Category: Cuts & More Cuts

There’s a storm brewing …

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from the Guardian on line

Steve White told the Guardian that more cuts would be devastating: “You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.”
Steve White told the Guardian that more cuts would be devastating: “You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.” Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Police will be forced to adopt a “paramilitary” style of enforcement if the government inflicts big budget cuts on them, the head of the police officers’ organisation has warned.

Steve White, chair of the Police Federation, said his 123,000 members, from police constables to inspectors, fear a move towards a more violent style of policing as they try to keep law and order with even fewer officers than now.

White told the Guardian that more cuts would be devastating: “You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.”

White…

View original post 807 more words

Advertisements

Tories May Axe 100,000 Civil Servants Over The Next Half Decade

Whitehall is facing the prospect of having to shed as many as 100,000 jobs over the next five years, the union representing senior civil servants has said.

The head of the FDA, Dave Penman, said he expected the Conservative government to continue primarily targeting staffing levels as it makes yet more swingeing cuts to public spending, leading to an even greater round of public sector job cuts than those under the coalition.

He said that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s analysis of the chancellor’s autumn statement, only 40% of the total cuts expected between the election of the coalition government in 2010 and the next general election in 2020 had been made.

Those cuts had come at the cost of around 80,000 jobs, Penman said, leading him to believe that the remaining 60% would cost a further 100,000.

The DWP could lose 20,000 to 30,000 staff, the HMRC could lose 10,000 to 15,000 … it is greater cuts than over the last five years and most of that is based around staffing, so it is not surprising.

“That is what the civil service is expecting, it is certainly what we are expecting. We are back to the 1930s level of spending.”

The former cabinet office minister Francis Maude led a round of job losses over the last parliament, prompting the Public and Commercial Services Union to accuse him of showing “enthusiasm for cutting jobs”.

Penman said that he wanted the government to be honest about what it could deliver if it went ahead with its plans to squeeze the civil service.

“We are saying you need to match commitments with resources – you can’t just cut that amount, then say ‘get on with it’.”

But he said that the FDA could not stop “an elected government from cutting the size of the civil service when they have been elected to do so”.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said:

“The minister will set out his priorities for this parliament in due course. Anything else at this stage, one week into his tenure, is purely speculation but all is working well so far and we have a strong, cohesive centre.”

Source – The Guardian, 18 May 2015

Tory Cuts Could Push Tens Of Thousands Of Home Carers Onto the Dole

Tens of thousands of home carers who look after vulnerable elderly relatives could be pushed into unemployment, warns the Alzheimer’s Society.

Government cuts are leaving local authority social care budgets “at breaking point”, while struggling home carers are left juggling work and caring duties.

Within ten years, up to one million Alzheimers patients will be dependent upon the care they receive from relatives. This is estimated to save the economy around £11.6bn each year, which is greater than the £8.8bn spent on the NHS.

Head of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society, George McNamara, said:

 “Further government cuts to social care could lead to tens of thousands of working people forced to give up their jobs to look after elderly relatives over the next five years.”

“Workers can’t fit caring responsibilities into a lunch break.

“Looking after an elderly parent with dementia takes huge amounts of time, energy and emotional stress. Many carers will have no choice but to give up work unless they get better public services.”

Whilst the government has recognised how childcare can help to keep people in work, providing quality assistance to home carers has not been awarded the same level of importance or significance.

Mr McNamara said:

“The Government has recognised the need to improve parents’ access to childcare to maintain economic recovery. But sidelining social care for a rapidly growing population of vulnerable older people also poses serious risks to the economy.

“Local authority budgets are at breaking point, economic growth is slowing and a massive wave of cuts in public service is imminent.

“We want the Government to end the crisis in social care and provide a vital lifeline for working families caring for elderly relatives.”

Source – Welfare Weekly, 17 May 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/tory-cuts-could-push-tens-of-thousands-of-home-carers-onto-the-dole-warns-charity/

Tory councils tell Osborne “No more cuts!”

Order Of Truth

torynomorecutsIt appears that even stanch Conservatives have had enough of the inner-circle of government’s ‘austerity’ measures.

In an unusual move, Conservative led local authorities have formed an alliance with Labour and LibDem led authorities to tell Osborne enough is enough.

The Conservative controlled Local Government Association (LGA) said in a letter to the Observer that they have already imposed cuts of 40% since 2010 and can not afford more cuts.

They state that any further cuts will have more serious ramifications for community life and social care and will have a knock-on effect on other services such as the NHS,

“Councils have worked hard to shield residents from the impact of funding cuts. However, efficiencies cannot be remade or buildings resold,” they say.

“Further local government funding reductions over the next five years are not an option. The new government must consider the consequences that further funding cuts, without radical…

View original post 402 more words

Probably coincidence, but…

It’s probably coincidence, but on the Hexham Courant newpaper’s website the headline

Conservative Guy Opperman has been returned as Hexham MP

is followed by several other bullet-point local headlines including:

– Man found hanged at Hexham bandstand

– Hexham restaurant to close after cutbacks

– Otterburn bus firm loses council deals

…which could well be a portent for the next five years of austerity – more deaths, closures and cutbacks.

> The story about the restaurant in particular is indicative of the future – it exited to give employment to people with mental health problems –

Tynedale people with mental health problems are being robbed of an employment lifeline after Northumberland County Council pulled the plug on funding.

The Tans vegetarian and seafood restaurant in Hexham’s St Mary’s Chare will close within weeks following the withdrawal of financial support for its operator, the Opus Employment Project.

The service, provided by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) but funded by the council, has operated in Hexham for over 20 years,
Its role is to act as rehabilitation service for people with mental health problems, helping them embed into society through work, training and voluntary work as part of their recovery process.
The project employs seven members of staff, and there are currently four volunteers. There are currently a number of clients working at the restaurant.
The news of the impending closure of the project and the restaurant has rocked members of the community, particularly clients who have used it as a way of working their way back into society.
Philippa Long has worked at the restaurant for the past four years and said it has transformed her life, as it allows her to interact closely with members of the public.
She said: “Usually, we start in the kitchen and make things to be sold, and that gives you a sense of pride in your own work.
“Then you get to the point where you serve thanks to all the support you are given, and it makes such a big difference to your confidence and outlook on life.
“It has been life changing and quite a lot of people have gone from the restaurant to get other jobs from there.
“Closing this will be devastating to all the clients, and there’s a lot of people with less ability than us that are going to be struck a lot harder.”
In addition to clients, the news has been hard to swallow for customers and volunteers of the restaurant.
Having visited the Tans as a customer for the past 16 years, Janet Brown was so moved by the service that she started volunteering when she retired.
She was upset that the county was to cut the funding, saying that it was a much needed project for people living with mental health problems across Tynedale.
She said: “What strikes me about the project is that we see the clients come in and stand nervously at the back but, within weeks, they are serving and talking to people because of the great atmosphere here and the training they receive.
“You can see their confidence building week on week, and it is a unique service which is one of a kind in the country.
“It’s a model for how to deal with mental health issues within the community, and Tans is a flagship enterprise and NTW should be aiming to keep it open at all costs.”
A spokesman for the county council said funding was being withdrawn after discussions between NTW and the council, had concluded the Tans restaurant and Opus Employment Project had “poor linkages” to mainstream education and employment opportunities.
It also found that the service offered little in terms of promoting personalised outcomes and independence.
The spokesman said: “ They also serve a diminishing number of people, now supporting only about a quarter of the number of service users they were designed for.
“We are now embarking on individual reviews with the current service users and their families, discussing with them both existing alternative services in West Northumberland which could support them to become more independent and new services currently under development.
“For some people, the option of individually designed support arrangements using personal budgets may be the best option, and we will be offering advice about how this could work.
“No date has been agreed for closing these schemes, and no date will be set until the right alternatives have been found for all current service users and arrangements have been made for the staff working in the schemes.
“We recognise that the Tans restaurant has been a popular part of Hexham life for a long time, and if those involved wish to explore keeping it open on a different basis, the council would be able to talk to them about sources of advice.
“But the most important priority for the council and NTW is opening up new opportunities for people whose lives have been disrupted by mental illness.”

Source – Hexham Courant, 08 May 2015

 

 

 

 

Axed bus service could be replaced… by volunteers

An axed bus service could be replaced with a voluntary service to help keep people on the move.

A local charity is investigating the possibility of replacing the service to enable residents to access key services in the area.

Thirsk District Community Minibus Association said they had been inundated with requests for public transport to replace the old “figure of eight” service through Thirsk and Sowerby – which bus operator Dales and District used to run until just two weeks ago.

The service came to an end as the Campaign for Better Transport claimed North Yorkshire County Council cut more bus services than any other local authority in the country over the last year.

It said a 25 per cent budget cut by the authority, which is currently in the process of cutting its budget by £167m because of a reduction in Government funding, led to a total of 90 different bus services being reduced, altered or axed.

The move comes four years after the Little White Bus service was launched in Upper Wensleydale, which has since won a contract to become the only bus operator for Wensleydale and Swaledale.

The association, which was launched in 1987 and currently operates two minibuses, is now considering running a reduced service, which would be staffed by volunteer drivers and would be funded through grants and donations from the passengers themselves.

 The group is considering running the service from Thirsk Market Place, with a route that would include Sowerby Road, Front Street, Back Lane, Gravel Hole Lane and Topcliffe Road, but has not decided what days or times it would run yet.

A spokesman for the group said:

“We have been approached by numerous residents who are deeply concerned about the loss of this service.

“The cost of a return trip to Thirsk from Sowerby by taxi could be £7 for some residents, and if you are regularly going to the doctors, then going to collect prescriptions and pick up groceries, that could soon mount up and make certain journeys unaffordable.”

 “We are concerned that some residents, and in particular elderly people who were the majority of users of the previous service, may face the prospect of becoming isolated or housebound without a bus service.”

 The group hopes the service could be up and running before the end of May.
Source – Northern Echo, 02 May 2015

A Headline Straight From The Thatcher Era…

Echoes of the Thatcher era… nothing really changes.

Scores of jobs to go at South Tyneside shipyard

Fifty-eight jobs are to be axed at a South Tyneside shipyard.

The workers are set to go at A&P Tyne, on the Wagonway Road Industrial Estate, Hebburn, as the company says it is trying to “respond to peaks and troughs in demand”.

A company spokesman said consultation over the job losses had now been launched with trade union representatives.

The news comes just months after the business, which specialises in the design, fabrication, installation and commissioning of seabed-to-surface projects, successfully completed part of a £60m aircraft carrier contract for the Ministry of Defence.

It is believed that among the workers earmarked to go are fitters, joiners and machine shop employees.

Management, office and supervisor levels have also been advised their jobs are at risk, according to a source, although the jobs of welders and platers are said to be safe.

A spokesman for the company said:

“A&P Tyne has entered into a period of consultation during which it will review the number of people employed at its site in Hebburn.

“The reduction in workforce is part of a restructure at A&P Tyne that will enable the business to remain competitive in a challenging, global marketplace.

“A&P Tyne needs to respond to peaks and troughs in demand.”

“Ship repair work is subject to fluctuation and the restructuring will ensure that staffing costs adjust to tally with fluctuating ship repair income, to secure the future viability of the yard. Consultations are being undertaken with trade union and elected employee representatives.

“Fifty-eight roles have been put forward for redundancy, but final numbers will not be reached until the end of the 30-ay consultation period.”

Less than a fortnight ago, Jarrow’s Labour Parliamentary candidate Stephen Hepburn, alongside Vernon Coaker, his party’s shadow defence secretary, visited A&P to see at first hand the work being carried out there.

At the time, Andy Shaw, A&P’s group managing director, said was able to highlight to his guests his company’s success in rapidly turning around contracts.

He said:

“The future of the defence sector is hugely important to A&P Group, given that we continue to deliver multi-million pound contracts for the Ministry of Defence and see this as a growth area across the group going forward.

“We are contracted across a broad range of defence projects including the MoD Aircraft Carrier build programme, the Astute Class Nuclear Submarine programme and through-life support of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.”

It is believed all the workers to be made redundant will be off-site by the beginning of June.

Source – Shields Gazette, 01 May 2015

Tory’s secret £8 Billion child benefit and child tax credit welfare cuts revealed

Order Of Truth

torycutThe Liberal Democrats have blown the lid on Tory plans to cut £8 billion from the child benefit bill if they are re-elected.

The Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, made a statement in which he revealed that the plans for the cuts was outlined in a document entitled “Welfare Reforms Quad Summer Reading Pack” by Iain Duncan Smith which was sent to members of Quad (the four most senior cabinet members) in June 2012.

The proposed cuts contained in the document included:

  • Limiting support to 2 children in child benefit and child tax credit, so cutting up to £3,500 from a family with three children.
  • Removing the higher rate child benefit from the first child, an average cut of over £360 for every family with children.
  • Means testing child benefit – cutting £1,750 for a two child middle income family
  • Removing child benefit from 16 to…

View original post 660 more words

Newcastle’s most vulnerable families hit when council leaders slash loan support scheme

Thousands of Tyneside’s most vulnerable families will go hungry when a voucher support scheme is scrapped because of austerity cuts, leaders have warned.

A scheme which sees supermarket vouchers given to 2000 families in Newcastle to help feed their children over the school holidays has been axed as the Government slash £40m from the city council’s annual budget.

Under Newcastle City Council’s Crisis Support Scheme, families with children aged five and six, who have had their housing benefit reduced by the bedroom tax and are paying council tax for the first time, received Asda vouchers to help feed their youngsters during the Easter, Christmas and Summer school holidays.

But the council say they are forced to slash the service as the Government roll out their next round of cuts.

Leaders warned that cutting the benefit would lead to an increase in the number of people turning to foodbanks for emergency food parcels.

The announcement comes shortly after a teacher made claims some of his pupils returned to school after holidays “visibly thinner”.

Simon Kennedy, from teacher’s union NASUWT, said:

“It’s easy to point the finger at Newcastle City Council and say it’s their fault but this is the coalition government’s fault.

“This Government are hitting the most vulnerable and least well off families. I don’t think we can blame the council. The reality is when you get millions cut from your budget you have to cut it from somewhere.

“On May 7 people will be given the chance to vote and these are the sort of things people will take into consideration.

“We know people are going hungry and it’s not just over the holidays, it’s week in week out. We know that parents are missing meals to feed their kids.”

 

In April 2013 the Government abolished the Social Fund and asked local authorities to set up replacement schemes for Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants and the council set up the Crisis Support Scheme.

The funding falls under three areas and supports people in crisis, disaster or emergency, provides council tax assistance and did provide meals vouchers to schoolchildren in the holidays before it was cut.

In 2013/14 the council spent £214,000 to spend on the crisis support fund, and a further £173,000 in 2014/15. It will spend £116,000 in 2015/16, which includes a £50,000 overspend from the previous year.

In order to manage the reductions the council said they had no choice but to slash the voucher scheme.

This week letters went out to the affected families as they received their final set of vouchers over the Easter holidays.

Deputy leader of the council Joyce McCarty said:

“We are really disappointed this has been left to the local authority to fund.

“The Government have dumped the austerity cuts with local authorities who can’t afford to pick up the pieces and it’s the least well off in the community that are suffering.”

In Easter 2014 families with one child were awarded a £10 voucher, while families with more than one child were given £20.

A further £40 was handed to families with one child in the summer and an extra £60 to families with more than one child.

And at Christmas 2014 the vouchers were increased to £40 with families with one child and £60 for families with more than one child.

Ms McCarty added:

“It will add to the growing problem. It’s the same families who are struggling, it’s those families having to pay the bedroom tax and it’s things like this that tips people over the edge.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said they would be unable to offer comment in the run up to the general election.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 12 Apr 2015

Vote for your life – “dramatic” cuts are coming

Dramatic” and “life-changing” benefits cuts will be imposed if the Tories are running the country after 7 May, Iain Duncan Smith has warned.

They could include taxing DLA, PIP and AA, axeing contribution-based ESA and JSA, cutting the work-related activity component of ESA to 50p, cutting carers allowance numbers by 40%, and making people pay the first 10% of their housing benefit.

For many, these will be life-threatening cuts, rather than life-changing ones.

But claimants are in a position to prevent them happening.

And it won’t take a miracle.

In fact, just an additional 5% turnout by working age claimants could have a dramatic and life-changing effect on IDS and his plans instead.

But a higher turnout won’t happen by itself. Labour are too frightened of the tabloids to try to rally claimants. Many of the major charities and disability organisations have been scared into silence by the Lobbying Act. And the media has little interest in benefits cuts, other than to applaud them as a good thing.

So it looks like it’s up to ordinary claimants to make sure as many other claimants as possible understand the threat they are facing.

In this newsletter we tell you what’s at stake and how you can make a difference.

Dramatic cuts
IDS told Andrew Marr last week he didn’t become a minister to make “cheese-paring” cuts. Instead he has ‘dramatic’ and ‘life-changing’ plans for claimants.

And the tool for those dramatic changes is £12 billion of cuts to benefits in the space of just two years.

So far, we only know where £2 billion of the cuts will come from – a freeze on working age benefits. But the Conservatives are refusing to say where the other savings will be made.

Hit list
A document leaked to the BBC, however, set out some of the cuts the Conservative party are considering, including:

  • Taxing DLA, PIP and AA.
  • Abolishing contribution based ESA and JSA entirely, so that only claimants who pass a means test can claim these benefits.
  • Cutting the number of people getting carer’s allowance by 40%.
  • Limiting child benefit to the first two children.

There are other proposed cuts too, including replacing industrial injuries benefits with an insurance policy for employers, regional benefit caps and changes to council tax.

Not enough cuts
But all of this will still not be enough.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS):

“If all of these were implemented, the total saving would be likely to fall well short of the missing £10 billion per year that the Conservatives intend to find by 2017–18”

So, what else might be in the firing line?

Housing benefit and ESA cuts
We know that pensioners benefits are protected. And JSA costs such a tiny amount compared to other benefits that further cuts there would make little difference.

Cuts to housing benefit are one possibility that the IFS have highlighted, however, as this makes up a large and growing proportion of the benefits bill.

The IFS have estimated that making everyone pay the first 10% of their housing benefit would save £2.5 billion over two years.

Another extremely strong contender is to cut the work-related activity component (WRAC) of ESA to just 50 pence.

We know that the Conservatives are keen to slash the WRAC, because they’ve considered doing it before.

Cutting the WRAC wouldn’t save huge amounts, probably less than £1 billion a year.

But combined with cuts to housing benefit and all the other cuts listed above, it would probably be enough.

What you can do
Is this all nothing more than unnecessarily distressing speculation? After all, we don’t know what cuts will be made until – and unless – the Tories are elected.

But by then it will be too late. As Andrew Marr said in his interview with IDS, if the Conservatives won’t tell us which benefits will be cut, sick and disabled claimants will have to expect the worst:

“What I’m saying to you is if I was on welfare, if I was on disability benefit and I was told that you were taking £12 billion out of the budget, I would really need to know before I voted was I going to be hit. Or if I didn’t know that, I’d have to be assume that I was going to be hit.”

IDS, Osborne and Cameron have all now said no details of the cuts will be given before the election. So there’s no time to lose.

Clearly, the most important thing is to make sure you are registered to vote and then actually vote for a candidate who can keep the Tories out, if that’s possible, in your constituency.

But there’s more.

Above all, alert other claimants and carers to the dramatic threat they face – because many people still have no idea how huge £12 billion in cuts in two years really is.

And then try to persuade them that voting isn’t a waste of time. Because it is no longer true that all the parties are the same.

Here at Benefits and Work we have no trust for either of the major parties. But Labour, unpleasant as they undoubtedly are, don’t drool at the thought of cutting welfare in the way that the Tories do.

And the £7 billion savings Labour say they plan to make are very much smaller than the Conservative cuts. Even if every single pound Labour saved was from cutting benefits, instead of from other measures such as raising taxes from the wealthy, it would still amount to just over half the benefits cuts the Tories have guaranteed.

Not that it has to be Labour that claimants turn to. There are other parties – most notably the SNP – which have a real chance to win seats in some areas of the UK and who don’t support big cuts to benefits.

Read our suggestions on how to fight back, possibly add your own and then make a start. Talk to people, contact your local paper, tweet, comment and write letters.

You can make a difference
And don’t imagine that your voice can’t make a difference.

This is a very close election so far.

There will be many seats where the winner’s majority is in the low hundreds, some where it will be less than a hundred. Even a 5% additional turnout by working age claimants – amounting to perhaps 400 voters in many constituencies – could make the difference between Labour and the Conservatives being the largest party.

If you can convince a handful of people to vote and to talk to other claimants, you could genuinely help to change the course of this election.

Remember, you’re not trying to persuade hard-faced, right wing tabloid readers that cutting benefits is wrong. That undoubtedly would be a waste of time.

You’re talking to people who already know how painful the Coalition benefits cuts have been – because they’ve been hit by them.

You just have to persuade them that it’s not time to despair.

It’s time to fight back.

It’s time to vote for your life.

Source – Benefits & Work,  07 Apr 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3060-vote-for-your-life-dramatic-cuts-are-coming