Tag Archives: adequate

United Nations warns UK could be breaking international law over cladding

The cladding at Grenfell Tower explained: The materials used were flammable – not flame-resistant.

What do you think the Conservative government will do about this, considering it is now three years since the Grenfell disaster and the Tories haven’t lifted a finger to replace flammable cladding on thousands of other tower blocks?

This Writer is willing to bet we’ll hear a load of flannel about the UN not doing its job properly – or misinterpreting its role in some way, and some minister – probably Robert Jenrick – will make some sabre-rattling suggestion that it should keep its foreign nose out.

You know how it would be – like the Tories did when the UN accused this country of institutional abuse of people with disabilities.

The last thing the Tories want to do is spend money on poor people who are living in firetraps.

The UN has warned Britain that its failure to strip combustible cladding from high-rise buildings containing tens of thousands homes may be a breach of international law.

The global body is demanding answers about the UK government’s delayed programme to fix hundreds of blocks wrapped in flammable panels and with other fire safety problems.

Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, wrote to the government to express “serious concern about allegations of multiple violations of the human right to adequate housing, of which safety is a key component – contrary to international human rights law”.

Source: UK could be breaking international law over cladding, says UN | Society | The Guardian

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The minimum income is 2.5 times what people get on benefits – but still they are labelled scroungers

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The numbers speak for themselves: Under ‘Adequacy of safety-net benefits’, EVERY SINGLE INCOME GROUP has lost out. While others have suffered a great percentage drop, single working-age people remain the least able to make ends meet.

“How much money do you need for an adequate standard of living?”

That is the question posed every year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – and every year the organisation calculates how much people have to earn – taking into account their family circumstances, the changing cost of these essentials and changes to the tax and benefit system – to reach this benchmark.

This year’s research finds:

A lone parent with one child now needs to earn more than £27,100 per year – up from £12,000 in 2008. A couple with two children need to earn more than £20,200 each, compared to £13,900 each in 2008. Single working-age people must now earn more than £16,200, up from £13,500 in 2008;

Despite social and economic change, the list of goods and services different families need to live to an adequate level is very similar to that of the original study in 2008 – but people’s ability to afford them has declined. Overall the cost of a basket of essential items has risen by a massive 28 per cent over six years – much higher than the 19 per cent rise claimed by the official Consumer Price Index – while average wages have increased by just nine per cent and the minimum wage 14 per cent;

Increased tax allowances have eased the pressure somewhat for some households, but the freeze to child benefit and ongoing cuts in tax credits have outweighed this for low-earning families with children.

Out-of-work benefits have fallen further and now provide just 39 per cent of what single, working-age people need to reach a Minimum Income Standard.

On the other hand, pensioner couples who claim all their allowances receive 95 per cent of the amount required.

The bottom line is that the Conservative-led government has been hammering the working poor and people on benefits, while claiming to be helping them. The minimum income necessary for an adequate living standard, according to JRF research, is no less than two-and-a-half-times what people on benefits receive. That is an appalling disparity in the sixth-richest country in the world.

It also creates a danger that more people will look to loan suppliers like the government’s favourite (Wonga) for short-term help – at the cost of going into disastrous long-term debt.

Slow earnings growth and price increases have made all households worse off on average, relative to the MIS, the report has found.

The conclusion is a disaster for the Coalition’s “hardworking” people: “In the past six years the more important determinants of whether low-income households can afford the minimum budget have been the increasing cost of living relative to earnings and benefit cuts for households in and out of work.

“For working families with children, if these cuts continue, the opportunity to reach an acceptable living standard may not improve, even as wages start rising again in real terms.”

And the Conservatives have the cheek to use the slogan “For hardworking people”.

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Iain Duncan Smith – the Musical!

When he realises we’ve started making satirical music videos about him, Iain Duncan Smith will probably think he’s hit the big time.

Sad, deluded little man.

This is a project that has been developing for a while, after RTU himself went around the media, denying all the factual evidence that said his benefit cap had not put 12,000 people into work, as he was then claiming.

(A previous claim that 8,000 had gone into employment to avoid the effect of the benefit cap had been disproved by polling organisation Ipsos Mori, who surveyed 500 of those 8,000 people and found that only 45 had started work because of the cap. That’s nine per cent of the total claimed by the Secretary-in-a-State).

On this particular media junket, he refused to countenance the factual evidence that was put in front of him, saying he “believed” the anecdotal evidence provided to him by a few members of staff at Job Centre Plus.

That is now worthy of comment in itself, as he has been quick to dismiss the findings of the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, as “anecdotal” – and she has spoken to far more people than he did!

Inevitably, Vox Political published an article on the subject and – because the SoS had made it a matter of belief, prefaced the story with a few verses that could be sung to the old Not The Nine o’clock News/Rowan Atkinson song ‘I Believe‘.

That would have been the end of it – but then it became clear that Mr … Smith was delaying a meeting with the Commons Work and Pensions committee, convened to make him account for his manipulation of the statistics.

It seems clear that he has been waiting for the fuss to die down.

Dear reader, you can probably work out the rest for yourself. The lyrics and music were available and, with the addition of a few more words, Vox Political went into the recording studio.

The audio track that resulted is rudimentary but does the job. Yes, that is Vox founder Mike Sivier’s voice, for which he apologises. He played all the instruments as well, so he supposes he should be doubly apologetic.

The video was put together with photographs trawled from the Internet, interspersed with specially-written captions, and is intended only to give YouTube viewers something visual to enjoy while they’re listening to the song. All the images are copyright their respective creators and were freely stolen for humorous use – for which, again, we apologise.

We think the result is a lot of fun – amateurish, haphazard and slapdash though it is.

It gets the point across.

Please feel free to copy the code and embed the YouTube video anywhere you see fit. This was made to be seen, to be enjoyed, and to get across a message about Iain Duncan Smith and his beliefs.

We hope you all enjoy it!

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An inspector calls: Can YOU help her assess the damage caused by the bedroom tax?

Hugely unpopular: Thousands of people have demonstrated against the bedroom tax on the poor since it was first announced by our government of millionaires - this one was in Glasgow.

Hugely unpopular: Thousands of people have demonstrated against the bedroom tax on the poor since it was first announced by our government of millionaires – this one was in Glasgow.

A United Nations inspector has arrived in the UK to investigate whether David Cameron’s Coalition government has reneged on international agreements giving everybody the right to adequate housing and shelter.

Special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik has been asked to assess whether bedroom tax-related eviction threats that are driving tenants to suicide mean the UK is refusing that right to its citizens – and you can help her with this by emailing your story to her on [email protected]

Come to that, there’s no reason for victims of the ESA assessment regime, for whom loss of the benefit involves a threat of eviction, not to provide their story as well. Is that you? [email protected]

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

An article announcing the visit in the Morning Star (it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by the pro-Coalition newspapers) said the visit was likely to infuriate our comedy Prime Minister, David Cameron.

The article states that he described this country, in a speech to the UN last year, as “a country that keeps its promises to the poorest”.

It seems possible he will argue that under-occupation of social housing – having a ‘spare room’ as defined by his law – means people are getting more than they deserve.

But the government’s clear failure to provide enough social housing of a size and standard appropriate for the 660,000 affected households in the UK – some of the poorest in the country – is likely to weigh against him.

And then there is the fact that the policy has driven people to death.

For example: John Walker, of Marsh Green, Bolton, was found hanged at his home by former partner Susan Martin in May. He had been worried about mounting financial problems, worsened by being forced to pay extra rent on his home under the bedroom tax. A suicide note was found in the property.

And Greater Manchester Against the Bedroom Tax’s Mark Krantz told the Morning Star of an eviction in Oldham where bailiffs discovered the tenant had also hanged himself, and was dead.

These two deaths pale into insignificance, of course, when compared with the monumental death toll caused by the Department for Work and Pensions and its assessment regime for Employment and Support Allowance. The plan, which aims to knock as many sick and disabled people off-benefit as possible – for any reason at all – has led to thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of deaths as claimants’ health conditions have overtaken their bodies’ ability to cope, or the prospect of destitution or being a financial burden on friends and family has forced them into suicide. The DWP is currently refusing to issue figures on the number of deaths that have taken place, among those either claiming or appealing, since the start of 2012 – and it is believed that this can only be because the numbers are far greater than the already-appalling 73-a-week average that was revealed for 2011. No figures are known for the 70 per cent of claimants who have been marked “fit for work” and thrown off the benefit altogether, who have not appealed against the decision. The DWP does not monitor their well-being at all.

Ms Rolnik is expected to meet with government officials, non-government organisations, housing associations and individuals in a tour of England and Scotland.

But to get a full picture of the situation here, she needs to hear from real people who have become victims of the robber-government’s punitive policies. She needs to hear from you: [email protected]