Category Archives: #movementforchange

Here is a flavor of the interim collins report


lord collinsI’m sure that most will have heard or read about Labour Party reform of the trade union links which in some quarters would have said that it is the best thing since slice cake by saying that it is a bold move by Ed Miliband and some people may have read the Interim Collins Report for your perusal I have decided to enclose the full documentation and decided to add a few concerns at the end of the report from various sources that I have been receiving and would like the National Executives of the Labour Party to clarify:

1. THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LABOUR PARTY AND INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF OUR AFFILIATE ORGANISATIONS.

Trade unions and affiliated organisations hold a special place inside the Labour Party.

They founded the party over a century ago. Indeed, until 1918, Labour was entirely composed of affiliated organisations – individual membership was not possible. That changed after the First World War, when individuals were welcomed into the party’s ranks for the first time. But recognising the continued importance of the trade unions and socialist societies, the party adopted a federal structure which amalgamated the individual membership, organised around Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), alongside an affiliates’ section.

The federal structure remains in place today and already, during this consultation, a number of party members and affiliates have said to me that while it should remain so it also has to change. There is a recognition that the connection, particularly as it relates to trade unions, must become more transparent.

Trade union affiliation fees are paid to the Labour Party out of trade union political funds.

These funds are comprised of the political levy payments of individual people who chose to join a trade union. Margaret Thatcher’s government established a legal right for all trade unionists to contract out of paying that levy. We do not believe there is any need to change the laws around the right of trade unions to hold political funds.

Trade unions that affiliate to the Labour Party are required to pay fees on behalf of each of their members who pay into the union’s political fund. On this basis the trade unions are collectively affiliated to the party and have representation within the party’s structures in proportion to the level of their affiliation.

The individual levy paying trade unionists are in turn connected to the party through their trade unions, and have the right to select trade union delegates who participate in Labour’s structures at a local and national level. Individual trade unionists also have the right to cast a ballot in the election of the Labour Party Leader. They do not have the right to take part in local or parliamentary selections.

Ed Miliband has now said this process should be changed, so that instead of trade union levy-payers being automatically affiliated these individuals are instead able to make an active, deliberate choice on whether to be part of the Labour Party.

He wants them to have a real choice about affiliating to Labour – and then a real voice as individuals within the party. This new relationship is intended to transform Labour into a much bigger party of working people while also putting the link with trade unions on a modern and more secure footing. The prize is a party more rooted in the lives of working people with many more thousands of trade unionists given the opportunity to be an active part of the Labour Party at a local level.

Ed does not want this individual relationship with trade union members to damage the collective relationship and the institutional links between the party and the union organisations. Ed wants to mend – not end – the link.

I want to hear your views on how we meet Ed Miliband’s objective that “Individual

Trade Union members should choose to join Labour through the affiliation fee, not be automatically affiliated” – and also how we meet the need for a collective voice inside the party.

We also recognise, and wish to learn from, existing schemes that already give trade union members the ability to make positive choices about affiliation.

The objective would be to convert as many as possible of the levy-payers of affiliated unions into individual membership of our party. The corresponding aim is a party that is stronger in the workplace, our communities and neighbourhoods, in real contact with working people from all walks of life.

I now wish to consult Labour’s members, supporters and members of our affiliated organisations on what this means.

It clearly means a potential new cohort of party members. But what would their

membership mean – what rights would they have, would they get all these rights immediately, and how similar or different would those membership rights look in comparison to existing CLP members of the party?

As the party Leader has acknowledged, moving to this new system of affiliation has big and historic implications for both the trade unions and the Labour Party which need to be worked through. Changes to the nature and scale of affiliated membership inevitably throw up questions about the way affiliated organisations are represented in the party and participate in its structures.

For instance, currently affiliated organisations have a 33 per cent share of the Electoral College for choosing leaders and deputy leaders along with MPs and members.

Each member of those organisations is balloted. Trade union members must tick a box indicating their support for Labour’s values before voting. There is already a plan to introduce a new section for registered supporters worth up to 10 per cent of this college, reducing the other three to 30 per cent each. We will need to consider what implications there are for the Electoral College over time, as we move to a different system.

A clear question that should be addressed during this consultation is what are the consequences for the Electoral College used to elect our Leader and Deputy Leader, in particular the Trade Union and Affiliates section.

It would be very helpful to have views in relation to the following questions:

• What kind of relationship with the party do you think those individuals who choose to affiliate want or expect?

• What rights should they receive? Should their rights differ from CLP members and if so how?

• What ideas do you have for how members of affiliated organisations might have a closer individual engagement with Labour and a real voice inside the party, particularly at the local level?

• How do we ensure that the collective voice of trade unions is still heard in the Labour Party?

• Once individual affiliated members have had an active choice about whether to be part of the Labour Party, do you believe that we would need to consider the consequences for other party structures including conference and the rules for electing leaders?

• What views do you have about the practical timeframe for agreeing and implementing changes to affiliation and related issues?

• Do you have any other ideas you wish to contribute to this review about how to deepen the relationship between Labour and working people.

2. STANDARDISING CONSTITUENCY DEVELOPMENT PLANS.

Since the Nolan Report on party funding in the late 1990s, which formed the basis of the regulatory system we have today, Labour has moved away from the old practice of sponsorship of MPs towards the current one of support for constituency organisations.

This was introduced so as to remove any question that financial support could be used to exercise influence over elected representatives, whilst recognising the legitimate and healthy role that trade unions and other organisations can play in funding local political parties.

Ed Miliband has underlined the value of local agreements between Constituency Labour

Parties and trade unions, saying they help to keep parties connected to the needs of working people. However, he has also said that such agreements need to be properly regulated and overseen so that nobody can allege that individuals are being put under pressure at a local level. It is therefore intended to establish standard constituency agreements with trade unions.

• What ideas do you have about the form that such agreements should take?

• What do you think should be the process for signing off and registering such agreements?

• Do you have any other suggestions about issues raised in this section?

3. USING PRIMARIES TO ENGAGE A WIDER PUBLIC IN LABOUR’S SELECTIONS OF CANDIDATES.

Labour members are the lifeblood of our party. It is essential that the rights that come with membership are recognised and understood. Party members play a crucial role in holding their MP to account, selecting their parliamentary candidate, selecting the Leader and Deputy Leader, picking delegates for annual conference, and much more besides.

No-one knows better than the thousands of activists who spend their time knocking on doors that our party must always be reaching to Labour voters and potential Labour voters.

Ed Miliband has already opened our party out to people on the outside who do not want to become full members by introducing a registered supporters’ scheme. Now he has identified the next step in opening up our politics.

Ed has proposed that, for the next London Mayoral election, Labour will use a “primary” to select our candidate. Any Londoner should be eligible to vote in that selection provided they have registered as a supporter of the Labour Party at any time up to the ballot. This draws on experience in other countries, which have seen an enormous outreach to new supporters in the course of a primary process.

He also asked for an examination of this idea in other internal party selections, such as in future parliamentary selections where a sitting MP is retiring and where the local party has dwindled so that the choice of who represents such constituencies is not limited to just a handful of people.

It would be helpful to have views and suggestions in response to the following questions:

• Should individuals who register as supporters in London ahead of the mayoral selection be charged a small sum to finance the administration of the primary? In

France this was One Euro.

• Should the Labour Party consider the use of new methods of voting, including voting on-line, in undertaking the London mayoral selection primary?

• Do you agree that primaries should be used in certain parliamentary selections? If so, what criteria should the party follow in deciding when a primary should be used?

• Who should be eligible to take part in a constituency-based primary selection?

• Do you have any other suggestions about issues raised in this section?

4. ENSURING FAIRNESS AND TRANSPARENCY IN LABOUR SELECTIONS.

Ed Miliband has stressed that he wants to ensure that every candidate selection in the

Labour Party happens in the fairest way. To that end, he has said that there will be a new code of conduct for those seeking selection and new spending limits in those selections, including for outside organisations as well as individual candidates. The objective is to create a level playing field for individuals who wish to become Labour candidates which is not distorted by money and resources. Similarly, election to be the Leader and Deputy

Leader of the Labour Party should be a battle of ideas and ability, and never descend into an arms race over who has the money to pay for the most leaflets or the resources to make the most phone calls.

• What proposals do you have for a new code of conduct for use in candidate selections?

In particular, how would you amend or add to the existing code of conduct for selections?

• What do you believe would be a fair level at which to impose a spending cap on candidates, and their supporters, in a parliamentary selection?

• What do you believe would be a fair level at which to impose a spending cap on candidates, and their supporters, in a mayoral selection or a European selection?

• What do you believe would be a fair level at which to impose a spending cap on candidates, and supporters of candidates, in elections for the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party?

• How do you believe that the code of conduct and the spending limit could best be policed and enforced?

• What activities should be banned during a selection?

• Are they any activities that the party should help to facilitate?

• What sanctions do you think should apply where the rules are breached? Do you have any other suggestions about issues raised in this section?

Now here is some concerns from some quarters of the labour movement  Perhaps the wildest inaccuracy in Ed Miliband’s plan to distance Labour from the trade union movement is his claim that it will “let people back into our politics.”

Labour, in common with the other major parliamentary parties, has increasingly squeezed out democratic decision-making and entrenched power in the leadership.

Annual conference decisions are routinely brushed aside as irrelevant, with their general purpose to provide an uncritical audience for front-bench speakers.

The major role for party delegates is to applaud or, if considered young or diverse enough, to form the backdrop for the leader’s set piece.

No wonder Miliband has been quite happy to leave the trade union movement with 50 per cent of the conference vote. It makes no difference.

Conference can overwhelmingly pass a motion backing renationalisation of the railways only to be told that this is not party policy, indicating that real decision-making remains the preserve of a small coterie that does not even feel compelled to explain its stance.

So much for the nonsense spouted by Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps who spoke of “union barons” being able to “buy Labour’s policies and pick Labour’s leader.”

If trade union leaders really did contribute to party funds dependent on policies being acceptable to them, Labour would not be wedded to the austerity-lite agenda espoused by Miliband and Ed Balls.

The reality is that trade unions and their members invest to secure a Labour government.

The unions play their part in the formal democracy that remains within Labour, but they accept that working out policies is a party responsibility.

Unfortunately, Miliband’s actions over the past half-year exemplify the paucity of accountable democracy within the party.

He made a personal announcement that he would change the relationship between Labour and the unions in a panic response to hysterical media coverage of events in Falkirk.

In the event, despite vilification of Unite and its members, investigations by the police and the party discerned no wrongdoing, but by then the die was cast.

The relationship would change even though the details were up in the air.

Labour members have had no meaningful input. The entire process has been kept within a small leadership cabal and their decisions will be placed before the March 1 party conference on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

How many of the hundreds of thousands of trade unionists who pay the political levy will feel motivated to pay £3 to involve themselves more closely in Labour Party business?

Most trade unionists pay the levy because they support their union’s involvement in the political sphere and want a viable electoral alternative to the employers’ parties.

The accumulated payments contributed by levy-payers are used for union political campaigning or direct donations to Labour, according to membership-answerable decisions by the leadership.

It is the most honest and democratically accountable of all methods of party funding.

Miliband is now intent on ending Labour’s federal relationship and substituting party leadership for union.

This could only work if trade unionists were genuinely fired up by Labour’s plans for government, which is doubtful.

Talk from Miliband and Balls about “tough” decisions, further cuts in public spending, a pay freeze and private good, public bad will not generate a head of steam for higher party membership and healthy finances.

Miliband and company will regret the decision to dance to a media-orchestrated anti-union tune. The unions remain Labour’s greatest strength.

This nothing more than grandstanding to the Tories to say to them look we are dealing with the trade unions and what are you doing to deal with your fatcats donors and we are putting the challenge back to you do you support a cap on donations to political parties.

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Ed Balls full speech


photoI would like to add my couple of pennies worth:

1)I’m sure many would relate to this never went cold and hungry under the last government. I have under this one. It’s freezing here in the West Midlands, and I doubt many here can afford to heat their homes adequately now, with the massive fuel price hikes. I never thought I would find so much comfort and joy from the humble hot water bottle. So being cold is painful and makes me very miserable indeed. I sometime have nightmares of finding out where to put rice on the table for the family. Horrible, and a real fear, as I really do have to take care to keep them warm. Crashing out on the sofa with three hot water bottles at times, on my feet saving gas for household baths later.

Ah, warm. It’s wonderful to know that we all can do our part this year and in 2015 to prepare ourselves to get rid of this coalition to make way for an incoming Labour Government.

photo (1)2) What I really strongly object to is when Tory Millionaires exploits people who are in receipt of benefits and they feel that they take advantage of them because they have a few properties on Benefits street( James Turner Street Winson Green Birmingham)

3) After watching PMQs I did some reflection over the weekend I’m some will agree or beg to disagree with the replies given by David Cameron to the opposition wittingly with the same old lines it’s Labour’s fault.

photo (2)4) Notice recently how conveniently the Coalition has gloss over the sum of 167,000 drop in unemployment drowned out the figure of 147,000 headlines on 22 Jan 2013 more people joining the millions of self-employed without a regular salary.

5) After the release of the latest Office for National Statistics data the so called big quarterly increases in employment on record. More jobs means security, peace of mind and opportunity.

What David Cameron failed to mention at PMQs:

1) the Statistics also revealed a big rise in numbers registered as self-employed taking the total to 4.36 million. Another 1.4 were working part-time because they couldn’t get full time job.

2) On average 6 people are chasing every job that is going. Wages for those with work are flatlining.

3) Average pay raises remained way behind inflation at an annual 0.9% to November 2013 leaving most people facing another real terms fall.

4) The figures show only the top 10% of earners fell behind the CPI rate – which excludes the costs of buying and owning a home such as mortgage interest repayments – with an average increase of 2%. It said it made its claims by taking into account cuts to income tax and national insurance.

5) The figures were “highly selective” and did not take into account changes to benefits

6) These highly selective figures from the Tories do not even include the impact of things like cuts to tax credits and child benefit which have hit working families hard.

7) Under the current government, real annual wages had fallen by £1,600 since 2010 and figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that “families are on average £891 worse off as a result of tax and benefit changes since 2010”.

photo (3)Intriguingly Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said there is “no immediate need to increase interest rates”

The case for a rate rise would be examined in next month’s inflation report, but that it was important to look at the whole labour market, not just one indicator.

On Wednesday, the jobless rate fell to 7.1%, close to the 7% at which Mr Carney said he would consider a rise.

He also said the change, when it comes, would be very gradual.

photo (4)Mr Carney was asked whether it was a problem that the unemployment rate had come down so much faster than the Bank of England had been expecting.

The Bank was not expecting the rate to fall to 7% for another two years.

“If our forecast is going to be wrong it’s better to be wrong in that direction,” he said.

He said that the 7% figure was one that he had used to capture the idea that unemployment was going to have to fall considerably before he would “even begin to think about” raising rates.

A decision for the whole of the rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) but that it was “really about overall conditions in the whole labour market”, and he did not want to focus on just one indicator.

He said that productivity in the labour market was also an issue and that there were still many people working fewer hours than they wanted to.

He played down the importance of the increased growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund, pointing out that “it’s coming off a low base” and the economy had still not recovered to its 2008 levels.

“The worst of the crisis is behind us but the financial system is not functioning as well as it could,” he said. “Uncertainty among households and businesses is still preventing investment.”

Mr Carney’s comments echoed those made by Paul Fisher, a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), in a speech earlier on Thursday.

Mr Fisher said: “My own judgement is that we are still some way off the point where it is appropriate to start raising bank rate and that when it is time, it would be appropriate to do so only gradually.”

Mr Carney was asked about whether he would be happy for an independent Scotland to use the pound.

He stressed that it would not be his decision and the central bank would implement whatever Parliament decided.

But he revealed that he would be visiting Scotland next week to discuss it with First Minister Alex Salmond.

Hey folks my plan is working

Hey folks my plan is working

Now we all learning that George Osborne is claiming “I completely reject that forward guidance is a failure,” he told a panel on monetary policy in Davos.

He added that the Bank’s clear communication had helped create “a very strong set of data in the UK”.

BoE governor Mark Carney had said an interest rate rise would not be on the agenda until unemployment fell to 7%.

But figures on Wednesday showed again that the unemployment rate had fallen much faster than the Bank expected.

Chancellor Osborne stressed that the unemployment rate was still only at 7.1%, and quoted Mr Carney’s comment from a BBC Newsnight interview on Thursday that there was no need for an immediate rise in interest rates.

The Bank of England had not been expecting the jobless rate to hit 7% for another two years.

In a separate speech, made in Davos on Friday, Mr Carney said that the UK’s unemployment rate had fallen “faster” than the Bank had anticipated when it first set 7% as a trigger for a possible review of interest rates.

However, he said that this would not lead to a hurried rate rise, and re-affirmed that the 7% unemployment marker “is merely the point at which the MPC begins to even think about adjusting policy”.

He added that any review of forward guidance would come in February’s Bank of England inflation report, and that “The MPC will consider a range of options to update our guidance”. He did not suggest that forward guidance was to be abandoned.

But Mr Osborne said in his speech that the debate over forward guidance was only taking place because there was a recovery underway, highlighting the differences with the “gloomy debate” about the economy at Davos last year.

He added that the growth in the economy was evidence that monetary policy had worked and that he had expanded the range of tools available to the Bank of England.

On the sidelines after the discussion, a delegate describing himself as a market participant leapt to the defence of Mr Osborne and Mr Carney, saying it was perfectly clear that the 7% had been a threshold and not a trigger for the raising of interest rates.

Mr Carney, in his Friday speech, said that the UK’s economic recovery “has some way to run before it would be appropriate to consider moving away from the emergency settling of monetary policy”.

“It is widely recognised that our 7% threshold is not a trigger for raising the bank rate. Last August, the MPC said that when the 7% unemployment threshold was reached, there should be no assumption of an immediate, automatic change to its policy stance,” he said.

However, others have said that Mr Carney’s comments this week have shown that the forward guidance policy failed.

Economists at JP Morgan Chase said: “The guidance framework has not just failed to offer the clarity the monetary policy committee was seeking, but has, in our view, created unnecessary confusion and volatility in rate expectations.”

Schroders’ European Economist, Azad Zangana, was also critical of the policy. However he defended the Bank’s mis-forecast on the unemployment rate.

“Most economists, including ourselves, came to similar conclusions (on unemployment) last year,” he said.

But he added: “We are critical of the use of forward guidance in the first place and the way that it relies on a single indicator to provide households, businesses and financial markets with a signal on the path of interest rates.”

photo (5)Here is another of Iain Duncan smiths idea which has gone to pots What a cheek of Iain Duncan Smith tried to make claims on 23 January 2014 his welfare reform was a success that had been deliberately misrepresented by his opponents.

It’s not surprising that Work and Pension Secretary has decided to attack people on benefits wittingly in the history of welfare reform. He takes another step by trying to insult our intellectual by trying to say that he is only doing what Thatcher would have done if she was still leader of the Conservatives.

I’m sure by now there are many people will recognize that the welfare system needs reforming but not at the expense of wasting tax payers money on grand projects

Please find enclosed for your perusal Ed Balls full speech:

Can Labour Change Britain?

Thanks Jessica.

And thanks to all of you for giving up your Saturday to be here today.

The title of today’s conference is ‘Can Labour Change Britain?’

And with the next General Election in sight, I want to set out today how this Labour generation can rise to the challenge.

Jessica, I first started attending these Fabian New Year conferences over 25 years ago.

I remember hearing the then Shadow Foreign Secretary Gerald Kaufman debating the pros and cons of unilateral nuclear disarmament…

… and a young rising star called Tony Blair, who had just written an article for a fashionable magazine of the day, called Marxism Today.

How times changed!

When I first started coming to these conferences, the fight to rid Labour of Militant was won, and Labour was finally putting the corrosive internal party division of past decades behind us.

But even as Neil Kinnock fought valiantly for sanity, and even as the Tory government of the day cut taxes for the wealthy, while child poverty rose and long-term unemployment became entrenched…

… we had still not yet re-established ourselves as a credible voice for the hopes and aspirations of working people.

Already out of power for a decade, a return to government was still a long way off.

So I am proud that today, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, this Labour generation has learned from that long and bleak period in opposition.

Just over three and a half years after a General Election defeat, this Labour movement is more united, more in touch and more determined than ever.

Yes, we once again we have a Tory government cutting taxes for the rich, while over 900,000 young people are struggling to find work and child poverty is forecast to rise.

But this time Ed Miliband and Labour are leading the debate, setting the agenda and speaking up for working people – middle and lower income Britain – facing a cost of living crisis.

As Ed Miliband said in his speech last week:

“This cost-of-living crisis is about the pound in people’s pocket today. But it is not just about that. It reaches deeply into people’s lives. Deeply into the way our country is run. Deeply into who our country is run for. And because the problems are deep, the solutions need to be too. “

Ed is right.

This is no time for steady as she goes.

No time for propping up the status quo.

Our country is crying out for real and lasting change.

And it is this new Labour generation – from the leadership out across our party – that is now preparing a credible and radical programme for government that I believe can win public trust.

WHY UNCHANGED TORIES CAN’T CHANGE BRITAIN

So Labour has changed over the past twenty five years.

But as for the Tories – divided on Europe, stigmatising the vulnerable, dismantling the NHS – they haven’t changed at all.

And there is a reason why we are all expecting a nasty, vicious, negative and backward-looking election campaign.

Because if this election is about credible change and a positive vision for the future, then the Tories will lose.

David Cameron had his chance to stand for change in 2010.

After the global financial crisis and with the MPs’ expenses scandal fresh in everyone’s minds, people wanted change then too.

But David Cameron failed to win public support or articulate a vision.

He failed to win a majority.

He failed to convince the country that the Conservative Party had changed and had earned the right to change Britain.

And as the last three years have shown, the country was right not to trust the Conservatives.

But to fully understand this Tory failure, and the challenge ahead for Labour, we need to be clear about what’s gone wrong and what needs to change.

Living Standards

Ed Miliband has been right to argue that the cost of living crisis is undermining support for a Tory-led government that promised to make people better off.

This government promised strong and balanced growth, rising living standards and the budget deficit gone by 2015.

The Tories and their supporters are now working hard to persuade the public that any growth in our economy is a vindication of their economic policies and disproves our critique that the Budget and Spending Reviews of 2010 choked off the recovery and flat-lined the economy.

But the Tories have delivered the slowest recovery for over 100 years, real wages down by an average of £1600 a year for working people, and painful public spending cuts extended well into the next parliament because three years of flatlining means that government borrowing has been £200bn higher than planned.

Simply to catch up all the lost ground since 2010 we need 1.5 per cent growth each quarter between now and the general election.

And Tory claims their plan is working are not going to wash with working people who are seeing their living standards falling and for whom this is no recovery at all.

Because the current cost-of-living crisis is not just about people on tax credits, zero-hours contracts and the minimum wage. It’s also about millions of middle-class families who never thought that life would be such a struggle.

And in the last 24 hours David Cameron has gone from not wanting to talk about the cost-of-living crisis to effectively telling people they’ve never had it so good.

A desperate attempt to use highly misleading and selective statistics to tell people they are better off when they feel worse off. It makes the Tories look even more out of touch than before.

As the IFS has made clear, household incomes will be substantially lower in 2015 than in 2010. No amount of smoke-and-mirrors can allow David Cameron to wriggle out of this basic fact: hard working people are worse off under the Tories.

David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s plan may have worked for a privileged few at the top.

But for the million young people trapped out of work…

For millions of ordinary families, worried about how to make ends meet when wages are falling, and prices are going up…

For the young couples struggling to get on the housing ladder while the chronic shortage of homes forces up prices…

For the aspirational majority who work hard, pay their taxes, who want to get on and not just get by, but who are working harder for less as the cost of living keeps on rising…

… this Tory plan isn’t working.

And people feel betrayed.

Fairness

But we know there is a deeper reason why the Tories are failing.

The deeper public concern is one of fairness.

A view that David Cameron’s Britain does not reward the majority who work hard and save…

…but instead serves the ‘wrong people’ – the rich and the powerful.

That view was already around in 2010 – and directed at all political parties.

But the view that this Tory-led government is standing up for the wrong people has become deeply entrenched.

As the latest Ashcroft polls have shown – just 21 per cent of people think the Conservative party stands for fairness.

Because on energy bills, zero-hours contracts and excessive bank bonuses, the Tories aren’t representing the views of the majority, the hard-working people of Britain.

How often have you heard these words on the doorstep:

– I’m worse off;

– The Government is doing nothing about it;

– They stand up for the rich and powerful, but they don’t seem to care about people like me.

And by cutting the top rate of income tax for people earning over £150,000 and choosing to introduce the unfair and perverse bedroom tax, David Cameron and George Osborne have shown us just how out of touch they really are.

NO TIME FOR COMPLACENCY

On the cost of living and the condition of Britain, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, Labour is winning the argument.

Today, twice as many people think that Labour wants to help ordinary people get on in life as the Tories.

More than half of voters think that Labour is the party which will best tackle the cost of living crisis and improve living standards for people like them

But this is no time for complacency.

Because David Cameron’s failure to win public trust also reflects a deeper mistrust of politics more widely.

When the question is “Can politicians make things better?”…

… the danger is, for too many people, the answer is ‘no’.

And Lord Ashcroft’s recent polling report on the state of Tory support in marginal Tory seats makes clear that the rise of the UK Independence Party is a direct reaction to the failure of the Tory party to deliver change, combined with a general anti-politics mood. Anti-politics, anti-business, anti-European too.

LABOUR – THE ECONOMIC CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

So we cannot assume that Tory failure will simply translate into Labour success.

Our task is to show to a sceptical electorate that Labour has learnt from its mistakes and that we have the values, the ideas and the credibility to deliver the change Britain needs.

And to do so, in my view, we have to stand back and reappraise what has been happening in our economy over the last forty years.

Over the course of my lifetime, the global economy has fundamentally changed – and changed for the better.

As communism collapsed and countries gradually liberalised their economies, rapid reductions in poverty and increases in living standards have taken place in China, across Asia, in South America and Eastern Europe with growth now increasingly taking off in Africa.

Meanwhile, rapid changes in information and communications technology have transformed the way we live our lives and brought the world closer together. It is staggering to think that there is more computing power in my Blackberry than in the Apollo rocket that landed on the moon in 1969.

And as this pace has accelerated, global trade has increased as never before with new market opportunities opening up not just for us but also for rapidly growing middle income countries from Brazil to Indonesia.

But these changes have created big challenges too.

Trade and technology have combined to place a premium on higher levels of skills and qualifications, and reduced routine jobs which can be more easily done by robots or workers in poorer countries.

Changes in the structure of labour markets – often caused by the strains of global competition and including the fall in trade union membership – have also had a knock on effect on wages.

And as a result, labour markets are polarising with jobs growth happening primarily at the bottom and top of the income distribution.

Good jobs in the middle of the distribution have been far harder to come by. And in recent years, except at the very top, wages have stagnated. While, as resources like food, fuel and water have become scarcer, rising prices have put pressure on the cost of living.

These powerful trends were under way well before the global financial crisis. And while that crisis, and the failure of bank regulation which drove it, was not inevitable, there is a remorseless logic which connects the structural revolution of globalisation with the financial crisis that followed.

Global imbalances built up as cash-rich countries benefiting from export-led growth, like China, supported rising trade deficits and consumer debt in many developed countries. The financial services sector aided and abetted this process by misallocating capital and underestimating risks.

And when the global financial crisis caused huge collapses in economic output, those with bigger banking sectors, like Britain, were hardest hit.

So our generation now faces a twin task.

Dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis.

And resolving the underlying tensions of globalisation and technological change which have not gone away.

For Britain, with the Eurozone in crisis, businesses very cautious and our banks still fragile, this was always going to be a long and hard adjustment.

Like many economists, I argued strongly that George Osborne’s decision to accelerate premature tax rises and spending cuts would hit confidence, choke off our economic recovery and make it harder to get the balanced and investment-led recovery we need and to get the deficit down. So it has proved.

And with the global financial system still very vulnerable, the Eurozone moving from crisis to stagnation, and the Chinese economy slowing down, the world economy is certainly not yet out of the woods.

Here in Britain we have had the slowest recovery for 100 years but recently we have seen a long overdue return to growth

After three damaging years of flatlining, any growth is welcome.

But as we debate how to secure a stronger investment-led recovery, our task is also to look beyond the immediate challenge of economic and fiscal adjustment.

We have to ask a bigger question –– how do we create a stronger and fairer economic model for the future where the many benefit from rising prosperity and not just the few?

Some on the right argue for a return to free-market, trickle-down economics – cutting taxes at the top, stripping out regulation and making deep cuts to public services.

Others say if the problem is that rapid globalisation and technological change have undermined the pay and prospects of working people, then the simplest thing to do is to turn our back on those economic forces.

To put up trade barriers.

Or to leave the European Union.

I know, as an MP who had, until recently, the largest BNP membership of any constituency in the country, how some on the extremes of left and right see the solution to be isolationism, turning inwards, setting their face against the rest of the world and the global economy.

And it would be a mistake to believe that the frustration with the status quo in Brussels is confined to UKIP voters, any more than is scepticism about our open trading relationships with the rest of the world.

But I say that both these arguments are the road to economic ruin.

In my view, Britain has always succeeded – and can only succeed in the future – as an open and internationalist and outward-facing trading nation, with enterprise, risk and innovation valued and rewarded.

Backing entrepreneurs and wealth creation, generating the profits to finance investment and winning the confidence of investors from round the world.

But we cannot succeed the Tory way through a race to the bottom – with British companies simply trying to compete on cost as people see their job security eroded and living standards decline.

We can only succeed through a race to the top – investing in the skills of all as we make our economy more dynamic and competitive, and earn our way to higher living standards for everyone.

That is why Labour is today the party of radical economic change

I know some in the business community believe that Labour’s focus on living standards, fairness, transparency and competition is anti-business.

But we will only win support for an open and dynamic market economy if we show that it can work for all, and not just some.

Without an active industrial policy to manage these powerful forces of globalisation and technological change, inequalities will continue to widen and, for many, precarious low skilled work will increasingly become the norm.

At a time when politicians and business leaders often seem to compete with each other for bad headlines, none of us can afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the concerns of the majority of people across our country that our economy is not currently working for them and their families.

That is why it is so vital that Labour shows we can succeed where the Tories have failed, working with business to shape the economic policies that can change Britain and earn our way to rising living standards for all.

And that is the agenda that Ed Milliband, my Shadow Cabinet colleagues and I have been setting out in recent weeks – not anti-business, but anti-business as usual.

To support good jobs and higher skills for all, we will:

– Expand free childcare for working parents to 25 hours a week to help make work pay.

– Introduce a compulsory job for the long-term unemployed and every young person under the age of 25 out of work for more than a year – paid for by repeating the successful tax on bank bonuses and restricting pensions tax relief for the very highest earners – a job they would have to take up or lose benefits.

– Introduce a new ‘gold standard’ vocational qualification and, as Rachel Reeves set out this week, require compulsory basic skills tests for anyone claiming Jobseekers Allowance.

– Increase support for high-end apprenticeships, including in companies seeking to bring in more skilled migrants.

– And combine tougher immigration controls and fair labour market rules which can get the benefits of migration while commanding public trust.

To ensure markets work in the public interest and for the long-term, we will:

– Legislate for more competition and tougher regulation in energy and banking to make sure these markets serve the public interest.

– Support new rules on takeovers and executive pay, following the Kay and Cox Reviews, so that corporations focus on long-term value rather than short-term returns.

– And Chuka Umunna, Lord Adonis and I will also explore reforms to ensure workers benefit from increased productivity through greater profit-sharing and employee share ownership, not the Tory plan to trade away rights for shares, but looking at the case for a new national, tax-advantaged profit-sharing scheme.

To deliver an investment-led recovery, we will:

– Set up a British Investment Bank to support small business, as we cut and then freeze their business rates.

– Back a new 2030 low carbon target to stimulate long-term investment in renewable, nuclear and clean gas and coal.

– Invest in science and R&D, with strengthened collaboration between universities and businesses, to support innovation and nurture new ideas and new companies.

– And commit to building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020, with reforms to our planning system and a new long-term Infrastructure Commission as proposed bygf Sir John Armitt.

And to ensure this long-term prosperity is shared around Britain, we will devolve economic power to innovative cities and regions and investment in our high technology and manufacturing supply chains.

These are the clear and detailed and deliverable policies we need to change Britain and persuade a sceptical public.

Radical – but not utopian.

Visionary – but evidence-based.

Egalitarian – but honest and realistic.

You could even call it a Fabian approach to managing economic change.

LABOUR – THE FISCAL CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

But there is a further challenge we face in winning public trust to deliver change.

After three years of economic stagnation and with the sustainability of the recovery still uncertain, we stand to inherit a very difficult fiscal situation in 2015.

As Ed Miliband said last week, deficit reduction alone does not make for a successful economic policy.

But both of us know it is a necessary and important part of it.

With the deficit we inherit currently set to be nearly £80 billion and the national debt still rising, it will be up to the next Labour government to finish the job.

This means that delivering change – on living standards, on skills and innovation and on jobs for young people, while safeguarding our NHS and vital public services – will be more difficult than at any time in living memory.

Certainly more difficult than at any time since the post-war Labour government of 1945.

So let me be clear.

We are determined to deliver the change we need to make our economy work over the long-term and to build a fairer society that rewards hard work and protects the vulnerable.

But we must make sure the sums add up.

We cannot and will not duck the hard choices ahead.

Without fiscal discipline and a credible commitment to eliminate the deficit, we cannot achieve the stability we need.

But without action to deliver investment-led growth and fairer choices about how to get the national debt down while protecting vital public services, then fiscal discipline cannot be delivered by a Labour government – or, in my view, by any government.

It is these three objectives – fiscal discipline, growth and fairness – which will guide our approach.

Let me take them in turn.

Fiscal Discipline

First, fiscal discipline.

Last year, I set out how we will deal with the very difficult fiscal situation we will inherit in 2015.

We won’t be able to reverse all the spending cuts and tax rises that the Tories have pushed through.

We will have to govern with less money, which means the next Labour government will have to make cuts too.

No responsible Opposition can make detailed commitments and difficult judgments about what will happen in two or three years time without knowing the state of the economy and public finances that we will inherit.

But we know we will face difficult choices.

The government’s day-to-day spending totals for 2015/16 will be our starting point.

There will be no more borrowing for day-to-day spending.

Any changes to the current spending plans for that year will be fully-funded and set out in advance in our manifesto.

And we will insist that all the proceeds from the sale of our stakes in Lloyds and RBS are used to repay the national debt.

Alongside these commitments, Chris Leslie, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has already begun our zero-based review of public spending.

By examining every pound spent by government from the bottom up, we will root out waste and inefficiency.

And we will look at new ways of delivering public services suited to tougher times – while ensuring that they continue to make a huge contribution to the strength of our economy and the fairness and stability of our society.

Even those departments or areas of government spending which we chose to ring-fence will still be subject to this review because it is vital that we get maximum value for money for every pound spent.

So we have already gone further than any Opposition has at this stage in setting out a clear and disciplined approach.

But I want to go further still.

So I am today announcing a binding fiscal commitment.

The next Labour government will balance the books and deliver a surplus on the current budget and falling national debt in the next Parliament.

So my message to my party and the country is this:

Where this government has failed, we will finish the job.

We will abolish the discredited idea of rolling five year targets and legislate for our tough fiscal rules within 12 months of the general election.

Tough fiscal rules which will be independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

We will get the current budget into surplus as soon as possible in the next Parliament.

How fast we can go will depend on the state of the economy and the public finances we inherit.

And because we will need an iron commitment to fiscal discipline, I have also asked the Office for Budget Responsibility to independently audit the costing of every individual spending and tax measure in Labour’s manifesto.

I urge the Chancellor to work with us to make this happen ahead of the next general election.

This would be the first time this kind of independent audit has ever happened – and I believe it is essential to restore public trust in politics and improve the nature of the political debate.

Growth

Second, alongside fiscal discipline, the reforms I set out earlier to get people back young people back to work and earn our way to long-term economic growth and prosperity are also vital to deficit reduction.

We can only reduce the fiscal deficit if our recovery is balanced, long-term and doesn’t sow the seeds of problems ahead.

The challenge is to deliver stronger, investment-led growth which helps reduce the deficit in a sustainable way.

And with business investment still weak, housing demand once again outstripping housing supply and the IMF forecasting that UK growth will slow down again next year, it’s clear that this is not yet a recovery that is built to last.

On housing, we support Help to Buy.

But we have called on the government to allow the Bank of England to urgently review how the scheme is working and to target its impact.

As we have said before, it cannot make sense for taxpayers to guarantee mortgages on homes worth as much £600,000.

And we have consistently warned, as have the CBI and the IMF, that action to support housing demand must be matched by action to increase housing supply.

But none of these things have happened.

So I say George Osborne must listen to the CBI and the IMF and act in the Budget to bring forward housing investment.

We need Help to Build, not just Help to Buy.

This would help people aspiring to own their own home, create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships and ensure we have a recovery that is built to last.

And it is why housing investment will be a central priority for the next Labour government.

Of course, there is a careful fiscal judgement to be made.

I have said that there will be no more borrowing for day to day spending in 2015-16.

But consistent with our tough fiscal rules, we will assess the case for extra capital spending to boost growth and jobs and make our economy stronger for the long-term.

Because the longer it takes to deliver the long-term policies that will transform our economy and earn our way to higher living standards, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to get the deficit down.

Fairness

Third, Labour will combine iron discipline on spending control and action on growth with a fairer approach to deficit reduction.

That means facing up to the tough choices that are necessary if we are to take a fairer approach to deficit reduction.

As I said at this Conference two years ago, fair pay restraint in the public sector in this parliament would have been necessary whoever was in government.

And at a time when the public services that pensioners rely on are under such pressure, the next Labour government will not continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners.

We won’t be able to reverse the Government’s cuts to child benefit for the highest earners.

We will keep the benefits cap, but make sure it properly reflects local housing costs.

We will cap structural social security spending.

And yes, over the long-term, as our population ages, there will need to be increases in the retirement age too.

And we will make changes to create a fairer tax system.

So we will crack down on tax avoidance, scrap the shares for rights scheme and reverse the tax cut for hedge funds.

We want a lower 10p starting rate of tax, which would help make work pay and cut taxes for 24 million people on middle and lower incomes.

And today I want to go further, to ensure that those with the broadest shoulders bear a fairer share of the burden.

The latest figures show that those earning over £150,000 paid almost £10 billion more in tax in the three years when the 50p top rate of tax was in place than when the government conducted its assessment of the tax back in 2012.

And when the deficit is still high, when tough times are now set to last well into the next parliament, when for ordinary families their real incomes are falling and taxes have risen …

… it cannot be right for David Cameron and George Osborne to have chosen to give the richest people in the country a huge tax cut.

That’s why, for the next parliament, the next Labour government will reverse this government’s top rate tax cut so we can finish the job of getting the deficit down and do it fairly.

For the next Parliament, we will restore the 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000.

Reversing this unfair tax cut for the richest one per cent of people in the country.

And cutting the deficit in a fairer way.

CONCLUSION – CHANGED LABOUR CHANGING BRITAIN

So, can Labour change Britain?

My answer is a resounding Yes.

By setting tough and credible fiscal rules.

By supporting the long-term growth that will earn our way to higher living standards and help reduce the deficit.

By rooting out waste in public spending.

By making fairer choices on tax and benefit reform.

By pursuing radical reforms to tackle the cost of living crisis and build an economy that works for working people.

Yes, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, Labour can change Britain.

And less than four years after our general election defeat, we are also showing that Labour has changed

Working with business to make our economy more dynamic –but challenging business to support difficult reforms which promote competition and long-term value.

Recognising the role that trade unions play in our economy – but challenging them to change as we reform our party for a new century.

Supporting the most vulnerable and abolishing the bedroom tax – but proposing tough reforms to put work first.

Pro-European – but not ducking the big reforms we need.

Open to the outside world – but refusing to accept a race to the bottom where low-skilled, low-paid work becomes the norm.

Celebrating wealth creation and entrepreneurs – but clear that the richest must bear their fair share of the burden.

Yes, Labour has changed.

So let us now win the trust of the British people.

And together let us deliver the change Britain needs.

Thank you.

Ends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Coalition Over spending hypocrisy


pickles the huttAt a time of austerity which Chancellor of Exchequer keeps on drumming to the public and with the continued scratch record that he keeps playing( “We’re clearing up Labour’s mess”) has come back to kick him between the legs. One of his front benchers viz Eric Pickles has been reprimanded for maxing his department’s credit card sum of £217 million. This came to light by the Head Of National Audit Office (NAO).

The question is will Eric Pickles repay this amount back to the treasury by the end of the financial year? Me thinks not. Yet he has the gull to tell councils to curb their spending.

This is what we call on the streets double standards if we were working in a department which went over the budget can anybody imagine the uproar it would course, we would have lost our job no ifs or buts.

bedroomtaxevictionsIn the meantime low and middle incomes can hardly keep up with their bedroom tax let alone their council tax and childcare. But the council are very quick to send around their heavy mobs (Bailiffs) to retrieve the money or they seize your good to the value that you owe the council and if there is a balance which is still owed then god help you and your family as the prince of darkness will stuck the very blood out of your veins.

I have come to the conclusion that both our previous and present government(s) have not build enough housing to help of set the economy which will create jobs instead the coalition will come up with more gimmicks before the European, Local Government, and General elections in 2014/15.

LB-Birmingham-Marathon1The coalitions work programme has failed to meet its target and therefore is not fit for purpose despite all the government massive spin on it. On reflection I would concur with Liam Byrne MP when he recently said “The Work Programme hasn’t worked for over a million people.

“Three years into the parliament and nearly nine out of ten people on this flagship programme have been failed. Worse of all, the government missed every single one of its minimum targets and in nearly half the country, the Work Programme is literally worse than doing nothing. No wonder the benefits bill is £21 billion higher than planned and no wonder the Chancellor himself was forced to attack ‘under-performing’ back to work programmes.

“We can’t go on like this. We desperately need a change of course starting with a compulsory jobs guarantee that would make sure everyone out of work long-term would have to take a job after two years.”

There are few better places than here, to speak about the task of rebuilding Britain as a country of full employment.

Today we meet under 10 miles from Jarrow, where I spent this morning.

The town from where families hungry for work set off on the road to Westminster.

Walking in hunger they still inspire us down the ages.

Today we meet in a city where once again it is the Labour movement, in trade unions, in constituency parties and in local government, that are once more leading the campaign for work.

The story of our fight for jobs is the genesis of our credo.

When Keir Hardie stood up in Parliament as the first Labour MP, he spoke to insist on the principle of work or maintenance.

‘Useful work for the unemployed’ was the call of our first manifesto.

And it is our call today.

Next year we mark a proud anniversary in our long struggle.

We mark seventy years since the famous white paper on employment policy.

The first white paper in which a national government accepted a national responsibility to build a country where everyone had a job.

Its virtue was not simply the determination written through its pages to never return to the Devil’s Decade of the 1930s.

Its achievement was greater than that.

Its achievement was to show us how countries can be rebuilt and can be renewed if and only if we put everyone back to work.

The story of this great declaration bears re-telling. It’s mother and father, so to speak, was the Beveridge Report.

The bold plan for a system of ‘all in’ social insurance.

It was swept off the shelves in 1942 to become the most popular White paper until the Profumo report published in the 1960s.

Sex and social security were never going to be a fair competition.

The Beveridge Report was published to a country that was hungry for a vision of just what it was we were fighting for: the victories in 1942 in North Africa, in Stalingrad, in Guadacanal had delivered us the ‘end of the beginning’.

Beveridge gave us that vision of what we were fighting for.

Atlee looked at the report, and said, for us, Beveridge means socialism.

And that is why the PLP was acutely worried that Churchill would to put off the job of preparing to turn ideas into action.

And so 70 years ago, the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to force the issue.

In the biggest Parliamentary revolt of the war, 97 MPs broke the whip, voted against the government and demanded that planning for the peace begin immediately.

In his speech, Jim Griffiths, later the first Minister for National Insurance, moved the rebel’s amendment and rested his case on the belief that we could never again return to the mass unemployment of the past.

“Our people have memories of what happened at the end of the last war”, he said. “Years in which never less than one million and sometimes two million and at one time three million of our people were allowed to rust on the streets”.

“That”, said Griffiths, “must never be allowed to happen again”.

And so, Churchill relented.

securedownloadA Reconstruction Committee was formed dominated by Atlee and Bevin.

And after just two years the Committee produced its finest fruits. The 1944 White Paper on employment policy, replete with its famous first paragraph that henceforth:

“The Government accept as one of their primary aims and responsibilities the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war”.

It set out the big levers that government would pull:

Trade policy – vital for an exporting nation; interest rates – to keep money at the right price; public investment and tax rates to make good any shortfalls in business investment or consumer demand, and crucially, special help for special areas, where old industries were in their sunset years but where new industries were yet to dawn.

When Bevin launched the white paper in the Commons he was very clear that as technical as the strategy might sound, this was a moral crusade.

Remembering some of the soldiers he had bid farewell as they sailed for the D-Day landings in Normandy, he told the Commons of one man of the 50th Division who had asked him this:

“Ernie, when we have done this job for you, are we going back to the dole?”

Both the Prime Minister and I answered, “No, you are not.”

“Unemployment”, said Bevin, “was and is a social disease, which must be eradicated from our social life”.

And so henceforth “Our monetary system, our commercial agreements, our industrial practices, indeed, the whole of our national economy, will have applied to them the acid test—do they produce employment or unemployment?”

When Labour went to the country in 1945, we argued that if we could achieve full employment then we could afford to rebuild Britain – and we could afford to build the welfare state.

In our manifesto ‘Let Us Face the Future’, we said a policy of ‘Jobs for all’ could pay for ‘Social Insurance against the rainy day’.

“There is no reason”, we argued, “why Britain should not afford such programmes but she will need full employment and the highest possible industrial efficiency in order to do so”.

The big insight of the Atlee government was this: in a fully employed society we could afford social security. We could afford to rebuild.

It was the same insight as New Labour. We knew back in 1997 that if we got our country back to work, we could afford to renew our public services.

Our insight is the same as Clem Atlee, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown.

If we restore our country to full employment, we can afford to rebuild; to address the biggest challenges of our times. Full employment has always been the foundation for rebuilding Britain.

It was for Atlee’s Labour.

It was for New Labour.

It will be for One Nation Labour.

Today the goal of full employment is important for a very simple reason. The faster we return to full employment, the faster we can pay down our debt, and the faster we can put the something for something back into social security.

The Tories’ problem is that they lost belief in full employment many years ago, and they never rediscovered it. This failure is now costing us not less, but more. And more money spent on unemployment means less for working people and less for care.

It wasn’t always like this.

Two years into Government, the Tory Chancellor, Rab Butler told the 1953 party conference:

“Those who talk about creating pools of unemployment should be thrown into them and made to swim”.

You don’t find Tories like Butler any more.

The old consensus about full employment is gone.

Mrs Thatcher’s death has provoked some debate about whether we are all Thatcherites now.

The Prime Minister himself does not seem sure. We can have less doubt about the Chancellor.

It seems pretty clear to me that he is, in Denis Healey’s words, just as much a sado-monetarist as Geoffrey Howe.

And in practice the Chancellor has shown by his action that he is a firm believer in those old nostrums of the 1930s, and 1980s and early 1990s, that unemployment is a price worth paying.

The Conservatives beat their retreat from the ideals of full employment in stages.

In Preston in 1974, Sir Keith Joseph declared he had been converted to ‘true Conservatism’ by the ideas set out six years before by Milton Friedman.

Friedman had set out the monetarist case in 1968 arguing the long-term effect of trying to buy less unemployment with more inflation simply increased both.

Joseph did not argue that full employment per se created inflation but rather: “It is the means adopted by successive governments to achieve a high level of employment which are the cause of inflation. Instead of dealing with the real obstacles to fuller employment which are often very specific, governments try the panacea, the universal healer, excess demand”.

Jim Callaghan acknowledged the point in 1976 that, as Gordon Brown put it:

“Quite simply governments could not deliver growth and employment through a macro-policy designed to exploit a supposed short-term trade-off between higher inflation and lower unemployment”.

Now, Joseph freely admitted that his prescription would create unemployment – but he at least acknowledged:

“There is no magic cure for these problems”, and that further, “In economics there is not and cannot be one cure. Economics is a matter of balance”. He argued too for “reform of employment services, re-training, mobility of labour, reform of housing policy”.

But no such balance was to moderate the disastrous policies of Mrs Thatcher’s first term: massive spending cuts, large tax rises and a big hike in interest rates.

In a year corporate profits fell 20 per cent, output fell six per cent, manufacturing fell 15 per cent and unemployment rose from 1.4 million to over two million.

It was a disaster. And it got worse. In the following two years, interest rates were cut, but public spending cuts were deep.

Unemployment grew for another five years. It did not peak until 1984.

Nigel Lawson tried to argue there was a logic to this cruel ‘British experiment’.

Macro-economic policy was targeting inflation, not growth and employment.

Micro-economic policy would target growth and employment, not inflation. It was a switch in the traditional roles played by each policy field since the war.

But it was an experiment badly conceived.

Macro-economic policy – both fiscal and monetary – targeted a bewildering array of moving targets – £M3, M1, M0, shadowing the D-Mark, and then joining the EMS – each in their turn, targets wildly missed.

Micro-economic policy meant simply laissez-faire.

The investment – public and private – deemed so important in the 1944 White Paper simply failed to materialise.

Investment backlogs grew, in industry, in infrastructure, in housing.

Bottle-necks got worse. Productivity flagged.

By the late 1980s, Britain was suffering once again from the old curse of rising unemployment and rising inflation.

Unemployment reached 3 million mark, so high that any notion of full employment felt well beyond reach.

Now, Mrs Thatcher liked to pretend this was all about economic efficiency.

When a young Tony Blair challenged her in October 1984, she claimed not only to have read the White Paper but to have a copy in her hand-bag.

In practice the Tories were not creating new economic dynamos but new economic deserts.

The decline in industrial output between 1979 and 1981 was unprecedented.

The balance of Rab Butler and the post-war Tory party was gone.

The Tory cabinet minister Ian Gow later put it like this:

“Belief in monetarism it emerged, was now a prerequisite not only for controlling inflation but for being a real Conservative….Those who resisted conversion and clung instead to traditional Tory principles were soon regarded as, at best, suspect infidels or, at worst, the enemy within”.

Today the Conservative Party is in the grip of the same dogma, and it’s costing us a fortune.

After the recessions of the 1980s, and then the 1990s, structural social security spending rose and rose after the end of each recession.

In the 1980s, from under two per cent of GDP before the recession, to three per cent thereafter.

In the 1990s, it rose from 3.5 per cent of GDP before the recession to 4.5 per cent thereafter.

The reason is simple. A generation were written off on incapacity benefit and never worked again.

Between 1979 and 1997, the number of people on incapacity benefits more than doubled.

Inactivity rates for men aged between 25 and 55 rose from under 10 per cent in 1975-6 to around 35 per cent in the mid-1990s.

Even today of the 10 per cent of most deprived districts in England, around 40 per cent are either ex-manufacturing or ex-mining areas.

The same challenge now afflicts us once again. The cost of social security system rose £24 billion during the crash.

But since then, it’s not come down. It’s carried on rising. It’s rising by 2 per cent a year.

That is simply unsustainable

The Tories’ economic policy has failed so badly that the output gap is forecast to continue widening until 2014-15.

The Tories are reacting by taking an axe to the security in social security – and people know it.

They pay more in – and get less out.

It’s what Brendan Barber calls the ‘nothing for something’ problem.

I say we have to break out of this vicious circle.

Seventy years ago, we set out a new path to full employment.

And the lessons of 1944 are just as relevant today as they were for the post-war era.

The White Paper teaches us to be radical reformers, to build exports, supporting public investment, fanning consumer demand – and taking determined action on jobs.

When New Labour came to office in 1997, we set out a new approach.

In place of the pure and purely failing monetarism, came a new approach that:

Recognised that demand management was important but could not on its own deliver high and stable levels of employment; provided a new institutional framework for governing monetary policy including the independent Bank of England to replace the failed policy of target chasing; delivered active supply side policy – targeting productivity, competitiveness and active labour market policy – the new deal, tax credits, the national minimum wage – support for high levels of employment.

Contrary to Lawson’s neat but contrived seperation of macro policy to combat inflation and micro-policy to aid competitiveness, new Labour argued for “macroeconomic and microeconomic policy are both essential – working together – to growth and employment”.

And boy did we deliver.

In the decade before the crash, productivity employment and wages all grew together for the first time since records began.

Wages for workers in Britain rose for over a decade – an average of 3.4 per cent a year between 1997 and 2006.

By 2007 UK average wages were some 59 per cent ahead of where they were in 1997. Only two other OECD countries could match this record – Ireland and Australia.

The UK’s record was almost 20 points higher than the average for the Euro area.

In 2015, we’re going to inherit a very different country – Tories always leave higher unemployment.

So over the next few months, I want to say more about just how we raise the employment rate – raise it with five big steps.

First, tackling the crisis of youth unemployment. Nearly 40 per cent of those out of work today are under the age of 25. As the MP who represents the constituency with the highest youth unemployment in Britain, that is simply not a situation I am prepared to tolerate.

Second, tackling the crisis of long-term unemployment, because we are simply not so rich that we can afford nearly one million people out of work for more than a year.

Third, raising the employment rate for women. As a country we will never fire on all cylinders when our employment rate for mothers with toddlers is amongst the lowest in the OECD.

Fourth, showing just how we can make the right to work a reality for disabled people once again.

And fifth, and this is what I want to touch on today – how make sure that in the One Nation economy we want to build, we do not leave any part of our country behind.

In his very first speech as Prime Minister, Tony Blair declared that concentrations of poverty and unemployment represent ‘the greatest challenge for any democratic government’.

This is the same challenge that Iain Duncan Smith saw when he went to Easterhouse.

Back in Easterhouse, Iain Duncan Smith set himself a test. He said:

“A nation that leaves its vulnerable behind, diminishes its own future.”

He found his echo in the Prime Minister, who said in 2007:

“A modern aspiration agenda means helping the have-nots to have something, and if we do not succeed in that mission then I tell you frankly that we will all be poorer”.

Iain Duncan Smith’s time in Easterhouse inspired his reform plans for the Work Programme and Universal Credit.

The challenge is that, however well-meaning, both programmes are failing and failing badly.

Three years into the Parliament, the Work Programme has proved literally worse than doing nothing.

Universal Credit is now so mired in problems its virtues are enjoyed by just 300 people in Tameside.

The challenge for welfare reformers is not whether you have nice ideas. It is whether you can make a difference.

I believe the jury is now in for Iain Duncan Smith.

He has failed the Easterhouse test.

On three-quarters of the estates in Britain where unemployment is highest, there are now more people out of work not less. Long term unemployment has risen in two-thirds of these places.

Iain Duncan Smith has failed the test he set out in Easterhouse because he has failed to understand the challenge that poor places now face in the 21st century.

Let me explain.

Back in the 1980s, old industries were destroyed – and almost nothing was done to offer workers a new future.

The great destruction of British industry – especially manufacturing and mining had huge consequences for jobs in places like the North East.

The aftershocks of that shock therapy are still felt today, two generations later.

Of the ten per cent most deprived districts in England, around 40 per cent are either ex-mining or manufacturing areas.

What happened during the 1980s was no great programme of re-skilling.

Instead a generation was written off, put on incapacity benefit without a thought for those former workers or the damage it would do to the aspirations of their children.

Yet this is what the 1944 White Paper taught us: that when the sun sets on old industries, you need big action to reskill, ‘to fit workers from declining industries for jobs in expanding industries’.

But we were contending with a revolution in globalisation. Big time.

Two years after unemployment peaked in 1984, I was sitting my exams.

That year Deng Xiaoping was Time magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’ for the changes underway in China.

When I got to university in 1989, the Berlin wall came down, and a path opened to a united Europe of 500 million people.

A year later, Manmohan Singh was appointed Finance Minister of India and set about dismantling India’s ‘licence raj’, the vital precursor to its explosive growth a decade later.

By the time I graduated in 1992, President Clinton was in the White House, arm-wrestling through Congress a plan for the North American Free Trade Agreement and eventually a green light for China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

A century that began with revolution and world war ended with conscious decisions across ten years on four continents to create a global marketplace linking 6 billion of the world’s 7 billion people. It was a quite a fin de siècle.

Since this century began the commanding heights of the global economy have changed out of all recognition.

As Peter Nolan at Cambridge University has shown: since 2000, some 2,500 -billion mergers, worth in total some .4 trillion, have created a new global super-league.

A handful of firms now monopolise the aircraft industry, the world’s auto business, the world’s mobile telecoms infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, beer, cigarettes, aero-engines, computer chips, industrial gases, soft drink cans.

These giant firms often richer than nations now have the power to move jobs to wherever the skills are greatest or the wages lowest.

That means unskilled workers here in Britain compete with wages far lower elsewhere.

The ILO says low skilled wages in some of Britain’s competitors are 12 times lower here than in Britain.

That means there is simply not a lot of low skill work to go around.

The result? Over half of adults in Britain without skills are out of work. And that figure is going up not down.

Crucially, that means Britain’s poor places are falling behind. Why?

Because some of Britain’s poorest communities are home to five times more unskilled workers than Britain’s richest communities. This was the challenge Labour had to clear up.

During our time in office, Britain’s employment rate hit record highs; from 71 per cent of the population in 1998 up to 73 per cent in 2008.

This increase in the employment rate was coupled with a long-term shift in the number of British workers with skills.

Back in 1994, 22 per cent of the workforce had no qualifications. By 2005 this had fallen to 13 per cent.

Because we believed it was wrong to dismiss the future employment chances of disabled people, we introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

We combined reform with investment in back to work programmes; the employment rate amongst those with disabilities rose by over ten per cent between 1997 and 2008.

Now of course we didn’t finish the job: there remained a gap between the national employment rate (72.4 per cent) and employment in our ten biggest cities (68.4 per cent). But at least we closed the gap.

This government is simply ignoring that lesson.

Even when the jobs are there, we’re not training the unemployed to do them.

In great regions like the North West or Yorkshire and Humber, business says they’ve skill shortages, yet we have unemployment way above the national average.

Yet, we knew this was going to happen.

The challenge of poor places and changing places isn’t new. It’s an old challenge.

It was crystal clear to inter-war politicians.

You know too the big challenges that poor places face.

How in many communities, we still grapple with the legacy of the ‘Right to Buy’ legislation of the 1980s, that often led concentrations of the poorest housing stock, where councils were forced to house the most disadvantaged households – often adults without skills.

In poor places, jam-packed like my own with aspirational people, problems multiply.

A low skills base, poor transport connections to work, brownfield land left unoccupied and limited private investment.

Yet, these places are packed with potential.

Over the last ten years, thinking about how to regenerate inner-city areas – in the UK and the US (especially under the Clinton Administration) – has been re-animated by fresh thinking which has explored the idea that inner-cities might actually have some competitive advantages and are in fact a ‘missed market’.

But to unlock that potential means we have put investment in people, and investment in places in the same place.

Unlocking that potential means coordinating skills, education, crime, worklessness, transport, physical regeneration, health, housing, environmental sustainability, social regeneration, spatial planning, and economic development.

That’s complicated today.

And in fact if you try to do it from Whitehall, it’s impossible to do. We know – we tried.

In fact we had 36 different organisations, operating on four different levels: national, regional, sub-regional and local trying to coordinate this work.

We made progress. But it was no surprise that it was slow.

This is not a mistake that other countries make – they devolve far more to their regions.

It is in fact, something that people on both sides of the debate now agree with.

Lord Heseltine, the Rab Butler of his day, put it like this:

“We need to mobilise the skills of provincial England. I want to shove power out of Whitehall, into the provinces.”

Once upon time, Iain Duncan Smith agreed with him. Once upon a time he told his party conference:

“In the past, Conservative governments have been guilty of taking power away from local government to Whitehall. That was a mistake. We will reverse this process and restore to local councils the discretion to act according to the interests of the communities they serve.”

But it’s not happening.

The problem is that neither  Vince Cable or Iain Duncan Smith believe Lord Hesetline. They are the new road-blocks to reform.

The result is our back to work system is hopelessly centralised. This is what the clear conclusion of Labour councils who are now leading the fight against youth unemployment.

That’s why I’m publishing today analysis of the way other countries work.

In Germany, a more localised approach has contributed to saving billions of Euros in welfare payments by driving up the employment rate. Jobcentres work closely with surrounding schools and have deep roots in the local labour market which allows them to engage with employers far beyond the traditional low skill, low pay sectors.

In Canada, localised delivery of back to work programmes gives local government the flexibility to establish their own priorities and to develop programmes to achieve this. Provinces and territories control how the funding is allocated in order to meet the needs of their particular labour markets, which in turn gives them the opportunity to apply local expertise to skills development, allocating targeted wage subsidies, and creating Job Creation Partnerships, to help provide useful work experience that leads to sustained employment.

Next year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the white paper on full employment.

I believe we should mark that anniversary not with empty words but with big plans.

Plans to rebuild the path to full employment for new times. Plans which could help us modernise our social security system, to rebuild trust, and crucially put its finances back on an even keel for the future.

Our economy not rebalancing

Despite the huge depreciation of our currency since 2007, our export growth has been anaemic.

Business investment is low.

Corporate tax cuts have now totalled £5.7 billion over the course of this parliament. Yet this great act of corporate welfare has not been repaid.

The cash is simply stacking up in corporate bank accounts. Our new Bank governor Mark Carney will recognise the phenomenon from Canada where he has attacked the curse of ‘dead money’.

The result is persistent, high unemployment. The result is OBR now downgrading the country’s trend rate of growth.

The result is that there is quite simply not enough work to go round.

And the government’s strategy is causing engine damage that may last for years to come.

That’s why we need a new plan. We need a new plan for growth. We need a new plan for jobs. And we need people to vote for it at the next election.

To win that vote we need to show how a new plan for full employment will help us pay down debt faster and with less risk by putting our social security system back on an even keel after the crash.

The people of Britain know we can’t go on like this.

And profound change is needed because life has changed since we created the system back in 1945.

People need different things from social security today.

I want to put the something for something back into the system. I want to put the system back on an even keel after the expense of the crash.

But I believe the lesson of our history is simple:

We can afford to do big things to repair and renew our country, to pay down our debt faster, to bring fairness back to the system if, and only if, we get people back to work.

The next time the coalition gets on their high horses lets us all remind them of their hypocrisy of being over budget and any ministers who wittingly goes over their departmental budget they should be heavily reprimanded like what they do in the Joe public eyes.

 

 

 

Coalition’s much dreaded welfare cuts with more to come


Quote of the day:

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

photocam

My thoughts on the much dreaded welfare cuts: Welcome to UK 21st Century of austerity viz coalition as people are now waking up and beginning to realise what they were alleging that it was hard under a Labour Government turned out to be unfounded as people bagan to realise that the hardest are now being hit left, right, and centre under this regime. For the first time the younger generation are beginning to understand what is the true nature of politics of today which will affect them for generations to come I kid you not.

The coalition says that “ We’re All In it Together, and “The Big Society which is the code words for the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  For example If “We Are All In It together as the coalition will have us to believe I say Peefoo as we are not equal in the eyes of society which does not address the social policies which we all face with our bread and butter issues some people instead would like to taste either jam, marmalade, or marmite on their bread to spread their cost of living be mortgage, rent, food, electric, gas, road tax or council tax. Let’s now concentrate on “The Big Society” many companies with charity status thought this would be the best thing since slice cake as they thought that this would open up the doors for opportunities but in reality this did not happen as we have seen some charity and third sector companies closing down owing to lack of funding by both Central and Local Government. The other side of the coin from the “Big Society” believe it or not was a large scale of attacks towards public sector and its workforce in favour of private companies to provide front line services. Hence frontline services like police, social work, hospitals and other front services being closed down and the list can go on.

photoIDS1The welfare reform has reminded us of the princess of darkness (milk snatcher) for those us who will recall the damage the so-called Iron Lady caused to the coal industries and public services which was one of the root cause of the large scale of strike action that the UK has been by the world of the 1970s -1980s this led to mass unemployment. Yet this coalition has the cheek to say that we are all in it together.

photoChrfisGayMost of us would agree that there be some reform that should move with the times but this must happen in stages with the right social reform that will not hit the hardest in society by attacking the very low paid is not the way forward let’s not forget the wise words of our founder Nye Bevan who said I would rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one.

conservative-liberal-democrat-logo-468965850This leads me to the next point I am not a religious person but I do acknowledge what four churches in a joint statement have to say see below:

Four churches have joined forces to accuse the government of welfare payment cuts they say are unjust and target society’s most vulnerable.

The Easter criticism has come from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and the Church of Scotland.

They also want to see a change to “a false picture” of the poor as “lazy”.

The government said society suffered when people were paid more to be unemployed than to work.

A series of changes to benefits are being made in April – including capping rises on working-age benefits at 1% – which will affect hundreds of thousands of households across the UK. Ministers say they are necessary to tackle the rising cost to the taxpayer.

 Rising costs

But the churches accuse politicians and parts of the media of making the cuts easier to impose by misrepresenting poor people as lazy.

The Methodist Church’s public policy adviser, Paul Morrison, said the British public had “come to believe things about the poorest in our society which are just straightforwardly not true.

“The public believes that the major cause of poverty is laziness, yet the majority of people in poverty work. How can that be the case?”

And the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union, said “The one interesting fact I find is that the majority, the rise in poverty over the last decade, has been more amongst those on low income than on those who are unemployed.”

The government says it has always been clear that the system is failing people, not the other way around. The Department for Work and Pensions said in a statement: “It’s not fair that benefits claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work – in some cases more than double the average household income.”

 ‘Paying price’

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Canterbury backed an open letter, signed by 43 of his bishops, criticising plans to limit rises in working-age benefits and some tax credits to 1% for three years. He said the current system recognised rising costs of food, fuel and housing by giving benefit rises in line with inflation.

“These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the government,” he said.

In response, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told MPs he did not agree that “the way to get children out of poverty is to simply keep transferring more and more money to keep them out of work”.

“The reality is what we’re having to do is reform a system that became completely out of control under the last government, get people back in work, for being in work is how you get your children out of poverty.”

He said the government was doing “the right thing” in bringing in the benefit caps because “people on low and average earnings will realise, at last, that those on benefits will not be able to be paid more in taxes than they themselves earn.”

Archbishop Welby later wrote on his blog that he was questioning one aspect of the government’s wide-ranging welfare changes, not condemning efforts to make work pay and improve people’s livelihoods which he said were, in general, “incredibly brave”.

He said Mr Duncan Smith had spent “hard years turning himself into a leading and principled expert on welfare, its effects and shortcomings”.

“He is introducing one of the biggest and most thorough reforms of a system that most people admit is shot full of holes, wrong incentives, and incredible complexity.”

‘Radical redesign’

Other changes to benefits being made in April include:

  • The introduction of a new benefit, the personal independence payment (PIP), to be rolled out across the UK from 8 April to replace disability living allowance (DLA) for people of working age.
  • Less housing benefit from the beginning of April for UK families living in council or housing accommodation judged to be larger than they need. Only those of working age will see reduced payments.
  • A cap from 15 April, in England, Scotland and Wales, on the total amount of benefit working-age people (16-64) can receive

Meanwhile, the government is scaling back some of its plans to test the new Universal Credit, which will gradually – by 2017 – replace five work-based benefits with one benefit, affecting millions of claimants across the UK.

Ministers planned to allow people to make the new claims in four areas of north-west England from April. But it has emerged that three of the pilots will not start until July.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told the media the existing system had been “rather a cruel one” because “it costs you more, sometimes, to go to work”.

“You ought to be able to go out to work and know you’re better off without having to spend an hour-and-a-half in front of a Jobcentre Plus computer trying to do calculations as to whether you’ll lose this benefit or that benefit. “That’s what we’ll get with Universal Credit and, and it means that money that is there can be focused on people who most need it.”

Coalition will introduce Green Cards in UK


indexMy thoughts on coalition wants Green Cards introduced in UK.

Why am I not surprised by this coalition they will have us believing the solution to our immigration problems is issuing Green Cards to all foreigners who enter UK or wants to remain in the UK which some many think it’s a very good idea. Well I hate to disappoint all of you on this subject as it forces more illegal immigrants to go underground. Let us not forget the identity Card Act 2006 introduced by Labour  and as soon as the coalition formed government 2010 they scraped the scheme.

Instead of looking at the root cause of why immigrants want to enter the UK for their final destination why both previous and present governments have continued or refuse to address this issue yet they give a good talk but can’t do the walk the walk.

This is not just confined to UK but a problem for world leaders to come together to solve the solution.  Lets face some hard facts during the turn of the century both explorers and governments have invaded other countries to supply their homelands with gold, sugar, coffee, gun powder, tea, tobacco, slave trade, oil, and claiming lands in the name of King and Queen.

Then have they have the cheek to bleed the country dry and leave the people to fend for themselves after being defeated by the native people to rid themselves of foreign rule.

Yes I believe that immigration news a radical overhaul with positive solutions.  Both Conservatives and Labour have travel the world to recruit skilled and none skilled workers to come to the Great Britain to help rebuild the economy after the Second World War.  Before people start to play the race card let it be known that I’m a proud son of an immigrant of Chinese descent whose father helped to build this nation of ours so let us celebrate the vast diversity and multicultural society that we all enjoy in the UK. Look around in all the major cities we have international restaurants from all over the world, engineers, academics  who have contributed to our UK economy. I still think that Ed Miliband was right to talk about Labour One Nation in immigration which highlights concerns that needs to be addressed.

Let’s not give way to Far Right agenda which allow certain Far Right group enjoys feeding their propaganda to low esteem people with such political groups like the British national Party(BNP).

Mark-HarperSee article below:

The UK must not be a “soft touch” for migrants, including those looking to come from Bulgaria and Romania in the future, minister Mark Harper has said.

The UK must “offer what we need to” under treaty obligations, in terms of benefits, but “no more”, he told MPs.

Forecasts about the number of potential arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria when temporary controls expire at the end of the year were “not helpful”, he added.

hiollobone595But Tory MP Philip Hollobone said such a situation was “madness”.

Transitional controls in place since 2007 limit the number of Bulgarians and Romanians who can seek work in the UK and in other EU nations, but they will come to an end at the start of 2014.

Conservative ministers, who are committed to substantially reducing levels of net migration, are under pressure from backbenchers to say how the UK will deal with a potential influx of new arrivals.

‘No idea’

At Home Office questions in the House of Commons, a succession of MPs raised concerns about the potential impact on the economy and society.

Conservative MP John Baron said the UK’s minimum wage was six times higher than in Romania and Bulgaria and there was a chance of a “surge” in new arrivals.

Mr Hollobone said incomers should have to apply for a residency card: “My constituents think it is madness to open our borders to 29 million people when we have absolutely no idea how many are going to come to this country.”

In response, Home Office minister Mr Harper said the government was looking at the “pull” factors which encouraged migrants to come to the country.

“We want to make sure that when people look at the access to our benefits and our public services that no one thinks we are a soft touch in this country,” he said, adding that ministers were “taking action to make sure that won’t be the case”.

He dismissed suggestions that ministers had considered placing adverts seeking to deter migrants from coming to the UK, saying people should not “believe everything they read in the newspapers”.

Given that transitional controls were ending in eight other countries as well as the UK , he said the number of people who might opt to come to the UK could not be forecast with “any degree of accuracy” and the government’s advisory body on immigration had recommended against it.

Groups campaigning for tighter controls on immigration have warned that about 50,000 people from Romania and Bulgaria could come to the UK every year.

People from Romania and Bulgaria have been free to live in the UK since 2007, but have either had to apply for one of the limited work permits available, been self-employed or worked in a specific list of jobs such as seasonal agricultural ones and domestic servants.

Elderly now being targeted by the coalition


photoMy thoughts on Social Care Cap :

Every government past and present have attacked people with various disabilities no matter what their background ie race, age or religious believes yet we have various legislation to protect us all from discrimination in place.

I concur that Social Care does need to be reformed but not at the tax payers expense as this is going way too fast and this is to please the rich donors of the Conservatives. Yes there is a need to get more Social Workers and Care Assistants well-trained staff  to take on the new challenges of Social Care before it can go any further the coalition need to close the loopholes in the current legislation before introducing a new set of rules.

Any carers have been calling for this for sometime as they are the ones who visits both Public and Private Sectors who provides Day and Night Care services to their relatives and friends both in Day Care and Care Homes  some of the providers still continue with bad practices yet at times it continues to go unchallenged by the Social Care Commission or if they do some private companies just closes it organisations down then rebrand themselves under a different name(s)

I would expect it from the Far Rights groups but not from the main political parties. It is in my opinion with the recent events of people with disabilities have been targeted or made scapegoat off. I concur that there are some bad apples that abuse the benefit system and they need to be rooted out. The Marjory with disabilities are law-abiding citizens.

The coalition does not give a monkey as they only see pound signs in their eyes of making cuts in all the benefits be it bedroom tax, council tax or social care. There will come a time when we will not recognise NHS or benefit system in the next 15-20 years’ time as most of the services will be sold off to the private sectors. The more I look into the coalitions they are strongly adopting a mixture of Republican and Thatcherite policies which I’m sure that I will be accused of scaremongering.

Now we learn that the Public Accounts Committee said the Work Capability Assessment had resulted in too many wrong decisions which were overturned on appeal.

margaret-hodge_1414784cIts chair Margaret Hodge accused the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of being “unduly complacent” and of hurting the “most vulnerable”.

But employment minister Mark Hoban accused the MPs of “scaremongering”.

The Work Capability Assessment tests was introduced in 2008 to assess entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance, after it was claimed the old system was failing.

The company Atos was paid £112.4m to carry out 738,000 assessments in 2011/12.

The committee found 38% of appeals against the DWP’s decisions had been successful.

Ms Hodge, a Labour MP, accused the government of “poor decision-making”, which was “damaging public confidence” in the system.

Although Atos has faced criticism, “most of the problems lie firmly within the Department for Work and Pensions”, she said.

“The department’s view that appeals against decisions are an inherent part of the process is unduly complacent,” she said.

“The work capability assessment process hits the most vulnerable claimants hardest.

“The one-size-fits-all approach fails to account adequately for mental health conditions or those which are rare or fluctuating.”

Although the department had “started to improve”, she said, claimants “too often” found the assessment process so stressful that their health deteriorated.

“A key problem is that the department has been unable to create a competitive market for medical assessment providers, leaving Atos in the position of being a near monopoly supplier,” she said.

“The department is too often just accepting what Atos tells it. It seems reluctant to challenge the contractor. It has failed to withhold payment for poor performance and rarely checked that it is being correctly charged.”

In 2010, the government commissioned Professor Malcolm Harrington to review fitness-to-work benefit assessments. He subsequently called for an overhaul of the system to make it more “fair and humane”.

Mr Hoban said the committee’s report “completely” failed to recognise this.

For Labour, shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “This damning report exposes the chaos and confusion at the heart of the Tory-led government.”

He called for” fundamental change of the test before any more money is wasted and any more people are hurt”.

See article below:

Elderly people in England will not have to pay more than £75,000 for long-term social care after 2017, the health secretary is expected to say on Monday.

The state would pay the cost of any care above that figure, which does not include food and accommodation costs.

The figure is much higher than that recommended by the Dilnot report, which said any cap should be set at £35,000.

Its understood the threshold for means-tested support will rise from £23,000 to £110,000.

Reform of social care has been the objective of successive governments but only limited changes have taken place and cross-party talks broke down.

Full details of the agreement are set to be revealed in Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s statement to the Commons.

The £75,000 cap is thought to only cover the cost of care, bought at local authority prices.

Paul Lewis, from BBC Radio 4’s Moneybox programme, said other associated costs, such as board and lodging or hotel fees, would mean individuals paying far more in real terms, before the cap is applied.

 

Tim Reid said there was some speculation plans to abolish the second state pension would provide the chancellor with funds to cover the costs.

A source close to Mr Hunt said: “This is a problem that has bedevilled governments for decades. The spiralling costs of social care and people being saddled with costs and having to sell their homes.

“The coalition felt that this was an important decision that needed to be made and we thought long and hard about how to do it and pay for it. And we believe this is a viable solution.”

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This could… represent a real step forward in giving older people and their families peace of mind”

End Quote Michelle Mitchell Age UK

The BBC understands the health secretary fought off attempts by the Treasury to have the bill for the scheme paid for from his department’s budget.

Economist Andrew Dilnot was commissioned by the coalition government in 2010 to examine options for overhauling the social care system.

Mr Hunt is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying the lower cap, recommended by Mr Dilnot, would “not be credible” in the current economic climate.

“We’re in a period where we have a huge deficit and the over-riding national priority for all of us when we become pensioners is actually to get the national debt under control.

“So it’s not helping anyone to announce a generous cap by increasing the national debt. We need to have some realism, the important thing is that we have a cap.”

The health secretary added that he would expect pension and insurance companies to offer new products “where people save for their social care just as they save for their pension”.

Currently people with savings and capital of more than £23,250 have to pay for care costs. Those with assets of between £14,250 and £23,250 have these taken into account when their contribution is assessed. Below £14,250, only a person’s income is considered.

It is expected Mr Hunt will announce a new means-testing threshold of about £110,000, 10% higher than the figure recommended by the Dilnot Commission although lower than the figure demanded by campaigners.

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A £75,000 cap is so high that it would only help ‘the few’”

End Quote Alzheimer’s Society

They say, despite the changes, many people will still have to sell their homes to pay for care under a £75,000 cap and £110,000 threshold arrangement.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said she was “encouraged” that the social care funding issue “appears to be emerging… from the long grass”.

She added: “If… the government is about to announce that lifetime contributions to care will be capped, then this could, if the level is not set too high, represent a real step forward in giving older people and their families peace of mind.

“We hope that the government is compassionate and brave in its quest to balance affordability in the current economic climate with a fair deal for those forced to pay high care costs.”

The Alzheimer’s Society said that a large rise in the capital threshold could take thousands of people “out of the firing line” for huge costs.

But commenting on the cap, it added: “A £75,000 cap is so high that it would only help ‘the few’.

“It is vital that government also looks at the huge underfunding of the system.”

Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages, was more critical of the government plan, saying families “will be in for a rude shock”.

“The government is sneakily shifting the cost of care further and further onto older people and their families,” he insisted.

Mr Burke added that there were “fairer and better alternatives” to the scheme, including raising the capital threshold to at least £200,000 or higher.

In Scotland personal care is free for those over the age of 65 who have been assessed by the local authority as needing it.

People who live at home are not charged for personal care services, while those paying their own way in care homes get more than £200 a week to cover personal and nursing care.

While Holyrood says it is fully committed to the funding of free personal care, figures published last year showed the cost of providing it had risen by more than 150% since 2005.

In Wales, a weekly maximum of £50 is charged to all those using non-residential social services;.

The Welsh government has pledged to build a new system of paying for social care that was “fair, affordable and sustainable in the long-term”.