Who said “There will be no whitewash at the White House as we must retain its integrity about the Watergate affair”? Yes, it was that slippery “Tricky Dick” US President Richard Nixon back in 1973.
Move forward to 2020 and a modern comparison, that “There will be no whitewash at County Hall and WLBC as we must retain the integrity of the Jacobs Report affair” as it affects residents of Burscough who would be forgiven for suggesting that LCC and WLBC would be making an urgent request for any spare supplies of whitewash
Stocks must surely have recently been exhausted by their covering up of the implications of the Jacobs Report for council tax income.
It doesn’t get much clearer than for us to repeat what we published on 4 April, that “Following the introduction of the Flood and Water Management Act Lancashire County Council has been designated as a Lead Local Flood Authority. The county council is now responsible for managing flood risk from all local sources; surface water, ground water and ordinary watercourse. As part of its role as a Lead Local Flood Authority, “Lancashire County Council is required to produce a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy which explains how we will manage local flood risk in our area”.
And “Our borough council and politicians have flooding concerns themselves that the new housing estates, which are adding to Burscough’s severe flooding problems, shouldn’t be blighted by flooding, because they want the huge amounts of new housing bonus and CIL monies that Grove Farm and Yew Tree Farm and other estates in Burscough are generating for WLBC to continue. They have no other real concerns about flooding”.
Meanwhile the house building vultures quickly circled above the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) as Redrow confirmed it had furloughed 80% of its workforce under the government’s job retention scheme. Redrow announced it has been confirmed as an eligible issuer for the CCFF, with an issuer limit under the facility of £300m, which remains undrawn.
The company also said that negotiations for an additional £100m of headroom under its existing revolving facility (RCF) with its six relationship banks were ‘progressing well’, with documentation to be concluded by the end of April, which will result in the existing RCF increasing from £250m to £350m. The company said that on the 27 March the board and senior directors in the business announced internally they had volunteered to take a 20% pay cut for the duration of the crisis and that, since then, the wider directorate in the business have also volunteered to take a salary cut of 20%. Redrow, which made a profit of £406million, has furloughed about 1,700 employees and cancelled a dividend worth £37million.
Executive chairman John Tutte said ‘The positive progress we have made on securing additional banking facilities means we can now finalise plans for our valued workforce and supply chain, to make an orderly return to work when we are advised it is safe to do so.’ Tutte added that the response from colleagues and customers ‘during these unparalleled times has been magnificent’. [LON:RDW] Redrow PLC share price was +42.3p at 447.1p.
Altogether, Britain’s biggest housing companies have furloughed more than 9,000 workers using taxpayer cash despite making billions of pounds in profit. Redrow, Barratt, Countryside Properties, Bellway and Crest Nicholson are among the firms using the Government’s jobs retention scheme.
Taylor Wimpey, of Pines Estate flooding infamy, will also use the support, designed to help struggling businesses during the coronavirus crisis by letting them temporarily furlough staff, with the Government paying 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 a month.
But its use by big housing companies will raise eyebrows as those who are using it made more than £3.3billion in annual profits last year. Several of the firms have also been criticised for raking in huge revenues off the back of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme and then handing bumper payouts to bosses and investors. John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said ‘The Government has to cast a wide net but house-builders should keep in mind that this money comes from taxpayers and they should only seek support if they need it to keep the ship afloat’.
The building industry has almost been brought to a standstill by the lockdown, with only a handful of firms continuing work. Many have cancelled dividends, cut bosses’ pay and slashed costs. Barratt has furloughed the most employees of any housebuilder, at 5,500 or 80 per cent of its workforce. It is topping up the remaining 20 per cent of their pay. The company made £910million in profit last year. It has scrapped a £100million dividend and cuts to executives’ pay are expected next week.
Isn’t it housebuilders that donate most to political parties? Thought so!