Plans have been announced for a substantial upgrade of an independent living scheme in the north of the city – including 40 new flats and an improved community facility.
The project will convert Woodthorpe and Winchester Courts, which support over-55s in Sherwood, into an Energy Efficient Extra Care Housing scheme. The two complexes will undergo a raft of efficiency works, while a new development nearby will add a three-storey building with up to 40 one-bedroom flats.
These will have extensive communal facilities, including specialist bathrooms, scooter stores and care provider offices. Current Woodthorpe and Winchester residents use the Winwood Centre, in Chestnut Walk, and this will also benefit from a revamp as part of the project.
Independent living schemes are designed to help people to remain in their own home for longer, with support on hand whenever they need it. This, in turn, reduces dependence on residential care and local hospitals.
Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Homes, which manages the two courts, are committed to insulating solid-wall properties by 2018. Woodthorpe and Winchester sites contain 180 flats, all with concrete walls and currently warmed by inefficient, electric storage heaters.
Tenants have previously identified having a warm home as one of their top priorities and this refurbishment will include extra insulation, new doors and windows, as well as re-roofing with the installation of solar panels.
It is hoped the work at Woodthorpe and Winchester will reduce carbon emissions by between 40 per cent and 80 per cent, and over 20 years will save residents more than £1m in fuel bills.
This is a very exciting project with a significant investment which will make a huge difference to the lives of many people in the north of the city.
Demand for flats at Woodthorpe and Winchester Courts is good and we expect that to rise again following this refurbishment and energy-efficiency works. It will further support residents and help them to live independently for longer.
By 2033 there is expected to be a 60 per cent increase in households headed by someone over the age of 65, and a 100 per cent rise in those headed by over-85s. It is therefore vital that we act now to provide people in Nottingham with a range of housing options to meet this growing demand.
Residents are rightly proud and protective of their properties on the site but had felt the replacement of the external social facility was overdue and I’m really pleased that Nottingham Labour has helped deliver this improvement.
Councillor Jane Urquhart is the portfolio holder for Planning and Housing at Nottingham City Council
The parliamentary boundary review will be published for consultation this Autumn, with the initial proposals launched on 13th September.
You would have expected the criteria for drawing constituency boundaries would be the number of people on the most recent electoral register, and the total number of people living in each area. That’s what you would have expected from the oldest democracy in the world and the mother of parliaments.
Unfortunately that is not what we are getting. There has been a crude dictat in the Redistribution Act. The starting point has been the number of constituencies – the arbitrary number of 600 and just because it is a round number it doesn’t make it any less arbitrary than 601 or 633; and a variation of 5% between constituencies, which is equally arbitrary.
This means that, at a time when constituency work is going up, the numbers of MPs is going down. The reasoning is that it saves £12m but this is from a government which has created over 200 new Lords, each one unelected and each with their separate expenses.
A further expectation would have been that the key issue would be the population represented. But no; it is the number of electors that is the starting point. We all know that in cities there are more under 18s, there is more immigration related casework, which makes up a large part of an MPs job and there are more unregistered voters because it has become harder to register due to legislative changes by the Government. No MP is going to refuse to deal with a case simply because it involves children or someone not on the electoral register. The criteria for helping will be “do you live in my constituency?” not, “are you on the register?” – yet being on the register is the criteria for the boundary commission. This means that residents in cities will be grossly underrepresented.
You would also have expected that the Commission would want to use the most accurate figures available. But again that is not happening. It is having to base its judgment on the electoral register published on 1 December 2015, despite 2 million more people registering to vote in the recent EU referendum.
Moreover since the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) the electorate in Nottingham and across the country has dropped, significantly, especially at the point of publication on 1 December each year.
The main reason for this is the additional requirement for a National Insurance number and the time it takes to verify with the Department of Work and Pension (DWP).
This means that new electors are not added to the register on completion of the annual household form as they used to be and therefore were not in time for inclusion in the register published on 1 December. They are only added after they have completed the second part of the process and this can take considerably longer.
This has caused an additional problem in terms of our student population, as students also have to go through this process. Students do not arrive at their term time address until September/October and this gives them little time to register. It is also now their individual decision whether to register for their term address or not. Previously the universities were able to provide us with a list of all students who were then automatically registered to vote.
As a result of all this Nottingham, and indeed other cities, are likely to get a raw deal.
If based on 187,371 electors and not 195,394 as after the referendum and with only a 5% variation and not 10% as recommended by the parliamentary commission then I suspected the city would end up with at least one MP if not all 3 covering different local government boundaries. This is precisely what has been suggested in the initial proposals the parliamentary constituencies of Nottingham South, East and North will all be amalgamated with County constituencies. These constituencies will have MPs covering two council areas, taking areas such as Bilborough and Clifton out of the City constituencies. These will cover far more than their fair share of people (as opposed to electorate), with workloads far greater than average. It will be a dogs breakfast and the sole beneficiary will be the Tory party.
It’s simply unfair on Nottingham and its residents. If we want a far more accurate measure therefore we should be using the most recent register; we should also be respecting the City’s historic boundaries. But we are not. The reason is gerrymandering by the Government unfairly to maintain its majority.
So much for the oldest democracy in the world and so much for the mother of all parliaments.
You can view proposed changes to the East Midlands region including Nottingham at:
SPEECH FULL COUNCIL – WASPI campaign
This Council calls upon the Government to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951, who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age with lack of appropriate notification. This Council notes the damage caused to the lives of these approximate 11,900 women across Nottingham who were born between 1951 and 1959 and face a changed future as a consequence
THANK YOU LORD MAYOR
I’m delighted to give my full support to this motion.
There is no doubt that the change of state pension age, tied in with a lack of information will affect the incomes of thousands of women in the UK – and the predicament that they find themselves in, through no fault of their own, will only exacerbate the numbers of women suffering poverty in retirement.
Because women already face multiple disadvantages in relation to their income levels throughout their working lives, and this means that they are less likely to have been able to contribute either to a company or to a private pension scheme.
Firstly there was a disadvantage at the inception of the state retirement pension. The scheme was always based on the assumption that men would be the main breadwinners and support their wives and families.
Secondly many women in work are predominantly clustered towards lower paid, part-time and more insecure types of occupations, with less chance of progression – the 5 ‘C’s – cleaning, catering, caring, cashiering and clerical work. Even when performing the same or similar roles as men they are still more likely to be paid less.
Finally there is still a significant equal-pay gap in the UK (13.9% in full-time work) and this means that women earn less throughout their working lives.
Because of this gender pay gap, and societal norms, it is still the case that women are more likely to be the partner who takes a career break to either raise children or care for elderly relatives, and this means that they are less likely to have made sufficient national Insurance contributions to build up their own entitlement to qualify for a full-state pension.
Therefore the state pension is particularly important for women because of lower pay, broken employment records and less access to occupational pensions.
So the equalisation of pensionable age to 65, later extended to 68, has had the effect of compounding the injustice that women born in the 1950s face in retirement.
And anyone who supports this campaign will know that WASPI has collected significant evidence (from Freedom of Information requests) and hundreds of testimonials from women who can prove that they were either never informed, or not told clearly about the change to their pensionable age.
Many are suffering terrible financial hardship, with insufficient time to prepare for their new retirement age.
In March this year I met one of the many women affected by this change. She told me that she, along with many hundreds of other women, had their divorce settlements calculated using projected incomes which included them receiving their State Pension at 60.
So some form of transitional arrangements for these women is only fair. The DWP has systematically failed to inform millions of women about the changes to their state pension age until a year or two before they were 60. It gave inadequate notice to those affected by the further extension of their pension age, leaving it to between four and eight years before that further rise was implemented.
And even now there are serious short-comings in the communication of this vital information.
The DWP conducted a survey in 2012 and found that, including those within 10 years of their State Pension Age, many women were unclear about the date they could claim a state pension.
Six in 10 women—60%—expected to reach their SPA earlier than they actually would.
That, along with the evidence still being collected by the WASPI campaign, shows that there are women, even now, who are unaware that their pension age has changed.
So this injustice needs addressing.
And even the former Pensions Minister, Baroness Altmann agrees.
In July she left the Cabinet stating in her resignation letter to Teresa May that she was not convinced the government had done enough to address the pensions gap for older women
“As a minister, (she said) I have tried to drive positive long-term changes on pensions from within government and ameliorate some of the past mistakes which I have cautioned against,” said Baroness Altmann.
She was later quoted as saying ‘I can do more good from the outside because I won’t be silenced anymore’.
And I hope we can all do the same by unanimously supporting this motion.