1) Miliband promises tax breaks for companies that pay the living wage
Following the publication of a KPMG report that showed there were 5.2 million people earning below the living wage in the UK, Ed Miliband has vowed to introduce a new contract that gives companies tax breaks for up to twelve months for paying the living wage to employees.
The number of people on less than the living wage has gone up by 400,000 in the last year from 4.8 million to 5.2 million. And it has increased by 1.8 million over the last five years. Miliband is expected to say; “We’ve now got to the point where more of the people bringing up families in poverty are in work than out of work’ and warn the Britain risks an “era of growth without prosperity.”
Companies could be given tax breaks ranging between £445 and £1000 for employing someone on the living wage. The news is welcomed by some as a way of tackling the low pay problems which are exacerbated by the below inflation increases of the minimum wage over the last few years, ultimately meaning that for some, full time work on the minimum wage can still mean poverty, despite the coalition promises to ‘make work pay.’
Although this is a step in the right direction for a problem that needs to be addressed, legislation of the living wage as a requirement would be the greatest help for the low pay crisis.
2) Victory for campaigners, as bedroom tax rules changed to make disabled children exempt
The government has amended its ‘under occupancy policy’ to make disabled children who cannot share a room exempt from the penalty.
The change comes following a battle from five families who challenged the Secretary of State over their need for bedrooms for their children. The court ruled in favour of the families in July, and the government has finally changed legislation to reflect this.
When the bedroom tax was brought in David Cameron promised that it would not affect certain families and individuals, including those with disabled children, however this was not true and thousands of families across the country caring for disabled children have been hit with the ‘bedroom tax.’ This victory will come as relief for them.
The mother of one of the clamants said:
“I am relieved that at last the position for families like mine is clear and that following the court’s decision in July the government have finally changed the rules which would have had such a terrible effect on families like mine. My son needs his own bedroom because of his serious health problems. Without that bedroom, we were told he would have to go into residential care. I m sure that everyone can understand what heartbreak such a situation would cause any mother. We have been very disappointed by the way that the government have behaved throughout our case, but delighted that at last the position is clear. We will continue with our appeal, because at the moment the government has an order for legal costs against us, which seems ridiculous to me, given that we won our case and that the rules have now been changed as a result. However, we are so happy that the real battle is over.”
3) Leading doctors warn of ‘worst winter’ crisis for NHS hospitals
Leading accident and emergency doctors have warned that this could be the ‘worst winter crisis’ for the NHS, as the number of wait times of over four hours in hospitals have increased by 43% in the last two years.
Doctors say that this winter is already shaping up to be worse than last year’s and this will put a huge strain on the health service’s resources in the coming months.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham accused ministers of ‘leaving the NHS on the brink of its most dangerous winter in years’ and slammed the government for not heeding previous warnings.
Mark Porter, leader of the British Medical Association called for a halt to the fall in NHS bed numbers and a re-think of the £30bn NHS ‘efficiency drive’, commenting, “We have all the symptoms of a system under pressure, that’s what these figures show. While we have this it would be foolish to pursue a policy of still constraining resources in the acute sector.”
4) Day of civil disobedience and the bonfire of austerity approaches
Tuesday the 5th of November is fast approaching and marks what is hoped to be a huge protest against the austerity measures of the coalition government.
The People’s Assembly have a list of all the events taking place on their website. It is hoped that the day will see protests in every town and city in the country. Action is planned in the morning, afternoon and evening, and planned bonfires are expected to contain threatening eviction and debt collection letters caused by the harsh welfare reforms and budget cuts.
The Million Mask March is also taking place tomorrow night along with around 400 locations worldwide.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass