What We Learned Last Week (14/06 – 23/06)

kamsandhu —  June 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

1) A third of Britons worry they will not be able to keep up with rising housing costs

Research from the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH) and Ipsos Mori has found that 10.3 million Britons are worried about meeting mortgage payments and rent prices in 2014.

Over 11 million people said that the situation was causing them stress, and homeless charity Shelter reported a 40% increase in calls to its helpline from people worried about meeting rent or payments.

The LSL buy-to-let index shows that rent prices in England and Wales are increasing faster than the rate of inflation, with an average 3.5% increase in the last 12 months. These increased rents, cuts to benefits and reforms such as the bedroom tax, have pushed people into debt, with an increasing amount of social landlords reporting that tenants have gone into arrears.

However, there are more cuts to come – with the introduction of the benefit cap due to start later this year.

Grainia Long, Chief Executive of the CIH said: “The fact that one in three people are worried they won’t be able to pay their mortgage or rent next year – and almost a quarter are already concerned about their ability to pay at the moment – is extremely disturbing.

The number of people worried about their housing costs will continue to rise because we have failed to build enough new homes for decades. Recent government announcements have shown ministers understand the importance of fixing our housing system, but we need housing to be understood as a national priority if we are to have any chance of dealing with this deepening crisis.”

Read more about this story here.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

2) Call for national demo against NHS cuts at Tory conference

Britain’s biggest unions have united in support of a protest against NHS cuts and privatisation, to be held outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester later this year.

Unite, Unison and GMB will join with campaign groups outside the conference on September 29th.

Campaigners hope to highlight and stop a dismantling of the NHS, with increased cuts, job losses and a fragmentation of the service which critics say will allow private sector companies to buy up parts of the health service.

Read more about this story here.

2) Judges asked to explain decisions on fit-to-work appeals

The government is asking judges making decisions on appeals from those found fit-to-work, to explain their decisions, in the hope that they can monitor and improve the process.

The controversial assessments carried out by ATOS, have been condemned by campaigners who say they are weak and often wrong, with many decisions being over-ruled at appeal.

Reports and feedback from judges will be analysed by the government this summer.

Read more about this story here.

3) Unison starts judicial review against ‘brutal’ charges for employment tribunals

The country’s biggest public sector union, Unison, has applied for a judicial review against new rules to charge workers £1,000 to take companies to tribunal.

The fees, which will affect workers seeking trial for unfair dismissal or discrimination, are due to be rolled out by the coalition next month.

However, there are concerns that the excessive fees will stop some employees from seeking help for genuine grievances, and will cover the backs of big business.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary said, “They want to take away our employment rights with punitive charges to access justice” adding that Unison would pay the fee for any of it’s members upfront if needed.

Read more about this story here.

Unison General Secretary - Dave Prentis Image: The Mirror

Unison General Secretary – Dave Prentis Image: The Mirror

5) Over 4,000 turn-out for the People’s Assembly against Austerity

On Saturday, over 4,000 people joined in a movement against austerity at the Central Hall in Westminster. The day was filled with talks and debates from  a range of speakers including Union Leaders, councillors, journalists and campaigners from up and down the country.

As well as providing a space for people to unite and discuss the problems of government and cuts, the People’s Assembly hopes to now help unite and mobilise local groups to take action against the attack on welfare being carried out by the coalition. Several days of action have been announced, including a day of civil disobedience on November 5th. There was even talk of creating a new political party formation, in light of Labour’s lack of assurance to reverse the cuts.

Find out more about the People’s Assembly and read their first draft statement here.

One of the most inspiring talks was given by comedienne, writer and actor Francesca Martinez, who has also been a supporter of the WOW petition which calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform, and a fairer deal for sick and disabled people affected by the reforms.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
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