The news in brief: Vox Political’s morning round-up for June 1, 2023

Paul Whitehouse, Lee Mack and Steve Coogan at Lake Windermere: here are three protesters who would be criminalised by Suella Braverman for causing “more than minor” disruption to other people’s day-to-day activities.

Right to protest: UK politicians urged to ‘do the right thing’

Peter Stefanovic’s emotional video clip demands that members of all Opposition parties in the House of Lords support Jenny Jones’s ‘fatal motion’ and kill Suella Braverman’s bid to stifle everybody’s right to protest with an undemocratic ‘Ministerial decree’. Let’s give him a moment to explain it:

Government hasn’t spoken to strikers since January

The general secretary of rail union ASLEF says the government hasn’t spoken to its representatives in almost five months because the Tories aren’t interested in ending strike action on the railways:

43 MPs throw support behind justice for WASPI women

From the i:

So far 43 MPs have written to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), calling for a speedy conclusion to its review of how much damage was caused by the way the pension age changes were communicated to women born in the 50s, and for fair compensation.

Among the 43 MPs are Ranil Jayawardena of the Conservatives, former leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, former Labour Party chair Ian Lavery and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

The PHSO could recommend compensation anywhere from £100 to £10,000 or more per person.

Women born in the 50s claim they were not given enough notice that their state pension age would rise from 60 to 65, in line with men. It then moved to 66 for both sexes.

Many women retired early or made life-changing decisions based on getting their pension at 60. The ramifications of the policy change and lack of notice has left them in emotional and financial distress, they say.

Their plight is under review by the PHSO, which has already found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guilty of maladministration for failing to sufficiently inform the women about the state pension age changes.

Though the PHSO maintains its investigation is fair and impartial, it decided to take another look at its findings after recognising part of the report was legally flawed. This move has raised hopes of a higher compensation award, although it is not guaranteed.

As Waspi awaits the results of the review, which could come before summer, it is urging supporters to contact their MP to put pressure on the PHSO to “complete the investigation with a sense of urgency” and make “fair” recommendations for compensation.

Latest Universal Credit change will leave parents worse-off

From The Canary:

BBC News reported that the DWP will be rolling out a change to the amount it pays in childcare costs to parents/guardians. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced it in his Spring Budget. Until now, the department has paid £646 a month, per kid, towards childcare costs under Universal Credit. Now, as BBC News wrote:

The government will allow parents on the benefit to claim back £951 for childcare costs for one and £1,630 for two or more children – a 47% increase.

Universal Credit’s increase in childcare costs payments is still nonsense.

The cost of childcare is huge:

  • For full-time childcare, the average cost is £285 a week.
  • For part-time, it’s £148 a week.

The DWP’s £951 maximum for one child is per Universal Credit assessment period. That’s usually a calendar month – running from the same date one month to the next. So, on that basis the department would pay, at the most, £219 a week.

This is £66, or 23%, short of the average costs. Meanwhile, in 2022 parents were already paying out up to two-thirds of their wages on childcare.

DWP secretary of state Mel Stride has trumpeted about the news. Stride said: “These changes will help thousands of parents progress their career without compromising the quality of the care that their children receive. By helping more parents to re-enter and progress in work, we will be able to cut inactivity and help grow the economy.”

Stride’s claim of the DWP ‘helping parents re-enter’ work is based on parents effectively being worse off in work.

Labour policy pledges need a 3p income tax rise

From the i:

Labour’s policy pledges so far would cost the equivalent of a 3p rise in income tax, i analysis reveals.

Sir Keir Starmer has promised not to borrow for day-to-day spending, and to bring down the size of the overall public debt pile as a percentage of GDP.

Analysis by i suggests that Labour’s policies will require an additional £20bn of funding every year – the equivalent of raising the basic rate of income tax by more than 3p – beyond that already promised through small tax increases such as imposing VAT on private school fees and ending non-domiciled tax status.

Labour’s biggest recurring spending commitment is to extend free childcare to all children aged 11 and under, promised by shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson earlier this year. The IPPR think-tank estimates the cost at almost £18bn, although taking into account the Government’s own childcare plans announced at the last Budget the net cost would be more like £13.6bn. The party said that an expansion of childcare to all children is not its current policy despite Ms Phillipson’s promise.

The pledge to increase the foreign aid spending target to 0.7 per cent of GDP, after Rishi Sunak cut it to 0.5 per cent, would cost around £5.5bn; party sources say this will only be implemented when it is affordable to do so. Labour has promised to set up a £1bn “contingency fund” for the energy industry, and would also have to spend around £1.7bn on GPs’ salaries if it went through with plans by shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting to nationalise the network of family doctors in England – something which the party now says it will not do.

Other current spending commitments which would total less than £1bn each include increasing the number of mental health workers, recruiting more police officers and setting up breakfast clubs in every primary school.

There’s a lot in the i‘s list that Labour now says it won’t do. Doesn’t this suggest that Keir Starmer is really planning just a continuation of the current neoliberal Conservatism that is pushing the UK further towards ruin every day?

Also, considering the Tories gave £800 billion to very rich people for no very good reason, This Writer can’t see why Labour couldn’t produce £20 billion from the same place, and then tax the rich to keep the books in balance and prevent any inflation.

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