1) Government pass Hospital Closure Act
The government have passed clause 119 – also known as the Hospital Closures Act – it grants government new powers to close or downgrade hospitals.
Jeremy Hunt and other ministers insist that the clause will only be used in extreme circumstances, and is a way of clamping down on lengthy reviews and consultations. However, campaigners believe it will leave communities “without a voice.”
Lewisham Hospital, which was saved by the efforts of the local community, is an example of the places at risk. Jeremy Hunt had planned to close the hospital, which was a well run service for patients and financially, because of the debts of another hospital. Following the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, Jeremy Hunt’s actions were found to be illegal, but campaigners fear that these new powers could override these laws and see government’s shutting down hospitals unneccesarily within 40 days.
2) Two legends of socialism pass away
The outspoken RMT union leader Bob Crow, and veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, both passed away last week leading to an outpour of tributes to two leaders who stuck strong to their convictions of a fairer society for ALL.
The RMT say they remain militant in their fight against attacks on “our social class” and they have inherited Bob Crow’s legacy.
Meanwhile the death of Tony Benn has demonstrated that we need more politicians who stay true to their convictions of garnering a fairer society.
3) DWP advising Jobcentres on sending claimants to foodbanks
The DWP is advising Jobcentres on how to send claimants to food banks, despite ministers previously insisting they “do not refer people to food banks or issue vouchers” and that food banks are “absolutely not a part of the welfare system because we have other means of supporting people.”
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that there is a “high level process” in place in referring claimants and supplying vouchers, but staff are instructed not to use the term “food voucher.”
“A six-step flowchart for jobcentre staff shows that the four reasons to recommend a food bank when claimants ask for help are hardship caused by benefit changes, benefit payment delays, a benefit advance has been refused, or the advance is not enough to meet their needs.”
4) There is an alternative – Budget Day Protests
Following the People’s Assembly Conference on Saturday 15th March, several protests will take place across the country on the day of the budget, with the message that there is an alternative to the government’s cuts and Britain needs a pay rise.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass