1) Benefit Justice Summit Declares Day Of Action
Following what we heard at the Benefit Justice Summit on 9th May, it has been announced that campaigners are now planning a national day of protest against the bedroom tax and other reforms on 1st June.
Protests will be held in towns and cities across England and Wales on a day that will also coincide with marches in Europe against austerity.
The protests hope to help unite small local groups against reforms in a vision to build a stronger, national opposition. Following the suicide of Stephanie Bottrill, who took her own life because she could no longer afford rent after bedroom tax, Eileen Short of Defend Council Housing said, “The nationwide day of protest on 1st June will honor Stephanie Bottrill’s memory in the best way we know.”
2) Businesses and charities using Workfare scheme must be named, tribunal rules.
The DWP suffered a defeat at a tribunal over the Workfare scheme this week, as it was ruled that the names of companies taking part in the scheme, which can use unemployed people for weeks without pay as a condition for receiving benefits, must be named.
The DWP tried to defend a need of privacy over the company names due to potential financial and reputation damage. However, if the public chooses not to use or donate to charities and businesses because of ethical views, surely that’s our choice to make, and not theirs to cover up?
The DWP also said that revenue paid by the Department to firms for placements would be lost and that there would be redundancies, and also asked the court to take into account the impact of campaigns such as Boycott Workfare, which aimed to end the scheme.
The tribunal ruled that ‘the public interest balance militates strongly in favour of disclosure”. The DWP is now deciding on its next move.
3) DWP postpones release of figures about effects of sanctioning.
The DWP not giving us information again, unfortunately. This time, the department’s figures on how many people have lost out on benefits under the new sanctioning scheme introduced in October.
The figures, which were meant to be released this week, are delayed due to ‘significant doubts about the quality of the new regime statistics’, said the DWP.
However, after recent criticism over the way Ian Duncan Smith, secretary of State for Work and Pensions, uses statistics about the department, there is some concern over the postponement of these numbers, and whether they are delayed in order to minimise bad press over the new sanctioning systems.
4) Fears over public anger as some MPs may gain £10,000 pay rises
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) who are responsible for MPs’ salaries and pensions are likely to suggest large increases in pay in a report next month.
It is thought a raise of around £10,000 is most likely on top of the current £65,738 annual packet. However, amidst the huge debates over cuts and welfare reforms it is feared that Prime Minister David Cameron will find it hard to back and justify these rises.
Add this to other news this week that George Osborne had vowed to target corporate tax evasion shortly before announcing the new Star Wars film being made in the UK, which is eligible for tax breaks, and we are definitely not feeling like ‘we are all in this together’.