Thursday, 2 January 2014

CHRISTMAS AND FAMILY HARDSHIP DEEPENS


THIS POST PREVIOUSLY APPEARED ON THE BLOG, DATED DECEMBER 21 2013.
 IT WAS REMOVED ACCIDENTALY FROM THE BLOG


RIVERSIDE RENTS ROCKET... AND LIVES TRANSFORMED

It`s Christmas, so no surprise in the charitable Cumberland News headline:”Hardship on estate deepens amid low pay and rising debt”.
The story highlights the plight of families on Botcherby estate in Carlisle who are becoming increasingly hard-pressed... one in five of them have incomes of less than £200 a week. They struggle to pay even food and energy bills, never mind Christmas.
BOTCHERBY RESIDENT GEORGE
 CORNISH ..HE SAYS "FAMILIES
HERE ARE STRUGGLING".
So no surprise then about the charitable headline. But much surprise that one big bill  facing the struggling families never got a mention in the  story underneath the headline.
That one big bill is for rent. Rent bills have rocketed this year in Botcherby and on  the other Carlisle estates.The increase in rent bills is 30 per cent more in Carlisle than in a similar- size Cumbria town, Barrow, where, unlike Carlisle, social  houses continue to remain in council ownership.
In Carlisle the 6,500 social houses- former council houses- are owned by the giant Liverpool property organisation, Riverside Housing Association which recently reported a big surge in its reserves (profits) to nearly £1 billion.
So Barrow council house rents are very much cheaper than Riverside former council house rents. And Barrow council house rents are even cheaper still when Riverside`s “extras” are added to the comparison.
Riverside” extras” are increases in the way Carlisle rents are  now charged- by introducing new “services” for tenants.
These “services” take the form of new cleaning charges. There are also new charges for door entry systems, for fire alarms, for emergency lighting, for electricity, and for what Riverside`s claims is its “high quality” administration.
These  new charges add about £10 (12 per cent)  to a typical Riverside  rent of £84 .
Carlisle Tenants and Residents` Federation has campaigned for many months against Riverside`s rocketing rents and these extra charges.
About these rents and charges and about the struggling Botcherby families, the Federation now has this comment:
“Riverside every week boasts that it is transforming lives. For two years it has run an advertisement saying as much in the Cumberland News. The advertisement reads:
“ Riverside...transforming lives... revitalising neighbourhoods”
“Riverside`s rocketing rents and extra charges are certainly helping to transform the lives of the struggling people of Botcherby this Christmas.
“The Botcherby transformation is told in the headline (above)  of the same Cumberland News:”Hardship on estate deepens amid low pay and rising debt”
“Was that the transformation that the Riverside advertisement is boasting about?”


Community Voice Carlisle is the blog of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation. Information about the Federation is available in the first post of this blog, dated March 25 2013.