Monthly Archives: December 2013

Time for change, if not now, when

Well folks there is nothing worse than a member of a coalition and conservative wannabe desperate to follow you let’s give them a warm welcome by giving them a bashing at the ballot box from 2014 on-wards as we all now that they are not there for the lower, low, and middle income folks. I’m of the opinion like others that in politics it all comes down to language. Those who can shape a controversial issue in the terms they prefer have the advantage in shaping public opinion. It’s called “framing”. Such concept control is a way of rigging the debate: You must talk about this controversial issue using our categories, terms, and definitions.

As a result, those who have the power to declare the terms of discourse have the power to determine the outcome of the debate, and furthermore, they have the power to determine what is accepted as “true or false”.

Really, for the Tories, it’s nothing more than linguistic bullying. You only need listen to Prime Minister’s Questions to understand this. For the Tories, both facts and values are irrelevant, despite their fake claims to fake empirical statistical data, all that matters is their ideological narrative. As a Society, we really need to pay much more attention to detail.

And we really need to challenge more. In terms of evidence, the Tories have not provided any verification that any of their policies work. There’s a growing body of rich qualitative data that reliably and consistently informs us that those policies do not work as claimed by the Tory-led Coalition, and the sheer volume of those accounts also informs us that this data is both credible and valid. So why are the Government so determined to ignore it?

You know how the Tories tells porkies about the economy and try to pass the blame. Labour steered us out of a global recession, the Tories put us back.

The deficit has grown more in 3 years of the Tories than it did in 13 years of labour. In fact the Tories have more than doubled it.

What kind of economic policy is endless austerity? It’s a Tory one. It’s plain to see who damaged the economy. Tory mess, tory cuts.

Oh dear more Tories porkies again, the so called job creation in the private sector is just smoke and mirrors for a large chunk. Take 200,000 Public sector workers and with slight of hand suddenly transfer them to the private sector but with no new jobs, just the jobs they already had but now with worse working conditions and hey presto you have created 200,000 jobs NOT!

And as the Department of Work and Pensions is run by Ian Duncan Smith, the Tory Minister that would lie about anything if it meant he could avoid telling the truth, the recent so called drop in unemployment should be treated with extreme suspicion.

Has it really been I’m dreaming of white Christmas this year or will it happen next year when the fat cats had good Christmas meal and New Year‘s celebrations with their chums and whilst some people joins the long queues at food banks while their benefits are sorted out by the DWP.

How conveniently housing shortage is now being blamed on foreigners, and homeless people. Why are the press so adamantly to play into the hands of the Conservatives or rather the coalition one has to wonder if they are gearing up in the strong hope of a possibility of witnessing a return of another coalition rule again in the 2015 General elections. However I may look at it give me a Labour government anytime and many will see me doing a jig possibly with my Member Of Parliament and Local Councillors for a return of a Labour Government in 2015 which I’m sure is not very much to ask for in today’s political climate.

Well folks, I may have the words MUGGINGs or silly old fart written on my forehead but be warned I may just have the last laugh coupled by a song and dance with the correct words I told you so.

Let’s not forget that this coalition has gone much further than, dare I say it Maggie Thatcher has ever achieved in her lifetime.

The number of homeless people is rising sharply under the twin pressures of the shortage of housing and the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms, according to a new study.

An annual “state of the nation” report by the charities Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed that the number sleeping rough has risen by six per cent in England this year, and by 13 per cent in London. There has been a 10 per cent increase in those housed temporarily, including a 14 per cent rise in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation.

The report explicitly blames the Government’s welfare cuts for compounding the problems caused by the high cost and shortage of housing as demand outstrips supply. It found that the cap on housing benefit made it more difficult to rent from a private landlord, especially in London, and claimed the controversial “bedroom tax” has caused a sharp rise in arrears for people in public housing, particularly in the Midlands and North.

Hey surprise, surprise, ministers emphatically denied that their reforms had contributed to the return of homelessness. But it has now risen in each of the three years since the Coalition was formed – after falling sharply in the previous six years.

The Government’s own latest statistics show that 57,530 households were in temporary accommodation on September 30, an eight per cent rise on a year earlier. Some 2,100 families with children were in emergency B&B accommodation, the highest figure for a decade.

The spectre of homelessness is returning as housing and welfare rise up the political agenda. Labour has pledged to abolish the “bedroom tax” and Liberal Democrat MPs are increasingly anxious about its impact. There is concern that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme will inflate another housing bubble. To help supply match demand, Labour will promise at the 2015 election to double house-building to at least 200,000 a year by 2020.

The new study found that nine per cent of adults in England has been homeless at some point in their life.

Leslie Morphy, the chief executive of Crisis, said: “We keep hearing that the economy is on the mend. Yet as we watch our GDP figures slowly rise, cuts to housing benefit and woefully inadequate house building will keep pushing up homelessness. Shamefully, it is the poorest and most vulnerable that are bearing the brunt.

“We need the Government to address the chronic lack of affordable housing, take real steps to improve the private rented sector and to urgently consider the impact its cuts to housing benefit are having, particularly in the capital.”

Julia Unwin, chief Executive of JRF, said: “Homelessness is the tragic consequence of failures in our housing system and carries enormous cost for both the people facing destitution and society as a whole. To avoid these figures going in the wrong direction, we need to address the underlying causes of homelessness urgently. That means building the affordable homes this country desperately needs and providing a proper safety net for when people are unfortunate enough to fall on hard times.”

A separate survey by Inside Housing magazine showed that councils and housing associations are increasingly resorting to the threat of eviction.  Some 113 social landlords issued a total of 99,904 notices seeking possession for rent arrears between April and November, a 26 per cent rise on the same period last year.  Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the tougher approach was “sadly not surprising” because “welfare reform is causing real difficulty.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our reforms are fixing the benefits system. There is no evidence that people will be made homeless as a result of the benefit cap, the removal of the spare room subsidy or any of our welfare reforms. We have ensured councils have £190m of extra funds this year to help claimants and we are monitoring how councils are spending this money closely.”

Kris Hopkins, the Housing Minister, said: “I am determined to ensure that we don’t return to a time when homelessness was more than double what it is today. This Government has maintained strong measures to protect families against the threat of homelessness and acted decisively to introduce a more accurate assessment of previously hidden rough sleeping. We have supported the national roll out of No Second Night Out to prevent persistent rough sleeping, and given councils greater freedoms to house people in private rented homes.

“On top this we have provided nearly £1bn for councils to reduce homelessness and support those affected, while delivering 170,000 more affordable homes since 2010. All this has meant statutory homelessness remains at a lower level than it was in 27 of the last 30 years.”

It’s no surprise that lower and middle incomes are being hit ever so hard by this coalition whilst most leaders from the main three political parties warns of caution over taking 11% pay increase the question is who will take them seriously when some parliamentarians will ignore their leaders owing to greed as they know that some of them will not get re-elected or some will be stepping down during 2015 General Elections and taking with them a very fat pension.

How unbelievable Iain Duncan Smith brushes aside National Audit Office(NAO) with his alleged arrogance figure of £91 Million of software which is a major accounting change.

The National Audit Office raises serious doubts about whether plans to introduce a new core of software will work or grow quickly to any size.

Intriguingly the report indicated that as a department develops the digital solution so it will start to recognize some of the costs incurred as assets. Without clear and effective management in the future the department may also find it needs to impair some of those new digital assets.

It further report the accounting treatment of the existing software assets used on the original design should not detract from the underlaying issue that the department has spent in the region of £91 Million on assets that will only support a limited service for five years with clear consequences for public value.

Whilst ministers had concede last week that it had fallen behind schedule and would not be completed by 2017 as planned.

The department has to date not achieved value for money it had spent in the development of universal credit and in so in future it will need to learn the lessons of past failures and property commission and manage IT development. Exercise effective financial control over the universal credit programme. Set realistic expectations for the timescale for delivery.

Referring to the sum of £91 Million additional write down the chair of the public accounts committee Margaret Hodge said whilst these figures are truly shocking I do not think we have heard the end of this matter and would not be surprised if further write-offs emerging over the coming period.

It’s deeply depressing that the DWP has chosen to pour more money into the existing IT system in what seems like a short-term fix rather than showing the confidence and foresight to come up to come up with a solution that will truly stand the test of time.

Even for those who transfer to the new benefit the online system is currently not able to deal with issues like frequent changes of circumstances claims if a couple splits up or conditionally,

It’s a pity that this coalition has not learn to spend money wisely yet they have cheek to continue to play the blame game of quoting its Labour fault in everything which is laughable and became a very scratch record now with the waste of money this could be put to better use of building more affordable housing, fund public services and recruit more jobs in the public sector.

How strange that the Tory rags seems to fail to report the reporting of IDS failure on his pet project and they are quite happy to blame unemployed people and immigrants as scroungers of the state.

Welcome to armageddon time which of course is of my opinion as I explained about Local Government which has in some ways moved on from the Jaws of Doom and I’m sure that many people are of the opinion that Iain Duncan Smith and the Conservatives would very much like to put an end to the welfare system and social security for all and a possibility return to the Victorian age with very low incomes coupled by poor health and safety laws.

I’m sure that if there is ever a return of  a coalition between Conservatives and LibDems they will start to promote China’s one child policy by introducing a cap on Child Benefit which I’m of a strong opinion this may happen but in the meantime Iain Duncan Smith said stopping the current system, where families get more benefits the more children they have, was among changes being considered.

Families on benefits were often “freed from” the decision of whether they could afford more children, Mr Duncan Smith said, and must “cut their cloth”.

But child poverty campaigners expressed concerns at the proposals.

In a speech in Cambridge, Mr Duncan Smith will ask whether families should be able to expect never-ending amounts of money for every child, when working households have to make tough choices about what they can afford.

Ahead of the speech, he told the press and media that the state would continue to support unemployed people who wanted to have children but had to question whether such support should be “endless”.

“When you look at families across the board across all incomes, you find the vast majority make decisions about the number of children they have, the families they want, based on what they think they can afford.”

Many working families decided against having more children even if they wanted to, for financial reasons, he suggested, while there was a “clustering” of large families on welfare who did not have to confront that reality.

“People who are having support from welfare are often freed from that decision. Can there be not be a limit to the fact you need to cut your cloth in accordance with what capabilities and finances you have?”

Asked where a potential cap would be set, Mr Duncan Smith said: “My view, if you did this, you would start it for people who begin to have more than, say, two children.”

He rejected suggestions this was about “penalising” people or simply saving money, insisting it was a question of fairness to those who were in work and paying taxes to support welfare.

“This is part of the process of saying there is a limit to the amount of welfare available and we need you to be positive about doing the right thing, to seek a job and to support your family.”

It is not yet clear which child-related benefits would be covered by any cap and the BBC understands the plan would not come into effect until after the next general election – scheduled for 2015.

No 10 said no final decisions had been taken on the matter. “We are looking at a range of choices on welfare reform and the welfare secretary was posing questions,” a spokesman said.

According to government statistics, there were 3.2 million children living in families with three or more children in 2010-11 and families with more than two children are more likely to be living in poverty based on standard measures of comparative income.

The  move would save an estimated £200m, so was relatively small in scale compared with the £18bn already cut from the welfare budget and the additional £10bn in savings now being looked for.

But he said polls suggested the idea of setting the cap at two children popular with the public, many of whom had two children and did not understand why people who do not work should have things they did not.

Mr Duncan Smith’s overarching message is that cultural change is required – both in the minds of those on benefits and in government – so that the welfare system is a springboard into work, rather than something which traps people into a life of dependency.

Campaigners said they were “very worried” about the government’s intentions, pointing out that the majority of children in poverty are those whose parents are already working in low-paid jobs.

“Like many other people, when they plan their families, they are not thinking about whether at some point in the future they might be on benefit,” Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group told Radio 4’s Today programme.

Labour said the government’s “tough talk” could not hide the fact that it was working families who were being penalised.

“Never before have working people paid so much in and got so little back,” former shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said. “We were promised a welfare revolution and all we’ve got is welfare chaos – chaos that working people are being forced to pay for.”

Large families are already facing a “disproportionate” squeeze on their finances, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned earlier this year.

The think tank said three-child households could see their income levels drop by 6.8% by 2015-6, compared with a 3.3% fall for one-child families.

Household spending on housing, fuel and power has overtaken transport for the first time, official figures showed yesterday.

Households spent an average of £68 a week last year on the category, which includes rent, fuel, electricity and maintenance but excludes mortgages, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

It sucked in the highest proportion of household spending – a rise driven by enormous gas and electric price rises.

The cold winters of 2011 and 2012 also pushed up spending on heating.

And the proportion of households renting has also risen in recent years from 29 to 34 per cent.

The latest family spending data shows that households spent an average of £489 a week in 2012.

Accounting for inflation spending has decreased since 2006, when households spent £526.40.

Of that, transport spending has fallen the most – dropping from £87.10 per week in 2001-2 to £64.10 in 2012 – despite the price of petrol increasing substantially.

“Energy companies know that families can’t do without heating, yet they keep putting up their prices as living standards come under increasing pressure,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

“That’s why we need urgent action to reform the energy market and bring bills down. So far, the big six energy companies have been allowed to get off scot-free by the government.”

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said Labour would bring energy companies into line. “This shows why Labour’s energy price freeze is needed.”

The government is pre-empting any reflection on social injustice and inequalities by using behavioral modification techniques on the poor, which of course hold them entirely responsible for the government’s economic failures and the consequences of those. Sanctions are being applied to “remedy” various “defects” of individual behavior  character and attitude. Poor people are being coerced into workfare and complicity using bogus psychology and bluntly applied behavioral modification techniques.

Poor people are punished for being poor, but wealthy people are rewarded for being wealthy. Not only on a material level, but on a level of socially and politically attributed esteem, worth and value. Being poor and unemployed is bad for mental health, we know this to be true from research, but this government is adding to that problem substantially by stripping people of their basic dignity and autonomy as well.

The application of behavioural science is more damaging than the hateful propaganda and media portrayals, although both despicable methods of control work together to inflict psychological damage on more than one level. Propaganda further invalidates individual experience, distress and pain.

Yet the poorest are expected to be endlessly resilient and resourceful whilst having their lifeline benefits stripped away, and are being forced into a struggle to meet their basic survival needs. This punitive approach can never work to “incentivise” or motivate, because we know that when people struggle to meet basic survival needs they are too pre-occupied by that to be motivated to meet other less pressing needs. Maslow told us that. This makes the phrase trotted out by the Tories: “helping people into work” to justify sanctions and workfare utterly terrifying.

Unemployment is NOT caused by “psychological barriers”, it is caused by feckless and reckless governments. It’s not about personal “employability”, it’s about economics, political policies and structural problems.

Public policy is not a playground for the amateur and potentially dangerous application of brainwashing techniques via UK government’s Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) or ‘nudge unit’. This is NOT being nasty in a “nice way: it is being nasty in a nasty way. The rise of psychological coercion, ‘positive affect as coercive strategy’, and the recruitment of psychology/psychologists into monitoring, modifying and/or punishing people who claim social security benefits raises important ethical questions about psychological authority, and I am very concerned about the professional silence so far regarding this adoption of a psychocratic approach to social control by this government.

Somehow if people don’t start to move forward for a movement for change(#M4C) then we as a nation will continue to have another coalition or even worse a Conservative government who will be content to continue to give us with more of the same in 2015 General Elections

This is the time to mobilize for a greater change and start to think what they can do to help to improve their community by engaging with each other and look in which way they can encourage people to come out to vote. Granted many voters may be disillusion with politicians unless voters continue  to engage with their parliamentarians and local Councillors nothing will change and both members of parliament and Councillors will continue doing the job that they think people wants.

Remember the government are there to represent YOUR views this is the time to turn up to both your ward and constituency committees to make change if you are not happy with your area of concerns don’t sit there and moan about it do something about by applying pressure on your elected representatives to hold then to account instead of doing nothing.

Your elected representatives are there to listen to Somehow if people don’t start to move forward for a movement for change(#M4C) then we as a nation will continue with another coalition or even worse a Conservative government who will be content to continue to give us with more of the same in 2015 General Elections

This is the time to mobilize for a greater change and start to think what they can do to help to improve their community by engaging with each other and look in which way they can encourage people to come out to vote. Granted many voters may be disillusion with politicians unless voters continue  to engage with their parliamentarians and local Councillors nothing will change and both members of parliament and Councillors will continue doing the job that they think people wants.

Remember the government are there to represent YOUR views this is the time to turn up to both your ward and constituency committees to make change if you are not happy with your area of concerns don’t sit there and moan about it do something about by applying pressure on your elected representatives to hold then to account instead of doing nothing.

Your elected representatives are there to listen to your concerns and NOT a mouth piece for their political parties. They are elected to represent their wards and constituency on your behalf with your concerns and NOT a mouth piece for their political parties. They are elected to represent their wards and constituency on your behalf.

So the next time people both on Facebook and Twitter moans remember be accountable by to turn up to vote Labour as you will be far better than wasting your votes on Conservatives and LibDems they look after the rich folks and they wont make money jingle in your pay packet

Who is getting Fickle Pickles

photoHey folks why has much attention has been paid to the government’s “gagging law”, which attempts to silence civil society. What is less widely known is that the government are also trying to silence elected local councils.

This week in Parliament, Eric Pickles is pushing through new powers to become the censor-in-chief of local government. At the same time, evidence is emerging that his department is encouraging councils to print pro-government propaganda.

Hidden within the government’s local audit and accountability bill is a clause that will give Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, powers to dictate when and how councils can publish communications to local citizens. Even more of a concern is the fact that Pickles is taking a power of censorship to direct what issues and information councils can talk about and what language and phraseology will be allowed.

Ministers have made clear that their intention is to prevent councils from sharing information or commenting on the impact of government policy if they disapprove of the message. Examples given by ministers include not allowing elected leaders of a local authority to publish a comment on the effect of central government funding changes, so furious are they that councils are letting their residents know the scale of cuts they are facing.

Under these new powers, the secretary of state could also force councils to use pro-government terminology, such as the benign sounding “spare room subsidy” rather than the unpopular and unfair “bedroom tax”. Legal advice to the Local Government Association says the censorship laws will prevent local councils from publishing information on issues such as HS2 or health service reconfigurations.

The government argues that the power is needed because local authorities are breaching the current voluntary code on local authority publicity yet they haveonly managed to find one strong examples of a proven breach. While Tower Hamlets council’s publication, East End Life, does seem to flout the code, it is shocking that the government has failed to take any action using the powers that already exist in more than three years.

I’m not sure that agree with Pickles that Tower Hamlets is a problem, so why has he not acted against them? He already has the ability to do so, for example by judicial review. But he hasn’t taken any action at all. In fact, as he attempted to explain to me in a parliamentary question, it is actually because he hasn’t done anything that he believes he needs to give himself these dictatorial powers.

This is so extraordinary that one might assume that if councils knew the full extent of his plans that they would resist. Through several freedom of information requests, I have discovered that the department has not communicated with local authorities about the plans at all since May 2010. No councils have answered have any letters or emails on this subject. This is all being done behind local authorities’ backs.

At the same time as he is censoring councils from saying things he does not like, he is seeking to use them as a propaganda arm of the central state. I have discovered that the department for communities and local government has been circulating suggested press releases to councils.A recent “suggested” press release on the troubled families programme advises local authorities on the positive ways in which they should trumpet the government’s policy.

Pickles preaches the localism rhetoric, but the truth is that he does not like local democracy. Starved of funds, subject to diktats on when to collect the bins, and now subject to censorship, it’s clear that his warnings that cigar-chomping commies are looking to take over government were remarkably prescient.

Pickles’ censorship laws have been described by Annette Brooke MP as a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”. Liberal Democrat Cambridge city council say the clause is “disproportionate and unnecessary”, Watford borough council believe it to be a “threat to local democracy” and their MPs abstained on the proposals during committee stages. Next week, I will ask them to join with Labour to oppose this deeply illiberal council gagging law.

Yet we all recently knew that the government has been accused of putting “anti-European ideology” before the needs of the most deprived people in society after Britain rejected help from a European Union fund to help subsidise the costs offood banks.

David Cameron, who was heavily criticised recently after Michael Gove blamed the rise in food banks on financial mismanagement by families, faced pressure to embark on a U-turn to allow EU funds to be spent on feeding the poor.

The government came under fire after British officials in Brussels said that the UK did not want to use money from a new £2.5bn fund – European Aid to the Most Deprived – to be used to help with the costs of running food banks. The use of food banks has increased dramatically in recent months, prompting Sir John Major to warn that the poor face a stark choice between paying for heating or food.

But British officials rejected EU funding for food banks, which could have reached £22m for Britain, on the grounds that individual member states are best placed to take charge of such funding.

A document from the Department of Work and Pensions explaining Britain’s position, which has been leaked to the press, says: “The UK government does not support the proposal for a regulation on the fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. It believes that measures of this type are better and more efficiently delivered by individual member states through their own social programmes, and their regional and local authorities, who are best placed to identify and meet the needs of deprived people in their countries and communities. It therefore questions whether the commission’s proposal is justified in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.”

Richard Howitt, a Labour MEP who helped negotiate the new fund, accused the government of neglecting the needs of the poor. “It is very sad that our government is opposing this much-needed help for foodbanks on the basis that it is a national responsibility, when in reality it has no intention of providing the help itself. The only conclusion is that Conservative anti-European ideology is being put before the needs of the most destitute and deprived in our society.”

Howitt added that he hoped that a Westminster parliamentary debate on Wednesday would prompt a government U-turn. He said the debate “should be used to shame a government, which is taking food out of the mouths of the hungry, into a U-turn in time for Christmas”.

It is understood that in “trilogue” negotiations – between the European commission, the council of ministers and the European Parliament – British officials formed a blocking minority with three other EU member states to water down the fund which will run from 2014-2020. Under the original plans there would have been just one funding strand for the “distribution of material assistance” – sleeping bags and food. But Britain prompted the creation of a second funding strand known as “immaterial assistance” to cover counselling and budget maintenance but not food banks.

The position taken by UK officials means that Britain will draw down just €3.5m (£2.9m) from the fund compared with €443m for France which is around the same size as the UK. Britain is taking the same amount as Malta, the smallest EU member state with a population of 450,000.

The department for work and pensions said that Britain has not lost any money because the £22m would have come out of the UK’s EU structural fund pot. It said that ministers have not decided how to allocate the £2.9m earmarked for Britain from the fund, though this is expected to be spent on helping unemployed people find work.

The Labour motion scheduled for a vote in the Commons will the Conservatives back it? “That this House notes that the number of people using foodbanks provided by the Trussell Trust alone has increased from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 since April this year, of whom one third were children; further notes that over the last three years prices have risen faster than wages; further notes the assessment of the Trussell Trust that the key factors in the rising resort to foodbanks are rising living costs and stagnant wages, as well as problems including delays to social security payments and the impact of the under-occupancy penalty; calls on the Government to publish the results of research into foodbanks commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Ministers promised would be made public in the summer of 2013; and further calls on the Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on foodbanks, including a freeze on energy prices, a water affordability scheme, measures to end abuses of zero hours contracts, incentives to companies to pay a living wage and abolition of the under-occupancy penalty.”

‘Anyone who says politicians are all the same would be well advised to watch opposition day debate on food banks in Parliament.

The Tory Work and Pensions Minister claimed food banks are a sign of success, as if they could ever be an adequate substitute for decent wages and a proper social safety net. And while Labour MPs spoke out about the difficulties families in their constituencies are facing, we had the unedifying sight of Tory MPs jeering and shouting.

The sad fact is that food banks have become a truly shameful symbol of Britain under this Tory-led government. Despite the UK being one of the richest countries in the world we have rapidly rising numbers of British people, many of them in work, are forced to turn to charity to feed themselves and their children.

The reports from the Trussell Trust are truly shocking. Around half of those they are helping through food banks are in work. One in three of those fed by food banks are children. And according to disabled charities, one in ten of those hit by the cruel and unworkable bedroom tax are having to use food banks to get by.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We aren’t losing money – any funding the UK receives from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived will be taken off our structural fund allocation. Instead we will use our structural funds to support local initiatives to train and support disadvantaged people into work. We have not yet decided how the €3.5m euro pot (£2.9m) will be spent – food aid is just one of the options for spending the money.”

Chris Mould, the executive chairman of Britain’s largest network of food banks, the Trussell Trust, told the Guardian: “We would welcome an opportunity to have discussions with DWP about how we could use that €3.5m to good effect. If the EU made a decision in the European Parliament that this money should be used for the assistance of people in severe need – and it has got a food aid tag on it – then we hope they will talk to us.”

On the signs that the government would like to spend the money in helping people into work, rather than on food aid, Mould said: “It is the decision of government at all times what its priorities are for the money it has available. But it does need to spend money in several places not in one place. The Trussell Trust has provided through its network of food banks emergency assistance for over 500,000 people since 2013 who are in financial crisis, who are going hungry who have been referred by more than 23,000 different professionals holding vouchers.

“If people don’t get help when they are in financial crisis they lose their home, their families break down, they suffer anxiety and depression. All these things have a significant financial cost to the state. It is very important that the government looks beyond the narrow single issue argument of spending all the money into employment. Of course that is important but they are spending massive of money on that which is good. But this EU money is extra and originally intended to be for food assistance.”

Three more failed policies from the Coalition

photoAm I reading right can some punch my arm that free schools cost twice as much as the Government originally estimated and is failing to tackle the shortage of classroom places in many parts of the country a damning report by public spending watchdog. Which leads me to think what Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith has in common. Well blow me over the answer is they both introduced failed policies on behalf of the Nasty Party with the tax payers picking up the tabs.

Many of us are beginning to understand the impact of deep spending cuts coupled by very deep rumours that the grassroots of LidDems are not happy with their darling brain child Nick Clegg as it has been alleged that he has signed up to further deep cuts after the 2015 General Elections which can only mean that their beloved leader judgement day will cause a revolt by a leadership challenge if they get that far or many of them will begin to cross over to another political party. Whilst the coalition continues to play Judy and Punch politics with the voters it reminds me of the phrase those who laugh last laughs the best with the possibility of two leadership challenges in the pipeline. The questions for all of us will our MPs from cross party will accept the 11% pay rise after the new years and will coalition will start to build more properties for people to downside since the introduction of their Bedroom Tax .

The-coalition-cabinet-006When the coalition are enjoying their Christmas meals with their families let’s hope they will have a change of heart some people will say I say me thinks not the reasons are The government‘s assault on the poor includes abolishing council tax benefit. This is just as pernicious as the bedroom tax but has received less publicity. It came in on May 1.

Prior to this, council tax benefit was means-tested and administered by local authorities.

If you were on employment and support allowance or jobseeker’s allowance, or your income was at that level, you received 100 per cent council tax benefit, leaving you with nothing to pay.

Slightly higher incomes were means-tested, so that you could still receive some council tax benefit.

In place of council tax benefit, the government introduced a “council tax-reduction scheme.”

The name suggests lower council tax bills. It is nothing of the sort.

It is simply a subsidy from government to local authorities to replace council tax benefit.

But the big difference is that the “council tax-reduction” subsidy is only 80 per cent the amount that a local authority used to receive in council tax benefit.

So claimants who were receiving 100 per cent council tax benefit now only have 80 per cent of their council tax bill reduced, leaving them to pay 20 per cent. Around two million people are affected.

The difference between 100 per cent council tax benefit and 80 per cent council tax reduction is £400 million – that’s the amount cut by the government.

It never ceases to amaze me how this government can believe that someone who receives what the state decides is the bare minimum required to survive – and pay for food, heating, lighting and other essentials – can suddenly be asked to find extra money from that subsistence amount.

Jobseeker’s allowance was not calculated to include a 20 per cent contribution towards council tax, just as it was not calculated to include the bedroom tax.

The government’s intention is to blame local authorities for this cut.

By simply giving local authorities a pot of money equivalent to 80 per cent of the amount that they used to receive in council tax benefit, it can claim that if local authorities pass the 20 per cent shortfall onto each council taxpayer, that is their choice.

The government can say that local authorities could choose to reduce council tax by 100 per cent – on a means-tested basis – but have decided not to.

Of course, it is a fake choice. If a local authority decides to retain 100 per cent reduction of council tax, it will have to find the extra 20 per cent from its budget. So will be looking at making cuts elsewhere.

It falls to local authorities to collect council tax, and so we are suddenly back to the days of the poll tax.

Brent and Southwark councils have each issued thousands of applications for liability orders in the magistrate’s court, predominantly against people who previously received 100 per cent council tax benefit and are now being asked to find £2 to £5 per week towards council tax, even though their other benefits have not increased accordingly.

The method of challenging a council tax bill is immensely complex.

Each local authority has its own “council tax-reduction scheme,” which it should publish on its website.

That scheme sets out how the council tax will be reduced, on the basis of means-testing etc.

If you receive a council tax bill and you want to challenge it, you have to check your circumstances against the scheme published by your council.

If the council has got your details wrong and you should be entitled to a higher reduction, first of all complain to the council.

If the council refuses to change its decision or fails to reply within two months, you appeal to the valuation tribunal.

The appeal can only be on the basis that the council has wrongly applied its own scheme and your circumstances mean that you should be entitled to a greater reduction under the scheme.

The tribunal will not hear appeals arguing you cannot afford to pay the council tax.

Each council must also operate a council tax discretionary relief scheme or council tax hardship scheme and details should be in the published council tax-reduction scheme.

These are little-known provisions which give councils a discretion to reduce council tax liability in particular circumstances, usually applied to war pensioners or the very seriously disabled.

These discretionary relief schemes can help in the short-term to reduce council tax bills for those in real poverty.

If you simply can’t afford to pay your council tax but are not entitled to discretionary relief and you can’t argue that the council misapplied its own scheme, then you will eventually receive a summons to the magistrate’s court so that the council can obtain a liability order.

There are some technical arguments here – is the amount on the summons the correct amount, has the council applied the right time limits?

But, again, if the only reason why you are not paying your council tax is because you can’t afford to, the magistrate’s court has no discretion but to make a liability order. Poverty is not a defence.

In many ways, this is the new poll tax. Its aim is that everyone, even the poorest, should contribute to council tax.

It is implemented by local authorities – which may or may not have agreed with the cut depending on their political composition – and so local authorities take the political blame.

But, unlike the poll tax and much more like the bedroom tax, it is a tax on the poor.

It is a tax on people who were previously assessed as being so poor that they should receive 100 per cent discount on their council tax, through council tax benefit.

Garden Court Chambers, where I work, has launched Legal Action on Council Tax.

Our website contains detailed legal information as to how to appeal to a valuation tribunal and what happens when you are summonsed to the magistrate’s court.

No legal aid is available and so applicants have to represent themselves. Our hope is that the dissemination of information will give applicants the tools to make the argument and do just that.

Perhaps the best hope is that, like the poll tax, the collecting authorities and the courts will become so overwhelmed that government has to give in.

I’m delighted to learn that Parliament agrees with hard-working public servants deserve decent pay. Now we just want the idea extended beyond MPs’ own ranks.

Never mind the manufactured row over MPs’ 11 per cent pay rise. It seems likely the “independent” pay body Ipsa has been leaned on to propose the outrageous figure so that frontbenchers on both sides can make a great show of rejecting it.

The real pay scandal is the million public-sector workers whose shamefully low wages have been hacked back even further during three-and-a-half years of Con-Dem cuts.

It’s these workers who should be the focus of our fury at politicians over pay. They are the ones – disproportionately women – who toil day in, day out to feed our schoolchildren, care for our elderly and vulnerable and perform a hundred other vital jobs.

They have suffered terribly as the result of a deliberate campaign against the public sector aimed at dragging down pay and conditions to match the very worst that can be found in the private sector.

Combined with the cost-of-living crisis – caused largely by profiteering energy companies and money-grubbing private landlords – it means that some of our most valuable workers are being rewarded with grinding poverty that suggests we value them at almost nothing.

This is an entirely deliberate move by the Tories. They want to devalue public service, to punish those who perform it, to drive away competent and committed workers.

They say public services can’t work – so they have to destroy public services which do work so that the facts don’t contradict their dogma.

It’s also vital for the Tories to wreck the public sector so that it can’t put the private sector to shame.

Bosses have long been forced to up their game or risk losing their workers to a public sector where workers enjoy gender equality, strong trade union protections and collective pay bargaining.

The more the Tories hack back public services, the more the way is clear for bosses to join the race to the bottom on pay and conditions, to go back to Victorian-style exploitation, to play divide-and-rule with their workers and to widen the already huge gender pay gap.

The Tories and their media friends love to bleat on about public-sector pay as if these vital workers really were all taking home MP-sized salaries – and as if they didn’t deserve it.

If anyone is worthy of an 11 per cent pay rise it’s the public servants who do so much irreplaceable work to keep this country running and are rewarded with so little except falling pay, rising workloads and a constant barrage of lies from the Tory press.

It’s great to see Jack Straw admit that decent pay is vital to attract talented workers. Now let’s see Labour apply that principle not to MPs but to our much-slandered public servants.

Ed Balls needs to admit he was wrong to back a Tory pay freeze which had nothing to do with financial prudence and everything to do with sabotaging the public sector.

Labour needs to pledge to reverse council budget cuts, end outsourcing and ensure that every one of our public servants earns the decent wage they can expect from one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Councils have been driven to embark on these firesales of valuable property by recent Con-Dem cuts which have left huge holes in their budgets.

But those are just the latest in decades of disastrous Tory housing policy.

Tony Blair’s Labour shamefully failed to reverse Margaret Thatcher’s attacks on council housing or her abolition of rent controls. And today – not just in London but in cities all across Britain – we are paying the price in soaring rents, ever-growing overcrowding, misery, squalor and homelessness.

The Tories aren’t just failing to confront those problems – they are actively encouraging them.

Intriguingly London Mayor Boris Johnson’s carefully cultivated buffoon persona conceals a cold-eyed neoliberal delighted by the sight of hundreds of ordinary Londoners driven from their homes to clear the way for private profit.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is more interested in destroying communities than defending them. And meanwhile at a national level Tory housing policy, like Tory economic policy, is so foolish and destructive it’s impossible to tell if the government is acting out of malice or incompetence.

It was always obvious to anyone with half a brain cell that George Osborne’s help-to-buy scheme would be a disaster for the people who actually need help with housing.

All it does is pump more air into the ever-inflating bubble – putting home ownership even further out of reach of most people.

It’s an obvious bribe to wealthy Tory voters in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

But what has Labour got to offer instead? Millions of people are crying out for a return to the days when decent, affordable council homes were available to all who wanted one.

Ed Miliband needs to be bold and stand up for those millions. No mealy-mouthed talk of “social housing” or housing associations, no half-hearted gestures like requiring a handful of “affordable” homes to be tacked on to vast developments aimed squarely at the super-rich.

But a massive programme of building good-quality council homes right across Britain, publicly owned, democratically controlled and at rents that undercut the private-sector profiteers. Only that way can we beat the Tories’ efforts to bring back the Victorian slum to 21st-century Britain.

Whilst on the other hand the average British household could eventually end up paying an extra £8,000 for its gas and electricity if George Osborne succeeds in delaying vital action to make Britain greener, the Government’s official climate change advisers warn.

Postponing decisive action to cut carbon emissions by 10 years to 2030, through measures such as a widespread shift to renewable energy sources, will add at least £100bn to Britain’s collective household energy bills between 2030 and 2050, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This works out to £4,000 per household.

The increase is because Britain would need to take even more drastic action to make up lost ground to ensure it hits its legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels.

And if fossil fuel prices soar to the top of the range of realistic forecasts, the bill to remedy the delayed switch to a low-carbon society could reach £200bn, or £8,000 per household, according to the committee’s calculations – the first time a figure has been put on the cost to the UK of postponing action.

The report rejects claims that renewable energy subsidies and other green levies are bad for households because they will accelerate increases in energy bills. The committee concedes that consumers will pay more in the short term to fund the transition to a greener economy, but will be handsomely rewarded in the long term as price increases are curbed.

Lord Debden, chairman of the CCC, said: “This report shows the clear economic benefits of acting to cut emissions through the 2020s. This provides insurance against the increased costs and risks of climate-related damage and rising energy bills that would result from an alternative approach to reduce and delay action.”

The report comes ahead of a key review in the spring of Britain’s carbon emission targets for the 2020s that David Cameron personally approved in 2011. The review was secured by Mr Osborne, who is concerned that the agreed emissions reductions might be bad for the economy and would reduce his scope to build dozens of new gas-fired power stations.

But the committee finds that watering down the carbon emissions targets would be far more costly than pressing ahead with the agreed cuts. It also argues that by fiddling with previously agreed energy targets, the Government could undermine the confidence of potential investors in energy projects.

This view is shared by a coalition of 100 parties, including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Ikea, O2, Sky, Nestlé and the consumer goods giant Unilever, which today calls on the Government to stick with its previously agreed plan to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

Speaking for the group, Lord Adair Turner, a former director-general of the CBI, said: “The majority of the business world is clear that ambitious and stable action to tackle climate change makes business sense. A stable policy environment is critical to attracting investment in the low-carbon sector.”

Lord Debden added: “The Government should confirm the [2020s carbon targets] as a matter of urgency. This would remove the current uncertainty and poor investment climate. It would provide a boost to the wide range of investors who stand ready to invest in low-carbon technologies.”

The CCC report comes at a time when consumer confidence in the so-called “Big Six” energy companies is low, following a series of inflation-busting price hikes that have greatly increased their profits. An estimated 10,000 people died in the UK last winter in connection with cold homes.

In the week after the Chancellor sought to knock £50 off household energy bills by watered down green levies, it emerged that only two of the Big Six have so far passed on the saving to their customers. They are British Gas and SSE – formerly known as Scottish & Southern Energy. MoneySuperMarket, the price comparison website, yesterday said some of the firms were “getting away with green murder”.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “The UK takes its obligations under the Climate Change Act to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 extremely seriously. The Committee’s advice has an important role in the 4th Carbon Budget review and we agree with them that it is important to make a final decision as quickly as possible. We will consider the CCC’s advice carefully as part of our work on the review, which will be published in the New Year.”

This will get everybody’s blood boiling to learn again that the government has increased its initial write-off of a failed IT system for universal credit by £6m to £40.1m, but acknowledged that a further £90m of software is likely to be written down in its value over the next five years.

The precise loss to the taxpayer will depend on how much of the existing IT software is retained after it has been merged with a new IT system being developed by the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Service.

Universal credit, which brings together six existing benefits, is seen as potentially the biggest change to welfare since the second world war. Ministers had to concede last week that it had fallen behind schedule and would not be completed by 2017 as originally planned.

Seeking to explain the £40m write-off, Mike Driver, finance director general at the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “There is no use for the IT code built to run the computer systems. It has no future value. It is not going to generate any future return for the department.”


He insisted this level of write-off in the software industry was not unusual for a project of this kind. He said it would not be possible to seek any clawback in the contract since the specifications made by the department had changed, especially over security. The code was well written and engineered, the department added.

The latest statistics were given by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, as he denied that the universal credit timetable was slipping or that it was losing control of its budget. Asked if further write-offs could be expected, he said: “If anything goes wrong going further forward, that might be different.”

But he added: “We have had to sit for some time while a lot of bogus nonsense has been talked about huge levels of additional write-offs. This note in front of you absolutely finishes that and ends it.

“The reality is that what our estimate was earlier on, when we first put it to the National Audit Office [NAO], and this total figure are very close together.

“This has been one of the most complex and detailed assessments that has taken place either in the public or private sector. It is now signed off and will be published very soon.”

Duncan Smith said the original IT system had got bogged down because of the need to provide security and the complexity of different elements interacting in one software programme.

The DWP said it was justifiable to declare the remaining £90m as not being written off because it would be written down over a five-year period, by which time universal credit would have been introduced.

The department added that it was legitimate for the £90m not to be written off since the NAO had accepted its definition.

The DWP said was unable to state at this stage the level of other non-software costs.

A spokesperson said: “It is not unexpected that IT requirements evolve on a long-term programme of reform and that some rework was required. But we are not complacent about this loss and are working to ensure that this project continues to roll out within the budget we have been set.

“This should be seen in the context of the £38bn economic benefit that universal credit will ultimately bring.”

At a two-hour evidence session, Howard Shiplee, the universal credit director general, said a new business case would be put to the Treasury early next year.

He accepted that the software was incomplete for some claimants, including couples and those with children. He was also reluctant to commit himself to deadlines.

“This is not an IT disaster. This will be delivered in time and on budget,” Iain Duncan Smith said in September 2013.

But last week he used the cover of the autumn statement to announce that he is to miss his deadline of getting all existing and new benefit claimants on to universal credit by 2017.

He also confirmed he is having to entirely rework the IT system at substantial cost because the original IT failed to meet the needs of claimants.

“What we are talking about will have no practical effect on the implementation of universal credit, which, by the way, is proceeding exactly in accordance with plans,” Duncan Smith told MPs in March.

But in September a scathing report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said the welfare changes had been poorly managed and were riddled with major IT problems, threatening to increase costs by hundreds of millions of pounds.

The NAO report also outlined how the project was “reset” a month before Duncan Smith’s comments to parliament, following the involvement of the Major Projects Authority, which has the power to intervene on behalf of taxpayers.

Officals at Duncan Smith’s department said in October 2011 that 2 million households will get a lower entitlement to benefits as a result of the universal credit scheme.

But in a revised impact assessment, the Department of Work and Pensions said in December 2012 that 2.8 million households will get a lower entitlement to benefits.

The much greater impact was regarded as being due to factors such as the deteriorating economic environment but officials also conceded that universal credit is less generous than first envisaged.


Local Government Jaws of doom Vs Almariddegn time in 2014 onwards

Please listen to this urgent message from Sir Albert Bore:


Well folks as Christmas and New Year approaches very soon many people will not be wiser if they will have a job for another day as living standards go down hill coupled by families turning to pay day lenders rather than turning up to foodbanks for help.

Already many councils across UK faced the prospect of the Jaws of Doom from 2010 to 2013 now as we fast approach 2014 this will be known as almariddegn time for Local Government.
Forgive me for thinking it’s now 2014 onwards as there is a reason for mentioning 2014 onwards this on two folds (as it must be my grey cells). Many will recall I said in my earlier post that Local Government will face the Jaws Of Doom from 2010-2013 as we all had an idea that Central Government will cut the funding to councils across the UK. I’m sure to many Councillors who have to set the budget with Central Government will no doubt from behind the scenes will inform you that they face with another task of witnessing part two Local Government armageddon time from 2014-2016 as Local Government will have no choice but to act in the spirit of the law to implement the dreaded cuts. This I kid you not whilst I have been informed by many Councillors from a cross party. Instead many Councillors are beginning to say that they will not recognize what local government as we now know it. Let’s take a look at the second largest city in the UK Birmingham City Council as one example how they had to adhere to the dreaded coalition cuts which has not been an easy task to implement as the previous Birmingham coalition did not implement Living Wage, single status, equal pay but decided to spend on so called grand projects in places like Sutton Coldfield and spend on doing up rich areas instead of given the fair share of money to other wards.

Sir Albert Bore promised immediate action in response to ideas put forward in the first ever Standing up for Birmingham public forum.

Speaking after the event at the Library of Birmingham, Sir Albert said: “I am extremely grateful to those who gave up their time to engage with the financial challenges the city faces in the years ahead. I’ve been told that today’s meeting was very positive and people have already shared many ideas about how communities can come together to make an even bigger contribution to the city.”

Responding directly to the priorities of those who took part, Sir Albert added: “Standing up for Birmingham is about communities and organisations coming together to tackle the challenges facing the city in a time of unprecedented cuts in public services. The City Council has a part to play but we will not succeed if we act alone. However I can commit the council to taking the following immediate steps:

  • Review regulations and red tape that cause difficulties for community and voluntary organisations trying to make a difference in their community
  • Develop new ways of building collaboration between public services and voluntary and community groups across the city – building on the work already done in the Fair Brum social inclusion process and by many other organisations
  • Re-launch our staff volunteering scheme and encourage City Council staff to participate in time banking
  • Support efforts to build awareness of the time banking schemes already operating in the city and encourage new ones.”

Now the biggest drop is living standards which according to some press are like the return of Victorian age in a large scale like low and middle earners suffering an unprecedented squeeze on their incomes as austerity measures come home to roost with part time worker which includes women are disproportionately affected.

It’s alleged around five million people are officially classified as low paid and wait for it an increasing number of public sector worker are struggling to make ends meet according to the New Economics Foundation Think-tank.

I’m sure after reading all what I have had to say now we have learnt that MPs are due for a 11% pay rise which works out to be roughly in the figure of £7,600 which is four times the current rate of inflation whilst living standards go down and whilst some of the lower and middle incomes has to depend on Foodbanks and others would not be caught dead in joining the queue but rather seek assistance from Pay Day Leaders who charge over the odds in interest rates so who is having a laugh all the way to the bank by sticking their tongue and two fingers at you.

The UK is not building enough homes, and in particular not enough affordable housing, despite a wide range of government initiatives.

Large numbers of households cannot afford access to decent quality housing without state support; and, although increasing amounts are being spent on housing benefits, less public funding is being invested in new and improved housing.

The UK needs to build about 245,000 homes a year between now and 2031 to keep pace with requirements; of which 80,000 should be affordable properties. However, less than half that figure is being built at the moment, as support for construction falls despite government efforts to encourage building.

Moreover, the scale of public investment in housing, which was just £2bn in 2010-11, is dwarfed by the costs of housing benefits at £20bn.

Housing investment in the UK has been low by international standards for decades. Measuring gross fixed capital formation in housing as a percentage of gross domestic product shows the UK has had lower levels of housing investment than most other advanced economies.

Research we conducted at the Centre for Comparative Housing Research at De Montfort University suggests we can look abroad for ways in which the government can tackle this crisis. Looking abroad challenges the way we provide housing, offers new ideas and fresh approaches to policies, and tells us about the impact of government housing initiatives in other countries.

In the early 1990s France adopted various incentives to developers to build more affordable homes. Under its main model, a developer puts together a package for building and managing a specific project – say a block of flats – within guidelines set by the government. Investors get tax breaks for buying this package from the developer, who also gets tax concessions by factoring these into the package.

As a result, more than 30,000 affordable housing units were built every year between 1994 and 2004 – more than a third of the private sector construction total. Today it accounts for more than half; with 60,000 homes being built under this scheme in 2010.

In the US, developers get tax credits if they build a project where a set percentage of households are on low incomes. Rents on these properties also have to be cheaper than market levels. The tax benefits last for at least 15 years, as long as the percentage of low income households remains the same. The developer then sells the tax credits on to investors, and in many cases there are private equity investors set up to trade in these.

Launched in the late 1980s, this scheme now accounts for 90% of affordable housing provision in the country, and it has helped build or renovate more than 2.5m properties.

Could conditional tax reliefs be used effectively in the UK? The major barrier is inertia. A desire to keep doing things in the same way as before will not result in large increases in housing investment. But we could invest more, and we could learn from other countries.

The government must allow councils in England and Wales to borrow more money to spend on building so they can tackle housing shortages, a report says.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said nine councils, with 40,000 people on accommodation waiting lists, were unable to take on any loans at all.

It said lifting a cap on borrowing would allow up to 60,000 new homes to be built in the next five years.

But the government said there was “no magic money tree”.

It added there was still a need to cut public borrowing to improve the performance of the economy.

In 2012 the Treasury capped the amount councils could borrow against ring-fenced housing budgets, set at different levels for each area.

However, the LGA urged Chancellor George Osborne to use Thursday’s Autumn Statement to lift the provision.

He should instead allow councils “to invest in housing under normal responsible borrowing guidelines”, it said, adding that “the investment would be very low-risk and paid many times over by future rents on new homes”.

Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said: “There are millions of people on social housing waiting lists and councils want to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need.

“Local authorities have excellent credit ratings and we want to use our assets to help kick-start the housing recovery, but our hands are being tied.”

The LGA said the following authorities had been given no borrowing “headroom”:

  • Darlington Borough Council
  • Dudley Borough Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Gosport Borough Council
  • Harrow Council
  • Royal Borough Greenwich Council
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Waverley Borough Council
  • Woking Borough Council

Mr Jones said: “The chancellor has an unrivalled opportunity to use this Autumn Statement to create jobs, provide tens of thousands of homes and help the economy without having to find a single extra penny.

“New homes are badly needed and councils want to get on with building them. The common sense answer is for the Treasury to remove its house building block and let us get on with it.”

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said: “As a lobbying organisation, the LGA need to realise that there is no magic money tree, and this government needs to cut public borrowing to keep interest rates down and ensure long-term economic growth.

“But under this government, the housing market has turned the corner, with house building now at its highest level since 2007, backed by up £19.5bn of public and private investment in affordable housing over the current spending review. The government will outline its broader approach in the Autumn Statement.”

The sad truth is as Christmas and New Year arrives as human beings we all want the best in the festive season some managed to stay in budget whilst others will say to hell with it. This is now to reflect what positive action you will take to get rid of this coalition by contacting your local Labour Party branch or regional office for the day of action as there is plenty to do so get ready to dust off your campaign jackets.

Has George Osborne hoodwink the nation with his autumn statement

George Osborne just boasted in Parliament that the economy is fixed and his policies are working. After three years of flatlining, he really shouldn’t have.

Because for most people, this is no recovery at all. As prices continue rising faster than wages, millions of working people and families are finding it harder just to get by.

On average, working people are £1,600 a year worse off under this government. And still the Tories won’t agree to our call to freeze gas and electricity prices.

In other words: the Chancellor is boasting about a recovery that is not being felt by most people in Britain..

I say that many people has a message for this government Britain needs an economy that works for everyone, but the Tories are only looking out for a privileged few. Britain deserves better than that. Labour has a plan: get more homes built, get young people into jobs, expand free childcare to make work pay, and freeze gas and electricity bills. A Labour government would make our economy work for people like you.

Checkout this Youtube and remember to tell the coaition to stop playing their scratch record:

It’s been purported 5 December that George Osbourne autumn statement is a ruthless act class war which is too sure up Conservative Supporters and rubbish the lower and middle incomes living standards. It’s no surprise it alleges marginal increase in output new record levels of employment and dubious forecasts of future economic success to declare that his polices are working.

It’s no wonder that working people face growing hardship with 15% wiped off the value of their wages which suggest that George Osbourne has not add up his sums right.

It’s further alleged that they economic programme was never about the so called collective hardship to resolve a difficult economic situation.

Slashing living standards of the lower and middle incomes whether in work unemployed or retired is not an unfortunate side effect. This is central to their programme by increasing the pension age for public service employees and state pensions.

website-banner4National Pensioners Convention research indicates that life expectancy may be falling especially as lower living standards and cuts in local services will take their toll.

Hey folks who would concur that that 2+2=4 10+20=30 well I’m sure most would agree however to leading economists has written in a leading national newspaper that George Osbourne sums does not add up. What am I reading right will be the answer from the Conservatives surely there must be a mistake somewhere. Er no you are reading it right depending which rags you read matey. Sound the alarm and let him know ASAP.

Yet Britain’s leading experts on tax and spending have said that living standards would be lower at the end of the current parliament than at the start, as they backed claims by the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, that family budgets were being squeezed hard under the coalition.

Delivering its judgment on George Osborne’s autumn statement, the Institute for Fiscal Studies took issue with the way Labour had calculated its estimate of a £1,600 loss to the average family in the three years since the coalition came to power in 2010 but said it was “pretty consistent” with survey data showing a big drop in household incomes between 2009-10 and 2011-12.

Paul Johnson, the IFS’s director, said there was a lack of reliable figures for the current year, but added: “We do know from household surveys that income fell sharply in 2010 and 2011. It is almost certainly significantly lower now than it was in 2010.

“And while it should start to grow, it will surely still be below its 2010 level by the time we get to the election in 2015.”

Osborne sought to counter Labour’s claims this week by using a different way of calculating incomes to show total household incomes rose by 3.9% between their pre-recession peak of early 2008 and the second quarter of 2013.

Johnson said the yardstick for household incomes used by the chancellor was not normally used to measure living standards, and an IFS study found that it had failed to detect a squeeze on real spending power in any of the four big recessions Britain has experienced since the early 1970s.

“As a series it [Osborne’s measure] behaves quite differently both since 2008 and over long periods of time to other series measuring living standards,” Johnson said.

“It includes some income which does not accrue to the household sector at all. And its actual construction is opaque. It tells us something about household incomes but it should certainly not be used in isolation to measure how they are changing.”

The IFS said Osborne’s adoption of that National Accounts measure of household disposable income meant “non-profit institutions serving households”, such as universities, were included alongside areas like pension savings, which have declined, freeing up more disposable income.

The Balls measure, it added, did not include changes to tax and benefits and used the retail prices index – no longer considered a reliable gauge of inflation by the Office for National Statistics – to come up with the statement that real wages had fallen by £1,600.

“That said a £1,600 fall is a fall of about 6%. That is pretty consistent with what we know from survey data happened to household incomes between 2009-10 and 2011-12,” said Johnson.

The IFS director said it was not surprising that household incomes were lower than before the recession and had fallen since 2010.

“We have just lived through the deepest recession in generations and measured output is still below its pre-crisis level. And earnings have been hit particularly hard. In part that is the flipside of the strong employment numbers and is directly related to the apparent fall in productivity.”

The IFS was critical of the chancellor’s spending promises, including the freeze on fuel duty, introduction of marriage allowances, national insurance cut and freeze in business rates, costing £2.5bn, without concrete plans to fund them.

Of the plan to expand university student numbers by selling the student loan book, Johnson said: “This may work in the near-term fiscal numbers, but economically it makes little sense. Selling the loan book will be broadly fiscally neutral in the long run, bringing in more money now at the expense of less money later on. Lifting the cap on numbers will cost money every year.”

More broadly, he said, this tactic was a theme of the autumn statement. “Continuing to announce tax cuts and to make new spending commitments, unfunded beyond 2015-16, can only increase the difficulty of reaching the fiscal balance he is targeting.”

The IFS said the chancellor’s plan to balance the budget by 2018-19 involved an acceleration in the pace of spending cuts from 2.3% a year in the five years from March 2011 to March 2016 to 3.7% a year in the three years after that.

The thinktank agreed with the independent Office for Budget Responsibility that this would involve shrinking the state to a level not seen since at least 1948. The IFS said this would hold true even if debt interest payments and infrastructure spending were added to the running costs of Whitehall departments.

To avoid a stepping up of the pace of spending cuts in the next parliament would require welfare cuts or tax increases worth £12bn, the IFS said.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Today’s IFS analysis confirms that spending cuts will go on and on as George Osborne makes austerity permanent.

“This has nothing to do with economics, but is all about a rightwing political project.

“The chancellor is using the fallout from the global recession to permanently cut services and shrink the state back to where it was in 1948.

“This is not what voters want. They may have accepted the need for harsh medicine in the wake of the crash, but they want a cure that delivers rising living standards, decent services and a fair economy.”

Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “It’s an embarrassing blow to the chancellor that his favoured measure of living standards turns out to include the incomes of charities and universities. The IFS is also right to question whether George Osborne’s sums for future years really do stack up.”

What Geogre Osbourne has neglect to mention is that millions of people finding it harder each month to make ends meet, the Chancellor had nothing to say in yesterday’s Autumn Statement.

Since David Cameron and George Osborne came to office working people are now on average over £1,600 a year worse off. Yet they gave people earning over £150,000 a huge tax cut this year.

Prices are still rising faster than wages. Official forecasts show the cost-of-living crisis will continue with working people worse off in 2015 than in 2010.

Labour will freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017. And we will make long-term changes to the energy market to stop customers being ripped off.

Under this Government bills will rise this winter and energy companies are being let off the hook. With this Chancellor, the only freeze this winter is for pensioners who can’t afford their hearing bills.

What we need is Labour’s long-term plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and earn our way to higher living standards for all. Let’s build more homes and boost apprenticeships to get a strong recovery.

Let’s make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and strengthening the minimum wage. And let’s get our young back to work with a compulsory jobs guarantee for under-25s and the long-term unemployed. That’s the way to get a recovery for the many and not just a few.

After the Chancellor’s statement, it’s clear working people are worse off under the Tories.

To the long list of Tory crimes must now be added grand larceny – of Labour’s policies.

Hugh Turn (say it out loud), who also trades under the name of David Cameron, shamelessly reversed his stand on fuel charges and payday loans.

He sneered at Ed Miliband’s gas and electricity price freeze, and then brought in a pale imitation that still leaves bills rising.

He rejected limits on sky-high interest rates charged by payday loan merchants, but now he favours curbs.

No wonder Ed Miliband kept his policies under wraps for so long in the face of Tory taunts that he hasn’t got any.

As soon as he goes public with a bright idea, Coalition crooks burgle it. Ed led on Syria, and phone hacking, and Cameron followed.

Labour backs the Living Wage, and Boris Johnson, friend of the super-rich, followed in London.

When the Tories start filching the Opposition’s policies, you know they’re rattled. Their Grand Autocratic Theft is a good thing, because it shows Ed Miliband is getting it right. And not-so-good because it raids his store of policies in the run-up to polling day.

Cameron’s latest theft of Labour’s clothes is barefaced cheek. Unfortunately, the clothes don’t fit, and he looks stupid in them.

Hugh Turn is revealed as the circus clown, with his pockets full of pilfered policies.

Labour has hit on a rich vein of voter support by hoisting the cost of living to the top of the political agenda. It shows they care.

The Tories claim to be ahead on the issue of the economy, but that doesn’t cut quite so much ice with people these days.

For many, “the economy” is a remote concept, something that politicians do far away in Westminster when they’ve done fiddling their expenses.

But the cost of living is in every home. It affects every family and every pensioner.

Bill Clinton’s winning slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” needs updating. It should read “It’s the cost of living, wise guy.”

Another test of Tory nerves is the level of vituperation. Unable to counter Ed’s attack on incompetent Coalition handling of the cost of living crisis, Cameron resorts to personal abuse.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, his face gets redder, his arrogance gets louder, his contempt more obvious and his insults nastier. We see the Bullingdon Boy bully behind the baby face.

It’s not a pretty sight. I don’t think it wins him any votes from uncommitted viewers of this weekly theatre of the absurd. The way he behaves tells us more about him than a thousand U-turns.

So, I’m sure that many people don’t mind him paying Labour the back-handed compliment of stealing Ed’s policies. If they can be implemented before Labour gets back into power, that’s a plus.

Why is George Osborne relying on the Bank of England and Britain’s resurgent housing market to deliver strong growth in the runup to the 2015 general election after he spurned the chance to use a surprise pick-up in the economy this year to ease the government’s austerity programme.

In an upbeat autumn statement that left his Labour shadow, Ed Balls, struggling, the chancellor produced plans to shrink the size of day-to-day state spending to its lowest level for at least 70 years and sought to neuter Ed Miliband’s cost-of-living campaign by using the proceeds of the squeeze to trim domestic fuel bills by £50 a year, freeze fuel duty for motorists and limit increases in rail fares.

On Friday morning Osborne, in a round of interviews with broadcasters, rejected Labour’s claims that workers would be £1,600 a year worse off by the end of this parliament. “People remember that the economy collapsed under the last Labour government,” he said.

Asked about the prospect of interest rates rising, he also insisted it was the government’s actions controlling public spending that were keeping interest rates low.

He spoke as Ipsos Mori released polling figures suggesting that 40% of people accept Ed Balls’s claim that Osborne is in denial about the cost-of-living crisis. By contrast, only 24% said they agreed with Osborne that his plan for economic recovery was working and 27% said they agreed with neither propostion.

On Thursday, Osborne said the state of the public finances left no room for tax cuts, although the City believes a fresh surge in the housing market expected next year will leave scope for pre-election giveaways. Interest rates are expected to remain at 0.5% until after the general election.

“This statement shows the plan is working. It’s a serious plan for a grown-up country,” the chancellor said as he warned voters that Labour would put any economic recovery at risk.

“We have held our nerve while those who predicted there would be no growth until we turned the spending taps back on have been proved comprehensively wrong. Thanks to the sacrifice and endeavour of the British people, I can today report the hard evidence that shows our economic plan is working.”

He announced forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) showing that the economy would grow by 1.4% this year and 2.4% next year – up from the 0.6% and 1.8% predicted in the March budget. “But the job is not done,” Osborne added. “By doing the right thing, we’re heading in the right direction.”

The OBR said that the acceleration in growth during 2013 had been the result of consumers running down savings to fund higher spending, and said productitivity would need to improve in order to “sustain the recovery and raise living standards”. But it said hopes for an increase in business investment this year had not been met and the UK’s trade performance had been worse than expected.

Osborne said that the consumer-driven pick-up in the economy was still not strong enough and left the budget deficit too high for the government to ease up on austerity. He said he would support companies by limiting the increase in business rates to 2% and spent £500m abolishing national insurance contributions for workers under the age of 21.

But he said measures to tackle what Labour has called Britain’s cost of living crisis had to be paid for by a cap on all welfare spending, apart from pensions and unemployment benefits, and a fresh squeeze on Whitehall departments. The independent OBR said that by 2019 the share of national income spent on the day-to-day running of the state would be the lowest since at least 1948 when modern records began.

Osborne said he wanted a “responsible recovery” and while warning of “more difficult decisions” to come he accepted the effects of Britain’s deepest postwar slump were still being felt on family budgets.

Stronger growth meant that the government needed to borrow £73bn less over the next five years than originally envisaged in the spring and that the national debt would peak in 2016-17, a year earlier than previously predicted, the chancellor said.

But Robert Chote, the OBR’s director said the upgrade was the result of a cyclical pick up in consumer spending and the housing market rather than a structural improvement. “Borrowing is lower but the hole that the government will eventually have to fill in doesn’t appear to be any smaller than it was in March,” Chote said.

The OBR is expecting house price inflation of above 5% in 2014 and 7% in 2015, with the Exchequer seeing a near doubling of property stamp duty from £9bn to £17bn between 2103-14 and 2018-19.

Osborne told MPs: “This country is working through its long term plan. Bringing down the deficit and dealing with the debt.

“Spending less on welfare and making the big decisions on infrastructure. Living within our means and cutting tax on business. Making work pay and letting people keep more of what they earn.”

But Balls said Osborne was borrowing £198bn more than he planned in 2010. “More borrowing to pay for three years of economic failure. More borrowing in just three years under this chancellor than under the last government in 13 years.

“He used to say he would balance the books in 2015. Now he expects us to congratulate him for saying he’ll do it by 2019.”

Balls brushed aside suggestions that his shouty performance in the Commons had damaged him saying “there were 350 Tory MPs shouting at the top of their voice because they don’t want to hear the truth about the cost of living crisis in our country”.

He said Osborne “was in denial about the way in which living standards were still falling”.

He insisted that the chancellor’s plans for faster spending cuts, a welfare cap and a proposal to ask MPs to vote next autumn for faster than expected fiscal consolidation in the three years after the election would not cause him problems. But he faces a difficult judgment whether to accept the Tory timetable for fiscal reduction, or back a slower pace.

He also said he may call for tax rises as well as spending cuts to scale back the deficit.

The business secretary, Vince Cable, also emphasised that, like Balls, the Lib Dems would not be forced to accept the plan for Conservative deficit reduction, which envisages for more than 80% to come from spending cuts, even if they might accept the timetable.

Cable said: “The Liberal Democrats are an independent party … Liberal Democrats have a different approach to tax and spend, in particular with an emphasis on fairness in the way the tax system operates, and our achievements in lifting low earners out of tax.

“Ultimately the electorate has got to decide what the outcome of the next election is but we will go into it as a distinct party with a distinct agenda.”

Cable also sounded a warning note, saying the housing market was “very buoyant”. He said: “There’s clearly still a danger of house prices getting out of control.”

Now here is a chance to read the report in full to make up your own mind up see:

Leading investors in HSBC reacted angrily on Thursday to a decision by George Osborne to increase his levy on banks, warning that it would restrain the dividend-paying capacity of Europe’s biggest lender.

A number of the bank’s institutional investors are furious at the Chancellor’s move to hike both the rate and the overall sum raised by the levy, which was introduced in 2011.

A major HSBC shareholder, who refused to be named, said the Treasury was “pushing the bank to a point at which it will again have to consider the issue of redomiciling” its headquarters away from the UK.

Under plans announced as part of his Autumn Statement, Mr Osborne said the targeted yield from the levy on banks’ balance sheets would increase from £2.5bn this year to £2.7bn next year and £2.9bn from 2015.

The latest increase – the fifth since the levy’s introduction – was designed to offset the benefit to banks of ongoing reductions to the rate of corporation tax, Treasury insiders said.

However, the move is likely to force HSBC’s contribution to the levy to more than $1bn (£612m) for the first time next year, and take its overall bill since Mr Osborne unveiled it three years ago to more than £1.5bn, far more than any other bank.

HSBC, which did not require direct taxpayer support during the banking crisis, said earlier this year that it anticipated paying between $800m (£490m) and $900m (£551m) in 2013.

The investor questioned the logic of Mr Osborne’s move, saying that because it was a levy on pre-tax profits, it inhibited HSBC’s dividend-paying capacity.

“It makes no sense. HSBC’s board could quite understandably take the view that the cost of being a UK-based bank has now reached a tipping point,” they added.

HSBC periodically reviews the location of its headquarters but has not done so formally since before the Independent Commission on Banking made recommendations about ring-fencing structures aimed at safeguarding taxpayers from future bank rescues.

The Chancellor’s levy has consistently failed to generate the targeted £2.5bn yield as banks have accelerated the deleveraging of their balance sheets.

Treasury officials said on Thursday that the structure of the bank levy would also be altered from January 1 2015, with changes limiting the protected deposit exclusion to insured amounts, and treating all derivative contracts as short-term.

The effect of this would be likely to mean higher charges for Wall Street banks with UK operations, according to one source.

Why is it that Central government has decided not to allow more houses to be built one can only assume that the coalition are burying themselves in the sand and that  The government must allow councils in England and Wales to borrow more money to spend on building so they can tackle housing shortages, a report says.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said nine councils, with 40,000 people on accommodation waiting lists, were unable to take on any loans at all.

It said lifting a cap on borrowing would allow up to 60,000 new homes to be built in the next five years.

But the government said there was “no magic money tree”.

It added there was still a need to cut public borrowing to improve the performance of the economy.

In 2012 the Treasury capped the amount councils could borrow against ring-fenced housing budgets, set at different levels for each area.

However, the LGA urged Chancellor George Osborne to use Thursday’s Autumn Statement to lift the provision.

He should instead allow councils “to invest in housing under normal responsible borrowing guidelines”, it said, adding that “the investment would be very low-risk and paid many times over by future rents on new homes”.

Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said: “There are millions of people on social housing waiting lists and councils want to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need.

“Local authorities have excellent credit ratings and we want to use our assets to help kick-start the housing recovery, but our hands are being tied.”

The LGA said the following authorities had been given no borrowing “headroom”:

  • Darlington Borough Council
  • Dudley Borough Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Gosport Borough Council
  • Harrow Council
  • Royal Borough Greenwich Council
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Waverley Borough Council
  • Woking Borough Council

Mr Jones said: “The chancellor has an unrivalled opportunity to use this Autumn Statement to create jobs, provide tens of thousands of homes and help the economy without having to find a single extra penny.

“New homes are badly needed and councils want to get on with building them. The common sense answer is for the Treasury to remove its house building block and let us get on with it.”

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said: “As a lobbying organisation, the LGA need to realise that there is no magic money tree, and this government needs to cut public borrowing to keep interest rates down and ensure long-term economic growth.

“But under this government, the housing market has turned the corner, with house building now at its highest level since 2007, backed by up £19.5bn of public and private investment in affordable housing over the current spending review. The government will outline its broader approach in the Autumn Statement.”

Intriguingly Charities have accused the Prime Minister of giving “inaccurate” statements and raising “false hopes” by suggesting that disabled people who need an extra room are exempt from the so-called “bedroom tax”.

Eighteen chief executives of leading disabled charities have written to David Cameron criticising comments he made during Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday.

Mr Cameron was asked about calls to exempt disabled people from the spare room subsidy and responded: “Obviously, what we have done is to exempt disabled people who need an extra room.”

The charities, which include Carers UK, the RNIB and and Sense, say he has made similar remarks twice this year.

The letter states: “None of these situations reflect the reality of the Government’s policy. We are now even more concerned that the effects the policy is having on disabled people and their families are not understood in Government.”

It continues: “When senior Government figures state that these families are exempt when they are not, our organisations have to respond to the false hope this generates. We receive the relieved calls and messages from families who are struggling to pay their rent shortfall, and it falls to us to tell those families that they are, in fact, subject to these cuts and are not exempt.”

Although there are some exemptions for disabled children, many disabled people do not qualify.

They may be eligible for money from a discretionary fund but charities say the fund is not available to all and as a consequence the policy is having a “devastating” impact on many people who need an extra room for carers or equipment.

In the letter to the Prime Minister they list the types of people affected, which include “families of disabled children who need overnight care workers to stay to give them a break” and “people whose extra room is needed for home adaptations or equipment, including dialysis machines, oxygen tanks, hoists and wheelchairs”.

A consortium of 50 charities had written to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) calling for disabled people to be exempt from the spare room subsidy.

The DWP responded: “We are determined to support those who might need extra help through these necessary reforms. That is why we set aside £190m this year to do precisely this, with £25m specifically for disabled people living in specially adapted properties.

“The courts have ruled we are meeting our equality duties to disabled people who are affected by the policy.

“The removal of the spare room subsidy means we still pay the majority of most claimants’ rent, but the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay the £500m cost of claimants’ extra bedrooms.”

Here is another example of Iain Duncan Smith cock up again we have learnt the full extent of how to waste money. Mr Duncan Smith told a committee of MPs in July and the Commons in September that the 2017 plan remained in place.

But he has now said some people receiving Employment Support Allowance may not be transferred in time.

The government estimates about 700,000 people in this group could be moved to Universal Credit after 2017.

In an interview Mr Duncan Smith said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “may take a little longer” as it was dealing with a vulnerable group and the official in charge of the project, Howard Shiplee, may want to take more time.

Mr Duncan Smith insists despite the possible late transfer of claimants the new benefit system will “essentially” be complete by 2017.

Ministers will argue that these claimants are among those least able to work so least likely to lose out by not being part of Universal Credit.

So the next time the coalition continue to play their scratch record on blaming Labour let us all remind the coalition of their failed record that is happening on their watch


World leaders pay tribute to the RT honorable Nelson Mandela

Here is fitting to tribute to remember a memory of a life time achievements from  Nelson Mandela, at the age of 95

Many will have learn about the death of a world renown leader via Nelson Mandela. Many were happy to see the release of Nelson Mandela and his forgiveness of his foes and injustice he received.

photoToday we all rejoice in knowing his work will continue with activists all over the world to stop the wide spread of injustice in the of Nelson Mandela.

This day will be remembered as Nelson Mandela day and both young and old alike will continue with the struggle to end injustice.

Nelson Mandela was inspirational, not just to South Africa but the World. He gives hope to those of us fighting oppression.

A sad day on 5 December 2013 as many now begin to learn about the death of Nelson Mandela. Let his work continue by his family and friends to spread the worlds peace and justices for all as we all remember him in our own way.

Peace be with Nelson Mandela and his family with the support of the knowldge that all political activists all over the world will carry on with the legacy.

Who is knocking on my door at this late hour

Please watch this Youtube before reading my strange encourge:

Someone is knocking on the door do me a favour answer the door my reply to the other half.

Out in the hallway I heard two voices I had not heard for some time it was a married couple I knew very well and who were well to do, so I thought at the time. I thought I heard all the hard luck stories in my time but never imagine it would happen to them.

Of course I invited them in with open arms as I had not been in contact with them for some time but kept in touch with via email since moving to the West Midlands from London. As usual when guest arrives it normal to offer them a cup of coffee and catch up of what had been happening to them.

crisis-loans-big-18430-0Not only was I very shocked to learn of their circumstances a well to couple who fell on hard times and they had to sell their house to downside just pay their creditors, staff, and bank they had to join the queue to sign on at Job Centre Plus and make request for a voucher to obtain food from the Foodbank which they can only receive three time whilst their claims for JSA and council tax benefit are being process. They enquired about a crisis loan they were informed that they need to approach their local council to obtain assistant to their horror they discovered the standard bar was very high they had to apply online and local phone number stated that same thing there was nobody that they could speak to explain their situation.

Food bank investigation by the Sunday Mirror-1519590When I checked it out myself I found it hard and made a few notes such as there is not a system in place to receive emergency payment of buying tokens to feed the electric and gas meters.

Middle income has been left reliant on state support according to the office for National Statistics(ONS)

The middle fifth of house holds have been forced to claim 3% more in benefits since the coalition took power in 2010.

Increase in tax credits to top up wages from low paid jobs and housing benefits to help with soaring rents made the greatest contribution.

People simply do not have enough money to make ends meet because George Osbourne is not doing anything to create real jobs which pay sufficient income for people to actually support their families.

Cash benefits accounted for 21% of income for those families in 2009/10 but that reached 24% last year.

385294_195107567306966_1850351962_nIn the same period the amount of family income from employment fell from 65% to 62%. Families face losing out further when the Chancellor delivers his autumn statement on Thursday.

More than 60,000 people, three-times more than last year, will visit a foodbank for free groceries because they can’t afford to feed themselves.

Many people don’t think this is acceptable in the seventh richest country in the world. That’s why I’ve started a petition calling for Parliament to debate the causes of UK hunger and to ask why, in modern Britain, foodbank use is escalating so rapidly. Please join me and sign the petition here.

Please sign my petition calling for a parliamentary debate. We need to stop turning a blind eye and come together to make politicians confront what is happening. 

In the words of Desmond Tutu: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

Thank you,
Gordon Lyew

Be aware of Coalition bearing gifts

Ever get the feeling when the coalition continues with their scratch record of blame Labour for everything then they come up with another gimmick of we’ve found money from some savings to the sum of £300 Million in a form of a rebate which unfortunately does not match Ed Miliband‘s speech on energy freeze for 20 months to be action after a Labour Government win in 2015.

BaVwYmlIMAE9Oh7Many people want to spread jam on their bread now and they want to see their pay packet with an increase in it but not tokenism from the coalition. Many people are sick and tired of seeing their fatcat friends profiting from us plebs whilst the coalition bankers friends enjoys the finest winery and super whilst they throw the scraps of the table for low and middle incomes.

People are feeling the hardship of this coalition in one go whilst I still maintain voters are far more better of under a Labour Government and yes they will have to make cuts but at least they won’t cut too deep than a Conservative or a coalition government I kid you not.

Recently I attended a all members meeting in the West Midlands Region organized by West Midlands Labour Party I have to say it was well attended and rather better attended than Prince William who addressed a audience in West Midlands. There I witnessed many concerns that they all wanted to air out some touched on living standards, NHS, and zero contracts and other concerns in a short space of time.

photoWhy are the many not surprised to learn about the £300 Million rebate from this coalition by thinking of dangling a few carrots will solve the problems hey after all Christmas and New Years is just around the corner so it’s in the best interest for the coalition to do a few gimmicks during the season of good will but be aware of a very nasty sting that comes with it. So the coalition and the energy companies have agreed on cutting £50 off our household bills and giving £1,000 to people buying houses towards costs like insulation, but has only said that the money will come from ‘tax avoiders’. What it actually means is that they won’t take any money from tax avoiders but actually raise our taxes, leaving us even more out of pocket. Do they think we’re that gullible? So in a nutshell be very wary of the coalition bearing gifts as it has a very nasty sting that comes with it..

photo (1)Now we all learn that ministers are to fund a £300m plan for a £12 rebate on every domestic electricity bill in the country as part of a Government effort to combat a round of inflation-busting energy price hikes.

There is no doubt  the Government is finalising plans this weekend for a series of measures ahead of next week’s autumn statement by the Chancellor, George Osborne.

The debate over energy costs has intensified in recent days as ministers have sought ways to regain the political initiative following the Labour leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to impose an energy price freeze for 20 months if Labour wins the next general election.

Big-six-energy-companiesFive of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies, including Centrica, the owner of British Gas, and Npower, have announced plans for substantial price increases in the last six weeks. The hikes have sparked a furious row in Westminster and the City about the industry’s profitability.

Insiders said on Saturday that the Government package would include an agreement between the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and a group of companies known as distribution network operators, whose charges account for approximately 20% of consumers’ energy bills.

1458648_630252693682699_673307862_nThe deal between ministers and these companies, which include National Grid, would involve restructuring their cost-profile over the 15-year period during which they have set out their investment plans.

This measure is expected to lead to an average of £5 off customers’ bills, although the precise amount will vary by region, with some parts of the country not seeing any such saving, a source said.

Details of the package of measures could be announced as early as Sunday following intense Whitehall horse-trading over what has become one of the Government’s most pressing domestic challenges.

The £300m rebate will be funded by altering the funding of the Warm Home Discount, which funds one-off electricity discounts for thousands of vulnerable customers. This is expected to be transferred to general taxation rather than being funded by the energy companies.

A Whitehall source said the £12-per-account rebate would require licence changes to be overseen by Ofgem, the energy regulator, but that this was unlikely to prove a significant obstacle.

DECC is understood to be keen for the £12 rebate to be clearly marked on consumers’ bills and is extracting assurances from the big energy suppliers that they will agree to this.

The largest cut to energy bills is expected to be generated by a roughly £40-per-household saving on a green levy called the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO), which was introduced only this year.

The cost of the ECO, which costs the major suppliers about £1.3bn annually, is to be lowered by lengthening a programme of providing home insulation to 2017.

According to a letter from the Government to energy companies cited in reports this weekend, ministers want to introduce legislation to implement the changes.

“The government intends to make changes to the ECO order with a view to extending the period over which the obligation will run and reducing the expected cost of compliance. The government will consult on detailed proposals shortly and will subsequently look to introduce the necessary legislation as soon as possible,” the letter said.

“The changes include extending ECO beyond its current March 2015 deadline. The government’s specific proposal in this respect is that a new binding target should be set for March 2017.”

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are understood to have been discussing the publication of a joint article in a Sunday newspaper to announce the moves, although it is unclear whether that plan will go ahead.

Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, has informed the energy industry of the full package of proposals in recent days although sources insisted that they were not yet finalised.

The Big Six are expected to announce price cuts or reductions to their planned price increases as soon as the Government’s proposals are unveiled.

The overhaul of the ECO will represent something of a u-turn by the Government. The levy places legal obligations on the larger energy suppliers to deliver energy-efficiency measures to domestic energy customers.

It operates alongside the Green Deal and is designed to help people make energy efficiency improvements to buildings by allowing them to pay the costs through their energy bills rather than up-front.

On Friday, Downing Street denied a report that it was pressing the Big Six to agree to freeze prices until after the next election, underlining Mr Cameron’s sensitivity about Labour’s recent eye-catching policies.

In a statement, Jonathan Reynolds MP, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister, said:

“The Energy Company Obligation is David Cameron’s scheme. He only introduced it this year and a few months ago he was even boasting that it was bigger than previous energy efficiency schemes.

“Labour has consistently said that ECO should be reformed to make it better value for money and targeted at those in fuel poverty. But what the public really needs is a Labour government implementing a price freeze until 2017 and resetting the energy market so that it works for the long term.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman declined to comment while the Treasury could not be reached on Saturday.

A DECC spokeswoman said: “Government is looking closely at the impact of green levies on consumer bills and how the measures they support are paid for. Details of this review will be announced by the autumn statement.”

However Chancellor George Osborne said the government would pay for some measures currently included in people’s bills, and the cost of insulating homes would be spread over a longer period.

This would “help families” and firms would comply with the changes, he said. In actual fact the plans remedied less than half of this year’s £120 increase.

Rising energy bills have become a major political issue in recent months, as the main political parties look to offer policies to reduce the squeeze on people’s standard of living in the run-up to the next general election.

I’m sure many may have watched the Speaking on Andrew Marr Show, George Osborne said of his own proposal, to be set out in detail in Thursday’s Autumn Statement: “This will help families… We’ve been in discussions with the energy companies.”

He added: “There’s going to be an average of £50 off people’s bills… We are absolutely insistent that this is going to be brought in.”

Mr Osborne said the change would be part-funded by extra tax money from cracking down on tax avoidance. That would reduce annual bills by approximately £12.

Asked whether the energy firms would pass cost savings on to customers, Mr Osborne said: “I don’t want to pre-empt what they are going to say in the next few days, but I’m clear that it’s going to happen.”

He attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband’s promise of a price freeze as a “con”, adding that the coalition had the “right approach” to cutting bills

Intriguingly Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg also confirmed that the cost to energy firms of insulating homes, “apart from in the worst-off homes,” would be spread over four years instead of two.

They said these proposed changes to the “energy company obligation”, and would reduce bills, but did not specify by how much.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg also said the government would pay for new incentives for people to insulate their homes.

But, for Labour, shadow chancellor Ed Balls, also appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, said the government was simply “shifting” costs “from energy bills to the taxpayer”.

“That’s not a help. It’s just a shifting of the burden,” he said.

“They are the government. They need to get a grip. Why are David Cameron and George Osborne running scared?”

He added: “Anything they do is better than nothing. Shifting, though, from bills to taxes is giving with one hand and taking with the other.”

The Association for Conservation of Energy (ACE), which represents the insulation industry, said the government’s scheme amounted to halving large parts of the budget for insulation, previously projected by government to run at £1.3bn a year to 2022.

The main casualty would be the expensive help for insulating solid-walled homes that is currently offered to householders to save on their bills and cut carbon emissions. The primary focus will now be on the cheapest measures to achieve energy efficiency, such as roof and cavity wall insulation, ACE added.

The organisation estimates that the changes will cost 10,000 jobs in the insulation industry, mostly in small firms, although its numbers are uncertain until full details of the policy become clear.

In addition, landlords would be offered cash incentives to insulate their least energy-efficient properties between old tenants leaving and new ones moving in.

Spokesman Andrew Warren said: “It beggars belief that the government is trying to cut energy bills by delaying a scheme that itself cuts energy bills.

“The government has been hoodwinked by the big six energy firms, who don’t want to insulate people’s homes because it means less profits for them.”

E.On – the only one of the big six energy companies in the UK that has not yet announced an increase in its tariffs this autumn – said it would wait for a formal statement from the government before commenting, “but we are pleased that steps seem to be being taken that will ultimately benefit our customers”.

EDF welcomed the plans and indicated it was not now likely to hike prices again before 2015.

It said its “decision to hold back the full impact of rising costs” earlier this month by implementing a lower rise than competitors had been “validated by the confirmation that the government will take action on energy charges”.

“Customers should expect other energy suppliers to follow EDF Energy’s lead by significantly lowering their prices,” a spokesman said. And Scottish Power issued a statement saying: “We are pleased the government has recognised the impact of levies and we have worked collaboratively with them to identify a number of new individual savings. “Once implemented, these will lead to real savings in 2014.”

I’m amazed that individuals now owe a total of £1.43 trillion, including mortgage debt, slightly above the previous high.

The previous record was set in September 2008, just before the effects of the financial crisis and the recession began to bite.

But the government said that relative to household income, debt had actually fallen.

The rise may reflect the willingness of consumers to borrow more, as a recovery comes into sight.

However, the figures may also show that families are having to borrow to deal with the higher cost of living, and to pay household bills.

The precise amount of total household debt is £1,429,624,000,000. That compares with the previous high of £1,429,595,000,000 five years ago, a difference of just £29m.

On average, that means each adult in the UK owes £28,489, including any home loans.

Indeed most of the debt is in mortgages, which have been rising steadily. So some of the increase reflects the recent recovery in house prices.

Unsecured lending – on credit cards or with bank overdrafts – has also started to recover since the recession.

However, the figures show that unsecured borrowing actually fell in October, from £158.8bn to £158.6bn.

The news of the record debt level may increase concerns that the UK’s recovery is based on increased borrowing, rather than growth sustained by rising incomes.

However, the total debt figure is not adjusted for inflation, and the Bank of England has pointed out that – relative to income – debt levels have been falling.

The ratio of debt to household income has fallen from 167% at the start of the financial crisis, to 140% now.

The government said debt has also fallen in relation to disposable income, and as a share of economic output.

Samuel Tombs, of Capital Economics, said the UK’s recovery was not purely based on increased borrowing.

“Investment picked up in the latest GDP figures, and manufacturing is growing strongly”.

“Consumer spending and recovery in the housing market are also supported by higher employment,” he added.

Like many people who are on the poverty line I’m glad that Ed Miliband is to accuse ministers of using “smoke and mirrors” over its plan to cut the cost of energy bills by an average of £50 a year.

Chancellor George Osborne has said he will spread the cost of insulating homes and that government will take on some of the burden faced by customers.

But Mr Miliband will insist in a speech on Monday that a “cosy deal” with firms will not keep bills down.

The government will outline its plans in full in Thursday’s Autumn Statement.

Rising energy bills have become a major political issue in recent months, as the main political parties look to offer policies to reduce the squeeze on people’s standard of living in the run-up to the next general election.

The chancellor told the BBC on Sunday that £50 could be saved on bills by measures including spreading the cost of insulating homes over a longer period and the state paying some improvement costs with money raised from tax avoiders.

Labour says it will freeze gas and electricity bills for 20 months if it wins the next general election, but the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats argue this is unrealistic because of the varying and unpredictable international costs of gas and other fuels.

In a speech on today 2 December 2013, Mr Miliband will tell staff at the VW National Training Centre in Milton Keynes: “A lot of people think that David Cameron and George Osborne are trying to catch up with One Nation Labour on the cost-of-living crisis: from payday lending to energy bills.

But the truth is they are struggling to catch up with the British people who live at the sharp end of an economy where the link between the wealth of our nation and family finances has been broken. That is the cost-of-living crisis that is happening in our country today.

“That is how this government and any government will be judged. And it is how the Autumn Statement will be judged.”

The Labour leader will argue that “the costs of essentials” such as gas, electricity and train fares are “higher than can be justified”.

He will add that the Autumn Statement should feature “not smoke and mirrors on electricity and gas bills or cosy deals with the Big Six (energy suppliers) that mean bills still rise this winter, but a real price freeze and action to reset the market to stop them overcharging again in the future”.

But Mr Osborne told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show his plans would “help families… We’ve been in discussions with the energy companies.”

He added: “There’s going to be an average of £50 off people’s bills… We are absolutely insistent that this is going to be brought in.”

Mr Osborne said the change would be part-funded by cracking down on tax avoidance. That would reduce annual bills by approximately £12, the BBC understands.

Asked whether the energy firms would pass cost savings on to customers, Mr Osborne said: “I don’t want to pre-empt what they are going to say in the next few days, but I’m clear that it’s going to happen.”

Come on George Osbourne stop playing the scratch record by attacking Labour leader Ed Miliband’s promise of a price freeze as a “con”, adding that the coalition had the “right approach” to cutting bills

In response, E.On – the only one of the big six energy companies in the UK that has not yet announced an increase in its tariffs this autumn – said it would wait for a formal statement from the government before commenting, “but we are pleased that steps seem to be being taken that will ultimately benefit our customers”.

EDF welcomed the plans and indicated it was not now likely to hike prices again before 2015.

Centrica said: “We will pass on any cost reduction in full to customers as a result of any of these changes.”

And SSE added that it too was “committed to passing on any savings resulting from changes to government policy directly back to customers”.

It’s hardly surprising that Three in four people on low wages in 2002 failed to escape from Britain’s “low pay trap” over the next 10 years, according to a report published today.

According to Resolution Foundation think-tank, 1.3 million (27 per cent) of the 4.7 million workers on low pay in 2002 remained in the bottom bracket for the next 10 years.

A further 2.2 million (46 per cent) moved in and out of low wages but failed to break free of them for good by the end of the decade.

The findings will fuel the growing concern about the lack of social mobility in the UK and the heated political debate about the “cost of  living crisis”.

In a Commons debate today, Labour will highlight figures showing that average earnings have fallen in real terms in every part of the UK since 2010.

Labour will claim that the Coalition has failed to meet the goals it set itself on living standards, economic growth and the deficit.

Only 800,000 (18 per cent) moved up the earnings ladder for a sustained period without slipping back into low pay.  A further 400,000 (9 per  cent) retired or left the labour market. Low pay was defined as two-thirds of median hourly earnings – £7.32 and £10.98 respectively at today’s prices.

Alex Hurrell, senior analyst at the foundation and author of the report, said: “For many people, low pay is not a first rung on the ladder – it’s a long-term or even permanent reality. Identifying those who are least likely to escape low pay is the first step in targeting policies to help them get on.”

Researchers found women were much more likely to be stuck on low pay than men.

Some 900,000 women (33 per cent) on low wages in 2012 had been there for the previous 10 years, compared to 400,000 men (21 per cent).

The North-east was the region where workers were most likely to be trapped on low earnings. One in three  (34 per cent) in this category in 2012 had been there for  a decade.

The East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside and Wales (31 per cent) were the next worst affected. London and the South-east were the least affected, although 23 per cent of the low paid in 2012 had been stuck for 10 years.

Half of all the workers trapped for the decade were aged between 41 and 60, which means they spent up to 10 of their “peak earning years” on low pay. Some may remain stuck for their entire careers, the foundation said.

Public-sector workers were more likely to escape low pay than those in the private sector. Women, manual workers, administrators and staff of firms with fewer than 10 staff were least likely to escape.

The sectors where people were most likely to be stuck included retail, hospitality, sales, customer services, manufacturing and care. The foundation said more must be done to help workers progress.

Only one in six women (15 per cent) working in the retail sector in 2002 escaped low pay during the decade.

Gavin Kelly, the think-tank’s chief executive, said: “Living on low pay in 2013 is tough, but being stuck on it for years on end is harder still.

“This report shines a light on the persistent nature of low pay for millions of workers and shows that women, those in regions such as the North-east, the East Midlands and Wales, and people working in sectors like administration are far likelier to be stuck in low pay than others.

“It also highlights the large numbers who cycle in and out of low pay over time.

“Limited earnings mobility is a long-running problem in our economy which spans a number of decades and has occurred under governments of different complexions.”

Chris Leslie, the shadow Chief Treasury Secretary, said: “On every economic test David Cameron and George Osborne set themselves three years ago they have failed.

“Far from delivering rising living standards, working  people are now over £1,600  a year worse off under this Government.”

In the debate today, ministers will point out that the problems of low pay pre-date the Coalition coming to power in 2010 and will accuse the previous Labour government of failing to tackle it.