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Government backs Homelessness Reduction Bill


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.

The Usual Suspects – UK Leadership


CmJFZTzWQAI1fF_It seems the outcome of the European Referendum has caused political mayhem for both party’s , Labour and Conservative, in the likely event of leadership contests.

The likely candidates for the conservative leadership being Michael Gove v Boris Johnson; and today political shenanigans appear to have started in both parties as its discovered that an email from Sarah Vine (Michael Gove’s wife) expressed concerns over a Boris Johnson winning candidature as Conservative Leader. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn is fighting his own corner in expressing the public support he has from the electorate in challenging the vote of a no-confidence in a Parliamentary Labour Party vote today which he lost.

It’s obviously not been a good week for Jeremy Corbyn; mass resigning of his cabinet over the sacking of Hilary Benn, many of opposed the leadership anyway; and a disastrous public new shadow cabinet press conference where suddenly after asking the cameras be switched off a ‘game of musical chairs’ took place without Tom Watson appearing near Mr Corbyn (Watson is believed to have rallied opposition to Jeremy Corbyn from safe distance of Glastonbury during this weekends Glastonbury Festival).

Mr Corbyn has held a public address today   outside the School of African and Oriental Studies. A Public Rally had been set to have been held outside Bloomsbury in London but was cancelled earlier today by Momentum because of “overwhelming demand’.

Mr Corbyn mainly had applause for standing his position as leader but there was some levels of heckling from some in the crowd assembled.

The Queen at 90 Years


 

HMQ-Hlogo-mobileQueen Elizabeth has today celebrated her 90th birthday. She has been now almost 65 years on the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and Britain’s longest serving monarch and the second longest current monarchs in the World .

Today the Queen spent the day earlier with her husband Philip, The Duke of  Edinburgh,  on a walk about the town of Windsor where crowds assembled to wish her a happy Birthday. She was also presented with a birthday cake at Windsor’s Guildhall by Nadiya Hussain winner of BBC’s “Great British Bake Off” television programme. She also unveiled a plaque to the “Queens Walkway” that links important points within Windsor.

The Queen sent a ‘tweet’ on the social media Twitter : “I send my best wishes to those who are celebrating their 90th birthday… on this shared occasion, I send my warm congratulations to you.”

She is due to meet President Barack Obama tomorrow when he will be visiting to show his birthday respects to the Queen, it’s also said that there will be a ban on all aerial drones in parts of London later this week during his visit to the capital for security reasons following recent incidents where drones have been causing danger to aircraft. He and his wife Michelle are expected to also lunch with Princess Kate, Prince William and Prince Harry during his visit. He later  is expected to meet David Cameron and stand politically with him in urging  Britain to stay in the EU.

Yesterday during a tour of BBC Broadcasting House the Queen was asked if there was anything she wanted for her birthday.  To which she replied “I don’t think there’s anything I would like – a nice sunshiny day – that would be nice.”

queen_on_england111764789-1

Peer Calls NPCC Proposals for More Armed Security ‘Provocative and ‘Dangerous”


NPCC low resPlans to deploy over 5,000 armed soldiers following a UK terror attack has caused a prominent peer to question the move as a ‘provocative’ act which could endanger the public. Baroness Jenny Jones, who sits on London’s Police and Crime Committee, called the revelations “absolutely shocking”. “Putting troops on the streets would be very controversial”,adding“I think it would be provocative and cause more problems than it would solve.” baroness-jones

 The Peer conceded that although plans certainly had to be made for the event of a terror attack, she was curious about whether troops were being trained to deal with members of the public, she said, adding that “it would not be appropriate to use them” if they had not.

Minutes of a meeting of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) were leaked and published as the Prime Minister, David Cameron has flown to South-East Asia for discussions with leaders of the area over the growing threat of ISIS. The minutes of the meeting called for “large scale military support” for the police and augmenting armed police officers engaged in protection and security duties.

The plans codenamed Operation Temperer, following the meeting of the NPCC in the reveal 22nd April were accidentally uploaded to the Mail on Sunday website. They were uploaded on Thursday, then removed and revised early on Friday morning when it was found that details from from the secret closed meeting had also been included a spokesperson for the NPCC confirmed. ARMED-POLICE

Baroness Jones said that If the situation got to a point where the military where military intervention was necessary, then clearly the Government would have to have lost control, adding that “it would make them look weak and panicky” calling the proposals quite extraordinary,” she said. “I think the principle of this should be debated in Parliament.”

Simon Chesterman, Detective Chief Constable who led the Committee called for a “national lead” for armed policing, said that “discussions were on-going with Government” although the called for extra armed soldiers and police have not have never been debated in Parliament.

Last month more than 1,000 police and soldiers, including SAS troops, staged a mass exercise codenamed Strong Tower to test their response to a gun-attack on London.

Time to End Snaring of Animals


Time to stop this Barbaric Practice

Wire snares are indiscriminate, inhumane and unnecessary. CHRIS PITT of the League Against Cruel Sports has the facts to prove it.

Of all the cruelties humans have inflicted on animals over the centuries, the wire snare is once of the worst and Moist enduing.
Simple in design, devastating in effect, a tool of poachers throughout the ages, the snare is now commonly used for another purpose.

Around 260,000 snares are in use at any one time, catching 1.7 million animals each year. However, snares are only used and 5 per cent of landholdings
in England and Wales — primarily for use by gamekeepers to protect shooting interests.

The grouse and pheasant-shooting industry is big business, so the snares are used to keep the birds safe from predators (would sound worthy, if the birds
weren’t being protected just so they can be shot).

* A poll last year found that 77 per cent of the public think that snares should be illegal, and 68 per cent of MPs support a ban on snares.
Yet they are still legal, and that is something that we at the League Against Cruel Sports believe must be changed.

Snares are legal for use on rabbits and foxes, however a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) report has shown that on average,
seven out of 10 of the animals caught by snares were neither foxes nor rabbits.

Hares and badgers are often caught, while many others caught include pet cats and dogs. Snares are indiscriminate.

Focusing on foxes as the prime target, some will argue — as they do with hunting — that livestock needs to beprotected. There are two points here-that
should bexaised.First, empirical evidence shows that fox predation accounts for only a very small proportion of lanib losses, with 95 per cent of
lamb deaths due to farm husbandry Second, killing fates is pointless — another fox will Blithe space within three to four days.

Back to snares. The so-called “free-running neck snares” that are legal are, intended to hold a trapped animal alive until the snare operator returns
and kills it “Free-running” means that the wire tightens as the animal struggles and is meant to relax when it stays still. The reality thougliis
that many animals die in the snaresThis will be a slow, painful death from strangulation, evisceration, expesure to the elements, predation,
starvation or dehydration.

Defra avoids claims that snares should be banned by Saying that their use is controlled by a code of practice. The department’s snare reportin 2012
found that 95 per cent of gamekeepers were aware of the code of practice, yet not a single fox snare operator they visited during the production of
the report was fully compliant with it.

To check this for ourselves, our investigators took some secret footage to see if snare operators were following the code of practice. Within just
a couple of minutes we recorded several violations to the code.
These incbsled setting snares along a fence line where the animal become tangled, setting snares near to a hole into which they can fall-strangle
themselves, setting them in bad weather as they could die of cold or exposure, and not removing a snare from a location at which an animal had been killed
by a snare. A snare was also deliberately used to catch a pheasant, which is illegal under Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)

I think this shows that it is simply impossible to enforce regulations: a practice that occurs mainly on private land in remote locations.

Last week we called on MPs from all parties to ban snares outright. Britain is is one of only five countries lef the EU where snares are
completely legal, and frankly this is shame. Snares are indiscriminate, inhumane and unnecessary. Their time is over.
* The secret footage can be view at http://bit.ly/1Cgr8gT.
* Chris Pitt is deputy director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports. To find out more about sraring visit http://www.league.org.uk.

(From a article in the The Morning Star – info@peoples-press.co.uk)

Osbourne announces Government Spending Cuts


George Osborne has started to look for savings in Government spending by asking Whitehall departments to implement spending, ordering them to make an immediate start on finding the £13bn of cuts needed in an attempt to further find money in his deficit reduction plan.

The chancellor announced at an event told the CBI that he intended to make savings from all government spending, other than finance already earmarked in areas of health, schools and overseas aid in his summer budget on 8 July.

“When it comes to saving money, we all know that the more you can do early, the smoother the ride”” – George Osborne

Mr. Osborne is hoping to put into place his tough measures as quickly as possible and has given Greg Hands the job of asking Government Departments new chief secretary to the Treasury ways of reducing plans the 2015-16 plans to fast-track the three-year budget of existing cuts.

Germany angered at NSA and GCHQ Intrusions


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.

source IntelliNews

Former MI6 chief calls for defence against Russia


Sawers One of Britain’s most senior officers in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) told the BBC that Britain should be prepared to spend more on its defence budget to protect itself from the increasing threat of Russia’s aggressive position in support for the Pro-Russian rebel separatists in the Ukraine and it’s annexing of Crimea in the light of condemnation from authorities in Kiev; the  West, and even Russian citizens who are accusing Moscow of sending troops to support the Pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine, although the Russian Government has always denied these reports.

NATO has also been concerned and criticised any possibility of Russia engaging it’s forces or funding the situation in Ukraine.

John Sawers, who left the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in November, added that greater dialogue should take place with Russia over it’s current stance, he said that Britain should have to have the capability to deal with the hybrid warfare that Russia is currently demonstrating in Crimea and in Donbas region of Ukraine after Pro-Russian rebels have seized territory in eastern Ukraine;  he also stressed the need for dealing with a possible cyber-warfare arising out of the conflict.

Mr Sawers said “We’re going to have to spend more on our defence and our security because the threats are greater” ; he added that “Russia keeps reminding the West about it’s nuclear weapons, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy because it isn’t.”

Last week as British forces had to scramble Typhoon fighter jets after reports of two Russian long-range Bear bombers were seen flying off the south coast of England, after a previous incident of Russian Jets seen flying in British airspace in recent  months.

The Defence Secretary,  Michael Fallon said that  President Putin could also pose a “real and present danger” to other eastern such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and NATO was ready to repel any aggression may pose against these countries.

MPs for Hire – Dispatches Investigation


Two of Parliament’s most respected Members of Parliamen are tonight secretly filmed discussing how they would be prepared to use their contacts to benefit a private fictitious Chinese influential business a Channel 4 Dispatches and The Telegraph investigation reveals.

The two former government and cabinet statesmen of Westminster, Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the Labour MP Jack Straw, both feature in Politicians For Hire – Dispatches at 8pm.
During meetings with undercover reporters Sir Malcolm Rifkind described himself as ‘self-employed’ and claimed ‘nobody pays me a salary’.

In return for his services he discussed his usual fee of ‘somewhere in the region of £5,000 to £8,000’ for a half a day’s work.

Sir Malcolm also claimed he could write to a minister on behalf of our company without saying exactly who he was representing
Sir Malcolm added that he could see any foreign ambassador in London if he wanted, so could provide ‘access’ that is ‘useful’

Former Labour Home Secretary
Mr Straw invited the two reporters posing as lobbyists for a fictitious influential Chinese business concern looking for UK support and MPs to join their advisory committee and met at his Parliamentary office where he discussed fees of £5000 per day for having his name associated to a business.

He also explained that he normally charges a fee of this for consultancy work and how his lobbying as a senior politician is useful to a private company, he already works for.

Mr Straw says he wouldn’t take on the role while he remained an MP, but claimed he would be more helpful to our company if he were to become a Lord because of the different rules that apply.

The Dispatches programme follows the previous investigation, some years ago when Geoff Hoon was banned from Parliament for five years and former transport minister Stephen Byers banned for two years following political impropriety. The recent investigation reveals that even though there were inquiries and laws introduced five years on politicians are still prepared to sell their service and lobby government for a price and are short of public expectations?

Channel 4 Dispatches and The Telegraph program shown Monday 23rd February

CND Calendar March 2015


Time To Act: Climate Change March

TimeToAct-final CND is supporting the Time To Act climate change protest on 7th March where we will join a ‘No War, No Warming’ bloc.

We will be marching with our Climate Not Trident placards and encourage all CND supporters to be there.

The organisers of the event Campaign Against Climate Change are also looking for stewards for the day. If you can help steward the event contact Campaign Against Climate Change


Candidates-ebulletin-final

Scrap Trident: Call for emails to General Election Candidates

We’ve had almost 10,000 emails sent to General Election candidates via our website. If you’ve already contacted your own, consider forwarding the link to local:

  • trades union branches
  • anti-cuts groups
  • faith organisations
  • environmental campaigns
  • or other organisations you work with…

ScrapTridentLOGO

Scrap Trident: Protests in Scotland

Glasgow Demonstration

  • 10.30am, Saturday 4th April
  • George Square, Glasgow

Faslane Blockade

Monday 13th April Faslane North Gate, Helensburgh (transport from Glasgow)

More info: Scrap Trident

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    Disguised MI5 Officer Gives Evidence in US Court


    10216695 A  UK intelligence officer gave evidence in the trial of an alleged leader of an al-Qaeda cell, who is currently being tried in the United States for planning to bomb the New York subway system.

    The alleged leader of the cell, Abid Naseer, who is 28 and from Pakistan, was a studying in Britain in April 2009 and was arrested by British police along with 12 others for planning a series of suicide bombings in the city of Manchester. He was extradited to the US in 2012 to face changes of organising a suicide attack against the New York public transportation system.

    The US prosecutors claim Naseer had received paramilitary training in Pakistan before moving to the UK, where he was planning to carrying out terrorist attacks in the UK .

    Last year, the US prosecution asked the judge to allow six British intelligence officers (from MI5), who had been monitoring Naseer’s activities before he was eventually arrested to provide vital evidence in the US court in secrecy without disclosing their identities due to the security officers still remaining active in counterterrorism investigations. The judge agreed, and the first of the six MI5 officers gave evidence this week through a video link from an undisclosed location in the Britain.

    One of the MI5 officers who appeared concealed his identity by wearing a false goatee beard, thick spectacles and what reporters described as “a long black wig”. He was also wearing heavy make-up and was identified in court only as “serial number 1603”, according to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

    The operative informed the court that he was part of a team of MI5 surveillance officers who closely followed Mr. Naseer for over a month while he was allegedly planning suicide operations in Britain and the US. The surveillance included following the suspect as he was scouting targets in Manchester and monitoring his travel on public transport one one occasion when the suspect was traveling by bus from Manchester to Liverpool. Mr Naseer is defending himself in the trial and had the chance to cross-examine the MI5 officer, said The Telegraph.

    CPAG – Recent Upper Tribunal case for HMRC


    This section summarises recent decisions of the Upper Tribunal; these set a binding precedent on HMRC decision-makers and First–tier Tribunals in similar cases.

    HMRC must show reasonable grounds for changing decision

    This is another case highlighting HMRC’s poor practice in failing to set out the legal and factual basis for its decisions, and its appalling treatment of lone parents it has accused of living with a partner. In this case, the claimant was originally awarded child tax credit and working tax credit as a single claimant. Nearly a year later, HMRC declared that it had ‘reason to believe’ she was living with an undeclared partner and ended her claim because she ‘failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the validity of her single claim’. The Judge describes HMRC’s flawed logic in basing such a decision on the claimant’s inability to prove a negative, i.e. the failure to provide certain evidence that she is not living with a partner. ‘Astonishingly’, the claimant did send a reply and documentary evidence, which HMRC failed to include with the appeal papers. HMRC went on to take the ‘bold step’ of asking for the appeal to be struck out because the claimant had not provided evidence requested, despite not offering any itself. The Judge makes it clear that:

    • the onus of proof is on HMRC in these cases;
    • it must set out its evidence for reasonable grounds to change its original decision under section 16 of the Tax Credits Act;
    • it cannot rely on an adverse inference from the claimant’s failure to provide evidence.

    The outcome of this case was that due to these failures, HMRC’s decision was cancelled, thereby reinstating the claimant’s entitlement. 

    Read the decision in full: SB v HMRC [2014] UKUT 0543 (AAC)

    CPAG – Guidance on Shared Parental Leave


    Shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay is being introduced for couples expecting a baby or adopting a child on or after 5 April 2015. This replaces additional paternity leave and pay, and offers more flexibility to couples to share the responsibility for the child and protect their income in the first year.

    Shared parental leave is available to parents who share the care of a child with husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter the child’s other parent a partner (living together) –  includes same sex couples.

    The mother must first meet the qualifying conditions for maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, and then decide to give it up in favour of shared parental leave and pay. The other parent/partner must also meet conditions about employment and earnings. Opting for shared parental leave allows leave and pay to be split between each person and into up to three separate blocks of leave in the first year. It can also be taken at the same time, allowing a couple more time together with the baby.

    Alternatively, statutory maternity leave and statutory maternity pay can still be claimed as before by women who choose to do so, or are lone parents, or whose partner is not in work. Similarly, statutory adoption leave and pay can still be claimed instead of shared parental leave. ‘Ordinary’ paternity leave and pay (1 or 2 weeks in the first 8 weeks after the birth) is not affected by the change, other than now simply being known as ‘paternity leave’ and statutory paternity pay.  

    Tax credit rules are also amended so that someone receiving shared parental pay, or on shared parental leave for up to 39 weeks, can still be treated as in work, if working immediately before.

    More information on shared parental leave is available at www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay

    Churchill and the Saudis


    Churchill After the sycophantic tributes paid by various world leaders to the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia , many people are angered (including this blog writer) that people such as David Cameron, the Queen and even President Obama have felt the need to offer “touchy feeling diplomacy” following the Monarch’s death.

    The lowering of flags in the UK on Government Buildings; Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace have not only angered people who are genuinely appalled at Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights abuse for a monarch who’s countries laws meet out sadistic and barbaric sentencing but point to double standards when on one hand our governments over the years have deplored it’s laws and on the other our praising a man in passing because we wish to maintain our relationship with an oil rich country.

    When actually asked as to confirm who is responsible in the government for the decision to lower the flags as to honour the late Saudi King (a gesture normally only befitting the passing of British royalty or heads of government for the Commonwealth countries and only world leaders at the discretion of the UK Government) Whitehall appears to be confused with both the FCO and the Department for Media and Culture both denying their respective authority and concurring each other for permitting the honour.

    Labour leader Ann Clywd was the latest MPs to voice her anger at the tributes paid to the late King Abdullah, stating that the country had one of the worst human rights records in the world and said “People in countries such as ours should use every opportunity to protest because the public are appalled by such barbarity” adding “Lots of people die but I dont think flying the flags at half mast for a country which has such a human rights record is acceptable.” Her comments following similar outrage from others,  such as Louise Mensch the former Corby Conservative MP,  who on Friday erupted on Twitter condemning the  ‘supine’ adoration of male leaders on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Many wondered, as I did, what Tony Blair actually was referring to when he called the later King a ‘moderniser’ in light of the little he did in terms of the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

    Even the Council for Advancement for Arab and British Understanding are also baffled by the ‘dishonesty’ of the tributes paid; Chris Doyle it’s director saying that although Britain and Saudi Arabia need to maintain relations on a global stage that the tribute “..wont be taken seriously if we go over the top in paying respects” and highlighting the fact that British Muslims are being asked to accept British Values by our Government on the one hand and then watching our establishment blindly ignore and accept human rights abusewhere the Saudi’s flogs their own citizens – thus our diplomacy runs incompatible UK values Mr Doyle pointing to the sentence met of 1000 lashes said “what does that mean when there’s a completely non-critical reaction to the events in Saudi Arabia like the flogging of a blogger? This creates a sense of double standards”

    Maybe the politicians in our country could learn from the Briton that was Winston Churchill, the audacious and insubmissive  politician whose death the UK will soon be celebrating in terms of his passing 50 years ago. When in 1945 he met the then founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Said (the father of King  Abdullah) and was warned by both his own Government officials and interpreters and from Saudi Officials that the smoking and drinking alcohol in the presence of the Saudi King would not be tolerated he replied to his interpreter, in answer to the Saudi officials “If it was the religion of his Majesty to deprive himself of smoking and drinking alcohol, I must point out that my rule of life, prescribed as an absolute sacred rite, smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before; after and even during meals, and in the intervals between them.”

    It is thus a tribute to a man who never fell short of actually saying what was on his mind and rarely conceded to the force of others.  In 2002 Sir Winston Churchill was named as the greatest Briton that ever lived in a  vote of 100 Great Britons including other prominent luminaries such as Darwin, Shakespeare and Elizabeth I. The case for him is a powerful one, of course. He was first a government minister in 1908, and occupied most of the top jobs in politics during half a century. He finally retired in 1955, having served as prime minister for a total of nine years.

    His greatest triumph of course was his leadership and rallying of the British people in World War Two that marked him out and his brave and tireless in his resolve to take on Nazi Germany, even when at times it seemed that Britain may have fallen to the Nazis in a war torn Europe. He remained constantly resilient and this probably inspired the US to enter the war after Britain France and it’s other allies were teetering on defeat.

    Even as a Sandhurst  cadet, Churchill was defiant, his first speech and act of defiance was probably in 1894 when he was among a group of upper-class ‘hooligans’ who tore down a screen that was erected by the League for Social Purity, at the Empire in Leicester Square which was placed there to keep the West End’s prostitutes from their clients, many of whom were the gentry of the City by the London County Council. The vandals spokesperson  shouted “Ladies of the Empire, I stand for liberty” this was none other than a young Winston Churchill and in a letter to The Times and the Bishop of London bemoaned the conduct of the young Churchill that he should ever see any of the Dukes of Marlborough ‘hailed by a flourish of Strumpets’

    The sad fact is that politicians that speak out and are of Churchill’s nature would never get elected, even Boris Jonson, almost a devotee of Churchill’s manner and British values seems implausible in our corporate world of diplomatic,  insincere and disingenuous politics

    Church warns of unfair sanctions against those experiencing mental heath problems


    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 Chilcott Delay!


    Chilcot InquiryToday in the House of Commons; MPs reacted angrily to news that the inquiry  led by Sir John Chilcott into the 2003 Iraq War is not expected to reach it’s full report until after the general election

    The inquiry said it did not see any “realistic prospect” of it’s publication of the report before elections are due to be held on the 7th May 2015 and the inquiry will probably face being questioned about it’s delay by a committee of MPs, while the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway asked Sir John Chilcott to explain why the publication of the report has been delayed.

    The inquiry was initially set up in 2009, under Gordon Brown to examine not only Britain’s involvement and it’s initial decision to go to war but also any cases of misconduct of British troops amidst claims of torture by both US and British allied forces against Iraqis forces and civilian. The report was expected to reach it’s conclusion within about three years and held it’s last hearing in 2011, following an unprecedented call for Tony Blair to give evidence to the inquiry in 2010. tony-blair-chilcot-inquiry

    There was even speculation by many political observers and even MPs that delays of the reports findings may have occurred due to involvement or intervention from the former Prime Minister Tony Blair or those close to him pointing to a cover-up of the findings of the report following the invasion of Iraq by British and American forces after Tony Blair’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and after his decision to ignore, many people believe unlawfully, the United Nations Resolution 1441 in November 2002 that offered Iraq under Saddam Hussein one last final opportunity to comply with  disarmament obligations.

    Leaders within coalition British Government have expressed concern over the delays with Nick Clegg saying that the delay was “incomprehensible” and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith saying the delay was “disappointing”. Sir John Chilcott had written to the David Cameron informing him that “substantial progress” had been made but that those criticised by the report needed an opportunity to respond to the criticism so far provided in the report. Mr Cameron in reply to Sir John has said he would have like to have seen the publication already and has criticised the former Labour Government for it’s delay in being published.

    Cicero Lounge has a link to the Aitken Report (National Archives – MOD)  which documented and examined allegations of the British Army’s conduct against the allegations of abuse against Iraqi soldiers and civilians loyal to Saddam Hussein

    See also the War Report for information on other reports issued following the Iraq and Afghan wars

    Organisations added to Terrorism Act Amendment


    MPs will debate a motion to approve the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 in the House of Commons on Wednesday 21 January 2015.

    Proceedings on the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 will follow the conclusion of today’s Opposition Day debate on the NHS.

    The draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 was laid on 20 January 2015 under the affirmative procedure. The instrument must be approved by the House of Commons and House of Lords before it can come into force.

    Once approved the instrument will add ‘Jund Al-Aqsa (Soldiers of Al-Aqsa) and Jund al Khalifa–Algeria (Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria)’ to the list of proscribed organisations in the Terrorism Act 2000.

    DWP current spending on Housing Benefit Fraud “Nonsensical”


    Margaret-Hodge  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. PAC

    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.

     

    Further information:

    http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/journals/2015/01/13/n/t/k/HOUSING-BENEFIT-FRAUD-AND-ERROR.pdf

    Liberty calls for better managed return orders


    Today a cross-party amendment opposing the Government’s proposed temporary exclusion orders (TEO) has been tabled. TEOs would effectively exile British citizens by revoking their passports when outside of the UK  – and risk exposing them to torture or delivering them into the hands of terror factions.
    The amendment, drafted by Liberty, would replace the TEO with a Notification & Managed Return Order.  The NMRO would allow the Home Secretary to require airlines and other carriers to notify her of the return plans of those she suspected of terrorism abroad.  The authorities could then use their existing powers against a suspect when they return to the UK.  But, crucially, the Home Secretary would not have the power to revoke passports while they were outside of the country.

    Universal credit legislation may force tenants into debt in recovering rent arrears


    image

    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 .

    http:// http://m.insidehousing.co.uk/regulation/scale-of-arrears-clawback-plan-sparks-fears/7006926.article

    C4 Dispatches July 2019

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