He added the stark warning for those who profit from the misery of social injustice:“This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.”
“Giving the poorest and most vulnerable ‘somewhere decent to live’ was a noble idea that is falling apart around our eyes”
On Sunday 18th June 2017 the current Government announced a payment relief of only £5,500 for all families living in the Grenfell Tower this will be paid as a £500 cash emergency payment and the remainder expected to be paid by the Department for Work and Pensions into survivor’s back accounts to cover the immediate cost of food; emergency housing associated costs, burial costs and getting clothes and possibly furniture and living requirements. This payment is thought to be made payable immediately to the family members who have survived, but is only this blog calculates a small figure of the £5 million promised initially (calculating and taking into consideration the 127 flats in Grenfell would see this as only a payment of 680,000 towards the figure of £5 million the PM originally said would be set apart towards the residents, thus this blog sees that £5,500 is actually quite poor to help these families.)
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the priorities for nuclear research and technologies.
In 2011 the Committee investigated whether the UK’s research and development (R&D) capabilities were sufficient to meet our nuclear energy needs in the future, ensuring a safe and secure supply of nuclear energy up to 2050.
This inquiry will now revisit some of the conclusions and recommendations of that report and investigate whether the Government’s actions in response have improved the UK’s nuclear R&D capabilities. It will also explore what more needs to be done to ensure the UK can meet its future nuclear energy requirements.
The Committee will look specifically at the upcoming decision by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on a small modular reactor (SMR) design for the UK; whether the roles and remit of the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) are appropriate; and if the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) was successful.
The Committee invites submissions, with practical examples where possible, on topics including those mentioned below.
Chair of the Committee, Lord Selborne, said:
“It has been over 5 years since the Committee’s report into the future of nuclear energy which found that the Government was too complacent about the UK’s nuclear R&D capabilities.
Since its publication, the Government has accepted and acted on a number of the recommendations of the Committee, which saw the creation of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board.
This inquiry gives the Committee the opportunity to assess who should have responsibility for ensuring the UK has a coherent and consistent long term policy for civil nuclear activities.
We are keen to hear from people or organisations who can inform the Committee on the role and remit of the National Nuclear Laboratory or offer insight into how SMR’s will benefit the UK and what is needed to support the civil nuclear sector”.
The Committee is inviting written evidence on the issue, to be received by Friday 24 February 2017, and will start taking oral evidence on the inquiry in February.
Animal welfare standards in farming after the UK leaves the EU
Published Thursday, January 19, 2017
This pack has been prepared ahead of the debate on Animal Welfare Standards in Farming after the UK leaves the EU (Brexit), to be held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 24 January 2017 430-530pm. The Member in charge of this debate is the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP.
Jump to full report >>
Animal welfare is a devolved issue. The welfare of animals involved in commercial operations (i.e. those animals that are farmed) is subject to a substantial body of EU regulation; the RSPCA estimates that around 80 per cent of UK animal welfare laws originate from the EU. The terms of the Brexit negotiations will have a significant impact upon what animal welfare protections are adopted, amended or discarded.
EU farm animal welfare regulations
Currently, the EU legislates on issues affecting the operation of the internal market and the free movement of animals. Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes provides general rules for the protection of animals. This EU legislation sets down minimum standards; national governments may adopt more stringent rules than this. The EU rules are based on the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, and they reflect the so-called ‘Five Freedoms’:
•Freedom from hunger and thirst
•Freedom from discomfort
•Freedom from pain, injury and disease
•Freedom to express normal behaviour
•Freedom from fear and distress.
Similar legislation implementing EU animal welfare regulations exists in England and all of the devolved assembles. Accompanying the legislation in each country are codes of practice, which provide welfare recommendations for those involved in the farming industry.
Live animal exports
EU rules to protect live animals during transport and related operations were agreed in 2004, and implemented in the UK in 2007, though there have still been a number of campaigns against such exports on welfare grounds. These regulations only apply to animals transported for commercial operations. The Council Regulation was implemented in the England by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006, and by parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There have been a number of campaigns seeking to either ban live animal transport altogether, or to limit how far (and long) an animal can be transported on welfare grounds. Some of these campaigns have focussed on live animal exports through the Ports of Ramsgate and Dover, and specific events in 2012 when 40 sheep were euthanised on welfare grounds at the Port of Ramsgate. The National Farmers Union (NFU) is broadly supportive of live animal exports.
Antimicrobial resistance in farm animals
In the past, it was normal practice for antimicrobials to be added to animal feed across the world in order to stimulate livestock growth and so maximise productivity. A ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters was implemented first in the UK and then in other European countries and Canada. The practice continued unchanged, however, in the United States and also continued to some extent in Europe, but with agents that were not used therapeutically in humans. An EU-wide ban on the use of antimicrobials as growth promoters came into force on 1 January 2006. The addition of antimicrobials to animal feed for medical purposes (either as prophylactics or as treatment for existing disease) is not affected by this ban. On 10 September 2014, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on veterinary medicinal products.
Brexit and farm animal welfare: the same protections, stronger or weaker?
Currently, national governments may adopt more stringent rules than the EU animal welfare legislation—which sets down minimum standards. However, the UK Government has been resistant to ‘gold-plating’ EU regulations in the past over fears that this would weaken UK competiveness. In October, Defra’s Secretary of State stated that the UK’s unique selling point after we leave the EU “should be the highest standards of animal welfare, and the highest standards of food traceability.”
It is currently expected that leaving the EU will result in alternative trade and support arrangements for UK agriculture. The terms of Brexit negotiations and trade deals will go a long way towards determining what animal welfare protections are adopted, amended or discarded. This may lead to the same, stronger or weaker regulations than those currently in force.
The Government has already committed to bringing forward a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ which will convert all existing EU law into domestic law “wherever practical”. However, there has been some concern that trading arrangements made with non-EU countries may result in a reduction in UK standards or in the standards of imported products. In order to operate on a ‘level playing-field’, farmers may call for the removal of welfare regulations which would allow them to compete with producers in countries with lower animal welfare standards.
Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-002
Download the full report
Animal Welfare after Brexit ( PDF, 263.8 KB)
24 October 2016 2:48 pm | By Carl Brown courtesy : Inside Housing Journal)
The government will support the Homelessness Reduction Bill, the communities secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid, in parliament today, confirmed ministers will back the bill, which would impose duties on councils to prevent homelessness. Ministers had previously said they would consider options, including legislation, to prevent homelessness but until today had stopped short of supporting the bill.
Mr Javid said: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets. We want to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That’s why we are determined to do all we can to help those who lose their homes and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.”
The bill, tabled by Conservative backbench MP Bob Blackman, has been supported by homelessness charities. It is made up of 12 measures (see below).
A new version of the bill was published last week following negotiations with bodies including the Local Government Association.
The original bill included a new duty on councils to provide emergency temporary accommodation for 56 days to people with a local connection but who are not in priority need and who have nowhere safe to stay.
Councils have said that such a duty would place too much pressure on local authorities, which are already struggling to keep up with spiralling homelessness demand. This duty has now been removed from the bill, on the basis that it would be too costly.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “In backing Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, the government has shown its continued determination to tackle homelessness. I am also grateful for the personal tenacity and commitment shown by Department for Communities and Local Government ministers in helping get to this important milestone.
The bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday. It still needs the support of 100 MPs to protect the bill from risk of being ‘talked out’.
Mr Sparkes said: “While we warmly welcome today’s announcement, there remains a real risk that unless MPs offer their support at the bill’s second reading on Friday, this historic opportunity could easily be lost.”
AT-A-GLANCE: THE HOMELESSNESS REDUCTION BILL
The bill is made up of 12 measures:
1. A change to the meaning of “homeless” and “threatened with homelessness”. Each household that has received an eviction notice is to be treated as homeless from the date on which the notice expires, and the period at which a person is threatened with homelessness is changed from 28 to 56 days.
2. All homeless people have access to free advice and information.
3. Local authorities are required to carry out an assessment of what led to each applicant’s homelessness, and set out steps to remedy this in an agreed, written plan.
4. Local authorities are required to help to secure accommodation for all eligible households who are threatened with homelessness, and at an earlier stage.
5. Local authorities are required to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation.
6. Local authorities are able to take action to help to secure accommodation under the new duties to help homeless households.
7. Households in priority need who refuse to co-operate with prevention and/or relief activity will be offered a minimum of a six month private rented sector tenancy. They will not progress to the main homelessness duty. Households not in priority need who refuse to co-operate would be provided with advice and information only.
8. All young people leaving care will be deemed to have a local connection in the area of the local authority that is responsible for providing them with leaving care services under the Children Act 1989.
9. Applications are provided with the right to request a review in relation to the prevention and relief duties.
10. The Bill introduces a duty on specified local agencies to refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams
11. The Secretary of State has a power to produce a statutory Code of Practice to raise the standards of homelessness support services across the country.
12. A local housing authority must satisfy itself that specific requirements are in place where it secures accommodation for vulnerable households in the private rented sector.
An intelligence-sharing dispute between Britain and Germany, which was sparked by revelations about Anglo-American espionage against Berlin, is turning into a “burgeoning crisis”, according to German media reports. Relations between Germany and the United Kingdom worsened in September, after the revelation of TREASURE MAP, a top-secret program led by the US National Security Agency, which allegedly allows American spies to map the entire network of German telecommunications providers. Reports suggest that TREASURE MAP enables the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, to map the German Internet and reveals the addresses and locations of individual subscribers’ routers, as well as those of targeted computer and smart-phone users.
Late last year, the German parliament set up a body known informally as the NSA investigative commission, and tasked it with probing the allegations of American and British spying activities against the German state. In February, however, German newsmagazine Focus reported that British intelligence officials issued formal warnings aimed at their German counterparts, telling them that London would reconsider its intelligence cooperation with Berlin should the German parliament proceed with the probe into alleged British spying on German soil. According to Focus, British officials were concerned that such an inquiry by the NSA investigative commission would unearth British intelligence activities and would debate them openly during parliamentary sessions.
The Methodist Church in England fears that people with mental health problems are experiencing sanctions on their benefits at a possible rate of 100 people a day, more than claimants suffering other conditions, according to figures presented to them by the DWP.
In March last year 4,500 people who are claiming Employment and Support Allowance due to mental heath issues were sanctioned, this figure was not the total amount as it did not include overturned decisions. The concern the Methodist Church had from these findings is that those with mental health conditions who failed to attend the Work Programme interviews and other appointments were being unfairly treated, or even discriminated due to their lack of cognitive ability and general condition of mental heath. DWP records also revealed the most common reason for being sanctioned is a person has been late or not turned up for a work programme appointment.
Public issues policy adviser , Paul Morrison for the Methodist Church, said: ‘Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping.’ adding, ‘The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed.’
The 100 a day figure was an average from data stretching back to January 2009 obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to the Department for Work and Pensions, released yesterday.
The “Work Programme” was set up 2011 at a cost of £5 billion, with it’s aim to ‘encourage’ and provide access to people with disabilities a opportunity to find work and enter the job market but since it’s inception it’s continually been cited as a failure with homelessness charities and housing associations even being among those who have abandoned it. It’s failure has been down to lack of employment in areas, the reduction of hours and wages in-line with the increased cost of living, and also the lack of commitment from the majority of employers to take on people with mental or physical disability.
The Public Accounts Committee today ordered the DWP to report back within six months with a clear plan on how it would is tackling housing benefit fraud after MPs launched a scathing attack on its current spending in preventing housing benefit fraud and error calling the departments current actions as ‘completely nonsensical’.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee said that billions of pounds were being lost from the taxpayer as a result of a failure to tackle HB fraud effectively. She said today ‘Around £12.6 billion has been spent on housing benefit overpayments since 2000/01 — money that could have been used to improve the system.’
Last year alone it’s estimated that £1.4bn was overpaid in housing benefit, which is 5.8% of the total budget. This was due to claimant error which accounted for £900 million pounds and £340m where there was evidence of claimant fraud, however it was found that £150m of overpayments was due to official errors made by the Local Authorities and DWP. This was a rise of £600m from the figure of £980m when the current government took over in 2010/11. The DWP however expect the losses to be lower when local authorities manage to recoup some of the money that was paid out.
Commenting on the DWPs performance, Mrs Hodge said they had still not “effectively targeted” the major sources of fraud and error after the Public Accounts committee reported the over-spend and ‘sounded the alarm’ years ago and said that it was ‘nonsensical’ that the department only spends 8% of its budget on fraud and errors on Housing Benefit even though HB overpayments account for 42% of the overall overpayments across all DWP benefits. She also criticised the government for the DWP failing to encourage legitimate take up of benefits and where claimants were, in fact, underpaid which she said was due to the cutting of local authorities financial budgets when administering the Housing Benefit scheme which resulted in local authorities reducing their work in recovering overpayments as a result of reduced local authority budgets.
The committee reported local authorities faced disincentives in uncovering fraud, as the current system means they are penalised when higher levels of HB fraud is discovered.
Changes to legislation concerning
rent arrear recovery through universal credit will claw 20% from non-housing increment of UC and could mean tenants seeking loans from loan sharks and the problem of mismanagement of remainder of their benefits and debt housing and social housing providers warned .
The humanitarian community’s response and commitment in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan had been phenomenal despite overwhelming challenges, John Ging, a senior humanitarian official said today at a press conference at United Nations Headquarters.
Mr. Ging, Director of Operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the Typhoon had left a large trail of destruction across the Philippines. “Currently, 13 million were affected, 1.9 million displaced and 3,600 people have died”, he added.
He applauded the international community for their support to a $301 million appeal launched in Manila, noting that $72 million had so far been received. Furthermore, the OCHA official expressed his gratitude to the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and Sweden, and to other countries for their logistical support, humanitarian services and recovery efforts. However, he stressed the need for a more sustained and collective response to helping those affected by the disaster to rebuild their lives.
Also present at the briefing was Ted Chaiban, Director of Emergency Programmes for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who stated that the Typhoon had affected an estimated 5 million children and that the Fund’s emergency efforts were running non-stop. “UNICEF staff were on the ground in Tacloban, Ormoc, Aklan and Capiz, and had set up field offices to render support to those affected,” Mr. Chaiban said.
UNICEF was gaining a clearer picture of the massive needs for clean water, food, essential medicines and sanitation for children in those affected communities, he said. All of those items had become a top priority for the Fund.
Speaking on the issue of water, he said that those resources had been partially restored in Tacloban city and that would improve access to 200,000 people including children and women. Furthermore, significant amounts of supplies had been delivered to the locality including water bladders, hygiene kits, toilet slabs, and water purifying tablets. Through a partnership with Oxfam, hygiene kits were distributed in northern Cebu and, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Highways, sludge treatment facilities had been constructed and emergency latrines and mobile toilets deployed.
Responding to questions, Mr. Ging said that money was “grossly” needed to cope with humanitarian crises, not only in the Philippines, but across the world, noting that, “humanitarian activities were unfunded and funds were also needed to tackle the challenges.” Funds were needed to secure relief supplies, and to stock them in warehouses across the world, so as to be well-prepared for natural disasters. In addition, helicopters and other air transportation facilities were required to reach localities that were inaccessible by roads.
The BBC produced a marvellous history of the origins of electricity a number of years ago – the series was presented by Professor Jim Al–Khalili on BBC Four’s and was entitled “Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity”.
The Story of Electricity is quite incredible from the work of Alessandro Volta and Humphrey Davy up to the invention of electro-magnetism of Michael Faraday work and the foresight of Nikola Tesla – this is recounted captured beautifully.
What follows is the series of three parts in full (
Britain’s murder rate fell from 1,255 to 993 per 100,000 people according to a nationwide index on the level of crime and in particular the low existence of it.
Areas that have been recognized highly as the areas where violent crime has least are to be found in Norfolk; Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire – with Broadland in Norfolk topping the research poll on crime reduction nationwide.
The Institute research found that the fall over the last decade of homicide in the UK now at its lowest level since 1978; roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average. Unfortunately it is significantly higher in terms of violent crime than the EU average.
It is believed changes in Police practice and technological advances such as CCTV; an aging population, the fall in alcohol consumption, and the introduction of a minimum wage could be some of the contributing factors for the downward trend in crime – in particular homicide.
Although alcohol related crimes are believed to have fallen slightly drug offences have increased over the last ten years.Officers said that the police’s efforts in tackling gun and knife attacks, domestic assault and incidents relating to alcohol misuse has started to show its overall impact on levels of violent crime.
This is how Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of America.
On the 15th December 2011 last year and following a two-year campaign of mobilising, agitating and negotiating to green Facebook, the internet giant announced its goal to run on clean, renewable energy. More than 700,000 people from all over the world joined to make this possible! Facebook’s message to energy producers is clear: invest now in renewable energy, and move away from coal power.
The following Greenpeace campaign video from Youtube was part of the campaign that saw Facebook take up the initiative.
Now Greenpeace is calling for the giant food company KFC to stop using Indonesia’s rainforests in its paper/cardboard products including its packaging and napkins. Greenpeace is concerned that the increase of the giant will deplete more of Indonesia’s precious rainforests if the company continues to source from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). It also believes that Tiger population will suffer as a result of the increased de-forestation of Indonesia.
The photos below show how Greenpeace activist in a protest in one of the destroyed Indonesian forests.
The BBC are again showing Professor Jim Al–Khalili on BBC Four’s “Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity”. The Story of Electricity is quite incredible from the work of Alessandro Volta and Humphrey Davy up to the invention of electro-magnetism of Michael Faraday work and the foresight of Nikola Tesla – this is recounted captured beautifully.
There is debate about as to where the music for the series has come from – many people on the internet seem to think it may originally be from Hans Zimmer.
What follows is the series of three parts in full (courtesy of the BBC)
Simon Danczuk is Rochdale’s MP since 2010.
Simon started working at the young age of 16 in a factory making gas fires, he then worked for ICI (the chemical company). While working, he studied as a mature student at night school and gained qualifications he had missed out at secondary school before gaining a place at Lancaster University where he studied economic sociology and politics.
He has written a number of articles and books ranging on such diverse subjects as democracy, homelessness, regeneration, drugs, housing and employment. His business acumen saw him as being voted one of the up-and-coming stars of North West business by Business Insider magazine in 2001.
He campaigned prior for a referendum for an elected Regional Assembly for the North West.
Having been involved with the Labour Party for many years (joining it via the trade union GMB) in the 1980s. He was elected as a councillor to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and served in this position for 8 years. He also was a campaign manager for Rossendale and Darwen Labour Party
Simon Danczuk was elected as a candidate in 2007 to be Rochdale Labour Party’s Parliamentary Candidate. He has since being voted MP in Rochdale campaigned tirelessly for local investment in business, voting against cuts and the abolition of the EMA, on local jobs and for regeneration of Rochdale Town Centre and it’s shopping areas. He also has opposed cuts to the local Police service and against the closure of the Accident and Emergency unit in Rochdale’s NHS infermary.
Below you can see Simon taking a look around Rochdale town and speaking to leaders of Rochdale’s council about his hopes to see more investment in the town centre. As a no nonsense MP he is against any forms of Council misuse of money or officials impropriety of their positions. He also is one of the only MPs in the country to have a surgery available for local constituents to visit on a 9am-5pm basis – his surgery is based near St. Mary’s Gate in Rochdale.
Well done the BBC!
There is debate about as to where the music for the series has come from – many people on the internet seem to think it may originally be from Hans Zimmer (“Time”) and his score from the film “Inception“? But below is the first of the series – “Shock & Awe”
Yvonne the cow that escaped from a farm in Bavaria in May has been caught and thankfully the cow that stole the hearts of the German people in her fight for animal liberation is now at Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary where activists originally paid €600 to prevent her slaughter.
Although initially there was a €10,000 reward placed on her capture where she managed three months on the run before a farmer reported seeing her on his land.
Konrad Gutmann, 46, claimed the €10,000 reward by the German tabloid Bild – after seeing what he thought was a lonely animal wandering towars his land to befriend his cows.”It was just luck really. I was out taking a tour of my electric fence with my daughter Melanie at about 6pm when I saw Yvonne on the other side staring at the young cows. “. In an interview with the Daily Mail he describes how after initially “She was very nervous,’ he herded her to his field.
The animal sanctuary that now owns Yvonne confirmed that the cow had been moved to her new home. She has been identified by the tag on her ear to being the missing cow.
On Friday a UN committee called on the government to suspend the “immature and unwise” eviction, saying it would “disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people”.
Rabbi Janet Burden said: “People may not be aware that the Travellers, along with the Gypsies and a limited number of other groups with similar lifestyle patterns, are officially recognised as ethnic minorities, just like our own Jewish community. As such, they deserve protection under European human rights law.”
Burden compared the “vilification” of Travellers to the discrimination Jews faced in the first half of the 20th century.
Source: Guardian Newspaper
Simon Danziuk MP for Rochdale states on his newsletter this week: ‘A report published by the housing charity Shelter has named Rochdale as a national hotspot for home repossessions. With hundreds of families having lost their home in Rochdale last year, the Government’s VAT increase, public service cuts and cuts to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau has left many struggling to meet mortgage payments and without access to good debt advice. I fear that a future rise in interest rates will make it even harder for families to keep up with their mortgage payments and could lead to the repossessions crisis deepening.’
MP Simon Danczuk is calling for the Bank of England to delay interest rate rises to help struggling
families. He said: “People are already struggling with high inflation and wage freezes so we don’twant to
see an increase in interest rates making it even harder for families to keep up with mortgage payments.
“This is a difficult time and low interest rates are keeping many homeowners afloat.” Mr Danczuk believes a 17-per-cent jump in home repossessions across England is a result of coalition government policy.
He adds: “The VAT rise has pushed up inflation and short-sighted cuts to the Citizen Advice Bureau
network mean fewer people are able to get the debt advice they need to help them avoid repossessions.
Source: M.E.N & Simon Danzuik Newsletter
The Ordinance will go into effect on September 19th! What this means is that NO business is allowed to sell fur garments of any kind.