Tag Archives: council

Is government reassurance that care charges won’t swallow cost of living payment true?

Money: Rishi Sunak is offering cost of living payments of £800 for people with disabilities – but are government assurances that the payment won’t be taken by councils worth the time taken to provide them?

Are you convinced by this?

Concerns had been raised that people with disabilities will not gain any benefit from government payments of £650 for those on means-tested benefits, and another £150 for recipients of disability benefits.

This is because disabled people receiving social care provided in their own homes by their local council must make a financial contribution – usually everything above the minimum income of £94.15 per week.

So, in theory, all £800 of the cost-of-living support provided by the government could be taken by local authorities in care charges.

Challenged on this by Disability News Service, the Department for Health and Social Care has said it does not think the payment will be taken by councils.

The DHSC reckons that, because the payment is a one-off, it will not be considered as regular income and so will not be included in disabled people’s regular incomes and affect the so-called Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG).

That’s all very well – but why not simply make an announcement to that effect?

If the government stipulates that this money may not be considered in council’s calculations, then councils will have to accept that, and leave the cash alone.

Without such a rule, there is no cast-iron guarantee that this will happen. I wonder why the Tories haven’t bothered to make it already. And I wonder how many other people are in a similar situation.

Source: Government eases concerns over cost-of-living payment care charge fears – Disability News Service

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Sunak makes you wait; if you were banking on Tory council tax rebate, you’re in trouble

Rishi Sunak: the cowboy Chancellor.

People who were told they’d receive a £150 council tax rebate in April have been betrayed by Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

He – and the Treasury – are now saying council taxpayers whose homes are in Bands A, B, C or D will receive the money from April.

In practical terms, people who pay by Direct Debit are first in the queue – but are not likely to get their cash until May or June.

Those who don’t – around a third of council taxpayers – may have to wait until September or later. They are being told to wait to be contacted by their councils to arrange payment – but that is expected to draw the process out even longer.

The Treasury is saying: “We’ve always been clear, including in our press notice and the leaflet which went out to millions of households, that the £150 council tax rebate to help with the cost of living would be paid ‘from’ April.”

This is a lie; the BBC has demonstrated that the wording of Treasury documentation changed between February and this month.

So those of us who were encouraged to believe a vital cash injection was on its way have been deceived by a Chancellor who is so rich personally that he has absolutely no concept of how important it is for people to receive government funding when the government originally promised it.

There is no justification for this. It’s irresponsible.

People are facing serious financial cash-flow difficulties because of conditions created by Sunak and by Tories before him – the largest number of tax rises in 40 years; Brexit-prompted price rises and inflation; energy price rises and so on.

They have ordered their household budgets in the belief that they would receive this council tax rebate at a particular time – and now that isn’t happening.

Unacceptable. Sunak is a cowboy, not a chancellor.

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#Amnesty falsely labelled #antisemitic over report on #IsraeliApartheid

Israeli apartheid: this barrier separates Israelis from Palestinians, who are treated as a lower class of human being by the government of Israel.

There is no way that Amnesty International is an anti-Semitic organisation. It simply is not possible when one considers the composition and purpose of that organisation.

The world’s largest human rights organisation, it has just published a report labelling Israel as an apartheid nation and demanding change:

You can read the full report by following the link at the bottom of this article. It is sensible and balanced.

But when UK-based organisations that claim to represent British Jews caught sight of it, they made fools of themselves by denouncing Amnesty:

The joint statement says:

“The report is completely biased and applies standards to Israel that are not applied to any other country.”

A lie.

“The emotive term “apartheid” against Israel is a preposterous slur.”

Another lie. Israeli apartheid is well-documented – not least in the Amnesty video that appears above.

“Despite AI UK’s claim to recognise the Jewish claim to self-determination… it does not support that right.”

A lie. Amnesty does not suggest that Jews should not have that right.

“It chooses to focus on demonising the one Jewish state, holding it to clear double standards.”

A lie. Amnesty’s report attempts to hold Israel to the same standards as any other nation.

“The situation for the Palestinian people is indeed distressing; this will not be alleviated by destroying Israel.”

There is nothing in the Amnesty report that even remotely suggests dismantling Israel.

“This is a bad faith report hostile to the very concept of Israel.”

I think we can all see who is acting in bad faith!

Like all controversial acts, the Amnesty report has attracted detractors (who follow the BoD/JLC attack line) and supporters. Let’s focus on the supporters because they are right:

 

And if it is right to support Amnesty, then it is also right to criticise the BoD and the JLC:

 

The response by the Bod and the JLC has also led to another conclusion:

It’s a fair point, which leads to a further issue: Keir Starmer’s support for apartheid Israel.

We shouldn’t hold our collective breath waiting for a response. Starmer is a coward and will run away from a challenge like this.

While we do wait, we can all read the Amnesty report.

 

Here it is: Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity – Amnesty International

Latest feared Brexit-related shortage is of GRITTER DRIVERS. Good luck on the roads this winter!

We’ve had shortages of fruit and veg harvesters in farms, and are now seeing shortages of butchers and abattoir workers.

We’ve had shortages of nurses for years.

Our transport infrastructure is already suffering because of the shortage of hauliers, and now it is about to take a second hit because…

Local councils are saying they cannot pay drivers as much as haulage firms, meaning there won’t be any gritter lorries de-icing our highways during the winter:

This could bring the UK to a total standstill – and in the depths of winter, when we’ll need food and supplies that allow us to heat our homes more than ever.

Of course, the reason councils can’t afford to pay gritter drivers is simply that the government doesn’t pay them enough grant money to be able to afford the new going rates. Any resulting tragedies must then be laid at Boris Johnson’s door.

According to Sky News:

Transport spokesman David Renard added: “While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted.”

Although he stressed that councils will be trying to plan ahead to ensure their winter services are resilient, he warned additional training for this on-demand sector will “not alleviate the short-term pressure on frontline services”.

Given these courses take up to 16 weeks to complete, trained drivers won’t be hitting the roads before Christmas – fuelling fears that shortages could overshadow this year’s festivities.

Mr Renard said: “Fast-inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector risks exacerbating issues in the public sector, with the rises potentially creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.”

It should be remembered that the government has tried to lure drivers back from the EU with a temporary HGV visa scheme.

However – and possibly because they remember being stuck in a Kent car park over last Christmas, with no toilet or washing facilities – very few drivers have taken up the offer. Very few:

This Writer saw a suggestion on the social media that even those 27 applications were not, in fact applicable.

The suggestion was that they were test applications relevant to each EU member state, made to ensure that the system was working properly!

And, of course, the Tories are also running into “sauce for the goose” arguments:

Yes indeed – and we know that the government can’t blame poor pay and conditions for nurses on anybody else. It is therefore hypocritical of Johnson and his cronies to berate haulage firms over low pay when their derisory pay rise for NHS staff has now been translated into a pay cut by new conditions that their political choices have created.

All we can do now is hope for a mild winter.

If we get ice, there will be death on the roads – because of Boris Johnson and his godawful Brexit.

Worse still, the knock-on effect could bring death to our homes – and, depending on how often we all check on our neighbours, it could be weeks or months before we even know the total death toll.

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Councils send in the bailiffs to clear tax arrears [Also in the news]


Local authorities seem to think that driving council house tenants to starvation, or taking their belongings, as a means of clearing council tax arrears is a good idea.

How do they think taking the few possessions and the little money left to people in extremely vulnerable situations, that were worsened by Covid-19, will make everything better?

And which councils do you reckon are responsible for this behaviour? The Tory ones?

Also in the news:

1. Boris Johnson may be thinking of replacing Rishi Sunak as Chancellor – with Liz Truss

He would be replacing one incompetent – Sunak was responsible for the ‘Eat out to die out’ voucher scheme that did so much to spread Covid-19 last autumn – with another – Truss trumpeted a trade deal with Japan that sold Stilton cheese to a country that is lactose-intolerant.

2. MPs have been claiming expenses for ‘dependent children’ – who aren’t children at all

And they’re mostly Tories. What a surprise.

3. NHS waiting lists could top 15 million in four years, ministers are warned

They’ve been told a major increase in capacity is required but they are too busy giving cash to private companies and selling off NHS assets to pay for it.

4. Former Chancellor is accused of breaking the ministerial code

It’s claimed that Philip Hammond broke the rules because he lobbied the government on behalf of a bank that employs him as a paid advisor – before the end of a two-year ban on using his his “government and/or ministerial contacts to influence policy” on behalf of his new employer.

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Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory who’s tried to ruin London with ‘white elephant’ schemes. Here’s (Tory-run) Westminster Council

Marble Arch Mound: if Westminster Council had wanted to stink up the classic architecture of Marble Arch with a big pile of earth, they could have got it dirt cheap from any Powys farmer. Why spend £2 million on it?

Ridicule has met the opening of Tory-run Westminster Council’s ‘Marble Arch Mound’ – a £2m embarrassment that follows the rule: never let a Conservative near a building project.

The architectural plans were very exciting, apparently – but the reality has turned out to be a big pile of Earth.

And now people who bought tickets to climb this travesty are claiming refunds.

Oh. It’ll look better once the landscape has had time to “bed in and grow”. But this is only a temporary installation, isn’t it?

The idea had been to tempt shoppers back to central London after the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown there. In Oxford Street, 17 per cent of the shops have closed permanently because of Tory government mismanagement of the crisis.

Perhaps the others will have to close after this fiasco – which is more likely to turn people away, it seems.

Source: ‘Teething problems’: visitors offered refunds for Marble Arch Mound | Architecture | The Guardian

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This is how governments attack minorities: they cut funding to councils

End SEND cuts: the Tory war on kids with special needs has been going on for years – this image is from 2019.

Your Tory government has targeted youngsters with special needs for persecution.

Oh, it hasn’t announced an attack on kids whose life opportunities are limited by accidents of birth. Oh no. It doesn’t have to.

Instead, it has simply cut funding – creating a shortfall of more than £500 million in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) system.

There’s no need for the cuts. Experience over the last few years has shown us that the government could easily create the money needed and dedicate it to this purpose, if ministers were included to do so.

They are not.

Don’t be surprised. This is just the latest stage of the ongoing Tory war on people with disabilities. Eugenics disguised as economics.

Source: Councils in England facing funding gaps plan to cut special needs support | Special educational needs | The Guardian

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Tory MP admits his government inflicts suffering on Opposition-controlled areas

Boris Johnson swears he didn’t say it but David Amess has tacitly admitted that a Tory government will make people suffer if they don’t support the Conservatives in the local elections.

A Conservative member of Parliament has called for people in his constituency to elect a Tory-controlled local council – because his government won’t support Opposition-run councils.

How revealing! Although it’s nothing we didn’t know already – from the behaviour of governments run by David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Here’s the evidence:

As I say, we have seen this kind of corruption in the way Tory government treat local authorities.

The Boris Johnson government is stripping schools in Opposition-run councils of their Pupil Premium at the moment, in order to stuff schools in Tory authorities with even more undeserved cash. That’s just one example.

This is attempted blackmail.

The Tory is demanding that his constituents vote for his party – or they will lose funding; they will lose support. They will suffer.

Unacceptable.

Anybody living in Southend should put their vote elsewhere – and start campaigning not only for the removal of Amess from Westminster but also for him to be stripped of his knighthood.

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Local services in Wales will suffer if the Conservatives take over the Senedd

Think before voting: the Conservatives are promising to freeze council taxes in Wales if they take control of the Assembly – but this will benefit the rich far more than working-class people.

The Welsh Conservatives have said they will freeze council tax for at least two years if they take control of the Welsh Assembly after the local elections in May – but this is a threat, not a promise.

The party has said it will fund a council tax freeze, but there is no guarantee that it will follow through on any such pledge. Even if it does, this only means that it will maintain services as they are.

So what happens when events demand spending beyond that level?

Answer: we won’t see it – they’ll say there isn’t enough money (which is a lie).

Also: who benefits most from a council tax freeze? The rich.

Taxation is a way of redistributing wealth, ensuring that poorer people are able to enjoy publicly-funded services for all, rather than those services being restricted only to those who can afford to pay for them out of their own pocket.

It also ensures that funding is available for projects that would not otherwise receive support from private individuals.

By freezing council taxes, then, the Conservatives are pledging to let rich people keep more of their money while depriving the poor of the services they need to get by.

But the Tories don’t tell you that.

Source: Tories pledge to freeze council tax in Wales for at least two years

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Grenfell residents who raised safety fears before fire were bullied, inquiry hears

After the fire: Grenfell Tower.

Lawyers for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire have told the inquiry into the disaster that residents were “bullied” and “stigmatised” for raising safety concerns.

Michael Mansfield QC, representing a group of survivors and the bereaved, said Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council regarded the 24-storey block in North Kensington as an “eyesore which required cosmetic surgery to make it more palatable to its elegant and wealthy neighbours”.

So it provided a refurbishment between 2012 and 2016 that was only a “superficial facelift while neglecting underlying deficiencies”.

The council, along with the body that ran Grenfell Tower and oversaw the refurbishment, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), ran a complaints system for residents that was “outdated, cumbersome, not simple and was used to shut them off, lock them out essentially”, said Mr Mansfield.

He said the council and TMO had a “culture of indifference”.

Edward Daffarn, a member of the Grenfell Action Group, wrote a series of blog posts about safety issues in the building and raised concerns with the council – such as a fire door with a broken closing mechanism.

This was pointed out in 2015 and the door still wasn’t working on the night of the fire in 2017, allowing smoke into a central area on one floor where two people died.

The inquiry heard the council described Mr Daffarn’s blog posts as “scaremongering”.

Another lawyer, Stephanie Barwise QC, read an email from council worker Laura Johnson, sent during the building’s refurbishment, saying that a councillor would not want to attend a public meeting of people “moaning about minor issues”.

In fact residents had correctly identified issues such as gas pipes in hallways, problems with fire doors, power surges, a failed ventilation system and access for fire engines.

London Fire Brigade warned in the months before the fire that cladding could be dangerous. The inquiry heard the council simply forwarded the letter from the fire brigade to the TMO, saying: “FYI.”

James Ageros, lawyer for the TMO, said: “The TMO does not accept that it ever adopted a dismissive attitude toward residents or indeed toward their complaints and concerns.”

He said the inquiry should consider whether the TMO could have been expected to see through the “deceptions” of cladding manufacturers about the safety of their products.

Hundreds of other building owners and management organisations had not been able to “untangle this subterfuge”, he said.

In its submissions, the council apologised for its failings in monitoring the TMO and said “the council could have, and should have, done more to stop it happening”.

It’s a big buck-passing exercise, isn’t it?

The council apologises and says it should have monitored the TMO; the TMO doesn’t apologise and says it could not have been expected to see through “deceptions” by the manufacturers of the cladding.

My opinion? Residents are right to blame them all. The council, at least, has admitted a failing. The TMO should have recognised any false claims by the cladding manufacturers; that’s part of its reason for existing and the council should have realised this wasn’t happening.

And residents were ignored – until they died.

And now, residents at other blocks with similar cladding are being penalised for living in places where the landlord made the wrong decision because the Tory government is ignoring their concerns.

History repeats itself. The UK is run by people who want to take your money and do nothing in return – especially people in government.

We can vote them out – for example at the local elections in May.

But that rarely seems to happen. Why?

Source: Grenfell residents ‘bullied’ for raising safety fears before fire – BBC News

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