Do you need professional advice?

Do you need quality, professional advice? Although the drop-in advice sessions at STAG have now stopped, Blackfriars Advice Centre is still providing a service for Travellers in the area and STAG are More »

Driving Theory Test

Passing your driving theory can be tough. If you are a Southwark resident, there is free driving theory test practice available. All you need is to have a library number. Follow the More »

Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month

Should all schools celebrate GRTHM in June? Yes, all schools should. No, but schools which have Traveller, Gypsy and Roma students should. No, no schools should. If you would like to find More »

Applying for Schools in Southwark

For the most accurate up-to-date information on applying to school in Southwark it is best to use Southwark Council’s website or call 0207 525 5337. All school applications have to be done More »

CSCS Cards

What is a CSCS Card? The CSCS Card is used by the construction industry to make sure that all workers have enough Health and Safety knowledge to work on a construction site. More »

Make Money From Your Creative Skills!

Do you make greetings cards, jewellery, prints, badges, headband, soft furnishings or anything else? Would you like to sell it in a shop? Spark is a ‘pop-up’ shop about to open in More »

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Housing – Changes to Traveller Site Tenancy Agreements with Southwark Council

Important changes to Housing.

In the 2013, 2 big changes are coming in which will affect Travellers living on Southwark.

Recipients of Housing Benefit
A new benefit system will be introduced, called Universal Credit, which will mean, amongst other things, that all recipients of Housing Benefit will be responsible for paying their rent (Housing Benefit will no longer be paid directly to the landlord/Council). STAG plans to arrange sessions to inform our clients about the Universal Credit in the New Year.

Traveller Site Residents
In 2013, Southwark Council will also be issuing new tenancy agreements to all residents on Council-owned Traveller sites. At the moment, the new licences are being checked by the Council to make sure that they are fair. Please leave your comments on the new agreements on this site . This post sets out to highlight some of the main differences between the old and the new agreements. We have compared a Licence Agreement from 1997 with the draft proposal for Tenancy Agreements written in 2012.

How does the new Traveller Site Tenancy Agreement differ from the old Licence Agreement?

1. Security of Tenure
The new tenancy agreement will offer more security to Traveller site residents as the Council will have to have a court order for eviction.

However, we believe that once the new agreements are in place, Southwark Council will be stricter in enforcing the terms of the agreement than in the past. This is why it is important you read and understand your Tenancy Agreement.

2. Temporary Absence (e.g through travelling)
As in the old agreement, the new agreement states that you must have written permission from the council for any absence of over 6 weeks. The new agreement reduces the amount of time you are allowed to be absent from your pitch in a 12 month period, from 3 month to 10 weeks The new agreement also states that you may have to pay rent in advance if you plan to be absent for over 6 weeks.

**It has been pointed out that normally landlords should allow 8 weeks absence to tenants without notice. The new agreements only allow 6 weeks absence without notice.

3. Succession
The new agreement provides that if the occupier dies then his or her spouse or another member of the family living with them when they die will inherit the agreement to live on that pitch. (see (3.13))

4. Changes to the agreement and changes/improvements on the site.
The new agreement offers more rights to the Licensee/Tenant regarding changes to the agreement. The old agreement gave the Council the right to change the agreement without the Licensee’s consent (4.10-4.11). The new agreement ensures that the Council must consult with residents and any residents associations about improvements to the site (2.20.g)
If you would like to set up a residents association so that residents on your site have more say in how the site is managed, STAG will be happy to facilitate the development of your Residents Association.
If you sign the new agreement you have the right to challenge any of the express terms which you do not agree with, but you must do this within 6 months of signing the agreement. If you want to challenge the agreement, you should consult a solicitor or citizens’ advice bureau. (1.5)

5. Animals- Dogs
The new agreement states that you must have written permission from the Council to keep animals (3.6.1). The agreement states that all dogs must be chipped and wear a collar and name tag also(3.6.2). In the past the agreement only stated that dangerous or nuisance animals were not permitted (2.7).

6. Fire
The new agreement states that you are responsible for ‘providing and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers for use in or on the mobile home and pitch’ (3.5.3).

It is important to read the whole agreement as there are many terms that we have not mentioned in this comparison between the old and new agreement. We believe that Southwark Council will be stricter in enforcing these agreements once they have been signed, so it is important to understand what you are signing. Please seek legal advice before signing your new tenancy agreements.

Education- Consultation on Changes to the Law Regarding Travelling Families

The Government is proposing to repeal the current legislation that protects travelling parents from being found guilty of school attendance offence if their child is absent from school, in certain circumstances.

This will mean that Travelling parents of children under 16 who are not attending school may be punished. The government thinks that this will improve Traveller childrens’ school attendance and have the effect of improving Traveller childrens’ attainment at school, giving them more opportunities to earn a living in later life.

Do you think this will work?

Do you have any other ideas of how school attendance could be achieved?

If you would like your opinions on this proposed change to be listened to, either leave a comment on this page which we will send on to the government or follow this link to the Department of Education to send your opinions directly to the Department of Education.