Tagged: Reform

Hunger and food poverty are sweeping the North East, inquiry told

Hunger is sweeping the region and the austerity-driven Government is relying too heavily on volunteers to help – that was the message food poverty investigators heard yesterday.

Members of the all-party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty were at the centre of a packed room at South Shields’ St Jude’s Parish Hall to find out why there is a rising tide of foodbank use here.

The touring inquiry, which meets with policy-makers in London next, heard how foodbank use has tripled since 2008 in some areas. Calls are now ringing out for the Coalition to act.

> They have acted.  The state we’re in now is exactly what they wanted. It must be – they surely couldn’t be so stupid as to think that austerity and cuts would result in anything else.

Could they ?  I don’t know which I’d find worse – malevolent intent or incredible ignorance on that scale.

Bishop Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, has been campaigning on the issue. When asked if the church is being asked to step in where the welfare state previously had, he said: “That is undoubtedly true.

Even with the welfare state it is good that, as a society, we do things that enable us to care for each other, but it is certainly true that the church and other men and women of goodwill are picking up things that we never thought would be necessary two or three years ago.”

The Reverend Roy Merrin, of Grange Road Baptist Church in Jarrow, said: “Politicians themselves need to recognise their responsibility and not look to the voluntary sector for sticking plasters for what are structural problems in our society.”

Peter MacLellan, director of the Trussell Trust’s County Durham Foodbank, said: “I think it is a scandal. I’m encouraged by people’s generosity but of course we should not have to do this.

“I think there will always be a need for foodbanks but the scale we have them on at the moment is nonsense.”

Jean Burnside, chief officer for South Tyneside Churches’ Key Project, said it gave out 26 food parcels in 2008, but last year was called on for 339 and so far this year had given out 222 packs.

There has been a massive increase,” she said. “There is a variety of reasons for that, including the Bedroom Tax, benefit sanctions and high unemployment.

“I want these politicians to know what it is like here in the North East.

“The Government needs to know that the system isn’t working. There have been so many cuts and the people at the Department for Work and Pensions can’t provide advice for us so what chance do our clients have? Something needs to change.”

Veteran Merseyside MP Frank Field is leading on the inquiry and will now hold a series of meetings in London on food poverty across the UK now.

He said he had been shocked by the scale of the problem in the North East, also describing it as a “scandal”.

The economy needs to be run differently and we need more jobs at the bottom and the people to do them,” he said.

“We are hearing about low wages, benefit delays and benefit sanctions and some people not getting their benefits at all.

“People don’t want this to be a long-term solution, they say they don’t want foodbanks to exist.”

> Frank Field – why do I not trust the bugger ?  A member of the advisory board of the free-market think tank Reform, and of the generally conservative but also pro-freedom of speech magazine Standpoint.

In May 2008, he said that Margaret Thatcheris certainly a hero” and that “I still see Mrs T from time to time – I always call her ‘Mrs T‘, when I talk to her.

Although there have been attempts to get him to defect to the Conservatives, they have been without success (possibly he thinks Labour is moving to the right anyway, so why bother).

In 2008, Frank Field was named as the 100th most-influential right-winger in the United Kingdom by the Telegraph.

Field supports the return of national service to tackle growing unemployment and instil “a sense of order and patriotism” in Britain’s young men and women.

Field is a practising Anglican, a former chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, and a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Field believes in reducing the time-limit with which women can have an abortion,and in stripping abortion providers such as Marie Stopes of their counselling role and handing it to organisations not linked to abortion clinics. 

Oh yeah – I remember now why I don’t trust the bugger.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  04 July 2014

Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths

Vox Political

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A UK artist has created an art installation as a memorial to the suicide victims of welfare reform.

Melanie Cutler contacted Vox Political regarding her piece – ‘Stewardship’ – a few weeks ago, asking, “Do you think I’ll be arrested?”

The response was that it should be unlikely if she informed the media. The artworks have been displayed at the Northampton Degree Show and are currently at the Free Range Exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery building in Brick Lane, London, which ends tomorrow (June 30).

Entry is free and the installation will be located in F Block, B5.

“I have become an artist later on in life,” Melanie told Vox Political. “I was a carer for my son and, a few decades later, my father. I have worked most of my life too, raising three children.

“Only recently, while studying fine art at University I found my health…

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Evictions begin as government starts grabbing your homes

Vox Political

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It is easy to get caught up in headlines and forget that the Coalition’s benefit reforms mean people you know will lose their homes.

You know what happens then? PEOPLE YOU KNOW START LOSING THEIR HOMES.

Vox Political was warning the world about this back in 2012 – nearly two years ago – saying the bedroom tax would put people on the streets while homes go empty and warning about the ‘Poll Tax revival plan to take away your home’. It gives me no pleasure at all to report that I was right.

This week I heard about two cases in my Mid Wales town. You may think that isn’t many, but this is a town with a population of less than 5,000 – and I haven’t heard about every case.

The first involves a family that has been living in the same council house for more than 30 years…

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Cameron’s ‘mission’ is morally bankrupt

Vox Political

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When David Cameron stands up in all his hypocrisy and tells you that tearing apart the basic safety net that guaranteed people would not be left in hunger or destitution is part of his “moral mission”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the country has taken a turn for the worse.

When he defends an administration that has become so punitive that applicants who don’t get it right have to wait without food for months at a time, by claiming he is doing “what is right”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the man who claims he is Prime Minister has diverged from reality.

That is precisely what he has done, and you can bet that the Tory diehards will quietly go along with it because they think it is far better for other people to lose their lives than it is for their government to lose face.

Cameron has…

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No protection from Bedroom Tax for the vulnerable as it would cause ‘political embarrassment’

Vox Political

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Vulnerable children and adults with disabilities or high support needs may be forced to pay the Bedroom Tax, despite protestations to the contrary by Lord Freud, after it was revealed that creating more protections would cause ‘political embarrassment’.

Current rules mean some supported housing is protected from the Bedroom Tax, benefit cap and the effects of Universal Credit (if a working version ever arrives) – but this accommodation is not exempted if the landlord is not the care provider or when the landlord is a local authority.

This means that, for example, supported housing provider Habinteg has 1,200 wheelchair-accessible properties for the disabled – but only 516 of them are exempt from the benefit changes.

Lord Freud, who is minister for social security reform, said last April that the DWP was working to ensure all supported accommodation would be protected from what he called the “unintended consequences” of the government’s…

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Bad apples?

Vox Political

The highly confrontational former managing editor of both The Sunday Times and The Sun has been named as the new director of communications at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Richard Caseby takes over after former comms boss John Shield was hired by the BBC last September.

Gosh, what an incestuous world we live in! The BBC, now confirmed as little more than a mouthpiece for the Conservative Party in its political news content, hires the former press officer for the Tory-run DWP. The DWP then hires an executive from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, previous home of – oh, yes – former Number 10 press supremo Andy Coulson, currently on trial for criminal offences allegedly committed while he was employed by the same firm!

Murdoch, the government, the BBC – these people like to stick together, and they like to put their people in positions of influence.

There is no evidence…

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