Tag Archives: local government

Bleak houses: homeless children are being housed in shipping containers

Shipping containers (these were at Felixstowe): They’re very handy for moving goods between countries – but would YOU want to live in one?

Children in the UK are being housed in shipping containers because so many of them are homeless, according to the Children’s Commissioner.

Anne Longfield reportedly said it was a scandal that children were being housed in “office block conversions, in which whole families live in single rooms barely bigger than a parking space, and shipping containers which are blisteringly hot in summer and freezing in the winter months”.

In her report, entitled Bleak Houses, she said 124,000 children were considered officially homeless – but a further 90,000 were known to be “sofa-surfing”.

According to the BBC:

Office blocks and warehouses are also being used as temporary accommodation for families, with at least 13 office blocks in Harlow, Essex, converted into more than 1,000 individual flats.

In one such building, Templefields House, some units measure 18 sq m and are being used to house whole families, with parents and children sleeping in a single room also used as the kitchen, the report found.

The report said shipping containers were often located on “meanwhile sites” earmarked for future development.

As with office block conversions, there is often anti-social behaviour in the areas which means parents keep their children inside the small units instead of letting them out to play.

Ms Longfield also expressed concerns about B&Bs used as temporary accommodation, creating “intimidating and potentially unsafe environments” for children.

The bathrooms in B&Bs are often shared with other residents and vulnerable adults, including those with mental health or drug abuse problems.

The scandal here is the matters have worsened. I recall hearing of children being housed in B&Bs alongside people with mental health, drug abuse or violent crime histories more than a year ago.

Now they are being put up in cramped former offices and stifling shipping containers, of all places.

It simply isn’t acceptable. These places are unfit for human habitation.

Local councils, that are responsible for housing the homeless, say they are facing a huge, £159 million, funding shortfall from the Conservative-run central government.

The housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, Martin Tett, has urged the government to fund and give back councils their historic role of building homes with the right infrastructure.

Perhaps astonishingly, the Tory-run Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which is responsible for the funding shortfall, said it had put £1.2bn into tackling all types of homelessness which had helped reduce the number of families in B&B accommodation.

By putting them in cramped ex-offices and boiling shipping containers instead?

Insanity.

It seems clear that the money could have been better-used.

Only yesterday evening (August 20), This Writer reported on a move by the National Audit Office to examine whether the government has been spending the £6.6 billion earmarked to cope with a “no deal” Brexit responsibly.

Perhaps that organisation should consider the DCLG as its next project – before someone in a shipping container dies from heat exhaustion.

Source: Shipping containers used to house homeless children – BBC News

Grown-up politics? CCTV shows ‘resurgent’ Lib Dem canvassers stealing other parties’ leaflets

Is this the “grown-up” politics Layla Moran was crowing about on the BBC election coverage?

Is it the reason the Liberal Democrats have gained 397 seats in the 2019 local government elections – cheating?

Look:

https://twitter.com/superseveriano/status/1123926197094768640

And here’s another:

Of course, there’s a big problem with this behaviour:

But then, perhaps we should not be surprised at this behaviour from the Liberal Democrats, in the light of this point by Dave Barlow:

Fair point!

UPDATE: I’m told the Lib Dem candidate in the first clip won the seat. Who said cheats never prosper?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Tories blew £100k of public money hiding ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ firms – because they were profiting from it?

The scheme was pioneered by Tory welfare slasher Iain Duncan Smith [Image: Getty].

The scheme was pioneered by Tory welfare slasher Iain Duncan Smith [Image: Getty].

This Blog, and others, has spent years warning that the Conservative Government will spend huge amounts of public money hiding what it is doing.

So the revelation that Iain Duncan Smith spent £100,000 hiding the names of companies that have exploited the cheap, unpaid workers available through ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ comes as no surprise.

It is easy to see why. Between June 2011 and July 2012, the total profit made by Mandatory Work Activity provider companies, charities and councils was nearly £1 billion.

There was no cost associated with that profit, either – at least, not to the organisations involved.

You and I and everyone else who pays any tax at all put more than £16 million into making profits for those companies – as we were paying the benefits of the claimants who were being forced to work, and for far less than the then-minimum wage.

And that’s just for a 14-month period, ending more than four years ago.

Mandatory Work Activity has made many billions of pounds for the organisations taking part, and I suspect the Conservative Party has fared very well out of it, also.

How many of the organisations taking party in the scheme are donors to the Conservative Party – and how much did they give?

You see? It was all part of a nasty plan to spend public money and make a private profit for the Tories – to help them gain an unfair advantage at election times when they will be able to outspend everyone else, no doubt.

That is the purpose of Mandatory Work Activity: Making money for the Conservative Party. And that is why we look down on every dirty organisation that has been taking part.

The Tory government blew £100,000 of public money trying to hide a huge list of firms that used jobseekers for unpaid work.

Tesco and Asda were among household names on a list of 500 companies, charities and councils named as taking part in ‘Mandatory Work Activity’.

The list dates to 2011 but was only released in July – after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched an astonishing four-year legal battle to hide it.

Officials claimed releasing the information would hurt “commercial interests” – but eventually lost in the Court of Appeal.

The whole saga cost more than £100,000.

That is because taxpayers had to fund both sides of the court action in a farce branded “worthy of a movie plot”.

The DWP spent £92,250 on lawyers and court fees trying to keep the list secret.

It did so by challenging the government-funded Information Commissioner watchdog (ICO), which had to spend £7,931 defending its case.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “Damian Green said the film I, Daniel Blake was ‘a work of fiction bearing no relation to the modern benefits system’.

“And yet here we have a scenario worthy of a movie plot in which a government tries to hide the truth of its own failings from the public.

“They think nothing of demonising those who need the support of our social security system, a system that is there for any one of us in a time of need, forcing them into unpaid work or using spurious reasons to sanction them to manipulate the unemployment figures.

“At the same time they fritter taxpayers’ money on lawyers to cover up their failings and defend pernicious policies like the bedroom tax.”

Source: Tories blew £100k of public money hiding list of firms that used jobseekers for unpaid work – Mirror Online

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Child trafficking victims are disappearing from UK care – and the attitude seems to be ‘so what?’

In one year, nearly 30 per cent of all UK child trafficking victims disappeared from foster and care homes [Image: Veryan Dale/Alamy Stock Photo].

In one year, nearly 30 per cent of all UK child trafficking victims disappeared from foster and care homes [Image: Veryan Dale/Alamy Stock Photo].

Is nobody else worried that our local authorities seem completely unperturbed about this shocking failure in their duty of care?

Would they have mentioned the fact that a confirmed 760 young people have gone missing from their care at some time, if they had not been forced to do so by a Freedom of Information request?

Would they have told anybody that 207 of these children have never been found and are presumed to be back in the hands of their exploiters?

And these figures aren’t even accurate!

Less than a quarter (45) of the 217 local authorities from whom information was requested have bothered to reply.

This is a bitter indictment of a care system that, quite clearly, doesn’t.

Child trafficking victims and unaccompanied children are going missing from local authority care at an “alarming” rate according to a new report, which reveals that in one year, nearly 30% of all UK child trafficking victims and 13% of unaccompanied children disappeared from care services.

New research by child trafficking NGO Ecpat UK and the charity Missing People has found that 167 of the 590 children suspected or identified as child trafficking victims in the year from September 2014 to 2015 vanished from foster and care homes across the country.

An additional 593 of the 4,744 unaccompanied children placed under the protection of local authorities also went missing at least once in the same time period. Of the 760 trafficked or unaccompanied children who disappeared from care, 207 have never been found.

The new data, drawn largely from freedom of information requests to 217 local authorities across the UK, shows that Thurrock, Hillingdon, Croydon, Kent County Council and Surrey had the highest numbers of trafficked and unaccompanied children who were unaccounted for. One local authority reported that 22 child trafficking victims had gone missing in the recorded time period.

Despite the high numbers, Ecpat says that the real scale of the UK’s missing child trafficking victims is still not accurately reflected in the data.

Source: Child trafficking victims disappearing from UK care at ‘alarming’ rate | Global development | The Guardian

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Do you know the horrifying facts about your own MP?

150319RogerWilliams

Don’t let the appearance of serious concern fool you – Roger Williams has done more harm than good in the last five years. Can you say that your MP hasn’t?

You can tell there’s an election on the way when the dreaded Liberal Democrat Block Graph appears in your letterbox.

“Only Roger Williams MP and the Lib Dems can stop the Tories here in Brecon & Radnorshire!” today’s leaflet screamed, while the graph pointed to a 10 per cent turnout for Labour (highlighted in orange – isn’t that the Lib Dems’ colour?) from 2010 to illustrate its point.

But 2010 was a long time ago. Since then, Roger has betrayed us all in Parliamentary votes many times.

Are you upset about the funding cuts to local government services? Roger voted for those cuts.

Struggling to pay your council tax? Roger voted strongly to make councils responsible for helping people pay – and for reducing the amount spent on that support.

Are you unemployed, sick or disabled? Roger voted strongly for cuts to welfare benefits, and for the uprating cap that means benefits don’t rise in line with prices.

He voted against investing public money in guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time out of work.

He voted to increase VAT, but not to increase taxes for the immensely rich – and he fully supported cutting the rate of corporation tax, so rich firms became even richer.

Remember the bankers who caused the financial crisis? Roger voted against clawing back money from them. He refused to support the bankers’ bonus tax.

Remember the botched privatisation of the Royal Mail? Roger fully supported it.

He voted very strongly in favour of ending financial support for people aged 16-19 in training and further education.

He voted very strongly in favour of restricting access to justice so that only the rich can get a fair hearing in court, by restricting the scope of Legal Aid – and he voted for the creation of so-called ‘secret courts’.

He is in favour of the waste of money known as Police and Crime Commissioners, against restricting rises in rail fares, very strongly for selling off England’s state-owned forests and against green energy.

Oh – and he voted for the Bedroom Tax too.

He also voted very strongly in favour of the Tories’ creeping privatisation of the National Health Service.

His leaflet states: “The Tories want to cut pay for Llandrindod Wells’ nurses and teachers. Who can stop them?

Not Roger Williams, obviously. His record shows he has been cheering them on.

This writer actually helped vote Roger Williams into his Parliamentary seat, back in 2001. Admittedly it was a tactical choice, to make sure that the constituency did not go to a Conservative candidate.

Now I know that, given the chance, Roger won’t act in the best interest of the people, but in those of whoever gives him his orders that day.

But never mind my MP – how has yours behaved? You can find out on theyworkforyou.com

What you discover may surprise you!

And Llandrindod Wells’ nurses and teachers?

I would rather rip Roger’s throat out with my own teeth than make him responsible for their pay and conditions.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Cameron’s comedy turn won’t make anybody happy

140117democracy

David Cameron should be very happy that UKIP is around to make him look acceptable.

We can’t ever say he’ll look good, but in contrast to the ‘Farage wave’, the spectacle of UKIP being thrown out of the venue where it was supposed to be launching its European election campaign, and the never-ending queue of candidates who are desperate to embarrass themselves publicly – what’s the latest one? “Women should be made to wear skirts because they’re a turn-on for men”? Ye gods… – it’s easy to think that the Conservatives are mild, or at least rational.

They’re not.

But Cameron was keen to project an image of competence at the Conservatives’ campaign launch for the local council elections. This is strange because, with his record of achievement, the things he was saying seem more like stand-up comedy than serious statements of ability.

Try this, about the European Union: “I have a track record of delivery – and believe me, whatever it takes, I will deliver this in-out referendum.” A track record of delivery? Well, yes. He delivered a top-down reorganisation of the NHS that nobody wanted, leading to an inrush of private health companies into the NHS – that nobody wanted. He has delivered the lowest amount of house-building, per year, since records began. He has delivered a withered economic ‘recovery’ that arrived three years later than if he had continued with the plan of the previous, Labour, government. He has delivered all the benefits of that ‘recovery’ to the extremely rich, rather than sharing it equally with the people responsible for it. And he has delivered a new high in employment, with no economic benefit to the country, that has left workers on wages that are so low they are going into debt.

He delivered the bedroom tax.

He delivered a massive increase in the National Debt.

He delivered millions of people into poverty and food bank dependence.

Ha ha ha. Very funny, Mr Cameron.

He told us, “People said I would never veto a European treaty. In 2011 that’s exactly what I did.” Well, yes. But the rest of Europe just went right ahead and carried on without you. You marginalised Britain as a member of the EU and made us a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world.

Ha ha ha. Very funny, Mr Cameron.

“We came through the great recession together; we are building the great British revival together,” he said. But he can’t say that to the many thousands of people who used to be claiming sickness and disability benefits but aren’t anymore because they are all dead. They didn’t come through the great recession. Cameron cut off their means of survival, forcing them into situations in which their health was allowed to worsen until their conditions overwhelmed them, or their situation induced such huge bouts of depression that they took their own lives.

Ha h- no. That’s not funny, Mr Cameron.

“The job is not done. If you want to finish the job we have started, back the party with a plan,” he said. Well, no. The Conservative plan (such as it is) will destroy your employment rights, scrap the welfare state, maintain a huge underclass of unemployed people to use as fodder for work-for-your-benefit schemes (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) to circumvent the minimum wage, and to claim credit for successes that aren’t theirs.

There is only one reason to support the Conservative Party in this – or any other election.

That is if there is only one other political party on the ballot paper – and that party is UKIP.

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Pleading to stay in the government is like begging to be left on the Titanic

It is hard to believe the lengths to which some people will go, to stay in the public eye.

This weekend, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi appealed to David Cameron to keep her on as chair of the Conservative Party in his forthcoming cabinet reshuffle.

Incredibly, she claimed she fits the demographics of all the people the Tories need to get voting for them at the next general election, being a woman, who is not white, from an urban area, in the North, and who is – most unbelievably of all – working class!

Good luck to her. I’ve always found her inability to listen to – let alone respond to – any views other than her own extremely off-putting. Keeping her in place would be the best way for Cameron to lose support from the groups she claims to represent. And I’m all for that.

One person who will, it seems, certainly return to the cabinet is former Treasury minister David Laws. His creative approach to accountancy necessitated his retirement to the backbenches after only 17 days in place, back in 2010. But it seems the kind of crime that would put any other citizen in jail for six months – defrauding the state out of £40,000 – is not serious enough to warrant the continued punishment of an ex-minister.

One thing I’ll say in Baroness Warsi’s favour: At least she’s more honest. She admitted failing to declare rental income (and was eventually let off the hook for it).

The main cabinet posts are also likely to remain fixed, despite some of their holders being unpopular, according to a Vox Political poll. The question was: David Cameron is expected to reshuffle the cabinet in the very near future. Who should he sack?

Before I reveal the results, I should warn you that the number of respondents makes this nothing like representative of general opinion. But it’s fun, so let’s open the envelopes and see the results.

In third place, with 7.7 per cent of the votes, is cabinet pie-muncher and local government minister Eric Pickles! It seems Eric’s plan to abolish Council Tax Benefit and force everyone to pay increased local taxes just to stay in their home has got your goat.

Second, by a massive 30.8 per cent share of the vote, you asked David Cameron to remove himself from the cabinet! Perhaps if he had concentrated more on solving the nation’s problems than playing video games or jaunting off on jolly holidays around the globe, ‘Call Me Dave’ might have avoided the wrath of the public.

But your winner, with an overwhelming 61.5 per cent shareholding, was Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne! Gideon’s persistent inability to balance the books, letting his rich corporate buddies off paying their taxes while squeezing the rest of us until our pips have well and truly squeaked, have had you squawking in protest (and tweeting, too). His fiscal austerity plan that forced the UK economy into a nosedive was a serious enough misjudgement, but what really browned you off was his idea to charge VAT on pasties, depending on how hot they were.

George deserves a prize and, considering the nature of this vote, I propose we call it the Golden Boot Award. I’ll be keeping it at my house until he can be bothered to turn up for it, at which point I will gladly bestow it upon his posterior.