Bedroom tax will be costly disaster, says housing chief
Cost-cutting policy will push up benefit bill, cause social disruption and create widespread misery, say critics.
“Research by the NHF says that while there are currently 180,000 households that are “underoccupying two-bedroom homes”, there are far fewer smaller properties in the social housing sector available to move into. Last year only 85,000 one-bedroom homes became available. The federation has calculated that if all those available places were taken up by people moving as a result of the “bedroom tax”, the remaining 95,000 households would be faced with the choice of staying put and taking a cut in income, or renting a home in the private sector.”
“If all 95,000 moved into the private sector, it says the cost of housing benefit would increase by £143m, and by millions more if others among the remaining 480,000 affected chose to rent privately.”
EU warns Cameron over ‘knee-jerk xenophobia’
Employment commissioner condemns prime minister’s speech
“Responding to Cameron’s speech last week in which he pledged to restrict access to housing benefits and the NHS for those coming to the UK under EU free-movement rules, the European commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, László Andor, told the Observer that his claims were misleading and very unfortunate.”
“”There is a serious risk of pandering to knee-jerk xenophobia,” he said. “Blaming poor people or migrants for hardships at the time of economic crisis is not entirely unknown, but it is not intelligent politics in my view.”
“”I think it would be more responsible to confront mistaken perceptions about immigration from other EU countries and so-called ‘benefit tourism’, and instead to explain the facts.”
“”The reality is that migrants from other EU countries are very beneficial to the UK’s economy, notably because they help to address skills shortages and pay more tax and social security contributions per head, and get fewer benefits, than UK workers; that free movement of workers is a key part of the EU’s single market; that hundreds of thousands of UK nationals work in other EU countries.””
Farewell to the NHS, 1948-2013: a dear and trusted friend finally murdered by Tory ideologues
This week’s ‘reforms’ of a treasured institution – by people who came to power promising not to mess with it – is yet another sickening assault on the poor by the rich
“Nothing is more gut-wrenching than watching a close friend dying in front of you. And I mean beyond close: a friend who brought you into the world, helped raise you, and was there whenever you were most desperately in need. So, spare a moment for our National Health Service. Time of death: midnight, 1st April 2013. Cause of death: murder.”
“That this will strike many as hyperbole is because the assault on the NHS is one of the most scandalously under-reported issues in modern British history.”
“A charitable explanation would be the sheer complexity of the Tory assault. The Health and Social Care Act is more than three times longer than the legislation that established the NHS in the first place. When I asked journalists adamantly opposed to the Tory plans why they had failed to adequately cover this travesty, they sheepishly responded it was too complicated: it went over their heads.”
“Cynical though it may be, that so many of those running our glorious free media are covered by private health insurance should not be ignored either.”
“From today, strategic health authorities and primary care trusts are formally abolished. Some £60bn of the NHS budget is now in the hands of clinical commissioning groups, supposedly run by GPs. This is a sham, though one which turns local doctors into human shields for the privatisers. In reality, the vast majority of GPs will keep on doing what they do already looking after patients while commissioning will be managed by private companies.”
“Its worse than that. Under the Governments Section 75 regulations even after they were revised after huge political pressure all NHS services must be put out to competitive tender unless the commissioning groups are satisfied a single provider can deliver that service. But as the British Medical Journal has asked, how can they be sure there is only one possible provider except by undertaking an expensive tender?”
Published on 26 Mar 2013
Caroline Lucas joins a panel of activists and campaigners including Mark Steel to launch the People’s Assembly event in June this year.
The People’s Assembly – a new initiative backed by major trade unions including Unite, Unison, NUT, PCS, TSSA; the Green Party, Labour MPs, Coalition of Resistance, National Pensioners Convention and campaigning groups – hosted a press conference to launch the campaign today (26th March)
Thousands will converge at the People’s Assembly at WESTMINSTER CENTRAL HALL ON SATURDAY 22ND JUNE 2013, as well as at meetings and rallies across the country.
The People’s Assembly will be an alternative democratic forum to a Parliament that has failed the people it is supposed to represent. It will be the launch-pad for mass resistance to austerity.
The new alliance aims to _play a key role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful co-ordinated action, including strike action.
This new movement will be forcing anti-austerity politics onto the mainstream agenda, and fighting for all those people currently hit by Government policies: whether low-paid workers, disabled people, unemployed people, the young, women, BME people and others.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will meet at Central Hall, Westminster on 22 June 2013.
|It is not just me that is banging on about Labour’s betrayal of their traditional core support:Peter Tatchell has recognised what has been going on longer than most (which is why he has switched, like many others with a primary focus on social justice, from Labour to the Green Party). Here is his 2009 Guardian article than was instrumental in getting me to join the Green Party:
Disillusioned Labour voters can vote Green with confidence now that social justice is front and centre of the party’s agenda
What are Labour voters to do? Party loyalty is understandable, but the party they once supported is no more. During 12 years of Labour rule, social inequality has returned with a vengeance, with a widening gap between rich and poor, including more children and pensioners living in poverty. By the end of last year, income inequality under Labour was greater than during the reign of Margaret Thatcher.
Isn’t it time for Labour voters to revolt? Why keep voting for a party whose government has betrayed its roots and values?
There is an alternative. The Green party embraces the social justice agenda that Labour has long abandoned. We are more than a party of environmental protection. We are also a party of fairness and equality, with progressive policies on jobs, housing, education, health and pensions. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, we don’t support free market capitalism or use dirty tricks during election campaigns and we don’t talk green in national politics only to do something else entirely at the local level.
Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour lost its heart and soul. It has become the party of war, privatisation and attacks on civil liberties. The Labour government promoted the financial deregulation that led to the banking crisis, resulting in bankruptcies and mass unemployment. It refuses to take legal action against the corporate criminals who have pushed Britain to the precipice of a full-blown economic depression.
Labour’s policy rot was not caused by Brown alone. The whole Labour government including Alan Johnson backed the party’s rightward drift.
When a Labour government pursues anti-Labour policies it no longer deserves respect or loyalty from Labour members and voters. Arrogant, out of touch, complacent and authoritarian, Labour is not Labour any more. It’s time has passed.
For all these reasons, after 22 years’ membership I left Labour and joined the Green party. It isn’t perfect no party ever is. But compared to Labour and the other political alternatives, the Greens are now the most progressive force in British politics, with our visionary agenda for grassroots democracy, social justice, human rights, global equity, environmental protection, peace and internationalism.
The Greens now occupy the emancipationist political space that was once occupied by Labour. We offer the most credible progressive alternative to Labour.
To deal with the economic crisis, our agenda includes a Roosevelt-style Green New Deal to simultaneously tackle unemployment and climate destruction. The Greens would invest in new green industries to create a million green collar jobs. We would put money into energy conservation, which would lead to tens of thousands of jobs in double-glazing, loft insulation and the fitting of energy efficient boilers. This would also help cut fuel poverty and reduce household energy bills. We’d also invest in renewable energy, including wind, tidal, wave and solar. This would help revive Britain’s decimated engineering industry and establish new technologies that could be exported worldwide at great financial benefit to the UK.
Labour’s great, historic achievement was the creation of the NHS and the welfare state, but Blair and Brown sought to dismantle them. Their commercialisation and semi-privatisation of health and education is something that not even Margaret Thatcher attempted. They have out-Thatchered Thatcher.
While the Labour government has promoted a stealthy privatisation of public services, the Greens oppose privatisation and defend public services as essential components of a just society and a decent quality of life for all citizens. We reject Labour plans to close post offices and to privatise the Royal Mail.
Similarly, the Blair-Brown government sought an opt-out from key sections of the EU social chapter on workers’ rights. The Greens, however, have been steadfast in opposing the opt-out and insisting on the fair treatment of employees.
While Labour’s policies for senior citizens have been miserly, it is Green policy to end pensioner poverty by providing free social care to the elderly and raising the single person’s state pension to £165 per week and linking it to average earnings.
We are also pushing for a major house-building programme and the refurbishment of older and disused properties, in order to give low-income families the chance to have a good quality home at a rent they can afford.
These measures could be paid for by cancelling Labour’s wasteful and reactionary expenditure of more than £100bn on new Trident nuclear missiles, ID cards, two super aircraft carriers, the botched computerisation of the NHS and further motorway expansion.
This is crunch time for progressive politics. Labour has turned its back on its traditional values, torn up previously cherished socialist ideals, sidelined the trade union movement, waged an illegal war, tried to impose 42 days’ detention without charge, and made unsavoury pacts with big business and George W Bush.
The Labour leadership has pandered to prejudice and irrationality on issues including asylum, drugs, terrorism, Europe and crime. Principles have been abandoned for the sake of a few more sympathetic headlines in the Daily Mail and for another cup of tea with Rupert Murdoch.
Labour voters don’t have to put up with this rightwing nonsense. They can vote Green in the knowledge that they are voting for a party that offers a powerful challenge to neo-liberal economics and globalisation.
Greens put the common good before corporate greed, and the public interest before private profit. Our synthesis of the best of the red and the green integrates policies for social justice and human rights with policies for tackling the life-threatening dangers posed by global warming, environmental pollution, resource depletion and species extinction. The future is bright bright Green.
|EXCELLENT EDITION FROM MEDIA LENS
Running from 1st – 4th August 2013, the Green Gathering returns to its lovely site near Chepstow for another year in the landscaped grounds of Piercefield Park bordered by the mighty river Wye. With the imposing ruin of Piercefield House as a backdrop and stunning views of the Severn bridges and estuary, some have said it is the most beautiful festival site in the country.
At the Green Gathering, you can rediscover ancient skills in our Crafts area and explore pathways to future sustainability with Permaculture and Transition. Talk with key speakers from the Green movement and engage in lively debate at the Green Forum venue; inform yourselves about current issues and causes with groups in the Campaigns area.
And of course, there is a lot of fun to be had! Follow this link to enjoy Seize the Day playing ‘Big Love’ at the 2011 Gathering, come and join us for happy summer days under an open sky.
The Green Gathering has always provided a excellent Kids’ area and we are one of the very few events to offer free entry to the under 11’s. Many families get their first taste of a greener lifestyle with us – one of the joys of organising the Green Gathering is seeing children running around with new friends in open fields!
As pioneers of solar powered stages, their entertainment is run entirely on renewable energy. They provide many small venues rather than loud, dominating arena stages. Ambient festival cafés host many acclaimed bands and musicians, and if you’re in the right place at the right time…… The occasional unscheduled performance by one of the mystery guests!
Four days of festival can be tiring, so they provide plenty of tranquil relaxation space as well. Visit the Healing area for a massage or for expertise in alternative therapies; discover faerie grottos, ancient wisdoms and divinations with the Earth Energies area and Avalon Rising. Or even drive out with ease from the hard-standing car park to explore the local area, famous for its natural beauty.
The long history of the event its roots go back to the early nineteen eighties, gives the Green Gathering a key role in networking among groups involved with sustainability. Representatives from many diverse projects come here to reconnect, exchange news and meet new people. Need some specific advice from experts? Or just a general introduction to off grid living in between having fun? Here’s where you should come!
A touch of old school magic, just the way a festival should be… was one of the many positive comments from attendees at the 2012 event. No corporate sponsorship logos obscuring the sunsets, no pressure to consume, lots of welcoming covered spaces to relax and chat to friends old and new….why not arrange to meet up with your Facebook contacts?
The Green Gathering as a whole has always been deeply committed to education for a sustainable and resilient lifestyle, and they are now proud to announce the forming of a charity to carry this work forward all year round. Any profits from this event will go to support this project. Join up as a member to follow its progress!
Advance ticket sales help them to plan ahead – so look out for special offers, especially if you are coming with a group. The price for a single adult ticket will rise as we get closer to the event, so buy now.
|7.00pm Thursday 28th March 2013 at the
The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill.
ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)
NOTE – Venue is 1 minute’s walk from both the Bus and Train stations in Bridgend.
REMINDER – If anyone needs a lift to any of our meetings, let Andy know and we will organise it for you.
WHEN WILL THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH WALES REALISE WHAT THEY THEY ARE SUPPORTING IN BLINDLY VOTING FOR THE LABOUR PARTY?
“What a disgraceful, grubby chapter in the history of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Usually when a Tory Government is in power, giving working people and the poorest in society a kicking, any critical voices of the Labour leadership are savaged for aiding and abetting the enemy. It’s the Tories we should be opposing, or so the line goes. But what happens when the Labour leadership actively rides to the rescue of the Tories, blatantly and overtly helping them as they attack some of the poorest in society while riding roughshod over British law?”
“Not that all Labour MPs disposed of their backbones at their parliamentary selection meetings. 40 Labour MPs took the revolutionary course of voting against a Tory government. Among them were the diminished group of working-class Labour MPs: Ian Lavery, a former miners’ leader; Ian Mearns, a former British Gas worker; Graham Morris, the son of a miner; Steve Rotherham, an ex-bricklayer; John McDonnell, the son of a bus driver; David Crausby, a former turner; ex-miners like David Anderson and Dennis Skinner. Here are MPs who remember what the Labour Party was founded to do: to give working people a voice, not least when they come under attack from a Tory government.”
This second paragraph sums up the dilemma that many decent, honourable socialists find themselves in here in South Wales,
They have been born and bred into the Labour Party and refuse to accept that, since Tory [sic] Blair’s New labour project, the Party has changed irrevocably.
As an ecosocialist, I have regular friendly discussions with like minded friends in the Labour Party who acknowledge that the Party is not the one they joined in their youth. They argue, not entirely unreasonably, that they would rather use the Labour Party ticket to get into positions of influence – councillors, AMs, MPs – than join a party that better reflected their true beliefs – the Green Party – but which, they perceive, cannot deliver them these positions of power and influence.
I understand this line of argument, but wonder how they manage to sleep at night as the ever growing list of betrayals to their core beliefs and their constituents builds and builds on a daily basis.
I can only see two long term outcomes.
Either the socialist rump in the Labour Party continue to use the blind loyalty of the South Wales electorate as their meal ticket, until the day the public of South Wales have their epiphany and realise who really is determined to look after their interests; or these marooned socialists take the initiative and declare what they know – that the Labour Party can no longer be trusted to fight for the social justice that they once stood for. In doing so they ought to recognise that the home of modern, progressive socialism – ecosocialism – is no longer beneath a red flag, but a green one.