Archives for posts with tag: bedroom tax

23_august_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,531

Tuesday 23 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

Another homeless person has been attacked on the streets of Britain and is now in a coma, fighting for his life.

I cannot accuse your government of doing nothing when it is doing so much to create such fragile existences.

Homelessness is the embodiment of fragility on the public stage of everytown, shame on those who are offended and angered by this very public display of precariousness and assault those who unwillingly and unwittingly force it upon their attention, exposed, as they are, without privacy, dignity or security. Shame on all those who persecute those less fortunate than themselves.

I feel this insidious rise of precarity, at 65 I fear homelessness, it is not something I can ignore in an ever more insecure world, but I do not fear the homeless, for they are me in one twist of neoliberal driven misanthropy.

If I attacked them, I would be attacking myself, my own psyche, but as if this very public display of abject loss were not bad enough, councils are making homelessness and begging illegal and even impose fines for begging. Fining people for having nothing is a particularly twisted kind of perverse and sadistic cruelty which actively increases the danger of assault because ‘society’ has legislated against and criminalised homeless people.

The bedroom tax, benefit delays and sanctions, enforced pension delays, the Universal Credit system and benefit caps are all policies which put people in danger of homelessness to which many have already fallen victim.

Fragile and precarious living is the new normal for millions of people in Britain today as are the increasing attacks on those living in enforced vulnerability. Homelessness, like poverty, is a political issue and not the individual personal failing of those afflicted. Such people are the economically excluded as Britain’s safety net is demolished. You pledged that, “The government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours.” I have only one question. When?

http://www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk/news/homeless-man-in-coma-had-been-evicted-after-facing-bedroom-tax-claim-1-8080777

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/conservative-council-set-to-fine-homeless-people-50-for-begging-in-worthing-a6971476.html

https://www.rt.com/uk/248625-homeless-criminalize-oxford-council/

http://www.nottinghampost.com/nottingham-man-fined-banned-begging-city-centre/story-29313706-detail/story.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/if-its-crime-against-people-with-disabilities-we-dont-care-a6966776.html

21_august_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,529

Sunday 21 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

I wonder how many Tory MPs have the remotest idea what it means to live poor, let alone destitute. For some years of my life before I was able to abandon London for the sanity of rural Somerset I simply could not afford to live.

For me the terror of facing the insecurity of homelessness a second time in my life was something too unbearable to contemplate, as long as the rent was paid everything else was of secondary importance.

Food, if you can call it that, wasn’t a major issue for a single guy, I had a, kind of, regular stomping ground round my local shops and hungry eyes will spot the bits of ‘shrapnel’ lying in the dirt and a 22p packet of Custard Creams would get me through the day. I shall never forget the feeling of elation when I found the last 2p, or whatever, that meant I could eat something. Custard Creams were a favourite because there’s enough stodge in them to kid your body it’s ok, although they probably contained as much goodness as sugar sprinkled cardboard.

Oddly, I didn’t think of myself as poor, that was just the way it was. How I lived wasn’t a matter for discussion with others, and it is really only in discussion that the word ‘poor’ has any relevance or meaning. It’s not something that I carried inside me as a label on my life, what good would that serve? It doesn’t go anywhere, apart from making you dismal, so it’s best not to even go there and just carry on. Being poor is about managing as best you can, moaning about it is futile.

One of the more than 300 documents that were tipped out the day parliament shut down for it’s annual six week break was a report on the dismal failings of the bedroom tax. More than 364,000 households in social housing (because the bedroom tax is exclusive to them) fell behind in their rent in 2014/15 and 348,000 people had fallen behind the previous year (austerity eh?). 153,800 households said that benefit cuts were the cause of the problem and 57,485 households blamed the bedroom tax.

There are simply not enough smaller properties for those being penalised to move into and thus the bedroom tax is a vindictive, spiteful, draconian policy causing unnecessary hardship by an authoritarian government which is failing to address the housing crisis in Britain. Ordinary people do not have the wherewithal to address the problem, councils have been cut to the bone and ‘right to buy’ is further reducing housing stock and councils are being forced to sell off precious stock to fund it. The housing crisis is the dismal failure of government and punishing the poor for it is an obscenity. Britain needs houses and housing security, not punishment.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/government-sneaks-out-report-revealing-8467528

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/03/councils-sell-up-to-145m-housing-a-year-fund-right-to-buy

27_july_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,504

Wednesday 27 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

One could be forgiven for thinking that a government report, the 2014/15 English Housing Survey, that found 57,485 households had fallen behind on their rent due to the bedroom tax, might be a matter of concern for the government and that this might be flagged up as a matter requiring urgent attention. Instead, as the Mirror reports, it was dumped (released), along with more than 300 other documents on the day that parliament closed for its six week summer break.

It should not need saying, but clearly the circumstances necessitate it, that each one of these households is a household in distress, right now, and for every day that passes without action to alleviate that distress. It is not clear how many of these households are facing eviction or the threat of eviction, but clearly that has to be a major concern, or one would think so, certainly it will be for the tenants, who just happen to be real people.

Instead of funding house building and encouraging and enabling people to move, if they choose to, it is also reported that ‘David Cameron has been branded the ‘worst ever’ prime minister for housing’ and that ‘new figures showed fewer homes were built each year under his leadership than any prime minister since 1923’.

Gavin Barwell, your new housing minister, has predictably blamed labour, saying that, ‘the problem is catching up with the low level of building under Labour’. Quite how he squares that circle I do not know, perhaps he meant Labour prior to 1923, which would be interesting given that Labour did not form its first government until 1924 under Ramsey MacDonald. But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of fiction. Certainly, Cameron never did and Michael Gove even said, making his case for Brexit, ‘the people of this country have had enough of experts’. Oh, he really, really did. I rather think the best use for Gove would be in a garden, holding a fishing rod.

I confess that I was born at a very young age in 1951, but even I can remember the massive house building programme under Labour post WWII, indeed my family moved into a newly built house shortly after my birth. House building in the face of a housing crisis seemed to be the right answer then, why isn’t it now? Why are social tenants being punished for the current housing crisis, instead of building houses which would be good for society and good for the economy, creating thousands of jobs and boosting a wide range of businesses?

We’ve suffered for six years under the worst government in modern history, it really is time for change and not more of the same, don’t you think?

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/government-sneaks-out-report-revealing-8467528

http://www.localgov.co.uk/Figures-show-six-years-of-housing-failure/41272

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/britain/labourpartyrev_print.shtml

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-simon-duffy/general-election-2015_b_7124468.html

13_july_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,492

Wednesday 13 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

I am afraid I do not have any words of welcome to offer you, there would be nothing laudable or useful in such words of insincerity from me. I prefer to leave them to politicians, for many of whom insincerity and downright hypocrisy is their stock in trade.

Before attaining the crown of leadership by default you campaigned under the banner of, ‘A country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few’. Given your voting record of supporting the bedroom tax, voting against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices , voting against higher benefits for long term sick and disabled people, voting to reduce council tax support, voting to reduce social security, to name but a few, your campaign banner does not inspire confidence.

As a member of the privileged elite, it is fair to ask you, what have the elites ever done for us that has not come through bitter and protracted struggle? History does not inspire confidence in attention grabbing banners and what has been a six year war against the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain at the cost of thousands of lives.

At the very least we need an end to the atrocious sanctions regime and tick box Work Capability Assessments which are depriving people of the most basic means of survival.

Whilst George Osborne has consistently laid the responsibility for Britain’s recovery at the door of the poor, it was not the poor who broke the world’s economies, it was not the poor who made Britain one of the world’s most unequal countries and it was not the poor who raised Britain’s debt to £1.6 trillion. All that and more lies with the privileged elites.

It falls to you to negotiate Britain’s departure from the EU and even the Washington Post has picked up that you proposed using Europeans living in the UK as bargaining chips. It says much about you that you would even consider treating the lives of ordinary people in this way. Andy Burnham said in parliament this week, “My own kids would quite like their mom (from the Netherlands) to stay here forever if that is okay.” I hope you were listening, because people’s lives are not yours to play with.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36763208?SThisFB

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10426/theresa_may/maidenhead/votes

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/27/death-britains-benefits-system-fit-for-work-safety-net

https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/scale-economic-inequality-uk

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/immigrants-in-britain-worry-theyve-become-bargaining-chips-in-coming-eu-talks/2016/07/06/27b3f3cc-421c-11e6-a76d-3550dba926ac_story.html

08_july_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,487

Friday 08 July 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

It was with a deep feeling of sorrow that I learnt that Chelsea Manning had tried to commit suicide. As a whistle blower she’s incarcerated within the system she exposed, the prisoner of a corrupt system convinced of its own righteousness and its right to oppress those who oppose and expose it.

Watching the game of who will win the crown in your party’s leadership campaign, I am struck by the shenanigans of the corrupt. Theresa May is bidding as a champion of social justice. As Patrick Butler put it in the Guardian, ‘And so Theresa May, putative Tory leader, timidly saluted the perils of poverty and inequality. An ordinary working-class life, she theorised, was “much harder than people realise”. She ticked off a series of “burning injustices” that must be tackled: extreme variations in life expectancy and educational chances; the gender pay gap. She highlighted job insecurity and financial insecurity. “Frankly not everybody in Westminster understands what it’s like to live like this,” she revealed. “What the government does isn’t a game, it has real consequences for people’s lives.”

May’s voting record shows that she was either absent from or voted for all the so called welfare reforms imposed by your government, bedroom tax, cuts to disability benefits, and so on. With not a trace of shame she can champion the poverty which she has helped to increase and what is more, I doubt that she’s remotely concerned by her own hypocrisy. That’s just the way you play the political game. That the game is rotten to the core is irrelevant, she’s merely doing what she must in her bid to be leader and she’ll play the charm offensive for all she’s worth, at which we can only shudder.

She has all the charm of a vampire bidding to work in a care home. It’s perfectly awful to have to watch. No smile will ever reach those eyes, they are as cold, dead and implacable as a sharks, even in the throes of a feeding frenzy.

Am I picking on May? Well, yes I am, though none of the other candidates are any better, but May does exude a peculiar miasma of awfulness like a cloud of mosquitoes looking for blood and she also voted for the invasion of Iraq. Does that matter? Yes. We have to suffer the consequences of political decisions, which includes lies, deception, immoral and ideological convictions and it is long overdue that politicians did too. Then and only then will the words, ‘we’re all in this together’, have any relevance or meaning.

http://breakingdownthnews.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/breaking-news-chelsea-manning-has-been.html

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/05/would-be-tory-leaders-champion-poor-cuts-brexit-inequality?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10426/theresa_may/maidenhead/votes

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-launches-conservative-leadership-bid-brexit-means-brexit-video

18_june_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,468

Saturday 18 June 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Are you or are you not the leader of your party? If you are, something I have serious cause to question, you need to reign your party in and stop the deliberate spreading of misinformation, fear and lies.

I know it is a tough call for someone who has lied to parliament and the nation with impunity. Remember your statement about the bedroom tax and telling parliament, “Obviously, what we’ve done is exempt disabled people who need an extra room?” Remember your 2010 election pledge? This what you told the Royal College of Pathologists on 2 November 2009 “With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS.”

Baroness Manzoor, the Lib Dem work and pensions spokeswoman, has raised the issue of Priti Patel breaching the principles of the Ministerial Code over “misleading and inaccurate” claims about Turkish membership of the EU and has warned Patel to ‘consider her position as a minister’. Manzoor has asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to consider whether Patel has issued an ‘outright falsehood’ over Turkey and is concerned that Patel could ‘stoke public fear and resentment of the existing Turkish community in the UK’.

Britain is having a seizure over the referendum and it is no accident. It is a culmination of 6 years of lies and manufactured hate by you and your party, from Osborne’s rhetoric of people sleeping off a life on benefits to the DWP depriving people of the means of survival. But you are not alone, the media has brought the nation poverty porn and right wing rags like the Sun and the Mail glory in the lies they tell, not least about immigration and their xenophobic peddling of fear and hate against any human being who isn’t pale pink or spray on orange and dresses in drapes/robes rather than a frock or tee/shirt and trousers like wot yer average English mongrel race type person does.

My letter yesterday was castigated by one Facebook user as a hate piece against the Leave campaign because I had the temerity to suggest that the damned referendum be called off because of all the chaos, and another added a map of where I live with the following, “Check the address. It’s a care home for the clinically insane”.

Right now, as a life long resident of these islands, Britain is about as attractive as something a dog vomited and which only a dog would go back to and it’s headed up by the most divisive and offensive government in our history.

Cameron misleads Parliament on Bedroom Tax and disability in PMQs

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/11/pre-election-pledges-tories-are-trying-wipe-internet

Priti Patel ‘could have broken ministerial code’ with Turkish claims

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/george-osbornes-speech-conservative-conference-full-text

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/dwp-defeated-in-court-again-over-unlawful-retroactive-benefit-sanctions-a7006466.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/michael-havis/poverty-porn_b_6899976.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3634353/Nearly-two-million-migrants-EU-settled-Britain-just-ten-years-according-UK-official-statistics.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/03/daily-mail-migrant-refugee-aylan-kurdi_n_8081424.html

09_june_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,459

Thursday 09 June 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

It is at least unfortunate that we have three of the worst characters possible representing the Tory case for leaving the EU, at worst it is wilful manipulation to swing the referendum in favour of staying in the EU.

Priti Patel makes her case that leaving the EU would enable her to attack employment protections and, “halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation”. On the face of it that firmed my feeling that I should be voting to remain in the EU, forgetting for a moment that to pull a stunt like that she would be acting undemocratically, without consultation and against our best interests, in short, she’s being her usual self, a petty dictator. That’s not an argument to remain in Europe.

Moving right along, let’s have a look at Boris (BoJo the clown) Johnson. In a street speech that was more a pantomime piece than anything else, in reference to someone saying ‘bananas’ (A shill? A plant? An idiot?), Johnson claimed that the EU prevents Britain from selling bananas in bunches of more than 2 or 3 and that they must not be excessively bent, unlike him. It was a claim so self evidently false I wondered why the crowd didn’t plant him head first in a water butt? This wasn’t an argument for Brexit, it was a temptation to vote for anything other than the idiot, but even if I voted remain, we’d still be stuck with the idiot.

Michael Gove’s central argument for Brexit is for, “a galvanising, liberating, empowering moment of patriotic renewal”. It was Samuel Johnson who said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”, meaning just the kind of jingoistic, flag waving, nonsense that Gove was spouting. True patriots are those who protect democracy, as Tony Benn did all his life, who want to end wars and serve the cause of peace, the kind of people who demand that Tony Blair faces the Hague for his illegal invasion of Iraq, an invasion that Gove supported regardless of his later change of heart. Let’s also remember that Gove gave away our schools to privateers, demanded our children learn by rote and alienated almost the entire teaching profession. This man is hardly a friend of Britain or Brexit.

Your own claim that leaving the EU could herald another Europe wide conflict, was the other side of this sordid mess, senseless fear-mongering in a world riven by conflict that the EU has been powerless or useless to prevent. What matters is the we the people are able to hold power to account. Europe has done nothing to prevent the excesses of the worst government in UK history. You ignored the findings of UN special investigator Raquel Rolnik into the despicable bedroom tax. Rolnik was branded by Grant Shapps as, an “absolute disgrace”, dismissing her as “a woman from Brazil”. Iain Duncan Smith called her a  “strange woman” and accused Labour of indulging in “little gimmicks with people from Brazil.” That’s the contempt you have for us. This fight isn’t about the EU, it is about the people of this country who must fight against Tory extremism and a supranational organisation that offers no protection for ordinary people from neoliberalism and the interests of elite criminals and greedy financiers putting profits before people.

Who let the cats out? Priti Patel suggests we could lose half our EU work rights after #Brexit

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/boris-johnson-claims-eu-stops-bananas-being-sold-in-bunches-of-more-than-three-that-is-not-true_uk_573b2445e4b0f0f53e36c968

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/19/brexit-could-spark-democratic-liberation-of-continent-says-gove

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gove

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22558756

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brexit-could-trigger-world-war-7928607

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-truth-ignored-government-2267884

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-3ffe-Iain-Duncan-Smith-dismisses-cuts-victims-suffering#.V1fHD6Kzzc4

17_april_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,405

Sunday 17 April 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

It was interesting to read the following quote today from ‘Montagu Norman, Governor of The Bank Of England, addressing the United States Bankers’ Association, NYC 1924’: “Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

“When, through process of law, the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers.

“These truths are well known among our principal men, who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance.

“It is thus, by discrete action, we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.”

Also very interesting was what Osborne said at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, “Britain will work with our major European partners to find out who really owns the secretive shell companies and trusts that have been used as conduits for evading tax, laundering money and benefiting from corruption. Strong words of condemnation are not enough, populist outrage doesn’t by itself collect a single extra pound or dollar in tax or put a single criminal in jail.” This is rich coming from the man who used tax payer money in his attempt to protect bankers bonuses in Europe and who opposed EU measures to clamp down on tax avoidance.

The historic treachery of those in power to the present day turns my blood cold. There is no betrayal so base or lie too egregious that you would not use against us. ‘No top-down reorganisations of the NHS’, ‘absolutely no plans to raise VAT’, ‘No cuts to front-line services’, on the bedroom tax, “Obviously, what we have done is to exempt disabled people who need an extra room.” George Osborne, “It is totally unacceptable for bank bonuses to be paid on the back of taxpayer guarantees. It must stop.”

The protests on the past two Saturdays calling for your resignation are the very least of it. No government in our long history has ever dared attack Britain, it’s people and infrastructure, so arrogantly or so brazenly, casting discretion to the winds. Yes you must go, but your entire damned government of liars must go with you.

https://forumnews.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/the-ultimate-bankster-quote-from-a-former-governor-of-the-bank-of-england-1920-1944/

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/14/uk-under-pressure-from-eu-states-over-beneficial-ownership-secrecy

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-bonuses-idUKBRE98O0NW20130925

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/economy/news/59011/uk-lobbied-against-eu-blacklist-tax-havens-report

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/11/pre-election-pledges-tories-are-trying-wipe-internet

http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/cameron-untrue-statement-over-bedroom-tax/