Tagged: Easter

North East sees rapid rise in fires as Government cuts take hold

Worrying new figures reveal the North as the fire capital of the UK.

As they face planned multimillion-pound cuts, brigades across the region have seen some of the biggest hikes in fire call outs.

The latest information, from the Department for Communities and Local Government, comes as union representatives in the area warn Government bosses to stop its “slashing” of budgets or face a “bleak future”.

Cleveland topped the UK league of shame suffering a worrying 41.5% hike in recorded fires between 2012/13 and 2013/14, rising from 2,634 to 3,728.

Durham was second with a 35.7%, from 2,496 to 3,388, while Tyne and Wear came in fifth with a 21.1% increase, from 5,321 to 6,446.

Concerns have been raised that current Government cuts to brigades across the region can only place the public at greater risk.

It comes in the week Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWF&RS) lost two engines in a bid to save cash. One was axed from Wallsend fire station in North Tyneside on Tuesday, while Swalwell in Gateshead lost a vehicle on Thursday.

Earlier this year TWF&RS unveiled plans to cut 131 jobs – 20% of front-line posts – in a bid to save around £8m.

Union bosses today said the service was facing an uncertain future.

Dave Turner, North East brigade secretary for the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), said: “It’s a very bleak and grim picture at the minute. The only answer is to stop slashing fire service budgets as we are facing a horrendous situation. We’ve already lost two engines this week.

“A lot of the work we do is not even recorded in fire statistics; work in the community, prevention work. If we are working in a much reduced financial situation, how are we going to address these matters?”

Chris Lowther, assistant chief fire officer for community safety at TWF&RS, said: “Last year we saw a 21% increase in fires we attended, this was due to a 33% increase in deliberate secondary – rubbish/grass/wheelie bin – fires and an increase in some false alarms. All other fires continued to reduce.

“The increase, as the national report says, was because there was an unusually low number of outdoor fires the previous year. This was due to a much higher than average level of rainfall.

“Over the last five years we’ve actually seen the number of fires reduce by 23% and the number of deliberate secondary fires and accidental house fires reduce by a fifth.”

Cleveland Fire Brigade announced plans earlier this year to axe 114 firefighters as part of a package of cuts to save almost £6m.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the move, which also includes the closure of a fire station in Middlesbrough, would put lives at risk.

Today, the Brigade defended their position as number one on the UK list, claiming the figures cover two very different consecutive years and are not representative of the bigger picture.

Phil Lancaster, director of community protection for the Brigade, said: “Between 2012/13, we had one of our lowest years on record, particularly when it came to grass and bush fires, known as secondary fires. Remembering back to that year, we had one of the wettest periods for more than 100 years, consequently that had a big impact on the figures.

“Skip forward a year, and we had one of the driest spring and summers since 1976.

“When you compare the two years there seems to be a stark difference, but the wider picture is much different. For the first three months of this year, the figures have reverted to a more downward trend.”

Northumberland has seen a big rise in the number of people injured in fires – from 20 in 2012/13 to 33 in 2013/14 – the highest rise in the country.

A spokeswoman for the service said: “The service has carried out a full review of performance for 2013/14.

“The national statistics of 33 fire related injuries include 11 occasions when people were given only minor first aid or advised to go to hospital for a precautionary check-up.

“When looking at the figures for England and Wales, other than the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly, Northumberland has the lowest number of non-fatal fire injuries.

“Fire related injuries for the first quarter of 2014/15 in Northumberland have reduced in comparison to 2013/14.

“The Service remains committed to improving our performance to ensure the safety of the Northumberland Community.”

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service saw a 35.7% rise in overall fires, just behind Cleveland.

Steve Wharton, operational delivery manager for the brigade said: “We work with partners including the Police and local authority to address areas of higher risk from secondary fires. As well as local environmental audits, fire crew patrols, school education and additional police presence in key areas, bonfire, Easter and summer fire prevention strategies are in place to mitigate the number of secondary fires. As a result of this work we have currently had approximately 35 per cent fewer fires this financial year compared to the same period last year.”

In North Yorkshire the overall number of fires increased by a more moderate 9.6% while Cumbria experienced a fall, from 1,660 incidents in 2012/13 to 1,631 in 2013/14.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  05 July 2014

Chaos At The DWP As Bungled Help To Work Scheme Attempts To Launch

the void

Unlike Help To Work, the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign has already been a huge success. Unlike Help To Work, the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign has already been a huge success.

Despite wildly optimistic claims from the DWP, today’s launch of mass workfare seems to be in chaos behind the scenes.  With barely any information yet available on the scheme it appears that the flagship Help To Work programme has no-one actually running it, no guidance for companies involved and no real plan to deal with the huge influx of claimants to Jobcentres from daily signing.

According to the BBC a mere 70 so-called charities have signed up to provide placements on the scheme which will involve forcing unemployed people to carry out 780 hours of unpaid work.  For ‘Help To Work to be successful, these charities will need to accept hundreds, or possibly thousands of placements each.  Predictably the DWP are not saying who the charities are.  So far the only voluntary sector organisation…

View original post 551 more words

David Cameron Think’s He’s The Messiah – Poor And Disabled Left Waiting For A Miracle

 The life of PM David Cameron has just become a little bizarre. During his Easter Reception at Downing St, he reportedly said he was simply continuing the work of Christ when he launched the “Big Society” initiative of volunteering and civic responsibility.

“Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago, I just want to see more of it and encourage as much of it as possible.” Cameron said, adding  that the Government should seek to improve the “spiritual and moral state” of the nation and be unashamedly “evangelical”.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, he then went onto compare himself to a company that unblocks drains. Offering his services to help the Church keep up its commitments to Jesus’ Big Society concept, he said: “If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod”.

So has the PM, as one voter tweeted, “…gone mad”? Or is this the end result of what the PM has called a “difficult week” and why he had to fly off to Lanzarote? Either way, his bizarre comments do not reflect Coalition policy, and here is why.

 Dyno-Rod proudly state on their website: “Our priority is to deliver the best service we can, working to the highest standards – we know it’s what our customers expect”.
Unfortunately for Cameron, his coalition government has delivered the worst. Brutal welfare reform and spending cuts has seen living standards fall and the cost of living to rise. His priority is the wealthy – shown by tax cuts and bonuses. In addition, with George Osborne promising a year of “hard truths” and further spending cuts, people can expect things to get even tougher.

However, no matter how tough things get, the people of Britain can be assured that their suffering is all part of the continuation of Christ’s work – well, that is if Cameron is to be believed.

His assertion that he is simply doing God’s work is a refreshing change from blaming Labour, but his policies are far removed from anything Jesus ever said or did.

For instance, his claim that Jesus invented the Big Society cannot be found in any version of the bible. So, it would appears that Cameron, who claims to have a ‘strong faith’, hasn’t been reading his bible, or as he? Indeed, if Christ had created the idea behind the ‘Big Society’, that idea would have been very different to Cameron’s vision.

If Cameron is the Messiah that would make his cabinet – by default – the Twelve Apostles; who, according to scripture, were all early followers chosen to become Christs closest disciples, advance his kingdom and carry the Gospel message to the world. It’s not difficult to see the similarity between that and Cameron’s Cabinet – earlier classmates chosen to become close allies and so on. Ironically, the chosen disciples were neither scholarly nor had any exceptional skill. Indeed none were religious. Compare that, for example to Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, yet he only has a single degree in history.

That is where the similarities end. The bible has generosity and helping the poor as one of its major themes, stretching from the Old Testament to the New. Whilst Cameron has got the generosity part right with his tax cuts and bonuses for the rich, when it comes to helping the poor he has done nothing.

Cameron once said: “Let us look at the issue of dependency where we have trapped people in poverty through the extent of welfare that they have”.

Rather than helping, he has embarked on some of the biggest cuts to welfare support since the formation of the welfare state, which has led to a five-fold increase in poverty-stricken families turning to food banks.

Yet, Cameron is still insisting that he is helping. When the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, criticized the cuts to the welfare state which had left many facing destitution and hunger, Cameron responded by saying it’s “simply not true” and that welfare reform was part of his “moral mission” for the country. Moreover, in his response – written in The Daily Telegraph – he said:

“Our welfare reforms go beyond that alone: they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance. Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart, too, of our social and moral mission in politics today”.

In my view, Cameron’s policies are immoral. His long-term economic plan has created unprecedented demands on food banks, has subjected people who are disabled to degrading assessments and has caused unnecessary hardship and homelessness.

Yet he continues, ignoring the fact that his reforms are not giving new purpose, new opportunity or new hope. His disciple, Ian Duncan Smith (AKA – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) blindly follows. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he rejected claims that welfare reform will condemn thousands to a “Dickensian” way of life. Adding:

“If you’d listened to the scaremongers, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were ripping up the welfare state and telling people to fend for themselves. In fact, what we are doing is returning the welfare state to what it was meant to be: a safety net, not a way of life”.

The poor, sick and disabled are left waiting for a miracle and used as scapegoats for our country’s economic ills, whilst David Cameron’s government continues to look after the interests of the greedy and most richest – the same people, who some may argue, caused the ‘economic crisis’ to begin with.

 By Jenny Howarth for the Welfare News Service (WNS).

Source – Welfare News Service  12 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/david-cameron-thinks-hes-the-messiah-poor-and-disabled-left-waiting-for-a-miracle/

Church Leaders Slam “Punitive” Welfare Cuts As Half A Million Left To Go Hungry

27 church leaders, including a number of Anglican bishops, have slammed coalition benefit cuts and “punitive” sanctions in an unprecedented attack on the government’s welfare policies.

In a letter to the Daily Mirror, the church leaders warn that “one in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children” and others are having to face the unenviable decision between eating and heating as “food prices have gone up 30% in just five years”.

The church leaders argue that half a million people are having to turn to food banks to feed themselves as their families, and that it was time for society to “face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cut backs and failures in the benefit system”.

According to the signatories of the letter “5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year”.

They say that there is a “moral imperative” for society and the coalition government to act on food poverty and take immediate action to “make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger”.

The letter sent to the Daily Mirror reads as follows:

“Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

“Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

“One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

“We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

“Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

“On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

“On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

“There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support food banks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

“We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.”

Source – Welfare News Service, 19 Feb 2014