Category: All In It Together

North-South divide getting worse

The gap between the North East and the wealthy South is growing wider as the economy recovers, an MP has warned.

Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, led a 90-minute Commons debate calling for more support for traditional industrial areas such as the former coalmining villages in his Durham constituency.

He told Ministers that boosting the economy of the North East would benefit the entire country and could reduce congestion and overcrowding in London, because fewer people would move to the capital to seek work.

Mr Morris called for support for a planned Centre for Creative Excellence south of Seaham, County Durham, which could create more than 2,000 jobs.

The development, which was set to feature television studios as well as conference and training facilities, had been backed by the regional development agency created under the last Labour Government and abolished by the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2012.

However Business Minister Anna Soubry accused Labour MPs of failing to celebrate job creation in the North East, and said the Government had awarded £13.4m to businesses to help create jobs in Easington alone.

A number of Labour MPs from across the region have been pushing the Government to create an industrial strategy for the North East to tackle what they say is a lack of good quality private sector jobs. They made similar pleas to former Labour leader Ed Miliband in the run-up to May’s election.

Mr Morris said that there needed to be a senior politician championing the regions in the Cabinet.

He said: “My view is that we need a strong voice in cabinet advocating for our regions.”

> Well that’s not going happen, is it ? Areas like the North East dont vote Tory, so Tories don’t care what happens to them. Dont forget that Thatcher’s government seriously considered cutting cities like Liverpool loose to die. Do you suppose the same mentality doesn’t still exist in the Tory ranks – it’s what Tories do.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/143/north-south-divide-worse

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ToriesTax Cuts For The Richest, While Hammering The Poor

The Tory government is considering lowering the top rate of tax for Britain’s super-rich, it has been reported.

The move would see the top rate of tax being lowered from 45p to 40p in the pound (£), while hammering low-income families with £12bn in welfare cuts.

Former Tory Chancellor, Lord Lawson, has urged George Osborne to reduce the tax burden on top-rate tax payers in the ’emergency budget’ next month (July).

George Osborne has indicated during Treasury meetings that he may go ahead with the plan. It would encourage more businesses to invest in the UK, says Lord Lawson.

Full story –  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/137/toriestax-cuts-richest-hammering-poor

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The Real Benefit Cheats

The Real Benefit Cheats Are The Employers Who Are Milking The System

I really don’t know why the government is making such heavy weather of cutting £12bn off the benefits bill. That sum, and much more, could be cut at the stroke of a pen – though it would mean that the government would have to put its money where its mouth is and make it a legal requirement for employers to pay the living wage. If a company really can’t afford to, then it’s the company that should be applying for supplements, not the people who work for it.

Cameron wants to curb in-work benefits. No wonder: just £8bn on benefits goes to the unemployed, while an estimated £76bn, according to James Ferguson of Money Week, goes to people who are working. The government says this shouldn’t be happening. Cameron insists employers should be paying wages people can live on – which, funnily enough, is the sort of thing unions say, although they no longer have any power to make it happen.

It’s what Labour says, too, now the party is out of power. When it was in power, it avoided confrontation with employers offering poverty wages, and with the unions, by kindly offering to make up the difference between the minimum wage and a living wage via the benefits system.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. The Tories excoriate Labour because Labour accepted the Conservative idea that employers should be freed from the burden of social responsibility. Labour spent a lot of money on protecting employers from such irksome duties. The Conservatives still don’t want to impose such irksome duties, but don’t want to stump up for the hefty bill that ensues from failing to do so either.

Just one of the woeful consequences of Labour’s drive to support employers by supplementing employees is that it makes the figures look like the Department of Work and Pensions is showering taxpayers’ money on the feckless, when it is actually showering taxpayers’ money on businesses.

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Monarchy costs taxpayer £334m a year,8 times official figure

A new report out this week has estimated the total annual cost of the monarchy at £333.9m, eight times the official figure.

The report, Royal Expenses: Counting the Cost of the Monarchy, shows that each ‘working royal‘ costs the taxpayer an average of £18.5m, making them the most expensive public officials in the country.

The report also challenges the claim that the monarchy brings in any revenue from tourism or the Crown Estate.

Campaign group Republic, which is publishing the report, has called for a radical overhaul of royal funding.

The report will be published on the morning of Tuesday June 23, ahead of the publication of the official royal accounts.

The report can be previewed at www.republic.org.uk/royalexpensesreport

Key findings

The estimated total annual cost of the monarchy is £334m, around a third of a billion pounds.

This means each ‘working royal’ costs the taxpayer around £18.5m a year on average.

The total annual cost of the monarchy is more than NHS England spent on the Cancer Drugs Fund last year.

For £334m the government could employ 15,000 new nurses14,000 new police officersor 15,000 new teachers.

Current funding arrangements are unsustainable and must be radically reformed.

Full story : http://northstar.boards.net/thread/133/monarchy-costs-taxpayer-official-figure

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Charity boss warns of ‘organised gangs’ of beggars

Fagan-type gangs could be making up to £100 a day from begging on Newcastle’s streets, a charity boss claims, in the latest attempt to demonise the poorest – not to mention attacking the  results  while ignoring the causes.

Steve Bell, chief executive of Changing Lives in the city, has welcomed the move to ban aggressive beggars from Newcastle city centre.

The charity works with people who are homeless, battling addictions or dealing with other problems.

Mr Bell said: “We welcome what the council have done. If people want to give they should not be giving money – a cup of tea, a sandwich.

“There’s been a massive increase in people begging but not using our service or sleeping rough.

“We know there have been some harsh conversations between the rough-sleeping population and those coming in to beg.

“Some people are earning over £100 a day from begging.

> As usual we’re told they’re earning this or that – given that they’re unlikely to be keeping accounts, how do we know this ? 

Secondly, if you’re really earning over £100 a day, why on earth would you want a ‘normal’ life living on £72 a week ?

Full story : http://northstar.boards.net/thread/132/charity-warns-organised-gangs-beggars

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Queen should hand Buckingham palace back to the nation

Campaigners have called on the Queen to permanently vacate Buckingham palace after reports that the royals may move out temporarily to allow for repairs.

Campaign group Republic has today said that if the royals can’t look after the buildings and raise their own revenue to fund maintenance it’s time to give them up.

Republic’s CEO Graham Smith said:

“Buckingham palace is national property treated like a private home occupied by a rogue tenant. Years of failure on the part of the royals have left the buildings in desperate need of repair.”

“MPs and campaigners have long called on the palace to be opened up to tourists all year round, to pay for costs of maintenance. The royals have refused. So it’s time they moved out and the palace turned into a world-class museum and art gallery.”

Full story – http://northstar.boards.net/thread/129/queen-hand-buckingham-palace-nation

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MPs to get 10% pay rise whilst benefits face 10% cut

IPSA, the body which sets MPs pay, has today confirmed its intention to give MPs a 10% pay rise, whilst the budget for claimants is set to be cut by more than 10%

According to the TalkTalk website, the £7,000 pay rise for MPs looks certain to go ahead, in spite of prime minister David Cameron saying he thinks it is wrong. In fact, when asked whether Cameron would refuse to take the increase himself, a spokesperson for Downing Street merely said that the rise would go to all MPs “automatically”.

Meanwhile, in a recent report on the planned £12 billion cut in benefits spending, the IFS calculated that this amounted to 10% of the benefits budget that has not already been explicitly protected from cuts.

Read rest of story here:

http://northstar.boards.net/thread/42/mps-rise-whilst-benefits-face

North East family incomes lags behind most of UK

Family  incomes are on the rise in most of the region, official figures show – but at a slower pace than in most of the country.

Household disposable income per head crept up by just 0.8 per cent in the North-East between 2012 and 2013, below the one per cent rise across the United Kingdom.

And the North-East was left in the slow lane by both Scotland (up two per cent) and the West Midlands (up 2.3 per cent) as the economy bounced back, as well as by Yorkshire (up 1.4 per cent).

But households in London and the South-East (both up 0.6 per cent) saw incomes grow more slowly – even though overall growth was far higher than in the North-East in both areas.

The statistics also reveal striking local variations in the changes in gross disposable household income (GDHI), the amount available for spending or saving after taxes and benefits.

Incomes grew sharply in Darlington (3.5 per cent) and South Teesside (2.6 per cent) and were also up in North Yorkshire (two per cent) and Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees (1.9 per cent).

But growth was more sluggish in County Durham (1.3 per cent) – and fell markedly in both Sunderland (3.1 per cent) and York (3.3 per cent).

 And disposable incomes in the North-East are as little as one-third of those in the plushest parts of London, where the figures surged ahead between 2012 and 2013.

In Westminster, the average GDHI was £42,221 in 2013 – almost three times the figure of £14,659 in County Durham and the highest of 173 local areas analysed.

And incomes in Kensington and Chelsea/Hammersmith and Fulham (£42,116), Camden and City of London (£37,324) and Wandsworth (£35,237) were not far behind.

Matt Whittaker, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation think-tank, said:

“Regional inequalities have fallen since the crash, but the gap between the South East and the UK is stark.”

Experts believe disposal income – the amount people have to spend after the bills have been paid – is the best measure of the economic confidence of families and individuals.

The rising figures in most areas were thought to reflect low interest rates and low inflation offsetting disappointing wage rises, perhaps helping to return David Cameron to No.10 earlier this month.
Source – Northern Echo, 28 May 2015

Newton Aycliffe schoolboys praised for helping homeless man

A headteacher  has praised four pupils who were photographed buying food for a homeless man on their way home from school.

Jack McGill, Cameron Turner-Neill, Charlie Hirst and 11-year-old Sam pooled their money to buy chocolate biscuits, water and cereal bars for the man after noticing he looked upset and unwell.

The boys, who attend Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, spotted the man, aged about 50, sitting on a bench in the town centre and were concerned about him.

A passer-by photographed their act of kindness and posted it on Facebook, prompting widespread praise for the boys.

Cameron, 12, said:

“Jack went over to see if he was okay and sat down next to him. The man asked if he had had a nice day at school and they started chatting. He said he was from London and had been homeless for nine years.

“He was very nice and you could tell he was well educated.

“He used to be a joiner and a carpenter and lived in a flat but it got rented out. He has been walking around the country and had just walked from Stockton.”

The boys said the man had refused to take money from a pensioner who also tried to help and was reluctant to accept the food they bought.

 Jack, 12, said:
“When we brought the food over he said he didn’t want it but we insisted. He had a bag so we helped him put it in there.

“It’s important to help other people.”

Charlie, 11, said:

“I was upset when I saw him. It made me think I should be more grateful for the things I’ve got when I saw how grateful he was for those small things.”

Sam added:

“It has made me want to help my mum more and be more grateful because he doesn’t have a mum.”

Christine Forsyth, headteacher at Woodham Academy, said:

“At Woodham Academy we teach pupils to respect other people and this is a wonderful example of our children showing unconditional respect for another human being. We are really proud of them.”

On Facebook, one woman wrote: “Lovely to see. What lovely young lads to do such a good thing .”

Another posted: “And there it is to all you people out there that think all teenagers are all anti-social. Here are some fantastic boys. They are a credit to their parents.

Source – Northern Echo, 16 May 2015

Cameron’s Big Society is letting down community-minded entrepreneurs

The managing director of a much-loved musical hub is begging David Cameron for help, saying his Big Society is letting down community-minded entrepreneurs.

Housed in a rapidly deteriorating building, The Forum in Darlington needs £1.5m of refurbishments if it is to continue and grow.

However, its status as a CIC (Community Interest Company) means the team is finding it near impossible to attract vital funding.

Despite having saved the popular centre from closure and consistently meeting objectives, The Forum is struggling to attract investment and must plunge its own profits back into services for the community – leaving little for refurbishment.

Managing director Allison Mckay believes private investors are put off by the council-owned building and says investment available to other CICs is dependent on being able to prove the enterprise has a “social impact”.

She says proving the social impact of a music-based venture that serves a diverse range of people and offers a variety of activities is next to impossible, despite its undeniable community worth.

Applications for funding are regularly rejected because of difficulty in proving music has a social value.

 One rejection said: “…although you say music is a fantastic medium to engage young people, you don’t say why it is needed and what issues or problems it will address within your community.”

Ms Mckay said investors should visit CICs to see the work they do instead of relying on “box ticking exercises”.

She said the local authority did what it could to support them but more is needed to save The Forum.

She said:

“There are budgets in central government set aside for CICs but social impact is a massive thing and that’s very difficult for us to measure.

“Investment goes to social enterprises with specific criteria and we don’t fit that box.

“We need help with the building – we need new chairs for people to sit on but how do you measure the social impact of chairs?”

In a letter to David Cameron, Ms Mckay said:

“When everything pointed in the direction of sinking we kept the ship afloat but where is our so-called partner, the Big Society?

 “We’ve been let down– we did what we were asked and the helping hand has never been there.

“This [CIC] is no partnership between private and public, this is a take situation and the Big Society preys on people like us who are entrepreneurial and also want to make a difference.”

Source – Northern Echo, 15 May 2015