Category Archives: Humanity

DPAC: Taxpayers Against Poverty: General Election Manifestos Must Address Homelessness and Hunger, and the Powerlessness of Homeless Families . . .

1. GENERAL ELECTION MANIFESTOS MUST ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS AND HUNGER. 

The 2012 and 2016 Welfare Reform Acts were seen through Parliament by government ministers who sought to force the unemployed into work by imposing inadequate incomes and punitive laws designed to treat them as if they are at work.

Examples are:

  • a monthly rather than a weekly income;
  • housing benefit paid to the unemployed from which they pay the rent to the landlord as if it were from a monthly pay cheque; and
  • strict rules about keeping appointments at the job centre.

The purpose was to “change the culture” of unemployment, on the mistaken assumption that the unemployed lived an easy life on benefits so were unlikely to look for work, hence the cruel benefit sanction on those who “broke the rules”.

Lord Freud  on the Welfare Reform Bill 2016. Hansard Column 1427, 19 October 2016:

Every year I stand here because there is a forecast that says that child poverty is going up, has gone up or will go up, but when we actually see the figures, we find that child poverty has actually gone down. When you transform the economy, change the culture so that work is what has been driving things, and move up the employment rates and the earning rates in the way that we have, you find that the behavioural impacts are very different from the static analysis that many of the external experts tell us about.”

Lord Freud could not have been more wrong. Child poverty is going up and getting worse. 

Attempts by cross-bench peers to insert amendments requiring a health-impact assessment of the government’s policies were rejected. The actual and disastrous impact on the health of low-income families and individuals can be found on the Taxpayers Against Poverty website.

UK land grabbed by the rich for private gain

London councils have published analysis showing that there has been a significant reduction of about 200,000 in the number of homes that are affordable for tenants receiving the Local Housing Allowance. That is one among a number causes of the escalating homelessness and hunger in the capital.

The 1980s’ “big bang” set up the UK housing market to make large landowners very rich indeed, with unearned and untaxed increases in the value of their land. Lending was deregulated, rent controls abolished and funds allowed to flow in and out of the limited amount of British land. Small businesses and family homes, which pay rent, business rates and/or council tax, and own no land, are treated little better than during the 15th– and 16th-century enclosures.

Tenants are being pushed off the land with no solutions on the political table to reverse the trend.

In Haringey, 3,000 homeless families, with 5,208 children between them, have been forced into temporary accommodation, some for up to and over 10 years. Accirding to the House of Commons Library there are 83,700 homless families in temporary accommodation in England with 124,000 children, up 74% sine 2010. 56,880 of the families are in London. Too many of them are in one room in hostels or other acommodation when none ought to be.

Taxpayers Against Poverty strongly recommends that the Greater London Authority and Parliament adopt two policies used by the Danish government:

  • Long-term vacancy of properties is discouraged in Denmark. If an owner moves and does not wish to sell the property, it must be rented out or advertised for sale. If it is empty for more than six weeks, the owner must report to the local authority, which then seeks to provide tenants, whom the owner has to accept.
  • Non-residents of Denmark who have not lived in the country for a total period of five years previously may only acquire property after receiving permission from the Ministry of Justice.

Income support for a single adult has been losing value since 1979

There is a community of about 11,000 social-security claimants in Haringey. The shredding of their social security incomes since 2010 has been piled on top of decades of adult benefit negligence. The evidence came from Professor Jonathan Bradshaw in 2009  responding to one of mine. In April 2011, austerity measures were then piled onto an already inadequate cornerstone of the benefit system. To that cornerstone are added disabled people’s, children’s, housing and council-tax benefits.

“When unemployment benefit started in 1912, it was 7 shillings a week – about 22% of average male earnings in manufacturing. The percentage fluctuated over the succeeding decades, but by 1979, the benefit rate was still about 21% of average earnings (manual and non-manual, male and female). By 2008, however, as a result of the policy of tying benefits to the price index while real earnings increased, the renamed Jobseeker’s Allowance had fallen to an all-time low of 10.5% of average earnings.”

Benefit increases were frozen at 1% a year in April 2011. £73.10 a week Jobseekers’ Allowance equates to £317 a month Universal Credit. Using the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s minimum-income standards for single-adult benefits after rent and council tax as of April 2019, we can see that Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit are nearly £32 a week too low for healthy living.

And that is before :

  • the five-week delay in the first payment of Universal Credit;
  • the Department for Work and Pensions “budgeting advance” to cover that delay, which is a loan that has to be repaid out of 73.10 a week;
  • the cuts in council tax and housing benefits, which mean rent and council tax must also be paid out of that £73.10 a week;
  • income is stopped by benefit sanctions, during which rent, council tax and TV-licence arrears and other debts pile up; adding to the impossibility of living on benefits;
  • the realisation – often only belatedly at the job centre – by a parent who has a third child that the government’s two-child policy means they will be refused child benefit for their latest offspring.

The hopelessly inadequate single adult benefit cannot maintain a healthy adult life, let alone pay rent or council tax, or their enforcement costs. That is a cruel catch 22. If your children’s benefits pay the rent, they are hungry, naked or cold; if you feed, clothe growing children or keep them warm, then the family is evicted and homeless.

Councils force low income tenants into the private sector and their rent over the benefit cap. 

In the United Kingdom, local authority officers and benefit claimants are both the victims of toxic and disconnected central government policies. Policies that combine to escalate the number of homeless and hungry families. The benefits freeze is bad enough (Benefits freeze leaves a third of claimants ‘with £100 to live on a month’), but, in 2012, the government introduced another measure that is particularly hard on London families. It allows local-authority housing departments to offer homeless families in temporary council housing at £90 a week rent a move into permanent private-sector housing at £300 a week rent for a two-bed home, for example (see table).

Families must accept the council’s first offer or they are deemed intentionally homeless and struck off the list of those the council has a duty to house. The unintended consequence of the 2012 measure is that a family’s total benefit income, including housing benefit, can be forced over the London benefit cap of £442.31 by high private-sector rent. The government cuts the housing benefit to enforce the cap on the total benefit income. Thar leaves rent to be paid by the family’s remaining benefits They have been frozen and are already short of £100 a month to live on. Hunger and homelessness are inevitable.

UK is the only nation in the world requiring renters to pay the landlord’s property tax.

The UK being the only nation in the world requiring renters to pay the landlord’s property tax adds the straw that breaks the camels back. That is a great injustice. The council tax is a property tax based on 1991 evaluations after the poll tax was abolished and the council tax introduced.

There is a tenant of my acquaintance who lives in a private two-bed terraced house in Tottenham that was bought new for £95,000 in 1999. An identical property next door, also new in 1999, is on the market for £425,000. The landlord is £330,000 richer, unearned and untaxed, while the tenant has paid about £1,000 a year in property/council tax for 20 years, so is £20,000 poorer.

290 out of 326 English councils require benefit claimants to pay a proportion of their landlord’s council tax. It is enforced by the magistrate’s court, adding the council’s enforcement costs to the arrears and the bailiffs adding their fees. Taxing £73.10 a week income support/Jobseekers’ Allowance/Universal Credit is a pernicious injustice.

The good health and wellbeing of all UK citizens in or out of work must now become a national priority.

2. An inhuman treatment of powerless tenants. 

TAP is opposing in the implementation of the project at High Road West. We so firmly believe it is against the best interests of the low income residents of Tottenham. After the secure tenants were moved out, the current tenants of Love Lane Estate have been moved in by Haringey Counci. Because they are homeless families in temporary accommodation they have no relevant housing rights and can be moved out more easily before demolition. An inhuman treatment of powerless tenants.

Some of these 180 young families have been in temporary accommodation for up and over ten years. They have already been forced to moved several times so disrupting the education of their growing children. They are among 3000 homeless families in temporary accommodation in Haringey. Too many of them are in one room in hostels or other accommodation –  when none ought to be.

The way the High Road West project has been designed does not commit the council to using 100% of the site for meeting part of a target of providing the 3000 much needed secure homes for the homeless.  What is proposed is the convoluted process of allowing Lend Lease to build on land which is free to the council and then sell “affordable” homes back to the council for £68,000 each. That enables Lend Lease to make the largest profit possible by selling the remaining and the majority if the homes into the very expensive London housing market.

The best way to build truly affordable homes for rent is for the council keep their public land out of the market, borrow the money and hire Lend Lease to build them.

It is a matter of public interest that we all know the terms of the  out of court settlement bewteen lendlease and the council, particularly whether it involved Northumberland Park, another council estate eyed by international property devopers for similar treatment.

Another shocking aspect of the High Road West project is the intention to grab the land from under 50 small thriving businesses of the Peacock Industrial Estate. Their businesses, which are employing local people, will be severely disrupted – to create a park!

The current national housing policy is ideologically designed to prevent the building of council homes on council land.

To do so is not socialism. It is simply an intelligent way of building truly affordable housing which has been used by all political parties in power since WWII. Also the capacity of the poorest tenants to pay even the lowest rents in London has been severely undermined by the shredding of houisng benefit and other social security payments. (See above)

Now is not the time to build social housing at council house rents. It would be better to leave it until after the next election which will have to change national housing and social security policies for the better and , it is ardently hoped. for the better use of public and private land for the common good.

For the time being the council ought to stop pushing powerless homeless families in temporary accommodation from pillar to post. The council can leave them where they are – even declare them all permanently housed.

National housing and social security policies have to change  to meet the needs of low income tenants.

Taxpayers Against Poverty

A VOICE FOR THE COMPASSIONATE MAJORITY

No citizen without an affordable home and an

adequate income in work or unemployment.

Supported by TAP RESOURCES INDEX on our website 

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Filed under Austerity, Benefits, Budget Cuts, Budgets, Deprivation, Despair, Divide and Rule, Economics, Government Spending, Homelessness, House Prices, Housing Benefits, Human Rights, Humanity, Hunger, Ideology, Impoverishment, Injustice, Legislation, Living Wage, Low Wages, Manifestos, Misleading, Private Sector, Privatisation of Public Resources, Right-wing, Sanctions, Social Security, Tory Cuts, Underfunding, Unemployed

The Royal Show . . . . . . .

A friend called around to my home to see me this afternoon, and the first thing she asked me, was if I’d watched the royal wedding.

I had to think for a minute, before I realised what she was talking about, and then I had to tell her an honest ‘No’.

We started talking about other things, and time went on, then she left. I then came online to check for messages from my daughter, and the first thing I saw on Facebook, was all the people talking about how they had cried when they saw the bride, and how wonderful it all was – and I felt a little sick.

Yesterday, I saw online about how the police went all around Windsor, taking away all the possessions of the homeless there, and trying to get them to move on to pastures new – after all, it wouldn’t do for a royal to actually see some of their subjects down and out, and living on the streets outside their castle, would it? 😦

I felt like asking every one of them the following questions:

‘Why did you have tears in your eyes? Is there something terrible happening that I haven’t noticed – other than what’s happening to practically everyone who isn’t rich, of course!

Or are you watching the multi-million pound freak show that’s been put on to keep the masses happy? The show that’s costing every tax payer in the UK multi-millions of pounds?
Are you crying for all the money that has been spent on today, that could have been spend housing the homeless – probably those same homeless people, in and around Windsor, whose possessions were taken from them, and bagged up, to be collected after the weekend?
Did you cry for the money spent on this extravaganza, that could have been used to help put food in the bellies of all the thousands of children in the UK, who are going hungry today – and every day – because their parents are being punished for daring to be unemployed, or ill, or disabled, or even in work, but on terribly low wages?
Did you cry for the money taken from the unemployed, who are being ruthlessly sanctioned – normally for the most stupid of reasons – just to save money for the treasury, so they can give even more tax breaks to the super-rich – or pay the royal family their yearly ‘allowance’ which, when added up, could probably keep many thousands of families from starving, or being made homeless, every year?

Is that why you had tears in your eyes?’

I read online that the cost of the wedding could be anything up to £32,000,000 – and that around 94% of that will be for the cost of all the security which was involved, in order to keep everyone safe from snipers, bombs etc – but this will be picked up by the British Tax Payer, with only the core costs, such as the church, flowers, brides outfit etc., being covered by the royal family themselves.

Now, I like a nice wedding as much as anyone, but in these times of enforced austerity, where we are all being made to tighten our belts, or have been made homeless, and often jobless, because of the zero-hour contract employment terms, being forced on us by greedy bosses, who care more for profit than they do about the people working for them, then how can anyone justify the huge show put on – mainly for the foreign market – but also as a way of keeping people’s attention away from what’s being done to us every day, here in the UK!

So, as people watch the bride and groom – and good luck to them as they start a new life together [a life rather more blessed than their UK subjects are having to deal with every day, unfortunately], crying with joy at all the razzamatazz put on to blind them to reality, they aren’t thinking about the total mess that the government have made of practically everything they’ve put their hands on, in the almost 8 years they’ve been in charge of the country 😦

Those watching the wedding won’t be thinking about just how badly the Brexit negotiations are right now, or how people are dying in their thousands as the DWP make life such a living hell for so many people, that they choose to take their own lives rather than keep suffering this institutional abuse!

Rather than continue to live in this austerity-led hell on earth, there are so very many people choosing to opt out, that it’s becoming a serious problem – which the media choose to keep quiet about, rather than doing the jobs they are being paid for, and investigating it all, and letting people know just how badly the tories are doing in their stewardship of the UK!

While they watch this royal show, they aren’t thinking of how the government are  deliberately starving the NHS into submission, either, just so they can sell it all off, for knock-down prices, to their business buddies in the private sector!

They’ll definitely be thinking about it the next time they need to call the emergency services, to save the life of a loved one, though! That’s when all the private firms, who are already taking over vital services, start charging people at the point of contact – an unspoken blackmail attempt, which will have people choosing to go deeply into debt, to save the lives of their loved ones 😦

Even with the money being made by the usual merchandising of an event like this, it’s still a huge amount of public money, being spent on something that the royals should have paid for themselves – after all, they are millionnaires, and get a hefty chunk of money every single year from the public purse as wages – so why not do what every other family does at a wedding, here in the UK, and cut their coat to fit their cloth?

These are just a few of the reasons why I chose not to watch the show put on to gull the people of the UK 😦 

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Filed under Austerity, Brexit, Celebrations, Children, Deprivation, Disability Issues, Funding Cuts, Government Spending, Homelessness, Human Rights, Humanity, Ideology, Impoverishment, Injustice, NHS, Police, Right-wing Media, Royal Family, Royal Wedding, Sanctions, Security, Starvation, Starvation of Resources, Suicide, Taxation, Tory Cuts, Underfunding, Unemployed, Wedding, Welfare Cuts

Video: doctor speaks powerfully – “the humanity is being sucked out of our NHS” . . .

Lauren Gavaghan is a doctor, psychiatrist and well-known NHS campaigner. On Thursday evening she spoke movingly to a mass gathering of Labour NHS campaigners about the suffering and beauty she has seen in ten years of service in the NHS – and the vampiric effect of Tory government.

What she said was powerful, inspiring – and terrifying. She spoke of huge shortages, of the disrespect of the government toward patients and staff – and of the unnecessary and undignified deaths the under-resourcing of the NHS has caused. And she summed it up in one haunting phrase:

” The humanity is being sucked out of our NHS. ”

This video brings home the preciousness of the National Health Service that Labour built, the disaster imposed on it – and the awful prospect of its loss. Please watch and share:

Please click the link below, to watch the video of her speech, posted online by The Swawkbox, today:
Doctor speaks powerfully: ‘The Humanity is being sucked out of our NHS’

 

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Filed under 70th Anniversary of the NHS, Austerity, Budget Cuts, Changes, Choices, Collapse of the NHS, Death, Degraded Public Services, Deprivation, Divide and Rule, Economics, Funding Cuts, Government Spending, Health Issues, Hospital Waiting Lists, Human Rights, Humanity, Ideology, Impoverishment, Memories, NHS, Politics, Privatisation of Public Resources, Starvation of Resources, Tory Cuts, Tragedy, UK Government, Welfare Cuts