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.
A blog for the promotion of social, environmental and economic justice – by Howard Thorpe
Saturday, 12 November 2011
So, have we screwed up Planet Earth?
The simple answer is no, the Earth will be around for a long time after we have perished, but it is beginning to look like we may have screwed up the planet as far as humans are concerned. The latest data from the International Energy Authority paints a disturbing picture. It seems that we are in danger of passing the point where we can prevent a global temperature rise of 2oC and damaging climate change, because we are continuing to build fossil fuel power stations, and that we have only five years left to do something about it.
We are always being told that capitalism can do great things and that the market can solve all our problems. But it is clear that the market is responsible for this particular problem. Its not just the demand for energy that is at the root of climate change but the fact that the energy companies are completely wedded to fossil fuel extraction. We could have gone down the renewable energy route years ago, putting ourselves in a much better position now. But what was the energy companies response to a shortage of easy to extract fossil fuels? Go for the harder and much more environmentally damaging fossil fuels like tar sands oil and shale gas from fracking. With capitalism the desire for profit obviously outweighs the desire to prevent irreversible climate change – here is a quote from Oil and Energy Investor:
So now we know. It should come as no surprise, because capitalists put profit before people and the environment. But the energy companies are not just behind our addiction to fossil fuels, they are just as keen to discredit alternatives to fossil fuels, and the very idea of climate change itself. In the UK, Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is the front man for something called the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an energy company funded organisation which is dedicated to casting doubt on man made climate change, activities which were exposed in this article in the Independent. Lawson often speaks out about climate change and was apparently responsible for changing the policy of the Daily Mail against climate change.
On my desk I have a copy of a book called ‘Natural Capitalism‘, which was published in 1996. In this book the authors, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L Hunter Lovins, show how, using resource efficiency, we can create more goods using less materials, and much less energy, and recycle the outputs on closed loops that mimic how nature works. The authors have provided us with a solution to climate change and resource depletion. Any company which uses these methods is bound to be much more efficient and competitive than its rivals. But this hasn’t happened, certainly not on any kind of scale that will help the planet. The reason why is that capitalism, far from being dynamic and innovative, is inherently conservative. People stick with what they know works, and what they know is profitable, and they also often have large amounts of capital tied up in plant and machinery which is simply out-of-date. I’ve posted about this problem before here.
So what is the answer? Its simple. Governments bailed out the banks. Now they must make changes happen to prevent climate change. The move to renewables must go ahead and the energy companies must be made to make that change. If they won’t do it they must be nationalised. The solar energy Feed in Tariff (FIT) must be maintained at a reasonable level instead of being cut in half as this government is doing. We also have to make companies use resource efficient methods, both through incentives and regulation. We need a Green New Deal to insulate all our homes and create thousands of jobs. The market has failed us, and will continue to fail us. Its time that democratically elected governments remembered what they are their for – to represent the interests of the people and the common good – not to bow down to the market.
BUDGET 2013: Time for ‘Plan G’: stop failed austerity and invest in the billion-pound green economy
20 March 2013
RESPONDING to the Budget announcement, Green MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) said: Amidst the tax breaks for shale gas and boastful roadbuilding pledges, there is one huge green economy-shaped hole in this flailing Chancellors Budget.
With the UKs green economy now worth over £120bn 9% of GDP providing nearly a million jobs and generating a third of our most recent economic growth according to the CBI, it is completely inexplicable that George Osborne keeps pretending it doesnt exist.
Given the huge potential of green industries and clean energy generation to provide British jobs and prosperity, as well as the obvious environmental benefits they will deliver, its time to drop austerity and go for Plan G.
Theres no doubt that the cuts have failed now we need urgent investment in nationwide green infrastructure to stabilise the economy, tackle the environmental crisis and deliver clean and secure energy for the future.
Tax breaks for shale gas a costly gamble
Lucas continued: This should also mean the Chancellor ditching his irrational obsession with gas. Its outrageous that the Government is willing to gift yet more tax breaks to companies drilling for hard-to-reach shale a costly gamble that risks keeping the UK addicted to polluting fossil fuels at precisely the time we should be leaving them in the ground.
A Government which really cared about bringing energy bills under control and improving energy security would put its money on renewables where the costs are predictable and falling and agree to recycle carbon tax revenue into a jobs-rich energy efficiency programme, rather than deepening our dependence on gas, where prices are set to keep rising.
Going all-out for offshore wind, for example, instead would save £20bn by 2030, create 70,000 more jobs, and lead to both lower climate emissions and lower fuel bills.
And with the new nuclear facility at Hinkley announced yesterday expected to come with a £14bn price tag, this Government should urgently think again before ploughing ahead with its deeply misguided nuclear strategy. For the cost of one nuclear reactor, its estimated that 7 million households could be lifted out of fuel poverty.
With the negotiations for a strike price for nuclear operators getting on for double the current price of electricity to be paid by households and businesses already struggling with high bills its clear that the main beneficiaries of this policy will be EDF and the French state.
Corporations get tax cuts as millions struggle with rising household bills
With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warning that tax rises, welfare cuts, and wages freezes will push over 7 million children below the breadline in the next two years, its scandalous that this millionaire Government is still so reluctant to make the richest in our society pay their fair share of tax.
While millions across the country struggle to pay rising household bills, the Government is cutting tax for corporations like Amazon, Starbucks and Google when they choose to pay it at all to 25% next month, 23% by 2014 then 20% the year after.
The General Anti Avoidance Rule announced today will not be enough to stop the tax dodgers, as the tax QCs Graham Aaronson who worked it up has admitted it will be “narrowly focused”, and apply only to the “most egregious tax avoidance schemes”.
If the Government was really serious about cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, including shutting down tax havens, it would have supported my Private Members Bill requiring all companies to publish what they earn.
It would also seek a strong international agreement to force all multinationals to report their tax practices transparently. HMRC has a duty to prosecute multinational companies who do not pay their taxes in the UK and its right that offenders are publicly named and shamed.
|Good exposure for the campaign on ITV Wales this evening:http://www.itv.com/news/wales/story/2013-03-21/fracking-fears-after-budget/
An appallingly glib comment from the reporter about fracking not having been proven to be unsafe yet!
Otherwise, the usual hacking around of what we said was not too bad.
Good exposure for the Frack-Free Wales website and the demo outside the Senedd in on April 16th.
“Following the announcement that the UK Government is planning to push ahead with Fracking/Coal Bed Methane Extraction in Wales and the UK despite the obvious and well-documented risks, we are holding a peaceful protest outside the Senedd to highlight the dangers posed by fracking to the general public and the environment.
At the end of the action we will hand a letter and a report written outlining our concerns to First Minister Carwyn Jones. If you cannot attend and would like to sign the letter please post to that effect on the event wall.
Please share this event widely and invite anyone you feel is as concerned as we are.”
My hearty thanks for her tremendous work on advancing this campaign to Frances Jenkins – founder of Frack-Free Wales.
Frances is also working hard on an anti-fracking music event for late spring or early summer – watch this space!