The Archbishop of York, who chaired the Living Wage Commission, has defended parish churches paying below the minimum hourly rate.
Speaking during a visit to the North-East, Dr John Sentamu said churches that could afford to pay the Living Wage, currently £7.85 an hour outside London, should do so, but rejected suggestions it should be made mandatory.
The Church of England was criticised recently for advertising jobs at sub-Living Wage levels, a number of bishops having just backed the campaign. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the revelation was “embarrassing”.
Speaking in Durham yesterday , Dr Sentamu said:
“Where people are capable of paying the Living Wage, they should do it.
“In my diocese, we do. In my office, we do. Many other church groups do. I believe the FT 100 index ought to be.
“But there are some small businesses where if that became mandatory, they may go under.”
Whenit was suggested the Anglican Church was neither small nor new, the Archbishop said:
“Every Parochial Church Council is a charity in its own right. Every cathedral is a charity in its own right. People talk about the church as if it’s one huge organisation. No, every church has its own governance.
“If you can’t, tell your employees why you’re delaying and when you hope to arrive at a Living Wage.”
Dr Sentamu was speaking after delivering the annual Borderlands Lecture at Durham University.
He told a 150-strong audience at St John’s College that more employers should pay the Living Wage, to support the working poor not “well paid people like me”.
In a wide ranging 45-minute address, he railed against resource, economic, political, social and community injustice, saying society was at a moral, economic and spiritual crossroads and in need of moral, economic and social transformation.
Dr Sentamu also spoke of the “barbarity” of Islamic State, saying they were “using God as a weapon of mass destruction”.
> Well, that’s an accusation that could never be levelled against Christianity….
We all bear some collective responsibility for crime, he said, and instead of asking what law has been broken, who broke it and what they deserve, the justice system should ask: who has been hurt, what are their needs and who is obliged to meet their needs.
> Perhaps the Archbish might like to bend the ear of a certain Iain Duncan Smith on that point…
Source – Northern Echo, 07 Mar 2014
A Conservative peer sparked anger yesterday when she suggested the poor were going hungry because they “don’t know how to cook”.
Baroness Jenkin of Kennington was forced to apologise for the comment, made at the launch of a landmark study into the explosion in food bank use.
The gaffe came as the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) – criticised for benefit delays and harsh sanctions – appeared to snub the launch of the report, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith came under fire for denying he had refused to meet the Trussell Trust, which runs most food banks, when it insisted he had.
At the Westminster event, Lady Jenkin, who served on the inquiry team, blamed hunger on, in part, a lack of knowledge about how to create cheap and nourishing meals.
“We have lost our cooking skills – poor people don’t know how to cook. I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p. A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p.”
Her comments immediately drew stinging criticism from across the region.
Councillor Peter Brookes, who helps run food banks in the Trimdon area of County Durham, said:
“It shows she hasn’t got a full understanding of the difficulties people who use food banks face. They don’t have the same choices as people like the Baroness to go out and buy fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Scheme coordinator, Margaret Brice said many food bank users are unable to cook due to the issues they face, adding: “These are people in a crisis.”
A spokesman for the Middlesbrough Trussell Trust Foodbank said:
“When people do not have any money it does not matter if they have 25p or 4p. They have no money.
“People at the point of crisis are not there because they do not know how to cook. If you have not got anything in the cupboard you cannot cook it.”
Later, Baroness Jenkin apologised, saying:
“I made a mistake. Obviously I was stupidly speaking unscripted.
“What I meant was, as a society, we have lost our ability to cook, or that no longer seems to be handed down in the way that it was in previously in previous generations.”
The row almost overshadowed a plea by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for £100,000 of Government cash to kick-start a new organisation to eliminate hunger in the UK by 2020.
The DWP had been asked to attend and respond on the report’s recommendations, but – unlike the major supermarkets and utility regulators – failed to do so.
A junior minister from another department went instead, while No.10 ruled out changes to the sudden removal of benefits from “sanctioned” claimants – sending them to food banks, critics say.
In the Commons, Mr Duncan Smith said:
“I do take this report seriously. We have met the Trussell Trust—I have never refused to meet it.”
But Alison Inglis-Jones, a trustee of the Trussell Trust, said the organisation felt “vindicated”, adding: “Iain Duncan Smith has refused to talk to us for 18 months.
“We simply get irate letters back accusing us of scaremongering, saying this situation isn’t happening.”
Source – Northern Echo, 08 Dec 2014
Labour leader Ed Miliband is to turn his fire on Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct chain, in a major speech attacking “zero hour” contracts.
Mr Miliband will accuse the chain of “Victorian practices” in the way it treats staff.
And he will highlight plans to change the law – so that workers with regular shifts have the legal right to a regular contract, if Labour wins the next election.
It comes as the Labour leader continues his fightback following reports that some MPs had concerns about his leadership of the party.
Earlier this week he delivered a speech pledging to stand up to “vested interests”, to ensure hard work was rewarded and to stamp down on tax avoidance by the very wealthy.
Today he is set to focus particularly on zero hours contracts, in which work is not guaranteed and staff are called in as needed.
Mr Miliband is to say:
“A graphic symbol of what is wrong with the way this country is run is the army of people working on zero-hours contracts with no security while a few people at the top get away with paying zero tax.
“This zero-zero economy shows we live in a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country run for a few at the top, not for most people. It is a country I am determined to change.”
And he will highlight Sports Direct, which has 400 stores and is estimated to have 17,000 people on zero hours contracts.
“Sports Direct has thousands of its employers on zero-hours contracts, the vast majority of its workforce.
“Sports Direct has predictable turnover, it is a modern company with stores on many high streets and, judging by its success, where many people shop.
“But for too many of its employees, Sports Direct is a bad place to work.
“This is not about exceptional use of zero-hours contracts for short term or seasonal work which some employers and workers may find convenient. This is the way Sports Direct employs the vast majority of its workforce.
“These Victorian practices have no place in the 21st Century.”
Mr Miliband will set out plans to legislate to give employees the legal right to a regular contract if they are working regular hours; to refuse demands that they are available over and above their contracted hours, and to compensation when shifts are cancelled at short notice.
An inquiry commissioned by Labour and conducted by businessman Norman Pickavance, former HR & Communications director at supermarket chain Morrisons, reported earlier this year:
“Sports Direct has expanded dramatically since 2008 and gained a large share of the sports retail market. About 17,000 of their 20,000 strong staff are employed on zero-hours contracts.”
Last month the firm said it would make its employment terms clearer in job adverts for zero-hours posts, following legal action brought by a former employee.
Mr Ashley, an entrepreneur who built up his business from a single sports shop in Maidenhead, bought a majority share in the club in 2007.
Meanwhile, controversial payday lender Wonga has agreed with Newcastle United to remove its logo from all children’s replica shirts and training wear from the 2016/17 season.
Wonga said it followed a review of its marketing launched by new chairman Andy Haste in July to ensure that none of it could inadvertently appeal to the very young or vulnerable.
It has already ended its puppet advertising campaign.
The company said the logo was being removed from children’s kit at the earliest possible opportunity, and that due to kit production schedules this would be from the start of the 2016/17 season – the last season of the current shirt sponsorship deal.
Darryl Bowman, Wonga marketing director said: “As a responsible lender we believe removing our logo from children’s replica shirts and training wear is the right thing to do. We appreciate the club’s support in this matter.”
Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley said: “We understand and respect Wonga’s position and are happy to support their decision.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 Nov 2014
> Never any money for welfare, always plenty for warfare..
RAF fighter aircraft were poised to launch air strikes against Islamic State (IS) jihadists after Parliament gave the green light for military action.
At the end of a marathon Commons debate, MPs voted by 524 to 43 – a majority of 481 – to endorse attacks on the militants in Iraq in support of the United States-led coalition, with Labour backing the Government motion.
> Of course Labour did… Cameron probably told them there were weapons of mass destruction only 45 minutes away. Well, it worked last time they voted us into a war…
Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs – meeting in emergency session – that Britain had a “duty” to join the military campaign as IS posed a direct threat to the country.
“This is not a threat on the far side of the world,” he said. “Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean, bordering a Nato member, with a declared and proven determination to attack our country and our people.
“This is not the stuff of fantasy – it is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it.”
The US and its Middle-Eastern allies have already carried out dozens of bombing missions in a bid to stop IS over-running Iraqi positions.
The vote gives British military planners the go-ahead they have been waiting for to launch attacks on IS positions in Iraq – but not in IS-controlled parts of Syria where the group has training camps and command-and-control bunkers.
The first wave of attacks is expected to be carried out by RAF Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft based in Cyprus.
Flying from Cyprus will give RAF fighters an hour over IS-occupied Iraq – more than enough time to choose their targets. The Royal Navy is also expected to deploy submarine-launched cruise missiles.
The Prime Minister recalled parliament following an official request from the Iraqi government. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour leaderships all supported air strikes although some MPs expressed fears that the UK would get drawn into a wider conflict.
However, three Labour MPs – Grahame Morris (Easington), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) and Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow) were among the rebels opposing air strikes.
Two others – Jenny Chapman (Darlington) and Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) – did not vote.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, said:
“I think there had been a compelling case made. There are two or three elements that really convinced me, because any decision that parliament has to take to commit British military resources is a profound and sombre one.
“The first is this wasn’t Britain unilaterally going into a country almost like an invasion, this was at the request of a democratically elected government of Iraq who is very concerned about the collapse of that state.
“There is a regional coalition, with Arab states involved, it is classed as legal and there are no ground troops.
“That criteria, proportionality, regional cooperation and legality expressed by a democratically elected country, those were the things that clinched it for me.
“Of course, it goes without saying the atrocities that ISIL are carrying out, beheadings of British citizens, threats to others, the recruitment of Jihadists from Britain, we have to stamp this cancer out.”
Mr Wright said he had considered the views of his constituents, some of whom had contacted him ahead of the vote, before committing to the Government’s motion.
“This is an issue where people appreciate the complexity, people appreciate that is not the same issue as was Syria last year,” he said.
“It was split half and half. People were saying you have to go in, they have beheaded some of our people, you have got to stop this, there’s a humanitarian crisis and then I had people saying we should not commit to air strikes, violence doesn’t help.
“You have to weigh up the arguments and work out what you think is for the best.”
Mr Wright said he was aware of the dangers of so-called ‘mission creep’ once the bombings began, but felt there would be adequate oversight .
“You are always going to have to have close scrutiny from the parliamentary process, that goes without saying,” he said. “This will come back to the House.
“What was really striking in the minutes after (the vote) is that this was not done flippantly by any member of parliament, there was a really sombre mood in the house and in the corridors of Westminster afterwards. People were realising the gravity of what we have done, but thinking that given the situation this is probably the best approach.”
Sedgefield Labour MP Phil Wilson, ( Tony Bliar‘s successor) said he backed the strikes because: “ISIS is a barbaric terrorist organisation which needs to be eradicated. It is only right that we play an appropriate role in its destruction.”
In the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury backed British air strikes, saying: “The action proposed today is right.”
But he warned: “We must not rely on a short term solution, on a narrow front, to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge.
“We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of [IS].
“Such a vision offers us and the world hope – an assurance of success in this struggle – not the endless threat of darkness.”
All the Tyne & Wear MPs (except Stephen Hepburn in Jarrow) voted for military action. Are we really suprised ?
Source – Northern Echo, 27 Sept 2014
Here is a full list of the 43 MPs who voted against
Jeremy Corbyn (Teller)
Rushanara Ali (Formal abstention)
Lib Dems (1)
Plaid Cymru (2)
SNP (5 and teller)
Angus Brendan McNeill
Mike Wishart (Teller)
> I’ve posted this vid of the Dead Kennedys Kinky Sex Makes The World Go Round before, but it bears repitition. Dates from the Thatcher/Reagan era, but just change the names to Cameron and Obama and see if you can tell the difference…
A Rap song has been released in tribute to the Archbishop of Canterbury‘s warnings about payday loans.
We Need A Union On The Streets, by music producer Charles Bailey and featuring the rapper Question Musiq, was inspired by the former Bishop of Durham, the Most Rev Justin Welby‘s efforts to expand Britain’s network of credit unions.
The song tells the story of young people who get into debt because of payday loans and features the words of personal finance guru Martin Lewis in which he warns that “payday loans gone wrong are a horrendous thing”.
The song has the chorus
“What we need is a union, we need a union on the streets/Everybody hand in hand, people can’t you understand”
and the verse
“Yeah it’s unfair/But they don’t care/The rich get richer/While poor get less”.
The release comes after a national network aimed at offering an alternative to payday lenders was launched last month by Sir Hector Sants, who is heading a task group for the Archbishop on promoting credit unions.
The scheme is being piloted in the Southwark, Liverpool and London Church of England dioceses.
Mr Bailey, who has worked on social campaigns to combat gun violence and has also set the speeches of the late Tony Benn to music, said he had felt “moved” to help the task group.
“When I listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking out about pay day lenders I felt moved to do something to help his task group to reach to the urban youth who are often the victims and introduce them to a much safer and ethical way of borrowing through credit unions,” he said.
Mr Lewis said: “The payday loan industry is relatively new, and has used powerful marketing to build its business and groom young people to think it is normal.
Dr Elizabeth Henry, the Church of England’s adviser for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, said: “Efforts like this help the Church to extend its reach and engage with people on issues that affect their everyday lives.
“The song is appealing and I hope will get the message across to all communities that credit unions are a much safer way to borrow.”
The pay day lenders have argued that their loans are intended to be repaid over a short term and fill a gap left by the High Street banks. But Archbishop Welby has expressed concern that these loans are tempting people into a spiral of debt.
The Consumer Finance Association declined to comment on the recording.
Source – Durham Times, 11 July 2014
> Yes, you did read that headline correctly…
A broken benefits system is causing people to turn to food banks, an aspiring Conservative politician has said.
In comments more normally seen from Labour politicans, Berwick Tory Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said the number of people needing handouts to eat may be as a result of changes to the benefits system.
Mrs Trevelyan is bidding to take the seat from Sir Alan Beith when the Liberal Democrat steps down in 2015.
Much of her campaign has focused on the jobs potential of dualling the A1 north of Newcastle.
But last night she said that after visiting a Northumberland food bank, the evidence put to her was that those dependant upon benefits were suffering the result of changes to the system.
The Conservative-led coalition Government has come in for criticism from a variety of sources over its cuts to benefits.
Reductions in benefits have been criticised as indiscriminate while changes to the way benefits are handed out has seen delays as a result.
Mrs Trevelyan said: “All users of food banks in Northumberland have been referred by social services, Citizens Advice Bureaux or other groups like Sure Start. The reasons given are often delays in benefits being paid or other financial pressures leaving families with no money to buy food.
“I am concerned by the recurring message from the volunteers who run our local food banks, that the majority of those who come to them do so because the benefits payment system is not working.
“It should be there to support those who need a safety net while they find work or arrange long term support.
“There seems to be a serious breakdown in the effective management of the payments system. I am going to be talking in more detail with our job centre teams to try to find out what they need to solve this issue effectively.”
> Oh bugger – don’t ask them ! They’re a major part of the problem.
The Conservative candidate said that a rapid rise in the number of food banks began under Labour in 2006 when there were 3,000 nationally. This rose to more than 40,000 by 2010.
In addition to this leading food bank provider the Trussell Trust has been expanding, inevitably leading to more hard-pressed families making use of their services.
Mrs Trevelyan’s comments are similar to many of those expressed by Northern Labour MPs, though of a far less critical nature.
Also adding their concerns to the growing number of food banks was former Bishop of Durham Justin Welby. Now Archbishop of Canterbury, he has called for a greater level of awareness from the Government on the causes behind the growing number of food banks in the UK.
Senior Tories have tried to play down the rise of food banks.
Education Secretary Michael Gove came under fire for saying that financial mismanagement was the reason many people were going to food banks.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the man ultimately responsible for changes to the benefit system, refused to meet the Trussell Trust and accused it of being politically motivated.
Source – Newcastle Journal 15 Feb 2014