Category Archives: What cuts

Information about specific cuts

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.
 
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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/

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

Previous:

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?.

UCU/Unite/Unison Higher Education sector – second strike day on Tuesday 3rd December 2013


Members of the University and College Union (UCU) along with Unite and Unison – the three largest unions in the higher and further education sector – will take industrial action over pay again on 3rd December 2013, rejecting a 1% offer in the knowledge that universities have made a huge surplus but staff pay has fallen in real terms by 13% since 2009. Locally there will be UCU picket lines at University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University involving teaching, research and teaching support staff (such as library staff). Local details: UCU Newsletter Issue 8 Nottingham Dec 2013

Details from National UCU: http://www.ucu.org.uk/6833

Extract from above link:

Tuesday 3 December strike remains on, but unions hope for more talks to break impasse

UCU said today (21 November 2013) it was disappointed that talks aimed at resolving a pay dispute in universities ended without a resolution last night.

The union said to avoid strike action across UK universities on Tuesday 3 December the employers’ representatives, UCEA, had to improve the 1% pay offer that was rejected by staff and which prompted strike action. UCU said it hoped there could be further talks before the 3 December action, but that the employers needed to return with an improved offer.

Previous action: Report of previous joint strike by UCU, Unite and Unison – the three largest unions in the sector (31st October) which has been followed by work-to-rule and other non-strike action:
http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6221

University of Nottingham Impact magazine (by students): http://www.impactnottingham.com/2013/10/staff-strike-hits-the-university-of-nottingham/

From UCU, justification for strike:

… employers had a combined surplus last year of more than £1.1bn, according to HESA, yet were prepared to offer a pay rise which covered barely one-third of the increased cost of living.

our employers are sitting on billions of pounds of reserves, around £10bn (even after pension liabilities) according to HESA, yet say they cannot afford to help staff whose pay has fallen in real terms by 13% since 2009.

our employers expenditure on staff has stalled, yet salaries for those at the very top have grown to a point where, as The Independent newspaper describes, ‘performance seems to have no influence on vice-chancellors’ bonuses and benefits.’

These facts and the employers’ intransigence are why the National Union of Students (NUS) have called for further, urgent negotiations between both sides with the aim of agreeing ‘a fair and sustainable settlement for higher education staff’. UCU and our sister unions have agreed to this sensible suggestion, but the employers have not.

See also: Nottingham Post articles about first strike day (After): http://www.nottinghampost.com/University-staff-united-pay-protest-strike-action/story-20019732-detail/story.html
(Before) http://www.nottinghampost.com/Staff-Nottingham-s-universities-strike-today/story-20015805-detail/story.html

See also: UCU Nottingham Local Association: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/ucu/current.php

Budget protest at Notts County Hall, from Nottingham Indymedia (which took place 13/11/2013)


Budget protest at Notts County Hall (13/11/2013), report from Nottingham Indymedia (posted 17/11/2013):

On Wednesday 13th November, Notts County Unison held a protest at County Hall against the cuts being proposed at Nottinghamshire County Council.

The council reverted to Labour control in May, but this has made little difference to the austerity programme in the county which continues apace.

Read more: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6250

Local group lobby Nottingham City Council in Clifton to refuse Bedroom Tax evictions


For Immediate Release – 30/9/2013

Contacts:
Cathy Meadows: 07913476905
Email defendcounciltaxbenefits [at] yahoo.co.uk

Local group declare evictions prevention protocol ineffective and lobby Nottingham City Council in Clifton to refuse Bedroom Tax evictions

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign are lobbying Nottingham City Council to publicly announce that they will not evict people because of Bedroom Tax arrears and that a recent Nottingham Bedroom Tax Eviction Protocol[i] cannot prevent Bedroom Tax evictions.

The group have responded to the Evictions Ptrevention Protocol but they have not had a response from Nottingham City Council. Notices Seeking Possession have been sent by Nottingham City Council to residents in Clifton and St Anns.

The Lobby will be held at Clifton Cornerstone on Friday 4 October at 10.30am.

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[i] The Eviction Prevention Protocol was signed by Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham Community Housing Association and ASRA Housing Group on 14 September 2013.

Previous release on 23/9/2013: https://nottssos.org.uk/2013/09/30/nottingham-bedroom-tax-eviction-prevention-protocol-does-not-prevent-evictions-but-shifts-blame-onto-the-tenant-press-release/

Link

ATOS work capability death toll ceremony in London – photo


http://www.demotix.com/news/2816810/london-remembers-over-10000-dead-after-atos-work-capablity-tests#media-2816315

Nottingham Bedroom Tax Eviction Prevention Protocol does not prevent evictions but shifts blame onto the tenant – Press release (23rd Sept 2013)


For Immediate Release – 23/9/2013

Nottingham Bedroom Tax Eviction Prevention Protocol does not prevent evictions but shifts blame onto the tenant.

Contacts: Cathy Meadows 07913476905
Email: defendcounciltaxbenefits [at] yahoo.co.uk

A campaign group has criticised a new Nottingham Bedroom Tax Eviction Protocol[i] signed by social housing landlords including Nottingham City Council, saying that it will not prevent evictions, it offers nothing that tenants could not already access, and potentially blames tenants it they are evicted.

The report[ii] by Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign criticises the protocol for implying that arrears are caused by tenants’ inability to “budget”. It also refers to a UN report which says the Bedroom Tax may be a violation of human rights and the recent announcement by the Labour Party that it will abolish the Bedroom Tax, and concludes that the only acceptable solution to the social, health and monetary costs of the Bedroom Tax is for Nottingham City Council to use its position by publicly stating that it will not evict anyone because of Bedroom Tax arrears and encouraging other Nottingham social landlords to do the same.

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[i] The Eviction Prevention Protocol was signed by Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham Community Housing Association and ASRA Housing Group on 14 September 2013.

[ii] The report is attached to email (this follows below)

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign response to Evictions Prevention Protocol

Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham Community Housing Association and ASRA Housing Group have signed up to an “Eviction Prevention Protocol” to prevent evictions caused by the Bedroom Tax.

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign opposes this protocol because:
• It will not prevent evictions.
• It does not offer anything to tenants which they could not access anyway.
• It sets up tenants to be blamed when evictions occur.
• It abandons tenants who don’t “engage” when they may be the most vulnerable.
• It uses vague terms such as “engaging” with housing providers and “realistic and affordable.” payment plans, without explaining who defines these terms and what they mean (ie. what is expected from tenants).
• It puts too much emphasis on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), which are temporary, limited, and discretionary.
• It presents the issue of financial hardship caused by the Bedroom Tax as an issue of budgeting, rather than the real issue, which is that people can only avoid rent arrears by using money which is meant for food, fuel, bills, clothes. This implies that if eviction occurs it is the tenant’s fault.

The protocol says housing providers will request a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) for every tenant suffering financial hardship who “engages” with tenancy sustainment teams.

• The term “engaging” is not explained. What exactly is expected of tenants, and who decides whether tenants are “engaging” or not? Many tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax are some of the most vulnerable people in society, who may lack the support to be able to deal with the additional stress caused by the Bedroom Tax.
• Tenants are already free to request DHPs themselves or through advice agencies and there is no guarantee that requesting a DHP will mean a tenant will receive one. Some tenants have received a DHP in repect of bedroom tax arrears while others have been refused. Furthermore, DHPs are temporary so tenants have to apply repeatedly with all the uncertainty that entails.

The agreement states that Credit Union accounts which help tenants to prioritise rent and other bills are also being offered to tenants facing court action.

• All tenants are already free to open Credit Union accounts – at a cost of 50p per month – so the agreement is not offering anything new.

The protocol states that affected tenants will be expected to set up and keep to an affordable payment plan.

• A tenant in Bedroom Tax arrears faces a weekly demand for rent which they cannot afford. The protocol does not explain how such a tenant would suddenly be able to afford a payment plan to pay off their bedroom tax debt.
• The protocol does not acknowledge that arrears would continue to accumulate since the bedroom tax is ongoing and that this would lead to eviction.

The protocol does not acknowledge the extreme emotional and monetary hardship being experienced by those households who are not yet in arrears. Households can only pay bedroom tax by cutting down on food, fuel, transport, clothes etc. We know of households who are experiencing extreme hardship and poverty – the protocol does not address this.

By emphasising budgeting, priorities and advice the protocol implies that bedroom tax arrears is caused by tenants’ inability to budget and lack of information. This is clearly not the case. Arrears are caused by tenants being asked to pay towards rent (and council tax) from living expenses meant for food, fuel, clothes, transport etc. Budgetting solutions are unsustainable and set up tenants to fail and be blamed, putting huge pressure on households and leading to evictions.

The social health and monetary costs of the Bedroom Tax, which are hitting vulnerable households, communities and the social housing sector, are unacceptable and unsustainable. A recent UN report says that the Bedroom Tax may be a violation of human rights, and the Labour Party have now announced that they will abolish the Bedroom Tax. In view of this, the only effective way of protecting households from eviction is for the council to use its position to implement a no evictions policy and to encourage other social housing providers to do the same.

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign calls on Nottingham City Council and all Nottingham Social Housing Providers to:

Publicly state that they will not evict anyone because of Bedroom Tax arrears.
Recall all notices of seeking possession and eviction notices relating to bedroom tax arrears.
Acknowledge that Bedroom Tax arrears are not caused by tenants inability to budget.
Use all of its DHP budget (including reserves it is permitted to use) to reduce Bedroom Tax arrears (at August 2013 only one fifth of the budget had been used).
With other social landlords and campaigners persistently explain and publicise the social and monetary costs and unsustainability of the Bedroom Tax to Central Government.
Demand that Central Government take responsibility for this policy and the potential damage to the social housing sector, by demanding it makes up the shortfall in rental income to social housing providers caused by bedroom tax arrears.
Demand that Central Government abolish the bedroom tax.

No Bedroom Tax evictions in Nottingham! Lobby Monday 8th July 1pm Nottingham Council House


No Bedroom Tax evictions in Nottingham!

Lobby Monday 8th July 1pm Nottingham Council House – organised by Notts Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign.

Nine UK councils (including Broxtowe Borough) have said they will not evict people who cannot pay their rent because of the Bedroom Tax – We can get Nottingham City Council to do the same.

Under the “Under Occupancy Charge” (Bedroom Tax), the government is taking 14% or 25% off peoples’ Housing Benefit if they live in social housing (council or housing association) and have one or more “spare” bedrooms.

* The Bedroom Tax unfairly hits people with disabilities, carers, parents with part-time custody and young people who are forced to share bedrooms.

* The Bedroom Tax is a cut in Housing Benefit, which is claimed by some of the poorest in the community including part time workers, low waged and people unable to work because of their health or disability.

* It does nothing to help those who claim Housing Benefit because they are out of work, or because they are so poorly paid that they need to claim help with housing costs.

* It will not bring down the Housing Benefit bill which is big because of high rents – mainly in the private sector but now social landlords can charge 80% of the market rate.

* Even if people are able and willing to downsize, according to the Evening Post there are only 35 one bedroom properties available in Nottingham for the 6,000 people affected by the Bedroom Tax to move into. Social housing is in short supply because of a lack of investment by the government over many years.

Whilst the Bedroom Tax is a national scheme, local councils have to implement it. Nottingham City Council say they are not in favour of the scheme. We believe the only way to stop the scheme is to fight it. If all Councils against the scheme take the following action, it will force the government to re-think the Bedroom Tax:

· Refuse to evict people who can’t pay their rent because of the Bedroom Tax. The process of evicting someone from their home is long, complex, expensive (it costs £6,000 per household) and extremely stressful.

· Rather than using resources in this way, we say Nottingham City Council should use its reserves to build a campaign in Nottingham to pressurise the government to scrap the Bedroom Tax. We believe this campaign would be supported by the majority of people in Nottingham – many of whom are unaware of the changes.

· Nottingham City Council should also redesignate properties as having fewer bedrooms to limit the effects of the Bedroom Tax

· Use its influence on the boards of many housing associations to prevent them from evicting people because of the Bedroom Tax

At the Council meeting on Monday July 8, the council will be discussing how they will be implementing the Bedroom Tax.

Lobby Nottingham City Council on July 8!

For more information please contact Notts Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign: Defendcounciltaxbenefits [at] yahoo.co.uk

Telephone 07505 135 807 / 0791 347 6905