Intolerable rise in homelessness

The rise of homeless people  in London has risen to enormous proportions, I read today.  The percentage of families with children living in B&B has risen by 385% in 2012.  The number of rough sleepers has risen by 40%.

This is the totally irresponsible housing and housing benefit policy this government has introduced that is responsible for this trend.

It doesn’t really matter that the DWP constantly wants to push people into jobs, when they have nowhere to stay permanently; how can they plan for employment, their children’s education, any health care they may need long term.

It seems cynical that the government now offers a £500 set up grant to allow setting up child care to enable mothers back into work, when those mothers have not even got permanent accommodation. Parents’ worries are needlessly increased by various risk factors, such as no permanent housing, being cut off from benefits for weeks on end when parents are accused of not doing enough to find work and mothers and children are left without any money and they have nowhere permanent to call a home.

Government these days is obsessed with pushing mothers into work and stopping women from having children or making them beg for food in soup kitchens as soon as their children reach age 7 or less. The age goes down all the time, that mothers can no longer receive Income Support and are forced to change to Job Seekers Allowance or get nothing at all for themselves to live on.

Birmingham Council has practically been bankrupted by a recent ruling that forces the council now, in a time of national austerity to pay out compensation for women’s under-payment through equal pay.  Yet that is fine for the women who have the jobs and are established in their lives but for those women who are now told that work is better than benefits but who have nothing to call even a home, the hope of an equally well paid job is just a far away illusion, that has not even realised yet.

It is always easy for those on the top to look down on those who have not achieved the same level of luxury in their lives and edge them on to achieve, but when you are at the bottom of the ladder, it is quite clear that the steps on that ladder are cracked and that those at the top have not even an idea what it is like to struggle day after day with simple things.

downtrodden mums

It doesn’t surprise me at all to read that both ante-natal and post-natal depression amongst mothers is on a steep rise. After all the DWP makes sure that every new mum doesn’t enjoy their motherhood.

Especially single mothers are ordered to attend employment interviews within a day of being due or 3 days after having given birth or they get threatened that their benefits are cut. Many young mothers get their benefits withdrawn completely once their child reaches the age of 7, with the excuse that they do not do enough to find work.

Being a mother has become out of fashion in public perception and Iain Duncan Smith’s department has a lot to do with that.

It used to be more fun getting pregnant and becoming a mum as one used to get much more support from benefits agencies in the past.

Even if a woman is not on benefits, the expectation of having to earn before conception is very much greater nowadays.

What it means for our children

In my own, very personal view, I belief that the oncoming benefit changes will rob this nation of one very important asset and that is the talent of our children. Talents that need to be nurtured from childhood and improved over the years.

We heard it many times that artists as well as sports people have trained, sometimes since infancy, in a particular field; may that be piano or tennis. Most importantly those children that did very well in some disciplines, were enabled to do so by the adults that looked after them.

What we see now is that those parents who are forced into work but have no individual child minding available to them, will not be able to nurture their children’s aspirations, which mostly affects working class parents. Working class parents often only can afford shared child minding after school and those groups cannot bring individual children to lessons but only look after groups of kids.

Any of those kids are robbed of the opportunity to follow their aspirations or artistic and sporting talents. Whilst most high earning parents will be able to engage individual childminders or even have a spare parent to take their kids, can still afford to help their kids achieve in extra curricular activities the poor ones can’t.

I think that is the wicked way of this government that comes up with all sorts of excuses to rob the poor of achieving above the lawfully described goals, like GCSE, which can be achieved through school attendance alone for some. I think that Ian Duncan Smith is a particularly nasty man who devises schemes to rob this nation of one wealthy asset, which is talented children whose parents are enslaved in working schemes and are no longer available to help their aspiring off-spring. This also robs the nation of national treasures and the talented children go to be put onto the slow lane and into low pay and demeaning jobs.

Why do we pay Insurance contributions towards pensions and benefits when we are then told that we are not getting any benefits without working for them, not even pensions.There is no longer any point to insurance contributions when we have to work for our pensions in any case, as the other nasty man Lord Bichard suggests.


Bright pupils left to rot

Having gotten a bright child in a local comprehensive, I am frequently confronted with attitudes like, it’s OK she has achieved the expected grades, that’s all we want. There is absolutely no attempt of the school to nurture special talents, to advance excellent learning skills at all. The school doesn’t even try to explore the funding opportunities available to them, that allows for talented pupils to get extra help at the upper end of learning.

My fears are of course again acknowledged by the latest research that shows that the UK and in particular England ranks 26th out of 34 OECD countries in education says a BBC article. That explains why we have so many immigrants from EU countries, it’s because they are better educated than the locals. England ranks behind France, the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic.

Not just in education does my local school not further the child, they also promote slow learners in other functions by making them head of year or head girl or head boy. Each child gets the Golden Book award in turn, regardless of academic achievement to show that all are equally good. Recently my child’s teacher called me to one side to talk about the whereabouts of a 10 pence home made necklace rather than education, which is what kids are supposed to go to school for.

I quote from the BBC website: “Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “This is a deeply troubling picture for any us who care about our brightest pupils from non-privileged backgrounds.”

It is symptomatic of England that most bright children are only nurtured in private schools but that doesn’t mean that state school pupils are not bright. It is merely a policy to only help privately educated pupils, which gives them an unfair advantage.

My bright child gets a lot of offers to join art projects but none to help her academically. The report from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) argues that England is falling down international tables because of successive failures to help the most able pupils.

Sir Peter said: “Excellence in maths is crucial in so many areas such as science, engineering, IT, economics and finance. These figures show that few bright non-privileged students reach their academic potential – which is unfair and a tragedy for them and the country as a whole.”

In the meantime my bright child is allowed to rot in her local C.o.E. school whilst the pupils in the neighbouring private school get all the help they need.

Child Exploitation taking place all over the country

I am very worried by a report I picked up from the BBC website today in which there is a warning that child exploitation is taking place all over the country, a warning made by a committee of MP’s.

A report from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre warns that Internet images of child abuse are becoming more extreme and sadistic. It is thought that those who download such images are very likely to attack children.

Yet it is quite clearly equally shocking that the Secretary of State supports the cutting off from unemployment benefits of young mothers with young children once they have been forced to change from Income Support to Job Seekers Allowance for the most trivial reasons.

For example a mothers child might be ill and she is unable to look for work as required by her DWP contract and then when the woman signs on, as under the new rules, she has to learn that her Unemployment Benefit is suspended, pending an investigation.

The mother, who is often single will miss out on £130 of fortnightly payment. Mothers are usually never given the advice sheet that says they can continue to get their benefit under hardship rules and even then it takes extra long to get the money, that they would be entitled to if they were still on income support automatically.

The Secretary of State supports that policy and encourages it to happen because letters that then refer mothers to a work programme are signed by him.

Parent coordinators in local schools often come across distressed mothers that have no food and have to be referred to local food banks, which have been set up by mostly church run charities.

This government supports in my view that vulnerable mothers fall victim to scrupulous exploitation and puts innocent children at risk of exploitation. Even as Neighbourhood Watch coordinator I am deeply concerned about this practise that cuts mothers with young children off from their regular income very suddenly and it often takes a long time to get any help.

In my case I was told that I did not do enough to find work when I was funded to organise a Queen’s Jubilee Party in the weeks preceding the period where I forgot to fill in writing a job search sheet and although I gave a verbal account of my job search, the DWP advisor threatened to have me removed by security just because I used the word ridiculous. I have a small child but luckily I am too experienced and wise to ever allow that child to get in any type of danger but there are many mothers out there who might be vulnerable with little knowledge how to deal with such situations.

In another BBC report Ian Duncan Smith, the Works and Pensions Secretary,  is reported as saying: “Of course money is important and will always play a part in future measurements of poverty. But increased income from welfare transfers is temporary if nothing changes,”. Yet Ian Duncan Smith is directly responsible for the withdrawal of benefit that afflicts so many mothers with children and helps to put them at risk.


What have German and English Conservatives in common?

They are both determined to stick it out as long as possible is the simple answer. The British Conservatives have completely adopted the German brand of religious nihilism in government. Meaning we are politicians in public life but our religious identity is irrelevant.

Now the political side-kick of Angela Merkel is in deep trouble over a cheap loan and he is determined to stay in office. Of course there is a simple reason he needs the income from the presidency to pay back the loan. So he has to keep his job, after all, it is the work that provides his freedom to pay back the loan.

The freedom to pay back a loan is not so easy to come by in Greece where there is only austerity and that is another principle that German and English politicians share, it is austerity at any price, absolutely any price.

But the reason to carry out the austerity plans is really only governed by a deep desire to root out lower social classes and make single mothers give away their children, so that the main pet hate of all Conservatives in Europe, which is single mothers, have to give up enjoying their little families. I have read the heart-breaking stories about some Greek mums who had no choice but to give their kids into care because the cuts in benefits forced them to do so.

The quality of the Conservative policies are not even particularly Conservative. They turned away from hating gays, they turned away from religion. They seem to follow some weird Super-Capitalist dream in that only those with certain bank balances are worth living these days and it doesn’t really matter where one comes from or what one beliefs in as long as one has a lot of money.

Here in the UK the same scandals that currently rock the current government, which loses constantly in the House of Lords would have been enough to down other governments in the past, but no, the current government is determined to stick it out as long as they possibly can.

Austerity in itself is not a virtue, it is merely an instrument to repress the poor without any means to improve the situation and improving the situation is not in the concept of current rulers either in Germany or in the UK. When an economy is based on debt, getting rid of debts means getting rid of the economy.

PS:As of today, the gentleman in question has resigned his post, I wish David Cameron would take example on this and do the same. Instead Cameron is busy spinning a nuclear web around Britain with the help of France.

Important changes to tax credits

I can honestly say, today was the first day that I read about the changes to Tax Credit entitlement from 16 to 24 hours per week. That is pretty short notice. I pride myself of being always in the flow of information, I constantly monitor news sites and keep abreast of news because I pass the relevant stories on as soon as.

Yet this is another very important change to legislature that comes to the notice of the public at very short notice. A bit like the withdrawal of London Weighing allowance for higher ranking army officers.

It is just not good enough to blame everything on the mess Labour left. If we allow that argument then we’ll allow all political parties, when they govern, to sanction fundamental financial changes at short notice.

In reality our finances are planned often for 12 months ahead because many contracts, ,for insurance for example run for that period of time. We cannot plan ahead with the Direct Debit system and enter into contracts if governments can come along and change fundamental tax regulations on a very short notice period.

Of course it would mean that many parents who now work below 24 hours per week and are in receipt of tax credits will have to quit their jobs if their employers cannot change their contracts to longer working hours. The likelihood is that many employers won’t do it because they are not able to.

That just puts the whole equality discussion into the limelight again because it shows how shallow it really is. We are all equal, we all have the same rights to work but in the end, if we have a child, we just cannot compete and working is beyond our ability because we cannot work and have nobody to look after our kids when tax credit does not pick up the bill.

So we have in fact the situation that we cannot all be the same because the state won’t allow us to work at an amount of hours that is both convenient to us, the parents as well as the employer. Incidentally the last I heard is that there were plans to reduce the numbers of working hours before tax credit kicks in.

Of course working age benefits have been increased and Child Tax Credit adjusted to inflation rates, that makes it easier for a parent then to be unemployed. Back to square one but at least being unemployed has become more affordable.

Obsessive Tories

The Tories are obsessed with themselves and despite many defeats in the House of Lords, continue to maintain that their policies are the good ones, the right ones, the only ones, and so fort …..

Persistence can become a bad habit and turn into an unhealthy obsession.  I just don’t know why they do not give up and hang up their coats, go home and have a nice hot cocoa instead of telling us that we are wrong and they are right. Yes they are right, they always have been right, but not right in their decision but right politically.

The most recent defeat in the House of Lords, is that single parents cannot be charged by the Child Support Agency to get their maintenance monies from the children’s other parent, mostly the father. I think the government wants to show enterprise and charge people extra for supporting the people that already pay taxes for the services the government provides.

I am just waiting for the Tories to float the government on the stock market for some extra income. What is that, a Flotilla.

And another one bites the cap

I am more than glad that the government’s welfare bill was rejected at the House of Lords stage but sorry that families had to suffer a great deal of stress since the proposal of the change till today.

The amendment on child benefit was put down by Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer.

He said child benefit was “a universal benefit” and it was “wrong to see it as being a welfare benefit”.

“It’s a benefit which is there for all children, for the bringing up of all children and to say that the only people who cannot have child benefit are those whose welfare benefits have been capped seems to me to be a quite extraordinary argument.”

The Rt Rev John Packer puts it quite blandly and to me it seems that this Tory government wants to make child benefit a privilege of the rich and deprive the poor of its income if their total income goes over a certain threshold.

In very practical terms it was the Child Tax Credit and the Child Benefit that makes up the household budget a woman has to play with and with a new universal benefit this unique partition of the household income, that enables a woman to keep her kids fed and clothed and the home maintained is in danger of being broken away from the ownership of the main carer of the children, which is in most families still the woman. Considering that domestic violence is at an increase, the universal benefit will increase it even further if women have no save heaven for their household budget.

The government seems to want to make children of poor households an unspeakable event because the universal benefit does not even differentiate between households that have and households that do not have children. the Rt Rev John Packer said the cap “failed to differentiate between households with children and those without” and child benefit was “the most appropriate way to right this unfairness”.

That is an astonishing complete reversal of the policy Labour brought in, which celebrated the birth of each child by awarding it an amount for the Child Trust Fund,which was immediately abolished when the Conservative government came in.

It does not make sense of Mr Duncan Smith to argue that they want to save the low wage earner from paying towards luxury accommodation of child rich benefit recipients. Tax liability is staged and low earners pay less and their contribution towards the housing of benefit recipients is a minimal percentage, that is almost too minicule to even mention it.

Surely there is an argument from stopping families existing only on benefits but there is much more to it than just cutting off the benefits. The whole working market is geared to supporting more and more people who do not wish to have children. It would be quite possible for employers to prefer employing families with lots of child care responsibilities and if those families were given preferred employment, then I would much more support the Tory ideas.

Annihilation of the poor

I do not agree with Ian Duncan Smith, when he says that the new benefits cap is not a punishment for the poor because it is even more than this, it is an attempt to annihilate poor families and drive them into desperate and higher dependency than they are in now.

Just read the article, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. He says:

“They can’t go into work because they are trapped, because the moment they do, they start losing their housing benefit, and they would have to move.

“That is the problem, capping it brings them back to a level that says: Look, from this point onwards you can always afford to look for work.” Of course lowering someone’s income and standard of life so low that they always find anything better than what they do, is just not driving up standards of living at all. It is making someone’s basic standard in life so low that they simply cannot sink any deeper.

When he says that people get dependent on the benefit and then cannot start to work because they would loose their housing benefit and that losing their homes now would make them more independent and that the government would help them find more suitable accommodation to move to. It simply moves people from one dependency to another. They will lose their current homes and need the homeless services find them cheap accommodation. They will totally depend on their local councils to manage their lives and keep them off the street.

What is most unfair is that poor and child-rich families now get punished for being poor and child rich families but at the same time the government admits that there are many rich people around who have acquired their wealth with indecent methods like overpaid bonuses, they admit that they are people in jobs who are not that good at them and that they could get the sack quicker, yet there is no guarantee that those now losing their homes for having lots of kids will get the jobs of those who loose them over being poor workers.

This government just creates misery all around, it punishes the “bad employees and managers” and it punishes the “child-rich, benefit dependants”. We have close to 400.000 benefit dependent immigrants in Britain also.

Ian Duncan Smith is a very cynical man, he says because there are imaginary jobs, that people cannot afford to live in their houses any longer if the rent is paid on benefits. I think the leadership of the Conservative Party today are a bunch of dangerous illusionist dreamers. Everything he says is speculative, he thinks he can create jobs by giving people less money to live on.

Yet they want 200.000 volunteers to play with children in parks. We keep on getting this argument from the government that says, volunteer more but sorry we have to cut your benefits for not having a job.Who is going to play with these children? the army of jobless who have to spend all day looking for jobs that do not exist? The child rich families that have been made homeless for lack of benefit? Or the workers who still got the jobs? Maybe he thinks the disabled can rise from their wheelchairs and go down the slide? (No offence meant)

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