Greens Discover True Cost Of Bedroom Tax On Hull Families

  taxbankersnotbedroomsData obtained by Hull and East Riding Green Party shows that Hull City Council’s fund for residents in trouble with rent has already made payouts at over 300% of last year’s rate since the introduction of the so-called Bedroom Tax. (1)

 The tax, brought in by the Coalition as “the removal of the spare room subsidy”, came into effect in April 2013, but by June almost three times as many Hull families were applying for Discretionary Housing Payments than at the same point during the previous year. (2)

The document, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that payouts have risen dramatically from £21,245 to £64,539, with almost 40% of the year’s Discretionary Housing Payments, or DHP, having been paid out in just three months to June 2013. (3)

Martin Deane, of Hull and East Riding Greens Party, is urging Hull City Council to follow the lead set by Green-run Brighton and Hove Council and to commit to a “no evictions” policy for all those being hit by the bedroom tax. (4)

“Hull families, the elderly and disabled are suffering under the bedroom tax, and the most vulnerable people in our community are increasingly being forced to seek emergency help from Hull City Council.

“It’s time for councillors to get to work on a ‘no evictions’ policy – something the Green Party and Brighton and Hove Council have already pledged. It’s a first step to protecting all those local people who’ve been targeted by the bedroom tax,” Mr Deane said.

“Almost 40% of Discretionary Housing Payments have already been paid out, and when it’s gone, it’s gone! The Coalition has pushed through many callous policies, but this is perhaps one of the most vicious. The bedroom tax isn’t saving public money, it’s just placing vulnerable people across Hull and across the country under huge stresses. It’s a direct assault on working families and others who have simply nowhere else to go, and it must stop.”

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Notes to Editors:
Martin Deane, Hull and East Riding Green Party

Contact: 07935 036211

1. The full FoI can be seen here:
http://is.gd/bYxlaX
Figures for April, May and June 2012 and 2013 are available in spreadsheet form at this link:
http://is.gd/B3px8T

2. 181 applications were made to Hull City Council in June 2013 compared to 65 in June 2012.

3. £64,539.08 was paid out in June 2013. The equivalent figure for June 2012 was £21,245.80.

3. The total Discretionary Housing Payment Fund for the 2012-13 financial year is £707,645, of which £275,276.19 has been paid out to June. The average payment per week remains similar, ranging from £9-12 per claimant.

4. A ‘no evictions’ policy of this sort is a pledge by the council to not enforce eviction procedures against tenants whose arrears consist only of the bedroom tax. More information is available here:
http://t.co/8ajbKvEHpw

Nations of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your overdrafts!

First they issued promissory notes, and I did nothing…*

Then they leveraged many times their assets, and I did nothing…*

Then they made the US$ the world reserve currency, and I did nothing…*

Then they abolished the gold standard, and I did nothing.*

Then they repealed Glass-Steagall, and I did nothing.*

Then they liberalised financial markets paving the way for massive financial speculation and the creation of many and dubious loan packages – actually I was sceptical of the massive credit boom – but still I did nothing.

Then they created debt so huge it was many times the total amount of real-asset backed money in the world, $560TRN.  But by this time I’d joined a political party (for other good reasons) warning of many runaway factors including high finance, I’d cut up my credit card, and moved to an ethical bank.  I’ve stood for Parliament, aghast at the craven supplication of existing politicians to the sacred cows of City banking, who exploded the world, got millions in bonuses, trillions in bailouts, and those elected who refuse to re-regulate finance especially to separate commercial banking from casino banking, and likely to let those who fixed the LIBOR international trading rate get off free!

Now the predictions continue: it will all happen again, 2008, bankruptcies, foreclosures, jobs and homes lost, until the banks own everything there is to own.

Now the vast majority of money is (uncollateralised) debt. That means it has no value of its own! It’s only valuable to the banks, as and when we, as individuals or nation-states, pat it back!

Nations of the world unite! Nationalise all your banks. Put people first. You have nothing to lose but your overdrafts!

[*…Hey it was hundreds of years ago and I probably wouldn’t have had any gold anyway. How was I to know it was important, no-one teaches this stuff at school! So the US gets a free ride for decades while slashing freedom globally. I still wasn’t born.]

The West Wing – a spectrum of acceptable opinion.

The West Wing series is great, a fine example of intelligent, politically focused scripts which cover any number of political issues, at the same time drawing you in to often feel sympathetic towards the main characters. You don’t have to be a fan of Martin Sheen, US politics and the White House, to enjoy it, although a similar treatment of the Kremlin might possibly lack in appeal! And, we can’t say we’re not used to the genre!

I’m not a devotee, but in series 7, there’s an entire episode spent purely on a US presidential debate between the two candidates, Democrat and Republican. Surely this was ground-breaking for a series, outside of actual real debates themselves, although Alan Alda was always going to make it more palatable!?

A lot of truth on the American situation is spoken – one reason why it is so popular among a great many people, especially those interested in politics, aware of how it is fought over, and controlled, and also how important it is in covering health, education, war, welfare, and so on.

In series 7 a nuclear accident happens on the Californian coast. It gets lots of coverage and influences the fictional electoral outcome. That was a few years ago but in it, it previsioned Fukushima 2011, a nuclear accident (on a much greater scale) and which arguably affects Americans more than the fictional events affected the fictional population (who fled the area en masse).

Despite covering important themes in different ways, at all times it continues the myth of noble America:

  • The myth of the world’s remaining superpower, with US peacekeepers keeping a fragile peace in Israel-Palestine – instead of an America which arms Israel to the teeth occasionally selling Palestinians a dodgy roadmap.
  • Yet another full-scale invasion is portrayed as an intervention to prevent a Russian and Chinese standoff  instead of the reality of unjustifiable invasions like Iraq, killing 1.5 million people, or Vietnam killing 3-4 million locals (or 58,000 GIs if you were educated in the US), or any of 100 interventions, invasions, coups and destabilisations since World War II, all favouring power – but not people.
  • The myth of an honourable US military is challenged by the revelation of a secret military space shuttle, flagging up the militarisation of space, an important issue (undoubtedly much further advanced than we have ever been told to date) but not that it has been America leading the arms race for decades, and with such an immoral level of defence spending as if it’s designed to take on the rest of the world (which it is).
  • The myth of Democrats being for socialisation and Republicans about tax-cuts is well-played, but unaddressed is the real power of big business and finance which pays both their elections bills, expected to be over $1 billion EACH this year!

Some home myths are challenged strongly, that government healthcare insurance for over-65s, MediCare, is hugely expensive – is outed as having only 2% administration costs (although 6% may be truer taking in  advantages of government), and progressive campaigns pushed such as education should have a better-rewarded professional teaching workforce.

The series covers huge amounts of ground, as American politics does, wherever money is involved, in fact. But what it provides is the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

Yet, it comes across in such a polished and personal manner that such good people in the White House couldn’t possibly miss out the little things like 21% of kids in poverty or the US of A being at world number 38 for life expectancy! Or the astounding 1 in 100 figure for those in the prison system, in the Land of the Free…

Which series will it be that challenges America’s subversive role in the world, or its major inequality at home while outing the roles of big business, which can get protective laws changed resulting in wrecking the global economy, resulting in new, patented, forms of life, improperly tested and with effects for generations to come, not just the current generation of small farmers lives and livelihoods being wrecked, which can make a killing out of a global flu scare, which turns out to be hype, which can fabricate a war for oil?

For some things, it will take more than just a change of administration ans American politics shouldn’t be judged by its effective portrayals by Hollywood.

*Time for economic democracy*

*Britain is an economic dictatorship*

*We expect political democracy. Why not economic democracy too?*

Peter Tatchell, Green Party

Huffington Post – London – 29 November 2011

Up to two million trade union members went on strike on Wednesday, in
protest against the government’s attack on pensions and cuts in public
services. Their grievances are real. But their solutions don’t go far
enough. Pressing the government for fairness isn’t the answer. Staging a
protest is second best. These are reactive, defensive responses to
fundamental flaws and failings in the way our economy is organised and run.

The perennial failing of most trade unions is that their horizons are so
limited. They seek a better deal for their members within the economic
status quo, when the real solution is to reform the system of economy that,
by its very nature, leaves the vast majority of working people powerless,
disenfranchised and marginalised. When it comes to the economy, the average
person has no meaningful say in the decisions that affect their jobs,
wages, pensions and working conditions.

We expect political democracy. Why not economic democracy too?

Behind the cosy democratic facade, Britain is a cut-throat economic
dictatorship. A rich and powerful economic elite makes all the key economic
decisions, excluding millions of employees and consumers.

Our country’s democratic political transformation – pushed forward by the
Levellers, Chartists and Suffragettes – has never been matched by a
corresponding economic democratisation.

‘One person, one vote’ has been won in the political sphere (albeit
imperfectly) but not in the realm of economics. Britain’s democratic
revolution, begun four centuries ago, remains unfinished.

It is time to put economic democracy on the political agenda; to bring the
economy into democratic alignment with the political system.

Extending the economic franchise is about democracy and justice. It can
help create a greater plurality and diversity of economic power, and also
lay the foundations for a more equitable and productive economic
partnership between all those who contribute to wealth creation and to the
provision of public services, from local councils to the NHS.

Whatever people think of the current economic system, one thing is
indisputable: it is characterised by an absence of democracy,
participation, transparency and accountability. Employees and their
representative bodies – the trade unions – are frozen out of economic
influence and decision-making.

Big business rules. The captains of industry, commerce and finance have
almost total power. They run their enterprises on totalitarian lines. All
decision-making is concentrated in the hands of a tiny, privileged cabal of
major shareholders, directors and managers. They alone determine how the
company operates. Employees – without whom no wealth would be created and
no institution could function – are powerless and disenfranchised. They are
little more than glorified serfs of the moneyed classes and their
government.

Not much has changed in two centuries of capitalism. There have been no
major democratic reforms of the economy. Although millions of people bought
shares in privatised public enterprises like BT, their individual holdings
are minuscule and marginal. They have no real influence. Big corporate
interests retain the decisive economic power. This power is as centralised
and autocratic as ever. A few determine the fate of the many.

The advent of nationalised public industries, utilities and services
changed nothing. They have been run in much the same centralised,
dictatorial manner as their privately-owned counterparts. There was never
any economic democracy in the state-run railways or coal mines. The system
of ownership changed but not the system of management. The bosses of public
utilities and nationalised industries were almost as powerful as the
captains of private enterprise. Their employees remained locked out of the
decision-making process. It was state capitalism, not socialism. The Labour
Party and the trade unions have made a huge mistake in over-emphasising
public ownership, to the neglect of public control.

The same applies today in the NHS and other public services. They are
administered according to the classic capitalist model of top-down command
and control. NHS big-wigs have almost as much power as private medical
bosses. Doctors, nurses and ancillary staff are excluded from policy-making
in both public and private medicine.

Their years of accumulated hands-on, frontline service knowledge is
disregarded when it comes to policy-making. This is a huge waste of human
resources.

Wherever we look, in all sectors of the economy, the democratic deficit is
universal. Power is concentrated and wielded in ways that is contrary to
the democratic, egalitarian spirit of modern, twenty-first century Britain.
The time for economic democracy is now.

Trade Unions and the fight against the 1%

In my N30 Strike speech today, I talked about this graph:

It shows union membership over the last 100 years. AND it shows the wealth of the top 1%.  The lines of those graphs are diametrically opposed!

100 years the unions were young as the labour movement began to catch on and fight the gross injustices around work. The rich were powerful; their wealth, stratospheric. But as the unions grew, so did the gains of the people as a whole, and the wealth of the 1% diminished.

Union membership reached its height in 1978. And the wealth of the 1% reached its lowest point in the last 100 years.

When the people are strong, the unions are strong and the rich can’t take as much from us.

In 1979 that all changed with the election of Thatcher. As she attacked the unions, the NUM especially, she brought in anti-union legislation and union membership fell.  Since 1979, almost every year,  it has continued falling, including through the Labour years.

Interestingly, now in 2011, union membership is about where it was in 1940! There’s a long way to go! So join a union!

If you’re in one become active in it. If you know workers who aren’t in a union show them this. Explain THIS is how we take on the bankers and win! For our future and for generations to come.

AND – if you don’t like the way the unions support the Labour Party – which did *NOT* support this strike –  then join the Greens and bring that voice into the labour movement too.

There’s a future to fight for.

Together we can win.