Tagged: Hertfordshire

Average Teesside home is worth £25k LESS than it was five years ago

The average homeowner in parts of Teesside has lost £25,000 off the value of their house since the coalition came to power in 2010 – while prices in London have soared.

Exclusive analysis of Land Registry data show the average house price in Redcar and Cleveland has dropped by 21.3% since May 2010, the date of the last election.

The average price is now £92,785 – or £25,134 LESS than it was then.

Only two places in the country – Merthyr Tydfil (down 27.1%) and Blackpool (down 24.9%) – have seen a bigger percentage fall.

In Middlesbrough, prices are down 6.6% since May 2010.

That means the average property is worth £5,904 less now than then.

And Stockton-on-Tees has seen a 2.6% fall, equivalent to £2,944.

Across England and Wales as a whole, house prices have actually gone up by 10.8% since May 2010, with the average property worth £17,595 more than it was then.

Across England and Wales as a whole, house prices have risen by 10.8% since May 2010.

The biggest increases have all been in London – with the 29 top-rising areas all in the capital.

Top of the list is Hackney, where house prices are up 76.3%.

The average house is now worth £634,045 – or £274,491 more than it was five years ago.

In the City of Westminster, meanwhile, the average price is up £464,941 from £610,767 to £1.07m.

When London is taken out of the equation, Tory-run areas seem to have done markedly better than those controlled by other parties.

Ten of the 20 ‘non-London’ areas that have seen the biggest rises are held by the Conservatives, with nine in no overall political control and just one – Slough – held by Labour.

Tory Wokingham (up 25.7%), Hertfordshire (up 24.6%) and Surrey (up 24.6%) have seen the biggest rises outside London.

By contrast 19 of the 20 areas to have seen the biggest falls in house prices are run by Labour.

The only one that isn’t is Lancashire (down 13.6%) – which is in no overall control.

Source – Middlesbrough Gazette, 13 Apr 2015

500,000 Sanctioned Jobseekers ‘Disappeared’ From Unemployment Figures

Hundreds of thousands of jobseekers could have ‘disappeared’ from official unemployment figures after having their benefit payments docked, figures suggest.

According to research from the University of Oxford, up to 500,000 unemployed people closed their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claim soon after being sanctioned by the DWP.

Rather than moving into employment, these people are simply disappearing from the benefits system entirely and no one has a clue where they’re ending up.

This means that unemployment could be 20,000 to 30,000 higher each month than figures suggest. If true, it would mean that as many as 1,000,000 people would have been claiming JSA in August 2014, rather than the 970,000 widely reported in the press.

It’s also important to note that some groups aren’t included in the claimant count – one measure used to calculate unemployment – including sickness benefit claimants, some working age students and early retirees – among others.

Professor Stuckler, who analysed data from 375 local authorities, said:

“The data clearly show that many people are not leaving JSA for work but appear to be being pushed off in unprecedented numbers in association with sanctions.”

The death of a diabetic former soldier after his benefits were slashed sparked a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry. More than 210,000 people signed a petition calling for the inquiry.

David, 59, was found dead at his home in Hertfordshire in July 2013. Penniless, David could not afford money for electric to keep his insulin refrigerated and died of fatal diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication caused by lack of insulin.

At the inquiry held last week, Labour’s Debbie Abrahams MP told the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP:

Hundreds of thousands of people have had their benefits stopped for a minimum of four weeks and then approximately a quarter of these people, from the research that I’ve seen, are disappearing.

“They are leaving and we don’t know where they are going. That’s an absolute indictment of this policy and it’s a little bit worrying if we’re trying to tout this internationally as a real success story.”

Iain Duncan Smith responded:

“Well I don’t agree with any of that. I actually believe the sanctions regime as applied is fair, we always get the odd case of …”

Not giving Mr Duncan Smith a chance to complete his sentence, a furious Debbie Abrahams retorted:

People are dying because of these sanctions!”

Jobseekers who fail to comply with strict requirements imposed upon them risk having their benefits docked, or ‘sanctioned’. Some unemployed people claim their benefit payments have been stopped or reduced for trivial or harsh reasons. Such as failing to turn-up to a Job Centre appointment, even though they have informed staff they were in hospital.

After the Select Committee hearing Debbie Abrahams said:

“It’s incredible that the minister can simply brush aside the mounting evidence that inappropriate use of social security sanctions is having on vulnerable people.

> Well, glad you’ve noticed it’s happening. The rest of us have known this since Day 1.

“We’ve already heard from a whistleblower who left his job as a JCP advisor because he refused to apply sanctions when people had done nothing wrong.

“And recently, over 200,000 people have signed a petition to look into the death of an ex-soldier and diabetic, from Stevenage, who died after having been sanctioned.

“He was found dead surrounded by job applications, penniless and with an empty stomach according to his post-mortem. He couldn’t even afford to run his fridge so couldn’t keep his medicines cold.

“Sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers as well as the sick and disabled. And we shouldn’t forget that most people on social security are actually in work but are struggling to make ends meet.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  12 Nov 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/500000-sanctioned-jobseekers-disappeared-unemployment-figures/

Immigrants and welfare in early 20th century Britain: the German labour colony

thelearningprofessor

libury hall b+wBritain is often supposed to be a ‘soft touch’ for immigrants looking for an easy life. Only yesterday, the Mayor of Calais lectured MPs on creating an ‘El Dorado’ for the world’s poor, citing in evidence the £36-a-week emergency payments given to asylum seekers with no other income. Yes – £36, or one third of the basic state pension – is apparently the hallmark of El Dorado.

Worries about migrants and welfare go back a long way. I want in this blog to discuss the response of the German immigrant community in Britain to these fears, which partly arose from British distaste for the German tramping system (where young craftsmen picked up new skills by travelling from one place of work to another) and partly from middle-class German pride over the community’s respectability.

Quite how many Germans were living in early 20th century Britain is uncertain. The 1911 census recorded…

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Benefit Sanctions Regime For Unemployed To Be Investigated By MPs

This article  was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Thursday 23rd October 2014.

An inquiry into how the benefit sanctions regime is administered is to be mounted by the Department for Work and Pensions select committee.

The Commons all-party committee has already looked at the issue during other inquiries, and the DWP has held internal and external reviews specifically into how the sanctions regime is communicated on the Work Programme.

The new select committee inquiry, likely to be completed before the general election, follows the death of an ex-soldier after his jobseeker’s allowance was stopped.‪

More than 211,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by Gill Thompson after her diabetic brother, David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home.‬

Thompson’s three-month campaign called for an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions – when money is withheld from claimants if they fail to meet terms agreed.‬

‪Clapson, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, who worked for 29 years, had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped and died three weeks later. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit, meaning that the fridge where he kept the insulin on which his life depended had not been working.

There is intense controversy over whether jobcentres are asked to work to targets for the number of claimants sanctioned each month. The DWP acknowledges that statistics on sanctions are collated centrally and that managers can be contacted if their performance is out of line with other jobcentres. But the DWP says this is a matter of good management, and no league tables are compiled or targets set.

Thompson said:

“It’s wasn’t just for David. Nothing can replace him, but the one thing I thought I could do was to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I’m not normally a campaigner and David wasn’t someone who liked being made a fuss of, but sometimes in life there are certain things you have to do – and starting this petition was one of them.“

The issue is one that all frontbenches are reluctant to take up, partly because public opinion is thought to be hostile to so-called “benefit scroungers”.

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  24 Oct 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/benefit-sanctions-regime-unemployed-investigated-mps/

North-East MPs: Cameron’s constitutional revolution is a political fix

The region’s MP’s reacted angrily to David Cameron’s plans for a constitutional revolution after Scotland rejected independence – accusing him of a political fix.

Labour MPs warned the plan – “English votes for English laws” – would strengthen the influence of the Conservative heartlands over Westminster, while doing nothing for the North-East.

> Well ?  Did anyone seriously expect anything different ?

And they demanded the overhaul instead focus on devolving power down from Westminster, in parallel with firm promises already made to Scotland on tax and spending.

The stance – echoed by Labour leader Ed Miliband – puts the region on a collision course with both Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg, who plan to rush through a solution to the so-called ‘West Lothian’ question.

Under the fast-track timetable, firm plans will be unveiled in January – from a committee headed by Richmond MP William Hague – delighting Tories who fear the rising UKIP threat.

In reality, change looks impossible before the May general election, but the “English votes for English laws” proposal is, nevertheless, a political nightmare for Labour.

Mr Cameron suggested Scottish MPs would lose voting rights over tax issues, potentially leaving a Miliband administration – with 41 Scots MPs currently – unable to pass a Budget.

In contrast, in his 7.10am declaration outside No.10, the prime minister mentioned devolution only briefly, pledging to “empower our great cities” and “say more about this in the coming days.”

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) attacked a “crude attempt to cobble this together on the back of an envelope”- calling on the prime minister to put devolution first –

“In our region, we will find that our position gets relatively worse. It might be a good solution for people in Hertfordshire, but I don’t think it’s a good solution for people in Durham.”

Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) –

Cameron completely missed the point. He should not be using this as an opportunity to increase the Tory stranglehold over England.”

Kevan Jones (North Durham) –

“Cameron is pandering to his right wing and UKIP – this is not going to help the North-East at all.

“If he is going to do this, it must be part of a bigger package to redistribute money back to the North-East – because the last four years have seen money go to the Tory heartlands in the South.”

Jenny Chapman (Darlington) –

“He should be talking to people in the North-East about what they want and what extra powers they want, rather than making a back-of-a-fag-packet declaration.”

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) –

“I’m astounded by the naivety of the prime minister in thinking that all he needs to do is change the way Westminster votes.”

Grahame Morris (Easington) –

A Tory-dominated English Parliament, which continues to concentrate power and resources in the affluent South, will worsen existing regional inequities and frustrate the legitimate desire for greater autonomy for the North East.”

Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) –

“In any settlement, there has to be something for the regions and I think that has to be more powers over economic development.”

But Liberal Democrat Ian Swales (Redcar) – while agreeing devolution must go “further and faster” – said it would be “absurd” not to restrict Scottish voting rights at Westminster.

He said: “We may end up with some form of English parliament, but should first make it work by MPs only being able to vote on issues that affect the country they represent.”

The MPs agreed any notion of a regional assembly was “off the agenda” – arguing instead for new, combined authorities to be strengthened with economic powers.

Some constitutional experts warned of chaos ahead, arguing Westminster could end up with “two Governments” – one for defence and foreign affairs, the other for the likes of education and health.

And the respected Institute for Government think-tank also argued the “debate on English devolution” must be part of the post-referendum settlement.

A Government source rejected suggestions that Mr Cameron was fast-tracking the ‘English votes’ issue, while devolution was left in the slow lane.

He said: “We believe we have done a lot devolving powers within England, through the likes of City Deals – and they have been welcomed by business and political leaders in the North.”

Source –  Northern Echo, 20 Sept 2014