Archives For privatisation

1) Last day to sign the EU Media Initiative for media plurality

Today is the last day to sign the Initiative fighting conflict of interest, cronyism, and monopoly ownership of our media. To find out more, go to the website www.mediainitiative.eu   (Or search media initiative on RealFare) and make sure you add your name today!

2) Green Party announce Basic Income will form major part of manifesto

The Green Party have said the Universal Basic Income will form a major part of their campaign for the election in 2015. Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett said:

“It’ll be more prominent than it’s ever been before,” she said. “It’s really risen up the public agenda. We’ll be talking about it during the election.”

Bennett said that recently she had been facing extensive questioning over the Basic Income which has gained traction over the last twelve months. The Basic Income has been a part of the Green Party manifesto for a while, but now it’s time has come to take centre stage. If you want to find out more about it, read our piece, 6 Way of Progress: The Universal Basic Income.

Image: Basic Income UK

Image: Basic Income UK

Read more about this story here.

3) NHS Staff up the ante on strike action over pay

Fifty Doncaster carers for the disabled are staging one of the longest strike actions in the history of the service to campaign for a living wage from the now privatised NHS service.

“Care UK, whose former chairman Lord Nash is now a government minister, took over services for people with severe learning disabilities in Doncaster, south Yorkshire, this year, cutting wages of staff who had been on NHS terms by up to 35% while bringing in 100 new workers on £7 an hour.

In an attempt to rewind a national trend for the de-skilling and the imposition of low wages in social care, the strikers, a majority of whom were transferred from the NHS to Care UK, are demanding a living wage of £7.65 for their poorest-paid colleagues.”

The care workers have already faced 7 weeks without pay.

Care UK won the contract to provide care for those with disabilities in the Doncaster area after claiming it could provide the service for £6.7m over three years, despite the wage bill alone costing around £7m.

It has been argued that contracts like these are deliberately taken out of the hands of the NHS (70% of contracts offered have gone to the private sector), with a view to rising prices and profits when the state sector has become smaller.

Read more about this story here.

4) Pressure on interest rate rise increases as housing market grows

The number of mortgages taken out in the month of June increased by 4%, putting pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates from the historic low of 0.5%.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has said controls must remain vigilant to keep prices in check, and this is made possible through greater borrowing restrictions such as affordability tests, which check outgoings as well as income before lending. Although, figures show this has only cooled the market for some months and mortgage lending is now increasing again.

The average income of first time buyers increased from £36,500 to £37,000 and the average borrowing amount increased by £2000 to £123,865.

Read more about this story here.

5) Coalition pay-gap scheme sees only a handful of companies publish results

The coalition attempt to tackle the gender pay gap through greater transparency has seen only four companies publish results.

Think, Act, Report was launched three years ago, ‘amid great fanfare’ and hundreds of companies initially signed up.

Gloria De Piero highlighted the failures of the £90,000 scheme in a parliamentary question.

“According to De Piero, the figures show the Lib Dems’ new policy is a desperate attempt to cover up a failed initiative. “This scheme has flopped and has been given no priority by government, which only gives lip service to equal pay. Publishing pay gap figures is crucial if firms are to address pay differentials. Indeed, the CBI is calling on the government to set a target to reduce the pay gap,” she said.”

And this news comes as reports show that the recession has actually widened the gender pay gap even further, according to the Fawcett Society, and it now stands at 19.1%

Read more about this story here.

 

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1) Queen’s Speech confirms move to frack under homes without permission. Greenpeace turn PM’s home into drilling site.

The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday confirmed that government would overhaul trespass laws to allow energy companies to frack under homes without permission.

Greenpeace responded by sending a bunch of activists to the Oxfordshire home of David Cameron, in order to turn his home into a drilling site.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Greenpeace also have a petition to sign to protest against these new laws. Sign the petition here.

Talk Fracking are holding their debates around the country this week too, so don’t forget to get down to one near you.

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Read more about this story here. 

2) Tories spark outrage in report to UN claiming welfare reforms would help the nation’s poorest children out of poverty

The government was branded “dishonest” following a report given to the UN that claimed welfare reforms and benefit cuts would help the poorest children out of poverty. Reforms are actually pushing more people into poverty with some reports claiming we will have 5 million below the poverty line by 2020, and food bank usage continues to rise.

The Scottish government tried to get the claim removed from the report, but were blocked from doing so.

Image: backbencher.co.uk

Image: backbencher.co.uk

Children’s Minister, Aileen Campbell commented:

“This report is downright insulting to the thousands of children driven into poverty by the Tories.

“The Scottish Government are straining every sinew to help families hit by welfare cuts but tens of thousands more children are facing poverty in coming years because of the Tories. That is the reality.

“In a country as rich as Scotland, food banks have never been busier. That is a national scandal.

“Instead of telling the truth, the Tories are censoring Scotland’s view and refusing to tell the UN the reality of their cuts. That is simply dishonest.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Mass strike likely for 10 July

Several large unions along with other civil servants are making plans to strike on 10 July against damaging austerity and public sector pay freezes.

It will be the largest co-ordinated action for two years if the strike goes ahead, with over 1 million workers taking part.

Unions involved include Unison, Unite, GMB, PCS and the NUT.

Read more about this story here.

4) Tory donors given £1.5bn in NHS contracts

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has uncovered links between tory party supporters and the companies awarded NHS contracts worth £1.5bn.

NHS logo

NHS logo

Circle Health, the biggest profiters, were given £1.36bn in contracts after several investors donated £1.5m to the Conservatives. Burnham said:

“Nobody gave David Cameron ­permission to sell the NHS to his friends.

“It’s shocking the same Tory donors who ­bankrolled the development of their NHS reorganisation policy are now ­profiting from the sell-off of NHS services.”

Circle’s biggest contract was £1bn to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. A Tory spokesman responded that the decision to contract out Hinchingbrooke was taken by Andy Burnham.

Still, Circle profits in the time of the coalition government have gone up from £64.6 million in 2010/2011 to £170.4 million in 2011/2012.

Read more about this story here.

5) 25 employers named and shamed after failing to pay minimum wage

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

The government have released a list of 25 employers who were breaking the law by paying below the minimum wage, following laws that came into effect last October.

Employers were investigated by HMRC after staff called a free helpline to report they were being underpaid.

“They include a school in Edinburgh which underpaid an employee by £3,739 and a garage in Bradford that failed to pay a worker £6,426.”

BBC News

Employers found to be underpaying staff can face a penalty of up to £20,000. Legislation is underway to change this to a maximum penalty of £20,000 per employee that is underpaid.

Read more about this story here.

6) ‘Studs’ designed to deter rough sleepers from central London flats condemned by public

Anti-homeless metal studs have been installed outside a block of flats in Southwark to deter rough sleepers. Andrew Horton, 33, took a photo of them and posted it on Twitter as he walked to work on Wednesday starting a Twitter condemnation of the tactic.

The images posted on Twitter by Horton

The images posted on Twitter by Horton

Other photos were posted of the studs used elsewhere. Homelessness charities say the studs have been used for over a decade.

“Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at Crisis, said: “This is happening in a context where rough sleeping has gone up massively. Over the last three years rough sleeping has risen by 36% nationally and by 75% in London. More than 6,400 people slept rough in London last year.”

“The reason for that increase is the continuing economic downturn, thehousing shortage, and cuts to benefits, particularly housing benefit.”

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

By Thomas Barlow

The Tories have trumpeted economic growth, saying the IMF have had to eat their words, after they suggested that austerity was damaging the UK economy.

By some polls they have leapt into the lead for the Euro elections this week, and are almost certainly are putting that down to a positive message of economic recovery and competency. So are the Tories really putting us on the right path, just in time for the elections?

In short, no.

A false housing boom has been created to give the impression of growth, which has only benefited an international class of landlords and shareholders, and what drop in unemployment there has been has come from London centric, insecure and low paid work, mostly self employed.

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Image: Another Angry Voice

All this to create a level of growth lower than at it’s lowest level under Labour.

So let’s walk through the housing boom first, and what it means for us.  Then we will talk about debt, inequality and unemployment.

The government ‘Help To Buy’ scheme seems reasonably benign – helping people to buy houses in a time of economic turmoil is a good thing right?

The Thatcherite dream of being a house owning democracy is still alive – but before we fall too deep into praising the wonders of having your own house, it is worth remembering the three EU countries with the highest rates of home ownership are Greece, Ireland and Spain.

The problems with ‘Help To Buy’ and increasing house prices (which have been encouraged by the Chancellor) are multiple.

First this is consumer led economics – something which the Tories promised they would avoid as it creates the bubbles that got us into this situation in the first place. It means (in part) that growth is based on (mostly unsecured) borrowing, which will lead to another credit crunch, far worse than the last one, as we are all a lot worse off than before.

Second it doesn’t create jobs that actually produce anything.  Manufacturing jobs have fallen by 300,000, whilst the number of estate agents has risen 100,000 (since the 2008 crash). We now have a class of landlords who only make money off owning and selling property.

Thirdly, these houses are too expensive for the local population.  75% of all new homes have been bought by foreign investors, further fuelling the bubble, and making the houses impossibly expensive for people to actually live in.

This bubble has almost wholly occurred in London and the South East, which has meant a completely geographically isolated boom, and a serious problem for the young and poor trying to live in these areas.  The Telegraph went so far as to suggest that it was making London ‘boring’, as only bland rich kids can afford to live there any longer.

Even if buying these houses wasn’t damaging the economy and they weren’t foreign owned, home ownership shouldn’t be the de facto cover for falling pensions and lower standards of living – which currently it is.

We need high quality social housing, higher average wages and better pensions.

What wealth has been created has been unbelievably unequally distributed. Pay for the rich has increased and dividends being paid to shareholders have gone up and up.

Big companies have managed to increase dividend pay outs through stagnating and cutting pay whilst avoiding investing anything in their own companies, or elsewhere. Which may make sense considering they are sitting on private debts of 113% of income.

However real wages have fallen considerably since the crash and they continue to do so.  As Unions struggle to represent the unemployed and the casually employed, and as wages fall, so does the health of the economy, and all of our living standards.

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UK Wages since 1997

On top of this, 4 out of 5 new jobs are in insecure or low waged positions – earning less than a quarter of national average wage!

In the 1980’s Thatcher hid the levels of unemployment by moving lots of people onto disability benefit.  

Here at RealFare we know there are targets for sanctions (depriving the poor of the money they need to live – let’s call it what it is) to lower the unemployment figures, whilst there is also lots of manoeuvring people onto various other benefits that don’t count as unemployment – mainly into self employment through Working Tax Credits.

As the number of Self-employed has increased 375,000 in the past 12 months, average earnings for the self-employed has dropped £5000 a year to a measly £10k P/A. This self-management of poverty is clearly a new feature of the new economy.

To top this all off, for all of us outside London, we’re screwed.  These shitty jobs, with falling wages and no security, are almost entirely being created in London (80% of them anyway), the one place with ever increasing house prices and living costs.

Maybe the fact we can afford a smart phone, and get most of our entertainment for free is going to be enough to make us not notice the real truth of the state of the economy.  On the other hand, the rise of UKIP (despite support for them being bizarrely similar to shitting in your own bed) may suggest otherwise.

Don’t believe the hype, the economy isn’t recovering, and the Tories aren’t the ones to make it all better.  That is going to be down to us.

READ THE EXCELLENT RECOVERY REPORT BY THE NEW ECONOMICS FOUNDATION

And last year’s Open Democracy article on housing

PLEASE CHECK THE WEEKLY DIGEST BELOW -THERE ARE SOME GREAT THOUGHT PROVOKING ARTICLES TO SHARE, AND A LOT OF FUN AT THE BOTTOM

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REGULARS – Some digested pieces to help you fight the war on the mind.

Liberty – Economics – Environment – Good News!

Liberty

One of the greatest attacks to our liberty is through what we think – as we will come to soon – so exploring why we hate immigrants so much as a society is massively important.

One of the things that is very little talked about is the psychological impact of heavy handed, punitive policing.  Those who wish to make a difference to society through protest will be familiar with what this article talks about.

Apparently tweeting about UKIP is illegal now? 

Economics

So much for falling numbers of unemployed – how come there 60% more people in-work, claiming housing benefit?  Because it isn’t a recovery for all.

Gove makes a ‘lunatic raid’ on £400 million for poor pupils to save his shitty free school program

Privatisation – a very British disease.

Environment

Lord Howell, Osbourne’s moronic father-in-law, has yet again called for the Tories not to frack in Tory constituencies and pointed again to the ‘desolate’ north as fair game. Fracking is too unpleasant for nice Tory voters, but fine for northern scum.

Meanwhile Germany manages to power 74% of it’s energy needs through renewable energy!

Good News!

Maxine Peake smashes it out of the park again!

Solar panels could replace roads!

Medical tourism generates millions for NHS and wider economy.

David Cameron gets insulted in a wonderful variety of ways.

Not that we care about how many people live in the UK or where they were born, but for those who scaremonger about ‘hordes’ of immigrants, it is interesting to note that 400 Bulgarians and Romanians actually left the UK since their countries joined the EU.

Not so much good news, but a thought provoker for the end – maybe you should consider voting alternative?

 

Last year, the government sold off £900m worth of student debt for £160m to a private debt collector for all loans up to 1998.

Image: Student Assembly Against Austerity

Image: Student Assembly Against Austerity

Now, the government plans to sell off loans from the period 1998-2012, and this could happen by 2015 or sooner. Further, a leaked secret report made by Rothschild bank, advised the government to lift the cap on interest rates for loans, or even scrapping it all together. This would allow the loans to be more profitable for companies that buy the debt, and make loans retrospectively more expensive for the ex-students paying them back.

Banner at Essex University Image: Stop The Student Loan Sell Off

Banner at Essex University Image: Stop The Student Loan Sell Off

On top of rises to tuition fees, this forces students into more debt for higher education, and specifically puts those unable to afford education through their own money, or their parents money, into further debt.

This is why the Students Assembly Against Austerity have organised a week of action this week, to ignite a movement to oppose the sell-off.

Over 25 universities joined in a national day of action last year. This year, over 50 campuses are holding a week of action and occupation, and they have the support of the National Union of Students who have said they oppose the sell off.

Cops off Campus

As students unite to bring a halt to the sell off and put forward plans for a ‘democratic university’ they have also been the ones to defend the right to protest against heavy handed and violent police presence. At an occupation of Senate House, at the University of London, 41 people were arrested and some injured in clashes with police. A further rally followed calling for Cops off Campus, in protest at the force used against students.

The fight for the right to protest by exposing the high levels of police used to silence students has united protestors further,  and grown the movement.

Week of Action

There is action, occupation and stunts happening throughout the week, with a call to people to contact MPs and a march on Friday to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The event page says:

“As part of The Student Assembly Against Austerity’s national week of action to stop the sell-off of our student loans to private companies, students across London are uniting together to protest outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by doing a ‘debt in’.

Students will be ‘crushed by debt’ in this creative protest outside the department in charge of privatising student loans.

Mya Pope-Weidemann, Student Assembly Against Austerity organiser said:

“This is a direct attack on public education: handing over the tuition fees they said they needed to fund education, into the hands of private corporations. The sell off of the student loanbook will add to the financial burden of millions of graduates already struggling to make ends meet. And the potential for an exploding rate of debt will discourage poorer young people from applying to university in the future. Exploitation and privatisation is the face of austerity on campus – which the student wing of the People’s Assembly is building a movement to resist.”

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

Clive Peedell, co-leader of the National Health Action Party explains in the following video what is happening to our NHS, beyond any doubt. The NHAP are a single issue party – focusing solely on the protection of our National Health Service against the privatisation and top down re-organisation currently taking place.

The NHAP is mainly made up of doctors, nurses and medical professionals, but wants everyone to join and become aware of the biggest changes to the NHS it’s history – changes which are threatening it’s future.

The question is not whether the NHS is being privatised. It is. Parts already have been. It is being sold off in contracts worth billions as we speak, to companies such as Virgin Care, who’s sole goal is profit, at the expense of care, standards and public health. In Surrey, Virgin care have taken over a £450m contract to provide health services, and the differences are clear:

Since Virgin took it over from the NHS, patients have had to wait up to three weeks for an appointment instead of three days, three GPs have been reduced to one, and three nurses cut to one part-time nurse. And while the company boasts about the surgery’s opening hours, often there are no clinicians present, just an open empty building. Locals complain that Virgin has “brought Third World medical standards to Kings Heath.

Alex Nunns, Liberal Conspiracy

Over £5 billion worth of contracts to run or manage clinical NHS services have been advertised since relaxation on NHS competition laws were passed in Section 75, in April 2013, under this government. 70% of these contracts have gone to commercial companies.

The NHS is one of the best health services in the world, and has been for a long time.

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But the government have been working hard to dirty it’s name and push propaganda that suggests it is not working, that it is failing patients and is costing too much. However, the most detrimental and damaging actions have been the cuts to services and funding – which are leaving hospitals and clinics understaffed, and privatisation has meant that companies are now able to pick and choose and bid for the areas in the NHS which are most profitable – leaving the NHS to deal with the more difficult and expensive areas at public expense. Where the government has caused the NHS to suffer because of government actions, the NHS is then blamed for subsequent problems.

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Image: @UnnamedInsider

The coalition promised not to privatise the NHS and have proceeded to live out one of the biggest lies in politics. Part of the reason they could not be truthful is because the NHS is close to all of our hearts, and is seen and deservedly known as one of the greatest achievements of any society. So now we need to act to protect it.

This video explains all you need to know:

Find out more about the NHAP at their website here.

‘The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it’

 Aneurin Bevan meeting NHS patients in 1948

“The NHS is the one of the single greatest achievements of any civilisation, ever, anywhere in the history of the world.”

Rufus Hound

The Student Assembly Against Austerity is organising a week of action from 3rd February against a proposed sell off of  student loans to private companies who are able to charge more interest and make profit.

Image: Student Assembly Against Austerity

Image: Student Assembly Against Austerity

 

The Student Assembly Website says:

“The government is planning to sell off the student loan book to private companies. In order to make the student loan book more profitable, a secret report for the government (written by Rothschild Bank) has proposed retrospectively increasing the cap of interest on student loan repayments or scrapping it all together. This essentially means a retrospective hike in tuition fees.

The government is planning to complete the sell off by 2015. It could happen sooner.”

50 campuses are already involved and they have the support of the NUS (National Union of Students).

The Assembly aim to build a broad coalition against the privatisation of student debt, and urge more people to get involved.

 

Find out more here and look out for more information on RealFare next week.

1)   WOW Petition hits 100,000 signatures

 

Image: WOW Petition

Image: WOW Petition

The WOW petition, calling for a re-assessment of welfare reform and an end to the Work Capability Assessment, sanctions and forced work for the sick and disabled has hit its 100,000 signature target.

This means that it shall now be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

The petition was started by comedienne, writer and disability rights campaigner Francesca Martinez, and has been branded as the petition to stop the War On Welfare.

The WOW petition also calls for independent inquiries into ATOS, care home charges and the closure of Remploy factories.

This follows the news of another successful petition which calls on Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith to answer MPs on the failures and problems of welfare reform, which he is due to attend on 9th December.

Read more about this story here.

2)   NHS must be preserved from commercial interests who want to privatise, says Stephen Hawking

World famous physicist, Stephen Hawking has called for protection of the NHS from privatization, insisting he would have died without it.

Hawking, who developed motor neurone disease at the age of 21, said during filming of a Channel 4 film:

“Only last summer, I caught pneumonia, and would have died, but for the NHS hospital care. We must retain this critical public service, and prevent the establishment of a two-tier system, with the best medicine for the wealthy, and an inferior service for the rest.”

The film will be shown on C4 this Wednesday.

Image: Christian Medical Comment

Image: Christian Medical Comment

Read more about this story here.

3) Workfare Week of Action

Boycott Workfare will begin a week of action on Monday 2nd December against the government policies that force benefit claimants to undertake full time work for no pay or under threat of losing their benefits.

The week of action kicks off with a noise demo outside Senate House where a government workfare conference is taking place, alongside the potential ‘employers’ of workfare.

Find out more about the week of action here.

4)   Boris Johnson defends the rich and greed, but not the sick, disabled or unemployed

In the Margaret Thatcher lecture, Boris Johnson defended the super-rich again and insisted that greed was a valuable ‘economic spur’ whilst also adding that where success is measured, we should not ignore the IQ levels of those in high places.

Well, we had a lot to say about that.

Read our open letter. 

 

Image: One World Chronical

Image: One World Chronical

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) The Tory Party Conference sees tougher pledges on welfare, alienating young people and pushing for more ‘workfare’ programmes. 

The Tory Party Conference in Manchester saw the Conservatives pledge strong right wing policies, with tougher crackdowns on welfare claimants. Chancellor George Osborne and PM David Cameron said that under a Tory government in 2015, welfare claimants out of work for over three years would no longer receive ‘something for nothing,’ and under 25s would receive nothing at all.

The long-term unemployed would be required to do some sort of service/work for 35 hours a week whether that was attending a job centre each working day, litter picking, helping the elderly or taking on support for drug, alcohol or mental health issues.

David Cameron also said that housing benefit and jobseekers allowance would be denied to the under 25s, in the hope of preparing them for the tough economic climate.

However, these policies could cause more harm, as the Tories risk alienating young people and leaving them without any help at a time when options for work are scarce. Young people are facing greater barriers to work than years before, particularly after the slowest recovery from recession in a century. The Youth Work programmes have failed at rates of over 90% and now the Tories seem to be turning their back on the young generation altogether.

Further, the Work Programme, costing  in excess of £5bn has failed over 80% of those taking part despite using the basic principles of ‘work for the dole’ in its framework. Without creating more jobs, ‘work for the dole’ could erode the value of work, and replace paid jobs with free placements, ultimately harmful for all.

Image: Scribblelive.com

Image: Scribblelive.com

Read more about U25 benefits here. 

Read more about the ‘work for the dole’ policy here.

2) Housing boss says bedroom tax will mean more evictions

Mark Rogers, chief executive of the Circle Housing Group, which manages 65,000 homes, has spoken out against the government’s under occupancy policy which he says will force many more to be evicted.

The group say they have seen ‘a new pattern of arrears’ which is likely to be repeated nationally, where 50% of those affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ pay in full, 25% pay in part and 25% don’t pay at all.

Rogers says that there is simply nowhere for residents to go if they wanted to downsize, and added: “We won’t evict someone if we can’t find a solution for them. If they don’t take that solution then we will do, but we see it as our job to make sure we don’t go down that route.”

Read more about this story here.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

3) BBC slammed in letters to Lord Patten by disability campaigners

The BBC has been receiving complaints over its coverage of protests, most recently and notably was the 50,000 – 70,000 strong demonstration outside the Tory Party Conference last Sunday – one of the biggest protests outside London in years. The protest saw people from up and down the country join to march against coalition plans and privatisation for the NHS.

Many campaigners have urged the public to complain about the coverage which they say is biased and not in-line with the Public Service Broadcaster vows.

Disability researcher M.A Stewart recently wrote to Lord Patten, the chair of the BBC Trust, asking for an explanation for lack of protest coverage over the last year:

“I note with interest that Andy Burnham MP has written to you to enquire as to why BBC News offered no more than a token gesture to the recent mass public demonstration by an estimated 50,000 people, outside the Conservative Party Conference, in protest at the Government’s planned changes to the NHS and the identified threat that those changes infer to the greatest institution in this country.

“Given that my research exposed the real reasons behind the welfare ‘reforms’, as planned long ago regardless of the banking crisis, and the fact that the national press have confirmed that the Coalition Government have prevented the press from exposing this evidence to the British public, I invite you to now offer a detailed explanation as to why the BBC have tolerated what would appear to be obvious Government interference with BBC News editorial?”

Read more about this story and the letter here. 

4) Hundred take to the streets to protest against the Daily Mail

Following the Daily Mail’s scathing attack on Ed Miliband’s father – Ralph Miliband, brandishing him as the ‘Man Who Hated Britain,’ a backlash has begun highlighting the connections and subjects of the paper’s own proprietors and editors. On Sunday, hundreds took to the streets in a protest against the hate the Daily Mail seems to have for many sections of society.

The upbeat protest hosted by the People’s Assembly took place at the Daily Mail Offices in Young Street, London.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

You can read more about this story here. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass 

1) Thousands protest at Tory Party Conference  to “Save the NHS”, but BBC Coverage lacking 

NHS logo

NHS logo

On Sunday 29th September around 50,000-70,000 took to the Manchester streets outside the Tory party conference in what was one of the largest protests outside of London for years.

Unions has called for a day of action in the name of saving our NHS, attacking the coalition government for the health contracts being sold off to private companies, as well as plans to turn hospitals into Trusts which take on a more business-like role.

The plans could see up to hospitals using private investment for up of 50% of its funding, pushing NHS patients further down the waiting lists and essentially creating a two-tier health system.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC – one of the unions which called for the day of action, said at the rally that the current government did not like the NHS because it was the biggest “socialist success” of our time, adding:

“Cameron said the NHS is safe in his hands. Is he telling the truth or is he a liar?” (The crowd responded “Liar!”)

Despite the rally being so large, the BBC coverage has been attacked by many for being too minimal and unrepresentative of the scale of the very peaceful protest. Those who would like to contact the BBC can call them on their Complaints Line 03700100222.

2) Ed Miliband’s price freeze promise is met with threats from energy companies

Ed Miliband announced at the Labour Party Conference last week that he would freeze energy prices for 20 month should he come into power in 2015, following rising prices for 6 years.

Energy companies immediately hit back at Miliband, threatening blackouts and shortages if prices were frozen.

This has thrown the energy prices debate into the limelight, at a time when living standards are being stretched. Some talk has arisen over the re-nationalisation of some energy, which despite being attacked by Tories, can be  no worse than being held to ransom by largely foreign-owned companies which have profited hugely despite the austerity we have experienced, and shared none of the periods of cheaper energy with its customers.

“The profits made by the “big six” – British Gas, EDF, E.On, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – over the last few years (figures courtesy of the BBC): In 2009, £2.15 billion. In 2010, £2.22 billion. 2011 – £3.87 billion (a massive hike of £1,870,000,000 in a single year). And in 2012 – £3.74 billion. That’s £11.98 billion in profits over four years – a huge and unwarranted amount in these times of supposed austerity.”

Mike Sivier, Vox Political

3) Westminster Council defeated in landmark ‘bedroom tax’ case

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

The Conservative-run Westminster Council was defeated by a local tenant in the first ruling of it’s kind, against the controversial spare room subsidy.

Surinder Lall, who is also blind, told the tribunal that he was being charged for a second bedroom, when he had never used the room as such, as it had always stored the equipment he needed to help him lead a normal life.

Lall explained that his case was typical of many disabled people who required room for equipment, and called on the Council to stop using the term ‘bedroom’ to take away benefits from those who need it. Westminster Council say they were going on information supplied by Lall’s landlord.

“In his decision notice, the judge wrote: “The term ‘bedroom’ is nowhere defined [in the relevant regulations]. I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined.”

4) Labour makes their commitments, whilst Tory Party Conference gets under way

The Labour Party Conference set up Ed Miliband’s aims for the party and was met with some strong support for some policies including a promise to scrap the bedroom tax and to sack ATOS. However, campaigners want an end to the Work Capability Assessment also, which has already been ruled unfair on those suffering from mental health problems, yet the Department for Work and Pensions are looking to appeal this. Campaigners want the policies that have ruled disability assessments to be pulled out, as well as the face of those who have provided them so poorly.

The Tory Party Conference is now underway in Manchester, with George Osborne expected to speak today on taking an ever harder line on benefit claimants, and introducing the ‘work for the dole’ policy! (Surprise, surprise! a policy put forward by the Tax Payers Alliance – read why this was a predictable move). More info to follow this week.

 

Image: the Telegraph

Image: the Telegraph

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass