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Noise complaints rose to 1,000 a day during the pandemic says Churchill insurance

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Complaints about neighbour noise have soared during the pandemic as people spend more time in their homes.

The number of complaints made to councils every day rose by 28 per cent, according to new research by insurer Churchill.

It found that there were 1,000 noise complaints a day, the equivalent of 40 an hour across Britain. 

The number of complaints made to councils every day rose by 28 per cent, according to new research by insurer Churchill

The number of complaints made to councils every day rose by 28 per cent, according to new research by insurer Churchill

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London, according to research by insurer Churchill

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London, according to research by insurer Churchill

Nearly 370,000 noise complaints were made between April 2020 and March 2021, compared to 289,000 in the year previous. 

Most councils – at 86 per cent – reported an increase in noise complaints during the 2020 to 2021 period compared to the same period a year earlier. 

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London.

The capital’s noise hotspots included Newham with 16,300 complaints, Islington at 15,900 and Kensington and Chelsea at 15,500.

Kensington and Chelsea saw the greatest number of neighbour noise complaints per capita, with 99 for every 1,000 inhabitants.

Neighbour noise has had a negative impact on the mental health of almost a third of people at 32 per cent, which equates to around 16.7million people, according to the survey.

Neighbours playing music was considered as the worst noise for mental health at 34 per cent.

It was followed by noise from children at 30 per cent, garden noise at 30 per cent, parties at 29 per cent and neighbours coming and going at antisocial hours at 24 per cent.

Nearly half at 43 per cent believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than before the pandemic began, while more than a third at 39 per cent are more aware of their own noise now.

Nearly half at 43 per cent believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than before the pandemic began

Nearly half at 43 per cent believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than before the pandemic began

COUNCILS THAT RECEVED THE MOST NOISE COMPLAINTS IN 2020/21
Local council Noise complaints, 2020/21 Percentage increase vs 2019/20
Dudley 26,000 42
London Borough of Newham 16,300 47
London Borough of Islington 15.9 107
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea 15,500 18
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 10,700 48
Birmingham 10,100 57
North Lanarkshire 9,100 -13
London Borough of Haringey 7,300 37
London Borough of Redbridge 6,400 73
Southampton 6,200 46
UK total 368,924 28
Source: Churchill Home Insurance   

Despite suffering from increased neighbour noise nuisance, only 11 per cent of those affected reported it to their local council. 

Based on a total of 370,000 noise complaints reported to councils in the last year, this suggests as much as 3.3million noise issues were caused in 2020/21, an average of more than 9,000 a day and much more than those officially recorded.

In 29 per cent of cases, the complainant spoke to their neighbour about the problem but in fewer than a third of these cases they were successful in stopping the noise. 

Other common actions taken were contacting the neighbour’s landlord at 16 per cent and reporting them to the police at 14 per cent.

Steven Williams, of Churchill home insurance, said: ‘The pandemic has seen us confined to our homes which means we’ve probably all become very aware of noises around us.

‘As we go into more of a ‘new normal’, many of us will carry on working from home, at least part of the time, so noisy neighbours will continue to be really disruptive.

‘It may be the case that neighbours don’t realise they are being noisy so the first step should always be speaking to them and explaining the problem. 

‘If that doesn’t work and they carry on, then keep a record of the type of noise and time of day and speak to your local council about raising a potential noise complaint.’ 

REGIONAL NOISE COMPLAINTS
Region Noise complaints, 2020/21 Percentage increase vs 2019/20 Share of all complaints 2020/21
London 123,919 37 34
West Midlands 50,049 36 14
South East 43,522 32 12
Scotland 35,643 8 10
East of England 23,659 19 6
North West 18,433 27 5
Yorkshire and the Humber 17,167 12 5
East Midlands 15,763 37 4
South West 15,651 21 4
Wales 12,982 23 4
North East 6,504 34 2
Northern Ireland 5,632 -17 2
Total 368,924 28 100
Source:  Churchill Home Insurance    

The research found that people are most likely to have been affected by noise in London, where 51 per cent of people have been negatively impacted by their neighbours.

It is followed by those in the North East at 37 per cent, and the South West and Scotland both at 34 per cent.

Dudley in the West Midlands took the top spot for number of neighbour noise complaints, with 26,000 complaints made to councils.

Birmingham also made the top 10, with 10,100 complaints received. North Lanarkshire was the only Scottish council that made it into the top 10, receiving 9,100 noise complaints last year.

At the other end of the scale, Wiltshire received only nine complaints last year, North Kesteven received 13 and Tamworth received 37.

On a broader regional basis, London accounted for 34 per cent of all noise complaints last year, with an average of 38 complaints for every 1,000 households.

On a household basis, this is ahead of the West Midlands at 22 per 1,000, Scotland at 15 per 1,000 and the South East at 12 per 1,000.

Every region saw an increase in noise complaints in the year April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the previous year except for Northern Ireland.

Psychologist Donna Dawson, said: ‘The past 18 months have seen our behaviour change in so many ways. With most of us being limited to our homes on a daily basis, it is understandable that noise complaints have risen. 

‘Even small changes in sound can cause increased anxiety and stress for many people, especially if it disrupts home life and makes it difficult to relax, work or look after family.

‘It is always best to try speaking to a neighbour if you feel their noise is unreasonable, but do so when you are not feeling anxious or angry at the time.’

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Inside the tiny ‘smart home’ that will be sold in London for less than £300k

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Making homes affordable for first-time buyers is a problem that does not have one easy solution.  

With house prices having risen rapidly since the start of the pandemic, many are finding themselves priced out – especially in inner cities. 

But major housebuilder Barratt Homes thinks it has found a way for young people to climb on to the housing ladder without breaking the bank. 

The living area in Barratt's 'SMRT' home. The apartment comes in at just 37 square metres

The living area in Barratt’s ‘SMRT’ home. The apartment comes in at just 37 square metres

At its Eastman Village development in Harrow, North London,  it has built a tiny home measuring just 37 square metres or 400 sq ft. 

It may have the smallest floor plan that can be built under the Government’s minimum space standards, but Barratt describes the flat as ‘a forward-thinking luxury product that is perfectly proportioned’. 

Although the apartments might charitably be described as ‘cosy,’ the price is right, with homes starting at £290,000. This is £40,000 cheaper than the standard Barratt home in London. 

It says the tiny homes are designed to ‘help ease the squeeze experienced by London’s “generation rent”, who face ever-rising property prices and rental costs’. 

According to Halifax’s latest house price index, the average house price in London is currently £508,000; a figure which has increased by around £25,000 since the start of the pandemic. 

Barratt is calling the new design a ‘SMRT’ home, and launched off-plan sales at the development in Harrow at the weekend. 

If it is successful, it could roll out the pocket-sized apartments across the country – and prices outside of London would likely be even lower.  

This is Money went on a tour of the show apartment, and spoke to Barratt’s senior sales manager Joseph Antoniazzi about whether this is really what first-time buyers want. 

The flats have been designed by Barratt’s in-house design team, BD Living, and Blocc Interiors.  

They have aimed to make the most of what little space is available, for example by adding a built-in storage unit with shelves and cupboards around the bed, and a kitchen storage cupboard that houses the washer dryer but also has room for other bulky items such as a hoover or ironing board. 

According to Barratt, small is beautiful. Its marketing material for the apartments says: 

‘While the square footage may be smaller on paper, the illusion of space created by wide balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and clever interior layouts, means the apartments feel open, optimised, and modern. 

‘Storage in every nook and cranny means there is no need for clunky furniture like wardrobes, sideboards, and drawers.’ 

The bedroom in the SMRT home has storage for clothes built all the way around it

The bedroom in the SMRT home has storage for clothes built all the way around it 

The kitchen cupboards have pull-out shelves to store canned food and spices, and the worktops are slimmer than average to maximise the floor space, as is the dishwasher. 

‘We have maximised every inch and made sure the space is really functional,’ said Antoniazzi. 

There is space for a small dining table in between the kitchen area and living room. Antoniazzi says they initially installed a table that folded out from the wall, but that potential buyers did not respond well to it so it was changed.  

For those working from home, there is the option to have an ‘office niche’ which consists of a desk and storage in the living room, side-by-side with the television. 

The 'office niche' in the living area provides a small space in which to work from home

The ‘office niche’ in the living area provides a small space in which to work from home

Although this may work for a single person, it could present a challenge for a couple that were both working at home.

There is also the option to have a small dressing table in the bedroom, though this would need to sit behind the door. 

In the bathroom, there is a well-sized shower cubicle, which Antoniazzi said buyers preferred to a bath.  

The outdoor terrace is small, with room for two chairs and a small table, but it backs on to a larger shared garden which gives the illusion of space. 

The apartment comes with a small terrace which backs on to a larger shared garden

The apartment comes with a small terrace which backs on to a larger shared garden

For flats on upper floors, there would instead be a balcony.

Antoniazzi said the homes were designed for first-time buyers, key workers and students, and acknowledged that they would not be suitable for a family. 

‘It is very much first-time buyer driven,’ he said, adding that lifestyle changes during the pandemic had seen families move out of locations like Harrow to the countryside, and be replaced by renters from central London – as people from across the spectrum sought to move up a level in terms of space. 

‘Post-lockdown, we saw a change in the type of buyer that was coming to view our apartments in Harrow. 

‘Whereas previously it was couples and young families, we saw the profile change towards people who had previously been renting in central London and didn’t want to waste money on rent any more.’

The storage cupboard in the kitchen provides some space for household essentials

The storage cupboard in the kitchen provides some space for household essentials

He said the idea for the micro-apartments came from the fact that many of these potential buyers had saved up during the pandemic and were keen to get on the housing ladder, but needed something more affordable than the market average. 

Antoniazzi also said the small homes could become a more popular way of getting on the housing ladder when the Government’s Help to Buy scheme ends in 2023.  

Barratt has said that, if buyers respond well to these micro-apartments, they could build more in cities across the country. 

The apartments could work well for single occupiers, who often struggle to get a large enough mortgage because of salary requirements. 

Living there as a couple could be a squeeze – but the success of the SMRT homes will reveal whether first-time buyers think that is a price worth paying to get on the ladder.

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Family of Covid patient who left hospital urges people to follow ‘proper’ medical advice

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The family of a Covid-19 patient who last week left Letterkenny University Hospital after being encouraged by anti-vaccine campaigners has criticised those involved and encouraged people to follow “proper” medical advice.

Joe McCarron, from Dungloe, was the subject of a viral video in which a group of people insisted that he be released from the hospital, despite medical staff stating this would worsen his condition.

He left on Tuesday but returned to the hospital on Thursday in an ambulance. A spokesperson for his family on Sunday said Mr McCarron was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit but was showing signs of recovering despite Covid-19 having caused him “serious lung damage”.

They said Mr McCarron’s wife, Una, “would like to thank the staff and apologise for the actions of Joe’s so-called reckless friends earlier in the week.

“They did not help Joe’s recovery in any way. We would encourage everyone to follow proper medical advice.”

The family offered its thanks to those who had sent messages of support.

In the video, one activist said he was “rescuing” Mr McCarron and falsely claimed that treatment in the hospital would “kill” him.

One staff member told the man that leaving the hospital would risk “endangering” his life, but the activist said it would be better if he were to “die in the house than he dies here”.

Mr McCarron, who appeared to be struggling to breathe in the footage, then agreed to return home and was later shown in a video posted on social media saying that he felt much better and accusing the hospital of mistreating him.

In a statement last week, a spokeswoman for Saolta Hospital Group (SHG) which oversees Letterkenny Hospital, said it could not comment on individual cases, citing its legal and ethical obligations regarding patient confidentiality.

The group has previously said it is “gravely concerned” by a number of recent incidents in which groups of activists have attempted to spread disinformation about Covid-19 at hospitals.

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How to get the Warm Home Discount and why you should act fast

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Could YOU save £140 on energy bills with the Warm Home Discount? Some suppliers have opened applications… but you should act quickly

  • Thousands could save £140 on their energy bills through a Government scheme 
  • We reveal whether you could be eligible for the Warm Home Discount 
  • We also asked suppliers whether their applications are open yet  
  • Can you save money? Try our Compare the Market powered energy comparison 










Thousands of households are eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill this winter through the Warm Home Discount.

Low income homes and those receiving their pension could see a significant chunk taken off their bills if they sign up to the scheme in the next few weeks.

This will be particularly important as the new energy price cap level is set to kick in at the beginning of October, rising bills for millions of customers.

Customers are encouraged to apply as soon as their supplier opens applications as there is a limited number of discounts to go around. 

Thousands are eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill through the Warm Home Discount

Thousands are eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill through the Warm Home Discount

Several providers have said they will offer the discounts on a first come, first served basis meaning eligible households should act fast.  

This is Money has detailed exactly what the Warm Home Discount is, how you can apply and which energy suppliers have started taking applications for the scheme.

What is the scheme?

Eligible households could get £140 off their electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme which officially opens on 18 October 2021.

The money is not paid directly to customers but instead is a one-off discount on a home’s electricity bill between October and March.

Customers may be able to get the discount on their gas bill instead if their supplier provides them with both gas and electricity and should contact their provider to find out.

Am I eligible?

You could be eligible if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit – known as the ‘core group’.

If you are in this category, you will receive a letter between October and December 2021 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify.

Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.

If you have not received a letter and think you are eligible, contact your energy provider.  

Customers could also be eligible if they are on a low income and meet their energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘broader group’.

If in this category, you will have to apply for the discount through your provider which will decide who is eligible or not.

As the number of discounts is limited, customers are encouraged to apply as early as possible to ensure they can take advantage of the scheme.

Households can still qualify for the discount if they use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

Suppliers will tell you how you will get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

A number of providers have already opened their applications for the discount scheme

A number of providers have already opened their applications for the discount scheme

Which energy suppliers have opened applications?

Ovo, which also looks after SSE, said it doesn’t yet have a firm scheme opening date but it’s likely to be later this month.

It added its advice to customers at the moment would be to register their interest online and it will be sure to contact them with more information as soon as the scheme is open. 

British Gas said its scheme for 2021/22 is now open and customers can apply. 

EDF added its scheme is also now open and customers can apply on their website. 

The supplier said it encourages customers to apply as soon as possible as the scheme will be closed once it hits its maximum number of applications. 

It added it anticipates applying the rebate to eligible customers accounts by the end of February 2022. 

Octopus Energy said it has already opened its applications now. 

There is no specific deadline for applications but it will be mentioning the scheme to customers who might be able to benefit from being in the broader group. 

Bulb said customers in the broader group for the Warm Home Discount can now register their interest on its website and it will email them when applications open later this month.

It added it processes applications on a first come, first served basis so it encourages members to register their interest as soon as they can. 

Eon is now taking applications and is encouraging customers to apply as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Eon Next’s scheme will open in the coming weeks, but customers can register interest on the website now and it will contact them when it opens. 

Scottish Power added its applications had been open since 10 August.  

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