Author Archives: ncajsa

Nottingham Council cuts consultations – what will it mean?


budget-moneyIf you’ve not already seen the dire projection for the Nottingham City 2015/16 budget see this Council page:

http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/yourcityyourservices

Similar stories are being told in Nottinghamshire County, and in Derby and Leicester.

The question is what can be done? One thing we can see clearly is we now have Labour Councils in the City and County in Notts both poised to make ordinary people pay for the so-called economic crisis and ‘deficit’ through imposed ‘austerity’. All we are being asked to do is help them choose what to cut, or to increase cost to users, so there will inevitably be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, while the big bad central Libdem-Tory coalition government is blamed. Clearly the councils are lobbying hard for more money, even to the extent mounting an East Midlands-wide campaign to highlight existing serious problems of deprivation.

Since the broad-based group that launched Notts SOS and this website (and the regular newsletters) is no longer operating, we have a fragmented set of left-wing currents in Notts who believe, for the most part, that the best way to effect a change is through the ballot box, either the Labour Party (and Green Party) supporting ‘People’s Assembly’ or the TUSC and Left Unity coalitions who are standing candidates in the General Election. There is an overlap between TUSC and the Bedroom Tax campaign that has challenged the City Council over its implementation of this (hopefully soon to be doomed) very nasty public housing policy. PA have also opposed bedroom tax evictions, notably that of Tom Crawford. and were also delighted by Notts County Council’s vote to support a ‘Jarrow March’ last year for the NHS, going through the North of the county (berating the ‘no’ votes from coalition councillors). Others have been picking up the pieces of the cuts by running Food Banks, such as the NG7 one at the Sumac Centre (which recently stopped operating).

So what’s next if (and almost certainly when) most of these cuts or cost increases are enacted? Will getting tied up in the General Election publicity show be any use? It really seems a broad campaign without the baggage of party politics is needed more than ever in our region, to oppose austerity from the grassroots and to increase the use of direct action.


Here is a list of threatened services in Nottingham City, from the consultation website (most with a view to increase costs to individuals who use them, plus job 240 cuts and a council tax increase of 1.95%):
– Reviewing charges for Adult Social Care – Introducing an average contribution of £20 a week for around 250 citizens receiving Care, Support and Enablement services
– Increasing Fees and Charges Review of charges for Adult Social Care Proposals: Day Care from £5 to £12 per day, transport to Day Centres from £5 to £8 per return journey, Jack Dawe from £17.50 to £22.50 per hour
– Reducing case management capacity in the Youth Offending Team
– Removing vacant posts in Youth Provision
– Reviewing Sports and Culture fees and charges
– Increasing cost of school meals from £1.75 to £1.80 per meal
– Changing day centre and residential care provision
– Children’s Centres – Expanding opportunities for schools to use children centre buildings, while maintaining Children’s Centre services to the community

Scrap the Bedroom Tax – Press Release about City Council protest on 13-Nov-2014


PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate release

Scrap the Bedroom Tax Defend Council Tax Benefit Nottingham: Cathy Meadows 07913476905

Protesters rally to demand Nottingham City Council refund bedroom tax tenants.

Tenants and supporters are protesting outside Loxley House at 1pm today because Nottingham City Council have:

– Ignored tenants who have tried to claim bedroom tax refunds (under CPR 2006 or 1996 loophole[i])
– Paid money to landlords which should have been refunded to tenants.
– Delayed investigating tenants’ exemptions and requests for refunds.

One tenant who was exempt but paid bedroom tax for nearly a year has been trying to claim a refund since June and has still not received it. Nottingham City Council paid the refund to Nottingham Community Housing Association but neither the Council nor the Housing Association will hand over the money. Another tenant had to write three letters to the Council between August and October before the Council would investigate whether they were exempt (which they were).

Because council housing benefit records do not go back far enough, the Council asked Social Landlords and City Homes to provide lists of tenants who could be exempt. These investigations ended in May 2014[ii] – but tenants who were exempt were left off these lists. Even though the Council have known since June 2014 that exempt tenants were left off the lists, they refuse to meet with campaigners and say they will not do anything else to try and identify tenants wrongly charged.

Protesters are demanding that the Council:

– Immediately refund all tenants known to be exempt.

– Respond promptly and properly to all enquiries about exemptions.

– Write personally to all bedroom tax tenants of 2013/14 whose claims go back further than the Council records, to inform them about the exemption.

– Publicise the exemption in the local press.

– Provide information, posters and leaflets about the exemption to all advice centres, job centres and community groups etc.

– Launch an independent investigation into why tenants have been left off lists and why the Council didn’t take further action.

– Launch an independent investigation into why the Council have paid money which should have been refunded to tenants, to landlords.

Ends

Notes for Editors

[i]The CPR 2006 was identified in December 2013. It affects working age tenants in social housing who have occupied the same home continuously (or have been forced to move) and have been claiming Housing Benefit since 1996.

[ii] Letter to campaign from David Liversidge, June 2014

Article from Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Scrap the Bedroom Tax about the affordable Housing Bill


The Affordable Housing Bill – a Campaign’s View

‘The bedroom tax? Hasn’t that been scrapped?’ We get comments like this at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Scrap the Bedroom Tax campaign stalls now.  The Labour Party said it would scrap the tax and the Lib Dems said they no longer support it.

The well-publicised Affordable Homes Bill, which proposes changes to the tax,  recently got through its second reading in parliament, with support from both parties. But bedroom tax tenants are still suffering.

‘Y’ is terrified about the impact of a summons on her mental health and has borrowed money to pay her bedroom tax arrears. She doesn’t know how she’ll pay it back or what will happen when the arrears build up again.

‘A’ and ‘Z’ pay their bills fortnightly and buy as much food as they can afford and then stay at home until the next benefit payment.

‘K’ suffers from depression and is grieving the recent death of a close elderly relative. She is now facing mounting arrears as that relative helped her pay the bedroom tax.

‘P’ was refused a discretionary housing payment (DHP) and is using food banks to feed her family.

The bill does nothing for them now and it may still do nothing if and when it gets through eight more stages to become law.

The bill does not abolish the bedroom tax. It exempts households where:

  • certain home adaptions have been made because of disability
  • people expected to share a room can’t because of disability
  • no reasonable alternative accommodation has been offered

It doesn’t exempt households who need an extra room for medical equipment or for overnight carers for disabled children. Or parents who are not their children’s main carer, or their children are away studying or in young offenders’ institutions.

All the exemptions rely on tenants being aware of and proving that they are exempt – not an easy task – in Nottingham our campaign is still coming across bedroom tax tenants who have not been made aware that they are eligible for a refund because of the pre-1996 tenant loophole confirmed in January 2014, or are having to fight to get a refund from Nottingham City Council.

The Labour-dominated city council doesn’t even ensure tenants are aware they can apply for Discretionary Housing Payment before taking them to court for bedroom tax arrears.  Also Advice centres who could support tenants are already working at full capacity and at least one advice centre in Nottingham no longer helps tenants complete the new eight page DHP application forms.

Critically the bill does not challenge the fundamental principle of the bedroom tax: if someone does not leave their home, their housing benefit will be cut and they will be expected to use money meant for food and bills to cover their rent.

While it brings hope, publicity about the Affordable Housing Bill is confusing and potentially reduces active support for bedroom tax campaigns.

“There will be no evictions from council run properties… as a result of the bedroom tax.” Milan Radulovic, leader of Nottinghamshire’s Broxtowe borough council made this commitment in April 2013 and has kept to it. With 17 Labour, 17 Conservative and 10 Lib Dem councillors, it shows that councils can be pushed if some councillors are prepared to take a lead. But this is not enough. They are still implementing the bedroom tax though not evicting.

Labour has a majority in local government, they could stop the bedroom tax tomorrow if all their councils made similar announcements. They should cancel all bedroom tax debts, using reserves in the short term and launch a mass campaign with unions, campaigners, community groups, disabled groups and others to demand the shortfall from the government.

DPAC 4th of July 2014 ‘Independent Living Tea Party’


From Disabled People Against Cuts

http://dpac.uk.net/

Event in London at Dept. of Work and Pensions.

DPAC is delighted to extend an open invitation to celebrate Independent Living Day with us on the 4th of July at the ‘Independent Living Tea Party ‘. 
 
The party will begin at 2pm at the DWP, Caxton House in Tothill Street SW1. There will be fun & games, and entertainment; and of course, some civil disobedience. 
 
We have come a long way since the demand for Independent Living was first made nearly 50 years ago. Then, as now, IL was our solution for how society supports disabled people to take our place as equals. For how society addresses inaccessible institutions, structures and process it created, which do more to disable people than their impairments ever could. 
 
There are many strands of Independent Living, and all are under threat. Cuts to:
·                                 Support funding – such Social Care, the ILF & Disabled Students Allowance; 
·                                 Education – in areas like the wholesale destruction of SEN Statements and the continued segregation of disabled children into ‘special’ schools;
·                                 Transport – the withdrawal of Taxi-cards, freedom passes and the halting of planned works to make infrastructure more accessible, amongst a host of other cuts combine to make disabled people second-class citizens in society.
 
But we have fought this fight before – and won. Our Disabled Peoples Organisations, legal gains and the policy victories we have won previously are testament to the power, know how and skills disabled people have to develop solutions to problems created by society.  We must celebrate these achievements and remind ourselves that each of these successes have had to be earned, no-one ever gave them to us without a struggle. 
 
So celebrate with us, or alternatively create your own party. Get together with friends and supporters, and create the kind of vibrant, positive spaces we have always created. Bring the noise – bells, whistles, drums, pots & pans etc. Bring food to share. Bring your enthusiasm.
 
if you are planning your own party, here are some suggestions:
 
1) Choose your target –
focus on the important issues locally; support, education, transport etc – its up to you. Identify what you want to celebrate and who represents the biggest threat to that locally. Is it your local council or Uni? Is it a transport provider? Or is it someone else?
 
2) Tell everyone –
yes, EVERYONE. Media, campaign networks, activists, local people. DONT FORGET TO TELL DPAC so we can list and support your action!
 
3) Be heard, be seen –
make your event loud and proud. Bring music, choirs, drum, bells, whistles. Remind everyone out there that we won‘t be separated from society, we are society. We won ‘t go quietly.
 
4)  We’re also holding a Twitter Party on the Hashtag
#IL4JULY so that people at the DWP and at other events round the country
can tweet in pictures of their events and we can all join in. Further
details to follow, watch this space.
 
The famous Boston teaparty led to a revolution against the British government let’s see where our teaparty leads…..
 
 

Scrap the Bedroom Tax Defend Council Tax Benefit Nottingham press release over City court summons to tenants


For Immediate release
Scrap the Bedroom Tax Defend Council Tax Benefit Nottingham:                                       
Cathy Meadows 07913476905
 

Local campaign group calls meeting with Nottingham City Council over bedroom tax pre-court protocol failures. 

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Scrap the Bedroom Tax Defend Council Tax Benefits campaign have requested a meeting with Nottingham City Council as a matter of urgency amid concerns that the Council are failing to follow the pre-court protocol for tenants hit with the bedroom tax.  They are concerned that the council is not engaging with tenants who are in bedroom tax arrears, not giving them the information they need, and not trying to make arrangements with them before taking them to court.  In the most recent example a tenant who is less than four weeks in arrears and whose arrears have been decreasing since January, has received a court summons for possession of their home from the council.

This is the second time the campaign group has requested in writing, a meeting with councillors, as well as previously making a verbal request.
 
Ends
Notes for Editors
[1] The council are applying to the court for Possession Orders, which give them permission to evict residents who can’t keep up with Bedroom Tax and/or Bedroom Tax arrears payments.  Social housing landlords must follow a pre-court protocol.  Tenants have the opportunity to put their case at the court hearing but do not receive legal aid to fund a solicitor to represent them in court. 
 
To contact Scrap the Bedroom Tax Defend Council Tax Benefit Nottingham contact:

07521 569 622 / 0791 347 6905
defendcounciltaxbenefits@yahoo.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/450355785005204/

https://twitter.com/defendbenefits tweet us defendbenefits

Trade Unions Unite For Militant And Sustained General Strike Len McClusky Announces


In a genuinely historic move, every trade union in the UK has signed up to a sustained general strike against austerity which could begin in the next few days Unite leader Len McCluskey has confirmed.

Read more: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/trade-unions-unite-for-militant-and-sustained-general-strike-len-mcclusky-announces/

Link

Anti workfare flying pickets rock Salvation Army in Edinburgh


Anti workfare flying pickets rock Salvation Army in Edinburgh
Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Anti workfare campaigners swooped on four Salvation Army shops in Edinburgh on 3rd March, blockading them all and turning away customers and a delivery lorry. Salvation Army managers were visibly rattled as a giant banner proclaiming IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN blocked the entrance to their shops.

Read more: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/127

Link

Council Tax Protester sent to Prison


Nottingham City Council have succeeded in their attempt to imprison pensioner Ross Longhurst for refusing to pay Council Tax as a protest against the Coalition Government’s austerity measures. He was sentenced on Thursday 13th March to 28 days in prison and was immediately taken out of court by six burly G4S persons. Read more:
http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/7616

UCU strike and NCAFC


ucu_strike_2014Members of the University and College Union, UCU (the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK), are joined with Unison, Unite and EIS on strike today for fair pay. Visit: http://fairpay.web.ucu.org.uk
for details and live updates. The one-day strike will be followed next week by a third 2-hour strike of UCU, two having already taken place in 2014, action which is due to escalate unless there is negotiation. Local action is taking place at higher education organisations University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. Local action has included pickets and ‘teach-outs’ in the city centre. At University of Nottingham, Unison and Unite members are not out due to local agreements.

Update: UCU members at Aberdeen, Bradford, East London, West of Scotland, Greenwich, Staffordshire, the Leeds College of Art, Manchester Met, Nottingham Trent, Robert Gordon and Queen Mary UL are all being called out on Monday 10th Feb for a full day strike because management has been docking a full days pay for a 2 hour strike.

Also see the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts for news of student-led actions and solidarity: http://anticuts.com.

Read also: Why the universities strikes are about more than just a ‘measly’ pay offer.

Twitter (good for recent updates across UK, including photos): https://twitter.com/#fairpayinhe

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Is This What You Wanted Iain Duncan Smith?


Blog piece:

via RIP Tim Salter and Denis Jones. Is This What You Wanted Iain Duncan Smith?.