The North-East’s top churchman says he has been surprised at the depths of poverty within some areas of his new patch.
Speaking ahead of the first anniversary of his enthronement as Bishop of Durham this weekend , the Right Reverend Paul Butler said he had been aware there were “serious levels” of poverty in the region but he had been surprised by its “depths”.
Having spent much of his first year in the job touring the area and meeting its people, Bishop Butler said the economic recovery was beginning to reach the North-East but only slowly and there were still a “disturbing” number of people out of work.
He said some communities had still not fully recovered from the demise of coal mining, a discovery which had surprised and saddened him.
> Which suggests it’ll be another 30 years before they catch up following the current situation !
However, he praised churches, councils and businesses working to combat the problems.
“Whilst I knew there were serious levels of poverty, I’ve been surprised by the depths of it and the slowness with which the economic recovery is impacting our area,” he said.
“I’m glad to see it is beginning to. We now have more people employed in the North-East than ever in history, but we still have a disturbing number of people out of work.
> More people employed than ever before ? I find that hard to believe.
“There are some communities that have never fully recovered from the closure of the mines. There’s been lots of inward investment but there are communities still to find their purpose. I’ve been surprised by that.
“I’ve been saddened by it, but impressed by the way churches are seeking to engage with their local communities in helping individuals and communities find that purpose and reason for being.”
The patron of the Darlington Foundation for Jobs, Bishop Butler said youth unemployment was a “particular concern” and not enough businesses were creating apprenticeships to address it.
Source – Durham Times, 18 Feb 2015
300,000 more people could be living in “absolute poverty” in the UK than previously thought, according to a shocking new report.
Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that poorer households have experienced larger increases in living costs than richer households, mainly due to rises in food and energy prices.
> Well – who’d have guessed ?
IFS say that taking into account “differential inflation” since 2010-11, the number of people recorded as being in absolute poverty would be 300,000 higher in 2013-14 than official figures suggest.
Between 2002-03 and 2013-14 the poorest 20% of households saw prices increase on the typical goods they purchase by 50%, compared to richest 20% who saw prices rise by 43%.
According to the IFS, poorer households devote more of their income on things like food and energy, whereas the richest 20% of British society spend more on areas such as motoring and mortgages.
On average, the prices of goods purchased by low-income households have risen more quickly than those more commonly purchased by more affluent households. This is particularly apparent in the ‘wake’ of the 2008 recession, say IFS.
The government uses two different methods of measuring poverty in the UK. The first is ‘absolute poverty’, which is a measure of the number of people thought of as being below a poverty line, before housing costs, calculated using the Retail Price Index (RPI). Through this measure we can confidently say that 18.8% of individuals were living in absolute poverty in 2012-13, before housing costs.
Another method used by the government is relative poverty, which calculates the number of households earning less that 60% of the national median average. Using this method we can calculate that 15.4% of the UK population were living in ‘relative poverty’ (before housing costs) in 2012-13.
The IFS study also accounts for different inflation pressures felt by households depending on how they spend their income – a measurement not included in official poverty statistics. This new measurement found that absolute poverty is 0.5% higher in 2013/14 than standard poverty measures- the equivalent of 300,000 more households.
However, the IFS say this trend has not been consistent over earlier years, adding that “this new definition had been at times higher and at times lower”.
Peter Levell, a Research Economist at IFS said:
“In recent years, lower-income households have tended to see bigger increases in their cost of living than have better off households.
“Official poverty measures do not take this into account and hence have arguably understated recent increases in absolute poverty by a small but not insignificant margin.”
Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“This report is further evidence of the huge pressures which families are facing as a result of David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis.
“The Government’s failure to tackle soaring energy, childcare bills and low wages has led to millions struggling to get by. Earlier in the year the IFS said child poverty is set to rise 900,000 by 2020.
“A Labour Government will do more to help families who are struggling to make ends meet so that every child gets the best start in life. We will freeze energy prices, raise the minimum wage, extend free childcare provision, scrap the Bedroom Tax and introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get people off benefits and into work.”
> But getting people off benefits and into work doesn’t mean those people will necesserily be any better off. Maybe Labour should really be thinking about capping rents, energy, public transport and food prices ? But of course they won’t really change anything much, they’ve bought into the system too far to do that.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 05 Nov 2014
A future Conservative government would reduce the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 and force young unemployed people to work for their benefits, chancellor George Osborne has revealed.
He told the Mail on Sunday that lowering the controversial benefit cap would help fund three million new apprenticeships. Previous Tory attempts to lower the cap have been blocked by the Liberal Democrats.
The Tories believe such a move would be popular among voters calling for yet more cuts to welfare spending. But it will alarm charities and poverty campaigners, who argue that benefit claimants are being unfairly targeted for cuts and marginalised in British society.
“Our mission is not just to save the pounds here and there, we’re trying to change the welfare system so it doesn’t trap people in poverty and a culture of dependency. It is a tragedy for them and a waste for the country.
“We are saying you will receive an allowance but if you can’t find work after six months, you will have to work for the dole. They are difficult decisions but the right ones.”
Osborne also said that 18-21 year-olds would be prevented from claiming housing benefit.
“It is not acceptable for young people under the age of 21 to go straight from school and into a home paid for through housing benefit – benefit funded by other people who are working”, he said.
Mr Osborne claimed that before the introduction of the benefit cap “some families were receiving £100,000 a year in housing benefit”. An analysis by the respected fact-checking website FullFact in November 2012 found that only 70 households, out of a total of 4.5 million, were receiving over £1,000 per week in housing benefit a week in September 2010.
“Even this is likely to overstate the number claiming £100,000 per year however”, said FullFact, “as a family would need to claim over £1,900 per week to hit this total. Previous FoI responses from the Department have suggested around five families benefited by this amount.”
They added: “While the evidence suggests that there are a small number of Housing Benefit claims of more than £100,000 per year – perhaps around five – these cases are very much the exception rather than the rule.
“Focusing exclusively on these outliers without first putting them into context, where over 80% of claims are below £100 per week, could distort the debate around this important topic.”
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary said:
“David Cameron’s Government is set to overspend by a staggering £13 billion on social security. And the number of working people claiming Housing Benefit is set to double by 2018/19 costing every UK household £488.
“Spending has risen because the Government has failed to tackle the increasing number of low wage jobs and their welfare policies, from Universal Credit to Personal Independence Payments, are in chaos.
“We must bring down social security spending and doing that requires a new approach to tackle the root causes of these costs directly. That’s why a Labour Government would make work pay by increasing the minimum wage, stop young people cycling in and out of welfare before they’re established in jobs and build more homes to tackle rising housing benefit spending.
“Alongside our plans to introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee to get the long term unemployed off benefits and into work, these measures will help control social security spending for the long term. All the Tories offer is announcements to hide the truth of rising welfare spending.”
> compulsory jobs guarantee = workfare. Different arseholes, but the same old shit.
Update: Since publishing this article it has been brought to our attention that a future Tory government would also scrap Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for 18-21 year-olds. It would be replaced with a “youth allowance”, paid at the same level as JSA. In order to continue receiving payments after six months of being unemployed young people would be required to “work for their dole” on “community projects”. The idea of a youth allowance has already been proposed by the Labour Party.
Source – Welfare News Service, 28 Sept 2014
You know, if the Greens really got their act together, they could clean up at the next general election. Who else is left for us to vote for ?
Labour’s workfare plus a sandwich scheme is no better than the Tory’s current workfare and is every bit as badly thought out.
Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee takes the worst elements of almost all previous welfare-to-work style schemes and has rolled them all into one giant and hugely expensive fuck up. Possibly hundreds of thousands of people are to be forced to work in part-time temporary jobs with wages pegged at the minimum wage or face their benefits will be stopped.
Many people in these compulsory jobs may find themselves worse off then someone on current Tory workfare schemes. The jobs will only be for 25 hours a week, meaning those over 21 will receive just £156.70 under current rates. For the vast majority of claimants, who have rent to pay, this is likely to…
View original post 618 more words
This article was written by Nicholas Watt, for The Guardian on Monday 10th March 2014
Every young person who has been unemployed for more than a year will lose their benefits if they decline to accept a guaranteed “starter job”, Labour will pledge in its manifesto for the general election next year.
> A preview of some of the new jargon we can expect in the future – starter job.
Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, will say on Monday that Labour will move to end the plight of “young people stuck on the dole” when he says that the party’s compulsory jobs guarantee, to be funded by a tax on bankers’ bonuses, will last the whole parliament.
The scheme, which will fund paid work with training for six months for those aged under 25 who have been out of work for more than a year, will also be paid for by cutting pensions tax relief for people earning over £150,000 to the same rate as basic rate taxpayers. Claimants will lose their benefits if they do not accept the jobs. The scheme will also apply to those aged 25 or over who have been claiming jobseeker’s allowance for two years or more.
> So, workfare by any other name ? Six-month starter jobs stacking shelves in Poundland ?
Labour launched its compulsory jobs guarantee last year. Balls believes the pledge will be a key element of Labour’s general election campaign by showing that the party is prepared to tax the rich to help provide work for people in danger of becoming Neets – not in employment, education or training.
Balls will say during a visit to a building project in south London which employs and trains young people: “It’s shocking that the number of young people stuck on the dole for more than a year has doubled under David Cameron. For tens of thousands of young people who cannot find work this is no recovery at all.”
The shadow chancellor will add: “We’ve got to put this right. So if Labour wins the next election we will get young people and the long-term unemployed off benefits and into work.
“The government will work with employers to help fund paid work with training for six months. It will mean paid starter jobs for over 50,000 young people who have been left on the dole for over a year by this government.
“But it will be a tough contract – those who can work will be required to take up the jobs on offer or lose their benefits. A life on benefits will simply not be an option.
> Here we go… get tough on the unemployed, no more something for nothing, they’re all lazy bastards, etc… which party does he represent ? It’s so hard to tell the difference nowadays.
“After the global banking crisis and with bank bonuses soaring again this year, it’s fair to pay for our jobs plan with a repeat of Labour’s tax on bank bonuses. We need a recovery for the many, not just a few at the top.
“As a country we simply cannot afford to be wasting the talents of thousands of young people and leaving them stuck on the dole for years on end. It’s bad for them, it’s bad for our economy and it’s bad for taxpayers who have to pay the bill.”
> Well, there we are – if you’re unemployed you can vote for the party with the stick but no carrot, or alternatively for the party with the stick but no carrot.
Six months workfare or six months starter job.
Source – Welfare News Network