Archives For UN

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

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1) UN Special Rapporteur in housing calls for ‘bedroom tax’  spare room subsidy to be suspended in the name of human rights

Raquel Rolnik was invited here by government as part of their obligation with the UN, to investigate the availability of adequate housing, and its surrounding policies. Ahead of a report due to be released next year, Rolnik sent out a press release calling on the government to suspend the so-called ‘bedroom tax.’

What ensued was a harsh attack by Grant Shapps – the Conservative party chairman, attempting to denounce Rolnik’s findings as ‘biased.’Shapps called Rolnik a ‘woman from Brazil’ highlighting that the housing problems in Rolnik’s native land were far worse and therefore, she could not comment on housing in the UK. Shapps also wrote a strongly worded letter to the UN, claiming that Rolnik was not invited to the UK, and that her report should be investigated.

Image: Twitter.com

Image: Twitter.com

Rolnik hit back in an interview with Inside Housing, where she said that she not experienced such aggression from a government before, despite her previous missions including “Croatia, Algeria, Maldives, Argentina, United States, Israel, Rwanda, Palestine, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.” Rolnik also highlighted that the spare room subsidy was merely a part of the investigation and elsewhere she had been very positive about UK housing.

Rolnik is continuing her investigation, and for many campaigners, she is providing some hope in rectifying the problems caused by the ‘bedroom tax.’

Read more about this story here.

2) Woman with cerebral palsy told by ATOS she may be fit to work in six months, and her disability ‘expected to improve’

Amy Jones, 24, was can now expect re-assessments every six months and a possible loss of her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) after a fit to work test suggested that her incurable and debilitating condition – cerebral palsy, could improve.

Image: The Huffington Post

Image: The Huffington Post

Amy said:

“It even says in black and white in my medical reports from the hospital that my CP is becoming increasingly disabling.

“There is nothing in my reports to suggest that my CP is improving or becoming less painful or anything like that.”

Amy requested a copy of the ATOS report after being told she would need to be re-assessed for Income Support. The DWP said they could not comment on individual cases.

Read more about this story here.

3) Liberal Democrats will push for minimum wage rise

Business Secretary Vince Cable will approach the Low Pay Commission and ask them to restore the minimum wage to its real value, which is thought to have fallen 10-12% since 2008.

The plans come amid concerns that the economic recovery is not raising living standards, and will demonstrate a government focus on dealing with this in the run up to the election.

In an interview with the Guardian, Vince Cable said:

“We cannot go on for ever in a low pay and low productivity world in which all we can say to workers is ‘you have got to take a wage cut to keep your job’.”

Vince Cable Image: The Telegraph Photo credit should read: Carl Court/PA Wire

Vince Cable Image: The Telegraph Photo credit: Carl Court/PA Wire

Read more about this story here.

4) Michael Gove insulted food bank users, say Labour

Labour MPs branded Michael Gove as “insulting” and “out of touch” following his comments on food bank users.

The Education Secretary said that food bank users often had themselves to blame as “they are not best able to manage their finances,” before promising better support to deal with the rising number of food bank users.

Labour MP, Steve McCabe said:

“Families forced to go to food banks should not be stigmatised by secretaries of state. The spiralling number of food banks across Britain should be a mark of shame for this government.”

 by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
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1) MPs question Iain Duncan Smith on failing Universal Credit system and cover up of problems

After Labour seized a government auditor report on the Universal Credit system, which showed that the implementation was far behind its target and riddled with problems, Labour demanded that Iain Duncan Smith apologise for mis-leading Parliament and ‘consider his conscience.’

IDS was then made to answer questions from MPs on Thursday morning, regarding the cover up, the problems and the system itself.

IDS blamed the troubles within his £2.4bn reform on IT and his civil servants for not telling him of the problems;  “At the end of the day, you are only as good as the information given to you.” Whilst IDS took responsibility for the programme, he did not apologise for the problems within it so far.

Although the evidence clearly showed these issues had thrown the Universal Credit implementation off course, IDS continued to claim that the system would meet its target by the 2015 election.

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) UN send senior official to investigate ‘bedroom tax’

Raquel Rolnik, a senior United Nations official, will be in the UK until September 11th to investigate whether the ‘bedroom tax’ will impact on human rights.

Ms Rolnik has been invited by the UK government, and will meet tenants, landlords, campaigners and academies in numerous cities around the UK including Manchester and Glasgow.

The Special Rapporteur on housing for UN, said that the UK faced a “unique moment” when housing was on the agenda. Ms Rolnik will reveal some of the findings of her investigation next week.

Image: Twitter.com

Image: Twitter.com

Read more about this story here.

3) A quarter of those becoming homeless are forced out of private rented accommodation

The latest government statistics reveal that a quarter of those becoming homeless have been forced to leave private rented accommodation and have nowhere else to live.

“Between April and June 2013, 3,580 households became homeless in this way, accounting for 27% of instances of accepted homelessness, an increase of 32% on the same period in 2012 (see table 774 here). Go back to 1998 and terminated tenancies accounted for 15% of homelessness; when the Coalition took power in 2010 it stood at 14%; now, latest statistics show, it is at 27% – an all time record level.”

Patrick Butler, The Guardian

4) DPAC take over BBC HQ building in protest against media 

Just in case you may not have heard about this, as ironically, the media were completely silent on the topic, but DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), Black Triangle and the Mental Health Resistance Network took over the BBC last week in a protest against the media treatment of disabled claimants.

Their press release said:

“Disabled activists from grassroots campaigns Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and Mental Health Resistance Network have occupied the BBC building in London to protest against the role the media are playing in worsening attitudes towards disabled people and a complete failure to give space to the realities of what this government are doing to disabled people.”

The protest was part of the DPAC week of action which ended on 4th September with a handing in of their manifesto (‘Reclaiming Our Futures’) to government, on what disabled people want.

Great work.

Look out for our interview with Paula Peters (she’s in the first part of this video) and Shaun McGovern this week.

You can read the ‘Reclaiming Our Futures’ manifesto here.

Read more of the press release here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

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