Council House Tenants On Universal Credit

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Council house tenants on Universal Credit owe an average of two-and-a-half times as much in outstanding rent as claimants still on old benefits, and Townhall bosses warn they’re grappling to cope with the welfare overhaul, which sees housing benefit paid to tenants rather than direct to landlords as under the old regime.

Council tenants on Universal Credit owe on average £663 in rent, around two and a half times the amount owed by those still on housing benefit, £262, according to BBC Panorama, and in Flintshire, North Wales, the amount of rent owed to the council by people on the Government’s flagship welfare shake-up owe an average £1,424, six times the amount owed by those on housing benefit.

Flintshire has been a pilot for Universal Credit, with their other local authority co-workers presently coming into the full roll out of Universal Credit, and it’s been a bit of a mess.

The Government was advised difficulties could be unleashed over the housing benefit shake-up, and in 2011, Professor Paul Hickman, of Sheffield Hallam University, was asked by the Department of Work and Pensions to examine impacts of paying the money to claimants to pass on to landlords.

Recognising a growth in rent arrears, his investigation determined only 8 percent of tenants managed to pay their rent in full.

Professor Hickman told Panorama: “Were we ignored?

Some of what they said was listened to by the government but they were so committed to the course of rolling out Universal Credit, and whatever was uncovered in the investigation, the government were going to proceed to plough ahead anyhow.

The Department of Work and Pensions said more than 80 per cent of claimants are paid on time, and maintains there should be no problem with landlords getting rent payments. Meanwhile, a Resolution Foundation report shows Universal Credit is estimated to be more costly than the policy it succeeds thanks to reforms revealed in last month’s Budget.

Proposals announced by the Chancellor mean 200,000 more families will be better off due to the welfare reform, the think tank believes, and the moves announced by Philip Hammond will cut the number of working families losing out because of the changes from 3.2 million to three million.

Philip Hammond acted amid rising tension from Labour, Tory rebels and the Mirror’s Stop the Universal Credit Cruelty campaign.

The petition, launched in the run-up to the Government’s financial showpiece, set out three possibilities: redesign Universal Credit to be fit for purpose, axe it in support of the old system if Universal Credit is unfixable, or introduce a brand new system.

Universal Credit rolls six welfare benefits, child tax credit, Working Tax Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance and Housing Benefit, into one single payment. The roll-out is scheduled for completion in December 2023.

The difficulty is with these people getting into arrears because either Universal Credit are not paying them on time or they simply don’t pay it, then the Council’s and Housing Association will evict them, then we will find more families out on the streets with their children, I bet Social Services are rubbing their hands together.

And more than half of homeless families across England are in work but rising rents and the shortage of social housing is forcing more families into makeshift accommodation, and more than 33,000 families in temporary accommodation are holding down a job despite having nowhere permanent to live, a figure that has risen by 73 per cent since 2013, when it was 19,000 families.

One single mother, Mary Smith, who works full-time in a shoe shop said she and her three sons had been stuck in a cruel succession of precarious makeshift accommodation for two years after being evicted from their private property, and they have been unable to afford to rent anywhere else.

She’s amongst thousands of working households in low-paid, part-time or contract employment that are no longer able to afford rents and are therefore being forced into squalid and overpopulated makeshift accommodation.

Losing a tenancy is now the single biggest reason for homelessness in the country, accounting for more than a quarter of all households accepted as homeless in the last year. It comes following an investigation exposed at least 310,500 households in England have been waiting to be moved into social homes for more than half a decade, with more than 100,000 stuck on waiting lists for more than 10 years and some waiting for as many as 18 years.

With the country having a backlog of 3.91 million homes, meaning 340,000 new homes need to be constructed each year until 2031, a figure significantly greater than the government’s current target of 300,000 homes yearly.

Ms Smith and her three sons, now aged 18, 19 and 21, had lived in a privately rented home in Watford for 13 years when the landlord evicted them two years ago, forcing them to move into a hostel.

They were stuck in an absolute hovel of a rat-infested hostel, where food would get robbed. Ms Smith almost lost her job when they first became homeless because of transport connections to work that were so bad, and the family spent three months in the hostel before being relocated into temporary accommodation, and they have since been relocated to two other temporary properties, which Ms Smith said was destabilising for both her and her sons.

Despite working full-time and recently getting a wage rise, her pay is not enough to rent a property, and it’s like a vicious cycle for the family, living in properties that are freezing and have mould creeping up the walls with the uncertainty of their future.

Ms Smith’s children have had to go through a lot, which means that they haven’t been able to attain their full potential because there’s simply no safety net for them.

Ms Smith loves her job that she’s worked in for four and a half years, and she’s just accepted a 40 hour a week temporary to cover the manager, which meant that she got a pay rise, but she can’t see any benefit from the salary if it’s still not enough to secure a tenancy anywhere.

Getting a pay rise doesn’t make her any better off because it simply means she gets less help, and she still struggles to put food on the table, and she’s a proud person and doesn’t like asking for help, but it’s from the help of friends that they got through.

And it shocking that even when families are working every hour they can, they’re still being made to live through the austere reality of homelessness, and in many instances, these parents who work all day or night, then have to return to a crowded hostel or B&B where their whole family are made to share a room, a room that has no space for ordinary family things like cooking, playing or doing homework.

This was once a country where the streets were covered in gold, well at least in London, the land of opportunity, which is now slightly ironic because now we see streets that are dirty and poverty-stricken, and it’s appalling how we’re sinking back into the eighteenth century of Dick Whittington.

And we can’t let struggling families slide through the cracks created by our housing crisis because this isn’t the eighteenth century, and our government need to urgently come up with a new plan so that social housing can genuinely deliver the affordable homes that we so urgently require.

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Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, but Theresa May said that the best way out of poverty was to work, she further said that she was going to make this country work for everyone, so what happened Theresa May?

But our government believe that they can justify their mismanagement by proposing new laws, well, it doesn’t actually work like that, but then they knowingly created this situation, and then they use guerilla tactics, then hit, run, and hide because they’re plagued with their own greed, the most single destructive human activity because with obsession you keep coming back to the same problem and they never come up with a solution.

And isn’t it strange how there are constantly reports in the newspapers about homelessness, but despite the statistics, the government will still tell you it’s not a problem.

Figures revealed that 4,751 people slept rough across England on any given night in 2017, with a 15 per cent rise compared to the previous year and that more than doubled in 2010. Last year 57,890 households were accepted as homeless in England, and in Scotland, 34,100 applications were assessed as homeless and in Wales 9,210 households were threatened with homelessness.

Our government doesn’t believe in social housing and they want it exclusively in the private sector, but the way they’re going about it leaves a sour taste because it chokes new social builds, stirs up the market for private landlords who like mortgage pawnshops are saying no thank you very much not because of arrears but because fair rent figures rarely corresponds with rent required when you have a tiny stock.

If you take these arrears, waiting times for benefits, social loans, incorrectly determined work capability tests, tribunal costs for reversal of decisions, sanctions, money spent on donating to food banks, provider contractors, et cetera, but what the government say they have saved and what is reality, is two different things.

In the meantime, a Resolution Foundation report shows that Universal Credit is set to be more costly than the system it succeeded thanks to changes revealed in last months Budget. It was never about saving hardworking taxpayers money, instead, it was all about an ideological class war started by the Tories against the working poor and those who don’t and can’t work for whatever reason.

So, when you get these Tory supporters backing the Tories, insisting it’s for the good of the taxpayer, they’re either exaggerating or they’ve fallen for the propaganda.

When people were on the old system, rent was paid straight to the landlord, but now it’s paid straight to the claimant who then has the responsibility to pay it to the landlord. Now, not everyone’s the same, some of these people have some kind of disability, and when I say disability, there is a broad spectrum of disabilities, not all disabilities are the same.

Countless people in our society have an addiction of one sort or another. I’m not sugar coating it, it’s a huge problem in our society, however, addiction is frequently linked to mental health problems, probably started as a way to cope with feelings that person felt and was powerless to deal with in any other way, therefore it then becomes a disability.

But some people are too keen to judge, and we’re all sinful of this at one time or another in our lives, accusing alcoholics and addicts of wasting their money on a fix rather than paying their rent, but actually people are getting into arrears because once they go onto Universal Credit they have to wait 5-6 weeks for their first payment.

That first payment, four weeks worth would then be only for the upcoming month, so those first 5-6 weeks will still be outstanding, so nothing to do with poor budgeting or that the money is paid to people and not direct to the landlords.

Yes, people could be setting up direct debits as soon as their rent money gets into their account and several do, but they would still be in arrears because they don’t get any money on Universal Credit for 5-6 weeks and during that time Housing Benefit is not paid into the claimants account, which makes them in arrears.

Of course, most or all of it is backdated but by that time they have been evicted or a seeking of possession order served to them, that’s enough to make you either go insane or turn to addiction.

Things have shifted quite a bit in the last ten years, but there appears to be a deficit of understanding or just a deficiency of interest where people are concerned, and things are much different for people, now that the benefits system has changed.

Benefits aren’t quite as plentiful as they were on the old system, plus the cost of living keeps going up, however, benefits have been suspended at the same rate or cut, and judging people based on when things were much better is why maybe some people out there get confused.

And there’s going to be more chaos and mess through the government’s narcissistic clowns in office due to this Universal Credit, and people are going to be in such a dangerous place and before long we will start hearing of more deaths and mass homelessness.

Sadly, the government’s ego comes before the fall, the problem is, they won’t back down on this Universal Credit debacle and it’s Joe Public that will take the fall for it.

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Everybody’s Entitled To Change Their Mind

Conservatives win general elections but Labour never lifts its hands in submission by declaring the nation has expressed its policies it so bitterly opposed that must be embraced. Rather, Jeremy Corbyn promises to save the NHS, better salaries, unshackle trade unions and renationalise privatised industries such as the railways and the Royal Mail.

When Labour was triumphing at the polls, it was the same response from Theresa May, who challenged Tony Blair and Gordon Brown every inch of the way. The Conservative Prime Minister rejected article by article, bill by bill, Labour’s agenda.

Then, when the Tories fell back into power in 2010, they sauntered through Parliament’s lobbies to turn off health spending taps, scrap new schools and wield a cleaver at the welfare state. MPs standing up, win or lose, for what they believe, whether we agree with them or not, is how politics and government work.

The beaten party in a vote seeking to shift public opinion in future is perfectly legal. Jeremy Corbyn is entitled to demand an early general election to change last year’s decision, and Theresa May is within her rights to resist.

So the worst debate of them all against another Europe vote is that it wouldn’t be democratic. But it would be, the people are entitled to change their mind in a democracy, and Boris Johnson’s brother Jo, a Tory with sincerity unlike the dishonest ex-Foreign Secretary, revealed in his atomic leaving address how Theresa May’s in-out Brexit hokey cokey would be significantly damaging for Britain than remaining in Europe, while the hardline Leaver’s lies are fantasy.

The appearance of the harsh truth is why a Populus poll for pro-European group Best for Britain finds that 65 per cent of voters back the British public having the final say on the reality of going or staying, and our country’s best chance is in Europe yet campaigners will tell you that only 120 of 650 MPs would vote today for a saviour vote.

Everyone is allowed to change the minds of their own understanding, but it’s the consistent barraging and harassment by the moaners and segments of the media that gets on people’s nerves, and we should all have another election, but then we will vote to leave again, and then we’ll have another election and we will keep doing it until all the leavers are so fed up with voting that they won’t try anymore and we will stay in, thank god for democracy!

But isn’t that then like taking out a two year fixed agreement on something and then six months later you change your mind?

The current situation that we’re in is that Theresa May set out to subvert a genuine leave from the start, and EU leaders knew this, but they knew they had the upper hand against a weak leader, and the only reason David Cameron gave the people a referendum was to quell the EU critics so that they could move onto the next stage, consolidation of Europe, one flag one Parliament, one leader, a United States of Europe, should Brexit fail then that’s precisely what is going to happen and no-one in the United Kingdom will be able to stop it.

Hidden Disabilities

Greater Anglia has introduced ‘Offer Me A Seat’ badges after the concept got thousands of comments of support on social media, and Twitter and Facebook users gave their opinions and comments leading to the idea of three badges, now accessible to those who may require a seat, but may not feel confident enough to ask.

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One of the badges says ‘Not all disabilities are visible. Please offer me a seat.’ Another option says ‘Please offer me a seat. My need may not be visible.’

A third badge is for railway personnel to wear, which says ‘Not all disabilities are visible. Can I help you?’

The badges are now available from customer information desks at Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford, Shenfield, London Liverpool Street, Harlow Town and Cambridge stations and via Customer Relations, and if someone is in a wheelchair or has a white cane or guide dog, it’s evident to everyone they may require a little help when travelling on the railway.

But, not all disabilities or conditions are visible, such as MS, arthritis or early stages of pregnancy and not everyone feels comfortable or confident to request help if their condition is not visible, and the idea behind the badges is to make it easier for customers who need assistance to get help.

Staff do strive to do their best to give the customers the assistance they require but the badges will make it easier to distinguish people who want their help, and if passengers see someone wearing one of the new badges, it’s hoped they will offer to give up their seat if the train is busy.

Hopefully, this will be spread out over the entire network of travel, including buses and underground stations. Of course, pregnancy is not a disability, but its simply nice for someone to give up their seat for a pregnant lady, and in the initial stages of pregnancy, many women feel exhausted and really nauseous on their way to work.

Of course, pregnancy is a choice, not a disability, but as human beings, we should be generous enough to give up our seats, particularly those seats next to the toilets.

A disability may not be visible but that doesn’t mean that person is not disabled, not everything is visible in life, but as human beings, we should at least put ourselves forward to be sensitive to a person’s disability, and just because we can’t see COPD or Cancer does not mean they’re not disabled.

Sadly there will still be some people who will not give up their seats even if these people do have badges, but then this is an example of what’s wrong with our society.

If someone suffers from profound deafness, which is not visible, does that mean they’re not disabled? If a person suffers from Epilepsy, MS, ME or the early stages of Multiple Sclerosis, does this mean they’re not disabled?

All these things are hard to determine as disabilities, and just by looking at a person you would have no idea, that’s what the idea of these badges are for, although there are no checks done when a person requires one of these badges so there’s no guarantee of misapplication.

And studies have determined that those with hidden disabilities and infirmities, or those undergoing treatments, can frequently find it challenging to get a seat when they need one.

The new badges were tested by more than 1,200 people, with the preponderance reporting easier journeys and feeling more confident asking for a seat, and a badge and card will help make a substantial difference to the lives of people undergoing drug therapy or with longer-term conditions or disabilities.

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When it is launched, the Transport for London (TfL) will become the leading European transport provider to officially identify invisible impairments and conditions in such a way, and thorough analysis of the findings of the trial is to be completed before the badge and card are implement in the United Kingdom in the spring.

It’s a little before 8 am at Kings Cross St. Pancras underground station, and rush hour is in full, turbulent flow. With over 90 million travellers joining or exiting the interchange each year, Kings Cross is second only to Waterloo as the Tube network’s busiest station.

As po-faced passengers flow through the barriers in their hundreds and thousands, towards carriages travelling all over the capital, and wherever they’re going, of course, most won’t get anywhere near to a seat. It’s a fate they’re begrudgingly resigned to, but James McNaught has a trick up his sleeve. Or rather, attached to his lapel.

James McNaught was one of 1,000 volunteers embarking on a six-week trial, which officially began on the Transport for London’s new ‘Please offer me a seat’ badges.

Bright blue and impossibly polite, the pins are meant to inform other travellers that the wearer has a hidden infirmity, illness or injury which makes it hard for them to stand for the duration of a Tube or bus journey.

James McNaught, who regularly travels from his home in Camden to Westminster, where he works as a white tie-wearing doorman at the House of Lords, was one of the first to sign up.

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The 46-year-old made headlines for his homemade ‘cancer on board’ badges, created following treatment for throat cancer made it near-impossible for him to vocalise his need for a rest on the underground, especially since regular morphine doses gave him the impression of being drunk.

James McNaught’s personal campaign was a success, so he sees no reason TFL’s comprehensive, catch-all version shouldn’t be correspondingly effective.

Sometimes it actually isn’t visible to other patrons that you may have something wrong with you, and people could find it pretty awkward to have to disclose their medical problem to a stranger on a train.

His cancer badges worked almost every time, and the feedback was incredible, and these could help an awful lot of people get around without having to suffer, and despite improvement, the public transport in London and around the capital isn’t an easy thing to navigate for anyone in less than perfect health.

More and more stations have wheelchair access, and there are assigned priority seats on each tube carriage for the pregnant, elderly and infirm, but on a hot, packed rush hour journey, these stratagems are not enough.

Most disabled people with or without an invisible illness want access so that they can get about in London or to just be able to visit London for the day, but there are not enough lifts at the stations. London Transport has made stations a little more accessible in regards to lifts, but there are still not enough to get around London.

As a disabled user myself, if I want to travel to London I have to take somebody with me because I cannot access all the stations because there are not enough lifts on the underground, and frequently I have to use the bus which can take hours, and after my son walking me all the way around London we finished up in Tottenham Court Road for dinner, but even though there are lifts at Tottenham Court Road we would have had to change at Bank tube station where there is only a lift on the DLR which wasn’t the part that we needed, so we had to get a bus from there to Finsbury Park, and then from there another bus to Algate to get home, which ended up taking us two hours.

It’s a fabulous idea giving out badges to people with disabilities but if there are not enough lifts to accommodate then how are they suppose to access parts of the interface without lifts?

London’s Tube system is not currently anything like fully accessible to wheelchair users or people with mobility problems. Transport for London (TfL) offers various excuses for the lack of accessibility provision on the Tube.

 

But as the Crossrail project has shown, engineering solutions to a broad array of problems can be discovered and executed in the most challenging of situations.

TfL maintains that around a quarter of Tube stations have step-free access. That amounts to around 67 out of 270 stations (compare this with Berlin’s 100 out of 173 stations). But in Zone 1 there are just nine stations with step-free access from street to platform, and of these only four stations are step-free from the street to all trains running through those stations.

This means that a wheelchair user who wants to get around London is pretty unlikely to find the Tube at all useful, particularly if the journey involves Zone 1, or if lifts are out of order, which is often the case. Instead, wheelchair users rely massively on buses to get around.

There are several good points about accessibility on the Tube. Staff are well-trained and usually accommodating and helpful. There have been some developments in the last couple of years, including more lifts, more raised sections on platforms allowing step-free access from the platform onto the train, and the provision of manual boarding ramps at some stations. But these developments are proceeding at a snail’s pace and still leave three-quarters of the Tube interface totally inaccessible.

TfL maintains that each bus is accessible, and indeed all buses are furnished with wheelchair ramps. But there are still several problems for wheelchair users attempting to use buses, with unhelpful drivers, defective or unusable ramps, and baby-buggies obstructing the wheelchair space.

Even if the bus flotilla were as thoroughly accessible as TfL would like us to believe, it still typically takes about twice as long to get anywhere by bus (and often even longer) compared with the comparable tube journey, so why are wheelchair users excluded from the Tube system, and made to undertake lengthy, complex and usually stressed trips by bus?

TfL gives various explanations for this, citing geography, geology and architecture as the underlying causes for the lack of accessibility provision. Of course, there will always be a few small or restricted old stations where installation of lifts is going to be unfeasible.

But, as the Crossrail project has revealed, engineering miracles can be performed in the most unlikely, cramped and complex conditions. The recent boring of a Crossrail tunnel in the extremely narrow gap (nicknamed ‘the eye of the needle’) between a Northern Line tunnel and an escalator shaft at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station confirms that we have the skills, capital and technology to master difficulties of geography, geology and architecture.

What is lacking it appears is the inclination to create and implement solutions to make all of London’s Tube stations accessible. This will is lacking because an accessible Tube system is not regarded as a sufficiently important precedence for the investment of the needed resources, resources which would cost a small portion of the funds needed for Crossrail.

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It is a principle enshrined in the Equality Act of 2010 that it is unlawful when rendering goods or services to treat anyone less favourably for a reason related to their disability. We must have an accessible Tube system. Disabled and older people should have the same priority to travel by Tube as everyone else in society, and it is not right that we should be so excluded from the largest and quickest means of getting around London.

For wheelchair users, travelling on the tube can take a lot longer, and if you can’t use the stairs your journey will take four times as long.

The lack of step-free access to the underground means a journey on the Jubilee line from Baker Street to Bond Street takes 33 minutes for people with disabilities, just two minutes for able-bodied passengers.

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If a disabled person was to travel from Bond Street towards Westminster you’ll discover that what is a 5-minute journey for most, is another story for those in a wheelchair. The nearest tube station from Bond Street is Green Park, so they would have to get there in order to travel to Westminster.

It’s actually easier to take the pavement, than the bus, buses aren’t as reliable. Frequently the ramps don’t work, or there’s a buggy in the wheelchair area, or the driver is not being helpful. So what should have taken ten minutes, took twenty, and in London there’s a lack of dropped curbs, and it’s part of a disabled person’s everyday life.

But when they’re confronted with a time deadline, and they’ve got to get somewhere fast, and they’re challenged with a shortage of lowered curbs, that’s the reason it takes so long, then it gets very frustrating for them.

Yet, TfL has promised to have more than half of the rail and underground stations accessible by 2018, saying that London has one of the most accessible transport systems in the world, and supposedly they’re spending hundreds of millions of pounds in making stations and trains more accessible.

But for some that’s simply not enough, and even though it’s a move in the right direction, it’s not significant enough to open up the rest of London because at the moment only one in ten stations in zone 1 are accessible, so the West End is a no-go zone for most wheelchair users, so they can’t socialise with friends or family.

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But squeezing onto a Northern line carriage, travelling south through the City of London, passengers appear sceptical of this new badge assistant because most people have their eyes elsewhere, reading books, looking blankly at their phones or catching up on a moment’s extra sleep.

Those that are alert will size this disabled person up dubiously as a woman shifts in her seat, seemingly weighing up whether to give up her seat because of the badge but in the end, settles on a firm NO! Which is amusing, they were considering it, but then they wouldn’t move…

The badge is a great idea because I’m guessing a bunch more people will now offer a disabled person a seat, if not for anything else but out of guilt, although they’re a lot of people out there that will gladly give up their seats simply because they have an ounce of humanity!

Part of the appeal of the new badge, which will also come with a TFL card displaying the same slogan, should users prefer to only attract attention to themselves at specific times, will be its non-specific wording, allowing patrons with any condition, from chronic fatigue to sports injuries, to apply for one without having to disclose the nature of their condition.

Its ambiguity could further, of course, be a disadvantage. As with TFL’s triumphant ‘baby on board’ badges, which began in 2005 to allow pregnant women a greater opportunity at getting seats, and are now given out more than 300,000 times a year, the new badges will be accessible through a simple online application process, or in person at stations.

Unlike applying for a Blue Badge disability parking permit, which may involve a face-to-face assessment, there’s nothing to prevent scammers taking advantage, but TFL are confident they’ll be few and far between, and a tiny price to pay for supporting those in actual need.

People can be narrow-minded on the Tube, they’ll see someone in need and perhaps pose to be sleeping or avoid their gaze, but the official badges eliminate any of that awkwardness, and it might seem like such a small thing to some but to a disabled person it gives them freedom which feels amazing and stops someone from having anxiety attacks, and most disabled people won’t even travel in the rush hour as it’s such an ordeal, but these badges could actually change that.

Nasty Surprises

More money for schools, the NHS and Universal Credit were among the eye-catching announcements in Philip Hammond’s budget speech, but as always, the devil’s in the detail.

Once you get past the poor jokes, the glistening knickknacks and the claims that austerity is over, all that’s left is the small print, and guess what? Some of it will leave you and your family worse off, and if you were able to trawl through all 106 pages of the Budget Red Book, plus the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s assessment of the measures of it, here are some things you would spot.

Britain’s poorest people won’t be any better off because buried in a chart of small print notes that the Budget won’t really make the poorest 20 per cent any better off, and this chart explains the total impact of all tax, welfare and public service reforms since 2015.

Look at it and you’ll notice the poorest people are on the left, and they utterly flatline in the analysis. While the wealthiest 10 per cent is taking a hit, it’s the middle-class people, those in the top 30 per cent or 40 per cent who will benefit the most, getting up to £750 a year.0_Screen-Shot-2018-10-29-at-194521-1

The welfare, housing and justice departments are all being slashed and Philip Hammond made a big play of pumping more money into defence and the NHS, but he was a little reticent about yet more swingeing cuts being imposed on some of the biggest frontline Whitehall departments.

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The Department for Work and Pensions is being expected to cut its budget from £6 billion to £5.4 billion in 2019/20 (not including benefit payments), and the Ministry of Justice is being cut from £6.3 billion to £6 billion, and the housing and communities section of Whitehall is being cut from £2.6 billion to £2.3 billion.

That’s despite a welfare crisis, a prison crisis and a housing crisis. Why are they doing this?

That plastic tax will take four years to come in, and Chancellor Philip Hammond insisted he will become a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic littering on our planet.

Not only did he resist any proposal to tax plastic cups. His big signature move, a tax on packaging that doesn’t have at least 30 per cent recycled plastic will only come in April 2022.

He made no mention of the date in his address, but it’s all in the small print, and this speaks volumes about the Treasury’s priorities, as China, Vietnam and Thailand shut their doors on Britain’s plastic waste, the Chancellors reply is to keep calm and carry on.

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The tax on Amazon, Google and Facebook will cost tech monsters a pittance, and according to the OBT forecast, Google and other online colossi could pay an insignificant £30 million each under Philip Hammond’s new tax, and the figure is a mere pittance for these large international assemblies, and the percentage of tax paid by the big five tech giants has halved since 2013, but the new tax won’t come into force until 2020 at which time the tech monsters will start to enjoy a 2 per cent cut in their corporation tax rate.

And it raises even less than we imagined. If you thought the £400 million raised from the Digital Services Tax didn’t look like much, then don’t look at the back of the Budget book. It reveals £400 million a year is only what it’ll raise in 2022. Next year it raises to £5 million, and in 2020/21 it only raises £275 million.

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Crack cocaine of gambling stakes will stay above £2 for another year and campaigners blasted a six-month delay to cutting stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2.

The move to cut maximum stakes on the crack cocaine of gambling from £100 had been expected to come into force next April, but the Budget small print reveals the move will not take place until October.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling announced it was “unacceptable”, and Labour’s Carolyn Harris, who chairs Parliament’s cross-party group on FOBTs, was “appalled” at the “wholly unjustifiable” delay.

But a Treasury source stated: “It’s clearly a judgement call. This we think strikes the right balance.”

The extra money for schools can’t be used on pens, books and toilet paper, as Philip Hammond announced an additional £400 million for struggling schools to pay for the little extras they can’t afford.

Countless parents will have sighed relief at the announcement, after getting begging letters from their kids’ teachers, begging for money to pay for such extravagances as pens, books and toilet paper. But they’ll be disappointed. The money is capital spending, ring-fenced for building maintenance and buying equipment. That means schools will be permitted to purchase iPads with the additional money, but not pens and paper.

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The Queen is getting a pay increase. The Sovereign Grant, the money given by the government to assist the Queen in her royal duties is going up. Last year the figure was 76.1 million, this year it’ll go up to an eye-watering £82.4 million.

The size of the grant is normally 15 per cent of the government’s revenue from Crown Estates, but last year she got a 10-year increase to 25 per cent to pay for essential refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.

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There’s going to be a tax on liquefied tobacco for the first time because the government is set to propose a particular tax on heated tobacco, and the products will be taxed at the same rate as hand-rolling tobacco from April 2019.

The article basically said the tax would also apply to vape fluid, this is not the case and duty on rolling tobacco amounts to about £13.40/unit £0.45/g, all depending on where you purchase it from.

The Tories have finally confirmed they’re delaying Universal Credit, and the rollout of the despised six-in-one benefit will officially close in December 2023, the ninth delay following its last end date of March 2023, and it may only end in June 2024, because the Office for Budget Responsibility assumes it will take six months longer than the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) states.

Delaying the rollout will actually save the DWP £1 billion because thanks to a £1.7 billion-a-year package of help, it’s now more costly than the legacy system would have been. There’s also a suggestion that the funds will be saved because, by delaying Universal Credit, less will be given over to claimants in transition payments.

No Deal Brexit will have a severe blow on the economy and The Office For Budget Responsibility admits No Deal Brexit will have a severe impact, and if an agreement is not reached in time, it could have a drastic short-term impact on demand and supply in the economy.

It is next to impossible to calibrate this kind of situation because of the lack of exemplar as Philip Hammond announced another £500 million in the no-deal Brexit preparations, taking the sum to £4.2 billion.

The Chancellor boasted of “firepower to intervene” if the economy requires more assistance in the coming months with £15 billion of “headroom” to deploy, there’s no Brexit dividend, only years of widespread torture.

 

And the Brexit divorce bill will be even higher than thought. Again, this is one from the independent OBR, not the Budget report itself, and the experts have revised their estimate up from £37.1 billion to £38.7 billion.

It’s been revised up because of a weaker pound-euro exchange flow, and changes to contribution methods and timetables, and it should be noted that an earlier account of the article stated the divorce bill would be £47 billion, it is understood that this is the sum paid to the EU institutions over the following five years.

A questionable Tory home buying scheme is being reestablished, and it’s costing £9 billion. So, you’d imagine a package of help for first-time buyers costing nearly £9 billion might have been mentioned in the Budget address, but, no, you have to delve into the documents to discover the Help to Buy equity loan scheme is being re-established for two years from April 2021.

The scheme was previously slammed for supporting buyers who were already well-off and allowing a five-year “time bomb” of fees to build up. This time it will be accessible only to first-time buyers correcting an important defect in the old system, but there are still some components of unfairness.

Londoners will be able to use it to get a home worth £600,000, while in the North East it’s only accessible on homes worth £186,100, and the scheme’s huge cost on its own will draw awareness.

And lastly, one cut that isn’t even in the small print, this one’s not in the Budget itself, but the release from the Office of Budget Responsibility. It states capital spending, long-term one-off hits on building plans and the like has been cut, and the Treasury hasn’t spelt it out. Departmental capital spending has further been cut from 2019-20 onwards, a decision that does not appear on the Treasury’s scorecard of policy measures.

It’s rather disturbing that we’re leaving the EU and while there are a number of people out there voted out, in Liverpool they have a work scheme for the young that pays a living wage financed by the EU, the docks and the city revitalisation is financed by the EU, in fact, most things now are financed by the EU.

When we finally do come out of the EU who will finance those things that the EU fund? Will our Tory government fund it, of course, they won’t, and we will end up in an enormous economic depression, and we should be concerned for our children and grandchildren who will inherit this mayhem.

It was a genuinely bad idea to enter the EU, but it will be an even worse idea to leave, better the devil you do know, than the devil you don’t!

Does everyone think that the EU countries will roll out the red carpet and want to trade with us after we leave? Of course, they won’t, they will make it as challenging as they can and Great Britain will end up in an enormous economic depression, and France has already stated they would roll out the red carpet for businessmen retreating from the United Kingdom.

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The negotiations of a new agreement will clearly unfold a Pandora’s box of demands, and this is going to be a tremendous test for British politicians, diplomats and officials, and they will need to build up various alliances, offensive and defensive.

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And then there’s Theresa May and her loony tunes party telling everybody that they’re ending austerity and that they’ve slashed expenditure right across the board, and of course, it’s worked so well – we’ve seen the National debt sore, and they’re spending more to implement their strategies than they raise, and then you end up with nothing but homelessness and child poverty to show for it.

Philip Hammond announced that the age of austerity was finally coming to an end and that they’ve reached a defining moment on a long hard journey after repairing the damage to the public finances, right now Pinocchio has a smaller nose than Hammond has…

…And he’s promising them a glowing future after years of constraint.

Yet, Philip Hammond warned that an emergency Budget would be required if Britain leaves the EU without a settlement, but Downing Street announced all spending plans in the Budget will go forward irrespective of Brexit.

Arguably he’s just about got to the absolute minimal definition of ending austerity but it’s certainly nothing like a bonanza for the rest of the public services because most of the proposed welfare cuts are still in the works, and with growth remaining persistently low and Brexit pulling down our economy, it’s obvious there are significant problems that still have to be tackled.

There’s a plaster on the Budget that needs to be taken off so that major surgery can begin because this is a fantasy pre-Brexit Budget based on theoretical numbers.

 

Little Extras

Philip Hammond’s at it again with his derogatory remarks as he declared that there was going to be a £400 million gift to schools as if schools weren’t insulted enough by the Tories cuts, but now the Chancellor is telling schools they can buy a little extra with the Budget cash, while still starving them of necessary long-term funds.

Our education system has been brought to its knees by Tory cuts and now this £400 million one-off payment for education has rebounded spectacularly as teachers and parents laid into the Chancellor over his condescending remarks.

The Chancellor is completely out of touch with the mayhem his party has caused, as they plunge schools into chaos where teachers and parents have had to beg for necessary supplies such as pens and books, and his paltry payment was faced with a series of harsh tweets under the mocking hashtag #littleextras.

Teachers and pupils are being condescended and devalued by Philip Hammond because he thinks that a few little extras will make up for years of underfunding, this government simply doesn’t have a clue, especially when Philip Hammond maintained that he had to give a little gratuity to every school which he hoped would be welcomed.

He must have a huge grin on his face because he truly believes in his own little fantasy world that this will be welcomed, and his remarks were in the style of a 1950’s husband who has given his wifey some pin money, but this money wouldn’t be able to fund the things that schools are absolutely desperate for, including better provisions for children with special needs or teacher’s wages.

A pack of dry wipe pens or glue sticks are essentials that a lot of schools are finding harder to afford, and photocopying costs a fortune, and because schools don’t have enough textbooks they have to do a lot more photocopying.

Most of the school’s computers are on their last legs, and they’re short of chairs, so they have to take them from other rooms if they can, and half the gas taps in labs haven’t worked in a while, and it’s utterly disrespectful to parents and teachers that the Chancellor speaks about little extras when school funds have been cut by billions and head teachers are begging parents for money for essential supplies like books and stationery.

Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged 5 to 18, either at school or otherwise, with a child entering primary education during the school year they turn 5. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 are entitled to 600 hours per year of optional, state-funded, pre-school education. This can be provided in “playgroups”, nurseries, community childcare centres or nursery classes in schools.

What happens if a child does not attend school education?

As a parent raising a child, that parent is liable for ensuring that the child is being educated, whether or not you have parental responsibility for the child, that person or parent can be prosecuted and fined if the child is on a school register but does not attend or does not attend regularly.

If it’s compulsory for a child to attend school, and this is a government policy, the government should pay for that said child to attend school, this should include school uniform, pens, books and anything associated inside school because this is a government policy to systematise our children, not a life choice by the parent.

If the government are not able to fully fund schools that they instigated in the first place, then it should not be mandatory for our children to attend school. It’s not rocket science if the government wish to institutionalise our children, then they should pay for it.

The amount Philip Hammond has offered is barely a 10th of the £3.5 billion the Tories have cut from capital funding year on year, leaving thousands of children in leaking and decaying classrooms, and this proves how hopelessly out of touch the Tories actually are.

And the Chancellor has shown in this budget the extent of his stupidity on school funding, and when millionaire Philip Hammond was questioned about what exactly his little extras were, he stated that if schools needed to buy a couple of whiteboards or some laptop computers or something like that, having a cheque for £50,000 would be very useful for most schools.

The Tories have pounded our schools with harsh cuts since coming to power in 2010, including one in Theresa May’s own constituency, and Philip Hammond is not deserving of academic analysis. Margaret Thatcher operated a sweetie-shop economic policy, and this shower followed on and he doesn’t care because he’s not in this realm of reality.

This government has made the most brutal cuts right across the board, and no matter what they say, people simply don’t trust them with the never-ending crap that spews from their mouths.

What is it that this government simply don’t understand?

They have destroyed this country along with the many people in it, and they’ve made no attempt to put things right, and people will continue to suffer while they oversee this country, and we shouldn’t let the Tories ruin our children’s futures, or their children’s futures.

The Tories are running our schools into the ground by their underfunding so that they can privatise everything else, like the police, fire and ambulance services, and if the Tories are given absolute control these things will happen because we don’t have much more to sell off, the Tories have sold most of it already, and they will destroy our country.

Three hundred and seventy-five million pounds for Buckingham Palace. £3.5 million for Parliament, millions for 2 Royal weddings, our country has a wealth of money but not for us common folk, and since coming to power under David Cameron and now Theresa May, the Tories have more than doubled the National Debt.

They’ve borrowed more money than any single Labour government combined, missed every single financial target set, and lost our AAA credit rating and had it decreased further.

Our government has failed to pay down the debt, has narrowed the economy and imposed austerity for nothing more than political dogma, and then they gave us Philip Hammond!

Bah Humbug: No Christmas Lights

CHRISTMAS spirit has run dry at Basildon Council this year as authorities have controversially chosen not to host a big lights switch on event in Basildon Town Centre, and the fireworks have been eliminated for health and safety purposes.

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It would appear the whole of Basildon has shrivelled up and has been doing so for numerous years as dozens of giants shops lay vacant with £9 million being wasted in business rates as a consequence, and this is an early sign of a descending spiral of a trading area.

If nothing is done about this flag that’s being raised, there could be a knock-on effect and the number of vacant shops will grow, but bringing the cost of rents down and making parking more affordable and more accessible could enable traders to remain and stay.

And so it appears that all that cash Basildon tried to preserve back in the day by flogging off the car parks in Basildon Town Centre to tap a few quid off the Council Tax doesn’t seem such a great idea now! Of course, you can’t bulldoze the town centre if the shops are being used, so perhaps the plan is to price them out and then on with the demolition.

And with no shops to go to, everyone will have to go to other areas to shop, such as Burnt Mills and Mayflower Retail Park along with others, the council seem set to get us to use their costly white elephant one way or the other, and following the dreadful fiasco last year with the Christmas lights it’s feared that this year will be even worse.

It seems extraordinary that a town of Basildon’s stature and distinction that nothing seems to be in the diary so far to launch Christmas in the town square, but then this wall of silence has been the trend over the preceding years.

Maybe nothing has been planned at all, and that’s certainly something that many proposed visitants could assume.

Christmas is quickly approaching and most Essex towns are doing something to launch the celebratory period but there’s nothing anywhere about in Basildon Town Square, and this is about as bad as last year when nothing happened until the last minute and then it was a miserable flop.

Compare this decreasing volume of Christmas launch activity by the council in current years with Matt Cardle’s debut in the town square in 2013, which was one of the best events ever held there, but the council met with a torrent of criticism last year for the Christmas lights display, with residents complaining that there was no stage or fireworks display.

There’s no enthusiasm anymore because there are very little or no celebrations in Basildon, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas anymore, and whatever legitimate grounds Basildon Council might have for all of this, Basildon residents warrant some kind of explanation.

There will be no fireworks this year due to health and safety regulations, and also no stage or special switch-on ceremony, and it seems that Basildon has used up all their cash in their piggy bank on the new market, and what about the Christmas tree which has been banned from the Town Square for so many years because of health and safety reasons until a local retail management company paid for it a few years ago?

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Health and safety, they’re simply pretexts because Basildon Council doesn’t want to fork out for a tree, and if they’re skint they should simply say so and stop trying to fool the locals that there are other reasons for their scarcity of support, especially in the declining number of shops in the Town Square as Basildon becomes an ugliness of a Borough.

Christmas in Basildon should be an amazing time with celebrations, markets, songs and laughter, and not full of health and safety regulations…

Penalised For Being Ill

A man that was diagnosed with a brain tumour diagnosis had to give up his bar job in London and move back to his parents home in Inverness as he battled cancer, but not only that, because he had to give up his job, he was forced to apply for Universal Credit where he was made to fill out forms for six hours so that he could apply for Universal Credit.

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Neil MacVicar said he went to a local Jobcentre to apply for Universal Credit and felt like he was punished for being ill after it took so long to fill out the forms, which made Neil feel broken and depressed, and he’s now called for reforms to the awful policy.

Following his treatment, he went to the Jobcentre to apply for Universal Credit where he had to sit in front of a computer for six hours to fill in the forms. He said it was awkward, and he felt like he was being punished for being ill, and is frightened that this may happen to someone who doesn’t have the assistance that he has, and he’s especially annoyed with this dreadful policy.

This entire encounter with Universal Credit has left him feeling broken, discouraged and concerned, and the Cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support expects more than 2,600 cancer sufferers in Scotland, including some with a terminal diagnosis, are at substantial danger of hardship if the Universal Credit scheme is rolled out further.

Macmillan benefits advisor Elaine Donnelly, who also works for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), has seen the impact of Universal Credit for the past few years, seeing people die before they get their benefits because the system doesn’t work.

The side effects of cancer and its treatment can impair someone’s capacity to work, and as a result, four in five Scottish patients are hit with an average cost of £420 a month because of lost income and additional outgoings, such as increased household bills due to feeling the cold more, and more than a quarter of those diagnosed have no savings.

The current Universal Credit rules mean cancer patients suffer a five-week delay before they get any money. This pertains to those with a terminal diagnosis because the fast-track process for people with less than six months to live has been eliminated, and under current policies, people with cancer already claiming benefits will have to apply for Universal Credit.

The policy is failing people with cancer and the Government must fix this before tens of thousands more vulnerable people are put in danger of hardship, to the point where there are people out there that have recently had emergency surgery for a life-threatening condition and the Universal Credit team are on the telephone to them demanding they attend back to work interviews, to the degree they’re prepared to force an interview whilst they’re in a critical care unit.

And this is the sort of people who are running our country! When are people going to wake up, strengthen their loins and stand tall, and face these insane entities face on?

The Tories are frequently compared to the Nazi party for their handling of the sick and disabled, and I may well have to agree with that because I can’t think of a better way to illustrate this criminal government.

There are people out there dying of brain tumours and they get nothing because they were daft enough to have savings, and then when their savings run out they have to sell their house, yet they would have worked all their life, and what for? To get nothing, so what did they work for in the first place, no wonder the younger generation don’t want to go to work, and then get blasted for it and called scroungers.

So, here’s the situation, you work all your life, you’re a remarkably hard worker, you pay your taxes like the good person that you are, which never go towards what they’re supposed to, and then finally you retire. Over the years you’ve managed to buy your home, which is now paid off and then you get ill.

So, where did all those taxes you paid go to? Well, they unquestionably didn’t go towards your future for when you get sick because there’s nothing in the cup for you, so you now have to sell your home to fund carers and/or a care home, so what was the point? Well, there is no point!

Years ago, purchasing your own home was an investment for your children when you passed away, so that they had something, your home was a nest egg, not anymore. You can’t even sign your home over to your children anymore because our deceitful government will find out, and then make your children liable for your care home.

So, what’s the point of sweating your nuts off, well absolutely none because anything we do own is never actually ours because we’re owned by the government, and the Tories don’t care about anybody, all they care about is stuffing their own pockets with as much money as they can before they get ousted, and then people wonder why this country is going under fast.

Of course, we can’t wave a magic wand and everything will be okay but this Tory government has proclaimed war on the sick and disabled, and people thought Margaret Thatcher was brutal and hard-hearted, but Theresa May beats them all.

What is it with her treating the sick and disabled as she does? And people who work for Atos gloating about how much gratuities they get by knocking claimants off their Personal Independence Payments (PIP). These policies are pure evil and there’s no excuse for victimising people who are sick whatsoever.

And to repeat once again, no matter how disabled or unemployed you are, the nasty party can’t push this Universal Credit through quick enough, and they don’t care how much misery it causes people, and it will put more pressure on the NHS due to more and more people becoming severely stressed and depressed.

Make no mistake, this government’s policies are really callous towards the vulnerable people of the United Kingdom, and the nasty party should all be ashamed of themselves, and there’s actually not enough cussing words to express what the government actually are!

But this is what happens in every type of government, they have this brilliant idea, but sadly, they don’t consult the voters, they simply say it’s happening, end of, and then they wait and see what happens. The point we should be looking at though is that if it’s not broken, don’t fix because it wasn’t broken in the first place. Of course, these bright ideas work for the wealthy, but the average Joe or poor people always get penalised.

The cruelty tactics of the DWP who have the vulnerable and the severely sick doing immense amounts of form filling when they’re gravely ill and one small mistake in those forms is enough to give the DWP a reason to withhold payment, that is their method in the madness.

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And people with mental health problems, for them, simply looking at these kinds of forms can throw them into a tailspin of emotions, which is utterly disgusting, and there’s a subjective and financial cruelty inflicted on the vulnerable, and severely ill people with life-threatening symptoms, and serious mental health problems.

The whole political mafia is responsible for choosing these draconian measures while they line their pockets, and perhaps they should be paid in the same way as benefit claimants to see how they can cope for a few weeks without any means of sustenance.

The policy introduced under the last Labour government was in no way as rigid and unyielding as the wilfully wicked policy the Tories have turned it into. The Labour government had doctors conducting medical assessments and not nurses and sports therapists, and people who were deemed disabled under the Labour party introduced their version of the system where doctors would look at their specialist’s letters where it became pretty apparent that person would never work again.

Then the Tories got their hooks into the system and contracted Atos to administer the assessments, a contract that granted the assessors a cash gratuity for every claimant they assessed fit for work, so of course, the assessors will deem a person fit for work, there’s a reward in it for them.

Now people have to fight every time they’re assessed as Atos assessors say they’ll be able to return to work in spite of their specialist with over 35 years of experience saying differently, so how much longer is this going to be permitted to go on?

People pay their taxes and National Insurance, and this should be sorted as soon as possible so that we can stop this treatment of people being handled like animals, and if they can’t bring themselves to treat people like human beings, then perhaps we should inspire people to stop paying the fraudulent National Insurance and any other taxes as well because the government will only use it on fake banner terrorism and limousines for Jihadis.