London Housing Crisis: Nastiness, Stupidity And The Benefits Cap

Wazoku, which provides an internal idea generation and management platform for the BBC has clearly benefited from this proximity. But has being away from the East London tech action created other hassles for the fledgling company? Quite the opposite, claims Hill. A lot of clients, theyre struggling for meeting space in Central London. Theyre really happy to come to us. Weve got a huge space. Weve got a Muay Thai boxing gym in here, so we have two boxing rings in the office people find it quite quirky. If were going to meet clients, then the fact that we can show them an interesting space that isnt just four desks in a really expensive Shoreditch office gives us some more credibility, Hill says. And The Downsides If Hill and other West London startups have the classic advantages of the gentrification pioneer big, character filled spaces in which to create he also faces some of the same challenges. The biggest one? Imminent interest in the transforming neighborhood that will shift the real estate market once again. FIGs warehouse home is slated for demolition in the next few years to make way for an expansion of the shopping center that also serves as its landlord, so the incubator is already making plans for a move. Were already looking for where might the next big warehouse project is that we can take over and bring in even more exciting businesses, Hill says. That might be a hassle for the companies in FIG Village, but its good news for the city, Hill feels. I certainly think West London is changing.

Goodbye London: De Beers heads to Africa

A similar puzzle applies to the Conservative-led national government’s welfare reform programme, especially as it is affecting London: do the politicians responsible seriously think it will save money and help unemployed people get jobs, or do they know perfectly well that neither will occur and are simply pretending otherwise because orchestrating hatred of “scroungers” gets you votes? Richard Godwin, the eloquent Evening Standard columnist, persuades me that where welfare thinking is concerned the answer is a bit of both . He can’t shake the impression that welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith is a well-meaning, innumerate, dimwitted fantasist while chancellor George Osborne is just a piece of work. I’m inclined to agree, though this important distinction becomes pretty academic when we consider the evolving, damaging impact of the welfare changes so ruthlessly executed by both men – backed, of course, by “Good old Boris” Johnson – on the ground. London Councils, the umbrella body representing the capital’s boroughs , has calculated that the financial drain of the government’s total benefit cap on its members could be a gigantic 25m a year – roughly double what it costs them to empty Londoners’ bins every month. Its latest report tracking the consequences of Osborne and IDS’s policies claims that the cap could result in 4,600 of the 40,000 homeless London households living temporarily in the private rented sector being unable to pay their rent. The law requires the boroughs to make up the shortfall in such cases. The report calculates this would average 105 per household per week. London Councils chair Jules Pipe, who also leads Hackney Council, says that previous benefit changes have not led to reductions in rents , resulting in an increases in arrears and evictions. This has added to the number of homeless people the boroughs have to help. Just a small additional rise in the number of urgent cases could, he concludes, “result in tens of millions of pounds being drained away from essential services to cover the cost.” The report also warns of further pressure being heaping on the boroughs by the deeply unpopular “bedroom tax” and the introduction of the much-delayed Universal Credit system, and says that safety net provision is nowhere near adequate. Pipe wants a “full and fair assessment” from the government of the costs of welfare reform for London’s local authorities, but I’ve feeling he shouldn’t hold his breath. Another important argument in the report is that the cost of temporarily housing homeless people will simply be transferred from central to local government. A while back, a London Councils policy sage I spoke to defined localism as “central government passing its spending cuts on to us.” It’s getting harder and harder to disagree.

London Irish 18 Harlequins 13: Cowan and Lewington tries condemn Quins to another defeat as Exiles’ tough tackling wins out

Consolation: Danny Care sprints over the try line to score Harlequins

Number eight Chris Hala’ufia was a late withdrawal with a knee injury to be replaced by Ian Gough with Kieran Low switching to the back row. For Harlequins, Karl Dickson was at scrum-half with Simon Smith and Matt Hopper being introduced into the three-quarter line in place of Tom Williams and the injured George Lowe. Irish suffered an early blow when they lost Low, with a shoulder injury after only two minutes but they received an immediate boost by taking the lead. Karl Dickson was penalised for illegal use of the boot at a ruck allowing Shane Geraghty to kick the resulting penalty. Harlequins had the better of the opening quarter but it was 3-3 at the end of it with Nick Evans kicking a penalty after earlier missing a more straight forward one. Running the gauntlet: Maurie Fa’asavalu of Harlequins charges towards Thomas O’Leary and Topsy Ojo Periscope: Nick Easter of Harlequins gets an aerial view of the scrum TEAM LINE-UPS London Irish: Ojo, Yarde, Mulchrone, Sheridan, Lewington, Geraghty, O’Leary, Yapp, Paice, Halavatau, Skivington, Gough, Low, Cowan, Treviranus Replacements: Tagicakibau for Mulchrone (61), Dorrian for Geraghty (78), Allinson for O’Leary (66), Parr for Yapp (70), Hagan for Halavatau (63), Evans for Gough (61), Sinclair for Low (2) Not Used: Stevens Harlequins: Brown, Smith, Hopper, Casson, Money, Evans, Dickson, Marler, Buchanan, Collier, Easter, Robson, Fa’asavalu, Robshaw, Guest Replacements: Walker for Smith (67), Botica for Casson (25), Care for Dickson (48), Lambert for Marler (56), Sinckler for Buchanan (61), Ward for Collier (61), Merrick for Fa’asavalu (70), Wallace for Robshaw (52) The first half hour was littered with errors as neither side could take advantage of the ideal playing conditions as the game was devoid of excitement. There was one 40 metre burst from Maurie Fa’asavalu which enlivened proceedings but that move fizzled out as Quins made another handling mistake. The visitors received two quick setbacks. First they lost centre, Tom Casson, with an injury before moments later Geraghty put Irish back in front with his second penalty. Evans responded with one for the Quins to tie up the scores at half-time but the Irish should have been ahead. Three minutes before the interval, the home side were awarded a penalty straight in front of the posts 20 metres out but Geraghty opted to take a quick tap which saw no reward. With 30 minutes remaining, Quins brought on Care at scrum half in place of Dickson and he should have seen his side take the lead but Evans missed with an eminently kickable penalty.

The 2011 decision to move – which will cost more than $120 million, including shiny new offices in Gaborone – follows years of negotiations between Anglo-American-owned De Beers and Botswana, the largest producer of gem diamonds and home to mines like Jwaneng, the world’s richest. The move secured a new 10-year contract for the sorting, valuing and sales of diamonds from the Botswana mines run by Debswana, a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers and the southern African country’s government – the longest sales contract agreed to date between the two sides. It will shift more than $6 billion of annual rough diamond sales from an international financial centre to a comparative backwater with a population of 230,000, in one of the most dramatic examples of a producing country battling successfully to keep value and profits from the raw materials at home. The change will test Botswana’s ability to develop skills and services, lower an unemployment rate stuck at roughly 18 percent and diversify an economy still dependent on diamonds for more than 80 percent of exports. By separating sales from corporate headquarters, the move is also arguably the biggest challenge De Beers has faced to the way it does business since the current sales model was set up nearly a century ago to secure its then-dominant position. END OF AN ERA The shift south, long expected in one form or another, raises practical questions – visa difficulties, a lack of direct flights and suitable hotels – but has also sparked a debate around the future of De Beers and its role in the gem market. Still the world’s largest producer by value, De Beers was taken over by Anglo American in a deal completed last year which bought out the Oppenheimer family, cutting direct links to the dynasty that ran the firm for almost a century. “It is what you would call the end of an era, but it should not be seen as a negative, it should be seen as the natural progression of the industry,” Kieron Hodgson, an equity analyst at Charles Stanley in London. Others are less sanguine. “I don’t think any of them really want to be (in Gaborone), but they don’t have a choice as the diamonds are in the ground there,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Des Kilalea. “It is akin to saying we won’t have an London Metal Exchange, you’ll have to go to Chile to get your copper. It is blatantly inefficient – though in terms of politics and development, if I were president I’d do the same.” De Beers has already moved its diamond sorting and aggregation businesses – the operations that sift through the production from each mine and bring the gems together before they are allocated to buyers – to Gaborone. It has also been supporting cutting and polishing operations by making more diamonds available locally – encouraging international firms like Tannenbaum’s to grow there. The Leo Schachter group now employs some 300 people in Botswana. A TIGHT GRIP De Beers’ London sights date back to the 1930s, when it set up what became the Diamond Trading Company to control supply, secure demand and tighten its grip on the market in rough diamonds, of which it held some 80 percent at its peak in the 1980s and 90s.