Thursday, 6 June 2013

Council’s concern over growing rent arrears

Leeds City Council is encouraging any council tenant struggling to pay their rent to urgently get in touch for help and advice on what they can do.

Currently just over 7000 council tenants are affected by the government’s under-occupancy change.

When looking at the figures from a week directly before the charge began, and comparing this with the same accounts seven weeks later, around 2800 tenants out of 5200 tenants who had a clear rent account before the charges began had already fallen into rent arrears seven weeks later. At this moment in time this has left the total uncollected rent at £138,000, with a percentage of this being attributed to the effect of under occupation.

Any shortfall in income that is generated through rent affects all council tenants as it is the main source of funding used to maintain and invest in housing stock in the city and, therefore, the council needs to sustain this income to continue to plan future capital investment.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“The overall figures speak for themselves; over 50% of tenants affected by under-occupation who had clear rent accounts before these changes were brought in are now falling into rent arrears after just seven weeks, and through no fault of their own.

“We predicted before the changes came into place that there would be increasing numbers of tenants going into rent arrears and the difficulty that councils will face. Since under occupation was introduced, we as a council are having to collect an extra £78.5k each week from tenanted properties.

“We knew this was going to be a difficult time for people affected and, therefore, have already committed further resources to provide targeted support for tenants affected by the changes, and also ensure rent is collected for the benefit of all tenants.

“Any tenants that find themselves in arrears need to contact and engage with their local housing officer as soon as possible to receive dedicated advice about the options available to them and support for the future.”

For more information tenants should get in contact with their relevent ALMO;

Aire Valley Homes Leeds 0800 915 6660 or 0113 3984710

East North East Homes Leeds 0800 915 1600 or 0113 3984711
West North West Homes Leeds 0800 915 1113 or 0113 3984708

For media enquiries, please contact;

Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Cash boost for heritage sector in Leeds

Leeds City Council has received over £845,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new Re-Making Leeds Project.

The money will be used to support a heritage construction skills project that will focus on providing the practical heritage skills needed to maintain, repair and refurbish pre-1919 residential, commercial and institutional properties in Leeds.

The funding comes following a nationwide call for measures to improve the training and employment prospects for those within the heritage sector.

The council has received initial support¹ for an £845,200 bid, including development funding of £34,900, from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme².

By helping to address specific and identified skills shortages within the city, it will allow construction SMEs to compete for and deliver effective and sensitive repair and maintenance contracts on the city’s extensive stock of traditional buildings.

Paid work-based training placements, alongside experienced heritage professionals, will be offered for trainees who will receive off-the-job bespoke training and on-site assessment towards achievement of the Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Heritage Skills (Construction) and gaining the CSCS Heritage Skills card for those not in receipt of one.

The project will develop fully rounded heritage craft professionals able to work adeptly within construction teams. In addition to basic heritage skills including stone masonry, trainees will also be offered project management and building information modelling skills. For those wanting to set up their own firms business administration and marketing skills will also be included.

In addition, the funding will be used to provide discrete shorter courses for construction SMEs to address specific skills gaps as well as training the trainers, construction specifiers, housing managers and building control officers.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsbility for leisure and skills said:

“This is a great boost for training in Leeds. Working in partnership with training providers, this much needed funding will be used to address skills shortage by expanding existing and securing new quality training for the construction sector so that many of Leeds important heritage buildings are secured for future generations to enjoy”.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of HLF, said:

“Nurturing skills – of all types – continues to be a hugely important part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s portfolio of work. Skills for the Future is one of our most successful and over-subscribed programmes with fierce competition to secure funding. The 39 projects that have won through reflect the wide range of training and opportunities on offer in the heritage industry. We’re delighted that through this significant investment 876 new placements will be created right across the UK and hope that this additional funding will help encourage growth and build resilience within the sector.”

Leeds City Council will work in partnership to deliver the project with a number of partners including, Leeds College of Building, York College, Cskills and the Federation of Master Builders.

Notes to Editors

• ¹ Launched in July 2009, Skills for the Future is an HLF programme supporting organisations across the UK to develop vocational learning programmes. HLF has awarded grants totalling £47m under this programme enabling high-quality work-based training, the development of new qualifications and capacity building in the sector.

• Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with £5.4bn across the UK. For further information, please contact Katie Owen, HLF press office, on tel: (020) 7591 6036 out of hours mobile: 07973 613820.

Only 1 in 4 applications to the Skills for the Future programme were approved and Leeds’ award is one of the largest nationally.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Rosebank pupils are Burley Champions

Photo captions:
Top - The Burley Champions celebrate success after receiving their certificates of achievements at the historic Hyde Park Picture House! Photo credit: Bip Mistry.

Bottom - View of Burley Road around 1900, looking in the direction of Leeds. One of the many images of old Burley researched by the Burley Champions. Photo credit: Copyright: Leeds Library & Information Services (


Issued on behalf of Rosebank Primary School


Children from Rosebank Primary School in Leeds have been working on an exciting local history project, funded with a grant of £21,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Over 20 talented and enthusiastic children from the school joined the ‘Burley Champions’ project team, attending project workshops after school and at weekends. Trained in oral history interview and film making techniques, they interviewed 15 older residents, undertook a research visit to Armley Mills Industrial Museum and went on a photographic ‘bus-about’ to document important buildings in Burley.

The result of all their hard work is “All About Burley”, a charming community film which explores and celebrates the rich industrial and cultural heritage of Burley and captures the stories and memories of ordinary local people.

There will be a free public film screening at the historic Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Road, Leeds at 2pm on Sunday June 9th to which all are invited.

Head teacher Gill Young is delighted with how the project has progressed:
“I have been inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of the children, parents and volunteers who have shown such an interest in Burley’s history. They have had a unique opportunity to learn both filmmaking and oral history interviewing skills and they have really enjoyed the opportunity to share the memories and experiences of the older residents of Burley who came forward to be interviewed. We are delighted to be able to share the film with the wider public.”

The project has benefitted from support from a number of partner organisations including Armley Industrial Museum, Leeds Library and Information Service, Older Wiser Local Seniors (OWLS), and Hyde Park Picture House.

The Burley Champions project has an entertaining and informative website which documents the project activities -

For further information about the project, contact Gill Young at Rosebank Primary School on 0113 243 3497 or email

Notes for Editors:
Rosebank Primary School is a thriving inner-city school with 271 pupils. The school is actively committed to using local history as a way of engaging and inspiring children, helping them to gain skills and confidence and encouraging them to develop a shared understanding and pride in their local area and in their multi-cultural roots.

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 33,000 projects, allocating £5billion across the UK including £380m to 2,845 projects in Yorkshire & the Humber alone. Website:

notes end

Recycling on the up and successful start to new bin service

Caption: More recycling is being collected with the new bin service.

The most recent figures show that recycling in Leeds is on the up and less waste is going into black bins in areas receiving the new bin service.

In 2012/13, Leeds residents recycled 40.2% of their waste in kerbside bins and by recycling at household waste sorting sites and bring sites across the city. This means a whopping 24,000 less tonnes of waste has been sent to landfill compared to the previous year.

The city is set to move even closer to the target of recycling 55% of waste. 50,000 residents who have their green recycling bin collected one week and their black waste bin the next are now putting less rubbish in their black bins and more recyclables into their green bins than before the new service started

Residents in Kippax, Methley, Garforth, Swillington, Morley, Ardsley, Robin Hood, a small part of New Farnley and additional properties in Rothwell switched to the alternate weekly collections on Monday 29 April.

The introduction of the new service has gone smoothly with residents acting on the advice in their information packs. Residents have also been supported by recycling advisers.

To help people adapt to the new service in the first few weeks of operation, collection staff have been picking up bags of waste put out with black bins.

However, with people taking advantage of the improved service and creating more space in their black bins, crews will no longer be collecting bagged rubbish put out beside black bins on the new alternate weekly collection routes.

If households with the new bin service feel they wash, squash and recycle as much as possible but still can’t manage with the new service, a recycling adviser will be happy to visit residents to assess their individual circumstances and come up with a solution.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Both residents and the collection crews have taken to the new service very well, and I’d like to thank everyone for working to make this a success.

“The change is a key part of our plans to recycle 55% by 2016. Last year’s figures demonstrate that we’re on the right track and the early indications from the new bin service show that we’ll be able to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill even further.”

Information on what can be recycled at household waste sorting sites and bring sites can be found at

Details of the new service can be found at or or by following @leedswastedocs on Twitter.

To accommodate the more frequent collection of green bins, other homes not yet receiving the new service may find that their bin day has to change. Bin collection days can be checked at

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577