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Labour challenges Johnson government to ‘Build it in Britain’ creating 400,000 new jobs

 

How pleasant to be able to report on something positive the Labour Party is doing.

The ‘green economic recovery’ was a Corbyn initiative, of course.

Ahead of this month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Labour is calling for an economic recovery that will deliver high-skilled jobs in every part of the UK as part of the drive towards a clean economy. It is also calling for the low-carbon infrastructure of the future to be built in Britain.

Labour’s calls follow an extensive consultation with businesses, trade unions and other stakeholders around what a credible green recovery should look like, which received almost 2,000 responses. The consultation indicated that the Government must:

  • Recover Jobs
    By bringing forward planned capital investment and dedicating it to low-carbon sectors – at least £30billion in the next 18 months – as part of a rapid stimulus package to support up to an estimated 400,000 additional jobs.
  • Retrain Workers
    By putting in place an emergency training programme to equip people affected by the unemployment crisis with the skills they need for the future greener economy.
  • Rebuild business
    By creating a National Investment Bank similar to those operating in other countries, focused on green investment, and by ensuring that public investment always aids the drive to net-zero rather than hindering it.

The consultation report details a number of areas where progress has so far been limited in the UK, but where action now would support the creation of new jobs and tackle the climate and environmental crisis. They include:

  • Investing in upgrading ports and shipyards for offshore wind supply chains.
  • Expanding investment in Carbon Capture and Storage and hydrogen to help establish new opportunities for highly-skilled workers.
  • Accelerating planned investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and ensuring the planning system better supports electric vehicle charging.
  • Bringing forward orders for electric buses to help struggling manufacturers fill their order books.
  • Introducing a National Nature Service, an employment programme to focus on nature conservation projects.
  • Expanding energy efficiency and retrofit programmes, including in social housing.
  • Ensuring that updated Sector Deals for sectors like automotive, steel and aerospace protect jobs and promote the shift to net zero.
  • Bringing forward flooding protection investment, prioritising areas of need across the North West, Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

These should be delivered within a wider strategy that also meets the UK’s overall infrastructure needs at the upcoming Spending Review.

Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said:

“We face a jobs emergency and a climate emergency. It’s time for a bold and ambitious plan to deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs which can also tackle the climate crisis.

“This is the right thing to do for so many people who are facing unemployment, the right thing to do for our economy to get a lead in the industries of the future and the right thing to do to build a better quality of life for people in our country.

“As other countries lead the way with a green recovery, Britain is hesitating. It’s time to end the dither and inaction, and start delivering now.  It is what the British people deserve and what the crises we face demand.”

Anneliese Dodds MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“Labour is ambitious for Britain. We can harness the opportunities for green growth if the Government takes the right decisions now.

“In recent years, and particularly during this crisis, our country has fallen behind in the drive to a cleaner, greener economy.  We’ve seen far more rhetoric than action – and that has cost our country jobs.

“Future generations will judge us by the choices we make today to tackle the unemployment crisis and face up to the realities of the climate emergency.

“That’s why we need coordinated action to support 400,000 jobs of the future today, not tomorrow. Now’s the time to build it in Britain.”

Source: Labour challenges government to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support 400,000 new jobs with green economic recovery – The Labour Party

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#LevellingUp or #ToryCorruption ? Serco-employed test and trace managers take £1.5m per year

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he refers to it constantly as “NHS test and trace” in the hope that people will blame the nationalised health service that has nothing to do with it.

The Serco Test and Trace scandal gets worse and worse; it has just been revealed that some employees receive £7,360 per day to pretend to find people with Covid-19 and trace their contacts.

That’s the equivalent of £1.5 million a year. These are people from companies with strong connections to the Conservative government, that won their contracts via an emergency system which avoids the normal tendering process.

And it has already been established that most contact tracing personnel spend their time playing computer games because they are not being given work to do.

City AM says,

Sky, citing leaked documents, reported that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has paid BCG around £10m. That was for a team of 40 consultants to work for four months on test and trace.

BCG’s “day rates” for public sector work – which determine the cost of its service – range from £2,400 to £7,360 for its most senior employees.

The report said BCG is giving the government a 10 to 15 per cent discount. Although this would still equate to day rates equivalent to around £1.5m a year.

BCG declined to comment.

Sky also said that 165 more consultants had been hired to work on test and trace. They include 84 from Deloitte, 31 from EY and 50 from KPMG.

So much for Boris Johnson’s claim that he was “levelling up” the UK. Tory friends are being paid millions in public money while those who desperately need it are being starved.

While ministerial salaries are being frozen, all MPs are getting a pay rise of £3,300 per year – equivalent to around two-thirds of the current annual rate of Universal Credit for an adult aged over 25.

The lowest MP salary will be £85,291 per year. Compare that with nurses on £24,000. Who does the more important job?

What about care workers, who receive an excruciatingly-low £18,553 per year. Who does the more important job?

The Durham-based family of Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings have been excused from paying £30,000 in backdated council tax on houses they built without planning permission 18 years ago – while child poverty in the Durham North constituency has rocketed by nine per cent – to total one-third of all children living there – in the last four years… after housing costs were taken into account,

The social media are seething with discontent:

I think the following three tweets put the current situation in a nutshell, using the current northern lockdown as an example of Tory corruption at its worst. First, let’s set the scene:

Now we can go into details with this excellent speech by Labour MP Dan Carden:

Lastly, let’s remember that there was an alternative – but people were steered away from it by liars in the mainstream media who shilled for the corrupt Tories instead. Now what, do you think, encouraged them to do that?

Source: Government paying test and trace consultants equivalent of £1.5m salary : CityAM

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Number of disabled motorists falls by 80,000 in two years

Your opinions are requested.

1.26 million now receive a disability exemption from vehicle tax, compared to 1.35 million in 2015

The number of disabled motorists has fallen by nearly 80,000 in two years. Figures show a 6 per cent drop in disabled people receiving an exemption from vehicle tax since 2015, with 1.267 million people now registered.

While there is no evidence that any one cause is behind the drop, the figures prompted fresh criticism of Government reforms to disability benefits. The data, from the Motability charity, echo other statistics that show a fall in people being eligible to claim personal independence payments (PIP). 59,000 disabled motorists have lost their eligibility for an adapted vehicle since the switch from disability living allowance (DLA) to PIP in 2013.

Figures released after a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Peter Dowd show 1,266,523 disabled people received an exemption from vehicle tax as of February this year, compared to 1,345,446 in February 2015. People can claim the exemption if they receive the higher rate of the mobility component of either PIP or DLA, or specific benefits for injured armed forces veterans.

Read more: Number of disabled motorists falls 80,000 in two years


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How many MPs really stuck to their pay rise charity pledge?

[Image: The Sun (and I never thought I’d be typing that into a Vox Political caption!)]

Pro-SNP commenters to Vox Political have queried the claim that only 26 out of the UK’s 650 MPs have donated their £7,000 pay rise to charity, after 69 promised to do so.

They have claimed that all 56 SNP MPs have handed over the difference between MPs’ pay before the pay rise and the current rate to charity.

So let’s try to straighten the record. The report in The Sun states the following:

According to campaign website Donate My Pay Rise, 20 Tories, 30 Labour members, three Lib Dems, 15 from the SNP and one Green had all pledged to help good causes.

But only 25 confirmed to us they had donated or were currently preparing to do so.

However, one MP who had not made the pledge, confirmed he had donated his pay rise.

Dozens on both sides of the House refused to say if they had given it away or pocketed it themselves.

Not a single SNP MP who publicly pledged to donate the money to worthy local causes responded to questions from The Sun.

Source: MPs go back on pay rise charity pledge | The Sun |News|Politics

Now, it’s possible that the SNP’s Westminster contingent have refused to discuss the matter with The Sun on principle, as it is a right-wing, Tory-loving excuse for a newspaper that wasn’t worth wrapping around your chips when you were still allowed to do that.

But the fact that only 15 SNP MPs appear to have made the pledge, according to the campaigning site Donate My Pay Rise, plays very poorly for the Party.

News reports do state that the Party’s leadership ordered SNP MPs to donate the pay increase to charity. But Donate My Pay Rise, which quotes Angus Robertson from the article to which I’ve linked, only attributes the comment to him personally and not the Parliamentary Party as a whole. It is, in fairness, a comment that could be interpreted either way.

For the sake of fairness, This Blog will have to side with the evidence available. For now, that means The Sun and Donate My Pay Rise.

However:

If all 56 SNP MPs really have passed this money on to charity, perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is to contact Donate My Pay Rise, explain that Mr Robertson’s comment extended to the entire Parliamentary Party, and provide proof that the money has indeed been passed to charity at some point prior to the publication of the Sun article on October 31.

That seems the most reasonable solution to this question.

However (again): Even with all 56 SNP MPs contributing their shares of the pay rise to charity, that makes a total of just 81 MPs contributing out of 650, leaving a “silent majority” (Tory Tobias Ellwood’s words, not mine) of 569 pocketing the cash.

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Labour’s tuition fees cut

Here it is – Labour’s much-anticipated announcement on its plans for tuition fees:

150227labourtuitionfees

For some of you, this won’t be enough. “Labour introduced tuition fees,” you’ll no doubt be saying. “Labour should be getting rid of them altogether.

Clearly the money for that isn’t known to be available at the moment. This is part of a costed plan for all government services, remember.

It’s a step in the right direction, and it will help.

The Conservatives have nothing like it, nor do the Liberal Democrats (it would be hypocritical). UKIP would scrap tuition fees for people from poorer backgrounds, subjecting them to demeaning means-testing, no doubt. Plaid Cymru seeks the abolition of fees when the public finances allow it; the SNP would continue to pay tuition fees itself. And the Greens would abolish them altogether – but have not said where they will find the money to do so.

This is being trailed as a big move for Labour.

Is it?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Coalition policy success: 80,000 children homeless for Christmas

shame

Tory politicians don’t care and Liberal Democrats don’t have any power – that’s why 80,000 children are being housed in temporary accommodation, alongside drug users and enduring threats of violence, as reported by Shelter today.

The government’s own figures show 2,090 families living in bed and breakfasts – an increase of eight per cent on 2012 and the largest number in 10 years, according to The Guardian. Of these, 760 have been living in B&Bs longer than the legal six-week limit – a 10 per cent increase on last year.

More than 43,000 other homeless households with children are in other emergency accommodation – usually privately-rented short-term flats, which are expensive. This is an increase of nine per cent on last year.

To put this into context, a Labour government commitment to halve the number of families in this kind of emergency accommodation meant the total fell between 2005 and 2010 – but it has been rising again since June 2011.

This is a human disaster created by the Coalition government.

Most families interviewed by the charity said they felt unsafe, with one child directly threatened by a man after an argument over a shared bathroom. Almost half said their children had witnessed incidents such as sexual offences, drug use and dealing.

One mother of three said: “One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine.”

Most of the 25 families Shelter interviewed lived in one room; half said the children were sharing beds with parents or siblings and the family was sharing kitchen facilities with others. All but three said it was hard to find a safe place for their children to play. Three families had no cooking facilities and one reported sharing a cooker and fridge with 22 other people.

More than half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, with 10 families sharing with seven or more other people; two-thirds had no table to eat on, and schoolchildren were finding it hard to do homework.

And their health is suffering: “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here, let alone a Christmas dinner. He’s getting really pale and is so tired all the time. He gets so scared but it’s difficult when I’m scared myself. This is no place for a child to live,” said a mother in a Hounslow B&B.

“This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, who described the charity’s findings as “shocking” and the conditions forced on families as “shameful”.

He said: “No child should be homeless, let alone 80,000. But tragically, with more people struggling to make ends meet and homelessness on the rise, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.”

Housing minister Kris Hopkins couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed.

“I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”

Let us be very clear on this: the problem is not that Tories like Hopkins don’t understand. This is exactly the result that they wanted; they just won’t acknowledge it because it is electorally damaging.

Look at the policies that created this problem: The bedroom tax; the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’, otherwise known as the Council Tax reduction scheme; the benefit cap that so many people in this country seem to support without understanding any of its implications.

Vox Political reported back in January what they would mean: “There will be a rise in rent and mortgage arrears… affordable housing will be less available and landlords less able or willing to rent to tenants on benefits… Private sector rental may become less attractive to landlords if tenants aren’t paying the rent. This will lead to a growth in homelessness. Councils have statutory duties and may see an increasing burden.”

But increases to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund have been entirely insignificant compared with the extra burden councils have faced. They received £150 million between them; Durham County Council had £883,000 and spent it all within eight weeks.

We have seen the start of the social cleansing predicted by this blog back in August 2012, when we noted that at least one council would use these measures to “clear out the poor and set up shop as a desirable residence for the rich”.

The housing bubble created by George Osborne with his ‘Help To Buy’ scheme will accelerate this process.

So don’t let a Tory tell you it’s nothing to do with them. They wanted this. In fact, 80,000 homeless children at Christmas is probably not enough for them.

Iain Duncan Smith: Big on belief – lacking in truth

Strong beliefs: But is Iain Duncan Smith about to say a prayer - or is he eyeing up his next victim?

Strong beliefs: But is Iain Duncan Smith about to say a prayer, or eyeing up his next victim?

I believe that Chris Huhne really wasn’t a crook
I believe Britannia Unchained is a readable book
I’m prepared to believe that the government isn’t leaking
And that Boris Johnson sometimes thinks before speaking
Yes I believe J Hunt is clever
Norman Tebbit will live forever
And that GM foods will make us healthier
And there were WMDs out in the desert.

I believe that Cameron means what he says.
And that Michael Gove got good ‘O’ Level grades.
And I believe our courts are great;
That the NHS is safe:
And the economy’s professionally-run…
And that George Osborne knows how to do his sums.

And I believe that the Devil is ready to repent
But I don’t believe IDS should be in government.
(With apologies to Rowan Atkinson)

Early to bed and early to rise… means you have a chance to hear the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions put his foot down his own throat on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Needless to say, I missed it. It’s a shame, because the letter of complaint I was to write to Andrew Dilnot of the UK Statistics Authority would have been slightly different if I had.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

In yesterday’s article, I mentioned the need to query a claim attributed by the BBC News website to the Department for Work and Pensions. True to my word, I wrote – and sent – the following:

A report on the BBC website has stated, ‘More than 12,000 people have moved into work after being told about the benefits cap, the government says.’

“It continues: ‘The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said that 12,000 claimants have found jobs over the last year, after being contacted by job centres. The job centres warned them they might have their benefits capped if they did not find employment.’

“I am writing to ask you to investigate this claim, as I believe it may have its origins in a previous statement that you have already shown to be false – relating to a claim that 8,000 people had found jobs because of the benefit cap.”

I went on to quote Andrew Dilnot’s letter containing his verdict on the ‘8,000’ claim – that it was “unsupported by the official statistics” in two documents, one of which “explicitly” stated that the figures were “‘not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact’”, while the other noted “Once policy changes and methodological improvements have been accounted for, this figure has been no behavioural change.’”

I also drew attention to the comments made by John Shield, the DWP’s Director of Communications, at a meeting with the Commons Work and Pensions Committee last Wednesday (July 10) when he seemed to be saying that Mr… Smith ignored his officers’ advice and went ahead with a false statement.

I now dearly wish I had known about the part of the Today interview in which Mr… Smith discussed his own opinion of the affair.

The Huffington Post reported it as follows: “Challenged over the fact his statement was not supported by officials statistics published by his own department, Duncan Smith said: ‘Yes, but by the way, you can’t disprove what I said either.'” We’ll come back to that in a moment!

“‘I believe this to be right, I believe that we are already seeing people going back to work who were not going to go back to work,’ he said.

“‘I believe that this will show, as we move forward ,that people who were not seeking work are now seeking work.'”

“The work and pension’s secretary was mocked by Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Anne McGuire, who tweeted that ‘I believe’ was ‘a substitute for facts in IDS world’.”

Well, maybe his Roman Catholic upbringing makes him a creature of strong beliefs.

Unfortunately, his beliefs don’t hold a candle to the facts – and yes, we can disprove what he said!

The blog alittleecon takes up the story: “Ipsos Mori undertook telephone interviews with 500 of the 8,000 people who had found work since the announcement of the benefit cap to try to show that people had been motivated by the cap to find work.

“The problem is that they did not find that. Remember, IDS originally tried to claim that all 8,000 had moved into work because of the benefit cap. The survey found though that 15% of them hadn’t even heard of the benefit cap, and another 31% only knew a little about it. Only 57% remembered being informed that the cap would affect them, and of these, 71% were already looking for work.

“About half of those who remembered getting a letter about the cap took action afterwards. For 31%, this meant looking for work (although half of these were already looking). This means of the 500 surveyed, only around 45 people started looking for work because of the cap that weren’t doing so before. 45!!

“Looking at the results then, and if we assume the survey was representative of all 8,000 people, far from being able to say all 8,000 found work as a direct result of the cap, the best that can be said in reality is that about 720 people started looking for work and found it after hearing of the cap that weren’t looking before. Not a particularly impressive behavioural change.”

There can be no doubt about this. Ipsos Mori is a reputable polling agency and its figures are trustworthy.

It doesn’t matter what Iain Duncan Smith believes, his figures were wrong – plainly wrong.

He has no business peddling them around the TV and radio studios as though they’re set in stone.

He has no business mentioning them at all.

And, if he is determined to keep pushing his falsehoods on us, claiming they aren’t lies because he believes in them, then he has no business being a Cabinet Minister.