Archives for category: Poverty

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ann-pettifor-talks-on-a-moral-economy-tickets-33229654792 or contact johnbnightingale@hushmail.com/07811 128831

Many people in Birmingham will remember the speaker -Ann Pettifor. She was a founder and leading spirit of the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign which in 1998 brought a human chain of 70,000 people onto the streets of this city in a great expression of human concern for the cancellation of the unjust and unpayable debts of developing countries.

After 2000 Ann joined the New Economics Foundation where she headed their research unit, and became involved in Prime Economics. She also set up Advocacy International, a UK-based consultancy which advises governments and international organisations and has helped secure debt relief for the governments of Guyana, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Among her publications are the books “The Coming First World Debt Crisis” (2006) and “The Production of Money” this year. She has been part of the Green New Deal Group and in 2015 was appointed to the British Labour Party’s Economic Advisory Committee.

 

 

 

 

The recent by-elections gave cover for the latest government announcement of emergency legislation inflicting further cuts on disabled people – ‘a good day to bury bad news’.

Two tribunals had ruled that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should expand the reach of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – which helps disabled people fund their living costs.

  • One ruling found that someone who needed support at home to take medication or monitor a health condition like diabetes would score the same on the benefits criteria as people who needed help with a demanding procedure such as kidney dialysis.
  • A second ruling said people who struggled to travel independently because of conditions such as anxiety scored the same as someone who was, for example, blind.

Ministers then swiftly revised the law to deny the increased benefit payments to more than 150,000 people.

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A Lib Dem work and pensions spokeswoman said it was outrageous that the government was using the ruling to make matters worse for disabled people: “What makes things even worse is that they have sneaked this announcement out under the cover of [Thursday’s] by-elections.”

From April, it is reported that new claimants will see a reduction of £29.05 in their entitlement, which will fall to £73.10 a week. This follows on from the cuts that the DWP tried to implement last year, which resulted in Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation.

Liz Sayce from Disability Rights UK said: “We’re not aware of one single disability employment or benefits expert who thinks this particular cut will be an incentive for disabled people to get a job.”

Unfortunately this logic, and a host of scathing comments seen in the Metro won’t pierce the thick skins of affluent legislators and further deprivation will hit the least fortunate in many sectors.

 

 

 

Kopfkino & Stirchley Baths

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Friday, 10 February 2017 from 19:30 to 22:30

Bournville Lane, Birmingham B30 2JT

0121 464 9072

Suggested donation £5. Pay what you will. Refreshments will be available.

I, Daniel Blake will be preceded by a short film, ‘To Be Home, Stirchley’ by Geoff Broadway

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charity SIFA Fireside. The venue is wheelchair friendly. Unfortunately the film does not have sign language or support for the hearing impaired at this time. There is parking, though this is limited whilst work is being done on the Friends Meeting House.

Please visit us by public transport where possible.

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This is a free screening so that it is accessible to all. If you can afford to pay, proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charity SIFA Fireside who improve health and inclusion for the homeless.

There is also a collection box year-round at Stirchley Baths for the B30 Foodbank. We encourage you to bring along donations.

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A Bournville resident draws attention to a research-based brief, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice, which is summarised here.

Setting the scene:

“The West Midlands faces significant challenges to creating an inclusive economy: just under 600,000 people are income deprived and three in ten children are growing up in poverty. A significant minority of businesses report vacancies they cannot fill due to skills shortages – ranging from 18% in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership area to 28% in the Black Country (across England it is 22%). The challenge is not simply to get more people into work: in the UK today 55% of people experiencing poverty live in working households. Creating more and better jobs and connecting people in poverty to opportunities are at the heart of an inclusive growth agenda . . . The West Midlands mayoral area has a low employment rate and high unemployment . . . Ultimately, poverty is harmful to those who experience it, scarring their prospects, worsening mental and physical health and shortening lives. Healthy life expectancy is seven years shorter in Wolverhampton compared to Solihull for men, and nine years shorter for women.”

Advantages of a more inclusive West Midlands economy

For inclusive growth, the quality of jobs created and the skills and capabilities of local residents to take them up is every bit as important as the number of jobs. More jobs with decent pay and prospects, bring economic benefits: each time an out-of-work benefit claimant moves into a job paying the voluntary Living Wage (which is set with regard to the cost of essentials) the local economy is boosted by £14,400 on average.

Inclusive growth that helps to deliver lower poverty would also release resources that could be put to more productive use. An estimated £1 in every £5 spent on public services is linked to poverty, with the costs falling heavily on the health service, education and the police and criminal justice system.  

Education and skills are vital for people to make the most of economic opportunities, but children from low-income backgrounds achieve worse results at every stage of their education compared to those from better-off homes. This deprives businesses of talent. It also reduces people’s earnings potential, reduces the tax take and increases the risk that poverty will be passed from one generation to the next. JRF’s team could with advantage read Hatcher on the relationship between schools and the labour market

JRF has examined the relationship between deprived areas and local labour markets

In the West Midlands mayoral area the proportion of working age adults who are economically inactive (not looking for work because they are studying, looking after family, disabled or sick – 30%) is eight percentage points higher than the national average, and higher than other areas electing mayors.

The vast majority of deprived areas are geographically well connected to local job opportunities particularly in Birmingham, where 99% of deprived neighbourhoods either contain more jobs than working age people or are well connected to other areas with many jobs. This analysis suggests that the primary challenges are barriers to work such as lack of skills, caring responsibilities, health and disability are, rather than access issues such as transport.

An agenda requiring use of the Mayor’s soft power

Inclusive growth is an agenda, not a new policy initiative – and it is an agenda that will require strong leadership from the Mayor, involving:

  • raising ambition,
  • shaping strategy,
  • inspiring action,
  • marshalling resources,
  • drawing in collaborators from the public, private and voluntary and community sectors,
  • holding central government to account for actions that impact on poverty and prosperity in the West Midlands Mayoral area
  • and continuing to fight for the devolution of powers and resources to enable the Mayor to solve poverty.

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The Mayor will have some powers over employment support for people with significant barriers to work (the Work and Health Programme, above, due to be launched in 2017), and more significant powers in relation to adult skills and training. This is an area where the Mayor can make a difference.

The Mayor should help to champion a direct role for citizens too. An inclusive growth strategy must draw on the ideas and direct experience of local people, communities and voluntary and community sector organisations. Inclusive growth is not just the job of the Mayor, but the whole city region – its businesses, employers, institutions, service providers and communities.

To read the 13 page briefing, click here

To discuss in more detail, please contact info@jrf.org.uk

There will be an international conference sharing innovative policies and practice on Tuesday 24 January 2017 – 09:30 to 16:30. Central London, UK – Read more here.

 

 

 

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In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, gave additional taxpayer ­subsidies to the biggest builders – Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Berkeley Group – who have missed affordable housing targets while watching profits soar. He announced a grant of £1.4bn into the affordable homes programme and £1.7bn for developers building on public sector land. But two-thirds of this pot is said to be old money re-packaged from three pre-existing funds, including the build-to-rent fund set up by George Osborne in 2012.

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The ‘big four’, who are all in the Home Builders Federation say that house building is a high risk business” and affordable housing targets are financially unviable. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found than they plan to pay out £6.6bn in extra shareholders’ dividends by 2021.

Eight directors working for major housebuilders together earned £230m in the past five years. Two chief executives, Tony Pidgley and Rob Perrins, of Berkeley, have taken £141m in pay and share sales since 2011. They have shares totalling £440m.

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Meanwhile the country’s housing crisis escalates. The BIJ investigation highlights that as industry profits have ‘gone through the roof’, government statistics released in September show the number of households living in temporary accommodation in England increased 45% in the last six years to 73,120. Despite this, the number of affordable homes for rent or sale built fell to a 24-year low this year.

The big four built 50,000 houses in 2016, but have 450,000 empty building plots – ‘land banks’. The prices of their ‘aspirational’ housing have risen five times more than average wages in the last five years and the four biggest firms together made more than £2bn in pre-tax profits last year. Low supply and high demand has enabled housebuilders to charge substantial prices for the houses they sell – in some cases making an average profit of £127,000 per house according to the Bureau’s analysis.

How much the country gets in tax from these individuals and companies is called into question by Private Eye. Following a Freedom of Information request it was revealed – in great detail – that of £600m lent to five large property developers in the past three years under build-to-rent, a total of £167m – more than a quarter of all loans – went directly to companies with British names, based in the tax havens of Jersey and Guernsey, where, it comments, ‘any gains made are likely to escape tax’.

18 other blogs on the important subject of housing may be seen here: https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/housing-18-blogs/.

 

 

 

 

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James Cox of Redbrick (via the Brummie) rightly says that “It would be fair and accurate to say that there is currently a wave of anti-establishment feeling in Western politics” and as – Stahl & Hansen explain – that is a reaction to the actions of the mainstream of the political class who have squandered people’s trust, by not having their best interests at heart

jc-standingCox uses the term Populism, an easy label, widely applied, often referring to those of all ages who are newly enthused, because ‘ordinary’ people, such as those in the picture above, for the first time for decades can see a glimmer of hope on the political horizon after decades of government by a self-seeking minority.

Perhaps a few fringe advisers do, as Cox asserts without giving his source(s), believe that election prospects can best be furthered by ‘utilising Corbyn’s image as an ‘unpolished conviction politician’ fighting for the little guy against big business and vested interests’ – and perhaps not.

Cox adds that Corbyn is not the man to lead this change of message and refers to ‘his performances’ and reaction to pressure from hostile journalists.

jc-2-housing-coverI refer him and all readers to JC’s confident performance and clear messages in recent PMQs and urge them to see this interview with a determinedly hostile journalist, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg – not the clearest example seen, but clear enough.

Mr Cox is also referred to the Media Lens analysis on this and other subjects – always well worth reading.

And as Mr Cox thinks Corbyn lacks a message and clear purpose he is recommended to study a series of six accessible reports (cover of Housing Policy report left) following this link: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/reports-economy-housing-rural-renewal-environmental-protection/

 

 

 

Many who are aware of the impending cuts to housing benefit (aka ‘reform the funding of supported housing’) and fearing these will lead to even more evictions are contributing to the government consultation, which closes on 13th February 2017.

Two off-beat non-political strategies have recently been reported:

A proposal by Peter Cave, a Londoner, in the FT:

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“Look down, late at night or early in the morning, as you wander within major towns and cities — and not just in the south-east — and you will see numerous people sleeping on the streets. They have hit unlucky. Look up at the large blocks of apartments; many are unoccupied, owned by those who have hit lucky in wealth and who treat property as investments.

“Here is a straight and frank solution. Initiate legislation, as an emergency, to allow the homeless to live in those empty apartments.

“The wealthy property owners and their friends in government would magically suddenly find the funds to build some good social housing for the homeless — and, indeed, for those suffering life in grim and expensive private rentals”.

Ajay Munot of Aurangabad acts

The Deccan Herald has reported that instead of holding a hugely lavish traditional wedding for his daughter, Mr Ajay Munot of Aurangabad decided to spend the money on helping the poorly-housed in his region.

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He constructed 90 terraced houses on two acres of land and selected residents using three criteria: they needed to be poor, live in a slum and not suffer from an addiction.

Meanwhile in Britain, evictions continue to rise.

 

 

 

 

Smirks all round – and, as usual, blame the system’s victims

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Philip Hammond in his autumn statement

“The productivity gap is well known, but shocking nonetheless,” Hammond said on Wednesday. “It takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five, which means, in turn, that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts.”

For obvious reasons he fails to mention the causes of higher productivity in Germany:

  • their industrial democracy, recently spurned by Theresa May
  • better education
  • better healthcare
  • better housing and
  • efficient transport

And of course no admission is made of the condition of productive workers on whatever type of British ‘shop floor’:

-the huge income disparity between them and the parasites who are highly paid for directing – and misdirecting – them,

-the corporate political nexus which has allowed the wealthiest to escape due tax payment

-and the poorer social services, education, healthcare, housing and transport provision.

Many will expect most of Mr Hammond’s investment fund for housing, infrastructure and innovation projects to find its way into the pockets of the usual suspects – corporate beneficiaries.

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Radical change is needed – and advocated by many, including Steve Schofield, in a new website,  to address these “grotesque inequalities”.

 

 

 

A Bournville resident points out that “the tragedy is that (the long-term homeless) are going to be joined by many more who have had a home. See what is going to come into play with effect from Monday 7th November” and sends a link to an article about a cut in housing benefit from Nov 7th.

He asks: “Where are all these extra homeless people and families to go? And at what cost?”

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It is no coincidence that around the country this reader and many other people are gathering to promote showings of the latest Ken Loach film and citing his Question Time video clip. 

Some households will lose as much as £115 a week.

The idea of tightening their belt and reducing household spending assumes that energy and food are expendable luxuries.

tighten-belt-cropThose hit by the cap will soon be in arrears. Either their landlord, social or private, absorbs the cost of the arrears, or – more likely – the tenant is evicted.

In the Guardian, Aditya Chakrabortty stresses the costs of the lost income, the long-term psychological harm to tenants, the deteriorating health of households in temporary accommodation and the exorbitant cost of temporary accommodation for those evicted.

Every day in England and Wales, 170 tenants are evicted.

Evictions have increased by 53% in the past five years. Around 80% of these are carried out by social landlords, and a further 20% by private landlords.

The new reduced benefit cap: how it works and who it affects – the facts and figures – are given here and in the BBC programme, below.

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Ms May’s eloquent compassionate conservatism is belied by her ministerial actions:

  • suspending the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people;
  • scrapping the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim’s home;
  • closing the previous Government’s ContactPoint database of 11 million under-18-year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbié child abuse scandal and
  • removing a clause from the Equality Act which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services.

Welfare payments are designed to act as a safety net to stop people in the fifth-richest economy in the world being hungry or homeless.

Where will the cuts inflicted on the poorest end?

The Loach film is screened at MAC, November 4-10

https://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/i-daniel-blake

 

 

 

 

On 14th July a Moseley reader emailed to say “Theresa May’s speech yesterday sounded more left wing than your mate JC! ”

My reply was a one year snapshot of her actions in office which belied this humanitarian stance, published earlier on this site:

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  • In 2010 she suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.
  • On 4 August 2010 it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violenceby banning abusers from the victim’s home.
  • This was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous Government’s “ContactPoint” database of 11 million under-18-year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbiéchild abuse scandal.

“Rewarding hard-working people with higher wages”

This is another of Ms May’s Corbyn-like soundbites made shortly after Corbyn’s description of what he saw as the difference between the  Conservative and Labour offerings, in the form of a question:

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 “Do you want to be bargain-basement Britain on the edge of Europe, cutting corporate taxation, having very low wages, having grotesque inequalities of wealth? Or do you want to be a high-wage, high-investment economy that actually does provide decent chances and opportunities for all?”

We read that Theresa May has launched a cabinet committee on the economy and industrial strategy, which she is to chair; it will bring together the heads of more than ten departments and focus on “rewarding hard-working people with higher wages”.

Is Corbyn the most powerful, though least acknowledged, of Theresa May’s advisers on the political economy?

If only she would heed him on nuclear and foreign policy issues.