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.”

———————————–
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

What if it had happened in Burma?

A lot of people are upset at the mass shooting in Connecticut. Partly that’s because they empathise and approach events in a personal way. And it’s an important, first, human response. But it only scrapes the surface. If you approach it in a political or historical or sociological way, you actually end up saying things like: well, what do you expect? Newton is just just one symptom of a psychotic America

The fact is America is a very violent society. Like Britain. Already we lock up more per head than anyone else in Europe. America has a formidable full 1% of its population in the prison system – another world leader… Only a few years ago we were measured by the UN to be the worst place to bring up children, presumable beating America. These measures reflect the amount of stress in a society. One very important measure is how unfair a society is, how wealth is distributed. Under 13 years of Labour, Britain became more and more unfair year after year, the rich getting richer at a far more rapid rate than everyone else. Something far surpassed by America which is unmatched for taking wealth from around the planet to itself.

But can you imagine if we in Britain had the same prevalence of gun ownership here – and the right to bear arms? Despite our general drop in crime statistics in would be a recipe for sure disaster and we could expect our Newton’s and Columbine’s and Aurora’s to take place.

America, like us, suffers from a whole variety of negative social factors – inequality of ownership, inequality of access to healthcare, large and growing homelessness – and of course has social injustice at far higher levels than we do.

Those that have visited America may not see this and may argue what a wonderful, welcoming place it is – great if that’s your experience. But that’s NOT the point I’m making. That’s the sort of personal point of view that I began with. The OTHER things that happen in society, policies, politics, where the money goes, how power asserts and protects itself, sets the background for how healthy a society really is.

This includes levels of mental illness in society and has something to say about those who snap and go on a killing spree. There is no doubt gun control would reduce this, as it did in Australia. A very simple short-term solution.

But America, as a larger organism, is quite psychotic. Maybe Britain was like this in its Empire times – ruling half the globe, and built on the simple racist idea that the Englishman was superior to everyone else (no doubt a factor that made many of the wealthy rather sympathetic to Hitler).

The almost 50-50 polls, even after mass killings like this one, show that America isn’t ready for change either, even in this simple direction.  Of course, the role the gun lobby and its resources play should not be neglected.

But, historically, this is a global issue too. The strength of the gun industry depends on gun ownership, just as the arms industry depends on America’s unparalleled violence across the world: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central America in the 1980s, the wrecking of other countries like Iran in 1953, bringing the Ba’ath party to power in Iraq in the 1960s, and on and on.

The fact that the American population seem to back most of this international violence chimes with their 50-50 vote to keep guns even after mass killings like Newton’s. Much of this is a tribute to its one party politics (with two faces) and a highly controlled media, very concentrated in terms of ownership and all saying the same sort of corporation-friendly things – while still coming across as very human.

Obama is as compromised too. Squeeze out the odd tear he may on national TV, but he has had no compunction about sending the 170 children his drones have killed to there fiery deaths. Collateral damage, distance, people of no account.

Over here the sheer amount of US media that many of us watch colours our take on its society, the fun of the sit-coms, the brilliance of Hollywood, the apparent concer of its leading politicians. But if someone had walked into a classroom, say in Burma, and gunned down 20 children, people might tut and say what a terrible shame, but they would tend to know less about it and write it off as a violent country. America gets a pass. It shouldn’t. It’s one of the most violent countries in the world. And we’re not far behind…

Any meaningful commitment to peace in society there should ban guns. Maybe then there would be the chance the people could actually reject America’s violence across the world.

Turning the lights out on the Titanic

Is Cameron’s reshuffle supposed to be a kind of reverse psychology? Climate-change denier Paterson at the Environment, anti-gay marriage Miller at Equalities, supremely unqualified Gove still at Education, the laughable Hunt at Health, pro-3rd runway McLaughlin at Transport. Clearly plenty of work still to do on the destruction of the UK.

Miller and Paterson plus Hunt “the NHS is a 60 year mistake” going to Health represents a movement to the right by a besieged Prime Minister.

Owen Paterson is: sceptical on climate change, pro fracking, expect gas drilling everywhere, and less renewables investment; and he who compared the call to ban fox hunting to National Socialism!

The more I read about Owen Paterson, the more I realise he’s the sort of person I got into politics to stop ever having power! Meanwhile, Iain Duncan Smith was offered the job as Justice Secretary but didn’t take it. Surely following his own precepts, his benefits should be cut!

For most people, Cameron’s cabinet was quite Tory enough thank you:

  • “Oh yes, I remember – this is what they were like!”
  • Now it’s more traditional, more Eurosceptic, more authoritarian. In other words, more rightwing – a step backwards for progressive politics
  • expect a continuation of Labour’s appeasing of the bankers and paying with cuts.
  • over £80 billion in so-called austerity across the country, now expect more cuts.
  • Projections say the cuts are on course to cost a million jobs.

This is such an unbelievably far cry from what Greens were promising in 2010 – to tax properly and CREATE a million socially useful jobs!!

Owen Paterson returning to mainland politics will also be welcomed by Tory MPs. It’ll be interesting to see what flexibility he is given on the EU aspects of his department.

The replacement of Ken Clarke by Chris Grayling as justice secretary demotes Clarke, one of the more reasonable Tories, in many respects.

Health – was Andrew Lansley, who everyone will be pleased to see theback of. Except that he’s now replaced by Jeremy Hunt (Culture), he who presided over the hacking scandal, still yet to reach a conclusion. I’ve already signed a petition warning Hunt we’re watching him and his plans for the NHS! His co-author in a book, Daniel Hannan, called the NHS a 60-year mistake. We must end moves to split up the NHS. Instead we must tax properly and make it the world’s best public health service.

Hull and area faces a current total of £99m cuts, with £18m this year. We’ve already lost two wards to the area. Ther are ten to go in total. This is a major attack on health in this area. The coming CCGs are the next step in making health provision more private and less accountable.

Theresa May says: “I can assure you I am very pleased women have the vote.”” – except around the cabinet table. The UK lags behind much of the world when it comes to women’s representation – we are currently ranked 57th.

Maria Miller – Minister for Equality:

  • Voted against: gay adoption rights,
  • against Human F and E Bill which would give lesbian couples fertility treatment rights,
  • against Racial and Relig Hatred Bill and is in favour of defining racial hatred, prejudice and homophobia as freedom of speech

Another interesting high-up addition is Paul Deighton, the former Goldman Sachs executive who ran LOCOG. He has now got the job of ensuring that Osborne’s infrastructure investment programme rescues the economy.

At the top, the government has also become more male and white, but junior appointments are expected to compensate for that. we’ll see.

Cameron appears to want to ramp up the damage he is doing across society and push a radical, vicious agenda forward rapidly. Most people are already stunned bu the nature of this government and its actions and see it as a failure of Titanic proportions, including the economy! But now – will the last person to leave the Titanic please turn out the lights?

The Official London Olympics 2012

I could care less, but then I’d have to make some effort.

A faster 100m or ending world hunger?? Ooh, tricky one. Let’s go for a faster 100 metres. Yes, I’m sure there’d be more headlines about that.

And indeed a lot of effort is going into the Olympics – as represented by the £9 billion pounds cost to the taxpayer – minimum, at a time of cuts costing a million jobs. G4S put a lot in clearly too – until they realised they couldn’t find enough people prepared to work for not very much in the country’s most expensive location. So send in the cavalry (as we sack thousands of them too). Still, for the 1200 troops involved, it makes a nicer change than the 1 in 6 chance of being killed or wounded in Afghanistan.

Not to mention the Olympic Nazis cracking down on the slightest independent mention of the games not sanctioned by McCoke-idas, or SAM missiles on council estates. There’s an upgrade they could do without.

As Mark Steel points out: If the Palestinians do that they get screamed at for using civilians as a “human shield”, but we’re doing it to protect the 200 metres backstroke.

And all that with some 700,000 Olympic tickets unsold. Incredible! We should have cancelled it and given it to some capable, non-corrupt country.

£900,000 NHS spend on private ambulances for Olympics

I love the Olympics, but not here, Mark Steel

Circuses, but less bread, Craig Murray

Bread and Circuses, Wiki

The Awful Policies of the Greens

After a Lib Dem councillor recently converted to Green, a former colleague wondered how he could do this given their awful policies!  So maybe it’s worth  spelling out just where the Greens are coming from recently. The environmental credentials go back to the early 70s when they were formed, but hand in hand the Greens have had an ever-evolving social policy based around greater democracy, equality and welfare across public life.

1. In the UK the richest 1% are extraordinarily rich compared to the rest of us.

2. This has happened in a remarkable way since 1979 and Thatcher coming to power. But it HAS NOT been turned around by 13 years of Labour. In fact, year by year, income inequality has worsened.

3. This can and must be rectified. The growth of excessive wealth is literally harmful to the rest of us. It can be reduced by reining in the ways it is made, chiefly by re-regulating finance. Great wealth should also be taxed properly so that all major needs are met across society: health, education, pensions, welfare, benefits where necessary.

4. But, we can’t do any of that without believing it – and having political parties that believe that too! We are very far from that being a mainstream POV. In fact the 3 major parties have sold out to the turbo-capitalism and won’t even re-regulate the banking sector directly responsible for the latest bubble and crash since 2008.

5. However, most people agree with most of these views. We should protect the NHS and keep it public. We should keep pension provision; we should tax great wealth properly. Once we have some traction for more healthy policies on wealth, income, proper taxation, regulating finance, etc, then we will have much greater ease in seeing how we effect the world – in terms of the amount we take from it AND not put back.

6. That’s what “eco” really means. It’s about balance. It’s a really simple concept EXCEPT that we are so out of ANY sort of balance or accountability for what the really greedy among us are doing, that anyone outside the Greens can hardly understand it anymore! We should have balance within our society. And balance with the wider world.

7. Most Greens actually easily understand this – and much more. Our ease with exploitation explains the 16 million deaths a year from hunger and simple diseases. This simply should not be happening in what is still a world of plenty. That huge amounts of human time, energy, money, transportation are simply wasted by so-called “free markets” all rigged through trade agreements dominated by rich countries, is reprehensible.

Further, many simple pleasures we take for granted are produced by child slaves. Eg, chocolate!

8. No wonder, if we are prepared to treat each other so wantonly, even to the extent of full-on wars over oil – no wonder we are even more wanton with other species, destroying the world’s forests, and over-fishing the oceans.

9. The Green Party – alone, it seems – says IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS! Trade can be much more localised at very little loss. Countries should all have the capacity – and actuality – of feeding their populations first. Energy should be more local – within countries – and on a more renewable basis. Cheap communications are just about available to all. Transport easily could be too.

10. Simply, the greatest cancer we suffer is the huge amount, comparatively, that the rich countries take from everywhere else, and, within those societies, the huge amount the 1% just takes – or commands – from everyone, here or abroad.

It’s time to put the balance back. In society. Between countries. Across the world.

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