On latest Jeremy Hunt wheeze (‘business leaders to replace trained ambassadors’) – we have 20 yrs experience of recruiting Trade Ministers from ‘business.’ Each of them have lasted about a year, having bagged the peerage & achieved little if anything. Think Digby Jones
Real people: The exhibition combines images of formerly-homeless people with a line of text describing their character.
This is a terrific idea because it reminds us that homeless people are human too.
It is easy to de-humanise the people sleeping rough or begging – to view them as obstacles to be passed or ignored.
That seems an easy route to the kind of behaviour that has been connected to the deaths of rough sleepers recently.
But the Inspirational Voices exhibition at Manchester’s Piccadilly railway station will present huge portraits of people who have been homeless, along with a label chosen by the model to represent their personality.
Homelessness charity The Booth Centre, which provides advice on finding accommodation, education and training as well as helping to secure long-term employment, is to be praised for this idea.
And Greater Manchester is leading the way in its monitoring of what happens to the homeless. Labour mayor Andy Burnham has launched an initiative to record the deaths of homeless people after the Westminster government showed it couldn’t care less.
The exhibition will take place in the railway station’s concourse from November 12-18, and will then move to Media City for a week. It would be welcome if we saw it on television, then.
No doubt most people will walk past this exhibition without giving it a second thought.
But if even a minority are influenced by it, some good will have been done.
Huge portraits of former rough sleepers and homeless people will take pride of place at Manchester’s biggest train station.
The Inspirational Voices exhibition aims to challenge misconceptions of homelessness by capturing each person’s individual achievements and hopes.
Craig Mackinlay (left) campaigning with Boris Johnson ahead of the election [Image: PA].
Reproduced without comment, in order not to prejudice proceedings:
A Conservative MP’s expenses form for his general election campaign may have been forged, a handwriting expert has told the politician’s trial.
Craig Mackinlay, 52, is on trial alongside his staff after they were accused of overspending in his successful bid to beat the then Ukip leader Nigel Farage to the seat of South Thanet, Kent, in 2015.
Mr Mackinlay, his election agent, Nathan Gray, 29, and campaign manager, Marion Little, 63, have all denied deliberately filing false expenditure returns.
Mr Gray’s signature appeared on the declaration form but Oliver Thorne, a forensic scientist specialising in handwriting, said this was an “imitation” and that there were also “significant differences” to show the writing on the form was forged too.
The culprit is not likely to be Ms Little or Mr Mackinlay, he added.
Mr Mackinlay, an accountant by profession, was elected to Parliament on 7 May 2015 with a majority of around 2,800. His declared spending came in under the strict £52,000 limit.
But jurors have been told his victory could have been made void if up to £66,000 of undeclared spending on staffing, accommodation and advertising was included on returns.
White elephant: Altrincham health and wellbeing centre will now never be used by NHS patients.
Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond gave in to demands from the Labour Party and agreed to stop signing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals in his Budget yesterday (October 29). Perhaps this is the reason:
Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre was meant to be the major new health hub for south Trafford – but it is to be converted into offices without a single patient ever crossing its threshold.
The building was constructed by local developer Citybranch for investment company Canada Life after a £35m deal.
Now NHS Property Services is leasing the building for an initial annual rent including utility bills for £2.4m, for 30 years, and it seems this cost was to be passed on to organisations renting space in the building.
But they can’t afford it.
St John’s Medical Centre said the move would cost its practice £70,000 a year, while Pennine Community Services said it was looking at £500,000 in extra overheads and Greater Manchester mental health trust £375,000.
At the heart of the matter is the Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – the organisation set up by Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 to oversee funding for NHS services in the area.
The building was that organisation’s baby – but it reneged on a promise to service providers about cost neutrality and they said the resulting rent would be too high.
Now the CCG wants to convert the building into commercial office space – costing another £7 million.
This means a piece of the National Health Service will be privatised without ever having been used by the public.
How will the CCG pay for NHS services in the meantime? And who will profit in the end?
This entire affair seems extremely questionable.
The people of Trafford need to know why their health service money was squandered on a £24 million white elephant that will never serve their community.
What has happened to their money?
Who has profited from it?
Who will profit from the plan to convert the building into office space?
And what will happen to the plan to modernise their health service?
When I woke up this morning (October 30), the temperature outside was -6C and the cat was begging me to let her get into bed with me to get warm.
It seems autumn has been and gone, and we have made the transition from balmy summer into frigid winter with the kind of rapidity that some people find hard to accommodate – especially those who are past retirement age.
It seems it is time for the annual Tory pensioner cull.
The number of deaths due to cold weather has increased rapidly since the Conservative Party took office in 2010, reaching a high of 48,000 (if you can believe the source) between December 1 last year and the end of April, 2018.
This happened at a time when almost a million fewer pensioners qualified for cold weather payments than the previous year (1.7 million, compared with 2.6 million in 2016-17), due to a rise in the state pension age for women, Budget measures since 2011 and changes under the new-style state pension.
This year’s Budget has done nothing to help:
Deliberately MURDERING 30-40,000 elderly people every year doesn't ensure a bright future ahead, State Pension £7,488,00p annually. 2nd pension paid for by person its for, frozen for over 5 years your blatant thievery never gets reported. https://t.co/NksjLm9NIa
Do you remember the tweet from the abortive Tory youth organisation Activate, remarking on the cold weather earlier this year?
It stated: “As the cold settles in and the national gas supply is running low we are hearing horrific stories…
“All across the country, Socialists are being forced to put their hands in their own pockets.”
The backlash put them firmly in their place, and may have contributed to the demise of Activate. My personal favourite response was, “I hope your arrogance keeps you warm tonight.”
As I stated in March, This is the Tory attack on the old.
Pensions cost the Department for Work and Pensions more than all its other expenditure combined. Tories hate paying them to people who have actually worked for a living and paid their taxes and National Insurance.
So they are raising the age at which people can claim their pension, and changing the conditions under which it is drawn.
It’s a short-sighted policy, because pensioners are now the Conservative Party’s main constituency.
It may be some small consolation to the families of those whose lives are endangered – or lost – because of these selfish politicians, if they are ousted from power for many years as a result.
Commemorated: Memorials to the fallen outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
This is utterly vile: On the day 11 people were murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh – apparently by an adherent of the political far-right, bandwagon-jumpers claiming to speak for British Jews were lining up to accuse left-wingers in the United Kingdom.
Authorities in the US have alleged that 46-year-old Robert Bowers burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and gunned down 11 people who were there for Shabbat – the Jewish sabbath, just before 9.54am (EDT) on Saturday, October 27. Six others were wounded.
Bowers was arrested after a short gunfight with police. He has been charged with 29 criminal offences, including 11 federal hate-crime charges. The 11 counts of using a firearm to kill carry a maximum penalty of death.
Other charges include obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, weapons offences and seriously injuring police officers. The FBI was investigating the shooting as a federal hate crime.
According to The Guardian, “The suspect appeared to have far-right views… Social media accounts in the name of Robert Bowers contained antisemitic rants.”
In the UK, someone apparently connected with those who have been accusing Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party of anti-Semitism used a sock-puppet Twitter account to launch a false-flag attack against Labour.
In response to a tweet by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing sorrow at the attack, this account tweeted: “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES.”
The person behind the tweet was an apparently-nonexistent entity calling itself Dean Brown (@DeanBrownLab), who was described by anti-Corbyn Twitter account ‘Left Over’ as “a former Labour Party staffer, is a @jeremycorbynsupporter and a member of both @UKLabour and @PeoplesMomentum”. No such person exists.
The account appeared to have been created to post the tweet, and bears similarity to another account – @WesBrownLab – that fooled Yvette Cooper last year. “Wesley Brown” self-described as “Special Adviser to RT. Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP” – but nobody of that name has ever worked for the Labour Party, let alone as an advisor to Mr Corbyn.
You can read the full details on the Skwawkbox blog. Notice that the accounts listed at the end of the ‘Left Over’ tweet belong to people (or groups of them) who have been regular features of the campaign to use false accusations of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn and his (genuine) supporters:
Saddeningly, left-wing comedy talent David Schneider joined in by attacking “the left’s and Labour’s failure on anti-semitism” – with reference to two tweets, neither of which could be said for sure to come from Left, or Labour, sources. He tweeted:
People who condemn All Lives Matter and their attempt to shut down Black Lives Matter but who, when it comes to Jews, tell me: “yeah but All Lives Matter”. Or who, like LibDem peer Jenny Tonge, blame Israel for the attack on American Jews. pic.twitter.com/Q7kFKWMm6U
Maybe I didn’t go far enough into his timeline to find out, but while I see plenty of socially-conscious retweets, I don’t see a lot of evidence that this person is a committed lefty, let alone a Labour supporter. I’m prepared to be contradicted on that one. As for the reference to a separate matter in a different country – well, we’ll come to that.
Jenny Tonge is, of course, a Liberal Democrat and therefore neither left-wing nor a member or supporter of the Labour Party.
Yet Mr Schneider tweeted:
At the core of the left’s and Labour's failure on anti-semitism is the inablilty to separate out Jews and Israel. Most anti-semitism on the left may be unwitting or due to ignorance but it is still anti-semitism. And it contributes to a mistrust of Jews that helps the far right.
(For clarity, Mr Schneider is wrong where he says anti-Semitism may be unwitting, and needs to clarify what he means by “due to ignorance”. Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews, because they are Jews – and people can’t hate unwittingly or because they don’t know what is considered to be hatred in this instance. Even the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism states that A-S only “may” be evidenced by apparent correlation with the examples it quotes.)
Here’s a left-wing response to the Pittsburgh synagogue killings:
The massacre of Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue is a sickening atrocity, an act of murderous hatred against all Jews. Thoughts and solidarity with Jews in Pittsburgh, the US and everywhere.
Angela Rayner is Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary:
'What disgusting human being thinks it’s ok to open fire on innocent people at a synagogue? My thoughts are with everyone hurt and affected by this vile despicable act of violence. https://t.co/WnTMywnbJV
All have given the dead and wounded of the Pittsburgh shooting the respect they deserve.
Guardian journalist Christina Patterson on sky news papers review said Jeremy Corbyn encourages antisemitism in the labour party when discussing the Pittsburgh shootings. One of the worst slanderous attacks i have heard by a journalist on tv against Corbyn. See it on SKWARKBOX
This is despite the fact that the man accused of the killings is said to be a neo-Nazi.
I mentioned David Schneider’s condemnation of people who linked the Pittsburgh incident with Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. He believed they were inappropriate, so I hope he will join with other right-thinking people in condemning the way Labour’s Chris Williamson was dogpiled by Twitter users for retweeting a link to a Skwawkbox article about the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews using apparently anti-Semitic language.
This completely separate story was linked with Pittsburgh by the dogpilers, for no reason other than that they broke on the same day. Here’s Mr Williamson’s tweet – the dogpiling starts immediately:
‘Left Over’ and the accounts mentioned in its tweet, the five UK journalists who linked the Pittsburgh killings with Jeremy Corbyn, Chris Williamson’s dogpilers and – sadly – David Schneider are all responsible for an anti-left, anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn-and-his-supporters smear that is all the more disgusting because of its context.
All should make public apologies immediately. Some should face disciplinary procedures for false reporting.
But we all know that’s not going to happen, don’t we?
Not while anti-Semitism is the one accusation people can make against political figures without any need for proof whatsoever.
I know far too much about such matters myself. I was accused of anti-Semitism by fake crusaders similar to those listed above, and suspended from the UK Labour Party, nearly 18 months ago. After a botched decision by the party’s National Executive Committee that heard no evidence from me, I will finally have a chance to state my innocence next month.
I am also appealing for people who support justice to help fund legal action against my accusers. If you are willing to help, please visit my JustGiving page and donate what you can.
The kindest cut? Martin Rowson hits several nails on the head (and potentially puts one head in a bucket) in this cartoon.
Philip Hammond used the last Budget before Brexit pretending to spray a load of policies up the wall because he knows none of it will matter after March 30, 2019.
He spent his entire speech talking twaddle like a toddler because he knew he could say anything he wanted in the knowledge that the economy will crash after the UK leaves the European Union.
That means he can cancel anything he likes and say, “Times have changed – we must move with the times.”
It’s transparent – and sickening.
The most revolting lie of his speech was the claim that “Austerity is over”. What absolute tripe!
If austerity is over, where is the restoration of public sector pay to the level it would have been, had pay restrictions not been imposed?
Where is the restoration of benefits that were cut by the Tories – and the cancellation of the Tory benefit freeze?
When will we see the more-than-20,000 police officers who were removed from our streets restored to active duty?
When will the hated Bedroom Tax, responsible for so many deaths, be cancelled?
Never – under the Conservatives!
His hogwash claim that the Tories had repaired the public finances is easily-provable gibberish because – if they had been repaired – the UK would be able to afford all the services and investments that have been cancelled over the last eight years. Where are our Sure Start centres? Where are our libraries? Where are our nurseries?
About the only promise you can expect Phil the Bleak to keep is cutting taxes – and there’s a very simple reason for that.
He said he was raising the personal tax allowance from April next year. For those on the lower rate it will rise to £12,500 a year, and for those on the higher rate, to £50,000 – right?
To pay taxes at the increased rates, those on the lower right would have to have increased their wages from £11,500 in April 2017 to £12,500 next year, and on the higher right from £33,501 to £50,000 in the same period.
Which do you think is more likely?
These are increases of around eight per cent for those on the lower rate, and 50 per cent for those on the higher. People earning more money pay more of it in tax, but this is designed to ensure that many of them are taken from the higher rate to the lower rate.
It’s a swindle designed to shrink the tax take – and therefore the state.
Universal Credit had been a source of considerable tension before the Budget announcement. Tory rebels had claimed they had secured an extra £1 billion for the hopeless (in every sense of the word) system.
Mr Hammond confirmed that he had allocated this much money to help people move to the new system – although he did not say how this would be achieved.
And he said he was increasing the amount people can earn before losing benefits by £1,000 a year, costing the Treasury £1.7 billion.
Gosh, that’s a lot – until you remember that the Conservatives have already announced £7 billion of benefit cuts that have not yet bitten, and the change to work allowances reverses only half the cuts made in 2015.
As for the other announcements: He said Brexit would not affect spending plans because he had assumed an “average-type free trade deal” between the UK and EU after Brexit, and had £4.2 billion in reserve in the case of a no-deal scenario.
But you can bet that this will not be enough to deal with the consequences of a Tory Brexit. They want harmful effects because they will then be able to justify harsh cuts to your rights and living standards.
About the only welcome announcement in the whole sorry mess was the decision to stop using hugely-wasteful Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes.
The commemorative pound coin for Brexit is actually only 50p. On one hand it represents the shrinking of sterling but looking if the bright side it’s a heck of a lot bigger than the Brexit dividend will ever be… pic.twitter.com/XgzHiJep2F
TalkRADIO on Twitter asked what words people would prefer to have on the coin. Comedian David Schneider responded: “How about “Nos mentiti sunt, futuae iam sumus” or “We were lied to, now we are f***ed”?”
Of course, some shrewd characters have noticed that the announcement has come on the day Chancellor Philip Hammond reveals his latest Budget – which is bound to be nothing more than a stop-gap measure until the end of March because leaving the EU is bound to change the economy radically and there’s no way Phil the Bleak will be ready for it.
Good advice, that. Sadly, around 13 million people regularly show that they do permit themselves to be insulted in this way – increasing to more than 17 million in the EU referendum of 2016 that put us all in this sill mess in the first place.
Mike Sivier (right) with the late, great Tony Benn.
It has taken more than 18 months but at last This Writer will be given the opportunity to explain why accusations of anti-Semitism, made against me by the Labour Party, are a lot of hysterical nonsense.
A disciplinary hearing involving a panel of National Constitutional Committee members will be held on November 13, at a venue in Mid Wales. The NCC was forced to come to me because I am a carer and must be near Mrs Mike, in line with the “reasonable adjustments” described in the Equality Act 2010.
Labour’s charge against me is that I have “repeatedly” posted articles on This Site that support the false claim that there is an “international conspiracy of Jews” that “control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions”.
Of course I have never suggested any such thing.
Those of you who follow the social media will note the irony of such a matter being discussed so soon after the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews was exposed as having made exactly such a suggestion herself.
The Jewish Chroniclequoted a source who said: “In what world do you use the words ‘Jewish community’ and ‘power’ in the same sentence?
“The community has spent months highlighting antisemitic tropes and then the President of the Board of Deputies herself says Jews have power which they learn how to use.
“I don’t know what’s worse — that this was a spur of the moment comment or that it was actually planned?”
I doubt Marie van der Zyl is a member of the Labour Party but look forward to seeing Labour refusing to deal with her on the grounds that she is an anti-Semite.
The charge against me is supported by seven “particulars” – the actual details on which the case will be judged – five of which have no relation to the stated accusation.
I can’t go into further details now.
But my case has already been discussed widely. Labour’s NEC already found me guilty, at a meeting to which I was not invited and based on false evidence that was leaked to a national newspaper after I refused to accept the verdict. Needless to say, several of the papers who published that story have been penalised after I complained to the press regulator, IPSO.
I relish the opportunity to set the record straight, once and for all.
Afterwards, I intend to take legal action – that’s court procedures, for those including the member of the Campaign Against Antisemitism who suggested I had been considering illegal action – against those people and organisations who have tarnished my good name with these smears for more than a year and a half.
I am not a rich man, so I have launched a crowdfunding scheme that appeals for supporters and members of the public to support my bid for justice with a donation – large or small, I don’t mind.
Homeless: A man living on the streets in Birmingham.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has appealed for MPs of all parties to vote down Philip Hammond’s Budget when he announces it tomorrow (October 29) – if it fails to stop Universal Credit forcing people into poverty.
Mr McDonnell’s words came on the day The Observer published a report exposing how Universal Credit is forcing people out of their homes.
“The rollout of universal credit and freezes to local housing allowance rates put even basic accommodation beyond the means of many. One shelter said universal credit was a factor in a third of its clients ending up in its care,” the report states.
“Last week, the Commons public accounts committee said universal credit was responsible for increased debt, rent arrears and food bank use.
“But it has also emerged that it is a significant contributor to both “invisible” homelessness – such as people “sofa-surfing” or living in emergency accommodation – and rough sleeping.”
It adds that Tory and DUP rebels threatening to force the government into a rethink over universal credit claimed that they had secured a £1bn injection for the programme.
Several Conservatives have spoken out over the scandal of Universal Credit, but it is worth remembering that there are NO Tory rebels. Conservatives always fall back into line, claiming they have secured the means to solve crises – and once they have voted for the government, the promised measures magically disappear.
Asked about the issue on the BBC’s Marr Show, Mr Hammond said he had used previous Budgets to put money into the project, adding: “When we see things that need addressing, we address them.”
Mr McDonnell was not impressed. Speaking before the Hammond interview, he told Andrew Marr:
I am calling on other parties and members of other parties in Parliament to vote down the budget if the Chancellor refuses to halt the roll out of universal credit pic.twitter.com/oIo4xb9zev
Other commentators pointed out that Mr Hammond didn’t seem to understand how Universal Credit works, who it affects or how it affects them. He seemed to think it only affects people who are out of work, and said he hoped they would not be worse off with the benefit.
We don't need the chancellor to 'hope' people won't be worse off under Universal Credit. We need him to know for sure.
More than 35,000 families have turned to “baby banks” – charities that work in the same way as food banks – to feed and clothe their children. Users include “families affected by the Universal Credit fiasco”.
More than 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty, including seven million in “persistent” poverty that has lasted more than four years. A further 2.5 million are in danger of falling below the poverty line.
Children are now routinely rooting through bins in search of clothes and supplies for their families, while Universal Credit has left some people suicidal and forced others into sex work.
A report by Citizens Advice has shown that Universal Credit renders disabled people £300 a month worse-off. That’s a loss of £3,600 per year.
Even people with terminal cancer are being forced to wait five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment, putting them at risk of hardship, stress and anxiety at a time in their lives when they should be making peace with themselves.
But the Department for Work and Pensions, which runs the system, has developed a “culture of denial” over its failings, it has been claimed. Needless to say, the DWP has denied the allegation.
You can read much more about the Universal Credit disaster in this article by Another Angry Voice.
Labour has made 10 “emergency demands” for measures Mr Hammond should include in his Budget, if he is serious about helping people who have been locked into the nightmare of a Universal Credit claim. I reproduce them in full below:
1. Cut the five-week wait
People having to wait five weeks for their entire payment is unprecedented in social security. For comparison, the target wait for Jobseekers Allowance is 10-14 working days
The excessive waiting period is causing severe poverty, food bank use, rent arrears and even homelessness
The Conservatives assume that people can survive off savings in the meantime. In fact, families in the UK are more likely to be in debt than have savings and savings are at their lowest level since 1963
Low-income families are less likely than average to be able to cope with gaps in their finances: researchers at Policy in Practice have found eight in 10 households due to receive UC have savings below £100
Policy in Practice has estimated it would require one-off spending of £2.7bn spread over four years to get the waiting period down to 21 days
2. Remove the insistence on making and managing a claim online
The government insists that claimants must make a Universal Credit claim online. This is a problem for those who do not have internet access or lack computer skills
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, nearly half of claimants need help to make a new claim online. One in three (29%) claims to Universal Credit are closed and not paid within the complicated system that people find hard to navigate.
The government claims that Universal Support can help people use a computer for their claim. In reality, the funding doesn’t even cover the costs of proving support
According to the National Audit Office, providers themselves say Universal Support doesn’t meet people’s needs and they have insufficient time to assist people
There have been 91 JobCentre closures in England alone and, across the UK, 1-in-6 JobCentres have closed
The government should staff JobCentres sufficiently and provide more funding for support
People should be able to choose to make a written claim
3. End counter-productive sanctions (e.g. requiring people to demonstrate in an online journal that they are spending 35 hours a week looking for work)
There is no evidence that sanctions are effective at helping people into sustainable employment
A major study led by the University of York found that sanctions are pushing people into destitution, survival crime and ill health
Further, benefit fraud accounts for just 1.2% of total benefits payments
In 2016, the Department for Work and Pensions estimated it spends more than £240m a year administering the sanctions regime, the majority of which is estimated to be spent on administering conditions (around £200m)
The NAO estimates DWP withheld £132m from claimants due to sanctions in 2015, and paid them £35m in hardship payments. The overall impact of sanctions on wider public spending, such as homelessness and ill health, is unknown
4. Protect domestic abuse sufferers and allow families to split their UC payments
Universal Credit makes one payment to a household
It has been estimated that in 80% of cases the payment will be paid to the male partner
This can be problematic and harmful if domestic abuse exists in a relationship and one partner exercises coercive control over their partner
Women’s Aid reports that survivors say that abusers will exploit single household payments. Yet applying for split payments can be dangerous, so many partners will not request a split
The government only allows couples to request split payments in “exceptional” circumstances
Domestic abuse survivors say there is a strong case for splitting UC couple payments more routinely or even by default. The Scottish government has passed legislation that requires split payments by default
The government must remove the rule that split payments can only be made in “exceptional” circumstances. As a minimum, it should not require onerous evidence and it should monitor outcomes in Scotland
5. Protect families from homelessness and give tenants the right to have their housing costs paid directly to their landlord
Universal Credit pays people’s housing costs to the tenant, instead of directly to their landlord
Many tenants prefer this arrangement as it allows them to manage their finances. But for some people this can be problematic.
Vulnerable people, who should be on alternative payment arrangements but are not, are getting into arrears and put at risk of homelessness
Tenants should be able to choose to have their UC housing element paid directly to their landlord without supporting evidence or the need to have been in two-months of rent arrears
6. Reverse cuts to disabled people
Universal Credit abolishes both severe and enhanced disability premiums (the SDP is worth £64.30 a week for a single person and £128.60 a week for a couple, the EDP is worth £16.40 a week for a single person and £23.55 a week for a couple)
Disability groups have warned that the Tories’ cruel cuts to disability benefit in UC are likely to result in them struggling to pay for basic essentials such as food and heating
People in receipt of SDP currently will get Transitional Protection under Managed Migration, however this protection is lost if, for example, couples split up or get together
7. Reverse the cuts to children: reinstate the family element and get rid of the two-child limit
This measure limits the child element of Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit to 2 children or children born on or after 6 April 2017. It also limits the child element in Universal Credit to the first 2 children for new claims after this date
The two-child limit is an attack on low-income families, is morally wrong and risks pushing children into poverty.
It cannot be right that the Government is making children a target for austerity, treating one child as if they matter less than another
The Government estimated that this would save £1.2bn in 2019/20
This measure removes the family element of Child Tax Credit and the Universal Credit equivalent, for first children born on or after 6 April 2017
It also removes the family premium in housing benefit, which is an income allowance for families with children.
The Government estimated that this would save£540m in 2019/20
8. Support people on fluctuating incomes
The way that someone’s Universal Credit is calculated fails to take account properly of fluctuating incomes that are a basic fact of life for many people on low income who are self-employed or in insecure work such as zero-hour contracts
As a result, self-employed people can find that their entitlement to Universal Credit in the course of a year is lower than someone who is employed even though both have the same annual income
Self-employed people are assessed monthly for Universal Credit like everyone else, but reporting earnings every month can be onerous for the self-employed as they have to provide information on receipts, minus income tax, National Insurance, permitted expenses and pension contributions qualifying for tax relief
This flaw also affects people who are employed so that even someone who is just paid twice in a month because their pay day falls near the end of the month can lose their Universal Credit for that month
Self-employed people should be allowed to report their income annually, not monthly. The government must ensure that Universal Credit takes proper account of fluctuating incomes.
9. Restore work allowances
The work allowance is the amount that claimants can earn before their Universal Credit payment is affected
Cuts to work allowances have made working families on universal credit worse off
The cuts damage financial work incentives, directly contradicting the policy’s stated agenda of making work pay
According to Child Poverty Action Group, work allowance cuts have the greatest impact in cash terms on households in the second and third deciles (the ‘just about managing’ group)
Cuts to work allowances have undermined gains from increases in the National Living Wage, personal tax allowances and help for childcare
The cut announced in the Sumer Budget 2015 is set to save £2.9bn in 2019/20
10. End the freeze on social security
The government froze working-age benefits for four years from 2016
These are: Child Benefit, Universal Credit, (non-disability) Tax Credits, Housing Benefit limits, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance (except the Support group Component)
It means that no matter what the rate of inflation is, benefits were not increased in April 2016, 2017 and 2018, nor will they be in 2019
Inflation has actually been higher than expected – CPI reached 3% in September 2017 – because of the Brexit vote and consequent price increases
According to the Resolution Foundation, the real cut to many benefits from the four-year freeze is over 6%. Its figures show that the freeze will have reduced working-age household incomes by almost £5 billion in 2019-20
The Resolution Foundation calculates that £1.6 billion will be saved from the freeze from April 2019
Universal Credit is not the only reason people have to be angry about Mr Hammond’s budget. Consider Mr McDonnell’s comments about other burning issues, also to Sophy Ridge:
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