SIR – Have ministers thought through the consequences of forcing landlords to improve the energy rating of their properties (report, March 29)? Many will consider the cost prohibitive when added to the increasing cost of mortgages and other proposed regulations, so will sell their properties.
This will result in fewer properties being available to rent and those that remain will undoubtedly be subject to price increases.
The majority of tenants rent because they cannot afford to buy, and a considerable number rely on benefits to pay rent due to the dearth of social housing. Where are these people to go once their landlord sells up?
The drive to improve the rental market and increase energy efficiency is to be applauded, but not before alternative accommodation is available for those who are displaced as a result.
SIR – The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised “a better deal for renters” by “abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions”. We committed to protect tenants “from revenge evictions and rogue landlords” but also to ensuring that the “many good landlords” would have stronger “rights of possession”. Abolishing Section 21 of the Housing Act ensures we keep this promise and has been explicitly supported by each of the past four Conservative prime ministers.
My department set out our overall plans for the private rented sector in the White Paper published last year, and will shortly be introducing a Bill to deliver our manifesto promises. We also set out this week in our Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan how we will make it “easier to evict tenants who are persistently disrespectful and disruptive”.
I fully agree that the private rented sector is an important part of our housing system. The number of rented properties has doubled since 2004 – peaking in 2016, and remaining roughly stable since. As a Government, our overall priority remains supporting more people to own their home, while improving quality and decency for everyone.
Turning to net zero requirements, I agree that we need to have a proper look at the Energy Performance Certificate system, which was designed as an information tool but is now being used for a regulatory purpose. My department is keeping this firmly under review.
Michael Gove MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
SIR – Owners of listed properties are restricted from making the most basic changes to houses to improve their energy efficiency. I have to have ill-fitting timber windows with standard glass and cannot fit solar panels or a windpump.
As a result of net zero regulations, I will have one government department demanding something that another government department forbids.
Castle Cary, Somerset
NHS dental charges
SIR – At a time when a significant section of the population cannot access NHS dental care (report, March 29), the response from the Government has been absolutely startling in its blatant cynicism and contempt for voters.
NHS dental charges are rising by 8.5 per cent from next month. This is not a pay increase for Britain’s beleaguered practitioners, it is a tax on the public. Despite the abysmal, third-world state of the country’s dental services, it has been made very clear that there is no provision for any funding, just increasing charges for the few who are able to see an NHS dentist.
The nation’s NHS practitioners are demoralised, many are facing fines for missing the Government’s “targets”, while others are unable to continue funding the failing system and are working at a massive loss, thoroughly sick of weasel words from duplicitous politicians.
Dr Rob Bate
SIR – The demise of boys’ schools (report, March 28) may please a certain faction of society, but they do have the unquantifiable benefit of engendering camaraderie and lifelong friendships.
I attended an all-boys school, followed by an exclusively male teachers’ training college and went on to teach at a boys’ school.
After nearly 60 years, I still regularly see my ex-classmates and meet up with the men I lived with at college, but the boys whose form master I was for two years are the most fun to have a drink or two with. They played football together, rowed in the same crew and have remained good friends over the intervening 50 years. I’m not sure this sort of thing is created by mixed education.
Camaraderie is the foundation of good teamwork and the basis on which the military creates regimental spirit. It would be sad to see it decline.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Testing older drivers
SIR – Judith Woods (Features, March 24) says that 70 per cent of people think drivers over 60 should take a test to see if they are fit to drive. I wonder how many of the people in the survey were over 60. And who would do the testing? Instructors are still trying to catch up with a backlog of younger drivers wanting to take the test.
SIR – I have also experienced problems with HM Land Registry (Letters, March 28).
Following the case of a property in Luton being sold without the owner’s knowledge in 2021, I signed up for the HM Land Registry Property Alert Service. On doing so, I discovered that my property was not registered.
In December 2021, I instructed my solicitor to apply for a first registration. The application was made in January 2022, at which time I paid a fee in excess of £1,000.
It is now March 2023 and I am still waiting for completion. When I recently contacted my solicitor to find out whether there had been any progress I was advised that the process could take up to three years. What is going on?
SIR – Philip Johnston catalogues the many failed initiatives over decades to tackle crime (“Britain is failed by a political class incapable of doing what it promises”, Comment, March 29).
May I remind politicians of the blindingly obvious? A punishment can only deter if it is coupled with the virtual certainty of being caught. If capture is vanishingly unlikely to happen then no sanction, even boiling in oil, will deter. Ask any criminal why he did the crime – and over many years I have – and among the answers will be: “I didn’t think I’d get caught.”
Officers visibly on the beat is a necessary condition for reducing anti-social behaviour.
His Honour John Pini KC
SIR – As a baby boomer, I am apparently to blame for the woeful state of this country’s economy and general decline of the social fabric (report, March 28). However, I suggest that many people are like me and actively contribute to the welfare of this country as unpaid volunteers.
Charity shops, food banks, lunch clubs and toddler groups all rely heavily on active retirees to work and provide much-needed support, not to mention those of us who are school governors who go into schools to support the staff still recovering from lockdown, while also trying to monitor curriculum delivery and ensure that the attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils is diminishing.
I feel strongly that, far from holding the country back, we are in fact holding it together.
SIR – When I worked in the Civil Service in the 1980s, older workers (aged 50 and over) were persuaded to take early retirement with big bonuses and early pensions in order to give younger workers better prospects.
Newspaper articles at the time said older workers were being selfish by staying in work when they should give younger people jobs. Now we are apparently being selfish by retiring.
SIR – If all councils placed an information sticker on each rubbish bin to say exactly what could be put in it (report, March 27), it would help the public and also the councils when they come to unload the lorries following collection.
G J Dobson
When smart-casual merited a dressing-down
SIR – Further to Sir John Timpson’s article on the arrival of “dressed down Fridays” (Business, March 27), the phenomenon caused new problems for receptionists and security men as the sudden influx of casually dressed staff made it more difficult to recognise interlopers.
His comments about office dress styles of the past reminded me of the day in the 1960s when a colleague was sent home to change his suede shoes, as they were deemed unacceptable by management.
SIR – I wore a suit five days a week when I worked in the engineering and shipbuilding industries. I had a special suit for a monthly meeting with the Ministry of Defence. Come Saturday morning it was a joy to dress down to scruff gear.
Out and about I would meet colleagues who spent their week working in overalls dressed up in their very best suits, shirts, ties and shoes – sometimes from John Collier. Now firmly retired, I revel in scruff gear every day – except on Sundays.
Waltham Chase, Hampshire
The case for letting wildlife thrive in gardens
SIR – My experience is different from Judy Marchant’s (“A sad conclusion to a long battle with squirrels”, Letters, March 28). I enjoy watching the wildlife playing in my garden.
I have a walnut tree that fell over in a storm in the 1980s. I refused to have it taken away, allowing only the top to be removed as it was almost in the house. (Even that made me cry, and I spoke to the tree and apologised – my King Charles moment). Its arms are now its height and provide an abundance of walnuts each year, which I do not pick, leaving them for squirrels or birds.
The trunks of two other trees that fell were left where they were and have thriving insect life underneath. Foxes play on them, chasing each other.
None of this wildlife harms my dogs or cats, and the current cat often lies with a fox in the sun. My flowers are all untouched, too. I get great pleasure from watching them all.
Elayne M Benjamin
SIR – I also suffered from squirrels digging into flowerpots, until I placed a couple of sprigs of holly into each pot. They dislike pricking their nose and feet, so have moved elsewhere.
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