Coalition causes family splits in communities


 

downloadThe idea of “big society” looms as large over this government as Big Brother did over 1984. The big question is how is this idea different to previous Conservative thinking on the subject? As prime minister from 1979 to 1990, Mrs Thatcher told us there was no such thing as society. She said the state was inefficient as a service provider; that public expenditure inhibited wealth creation and created dependency, and that we should turn instead to the market.

 

She aimed to cut public expenditure. She reduced welfare benefits and stigmatized people receiving them as dependent and scroungers. She called for an expansion of self-help and voluntarism. Her critics said that she weakened UK economic performance, increased economic inequality and reduced social mobility. They argued that her reforms increased social divisions, undermined social cohesion and had particularly damaging effects on the regions, Scotland and Wales and their manufacturing industries.

 

She actually massively increased public expenditure on welfare benefits through increasing unemployment. Her reduction of expenditure on the health service seriously undermined its performance and meant that being seen as looking after the NHS has become a watchword ever since for any leader who wishes to be elected and remain in power.

 

By contrast, David Cameron has argued for “big society” as core to his policy approach and political belief. He believes that the state is inefficient as a service provider; that public expenditure inhibits wealth creation and creates dependency and we should instead turn to the market.

 

He has aimed to cut public expenditure. He has reduced welfare benefits and stigmatized people receiving them as dependent and scroungers. He has called for an expansion of self-help and voluntarism. He has presided over the weakening of UK economic performance. His period in office has witnessed the extension of economic inequality and reduced social mobility. His reforms have come in for criticism for increasing social divisions, undermining social cohesion and for having particularly damaging effects on the regions, Scotland and Wales and their manufacturing industries.

 

He is set on reducing public expenditure on welfare benefits, but rising unemployment through the loss of public and private sector jobs is likely to increase the welfare bill. There are widespread fears that his reorganisation of and reduction of expenditure on the NHS will seriously undermine its performance when people are used to seeing looking after the NHS as a watchword for any leader who wishes to be elected and remain in power.

 

So what is the difference between devaluing and discounting society and talking it up – between no society and “big society”? So far it’s difficult to see even a sliver of space between them, barring the direction of spin. Both seem to come with the same baggage. Why then should we expect the results of present policy with its talk of “big society” to be any different or any more successful than earlier talk of no society? This looks like a worrying case where history may be repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as even worse.

Food-banks-graph-2013During the pass few weeks my team just like other team Labour have been on the doorsteps there have been many people who are very low and middle incomes have been reporting to us that they have been penalized by both the Bedroom and Council taxes and some faced with evictions thanks to this coalition government whilst the cost of living have increased and some have to depend very heavily on food parcels.

I’m sure that many would have read in the national press of people being force out of their rented accommodation by privately owned landlords who have increased the rent. This because some councils has not built enough properties which is causing a major problems to the local population as people have been
throughout the London region has been forced to move to places like Birmingham and Manchester.

Bedroom-Tax-2785307It’s beggars believe this has split families and some have lost their local support network in their communities thanks to Thatcherism which this coalition are hell bent on carrying on under the guise of Big Society coupled by benefit caps. Mark my words this will come back to haunt this coalition but do they really care about communities in today’s world which I’m sure that most can answer.

Ever since Thatcher talked about there is no such thing as society this coalition has the very cheek to rebrand it as the Big Society and to top it off the further cheek of Lord Tebbit words during the 1980s “On Yer Bike which has come back to haunt this coalition under Iain Duncan Smith, Employment Minister, George Osbourne and David Cameron.

It beggars belief when I read or hear poorer people saying that they would rather vote for a conservative right leaning party than vote for a left leaning one. Conservatives are only ever interested in making rich people richer and it always is on the backs of the rest of us who are unfortunate not to have wealth, but we endure, we fly the fucking flags like idiots thinking all politicians are the same so why bother changing them in the first place right? Wrong, right leaning politicians wouldn’t have brought you the benefits of which you all take for granted and we would be either working for virtually nothing and for longer, no weekends, no annual holidays, no sick leave to name but a few, all brought to you by the sweat of those who gave a fuck and fought for it, sometimes paying with their lives. So before you all think seriously about voting for a rich mans party, think long and hard,do I enjoy these breaks or would you rather live to work?

So its no surprise to the many that religious leaders and faith groups have called on the government to take action to tackle a “national crisis” of rising hunger and food poverty, as latest figures suggest more than a million Britons have been helped by food banks in the past year.

More than 40 Anglican bishops and 600 church leaders have signed a letter, calling on David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to tackle the causes of food poverty, including low wages, rising food prices and an inadequate welfare benefit safety net.

The letter said the period running up to Easter had been a time of “sorrowful and deep reflection” for people of all faiths on what it calls the terrible rise in hunger in Britain, and urged society to “begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis”.

The document, signed by 45 of the UK’s Anglican 59 bishops, including those from Durham, Southwark, Bath and Wells, St Albans, Coventry and Edinburgh, although not by the Archbishops of Canterbury or York – calls on the main parties to engage with and support the findings of a newly created all-party parliamentary inquiry into the causes of food poverty and hunger.

The religious leaders continue: “Hope is not an idle force. Hope drives us to act. It drives us to tackle the growing hunger in our midst. It calls on each of us, and government too, to act to make sure that work pays, that food markets support sustainable and healthy diets, and that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.”

The letter coincides with the release of data by the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, which reveals that more than 900,000 people received food parcels in 2013-14, a 163% increase.

It is the second time in two months that church leaders have courted political controversy by publicly urging ministers to take action on food poverty, and reflects widespread feeling among faith groups involved in poverty projects that the government has failed to grasp the extent of the hardship faced by low-income families. In February, 27 bishops wrote to the Daily Mirror saying that Cameron had a moral duty to act on the growing number going hungry.

The archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, said the new initiative demonstrated frustration that ministers had not responded properly to that letter. “What we are saying to the government is … can you at least acknowledge that there is a real problem here?” He added: “It’s incredible that in a country as relatively wealthy as ours, where we talk of economic recovery, there are still people who have to depend on food handouts to feed their families.”

The Trussell Trust said its figures represented “just the tip of the iceberg” of food poverty and demonstrated that many British citizens on low incomes, especially those reliant on benefits, were finding it harder to make ends meet. Over half of its food parcels went to people facing welfare cuts or delays in benefit payments, it said, in a direct challenge to ministers who have steadfastly refused to accept that there is any link between cuts to social security and the explosion in food bank use.

Chris Mould, chairman of the trust, said: “It’s been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing seemingly unfair and harsh benefits sanctions.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the Trussell figures were potentially misleading because it was unclear whether they had double-counted people who had made repeat visits to food banks. The spokesperson said: “We’re spending £94bn a year on working age benefits so that the welfare system provides a safety net to millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.The truth is that the employment rate is the highest it’s been for five years and our reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities by promoting work and helping people to lift themselves out of poverty.”

The Trussell figures showed 913,138 people – including 330,205 children – were the beneficiaries of its food parcels in 2013-14, up from 346,992 in 2012-13. The main reason people came to the food banks for help was as a result of people being left impoverished by welfare changes, cuts and delays, it said.

Its figures understated the likely level of people going hungry, it added, because they did not include thousands of people helped by non-Trussell food banks and soup kitchens, those who had no access to a food bank, those too ashamed to turn to charity food, or those who were coping by going without food or buying less.

A separate survey of 130 Trussell food banks found that 83% reported that “sanctioning” – when job centres stop benefit payments to claimants for at least a month as a punishment for breaches of benefit conditions such a missing a job interview – was causing rising numbers to turn to charity food. Trussell, a Christian charity, currently oversees 404 food banks.

Other drivers of food bank demand were incomes failing to keep pace with rising living costs, low pay, and under-employment. Trussell said in addition to providing food parcels it was also providing essentials like washing powder, nappies and hygiene products to struggling families.

Other signatories to the bishops’ letter, organised by the End Hunger Fast campaign, include representatives of all the main christian denominations, including catholics, methodists, baptists, and quakers, as well as groupings such as the Evangelical Alliance. There are no Muslim signatories to the letter but a number of mosque and community-based faith projects are now active providing food aid.

A separate letter signed by 33 Jewish religious leaders calling on the prime minister to take action to ensure that no UK families go hungry will be published on Thursday tomorrow. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism, said synagogues and Jewish welfare organisations were seeing first-hand evidence of food poverty.

Well done for Maria Eagle, the shadow environment secretary, said the Trussell figures told the “shocking truth” of Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. “Instead of hiding behind the Tory myth that says the increase in food banks is driving demand, it is time ministers got a grip and took this issue seriously.

Can Labour win the Local and European Elections in 2014


I went to one of Ed Miliband’s event on 8 April and listened with great interest but could not wondering if Labour could really win the European and Local  Elections in 2014 and has Labour smelt the coffee.

Ever since Ed Miliband declared his support for localism Labour figures have been looking for concrete evidence of his commitment to devolving power from Whitehall. It was one of the motivations behind the recent letter  to the Guardian from left-wing think-tanks which called for “devolution of state institutions, by giving away power and resources to our nations, regions, cities, localities and, where possible, directly to the people.”

Ed-Miliband-and-Ed-Balls--006In a major speech on the economy tomorrow in Birmingham, Miliband will go a significant way to meeting their demands. Announcing the interim conclusions of Andrew Adonis’s growth review, he will vow to end a “century of centralisation” by at least doubling the level of devolved funding to city and county regions to £20billion over the next parliament (a figure that Labour sources emphasis is the “bare minimum”). As one shadow cabinet member recently put it to me, to see the party’s commitment to devolution, “follow the money”. Alongside this, regions will be offered new powers over transport and housing infrastructure, the Work Programme, and apprenticeships and skills, a move described by the party as “the biggest devolution of power to England’s great towns and cities in a hundred years”.

photoMiliband and Ed Balls are to write to the leaders of all local authorities, universities and Local Enterprise Partnerships asking them “to draw up joint plans to boost growth and private sector jobs in their regions.” Those regions that bring forward plans in the first nine months of the next parliament, and that meet the tests set by the Adonis review, will receive a “devolution deal” in the first spending review period of a Labour government.

The aim of the policy is to bridge the huge productivity gap between London and the regions (thus rebalancing the economy), and to create the kind of high-skilled, well-paid jobs lacking in so many areas. As Ed Miliband said on 8 April: “Britain is the country of the industrial revolution and Birmingham was one of the great cities of that revolution. But the country of the industrial revolution has ignored the lessons of its own history for far too long: the country that once built its prosperity on the great towns and cities, like Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff, has become a country which builds its prosperity far too much in one city: London.

“We need a prosperous London, but we also need to build prosperity outside it. Today, every region outside London is below the national average when it comes to productivity, while London is 40% above it.”

Given the fiscal constraints a Labour government would face, Miliband is clear that it is the private sector, not the state, that will be the primary source of new jobs. After addressing prices (with announcements on energy and housing) and wages (by promising to strengthen the minimum wage and spread use of the living wage),  Miliband’s focus on employment is the next strand of his plan to tackle the “cost-of-living crisis” (see my blog from this morning on why he’s sticking with this line ).

photo (3)In his speech, he contrasted his commitment to devolution with the inaction of the coalition. Referencing Michael Heseltine’s government-commissioned growth review No Stone Unturned (which was similarly launched in Birmingham), he will say: “This government had an opportunity to make a difference. Michael Heseltine’s review called for a massive devolution of funding from Whitehall to the cities. But David Cameron and George Osborne allocated just £2 billion for a Local Growth Fund in their Spending Review for 2015-16.  The best report this government has produced has been the one that they have most ignored.

“We can and must do a lot better than that. It is why nine months ago, I asked Andrew Adonis to recommend the way forward for Labour. We have heard his interim conclusions today and his message is clear: devolving power from Whitehall to our towns and cities is essential to generate the new jobs we need.”

photo (4)It would be fascinating to know what Heseltine, who shared a platform with Adonis at an event on London  last week (the two are long-standing mutual admirers), makes of Labour’s decision to go far further than the Tories in embracing his conclusions. Perhaps he’ll be kind enough to tell us…

One other figure closely involved in the speech was Chuka Umunna (another Heseltine fan), who made the case for regional economic devolution in a piece for Centre for Cities  in February, and who, along with Jon Cruddas, Liz Kendall and Hilary Benn, is the most fervent advocate of localism in the shadow cabinet. His “Agenda 2030 ” is crucial to Miliband’s ambition to build “a different kind of economy”.

Having so clearly recognised the merits of devolution, Miliband will now be pushed to go further, for instance by devolving housing benefit (allowing councils to invest any savings in housebuilding) and lifting the cap on council borrowing to allow local authorities to borrow to build. But those who have previously doubted his commitment to giving power away will welcome the speech as a significant downpayment.

photoThen I started to reminisce on what Labour had achieved whilst they were in government I came to the conclusion that they done:

Labour’s social policy was a success, and this is verified by the LSE’s definitive survey of the Blair-Brown years: “There is clear evidence that public spending worked, contrary to popular belief.” Nor did Labour overspend. It inherited “a large deficit and high public sector debt”, with spending “at a historic low” – 14th out of 15 in the EU.

Labour spending increased, but until the crash was still “unexceptional”, either by historic UK standards or international ones. Until 2007 “national debt levels were lower than when Labour took office”. After years of neglect, Labour inherited a public realm in decay, squalid public buildings and unforgivably neglected human lives that formed a social deficit much more expensive as any Treasury debt. Ministers brimming with optimism set about rooting out the causes of poverty. Tony Blair set up the social exclusion unit inside No 10. “Social exclusion” signified not just poverty, but its myriad causes and symptoms, with 18 task forces examining education, babies’ development, debt, addiction, mental health, housing and much more. Policies followed and so did improvements.

John Prescott’s department published an annual Opportunities for All report that monitored these social targets: 48 out of 59 indicators improved.

So when Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith or Nick Clegg sneer that all Labour did was give tax credits to lift families just over the poverty line  “poverty plus a pound” they lie through their teeth. Contrary to Tory claims, benefits were not Labour’s main instrument of social change: the benefit budget fell as a proportion of spending, outstripped by increases in health, education and other social services.

Things got better with money mostly well spent. That’s not the case now. Labour’s years of social progress are being flung deliberately into reverse in the NHS, in poverty, in opportunities. The ill-effects in education from such disasters as the huge cut in Sure Start and childcare are beginning to, to emerge. But moving backwards on just about every social measure is certainly happening: the coalition’s “more for less” is exposed as pretence. They are simply raising more money for the rich. And all because of their driving ideology

The Coalition have borrowed more in 4 years than labour did in 13 and have nothing to show for it except a handful of wealthier millionaires and the return of absolute poverty.

The aim of the Tories and of big business, ever since 1979 and accelerated under this awful regime, has been to crush ordinary people.

Perhaps the biggest ‘growth industry’ has been the private ‘security industry’ and the explosion in the number of debt collectors and bailiff outfits. These cowboys daily flout the law and intimidate those they come into contact with with the sole aim of screwing as much out of them as they can.

Debt collection outfits harass and bully people in contravention of the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997 and will not stop unless they are threatened in writing with legal action. They also attempt to get payment for statute barred debts… that is those over 6 years old. They lie and cheat in pursuit of these and again they face no sanction for so doing.

Bailiffs cheat, lie, bully and intimidate vulnerable people by physical means and they attempt to screw people over by levying massive and utterly unjustifiable charges which are also fraudulently claimed, ie by attempting to charge for visits to their victims that never took place.

I know of many activists have who has campaigned for localism for years, the announcement by Ed Miliband of the end of a century of centralism is a big day. If Labour win in 2015 there will be a huge devolution of power and money to England’s towns and cities to promote jobs and growth, starting with devolving the work programme, skills funding, transport and housing – a minimum of £20 bn over the next Parliament that will no longer be controlled by Whitehall, but will give every area of the country the chance to succeed. I also that some activist will say that Ed Miliband complains that “the middle class, once the solid centre of our economy, is being hollowed out with growing insecurity and the prospect, for the first time since the war, that their children will be worse off than they are.”

By coincidence that’s what’s happening to the working class, but it doesn’t get a mention.

Marxists, including Miliband’s father Ralph, recognise that Britain’s industrial revolution, pre-eminent trading status and national wealth were capitalised by imperial conquest and overseas exploitation.

Domestically, the hewing of coal, production of steel, processing of metals, timber and other materials into finished goods and their transport to markets by road, rail, sea and air were all carried out by the working class, providing huge profits for capitalists.

Yet, according to Miliband, it was the middle class that created this wealth.

Miliband uses the terms middle class, middle income and middle Britain interchangeably, compressing these sectors into his mythical “squeezed middle.”

What does he think that the working class does with its time these days?

There are no longer huge detachments of workers in the extractive and metal-bashing industries. The economy has changed, productive processes have developed and computerisation has transformed the world of work.

But members of the working class still make the economy tick.

Their labour power provides the profits to allow a tiny minority of society to live in luxury while lecturing us all to work harder and appreciate the “real world.”

The working class has always been menaced by unemployment, with a minority denied a job and told that their state benefits could be withdrawn unless they undercut the wages negotiated by unions for employed workers.

Holding down or, even better for the capitalist class, reducing benefits is the favoured means of Establishment politicians to increase the desperation of the unemployed.

That’s why Miliband’s decision to order Labour MPs to vote for George Osborne’s policy of setting a welfare benefit cap in stone for future governments is a betrayal of not only claimants but of the entire working class.

Miliband condemns the Chancellor’s economic programme as a “race to the bottom,” in which “wages for most people will continue to lag far behind the wealth being created and middle-income families will still be locked out of the benefits of growth.”

But by supporting Osborne’s welfare cap, the Labour leader is throwing in his hand with the most viciously right-wing government in living memory.

Worse still, by championing the “living standards of middle Britain” while agreeing to screw the worst-off workers living on reduced benefits, Miliband drives a wedge into working-class solidarity.

He recognises the reality of Britain’s economy in which “a few people at the top scoop more and more of the rewards.”

Yet, in contrast to his willingness to put the boot into those at the bottom of the heap, he has no plan to drive greater social justice by raising taxation on the avaricious elite enriching itself on the backs of the working class, including Miliband’s “squeezed middle.”

Miliband has clearly been influenced by US politics where the working class has been consigned to obscurity as a communist concept and the vast majority of the country are redesignated middle class.

It’s nonsense across the pond and it’s no less ridiculous here.

The working class cannot be wished away or neglected on a political whim, as Miliband may yet discover to his cost.

I say let us not forget where we are all from and move with the times as I’m sure that both coalition and UKIP will not address this issue. I will urge people to vote Labour on 22 May for both European and Local Elections.  

 

 

Another attck on Bedroom Tax


Firstly I would like to thank all the Branch Labour Parties across the UK for inviting me to help them on Labour doorstep and information sharing its has been a pleasure of knowing what this coalition is doing to their communities and the amount of Foodbanks which has sharply increased and other community issue which affects them especially the most dreaded Bedroom Tax. Unfortunately councils have had a shotgun put to their heads as it is part of legislation which urgently needs to be repealed. Many people are suffering because he or she has an extra bedroom and on benefits which they have to pay for it and this leaves them short on money to live on. It’s been a very well know factor that private land lords charges extortionate prices for rent compared to public sector otherwise known as social housing.

This where I take issues with both previous and present UK governments for not building enough affordable housing or social housing I’m of the opinion that it was put on the back-burner to create a backlog of overcrowding overnight as there is not houses are being built fast enough. This may be hot potatoes so it’s no wonder why private landlord can get away with murder by not renting to people who are job seekers or benefits in some cases.

A Tory minister unmasked the real motivation behind the cruel bedroom tax yesterday by admitting the policy was never about saving taxpayers’ cash. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed stripping Britain’s poorest tenants of housing benefit has saved the Treasury £1 million a day since last April.

But Tory Employment Minister Esther McVey admitted yesterday that the policy “was never all about saving money” – a claim at odds with the line her government used.

_73679530_idsMs McVey made the short but stark comment on BBC 5 Live radio in an interview before the first anniversary of the bedroom tax on April 1

Disabled People Against Cuts said: “At last we have some truth from the mouth of a government minister.”

Outraged and it showed the policy was another Tory attempt to “inflict misery on ordinary people struggling with rising costs of living.”

disabled_people_against_cuts“The situation is clear under this government we not only face an erosion of rights, but continuous attacks on our living standards, homes and security. “Enough is enough.”

Bedroom tax revenue data was published by the DWP following a freedom of information request by the BBC to coincide with the policy’s first anniversary.

It also revealed that 30,000 people – or just 6 per cent – have reportedly downsized as a result of the housing cut.
Almost five times that number have fallen behind on their rent and been forced towards eviction.

Ms McVey insisted most of those people were in debt before the tax kicked in.

Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Bryant said the figures proved it was a policy “designed as a tax on the poorest and most vulnerable.

“Under this government housing benefit bills are rising, not falling and the bedroom tax has forced thousands into debt and to rely on food banks to survive,” he said.

tory (1)The loophole in the government’s legislation which has led to more than 20,000 people being wrongly charged the bedroom tax threatens to cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

Mr Bryant added that Labour would scrap the bedroom tax if it takes power at the next general election if the government do not back down.

But Labour leaders face accusations of hypocrisy after voting for George Osborne’s welfare spending cap on Wednesday.

Experts believe Labour would have to make harsh cuts of its own in order to scrap the bedroom tax and stay within the new £119 billion welfare spending limit.

Jeremy Corbyn said that his party’s support for the government-proposed budget was a “huge mistake.”

He said: “It’s wrong to place a cap on social security spending as it’s impossible to predict what demand will be in future.

“We should stick to the principle of preventing anyone in our society of becoming destitute.”

Mr Corbyn was one of the 13 Labour backbenchers who rebelled against the party whip and voted against the cap.

Council budgets and services hit hardest by this coalition


councilI kid you not when I say that councils funding is hardest hit since the formation of this coalition the way forward would be to lobby your local Councillors, Member of Parliament, and Member of European Parliament to change the legislation and here is the reasons why:

Coalition Government set out the enormous challenge councils across the UK and Wales facing in the years ahead. Sadly the prospects have become even worse in the course of the year and the Government seems determined to press ahead with it’s planned programme of cuts to councils funding right up to 2018. Coalition also demonstrated last year how the grant cuts have been unfairly distributed across the country with areas of greatest need and deprivation receiving the biggest cuts.  This unfairness has been repeated in the latest financial settlement for 2014-15 and 2015-16 announced in February. The average cut in Spending Power as defined by the Government for 2014/15 across England will be £72:00 per dwelling but the indicative figures for next year 2015/16 are even more unfair.

2294432851Whilst the national average will be around £46:00 there will be many authorities in South and East of England who will actually receive increase funding in that year for example Wokingham will receive £55:00 more per dwelling. Counties such as Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Hampshire, and Surrey, towns including Poole, and Windsor and Maidenhead and shire districts like Mid Sussex, Epsom and Ewell will also see an increase in funding in 2015/16. As a result of the grant cuts and other pressures the coalition now had to identify a further £86 Million of cuts in their budget for 2014/15 on top of £376 Million already made between 2010 and 2014. Next year the coalition will have to make even bigger cuts currently estimated at more than £200 Million over and above the £86 Million for this year.

7881Councils rely on central government for most of its income only about a tenth comes from Council Tax so these cuts have a huge impact. Councils flexibilities is reduced even further because much of the money councils received is embarked for specific services like schools they have very little say on how it is spent. At the same time there are increased pressures for spending on statutory services like social care which they cannot avoid paying for. It comes as no surprise that councils has to make racial changes to the way they have to work and achieve significant efficiency savings for several years under both  this political administration and the last. Some councils have to reduce their workforce by 34% since 2010 and a further 2000 jobs will go in the year ahead. However all of this becomes harder each year. Councils have found it extremely difficult to maintain the full range of services they provide. Notwithstanding this financial hardship they have taken the decision to invest allegedly round £9.3 million in 2014/15 into Children’s Safeguarding and corresponding amounts in subsequent years. This has not been easy and has increased the pressure on other services.

It is inevitable that next year councils will have to make hard decisions about which optional services to stop providing altogether and may find it difficult to maintain stationary services to the standard expected. The cuts from 2015 on-wards will create a further financial crisis in many councils across the country. Like it or lump it the scale of cuts means councils needs to completely rethink the role and structure of councils and how they achieve the outcomes they seek sadly this called the end of local government as we all know it. Councils cannot simply carry on doing things as they have always done it or delivering the services they have become used to for decades.

In 2013 councils have set up the most comprehensive review of services they have conducted. The reviews came up with some common approaches to change and they published these in series of “Green Papers” to support a wide dialogue about the way forward. This was forward by a “White Paper” published in December 2013 which set out the conclusions of that dialogue and their detailed proposal for 2014/15 for formal consultation. The white paper also outlined how councils has to change to think long term so that they can begin to make decisions within a broader framework that councils can deliver better services in future.

Coalition runing round like headless chickens


By popular demand I now present you with a wonderful Youtube clip a must see:

Millions of people unemployed or under-employed, homelessness numbers increasing, child poverty levels rocketing, pay cuts for most workers, childcare costs soaring, fuel and food prices outstripping inflation figure, housing costs becoming more unaffordable…..and what does this Govt do about it ? It gives us 1p off a £3+ pint of beer and cuts the tax on Bingo Hall owners !!!

And you want to vote for this bunch of….?

download

Chancellor George Osborne’s budget on Wednesday confirmed that the ruthless Con-Dem assault on the poor, the low paid, the unemployed, the sick and the disabled not only continues but will escalate.

There will be no reversal of the austerity drive against public services, welfare benefits and the employment terms and conditions of public-sector workers.

Why so?

photo (2)Because, as last weekend’s Scottish labour conference recognised, austerity is indeed working – for the rich and big business. It was never intended primarily to reduce the state’s financial deficit. If it were, City of London bankers and other speculators would be punishing Osborne for his spectacular failure.

In his contrived “emergency” budget of June 2010, the Chancellor had boasted that annual government borrowing would be reduced to £60bn (or 3.5 per cent of GDP) by this year. In reality, it is now £108bn (6.6 per cent of Britain’s economic output).

The national debt would reach 70 per cent of GDP and begin to decline. It currently stands at 75 per cent and is rising not falling.

Osborne has little or no hope of eliminating the deficit in 2018 as planned (but orginally set for 2015), without even deeper cuts in public spending, probably combined with further rises in regressive taxation such as VAT and excise duties.

Imposing an annual spending cap on welfare – currently set at £119bn in real terms – throughout the next parliament will be central to this intensified austerity drive.

Astonishingly, the Labour “opposition” wants such a cap – albeit set at a higher level – to include the state retirement pension, so that it can be under the cosh as well.

How the cap will be used to clobber various unemployment, disability, maternity and other payments will doubtless be unveiled in another “emergency” Budget after the 2015 general election.

In the meantime, Osborne will pretend to be “upset” that the news headlines concentrate more on his tax relief for bingo, beer and cider than on his strategic genius.

No, the City is pleased with this latest budget. All those donations to the Conservative Party represent money well spent.

The austerity strategy is delivering lower taxes on the rich and big business, more loot for the banks in the shape of “quantitative easing,” weaker bargaining power on the part of organised labour and the privatisation of public services including Royal Mail, probation services and, in England at least, the NHS and secondary education.

photo (3)Despite rampant crookery, fraud and incompetence in the City of London, the banksters are being shielded from the retribution they so richly deserve.

The overall result has been a substantial depression in real wages (by an unprecedented 9 per cent since the coalition seized office) and – for most monopolies in most sectors of the economy – the maintenance or expansion of profits.

All the talk about banking reforms, tighter regulation and clampdowns on corporate tax avoidance and bonuses has been just so much hot air.

As usual, the main winners in this budget are big business and the super-rich.

A fresh series of tax relief measures will enable manufacturing and energy corporations and the property developers to boost their profits still further. Cuts in corporation tax and final abolition of the top rate of income tax will proceed as planned.

Just as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is about to publish its most alarming findings so far, the Chancellor proposes to scrap the “escalator” increase in tax on companies with high carbon emissions.

While some of the world’s most eminent scientists warn that higher temperatures, more floods and wilder weather will chop crop yields, spread water and air borne diseases and displace millions more people, Osborne does Prime Minister Cameron’s bidding to “get rid of all the green crap.”

Interestingly, the Chancellor subsequently blamed the EU emissions trading system for placing British firms at a disadvantage, thereby requiring his tax relief. That the ETS is a racket, giving EU monopolies a licence to speculate while buying pollution rights from the Third World, was evident from its introduction in 2005.

Predictably, with next year’s general election looming ever larger, Wednesday’s Budget contained some sweeteners for the electorate. These include a higher starting threshold for income tax – due to kick in on the eve of polling day on May 7 – and a package of state subsidies for childcare.

Reforms and tax concessions relating to personal savings will, by definition, benefit only those people who can afford to save up to £15,000 a year.

Crucially, many of these will be key electors in constituencies where the electoral struggle will be between the Tories, Lib Dems and Ukip.

The Help to Buy scheme which subsidises buyers of new houses and guarantees repayments to their mortgage lenders is being extended for four years beyond 2016, even though the consequences might well be a housing price bubble followed by a slump and negative equity.

The Treasury reckons the scheme will stimulate the construction of 120,000 new private-sector houses over the whole period.

Yet Britain needs 250,000 new homes to be completed every single year. Most of those have to be affordable for people on low and middle incomes.

So far, the government has pledged to ensure that just 150,000 of these are built throughout the whole current parliamentary term.

Public spending on new council and social housing has been cut since 2010 by at least half or almost £2bn a year even with the New Homes Bonus, while tenants face higher rents to make up some of the shortfall.

Incredibly, the government is placing its faith and public money in property developers and the private rented sector, for example through the £1bn Build to Rent fund.

In response to the Budget, some of Labour’s anti-toff rhetoric has been magnificent but it is not class war.

It needs to be translated into policies. At the moment, the Shadow Cabinet is committed to maintaining the public sector pay freeze, abiding by Tory-Lib Dem spending plans for one year after the general election and sticking to a welfare spending cap for the entire parliamentary term.

This will not set the voters on fire to ensure a Labour victory at the polls. But it underlines the need to build the Labour party into a powerful mass movement against austerity and privatisation. In alliance with the trade unions, it will be needed as much after May 2015 as it is today.

In the meantime, there is vital work to do, persuading people across Britain that austerity is not necessary and that there is an alternative, embodied in the policies of the Labour party and the will of the peoples power to come out to vote Labour.

Well many of you may have read in all the right wing rags that Boris Johnson will or being encouraged stand as Member of Parliament. Some say it’s a gimmick to boost the Conservatives who knows what’s taking place only the man himself and he is keeping it close to his chest.

Could Boris Johnson be the next leader of the Conservatives and the LibDems are in panic mode as they know full well that their days are over. I’m sure many Conservatives both publicly and privately would enjoy the return of Boris as that would put a real dent to George Osborne, and Teresa May campaign for leadership challenge to David Cameron as he is not popular with his party.

David Cameron takes the view it’s better to keep your friends close and to keep your enemies closer to your chest. I’m sure many would have read and watched the budget most of the budget is geared up to sure up the Conservative votes which would have gone to UKIP which I have to say nice gimmick to try win back their voters.

hatedimagesFor this reason the LibDems are looking to Labour for a sweetheart deal. However there are many on my side of Labour Party will feel betrayed if and when a deal takes place with the LibDems and many have said both publicly and privately not in our name although it’s still early days yet.

Douglas Alexander is correct in saying He said he was “working and planning for a majority Labour government”.

Douglas%20Alexander_Glasgow%202014_145He called the Lib Dems “the enablers of the Conservatives” and said Labour would hold them to account for policies such as raising tuition fees.

Mr Alexander, who is directing the party’s election strategy, spoke at the Scottish Labour conference in Perth.

In an interview last month, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg talked openly about the possibility of a coalition between his party and Labour, saying the latter had “changed”.

nick-clegg_1573856cBut he insisted his first demand in any coalition negotiations would be: “Don’t break the bank.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was not “interested” in discussing the possibility of a coalition. Mr Alexander told the conference on Saturday the 2015 election was “quintessentially winnable” for Labour.

He continued: “The Liberal Democrats want to pretend that they are the internal opposition to the Conservatives – they’re not the internal opposition, they are the enablers of the Conservatives.

“The reason David Cameron is sitting in Downing Street is because Nick Clegg is sitting next to him at the cabinet table.

“It was Nick Clegg, Malcolm Bruce, Robert Smith, Danny Alexander, all the rest of them, they voted for the bedroom tax, voted to triple tuition fees, and have got it wrong on the economy month after month after month. We need to hold them to account for that.

“In that sense anybody who suggests we should try and have a coalition with them, it’s nonsense.”

The shadow foreign secretary said Labour would “build momentum” for the election from this September’s referendum on Scottish independence, adding: “We will deliver a majority Labour government.”

He said the Tories were “in wholesale retreat across the United Kingdom”, with only one MP in Scotland and no elected councillors in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield or Newcastle.

He added that “the cost of living crisis” would be the “beating heart of our campaign” and “the defining question of the general election.”

Which leads to another subject matter Lord Tebbit has called on the government to investigate if people using food banks are in fact spending their money on junk food.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday night, the Conservative peer dismissed the growth of food banks, saying “there is always a near-infinite demand for valuable goods that are given away free”.

“One can notice it even in the catering departments of this building,” Tebbit continued. “If food is given away at prices grossly below market value, more is used. Would my noble friend initiate some research into the sales of junk food in the areas where people are relying for their basic foods on food banks?”

Earlier in the debate, Lord de Mauley, the Tory environment minister, told the chamber that he did not believe the government should get involved in the growth of food banks. “Britain has a great tradition of charitable giving, and it would be a bad day on which we started to interfere with that,” he said, drawing gasps from several peers.

He rejected Tebbit’s request for an investigation into junk food purchases in the areas where food banks are growing.

Tebbit’s comments echo those of Lord Freud, the millionaire Tory minister, who in July last year told the House of Lords that there is no evidence that the growth of food banks is linked to growing poverty and hunger – merely that people wish to get food for free.

“Food from a food bank—the supply—is a free good, and by definition there is an almost infinite demand for a free good,” he said.

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks, has previously categorically denied free food, rather than desperation, is the motivation for people to visit their facilities. “Everyone who comes to a Trussell Trust foodbank is referred by a frontline organisation, people can’t just turn up asking for free food,” the Trust said.

“If someone does come to a foodbank without a voucher, the foodbank will talk to the client about why they need the foodbank and put them in touch with the most appropriate agency to help them.”

Over 50% of referral agents to the Trust’s food banks are statutory agencies and referrers include doctors, social workers, schools liaison officers and Citizens Advice Bureaux staff.

Tebbit has been outspoken this week on his opposition to the Bedroom Tax, allying himself with Labour leader Ed Miliband on the issue. “I worry about what Labour chooses to call the bedroom tax,” he said at a Bow Group meeting. “Because so often what is a spare room is in fact a vital part of the looking after an elderly person. It enables their relatives to come, it enables carers to be there.”

He added: “I think we introduced that rather without thinking it through very well, and I think that’s costing us.

Is Lord Tebbit right in thinking about the Bedroom Tax when he said:

“I worry about what Labour chooses to call the bedroom tax,” he said. “Because so often what is a spare room is in fact a vital part of the looking after an elderly person. It enables their relatives to come, it enables carers to be there.”

He added: “I think we introduced that rather without thinking it through very well, and I think that’s costing us.”

Tebbit made the comments on Wednesday evening at an event in parliament held by The Bow Group. Delivering the conservative think-tank’s first Annual State of the Conservative Party Address, he said the chances of the Conservatives winning the next election were “not looking too hopeful”.

Under the coalition’s policy, families receive less housing benefit if they are deemed to have more bedrooms in their home than they need. Ministers insist the change is necessary to reduce the housing benefit bill and also free up much needed living space.

Tebbit’s comments ally him, unusually, with Ed Miliband. The Labour Party has said the measure unfairly targets poorer people as well as the disabled and has pledged to abolish it should the party win power in 2015.

The veteran Tory peer, who is no cheerleader for David Cameron or the coalition, told Conservative activists that the leadership of his party needed to woo back Ukip voters if it had any chance of winning the next election.

“David Cameron could only manage 10.7 million [votes in 2010], that was simply not good enough, there was really no excuse for it,” he said.

“His efforts to gather Lib Dem support meant he reinforced the conviction of Lib Dem voters that the Lib Dems were right and we left many of our voters lost.”

Cameron alluded, perhaps unintentionally, to his failure to secure a majority at the 2010 election during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday when he conceded to an MP that he was “not the world’s biggest expert in campaigns”.

Tebbit is a fierce critic of Cameron’s attempts to modernise the Conservative Party and blames the strategy for the party’s current inability to overturn Labour’s poll lead.

He said that should Ukip come top in this May’s European elections, as is widely predicted, then the Conservatives would need to sign an electoral pact with Nigel Farage to prevent Labour winning in 2015.

He said local Tory parties should look at whether it was the Conservative or Ukip candidate that was most likely to beat the Labour or Lib Dem challenger – and then vote accordingly.

“Where we look at a constituency we should say who has the best chance of ensuring we do not get a Lib Dem or Labour member elected,” he said.

“If it’s a Tory, Ukip ought to withdraw, if it looks to be Ukip then we should withdraw and tell our voters they should go that way.”

Tebbit also said that the coalition had been a mistake and the sooner it was ditched the better – even if it meant forcing a general election. “The coalition has gone past its sell by date, it’s beginning to smell a bit,” he said.

However despite his hatred of the coalition, Tebbit said he did not object to all the Lib Dem ministers in government. “The chief secretary to the Treasury is one of the best of them,” he said. The compliment is unlikely to be received warmly by its target, Danny Alexander, who has in the past been accused of being too close to George Osborne.

Whilst Staffers from the Conservatives Cabinet ministers have given personal staff huge pay hikes while restricting public sector workers to below-inflation rises.

The meagre increases for workers mean they are taking a pay cut in real terms – while some special advisers are enjoying bumper rises of more than a third of their salaries.

The special adviser to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith received a massive 36 per cent salary boost last year.

David Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn got a hefty 12 per cent increase from £125,000 to £140,000 – which means he now earns more than twice the £66,396 salary of an MP.

And Home Secretary Theresa May’s private office aides Fiona Cunningham and Nick Timothy enjoyed whopping 14 per cent rises, taking their pay from £65,000 to £74,000.

Special advisers, known as “spads”, are temporary civil servants who give political advice to ministers.

Mr Duncan Smith bumped up his spad Philippa Stroud’s pay last year from £69,250 to £94,000.

Mark Serwotka, general ­secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman explained that pay rises for spads have to be approved by a special committee, which is chaired by Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

He said: “The pay of some individual advisers has been ­adjusted to reflect an ­increase in responsibilities.”

Although the Tory-led Coalition had promised to clamp down on spads, their numbers have soared since 2010.

Shadow Cabinet Office Min­is­ter Chi Onwurah said: “Ministers are happy to sign off on massive wage increases for their political ­advisers.

“Yet nurses and thousands of other health workers are ­singled out not to receive a one per cent pay rise.”

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt flat-out refused an across-the-board ­salary rise, recommended by an official pay review board, to thousands of NHS staff.

Pay increases for junior public sector workers have been below inflation for four years.

That means they are taking real-terms wage cuts while the cost of living in Britain has soared over the past few years.

As a result, the average public-sector worker is £3,700 worse off over this period, ­according to research by experts VocaLink.

But top civil servants pocketed more than £140million on top of their pay last year – despite a Government promise to end Whitehall’s bonus culture.

Almost 900 members of the elite Senior Civil Service received bonuses averaging £9,700, with one Ministry of Defence ­mandarin getting £62,422.

photoLabour MP Keith Vaz said: “Senior civil servants should not receive special treatment.” So its no surprised that public sector workers are very angry with the coalition.

So do continue to run around like headless chickens coalition and many of will be voting for Labour come 22 May 2014 in European and Local Government elections.

Response to the Coalition Budget


photo (3)Some say that politicians are out of touch with the real world and love the Westminster Village although there may be some truth in it I say with a clear heart that I know for a fact that some members of parliament I know personally they do mix with their constituents and understand the issues that affect them.

Here is what comes to mind:

photo (2)I listened to the Budget yesterday. We are already seeing the pre-election spending spree to kid folk all is well. More telling is the BoE and FT economist on TV last night saying how weird this ‘recovery ‘ was.

How they did not understand how growth was happening without business investing and without growth in exports. A sugar hit giving the illusion there is life and energy destined to slump again. Another Tory government will kill us off completely.

During his Budget speech, George Osborne told Parliament that “things are getting better”.

photo (1)The Tories may cheer, but the facts show that hard-working people in our country are worse off under David Cameron. The Budget did nothing to deal with this cost-of-living crisis.

We know that wages are down £1,600 a year since David Cameron became Prime Minister, while he gave those earning more than £150,000 a huge tax cut.​​

So are you and your family better off because of this government?

photo (5)‘If the UK economy is doing so well, why do I still feel so hard up?’ is the question George Osborne needs to answer in today’s budget.

It’s one that the politics of 14 months before the general election won’t let him answer: he’s not delivered what he promised. Public borrowing will this year be almost twice the level he predicted in 2010, and the debt to GDP ratio is still rising and expected to peak at almost twice the pre-crisis level.

Meanwhile real household incomes are still six per cent below the pre-crisis level, and poorer households have been hit by an annual inflation rate calculated to be one per cent higher than for others.

And he probably won’t want to spell out that the cost of his inability to keep his 2010 promises is that we’re now only half way through the austerity package. What’s still to come would mean cuts of 17 per cent.

photo (4)Predictions are that he will announce some welcome, business-friendly measures to tackle long term problems of low productivity and boost exports.

However, we will also hear a smokescreen to cover up for his inability to answer the central question of the cost of living crisis which Ed Miliband has put so effectively at the political centre stage.

Unemployed? Poor? Only one alias? Why not try booze & bingo? For only a lifetime of penury, we’ll get you drunk and let you gamble.

photo (7)Thanks Chancellor Osbourne. When I go out I will save 5p a night as beer is going down by 1p a pint. Why not knock a pound off and help genuine people who deserve a night out. Why not reduce VAT to 10% and again help ordinary people as well as the economy. Why not regulate nurseries, before and after school clubs why government pays for child’s places to help working families. No these are too easy. You only care about those who have money. You cut the poor and reduce taxes on the rich. It’s Robin George robbing from the poor to help the rich.

f1414ce9-9e66-c794-85fa-053c526f3506Budget does not help working person on very low paid it’s geared up for fatcats Tory friends now they have to donate it to ‪#‎nastyparty coffers.

As to yesterday’s budget sickening. Buying votes with beer and bingo, no bread to take to the circus, and benefits to permit the wealthy to quaff champagne on on the benefits paid out for childcare. Welfare State or Nanny State? This is a budget for a Tory State for the Nannied Classes

George Osborne couldn’t bribe me to vote Tory with a giveaway budget let alone this damp squib-all Tories care about is killing foxes for fun.

photo (6)I’m with Ed Miliband on this one when he said:

The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour.

But he did not mention one central fact:

The working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories.

Living standards down: month after month, year after year.

2011 – living standards down.

2012 – living standards down.

2013 – living standards down.

And since the election working people’s living standards £1,600 a year – down.

photoYou’re worse off under the Tories.

Their 2010 manifesto promised:

“An economy where…[people’s] standard of living…rises steadily and sustainably”

But they have delivered exactly the opposite.

Standards of living not rising steadily and sustainably, but falling sharply and steeply.

And today the Chancellor simply reminded people of the gap between the Chancellor’s rhetoric and the reality of peoples’ lives.

Living standards falling for 44 out of 45 months under this Prime Minister.

Unmatched since records began.

No amount of smoke and mirrors today can hide it.

We already know the answer to the question millions of people will be asking in 2015:

“Are they better off now than they were five years ago?”

The answer is no.

Worse off.

Much worse off.

Worse off under the Tories.

And the Chancellor trumpeted the tax allowance today.

But what he didn’t tell you is that it is the same old Tory trick.

He didn’t tell you the rest of the story.

He didn’t mention the 24 tax rises introduced since he became chancellor.

He forgot to mention that he put up VAT.

He taxed away Child Benefit.

He raised insurance tax.

And gave us the ‘Granny Tax’.

It’s a classic Tory con.

Give with one hand and take far more away with another.

Same old Tories.

Now the Chancellor painted a picture of the country today that millions of people simply will not recognise.

Because this is Cameron’s Britain 2014.

350,000 people going to food banks.

400,000 disabled people paying the Bedroom Tax.

1 million more people paying 40p tax.

4.6 million families facing cuts to tax credits.

But there is one group who are better off.

Much better off.

We all know who they are.

The Chancellor’s chums.

The Prime Minister’s friends.

The Prime Minister rolls his eyes, he doesn’t want to talk about the millionaire’s tax cut.

No mention of it in the Budget speech.

The beneficiaries of this year’s millionaire’s tax cut.

Because if you are a City banker earning £5m and you are feeling the squeeze, don’t worry because they feel your pain.

Because this year that city banker was given a tax cut.

Not just any tax cut.

£664 a day.

£20,000 a month.

A tax cut worth more than £200,000 a year.

So the Prime Minister chooses to afford a tax cut of £200,000 for a banker.

But he can’t afford a pay rise of £250 for a nurse.

And these are the people that had the nerve to tell us we’re all in this together.

It’s Tory values.

It’s Tory choices.

It’s the same old Tories.

And of course, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, with them every step of the way.

Day after day he claims he doesn’t support Tory policy.

But day after day he votes for Tory policy.

Now to listen to the Chancellor today, for a recovery that arrived three years later than he promised, he expects the country to be grateful.

Back in 2010, he told us that by the end of 2014, the economy would have grown by nearly 12 per cent.

Today the figures say it has been barely half that. And he wants the country to be grateful.

Back in 2010 he said the Government would clear the deficit in this parliament by 2014/15. Today he wants the country to be grateful because he says he can do it by 2018/19.

Three years ago the Chancellor told us in his 2011 Budget speech he would deliver an economy “carried aloft by the march of the makers”:

But what has actually happened since then to the rebalancing that he promised?

Manufacturing output has fallen by 1.3 per cent.

Construction output has fallen by 4.2 per cent.

Infrastructure investment down 11 per cent.

Every time he comes to this house he promises a rebalancing.

And every time he fails.

He talked about housing today, but what has he actually delivered?

They’ve overseen the lowest house building since the 1920s.

And rents have risen twice as fast as wages.

At the heart of the argument we will have over the next fourteen months is this question: whose recovery is it?

Under them it’s a recovery for the few not the many.

Bankers pay in London rising five times faster than the pay of the average worker.

This recovery’s not working for working people whose living standards are falling.

It’s not working for millions of women who see the gap between men and women’s pay rising.

It’s not working for low-paid people promised by the Chancellor a £7 minimum wage, but given just 19p more an hour.

Under this Government it’s an economy of the privileged, by the privileged, for the privileged.

And instead of today admitting the truth about what is happening in most people’s lives, they want to tell them the opposite.

They tell people their wages are rising when they’re falling.

Just like they tell people their energy bills are falling when they’re rising.

And they tell people they’re better off but everyone knows the truth.

You can change the shape of the pound.

But it doesn’t matter if the pound is square, round or oval.

If you’re £1,600 pounds worse off, you’re still £1,600 pounds worse off.

You’re worse off under the Tories.

And the reason they can’t deliver is because of what they believe.

His global race is a race to the bottom.

People forced to do 2 or even 3 jobs to make ends meet.

Not knowing how many hours they will get from one week to the next.

And no idea what the future holds for their kids.

Low wages.

Low skills.

Insecure work.

That’s how they think Britain succeeds.

That is why they’re not the solution to the cost of living crisis.

They are the problem.

We needed a Budget today that would make the long-term changes our economy needs in housing, banking and energy.

But they can’t do it.

They won’t stand up to the vested interests.

They won’t tackle developers sitting on land, even though they can’t solve the housing crisis without it.

They won’t force the banks to improve competition, even though small businesses say they need it.

They won’t stand up to the energy companies and freeze energy bills, even though the public support it.

Same old Tories.

We know what their long term plan is: more tax cuts for the richest, while everyone else gets squeezed.

What does the Chancellor say about the people dragged into paying 40p tax?

He says they should be happy.

It’s good news for them.

So this is the new Osborne tax theory:

If you’re in the middle paying 40p you should be pleased to pay more.

But if you’re at the top paying 50p, you should be helped to pay less.

Same old Tories.

It’s no wonder that even their own side think they’re totally out-of-touch.

And even now, even after all the embarrassment of the millionaire’s tax cut, they won’t rule out going further.

Maybe today we can get the straight answer we haven’t had so far?

Will he rule out a further tax cut for millionaires to 40p?

Just nod your head if you’re ruling it out!

There they go again.

They won’t rule it out.

Doesn’t it say everything about them?

They really do believe the way you make the rich work hard is to make them richer, and the way you make everyone else work harder is by making them poorer.

And just like they paint a picture of the country that working people will not recognise, so too themselves.

Now the Prime Minister is an expert in rebranding.

Remember the huskies, the bike, the tree?

That was before they said cut the green crap.

What is the latest rebrand from the Bullingdon club?

It is beyond parody.

Because what does this lot now call themselves?

They call themselves ‘The workers’ party’.

And who is writing the manifesto for this new workers’ party?

We already know the answer and I quote:

“There are six people writing the manifesto, five went to Eton…”

By my count more Etonians writing the manifesto than there are women in the Cabinet.

No girls allowed.

And this week we’ve heard it right from the top.

Here’s what his former best friend, his closest ally, the Education Secretary had to say about the Prime Minister’s inner circle.

He said it was, and I quote:

“Ridiculous.

Preposterous.

Unlike anywhere else in the world.”

You know you’re in trouble when even the Education Secretary calls you a bunch of out of touch elitists.

And where is the Education Secretary? I think he has been banished … He’s hiding! I think he has been consigned to the naughty step by the Prime Minister.

I think it’s time we listened to Baroness Warsi and took the whole Eton mess out of Downing Street.

And what a mess it is.

There are more sides in the Tory briefing war than there are on the new pound coin.

We don’t need a party for the privileged few.

We need a party for the many.

That is why a Labour government will:

Freeze energy bills.

Guarantee jobs for unemployed young people.

Cut business rates.

Reform the banks.

Get 200,000 homes built a year.

And abolish the Bedroom Tax.

This is the Budget that confirms people are worse off under the Tories.

A worse off budget, from an out-of-touch Chancellor.

Britain can do better than them.

Britain needs a Labour government.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the poor man’s cost of living


UK_cost_of_livingOver the weekend a group of us were on the doorstep doing our rounds intriguingly a few residents  informed us that they was not happy with the Coalition and could their and his families help to do their part to get rid of this awful lot who are in power.

They then approached us to state their family had weighted up all the pros and cons they concluded UKIP, Conservatives, LibDems and Independents are all a waste of time as he and family members voted for them in the past they could not deliver the goods the only party for the working man is Labour.

Whilst this coalition has got everybody’s back up the wall over the Welfare Reform, both able and disabled are being affected with a double whammy with the bedroom and council taxes coupled by rent increases in both public and private sectors, increase in cost of living, childcare,  just to name a few.

Welcome to the world of capitalism of today as the fatcats don’t care as long as they get their dosh:

“Even Michael Gove can see that the number of Old Etonians in David Cameron’s inner circle is ‘ridiculous’ and ‘preposterous’ – but that’s not a reflection of the country, it’s a reflection of the Conservative Party. It’s up to David Cameron who he puts into top jobs, and the fact is that the Prime Minister has chosen to surround himself with people just like himself. He’s leading a Government that’s completely out of touch. That’s why his decisions have helped a privileged few rather than hardworking families, with tax cuts for people earning over £150,000 while wages are down an average £1,600 a year.”

tory (1)Tories are so very generous to millionaires with our money, whilst insisting that poor people have even more of fresh air to live on.

“Once again the Tories are desperately trying to tell people facing a cost-of-living crisis that they’ve never had it so good.

“In fact the latest figures show that under David Cameron real wages have fallen by over £1,600 a year. And IFS figures show families are on average £891 worse this year off due to tax and benefit changes since 2010.

“This analysis is totally out of touch with the real world. It ignores the one third of full-time workers who have not stayed in continuous employment and the 27 per cent who work part-time.

“David Cameron and George Osborne simply doesn’t understand the cost-of-living crisis. That’s why their priority has been giving a £3 billion tax cut to people earning over £150,000, while everyone else is worse off.”

“David Cameron has cut support for children and families by £15bn since he came to office. And today he confirms that no help will arrive until after the election. This is too little, too late.

“Of course any childcare support is welcome but this Government has done nothing in this Parliament to help parents experiencing a cost-of-living crisis. Childcare costs have spiralled by 30 percent since 2010 and the Tories have rejected Labour’s plan for 25 hours free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.”

Almost 400,000 people have lost their Jobseeker’s allowance since sanctions for claimants were toughened last year. But are the new rules hurting those they are supposed to be helping?

Peter Jones avoided a serious brain injury when he fell at work in November last year. But while he escaped with his health, his good fortune ended there – he was told not to come back and went to sign on.

It was a month after new rules for those out of work were introduced – rules he would soon find out all about.

“I’d worked all my life,” he says. “But they treated me as if I was cheating the system from day one. They didn’t even know me.”

Anyone claiming Jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) can be sanctioned for things such as missing a meeting with an adviser, not turning up to training or not being available for work.

“If they do everything that’s expected of them, they won’t get sanctioned,” a spokesman at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says.

Peter, who says he was applying for “five to six jobs a day”, felt this was just what he was doing.

He had moved from Llandudno to be near his seriously ill mother in Stafford who was in and out of hospital with brain tumours.

But when he wanted to move back to Wales and look for work there, he says job centre officials 100 miles away in Stafford deemed this an “inappropriate search”.

photoHe was sanctioned and did not have any income for the whole of December. He got into debt and, aged 30, moved back in with his parents.

“I didn’t know what to do or how to get out of it,” he says.

When he did manage to move, and signed on in Wales, he was sanctioned again for not attending a meeting with an adviser back in Stafford.

The new regulations – which mean a minimum four-weeks without JSA for anyone deemed to have breached them – are designed to help those without a job, according to the DWP.

“This is absolutely not about saving money or punishing people,” the spokesman says. “Our role is to help people into work.”

Peter did find work as soon as he returned to Wales but, because of the sanctions, he had only received two JSA payments in the three months he was without a job.

“I’m scared of ever being in that situation again,” he says.

And, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), he is not alone.

t says advice centres have seen a 64% increase in the number of people coming to them after being sanctioned.

Invariably, the CAB says, they are desperate to get back into work.

So is the new system doing what it is supposed to – helping those who want to work to do so?

Not according to the CAB’s chief executive Gillian Guy.

“When you’re already struggling to make ends meet whilst looking for work, a sanction can end up making it harder to put food on the table and adds an extra obstacle to the huge challenge of getting a job.”

She adds: “The regime is not only self-defeating, it is also poorly administered.”

For Lee Offield, 29, a 10-week sanction meant he had to turn to food banks.

He had wanted to use his illustration degree to work in art therapy.

After a year out of work he started a basic social care course in Bristol but had to leave half way through after his JSA was withdrawn.

He was told he could not be spending enough time looking for work if he was doing a college course.

Having now moved back to his home town in Devon he says the experience left with him with temporary, insecure and seasonal work instead of the social care job he had hoped for.

He appealed against his sanction, won and was repaid most of the money he had been docked.

While he admits he is still in debt, the money is not his overriding concern.

“I could’ve had a career if I’d been able to continue the course,” he says. “But now I don’t.”

The union representing the frontline staff who make these sometimes life-changing decisions alleges that, since the toughening of the rules, there is an expectation they should come down hard on claimants.

“There’s no question that there is an overarching pressure to enforce the sanctions regime as strictly as possible,” says the PCS’s Charles Law.

It’s an accusation the DWP flatly denies.

But the union says ministers’ desire to get tough has led to job centre managers pushing advisers to issue sanctions.

The PCS claims there are “sanctions league tables” and that staff face the first step of a disciplinary procedure if they fail to withdraw JSA from enough claimants.

The DWP insists there are no such targets and that staff want people to do all they can to find work.

While at the latest count more than 40% of those who received a sanction were under 24, opposition to them among young people is not universal.

“I think they can be positive,” 20-year-old Joe told YMCA researchers looking into attitudes to welfare. “As long as they are still able to feed themselves.”

The YMCA, though, says it has “serious concerns” about how the system is being administered and its impact on the young.

Jamie Allen, 23, was made redundant over the summer, losing his job installing computer systems for an IT firm.

His parents – one disabled and the other her full-time carer – took out a high-interest payday loan to support him after he was sanctioned for missing a session at the job centre.

He says he received a text telling him his adviser was ill and not to come in until his next scheduled session – which he did the following week.

A month later, a letter informed him he would not receive any JSA for four weeks because he had missed a session on the afternoon his adviser had been ill.

His mother Alyson says the text could have been misinterpreted, but that he was doing everything possible to find work – travelling for an hour to and from the nearest job centre, sometimes for two meetings a day, and applying for 128 jobs.

But their appeals were met with curt responses.

“We were treated as if we were nothing,” Alyson says. “I know getting the loan was silly but he had no money for bus fares so couldn’t get to the job centre.”

On average, the number of unemployed people per job vacancy has fallen from 5.6 to 4.7 in the last two years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And with the economy showing signs of recovery, the government says people should do all they can to find work.

“The people who get sanctions are wilfully rejecting support for no good reason,” says Esther McVey the employment minister.

Nicola Clubb, who has been signing on for a year after losing her job as a college tutor, fell foul of the new rules when she failed to get an application in for a Jobcentre position before it closed.

She knows she was at fault: “I screwed up and didn’t apply quickly enough.”

A DWP spokesman said the department could not comment on individual cases but added in a statement: “The rules regarding someone’s entitlement to Jobseeker’s allowance – and what could happen to their benefits if they don’t stick to those rules – are made very clear at the start of their claim.

“We will provide jobseekers with the help and support they need to find a job, but it is only fair that in return they live up to their part of the contract.

“Sanctions are used as a last resort and anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.”

Who is the taking the P big time?

Who is the taking the P big time?

It does not take a genius to understand what we all knew all along for some time that The government has drawn up plans to scrap its official jobs website, Universal Jobmatch, after recognising it is too expensive and that its purpose is undermined by fake and repeat job entries, according to leaked internal communications from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

A cache of documents outline details how the government’s main website for job hunters – which tens of thousands of unemployed people have been required by the DWP to sign up to – is likely to be jettisoned when the contract for the service comes up for renewal in two years.

A year and a half after its launch, Universal Jobmatch has been ridiculed for hosting numerous fake jobs, including one for an MI6 “target elimination specialist” and “international couriers” for CosaNostra Holdings, as well as listings for pornographic websites.

More recently very serious problems have emerged. Separate investigations by Channel 4 News and the Labour MP Frank Field have uncovered hundreds of thousands of fake, repeat or, in a minority of cases, fraudulent job postings that enticed jobseekers to spend money needlessly – for example on fake criminal records checks – or were a means of harvesting personal information for identity fraud.

At the start of March, the DWP removed more than 120,000, or one-fifth, of all job adverts from over 180 employer accounts, because the ads did not abide by the site’s terms and conditions.

Field is now pressing the National Audit Office to investigate the site which he described as “bedevilled with fraud“.

The DWP said it regularly monitors Universal Jobmatch to remove jobs that do not meet its rules and that of 524,640 employer accounts only a tiny minority have proven to be in breach of them. The leaked information about Universal Jobmatch became public after the chair of the public accounts committee said last week that the DWP was on the verge of a “meltdown” over its relationship with private companies and welfare reform

The leaked documents say that some of the website’s problems have partly stemmed from the decision by ministers that the site – which is run by the international online recruitment company Monster – be as “open” as possible to all types of employers. Recruitment agencies have taken advantage of this openness by uploading repeat adverts on the site.

The effect, the documents go on to say, has been that civil servants have been unable to determine how many genuine employment vacancies are listed on the site. According to one email, the data simply is not “robust” and rectifying the issue will be expensive.

Other internal communications suggest that civil servants have asked for more than one hundred changes to the service. However senior managers have decided to pass on only a handful of them to Monster because they have given up on improving the current site and expect to start afresh after April 2016.

In light of the high possibility that Universal Jobmatch will be cancelled in its current form, a communique to project heads said that the relationship with Monster now had to be managed “very carefully”.

A paper detailing options for overhauling the site includes:

• Getting an outside company to create a new service that would “learn the lessons” from Universal Jobmatch.

• Designing a site that would only cater for small employers. Jobseekers would be expected to use other sites to find work that was with larger employers.

• Coming to some contractual agreement with other major jobs sites to cross-post adverts and merge them into one larger DWP-run database. It is understood that ministers have not been involved in discussions about the new options.

The project to digitise job-searching activity for millions of unemployed people has been beset with problems from its start. The DWP was forced to rerun the bidding process for the contract and previously leaked documents detail how the department had to pay compensation to one of the failed bidders.

The multimillion-pound contract was won by Monster but Iain Duncan Smith’s department has been struggling to justify its rapidly rising expenditure. Civil servants say that the US company, which pioneered online recruitment two decades ago, has demanded an extra £975,000 to clear Universal Jobmatch of fraudulent employment ads.

Stephen O’Donnell, who runs the National Online Recruitment Awards, said that Monster was “quite exercised”. He said that while the company had made “very good money” on the contract, the DWP was to blame for creating a “real mongrel of a website”. “Monster … have real expertise worldwide in building spectacular job boards. They more or less invented the industry. So you do think ‘how come it’s so bad’? The reason for that is the civil servants basically told Monster ‘forget everything you know about job boards, this is what we want’.”

O’Donnell said: job centres used to have good checks before the site was launched. It used to be, to put a job in a job centre, a recruitment agency had to call and identify themselves, go through various checks and identify the employer.” However without those checks he said many more anonymous postings were being hosted under the DWP’s logo. “Anonymous job adverts are terrible. [The job] may or may not exist. It might just be a fishing trip for other information.”

” I do not hold Monster at fault: they have been directed by the DWP to do what they are told.”

“I think it’s criminally unfair to sanction jobseekers for not using such a clumsily built website, rife with spammers … identity thieves and anonymous job ads.”

A spokesman for the DWP said that the search for work had become increasingly digital in the last decade and that over the next six months, wifi and 6,000 extra terminals would be installed into jobcentres across the country so jobseekers had access to the latest technology.

Responding to the leak the department said: “Universal Jobmatch revolutionises the way jobseekers find work and ithas already helped many jobseekers find the jobs they want since it was launched in 2012.

“How people find work has become increasingly digital so it’s right – and responsible – that DWP should continually look to ensure we are making the best offer to jobseekers.

“The current Universal Jobmatch contract comes to an end in 2016 so any speculation on what will happen after that is premature.”

The moral of this story is this year and next year we have to mobilize our Labour voters for European and Local Elections from all walks of the community to send a bloody nose to the coalition and to UKIP at the ballot box. No ifs and buts.