Dec 192014

Further punitive restrictions on Universal Credit are on the way


The latest development of Ian Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit scheme will soon mean that people made unemployed will have to wait at least five weeks before getting any financial support.

At present it’s two weeks; still a long time to wait when you have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Some of this is administrative delay, but with the new five week wait it will be a deliberate strategy to force people into immediate work or push them into penury – the latter being more likely in an economy where jobs increasingly can’t actually fund even basic necessities like housing and energy costs. Continue reading »

Dec 192014

Cabal of fat cats court ministers in Brussels as campaigners make progress against trade deal


BUSINESS leaders showed signs yesterday of cracking under the weight of grassroots campaigns against parasitic international trade plan TTIP as they gathered in Brussels to try and harass ministers into signing.

A posse of fat cats from across Europe penned a joint open letter calling for EU leaders to “step up the pressure” and push through the unpopular US-EU deal, which would allow companies to sue national governments if they refuse to flog off public services, including the NHS.

And their plea came as shady business lobbyists launched a glad-handing campaign with European prime ministers in Brussels, aiming to persuade them to sell their electorates down the river.

In a letter to the Financial Times, bosses’ club CBI chief executive John Cridland joined European counterparts to say: “TTIP has been subject to heated debate over the past year.

“It is our collective responsibility to make sure this debate is based on facts and hard evidence alone.”

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Dec 192014

Government refusal to guarantee funding for schemes will force families to turn to food banks and loan sharks, say critics

A woman visits a food bank in Aberdeen
A woman visits a food bank in Aberdeen. 

Poverty charities and councils have warned that the government’s refusal to guarantee funding for local welfare schemes will force low income families in crisis to turn to food banks and loan sharks.

The government announced in January that it would no longer provide £180m central funding for local welfare assistance schemes operated by English local authorities after April 2015, triggering a cross-party revolt by Conservative MPs and council leaders, Labour councils and charities.

It is believed that the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, attempted to secure £70m for local welfare to announce in Thursday’s local government finance settlement, but was blocked by the chancellor, George Osborne. Continue reading »

Dec 192014

Perhaps for the first time in this parliament, Conservative-run councils are at the forefront of opposition to Coalition cuts to municipal budgets


Buckinghamshire: Aylesbury county hall

Perhaps for the first time in this parliament it is Conservative-run councils who have led the barrage of criticism over the local authority spending cuts announced today, warning of “tipping point” decisions ahead as they are forced to seek billions of pounds more in savings.

The Tory local government minister, Kris Hopkins, announced to the Commons that councils would receive what he called a “fair” settlement: no council would receive a cut of more than 6.4% in spending power. But local authorities say the 2015 cuts confirmed today amount to around £2.6bn in cash terms this year alone with more to come in future years.

Martin Tett, Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, which calculates it must make another £46m cuts over the next three years, said:

I think we’ve reached the tipping point … where we can’t just eat away at our back office services any more. We are going to have to do things in terms of home-to-school transport, cutbacks in a whole range of areas that people are going to really start noticing now.

Continue reading »

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