Archives For bedroom tax

1) Tories defeated in bedroom tax bill amendment vote

Labour and Lib Dem MPs united to press forward with the Affordable Homes Bill in a vote that went against the Tory agenda on benefits.

The Affordable Homes Bill will amend the bedroom tax policy, making those unable to find a smaller home exempt from the levy.

Image: capita Software

Image: capita Software

Within a few months of the bedroom tax coming in, research showed that up to 96% of families hit by the tax had nowhere to move to, with a fall in building rates, social housing and scarcity of 1-2 bedroom housing.

The idiots that came up with this policy also put in a caveat that those affected would be unable to move until arrears are paid. And so a family that can and would move into a smaller house to avoid the charge and do as the government wants, can’t move if they are in arrears from the bedroom tax and so a cycle of debt ensues that benefits no one.

And while it is incredible that a policy this dedicated to causing debt and stress to the worst off ever made it through the gate, it caused far less furore in Parliament that those complaining about a mansion tax that would help pay for the NHS shortfall. Double standards, indeed.

Read more about this story here.

2) JRF call for independent body to hold government to account for record on poverty

 Joseph-Rowntree-Foundation

A new report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation entitled ‘A UK without poverty’ recommends that the Office for Budget Responsibility monitors and forecasts poverty rates in the UK.

“The publication says successive government’s attempts to tackle poverty have not been good enough, with overall levels of poverty similar now to what they were 25 years ago.

“This is a waste of human potential, a strain on the public purse, and it means the UK economy does not function as well as it could – child poverty alone costs the country £29 billion a year.”

See the report here.

3) Osborne set to miss deficit reduction target again as UK borrowing rises

An increase in UK borrowing thought to be fuelled by weak tax receipts may see the chancellor bring in even heavier cuts to meet targets before 2015 election.

“Weak tax receipts pushed borrowing to £11.6bn in August excluding bank bailouts, £700m more than a year earlier according to the Office for National Statistics. Borrowing in the fiscal year so far, from April to August, was £45.5bn, £2.6bn higher than the same period last year.

“Economists said the poor start to the year had put at risk the Treasury’s official target of reducing borrowing to £95.5bn in 2014-15 from £105.8bn in 2013-14. Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said Osborne had “a mighty tough job” on his hands to meet the target.”

Somehow we’re not surprised, but this may mean that Osbourne will push deep and quick before the election to implement damaging and destructive cuts to the worst off to pay for his failures.

Read more about this story here.

3) Cameron to cut public funds from Scotland

Promises made to Scottish voters in the final hours before polling stations opened for the referendum on independence, are being hacked away at by Cameron who now says he will cut funding to Scotland.

Cameron claimed he would use the Barnett formula as a way of spreading funding in order to convince Scottish voters to stay in the union. However since then, Tory MPs and backbenchers  have voiced their anger with the policy which would grant an extra £1600 per head in Scotland more than England.

Read more about this story here.

4) Focus E15 mothers garner national support

A group of mothers who were threatened with eviction from their hostel without help or promise of a suitable home are due in court this week and asking for help, whilst staging an occupation against their eviction in a campaign for more social housing and suitable, affordable homes.

 10414390_10152460730639976_5972111780655865624_n

See what they’re up to and how you could help at their Facebook page here.

5) Farage pulls ‘wag tax’ days after announcement

UKIP plans to introduce a tax on luxury goods such as shoes and handbags, dropped plans soon after their announcement claiming they were only a ‘discussion point.’ UKIP subsequently went back to imitating and hardening Tory ideals.
 
“However, the major event of the conference was the defection to Ukip of Tory rightwinger Mark Reckless, and the main policy announcements appeared to be aimed at the right, including scrapping inheritance tax and lowering income tax rates in a way that would mainly benefit wealthier voters. The £12bn of proposed cuts would be paid for by slashing foreign aid and leaving the European Union.”
Image: Wear Red

Image: Wear Red

6) Harry Leslie Smith brings Labour conference to tears as he recounts life before the NHS

One of the most touching and truthful speeches you will ever see on the reasons why our NHS is so important and needs protecting, from a 91-year old Second World War veteran.

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Tomorrow will see a national day of protest against benefit sanctions, benefit cuts and the bedroom tax. 

Labour and the Lib Dems now oppose the bedroom tax, thanks to the ongoing protests and actions of anti-bedroom tax campaigners, and these campaigners will demand that it be ended now, along with vicious and unneccesary benefit sanction regimes.

Image: antibedroomtax.org.uk

Image: antibedroomtax.org.uk

From antibedroomtax.org.uk:

“Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

“Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).

“PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.  

“Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions (use contact tab)

“Research has shown that only 1 in 50 claimants who are sanctioned appeal the decision. Of those 90% win their appeal. Forthcoming advice will explain to claimants how they can appeal. “

 

On Saturday, thousands of people up and down the country demonstrated against the bedroom tax as it reached the one year mark since it’s introduction. The spare room subsidy has inflicted unwarranted stress on those who face it, and the one year anniversary should also mark the beginning of it’s end.

Image: hullgreens.blogspot.com

Image: hullgreens.blogspot.com

Here is why we need to end the bedroom tax:

1 – 96% of people have nowhere to move to.

A study by the Independent in August last year, revealed the ‘big lie’ behind the bedroom tax. Government had claimed that the bedroom tax was designed to ‘free up’ larger households for those that needed it, whilst others would move to more ‘appropriate’ and smaller accommodation. However, the Independent revealed that 96% of those facing the penalty have nowhere to move to, with a huge lack of one and two bedroom housing, thus having no other choice than to take the penalty.

2 – Bedroom tax hits the poorest and most vulnerable hardest

Two thirds of those affected by the bedroom tax are disabled. The bedroom tax causes unnecessary extra pressure for those who are already battling other cuts to benefits and welfare reforms.

The government publicly promised that disabled people would get greater protection from the effects of the bedroom tax, but research conducted by the disability charity Papworth Trust found that disabled people were no more likely to receive DHP than non-disabled, even when they lived in adapted accommodation. Further nearly one out of three DHP applications from disabled people were being rejected, and nine in 10 disabled people were forced to cut back on food and household bills following refusals of DHP.

3 – Discretionary Housing benefit is not enough and forces those in need to apply periodically

The government claimed that Discretionary Housing Benefits would receive a bolster in revenue to ensure that the most vulnerable or unable to pay would have help. Whilst more money was allocated to an emergency pot, this has not been enough to protect the most vulnerable.

As mentioned above, many in need have been refused help. Further the DHP may alay fears in the immediate sense but the emergency help in the form of DHP is only allocated for a certain time, which can be a one off payment or a weekly addition, but at the end of that term, the claimant has to apply again.

Also, the money allocated to the council for that year only lasts for that year. Once it is gone, it is gone.

Image: urban75.net

Image: urban75.net

4 – Exemptions have not been sufficient, and government knows this

The government claimed that there would be sufficient exemptions from the bedroom tax for those that were unable to move or required the extra room due to a disability.

However, mounting court cases and examples of this protection failing, have flooded the courts and the media. The following case was brought by five families, and took an eighteen month battle to win at their own expense:

“A group of five families with disabled children issued proceedings in the High Court in an attempt to protect their homes and the homes of thousands of other families like them from  the effect of the policy.  The claimants included a child with Down’s Syndrome, three children with autism, and one with a rare and very severe genetic condition, Joubert’s Syndrome.  All of the children had been assessed by experts as requiring their own bedroom, due to their disability or the disability of a sibling.

“….The government’s response was confused. In March David Cameron stated publicly that the tax did not apply to disabled children: this was simply not true….

“After this  legal challenge succeeded, the government still delayed in changing the rules, failing to keep the families and their lawyers informed, and only finally making the new Regulations yesterday, the final day allowed by the Court.
The mother of TA, one of the Claimants, said today:

“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.”

Press Release, HMB Solicitors, 1st November 2013

5 – Debt is piling up, and misery is too

27% of those pushed into debt because of the bedroom tax, are in arrears for the first time. This reform has not been about saving money, or leaving people with no money – it’s leaving people in debt and with no other choice because as mentioned, they have nowhere to move to, there are limited funds to help, and even those thought to be exempt have had to fight. The bedroom tax only serves to provide those already identified as the poorest and most vulnerable, with debt, stress and misery.

6 – Scotland has banned it

The Scottish government have banned the bedroom tax by taking on the cost in Scottish government. These actions and the findings of the Scottish government’s Welfare Reform Committee earlier this year, should serve as a lesson for our government too. Here is what the report found”

 

  • “The bedroom tax is having a real and harmful impact on people’s lives, and often the most vulnerable in society, including those with disabilities and children in separated families.
  • “Many people are ‘trapped’ into paying the ‘bedroom tax’ in that there are not enough one bedroom properties available to down-size to.
  • “Although the ‘bedroom tax’ will reduce the housing benefit budget, it introduces a number of new costs to tenants, housing associations, local authorities, the Scottish Government and others – the tax may cost more than it saves.
  • “Evidence submitted suggests the bedroom tax breaches tenants human rights, particularly in relation to discrimination against disabled people and the lack of a proper impact assessment of the tax.
  • “The level of Discretionary Housing Payments originally allocated by the Department of Work and Pensions to deal with the transitional problems does not match the scale of the problem. It welcomes the additional £20 million Discretionary Housing Payments allocated by the Scottish Government for 2013-14 and 2014-15 but calls on the DWP to confirm its allocation of funds for the next two years. It also wants the DWP to increase this allocation for Scotland to match the evident need.

“Overall the Welfare Reform Committee finds the ‘under-occupancy charge’ (yet another name for it), to be iniquitous and inhumane and believes that the only way to deal with the ‘bedroom tax’ effectively is to abolish it. The Committee therefore calls on the United Kingdom Government to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’ immediately. If not, the Scottish Parliament should be given the powers and resources to abolish it.”

Read more here.

The court cases,media coverage, protests, cases like Stephanie Botrill, Raquel Rolnik’s investigation and more are enough to demonstrate that this tax should be axed, and the evidence is embarrassing for government.

Further evidence still suggests the bedroom tax could actually cost more than it saves, as more tenants require emergency housing and help with debts. This is all becoming increasingly embarrassing for government, who will after repeated exposure to the problems, now refuse to give the subject much light or debate. However, Saturday demonstrated that the fight to end the spare room subsidy is continuing and gaining strength, and won’t stop until the bedroom tax is abolished.

 

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Access to Justice In The UK

kamsandhu —  February 25, 2014 — 1 Comment

Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 20.50.04 Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 20.50.26 Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 20.51.48 Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 20.52.13 Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 20.52.30

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) One in seven households face eviction due to ‘bedroom tax’

A survey by the National Housing Federation has revealed that two thirds of households affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ since it was brought in, in April, have fallen into rent arrears. Further, one in seven households affected have received eviction risk letters and face losing their homes.

The survey is one of three reports all released on Wednesday, to highlight the negative impact of the ‘bedroom tax.’

The disability charity Papworth Trust, sat that a third of disabled people affected by the bedroom tax have been refused discretionary housing payments which act as emergency financial help. The government had previously promised that these payments would be given to disabled people in adapted homes needing help, as a priority.

The reports came on a day surrounding the spare room subsidy as Labour announced their promise to abolish the tax.

Image: The Mirror

Image: The Mirror

Read more about this story here.

2) Archbishop calls welfare reforms a ‘disgrace’

The Archbishop of Westminster, Britain’s most senior Catholic, has called Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms a ‘disgrace’ which remove even the most basic safety net from those facing hunger and poverty and leaves people with nothing for not filling out forms properly.

Vincent Nichols’ words follow other attacks from other prominent Church figures against the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who is a practicing Catholic.

The Archbishop said:

“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.

“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis. And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.”

Read more about this story here.

3) FOI reveals extent of ‘sanctions regime’

The true extent of the government’s sanction regime has been revealed in an Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has repeatedly denied that the new system of sanctioning brought in on 3rd December 2012 does not set targets for sanctions by pressurising workers.

Yet, the FOI revealed that 85% of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who saw their benefits slashed or removed had never been sanctioned previously.

This calls into question the motives behind the new regulations for sanctions. The Work Programme, thought to have cost around £3-5bn, has been branded a failure which lets down the sick and disabled.

Image: celebpictu

Image: celebpictu

Read more about this story.

4) Water Cannon Public Meeting – Email your opinion in NOW to stop Water Cannon reaching our streets

A public meeting will be held today at City Hall to hear people’s views on water cannon. Many people are attending in protest at this hugely violent weapon being brought to our streets.

The event page says:

“The police are working with the government to attempt to introduce water cannons across England and Wales to deal with “anticipated street protests as a result of ongoing austerity measures”.

“Water cannons don’t just get you a bit wet and cold.

“The high-pressure jet of water is capable of ripping out your eyes. (WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT: http://thethirdestate.net/2010/12/the-truth-about-water-cannons/). The police themselves are open about the fact that water cannons are “capable of causing serious injury or even death”.

“On the evening of 17 February 2014, a little-publicised public meeting is taking place at City Hall on the possible introduction of water cannons, hosted by the Deputy Mayor and the Met Police. We need to make sure they understand loud and clear there is NO PUBLIC CONSENT for the introduction of these life-destroying weapons on our streets.”

Tell the public consultation what you think about water cannons via watercannonengagement@mopac.london.gov.uk

Visit the event page here.

Watch the two minute video on the Truth about Water Cannon here:

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Universal Jobmatch carrying thousands of fake jobs

Universal Jobmatch, the system which jobseekers must sign up to if they want to claim benefits, has been listing thousands of ‘fake jobs,’ making up nearly a third of all listings in some parts of the UK, according to an investigation by Channel 4.

Claimants must prove they have used the system and applied for jobs on the site in order to continue receiving benefits. But this investigation proves that some jobseekers may have been wasting their time, calling into question the commitment of the DWP and government to reducing unemployment.

The investigation found that around 11,000 jobs apparently posted by nine different recruitment sites were actually posted by one man, Mark Coward from Coventry, a businessman and baptist deacon who makes money from each person who uploads their details and CV to CV library. Watch the Channel 4 report here:

Read more about this story here.

2) Scotland axes ‘bedroom tax’

Scotland has vowed to abolish the bedroom tax, with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirming that Scottish government were “more than willing” to put in the extra £15m required to pay for those affected by it.

However, benefit caps are stopping the Scottish government from being able to put money into the councils that need help, and so Sturgeon has written to welfare reform minister Lord Freud to lift the cap. She said:

“The bedroom tax penalises some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We know that more than 12,000 children are affected and 80 per cent of households hit contain an adult with a recognised disability.

“We have already provided as much help as legally possible to those suffering from this unjust policy but we are unfairly restricted in what we can do.

“For example, despite Scotland having 20,000 more households affected by the bedroom tax than London, the DHP allocation for Scotland in 2014-15 is £35million less than London.

“The Scottish Government are currently spending up to the legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax on people across Scotland.

“We are more than willing to put in the extra £15million, which would increase the amount of help available to a total of £50million.”

The move has highlighted the unpopular and damaging tax again, as thousands of councils across the UK struggle to help constituents who are falling behind or are unable to pay.

Lord Freud will face questions from the Work and Pensions committee on Wednesday at 9:30am on the ‘bedroom tax’ and the benefits cap.

Lord Freud Image: 24 Dash

Lord Freud Image: 24 Dash

Read more about Scotland’s axe here. 

Read more about Lord Freud’s appearance on Wednesday here.

3) Charities warn Osbourne against housing benefit caps as study reveals rise of 57% in homelessness advice

The Citizens Advice Bureau have warned the government against the scrapping of all benefits to those under 25, as the number of 17-24 year olds facing becoming ‘actual homeless’ has risen 57% since 2007/2008.

Osbourne has vowed to scrap benefits for under 25s if the Conservatives win a majority election in 2015. However, several charities have warned against this as it may risk plunging thousands of young people into homelessness and is yet another move which turns it’s back on youth unemployment and social issues.

Image: towntalk.co.uk

Image: towntalk.co.uk

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“Supporting young people into work should be looked on not as a burden but as an investment in our country’s future. Without support and training to help people move out of education into work and paying taxes, securing the economic recovery and building a sustainable economy for the long-term will be significantly harder.

“Young people are interested what they can offer not what they can take. As Citizens Advice enters its 75th year, the number of young people volunteering with us is at a record high.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Big Benefits Row helpful in revealing facts but overthrown by ‘Hopkinsisation’

Channel 5’s Big Benefit Row aired on Monday night bringing in ratings of 2.1m for the channel. While the show did reveal some myth-busting facts about welfare and benefits and challenged the usual media coverage, the show was overshadowed by the personal attacks and shouts from Katie Hopkins and Edwina Currie, stopping what reasonable and interesting debate there could be, by repeating  “the mantra of mainstream politicians about people at the bottom of society, but with even fewer facts and more venom,” as Owen Jones said.

Further the show stirred up more controversy when Disability Rights Campaigner and author of the blog ‘Diary Of A Benefit Scrounger’ Sue Marsh was dropped from the show at the last minute. Marsh explains what happens in her post here.

Image: Mirror.co.uk

Image: Mirror.co.uk

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Number of foodbanks in UK reached 1,000+

The number of foodbanks in the UK has exceeded 1,000 as more people are forced to rely on food aid to deal with the rising cost of living against cuts to pay and benefits.

The Trussell Trust estimate that 1million people will use food banks this year, and state that welfare cuts and delays to payments are one of the main reasons for growing reliance. The Trust have now even begun to create parcels for those unable to afford to heat up their dinner with a cooker or hob, called “kettle boxes,” driving home the ‘heat or eat’ choice many families are having to make up and down the country.

Foob Bank usage has risen 465% says Trussell Trust Image: dailyrecord.co.uk

Foob Bank usage has risen 465% says Trussell Trust Image: dailyrecord.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) UK benefits “manifestly inadequate,” say Council of Europe 

UK pensions, jobseeker’s allowance and incapacity benefits are “manifestly inadequate” according to the Council of Europe, because they fall below 40% of the median income of European states. The Council, based in Strasbourg, revealed the findings following the annual review of UK adherence to the European social charter.

Iain Duncan Smith dismissed the findings as ‘lunacy,’ insisting “government has made great strides in fixing the welfare system so that spending is brought under control.”

The news is likely to spark fresh controversy between the government and European commitments.

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

3) Bedroom tax pushing councils to financial crisis

Councils have warned they are facing financial crisis due to the number of people needing help because of the bedroom tax.

A survey found that over 200,000 people applied for extra help and hardship funds in the six months following the introduction of the controversial tax in April last year.

Four out of five councils have seen rises in the number of people needing Discretionary Housing Benefits, and councils have warned that the need for these payments outstrip the amount given to councils by the government.

4) Rufus Hound announces he will stand in MEP elections for National Health Action Party, bringing attention to the privatisation of the NHS

On the Jonathan Ross show, comedian Rufus Hound announced he would stand at the next European elections as an MEP in a campaign that aims to bring attention to and stop the privatisation of the National Health Service.

The comedian penned a blog post entitled ‘Cameron wants your kids to die unless you’re rich‘ which sparked media controversy, but worked in bringing the subject to the limelight, as Rufus pointed out the real risks of losing our NHS.

Image: digitalspy.co.uk

Image: digitalspy.co.uk

 

Hound told Jonathon Ross;

“I don’t want to run as an MEP, I really don’t. I want to dick about with this man (Robert Lindsay) because that’s a lot more fun.

“But I’m looking around for who is stepping forward and telling people about it and nobody is.”

Read more about this story. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) MPs vote on bedroom tax 

On Tuesday 12th November, MPs gathered to debate and vote on whether the bedroom tax should be abolished. To see what was said click here. Unfortunately, despite evidence that the hated policy was not working due to a lack of smaller housing and options leaving tenants in arrears and poverty cycles, the vote returned a result of 252 voting against abolishment and 226 for.

Following the debate, Labour have been attacked and accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ after 47 of its MPs failed to show for the key vote which is one of Labour’s own motions, with a promise to abolish the tax should they win the election in 2015.

The Herald were told that 24 Labour MPs were absent due to a pairing with a coalition minister.

21 Lib Dems also did not vote, with some believed to have done so in protest.

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) David Cameron announces we need permanent austerity from a gold lectern

In a speech to the lord mayor’s banquet last week, prime minister David Cameron announced that Britain needed to remain a leaner state, and called for permanent austerity.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

The photo that emerged from the banquet shows David Cameron in white regalia, speaking from a gold lectern, next to a gold throne and many reacted to the speech suggesting that this demonstrated how out of touch Cameron is with those at the sharp end of the austerity measures he promotes.

“We are sticking to the task. But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending. It also means something more profound. It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.”

David Cameron

Further, prior to not really winning the election in 2010, Cameron said that he would introduce austerity measures for a short time to get the country back on track. No one signed up for permanent austerity. Yet, Cameron now wants to abandon his election promises and continue with indefinitely with the cuts.

But perhaps Cameron was hoping we wouldn’t remember this or find it out, following another revelation this week, that the conservative party have attempted to wipe all of their speeches from 2000-2010 from the Internet. We can only imagine this is because they want to wipe the evidence of promises the conservative party have broken, including the one for a transparent government.

Image: @labourpress

Image: @labourpress

3) Disabled could lose 50,000 jobs

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) – an organisation formed of over 50 leading charities, has warned that welfare reforms could see 50,000 disabled people lose their jobs.

Image: e-activist

Image: e-activist

The move for disability benefits from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will see thousands lose out on support due to tougher eligibility criteria. The government’s own projections estimate that 500,000 disabled people will no longer be allowed to claim.

Many disabled people use the support from the DLA to help them get around where they cannot use public transport. Without this extra support many disabled people may not be able to hold on to their jobs.

The PIP will save £145million. But the loss of tax and national insurance payments from the jobs disabled people stand to lost could cost £278million in tax and national insurance and the cost to the taxpayer to pay for unemployment benefit for those that lose their job will amount to £178million.

Steve Winyard, co-chair of the DBC said:

“One in five disabled people use DLA to help them in work. But thousands could be forced out of employment as a result of cuts to mobility help.

DWP has failed to analyse this issue to date.  It is vital that cuts don’t  force disabled people out of work and cost more to the public purse overall.”

Read more about this story here. 

3) Underemployment now worst on record

The Office for National Statistics revealed that 24,000 more part-time workers were looking for full-time work between July and September.

This takes the figure for underemployment to 1.46m – the highest since records began in 1992, under John Major.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said the figures show that while the workforce is increasing, people are still becoming poorer;

“We need better jobs and healthier pay rises to tackle to the living standards crisis and ensure that the full benefits of recovery reach working people.”

David Cameron avoided questions and attacks by using the additional 177,000 in employment as “proof our long-term plan for Britain is working.”

Read more about this story here. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Today the House of Commons will gather to vote on whether the bedroom tax should be scrapped. Labour is likely to vote for an immediate repeal, the Conservatives are likely to keep it in whilst the Lib Dems are split, with some representatives voicing concerns over the policy and some still supporting it.

Mounting evidence from the months since the policy was introduced in April, demonstrates the punishing nature of this policy which does little to ‘use up the housing stock’, as David Cameron suggests.

Image: Herald Scotland

Image: Herald Scotland

In fact, this premise was entirely debunked by The independent in August this year, when statistics showed that 96% of families affected had nowhere to move to. A lack of smaller social housing stock means that 19 out of 20 families have no other options but to fall into arrears, which demonstrates the policy as a means to penalise the poor.

Further, should families and individuals fall into arrears, they are not able to move until these debts have been paid off. And so, if a family want to move to save money as government suggest, but have fallen behind due to the tax itself, they cannot escape. This is trapping people up and down the country in poverty cycles.

The coalition government did promise to exempt those with certain needs such as ex-servicemen and children with disbailities. But this was also a lie. 5 families had to take the DWP to court to amend the bedroom tax policy, so that it didn’t target disabled children who may need the extra room for equipment, or are unable to share rooms. The alternative to being unable to pay, according to their local councils and government, was to allow their children to be taken into care.

For winning this exemption, the families who fought are now being subjected to more punishment as the government attempt to place legal costs on the shoulders of the families who brought the case to court.

The government seem to be making this battle hard at every turn, but the bedroom tax is unworkable. It is forcing people into poverty and debt through no fault of their own and provides no help for those in difficult situations.

It would be wise for the government to drop the policy now. The bedroom tax cannot continue. A report from U.N rapporteur Raquel Rolnik is also due before the end of this month and she has already voiced concerns over the Human Rights breach of the policy. Even she was subject to a torrid attack from Tory Chairman Grant Shapps for speaking out against government.

Still, the message is getting out and the public are beginning to see how punishing and unjust this policy is, despite the best efforts of government to silence these voices.

Whether the hated bedroom tax is voted out today or not, the MPs will elect who they stand with today, whether that is with the perpetrators of a solely punishing and crippling law against the poor, or with the people being put at the mercy of it.

Some protestors will gather outside Westminster today in a demonstration against the bedroom tax. Let’s hope this is one of the last times they will have to.

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

 

The debate will take place at 12.45pm.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Rise in number of homeless families with children in B&Bs

The number of homeless families with children in B&Bs is at it’s highest in nearly ten years. There are around 2090 families currently in this sort of temporary/emergency accommodation – an increase of 8% on last year, according to research from the homeless charity – Shelter.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Homlessness legislation asks that B&Bs are avoided when placing families. If they are used, families should be there no longer than six weeks. However, there has been an increase in the number of families being placed in this emergency accommodation since 2009, and 760 of the 2090 families had lived there longer than six weeks at the end of June.

The research also found that there were around 43,000 other families in other forms of temporary accommodation, most often short-term private rent flats which can be extremely expensive.

Shelter interviewed 25 families who had stayed in B&B’s and found that many felt “unsafe” with problems including overcrowding, exposure to drugs, threats of violence and sexual offences, lack of facilities including fridges, cooking equipment and tables for children to eat or do homework.

“I try to cook because it’s cheaper, but I can’t put stuff in the fridge because it’s too small so I can’t use fresh stuff. I’m using stuff in tins all the time,” said one mother.

Shelter’s Chief Executive, Campbell Robb, said; “Our shocking findings have uncovered the shameful conditions homeless children will be living in this Christmas. Parents and children sharing beds, children forced to eat on the floor and being threatened with violence in the place they live. This shouldn’t be happening in 21st-century Britain.”

Kris Hopkins, the housing minister commented that councils had been given £1bn “to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” and to meet “legal requirements” in helping the homeless. He added that families should not be placed in B&B’s and never for more than six weeks, and with the extra funding provided “there is no excuse for councils to breach this.”

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Shelter, the homeless charity which carried out the research

However, Shelter also believe that more and more homeless people are at threat of being ignored with the government’s plans of removing the right to judicial review. A judicial review allows people the right to challenge authorities and organisations on decisions, and is being scrapped by the government under the veil of reducing legal aid costs. Shelter say:

“The government points again and again to the need to reduce costs, but in limiting judicial review their own figures show they expect to save £3m at most; a tiny 0.03% of the Ministry of Justice’s total £8.6 billion annual budget. In fact,recent research by Matrix Chambers suggests these cuts could well be a false economy, ending up costing the government far more than they want to save.

“The proposed changes mean that rather than negotiating a settlement with the council, when we can, to get a family housed quickly, we would have to pursue every case to its final conclusion through the courts. This would give greater uncertainty to the family who would have to wait longer for an outcome, clog up the courts time with cases that may otherwise have settled, and increase council’s legal costs.”

Read more about this story here.

Read more about Shelter’s campaign here.

2) Affordable homes risk demolition due to bedroom tax

Despite there being a national affordable property shortage, and despite stories such as the above where families are desperate to find housing, some three bedroom houses and flats are being condemned by housing associations because the bedroom tax has made them too expensive for tenants to live in.

Magenta Living, a housing provider in Liverpool, commented that “with changes to welfare benefits, there is very little prospect of letting upper three-bedroom maisonettes in the current climate”. Several other housing associations, with thousands of homes, have come forward to concur that demolition is becoming feasible as they struggle to fill up their blocks, sell up or maintain costs whilst they are empty.

The news is likely to turn up the pressure on the Commons debate on the bedroom tax on Tuesday, where Labour are expected to support an immediate repeal of the policy. Some Lib Dems have also raised they concerns over the controversial spare room subsidy, which has been in place since April this year, affecting over 600,000 people.

But while the government claim the policy was meant to make the best use of the housing stock in the UK, the idea of demolishing affordable housing, whilst the rate of building is slowing against population growth, is counterproductive. The Joseph Rowntree foundation found that Britain would face a housing shortage of 1 million by 2022 unless building was significantly increased.

Read more about this story here.

3) Ed Miliband says energy price freeze would save services £100m

Ed Miliband has confirmed his party will freeze energy bills until 2017, in order to “reset the broken energy market” if Labour win the election in 2015.

Speaking to a crowd in Crouch End in North London, the Labour leader said:

“Labour’s price freeze will save families an average £120 and an average small business user would benefit by over £5,000. It’s not just Britain’s families and businesses that would benefit from this price freeze, it’s our vital public services too. New figures today show that if David Cameron put in place our freeze today, public services would save £100m.”

Image: Belfast Telegraph

Image: Belfast Telegraph

He said the savings for the NHS were the equivalent of 1300 nurses’ salaries, and for schools it could pay for 700 teachers.

The coalition continued to slam the policy as a “con” calling the price freeze unworkable, and suggesting that companies could raise their prices before and after the freeze.

Read more about this story here.

4) Esther McVey silent on possible resignation over Independent Living Fund win

Esther McVey, the former disability minister, has remained silent over her possible resignation from her new post in the same department, after her decision to close the Independent Living Fund was overturned in the court of appeal.

Campaigners were told that three senior court of appeal judges unanimously upheld an appeal against McVey’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund in 2015.

The judges criticised McVey’s decision with one commenting that there was no evidence that McVey “directed her mind to the need to advance equality of opportunity.” Another said that McVey “was sufficiently aware of the very real adverse consequences which closing the fund would have on the lives of many of the more severely disabled.”

Image: Birmingham Mail

Image: Birmingham Mail

The case was brought to the courts by five disabled people, who believed that the removal of the Independent Living Fund could remove independence for thousands of disabled people with the highest support needs.

MIke Penning, the new disability minister, must now decide if he wants to appeal the decision against McVey, announce a fresh closure against the fund or admit defeat and allow it to continue.

Read more about this story here.

5) Worldwide protests ignored by mainstream news

The Bonfire of Austerity and the Million Mask March were largely ignored by the mainstream media, despite numbers reaching the thousands.

As some burnt eviction and debt letters on Westminster Bridge, crowds of people donning the familiar Guy Fawkes masks gathered in Parliament square.

The BBC reported there were several hundred people at the demonstration, and hence this is why it did not make their main broadcasts. However, pictures from the protest show there were significantly more. Additionally, the Million Mask March was successful in creating a global protest, with marches taking place in 477 countries worldwide.

Anonymous members, a group behind the march against austerity, poverty and the wealth gap, and other protesters took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the bypass of their demonstrations.

Twitter comments on the #MillionMaskMarch Twitter comments on the #MillionMaskMarch

 

 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass