Saturday, 24 March 2012

Gambling George

George Osbourne third budget will be seen as an increasingly out of touch with the millions of people in our country.

We already know that George Osbourne is predicting he with borrow £150 billion more over this parliament that he said.

This year he has raised the tax allowance to £9205 and has cut the tax rate from 50p to 45p. The personal allowance increase will cost around £3.5billion, the top half of earners gets 70% of the benefit from the changes, this with the £2.5 billion cuts that have already announced in tax credits that effect the low to middle earners, we can see that far from helping low to middle income earners, this government has made their incomes lower.

The government believes that the cut in the top rate of tax will only cost £100million, this is an estimate and we cannot be sure that in fact this cut will cost more and this would undermine the financial neutrality.

In the small print of the government's budget there is a additional £10 billion cut to welfare spending, with housing benefit likely to be cut even more, we have seen in the recent numbers since the changes to housing benefit in London families living in temporary accommodation has risen by 26%. This is particularly pertinent as London's rented sector is more expensive, but if levels are lowered then the misery of these changes will spread to less affluent areas of the country.

In Shepton there is a real risk that we could lose our in patient beds, these particularly important to free beds up in other hospitals, giving easy access to relatives for locals who are ill. In the Budget we see a further £500 million claw back in NHS spending, at the time when the government is holding a top down reorganisation of the NHS that is costing billions and it is expecting the NHS to come up with additional savings of £20 billion, the government are handing out tax cuts to millionaires and P45s to nurses.

The governments intellectual argument is fundamentally flawed, they believe in trickle down economics, the wealthy will throw crumbs from their table and this will feed the majority, this is the rational to their economic strategy, they have cut corporation tax this helps large corporations, yet the majority companies are small to medium sized companies who generally will not benefit from the corporation tax cuts.

What was required was a budget for the Millions not the millionaires.

Unemployment is increasing, with youth unemployment above 20%, growth is only likely to be 0.8% this year, real incomes falling, petrol now £1.40 a litre or £6.30 a gallon.

This government is locked into a spiral of cuts, austerity is not working.

Everybody knows we need to rebalance our economy, less reliance on finance and services and more to manufacture and technology, we need an economy that uses money to create wealth for the many not the few, this needs active government not one of tickle down, voodoo economics.

We need a budget to rebalance the housing market, we need investment to build homes, this government has presided over the lowest house building, they are wedded to an ideological cause. This country is facing a housing crisis and the government like Ponchus Pilot stands on the side washing it's hands and will leave the disaster to.
the market

George Osborne has given a £3bn tax cut to the richest people in the county – a tax cut worth over £40,000 for the 14,000 people earning over £1m. It tells you everything you need to know about this government that they're prepared to take money from pensioners and our NHS, while giving a tax cut to the richest people in our country."

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Home Sweet Home

Today the annual homelessness figures were announced and they showed that homelessness had increased by 14%, this follows on from the 23% increase in rough sleeping.

Last Tuesday, the Town Council had a presentation for a further development of Tadley acres, adding ninety odd new homes, with forty being 'affordable' twenty two were for renting and eighteen were proposed for low cost buying.

I made the point that this mix of rent and low cost buy was wrong, I suggested that with average incomes of around £17k, with homeownership at around twelve times salary and with less secure jobs this required more rented properties to allow local people to have access to a home.

Under the previous government developers could build more houses on their land, the developer actually complained the government made them overdevelop their land, this to appease residents no doubt.

So as a local Labour Councillor I argue for the maximum low cost rented properties.

Back to the homelessness figures these show the biggest increase for nearly ten years.

I reported the local sqeeze on local incomes last week.

Government changes from next month will cost families with children an average of £530 per year on top of last year's VAT rise. And as we have learned this week the Government's changes to tax credits are perverse and unfair: thousands of couples with children will next month find themselves up to £73 per week worse off and better off if they quit work.

The poorest 20% of the population are expecting to see their incomes fall by 1.5% in 2012/13 and would be lower in 2015-16 than in 2002-03.

It was, said the IFS, an "unprecedented period of no growth in average living standards since records began in 1961. Had the historical average growth rate continued over those 13 years, real median income would have grown by 22% over the period."

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "This is a damning analysis of the choices this out of touch government has made as they raise taxes and cut spending too far and too fast.

"How can we be all in this together when the banks have got a tax cut this year, while people on low and middle incomes are being hit hard and families with children hardest of all?"

Jenny Allen, South West lead manager for the federation, said: "As unemployment is on the up and benefits are set to be slashed, private sector rents also look set to rise. To cap it all, we've also seen the first increase in homelessness. Lack of supply is at the root of the problem. Ministers need to act now to implement a range of measures to turn the tide on the current housing crisis, ensuring that homes continue to be built at scale where it is most needed, that affordable housing options remain, and that housing is properly regulated across all sectors."

Saturday, 3 March 2012

True Compassion

Several stories in today's newspapers caught my attention, that seems to be linked and the true extent of the government are having on the most vulnerable.

The Prime minister likes to think of himself and his government having “true compassion" in today's Independent he talks about his government cares about the kind of country our children are going to grow up in, they care about giving people dignity in old age, he says only by taking tough and bold action that we will make our country stronger and fairer."

Earlier in the week I wrote about the increasing private credit crunch, where our CAB is seeing increasing number of people seeking advice on debt, housing and employment problems.

In Mendip we are fortunate to have a high quality bureau, previous governments of all political colours have understood the important nature of free community legal advice given, this can make such a huge difference to a persons life.

This Tory government are looking to save/cut £350million, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill has now passed to the House of Lords and Peers have warned that if the planned £350 million cuts are implemented law centres will close, leaving many thousands of the poor and vulnerable marginalised and without access to legal help.

The cut in Legal Aid will remove legal aid for medical negligence, divorce, employment and welfare cases, whilst also hitting areas such as debt and housing hard

The newly passed Welfare Reform act will increase the workload of the community legal centres, with changes that will effect disabled people, housing costs and reductions in benefits.

The government believe that their system the government expects more people to deal with problems themselves, via a centralised telephone line or the Internet.

Just imagine how difficult this might be for someone with learning disabilities, who really needs to deal with someone face-to-face from the start. Especially as in legal centres have access to experts to call upon for the most complex cases. Or someone who cannot afford a telephone or the Internet, and therefore would previously have relied on walking to their local law centre. These people will still exist, but will have nowhere to turn.

An example of the help CAB and legal centres offer is the GP outreach project in Mendip, trained people give advice and as a consequence local people have received benefits they are entitled £400,000 in the pockets of the most needy.

Disabled people will not get the support they need - at great cost to them and to friends, family, carers, communities and the taxpayer further down the line.

The thought of people living in fear of safety is of true concern. In today Independent there is a report of the savings/cuts into the help offered to victims of domestic violence.

Refuges for women suffering physical and mental abuse from partners are closing and specialist counsellors are losing their jobs following a 31 per cent cut in their funding.

The British Crime Survey estimated that there were 392,000 incidents of domestic violence in 2010-11. A separate study found 7 per cent of all women aged 16 to 59 had been victims of domestic abuse in the previous year.

I say to the Prime Minister the system needs to be fair. And that means fairness for everyone. Fair to the vulnerable, fair to defendants, fair to practitioners, and fair to the taxpayer too.

What sort of country is it where the powerful are riding around on retired police horses preaching about fairness at the same time aggressively attacking the very services that the most vulnerable need, I guess that what passes for fairness in the class of Eton.