Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Delivering an energy market people can trust

Another day, another inflation-busting price hike from the big energy companies.

The latest price rises show clearer than ever why Labour’s price freeze is needed.

This week, former Tory Prime Minister John Major became the latest voice to recognise what we all know: people are sick and tired of being left out of pocket because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies.

In the last few weeks, four out of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies have hiked their prices, adding as much as £130 to the average bill.


Caabu briefing on the situation in Palestine, Syria and Egypt

Situation in Palestine, Syria and Egypt
28 October 2013
Israel-Palestine

Negotiations between Israel and the PLO are continuing with an agreed media blackout. They started under US mediation on 14 August with a nine-month timeframe. US Secretary of State John Kerry, remains involved holding a seven-hour meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Rome earlier this month

Israel has approved a release of a further 26 Palestinian prisoners adding to the 26 it released in August. These releases are part of the agreed confidence building measures.

Settlements have been continuing to expand. Israel media reports are full of speculation of a further settlement announcement to join the Palestinian prisoner release. There were 1,708 housing starts in January-June this year, compared with 995 during the same period in 2012.

The EU is coming under extreme pressure to modify its guidelines preventing EU states from cooperating, transferring funds, giving scholarships or research grants to bodies from inside settlements. Israel has warned it might pull out of the Horizon 2020 programme if these are not modified. The EU argues that settlements are illegal and that this is a longstanding policy.


Monday, 28 October 2013

Oswaldtwistle fly case in court


Following on from last years issues around the Nook Lane site the Environment Agency are proceeding with prosecutions.

The Leader of the Council and I visited the site following complaints with three objectives in mind;
    • 1a) Clear the site, 
    • 1b) successfully getting those responsible to pay and not the Council taxpayer; c£500k, 
    • 1c) in the short term cover the site with insecticide. 
  • 2) Work with other agencies to resolve all issues on the site and begin a process of consultation and duiaolgue with residents.
  •  3) Ensure those responsible would be held to account
The Environment Agency is bringing a prosecution against Arthur Morgan, Blakeley’s Waste Management and Stephen Blakeley for the illegal tipping of waste at Nook Lane in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire.

The first hearing of the case is listed for Wednesday 30th October at Burnley Crown Court.

The defendants face a total of four charges connected to the large scale tipping of waste that resulted in a fly infestation affecting Oswaldtwistle in July 2012.

18 photographs on Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25495114@N06/sets/72157630856007372/

Previous blogs










My concerns over Government inaction on Raising the Participation Age - abandoning Hyndburn's NEETs

I recently received the following complacent answers from the Department of Education regarding the Government’s execution of the raising of the participation age policy. The changes in the law place a legal duty on local authorities to ensure that from 2013 all young people continue in education, training or in an apprenticeship until they are 17, rising to 18 in 2015.

Graham Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many young people required to stay in education, training or apprenticeships under Raising the Participation Age have been unable to find places in (a) education, (b) training and (c)apprenticeships to date.

Matthew Hancock: Local authorities are required to inform the Department by the end of October how many young people did not receive an offer because they could not find a place. Information on the proportion of young people who did not receive an offer will be made available on the Department's website in January 2014.

Graham Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many local authorities have been unable to provide sufficient school placements to meet increased demand under Raising the Participation Age.

Mr Laws: Local authorities are required to inform the Department by the end of October how many young people did not receive an offer because they could not find a place. Information on the proportion of young people who did not receive an offer will be made available on the Department's website in January 2014.

The intention of the policy is a good one – however for a policy aimed at resolving the ‘NEET’ problem amongst the under 18, it isn’t immediately obvious to me that a slow process of chasing up local authorities and publishing the results online is the best way to ensure that vulnerable young people are in education or training.

The Department’s own advice for local authorities states that: “The vast majority of 16 and 17 year olds already continue in some form of education or training. However, the small group of young people not participating includes some of the most vulnerable. We want to give all young people the opportunity to develop the skills they need for adult life and to achieve their full potential.”

A noble aim indeed, however if there is not pre-emptive and active work to get the minority who do not continue in education, training or an apprenticeship to do so, then the RPA policy is not worth the paper it is printed on. The Department needs to explain exactly what it is going to do to ensure these young people are in education, training or an apprenticeship beyond publishing the numbers of the DfE’s website. I do not see how the answers that I received can be seen to square with the stated intention of the policy, which is to provide places, and take action to ensure that “some of the most vulnerable” young people do not get left behind and hinder their future development.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Hannah Mitchell Foundation calls for rail services to be run by a directly-elected Northern Assembly

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation – the North’s campaign for regional devolution – has called for a major enhancement of the North’s rail network with rail services managed by a directly-elected Northern Assembly and run on a not-for-dividend basis.

In its response to the Rail North consultation on its ‘Long Term Rail Strategy’ the Foundation has called for “a compelling vision which puts a publicly-owned railway at the heart of a new North”. It argues for a programme of electrification and line re-openings which would provide the capacity and jobs the North urgently needs and could be delivered more quickly than HS2 – and bring greater benefits.

Prof. Paul Salveson, General Secretary of the Foundation, said “We would like to see the re-opening of the Ashington Blyth and Tyne and Leamside Lines in the North-East , Skipton-Colne, Penrith – Keswick, Bradford Cross-Rail, re-opening of the Woodhead Route (Manchester – Sheffield) and new lines to Fleetwood and Skelmersdale. Many locations could benefit from new stations and a Northern-wide ‘new stations strategy’ is needed.” He added that “we need to be more creative in our vision for stations which should become social, business and cultural centres as well as transport interchanges”.

Friday, 25 October 2013

EU policy towards Israeli settlements in the occupied territories

Please find attached a short briefing paper on the EU policy towards Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, in particular the recent EU guidelines excluding the settlements from EU funding programmes.

The paper lays out nine key reasons why the EU guidelines must be fully implemented. This is especially important in the current negotiations between the EU and Israel on the EU research programme Horizon 2020. The EU must ensure that its programmes do not support activities in the illegal settlements, as happened in the past.

Great Harwood Coronation celebrations 1911

This is lovely footage from 1911 of the Coronation celebrations in Great Harwood:

https://player.bfi.org.uk/player/J4bGx1ZjoadvuiiHqwg9p6iOCjfNntiH/default/search

Consistency data from the Financial Ombudsman Service

Dear Mr Jones, I work for the Financial Ombudsman Service which, as I’m sure you’ll know, is the free service set up by law with the power to sort out problems between consumers and financial businesses.

I thought you might be interested in the number and type of complaints we received from your constituency over the last year.

During the last financial year (2012/13), 1,468 people living in Hyndburn contacted our helpline – an increase of 131% on the previous financial year.

This led to our taking on 874 complaints which required investigation from people living in Hyndburn, up from 363 in 2011/12.

We’re currently upholding around 48% of complaints from Hyndburn in favour of the consumer. This meant we found that the business had not treated the consumer fairly, so we told the business to pay some form of compensation.

The top 5 most complained about products from people living in Hyndburn were:

PPI – 696 (up from 234 in 2011/2012)
Credit card accounts – 33 (up from 19 in 2011/2012)
Current accounts – 23 (up from 20 in 2011/2012)
House mortgages – 14 (up from 11 in 2011/2012)
Motor insurance – 10 (up from 9 in 2011/2012)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

MP urges Hopkins to give councils clout against bad landlords | News | Inside Housing

My letter reported in Inside Housing to new Housing Minister Kris Hopkins reminding him not to forget the issues of over supply and poor stick condition in the north.

http://m.insidehousing.co.uk/6529067.article?mobilesite=enabled

Monday, 21 October 2013

Audit reveals Tory misjudgments cost council tax payers in Hyndburn another £250,000

Cutting out waste has been essential for Hyndburn's Labour Council in order to manage their dwindling budget with government funding having been and continuing to be slashed. A lot of waste has been identified; A £600k website that was abandonded after 6 months, £210,000 on maladminstration of taxis, £300,000 spent on a super loo in Accrington town centre few people used - so few it cost the Council over £18 for every 'penny spent'.

The latest audit of the spending of the previous Tory administration on Hyndburn Borough Council has highlighted further waste of public money under the former council leader Cllr Peter Britcliffe adminstration.

As a result of a poorly designed, and wasteful regeneration scheme designed by the Leader himself in his own ward, 6 properties in Blackpool Street and South Shore Street have now been sold at a huge loss to the Council taxpayer.

The Conservative group purchased the properties for £157,641.84 using HMR money; £399,560 for refurbishment paid for using Capital money, plus nearly £5000 in lost council tax revenue. In total they cost £562,019.71 and were sold for £315,000 meaning a loss to the taxpayer of a total of £247,019.71 on only 6 properties.

Back in July 2007 I was assured by the Coucil Leder and the Cabinet member responsible that this scheme would pay for itself. 
"The sale of the houses to private owners makes the regeneration scheme self funding" www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/1553560.print/


Today we discover the council taxpayer has lost £250,000 due to misjudgements by the former Conservative council.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

GOVERNMENT PASSING THE BUCK FOR ITS FAILING POLICIES

This Government often blames others for its failings. We've certainly heard it all before on the economy, when we’ve been told that the snow or royal weddings were responsible for what is the slowest recovery from a recession in 100 years.

Nearly a million young people are unemployed. Prices have risen faster than wages in a staggering 38 out of 39 months while David Cameron has been in Downing Street. But this Government always looks for someone else to blame.

This week we’ve seen Ministers try to pass the buck to a new group: badgers. The Environment Secretary said that his unscientific and expensive culling programme had failed because “the badgers moved the goalposts”. You couldn’t make it up!

This is no way to deal with a serious issue. My postbag shows how much people in [CONSTITUENCY] care about animal welfare and about the spread of bovine TB. Getting this right matters to farmers, to our countryside and to the environment.

People have had enough of this Tory-led Government’s excuses for its failing policies. After three years in power, it’s time for David Cameron to listen and change course.

Friday, 18 October 2013

TRAIN COMPANIES HIT PASSENGERS WITH INFLATION-BUSTING FARE INCREASES

This week’s announcement by the Government on rail fares will do little to impress ordinary commuters who pay through the nose while train company profits are allowed to soar.

Over the last three years, David Cameron has failed to stand up for working people, allowing train companies to hit passengers with inflation-busting fare rises of up to 9 per cent. Far from addressing this failure, his plans for rail fares are too little too late and will still deliver fare increases of up to 6 per cent.

Labour would go much further, preventing train companies from increasing fares beyond one per cent above inflation.

Under David Cameron, we have a cost of living crisis. Prices have gone up faster than wages in 38 of the 39 months that he has been Prime Minister – and working people are almost £1,500 a year worse off.

I know he thinks things are getting better and maybe they are for him and a few at the top. But for most ordinary families things are incredibly tough.

David Cameron must get serious about tackling this cost of living crisis, and show that he understands the concerns of ordinary families and businesses. Labour will tackle the crisis with plans to address rail fares and energy prices, as well as tax cuts and more help with childcare for ordinary working people.

Ed Miliband gets it. But I’m afraid David Cameron is simply out of touch.

My week in Parliament

Summary of this week in Parliament:

Opposition Day debate on zero-hour contracts
Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill: Report and Third Reading
Urgent Question on the Al-Madinah Free School
Opposition Day debate on high streets and change of use orders
Backbench business debate on funding and support for deaf children
Government Statement on Afghanistan
Backbench business debate on defence reforms
Government Statement on accountability in schools


Thursday, 17 October 2013

We need an economy that works for working people

Last night Tory and Lib Dem MPs voted down Labour's motion on zero hopurs contracts that would have helped tackle growing insecurity in employment. We need an economy that works for working people.

The government has failed to understand how zero hour contracts undermine ordinary people and that real action is needed to end exploitive zero-hours contracts.

Families in Haslingden and Hyndburn and across the country are facing the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation. Prices are increasing, wages are falling (for 39 of the last 40 months) and for many hard-working people there is deep concern over job insecurity.

One of the worst examples of this is the exploitive use of zero-hours contracts. I’ve spoken to people in Haslingden and Hyndburn who are employed on zero-hours contracts and they’ve told me of the struggle they and their families face on a daily basis.

According to recent estimates there could be as many as 1 million workers employed on zero-hours contracts - with a big increase since the Tory-led government took office - and they are now used in one in five workplaces.


Path and allotment improvement works on the Coppice continuing - the next phase.

A few years ago I began a campaign to improve the coppice. Significant path and other improvements have taken place since then and it is pleasing that one of our great natural areas so near to the town is being looked after.

Further funding has been approved by Biffa and the next stage of works will be begin next week. This will almost be a seamless continuation to improvements to the allotments leading up from Peel Park Avenue.

In addition to there will be path improvements including the paths on the summit which will also be resurfaced and in total 1.5 miles (2.5 km) of paths improved.

This will be in addition to around 1 mile (1.8km) of paths resurfaced on the other side of the Coppice last year (around Arden Hall ruins and leading up the Coppice from Plantation Road).

This has significantly improved access for all and made a walk around the Coppice easier and more pleasurable.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Delivering an energy market people can trust

A key factor in the cost of living crisis, one of the biggest problems families and businesses face right now, is rising energy bills. This week we've seen a staggering 8 per cent price rise for some hard pressed consumers, with further price rises planned in coming weeks.

But while Ed Miliband has announced plans to freeze energy bills while resetting the market, David Cameron had no answer to the problem of sky-high bills when challenged at Prime Minister’s Questions this week.

It is clear that David Cameron can’t deal with cost of living problems like soaring energy bills because he puts a privileged few before ordinary, hard working families.

Energy bills have risen by an average £300 since David Cameron became Prime Minister, while energy companies’ profits have shot up. Businesses say that energy bills are the second biggest cost they face. When wholesale prices rise, the energy companies pass the costs on to consumers – but when they fall, bills stay high.

Ed Miliband’s energy plan will see gas and electricity bills frozen from the General Election to 2017 – enough time to reset the energy market – making sure it works for ordinary families and businesses instead of ripping them off. The plans will save a typical household £120 and the average business £1,800. You can see how much you could save by visiting www.freezethatbill.com.

This is one of a set of policies from Labour to tackle the cost of living crisis head on. I’m right behind Ed, because I think ordinary people in Haslingden and Hyndburn deserve better. They need a Government that fights for them and is on their side.

David Cameron says he’s mended the economy, but for too many in Haslingden and Hyndburn, things are getting worse. Instead of telling people things are getting better, he needs to start listening to the ordinary families and businesses who really need help.




Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Help to Buy - Cameron's expensive & risky pitch to Tory heartlands?

I wrote in a piece in the Guardian last week about the geographical impact of the Governments Help to Buy scheme.

Particularly concerns regarding the generous allowance and the disparities in house prices around the UK. Many of my concerns were confirmed today with the answers to some of my recent Parliamentary Questions on the subject.

In short, the responses received from the Minister avoided addressing the issues I have raised. In my view the Government has either or both - no interest - no intent - to ensure that their Help to Buy scheme does not end up simply being used on very high value properties in the south and London. It should not come as a surprise. The government raised the ceiling on what is essentially a rebadged and greatly extended Labour government scheme from £280,000 to a Tory friendly £600,000.

In 2011 the government introduced the New Homes Bonus scheme which also resulted in the bulk of Treasury funding finding it's way to the leafy areas of London of the South.

So even when a Tory led government seeks to intervene in markets, they plan it in such a way that a significant amount of money is swallowed up on £600,000 properties, or in the overheated London market, or by people looking to bump themselves up the property ladder.

Graham Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure equal regional allocations of funds available through the Help to Buy Scheme. [170182]

Sajid Javid: The Government is committed to making the aspiration of home ownership a reality for as many households as possible. The Government wants current and future generations to experience the benefits of owning their own home, in the same way their parents were able to.

Since the financial crisis, larger deposit requirements and falling equity values mean many credit-worthy households cannot get a mortgage, or are, trapped in their existing homes unable to take the next step.

Budget 2013 announced the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme to increase the supply of low-deposit mortgages for credit-worthy households.

The Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee is available on mortgages on homes across the UK. The Government has made £12 billion of guarantees available, which is sufficient to support £130 billion of high loan-to-value mortgages.

Decisions concerning the availability of mortgages, including the regions lenders offer mortgages to, remain commercial decisions for individual lenders participating in the scheme.

Graham Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to limit the number of Help to Buy guarantees which are used to purchase property mortgages between £500,000 and £600,000 in value. [170183]

Sajid Javid: On 8 October 2013, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister announced that borrowers can start benefiting from the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme and published the final scheme rules.

The Government is committed to making the aspiration of home ownership a reality for as many households as possible. The Government wants current and future generations to experience the benefits of owning their own home, in the same way their parents were able to. Since the financial crisis, larger deposit requirements and falling equity values mean many credit-worthy households cannot get a mortgage, or are trapped in their existing homes unable to take the next step.

The scheme rules set out that for a mortgage to be considered eligible it must, among other criteria, be on a property in the UK with purchase value of £600,000 or less.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Sustainability of small radio stations

Dear Graham Jones, Thank you for your interest in the sustainability of small local radio stations as mentioned in the Lancashire Telegraph dated 27th September 2013:

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/10704397.Hyndburn_MP_fears_for_small_radio_stations/
The Community Media Association is a non-profit making organisation founded in 1983 to support community radio – and our remit has expanded over time to include local and community television, and community-based Internet projects. The CMA represents the community media sector to Government, industry and regulatory bodies.
Our membership currently exceeds 600, bringing together established organisations, aspirant groups and individuals within the sector. The CMA provides a range of advice, information and consultancy, offering support to anyone with an interest in the sector.
The window with Ofcom for applying for a community radio licence in your area is currently open until 15th October and we expect that a significant number of applications will be submitted:

http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radio-broadcast-licensing/community-radio/apply-for-licence/timetable

We are in constant contact with DCMS on behalf of community and small commercial broadcasters. If you would like to meet to discuss this matter further then we would be delighted to be able to update you on our work.

Yours sincerely
Jaqui Devereux
Director
Community Media Association

http://www.commedia.org.uk/
http://twitter.com/community_media
https://www.facebook.com/CommunityMediaAssociation
t: +44 (0)114 279 5219

Canstream Internet Radio & Video
http://www.canstream.co.uk/

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Closure of the GP walk-in centre at Accrington Victoria Consultation

The East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group are currently reviewing GP surgeries in the constituency. Part of the review includes the GP walk-in centre at Accrington Victoria, I must stress this is not the Minor Injuries Unit.

There were over 33,000 visits to the GP service last year (up from 24,000 the previous year) and I think this must reflect the difficulty that some people have in accessing their local GPs at convenient times to them. Following the creation of Clinical Commissioning Groups – there are over 200 in the country including some in consortia with private health care providers – there is a greater administrative burden on GPs and I can only envisage that an appointment with your local GP will become more difficult.

Results of the GP services study that began in 2010 can be found by following the link and finding your surgery http://practicetool.gp-patient.co.uk/practice. You can see that results for the walk-in centre are better than some of the local surgeries in Hyndburn.

Any loss of any NHS service in the constituency is to be questioned and I fear that the loss of this GP walk-in may result in the withdrawal of other services in the future. Whilst I appreciate that the consortia have been told to make savings, for a new organisation (they only began in April) to be already consulting on a closure of this size does not bode well.

As the health profile for Hyndburn says, Hyndburn has poorer health than the national average, deprivation is higher, and life expectancy is 11.3 years lower for men and 9 years lower for women than the national average. It is clear that we need services to meet the challenges of the borough and wider area.

I am currently working with Lancashire County Council and Hyndburn Leisure to see what leisure and sport services can do to keep people fit and healthy but this can only be achieved if a full range of NHS services are available.

To take part in the consultation, surveys are available from your local surgery, libraries, council buildings and the walk-in centre itself. Or you can call 0800 0322424 or visit www.eastlancsccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/accrington-health-access-centre

An event is also being held at Accrington Market Hall on October 12, between 10am and 2pm, where the public will be able to talk to health professionals about services.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ed Miliband has announced that Labour will freeze prices until the start of 2017 if Labour wins the next election

Businesses round here tell me times are tough. Bills are going up and people are working harder to make ends meet. That amounts to a cost of living crisis for people in Hyndburn – and a threat to our local economy.

Businesses and the Chamber of Commerce repeatedly raise concerns about growing bills, telling me that energy bills are the second largest cost that they face. Local businesses are crucial to Hyndburn and I won’t see them left out in the cold by this Tory government.

Since David Cameron has been in Downing Street prices have risen faster than wages in 38 out of 39 months and energy bills have gone up by almost £300. When the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall.

The problem is David Cameron can’t deal with the cost of living crisis because he stands up for a privileged few, not for ordinary people. While small businesses struggle to get credit, banker’s bonuses are up 82%. We can only tackle the cost of living crisis by building an economy that works for working people.

So I’m delighted that Ed Miliband has announced that Labour will freeze prices until the start of 2017 if Labour wins the next election. And he says we will break up the big energy companies so that we can all get a fair deal.

This will save a typical household £120 and an average business £1,800.

But businesses and people round here need help now. So I’m calling on David Cameron to take action and freeze our bills now. Local people and businesses in Hyndburn can calculate their savings under labour’s plan via FreezeThatBill, and please tweet a picture of your bill with the hashtag #freezethatbill.

Metal theft laws come into force – both Councils and the public must be vigilant


Metal theft laws come into force – both Councils and the public must be vigilant particularly with mobile collectors that plague neighbourhoods. They should all from the 1st October have a large Council licence plate displayed prominently on  their vehicles.

All the changes to the laws on metal theft which I and the Energy Networks Association successfully campaigned for finally came into force this month, and I hope they will be the catalyst for a sea-change in the metal recycling industry and spell an end to the kind of metal theft that has claimed far too many church roofs, war memorials and electricity cables.

The law is largely based on my Private Member’s Bill, the Metal Theft (Prevention) Bill, and contain a number of my amendments regarding mobile collectors.

Police in Hyndburn this summer undertook a stop and check at my request as part of Operation Tornado, which identified 95 scrap metal dealers and collectors operating in the area. This identified early those who were at risk of failing the new 'fit and proper persons' test, and which raised awareness in the local industry.

I have spoken with both Hyndburn and Rossendale Borough Councils to ensure the law is being applied and that the authorities (Councils, Police, The Environment Agency) are vigilant in the registering of scrap metal dealers and enforcing the new licensing laws. Local Authorities must take the lead and the initiative on this if rogue metal dealers and collectors are to be tackled ; through up to date registers, and working closely with the police and EA and a public awareness campaign, Councils can reduce significantly the amount of metal stolen or desecrated.

I also want the police and councils - and particularly members of the Council's licensing committee - to be very wary of giving licenses to anyone who has a chequered past when it comes to metal dealing. The law states that licenses must be approved by both bodies, and those who have past convictions related to metal dealing or theft, and those who were uncooperative during operation tornado should be treated with caution. The committee should also take into consideration those whom are already attempting to circumvent the regulation such as the almost co-location of 'cheques cashed' businesses.

Moreover it is absolutely vital that the public is aware and does what it can to prevent the scourge of illegal metal thieves. It is unlikely that the unscrupulous elements of the metal collecting industry will disappear overnight and I expect some will continue to operate unlicensed, some will continue to accept cash on the side, and some will continue to drive around picking up metal off the streets in unmarked, unlicensed vehicles.

Crucially - If anyone witnesses metal collectors travelling around the area without large Council licence plates, then report them (and their vehicle registration number) to the police, as they are operating illegally.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Initial thoughts on Help to Buy

The Tories have announced that they will be bringing forward the second part of the Help to Buy Scheme – the means by which the state will guarantee 15% of the deposit on a mortgage. The Government claim that this will help people who can't save for a deposit to get onto the housing ladder – almost everyone else says it is a cynical (or reckless) attempt to create a housing bubble and put up house prices. Anything that helps young people who want to get onto the housing market and out of the private rented sector has potential to do some good, but ultimately this is a short termist policy which does not tackle the issue of undersupply.
On top of a new housing bubble there are other issues that should make the Government stop and think. The new Governor of the Bank of England has stated that interest rates will not rise until unemployment is below 7% - the flipside being that they will probably rise when it does get to that level. A credit-loaded housing market, plus potentially higher interest rates could expose the fact that many people may not actually be able to afford to repay their mortgages. At the logic extreme, this means defaults and a large cost to the exchequer.
So when interest rates rise, either prices need to fall or incomes need to increase. Based on this Government's record to date, I am not optimistic about an increase in household income. 
There is one to the problem of young people's home ownership – and one decision that Labour have been calling on the Government to make for a long time, and it is very simple: build more houses. The Government is using £12bn to underwrite mortgages – but for the £11bn infrastructure boost that the IMF has recommended we could build 400,000 new houses and create hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships. The answer to the high cost of houses is to reduce the cost of houses through increased supply, not to put off this long term problem by short-term credit-funding access to mortgages. 
The question of supply is important in itself with regards to access to mortgages. In the past, schemes which were aimed at helping people buy houses were by and large tied to the building of a new home, so the supply issue was addressed alongside the exaggerated demand created by the scheme. In this instance, there is no link to increasing supply, simply artificial demand which will simply push up prices and prevent people from getting on the ladder.
It is also quite clear that the majority of this guarantee money will end up in London and the home counties. A quick glance at current average house price heatmap on Prime Location shows a gigantic disparity between London (average price £491,000 – predicted in the Evening Standard to rise to £500,000 by the end of the year) and Lancashire (£141,000 - £157,000 depending where).
Hyndburn has serious housing problems – undersupply of quality homes, and this policy does nothing for that. I hope it does indeed benefit people in the constituency, but Government could really make a difference and this is not the way to address the need in the housing market. 
And how does the Government propose to put a check on any bubble that might be formed? By giving the Bank of England the power of an 'emergency brake' on the bubble. I agree with the caution written about in the FT this week – it is not straightforwardly simple to assume that the Bank of England will be comfortable saying that the elected Government has caused an 'emergency'. Moreover questions remain about what they could actually do, which would be reducing the £600,000 house price limit, or increasing the fees which are paid to the Government in exchange for the 15% guarantee. 
It speaks volumes about this Government that their response to a living standards issue that comes from high prices is to take an action that will ultimately put prices up further, rather than taking action to get prices down. A Government that decried national debt and boom-time policies has failed to get the national debt under control and now wants to create a credit-fuelled debt bubble.