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

Last winter: 25,000 premature deaths

Caroline Lucas, Letter to Guardian, 2nd Dec

Dear Sir,

You rightly identify the failure of successive governments to tackle the national shame of ever more households struggling to heat their homes (Quarter of home now in fuel poverty – 02 December). This looks set to continue as fuel prices go up and government support for energy efficiency measures for the most vulnerable goes down.

Next year will be the first time in three decades that there has been no Treasury funded scheme for those in fuel poverty. Instead, the government is introducing a new energy company obligation (ECO) as part of its flagship Green Deal programme.

Earlier this year, Ministers assured me that this new Obligation would provide a “far greater level of resource” to tackle fuel poverty when it replaces the existing schemes, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and Warm Front. But just this week, those same Ministers were unable to answer my direct question on how the ECO’s pitiful £325m a year for fuel poor homes is “far greater” the 2010-11 Warm Front spending of £370m, or CERT’s spending of around £600m a year on vulnerable households.

This is not just a question of pounds and pence. Last winter, according the Office of National Statistics, there were over 25,000 premature deaths in this country because people could not keep warm in their homes. Government inaction to control the oligopoly of the big, profit hungry energy companies, or to help households to cut their bills, means that yet more lives could be lost unnecessarily this winter.

The Government is currently consulting on the Green Deal and its ECO proposals. I would urge anyone concerned about the fuel poor to respond to this consultation, to ensure that all homes are properly insulated and the scourge of fuel poverty is eradicated once and for all.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and Co-Chair of the Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency All Party Parliamentary Group

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.

Hull Green Party to welcome Deputy Leader to Hull on Friday

ImageGreen Party Deputy Leader, Adrian Ramsay, will speak in Beverley and Hull on 1st and 2nd December.

In a momentous week, where Wednesday may see the biggest strike since 1926, Hull Green Party will hear Deputy Leader Adrian Ramsay on how cuts to jobs and attacks on pensions are the wrong way to go.

“Government has responded to the recession by making sweeping cuts to public services. The Green Party has said from the outset that this is the wrong approach,” says Adrian Ramsay.

“The cuts are punishing the most vulnerable in our society while failing to address the reckless behaviour of parts of the banking industry that caused the recession in the first place.”

Adrian Ramsay will speak about the Green vision for the economy as the way out of inequality and debt.

“Cutting jobs and public services is a false economy as it leads to more people claiming benefits and greater burdens on the NHS, police and social services, “Adrian Ramsay comments.

Recently, the difference between Tory and Labour spending policies was shown as $5bn (0.3% of GDP) (Newsnight, 25 Nov). Osborne is just more zealously pursuing many cuts which Labour also planned.

Adrian counters, “The best way to build a stable economy is to create jobs in areas where they are most needed. Producing more of the foods and manufactured goods we need in the UK would boost jobs and cut carbon emissions. Investing in home insulation schemes, rail and bus services and renewable energy could create a million new jobs while cutting people’s bills.”

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Adrian Ramsay will be available for interviews.
Adrian will speak at:

Beverley, Norwood Methodist Church on Thursday 1st Dec at 7.30
Hull University Larkin Building on Friday 2nd at 2-4pm,
and at Relax Café, Newland Ave, 5pm.

Adrian Ramsay was Norwich City councillor for many years. He received the second biggest Green vote in the country in the General Election. Adrian built up Norwich Green Party over 10 years to second on the Council (14 councillors to Labour’s 16).

A Flavour of the Times

The Green Party passed the following Emergency Motions at Sheffield Conference, Sept 2011. (These are in addition to agenda motions).

Legal Aid and Justice for All

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is at the Committee Stages of the Commons. If passed, it will remove access to advice for 650,000 people a year in employment law, welfare benefits, housing, debt, immigration, etc. In light of this, Conference calls on the Green Party Campaigns Committee to support the “Justice for All” campaign which campaigns for everyone, no matter what their financial means to be treated fairly under the law and for free legal advice.

Robin Hood Tax

Conference welcomes the endorsement of a Robin Hood Tax by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy and calls on the UK Government to follow the lead of France and Germany in regulating speculation on international financial markets and generating the revenue needed to fund public investment. Conference calls on Green Party Parliamentarians to raise this with the UK Government in advance of the G20 meeting in November at Cannes.

Anti – ATOS Motion

Conference expresses deep concern at the use of ATOS to assess incapacity benefit receivers for their ability to return to work. As evidence continues to mount that the work capability assessments are being used politically to remove Employment and Support Allowance payments, with 12 doctors referred to the General Medical Council in August, Conference calls on the party leadership to demand that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions removes ATOS as its assessor of benefit claimants.

Nuclear Waste Disposal

We call on policy committee to develop a policy on legacy high and intermediate level radioactive waste in time for Spring Conference 2012. The policy to be based on best environmental practice, not political expediency. We also call on Conference to support Allerdale and Copeland Green Party and other local groups, including West Cumbria Friends of the Earth, Radiation Free Lakeland, and CORE in their work to oppose the deep geological disposal plans and to call for alternative disposal methods to be revisited. In particular lobbying local authorities not to proceed to the next stage of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process (January 2012), at which stage the right of withdrawal would be severely compromised.

The NHS Listening Exercise

The Green Party reaffirms its commitment to a fully publicly funded NHS and its opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill, deplores the fact that the Conservative / Liberal Democrat government ‘listening exercise’ has (unsurprisingly) proved to be a sham, and demands that the Government abandon forthwith in its entirety this Bill which, if passed, will lead to the marketisation and privatisation of the NHS, having no lesser ultimate consequence than the complete destruction of our National Health Service. Conference calls on GPEx to make active campaigning against this Bill a priority.

The National Planning Policy Framework

Conference condemns the Coaltion Government’s proposed National Planning Policy Framework. The Green Party believes a function of the planning system is to protect people and the environment not to generate unsustainable economic growth. The abolition of targets for building on brownfield land, the lack of any understanding of sustainability coupled with a presumption in favour of development will make it a developers’ charter. Conference calls on elected Greens at all  levels of government to campaign vigorously against the NPPF and for the Green Party as a whole to campaign against these proposals to ensure we protect our communities, countryside and quality of life from unrestrained development.

Bombardier – Rail jobs

The Green Party condemns the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government decision to give the order for new rolling stock for Thameslink to Siemens. This failed to take into account the effect on the UK economy and jobs.

Derby-based Bombardier, the last remaining train builder in this country has announced the loss of 1400 jobs as a result of not winning the bid. The Bombardier factory in Derby is now under threat and so are thousands more jobs in the Derby area in other rail businesses that supply the factory.

We need more train carriages for our railways, both to replace those that are life-expired and to increase the size of the fleet in order to reduce overcrowding and carry more passengers.

Conference instructs GPEX to write to the Sec of State for Transport requesting him to reconsider the allocation of the Thameslink trains contract to Siemens and to ensure that British jobs in the industry are protected.

Emergency Motion on the English Riots [amended]

Conference is appalled at the outbreak of violence, looting, arson and murder that took place in English cities in August. The riots were a manifestation of anger that has deep roots and obvious triggers. The roots include inequality, loss of social cohesion, cuts in local public services, unemployment, increasing poverty, resentment against the police, consumerism and gang culture. The triggers were the death of Mark Duggan and the exceptionally inept handling of its aftermath.

To address these problems we advocate immediate action to reverse the cuts in public services, increase support for disadvantaged communities and provide a 100% earnings disregard for work of local benefit. In punishing rioters there should be more use of restorative justice and community payback orders. There must also be an independent inquiry into the death of Mark Duggan and its aftermath.

These measures, however, will not deal with the roots of the problem. We call for a public inquiry into the deeper causes of social breakdown which lie as much in the excesses of the powerful as in the conditions of the powerless. This inquiry should seek to create a consensus for remedial actions which need to be as radical as those that created the welfare state 60 years ago.

Conference calls upon our elected representatives to put forward these measures at every relevant opportunity.

Greens support J30 Pensions Strike

The East Riding Green Party banner departed Hull Station today for Thursday’s major London demonstration.

In Hull, a meeting of the teachers, public sector workers and trade unionists concerned, will be held at the Quality Royal Hotel on Thursday. The meeting will decide on a demonstration.

Teachers and other public sector workers strike, Thursday, firstly to secure pension arrangements promised to them for years.

Major and unnecessary government changes being proposed will make workers poorer now – and in the future.

Government tells us pensions are unaffordable and unsustainable; we’re living longer; there are more pensioners, etc, etc.  But that’s not what the National Audit Office said as of last December (1).  It said pension arrangements already in place would stabilise costs in the long-term relative to Britain’s wealth or GDP.

The truth is pensions have already been reformed and made sustainable. This pre-dates the ConDem government proposals and comes before the Hutton Pensions Report. (2)

Under the new proposals, lifelong teachers, for example – would pay much more to government each month in contributions – and then future governments can give them about £200,000 less, each, over the course of their retirement!

The government here – like the government in Greece – is using the notion of a large deficit to beat the people into submission and accept austerity.

So, how DO we lower the deficit??

The first thing the  government should do is to begin a low level micro tax on banking – the single biggest industry whose failure is responsible for the current pressure on state finances. It should also close the major tax loopholes that let big corporations off billions in taxes.

Not only are these Green Party policies – they are the policies all the national unions called for at the biggest demonstration on March 26th this year .

We must assume Government is taking this path for ideological reasons. It should not be attacking hard-working public sector professionals.

Martin Deane

Chair, Hull and East Riding Green Party

Notes.

1. The National Audit Office concluded: “In addition to saving significant sums of money, the changes are projected to stabilise costs in the long-term around their current level as a proportion of GDP.”

2. http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/this-is-not-a-pension-reform-it-is-simply-a-pay-cut

3. The ConDems have already replaced the pensions-RPI link with the lower CPI link so taking 15% off the value of pensions.