep printing money...

The Conservatives forcing councils to sell land, is quite possibly a way of back handing money to friends. They buy the land on the cheap, build houses on it and sell them to millennials through htb. Almost triple screwing the tax payer.

There needs to be capitalism, we just need to remove these shit elements of it. The problem is voters are just to concerned with immigration to recognise anything else that is happening.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Errol said:

I recognise everything that is happening, but understand that immigration is just something that has to be dealt with. They've been dodging the issue for 15+ years.

The mere tens of thousands? In a rare moment of candour after being sacked from his job as Chancellor George Osborne admitted that nothing material had ever been done to implement the Tories' 2010 GE promise re. immigration because there wasn't a single member of cabinet who believed in it.

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2 hours ago, Speed1987 said:

The problem we have is how do we pay for all the needs of our society. The social care bill in this country is going to be massive and Millennials will have no appetite to pay for it.

Sooner or later, social care will fail and older people will just have to fund themselves, with no government funding. These policies are already moving in.

We cant just keep printing money...

A good place to start would be to merge National Insurance into income tax so that a pensioner on £25k (which will be very comfortable indeed with a paid-off house) pays the same rate of tax as a 20something worker on £25k (which will be close to hand-to-mouth living in most of southern England).

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1 hour ago, Dorkins said:

A good place to start would be to merge National Insurance into income tax so that a pensioner on £25k (which will be very comfortable indeed with a paid-off house) pays the same rate of tax as a 20something worker on £25k (which will be close to hand-to-mouth living in most of southern England).

Completely agree with this.However, the way it needs presenting is that those with huge investments or living from btl and having a lie in whilst the toilers struggle through the inhuman commute should pay the same rates of tax.

Equality is always a successful argument in brit poitics. the much bigger money grab from the old is then almost an unintended  side effect

 

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8 hours ago, APerson said:

Regarding local governement essentially the situation is there used to be 3 tax payers for every adult in social care. It is now 2 tax payers.

And those 1 of those 2 tax payers are probably only surviving because of £69 billion in work benefits.. or other..

also they will have less assets when they retire to sell to pay for the councils costs than the previous generation had.. ending up in private rental accommodation most likely.. 

its all shaping up to be a massive poo ? storm! 

Edited by macca13
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7 hours ago, BorrowToLeech said:

Northampton council, which was effectively bankrupt, was a Tory council. 

Somerset, which might be next, is a Tory council. 

The idea that conservatives are economically competent has no basis in reality. 

They spent all the money on posh office buildings I seem to remember.. now they are bankrupt they are selling them and moving into a tent I presume..?

The head of the council will get a big pay off for his amazing intelligence and business acumen.. 

somewhere in time people assume because people wear suits and use bug words they are intelligent and have common sense.

Most of our MP’s are thick! I don’t care how many GCE’s (dellboy) they got.. They are not fit to clean public toilets never mind run public office.. 

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4 hours ago, zugzwang said:

The mere tens of thousands? In a rare moment of candour after being sacked from his job as Chancellor George Osborne admitted that nothing material had ever been done to implement the Tories' 2010 GE promise re. immigration because there wasn't a single member of cabinet who believed in it.

More immigration  now, mean more old people later.. It’s not the solution to increasing tax intake as it will require even more immigration in the next generation.. 

it’s the most stupid argument I hear used for immigration, aging population, we need more young.. but young people get old as well, most of the jobs are pointless low paid junk..

 

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I saw a calculation years ago about how much less higher valued properties were paying under council tax than they would under old system of rates. Wouldnt that be a factor why a tory council like somerset is in trouble? An older demographic that that needs care, higher than average value properties, but which have been relatively undertaxed for the last twenty years. 

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6 hours ago, Speed1987 said:

The problem we have is how do we pay for all the needs of our society. The social care bill in this country is going to be massive and Millennials will have no appetite to pay for it.

The first step is to extend the Local Government Transparency Code to require local authorities to publish:

  1. The broken-down total costs of employment, non-individually identifiable job titles and administrative groups of all staff including bank/agency staff and contractors.
  2. Detailed non-individually identifiable staff sickness data by department.
  3. Procurement contracts and related documents, excluding those parts the local authority can demonstrate need to be confidential for commercial reasons.
  4. Private Finance Initiative contracts and related documents, excluding those parts the local authority can demonstrate need to be confidential for commercial reasons.

If taxpayers know how our money is spent then we can make better informed decisions about on what it is spent.

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30 minutes ago, Will! said:

The first step is to extend the Local Government Transparency Code to require local authorities to publish:

  1. The broken-down total costs of employment, non-individually identifiable job titles and administrative groups of all staff including bank/agency staff and contractors.
  2. Detailed non-individually identifiable staff sickness data by department.
  3. Procurement contracts and related documents, excluding those parts the local authority can demonstrate need to be confidential for commercial reasons.
  4. Private Finance Initiative contracts and related documents, excluding those parts the local authority can demonstrate need to be confidential for commercial reasons.

If taxpayers know how our money is spent then we can make better informed decisions about on what it is spent.

Although I agree with everything you've said, the reality of the world and how its changing is not hitting people in the UK.

Sickness was awful in the public sector before the 2007 crash, it still is but back then it was extreme. 

We simply cant afford to keep giving people a free ride, we dont want any wars anymore, so we cant even steal other peoples stuff.

Either we let older people just die and tbh abit of that is happening, with the backlogs in the NHS, saves us all money on paying pensions.

Or we pay for them, by keeping house prices propped up and purchasing them from them.

We aso need to deal with tax avoidance however nobody seems to want to tackle this issue, big companies are hugely responsible also for the poverty that exists.

 

 

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1 hour ago, macca13 said:

More immigration  now, mean more old people later.. It’s not the solution to increasing tax intake as it will require even more immigration in the next generation.. 

it’s the most stupid argument I hear used for immigration, aging population, we need more young.. but young people get old as well, most of the jobs are pointless low paid junk..

 

Almost as if it’s a giant capitalist ponzi scheme that only benefits those at the top ?

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22 hours ago, Dorkins said:

A good place to start would be to merge National Insurance into income tax so that a pensioner on £25k (which will be very comfortable indeed with a paid-off house) pays the same rate of tax as a 20something worker on £25k (which will be close to hand-to-mouth living in most of southern England).

A good idea but the media and opposition* would call it the Granny tax and it would be dropped.

 

*Opposition could be Labour or Tory, depending on who is in Government.  I think the behaviour would be the same either way.

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18 hours ago, nothernsoul said:

I saw a calculation years ago about how much less higher valued properties were paying under council tax than they would under old system of rates. Wouldnt that be a factor why a tory council like somerset is in trouble? An older demographic that that needs care, higher than average value properties, but which have been relatively undertaxed for the last twenty years. 

The biggest issue is the Nimby type councils that have effectively retained existing residents as they get older  and forced younger people to live elsewhere as that is where the homes/ jobs are. 

All the retirement type towns at /near the sea in the south are /are going to cause  big issues for councils.

The big financial metric is % of 65+ residents as it is also an indicator of business rates too (or rather lack of as they tend to have retired and don't work!)

Edited by koala_bear
typo
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