Tory MP blocks BBC journalist who quoted his exact words about food banks to expose his hypocrisy

“Conservative MP Dominic Raab has blocked a BBC journalist on social media after she repeated his comments about food banks.

The former Brexit Secretary posted a photo in which he posed with food bank volunteers in his Esher and Walton constituency. He wrote: “Thank you to Tesco in Molesey and the Trussell Trust for partnering to encourage customers to generously provide food collections for families in our community, who are struggling at this time of year.”

In response, Victoria Derbyshire quoted verbatim previous remarks made by Mr Raab in the run-up to the 2017 general election. She reminded him he had previously blamed the rising reliance on food banks on those who had a “cash flow problem”, insisting they were not “languishing in poverty”.

The journalist soon found herself blocked from following Mr Raab’s Twitter account. Ms Derbyshire tweeted: “I repeated verbatim what Mr Raab said about people who use food banks..”

On Victoria Derbyshire’s 2017 debate show, Mr Raab had said: “I’ve studied the Trussell Trust data. “What they tend to find is the typical user of a food bank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cash flow problem episodically.”

Food bank charity the Trussell Trust handed out a record 1.3million emergency parcels in 2017, with 41 per cent of recipients putting their need down to delays and changes in their benefits.”

https://inews.co.uk/news/dominic-raab-blocks-victoria-derbyshire-twitter-food-banks/

Pub chain owner denies tweet that Universal Credit allows him to push zero-hours contracts

Probably not the best PR for a wealthy businessman to be seen publicly boasting about how he is happily using taxpayers’ money to subsidise his staff wages.

So it’s a bit strange to see this tweet from the DWP quoting the MD and owner of pub chain Whiting and Hammond bragging about how so very little he pays his staff that his workers have to rely on Universal Credit to get by. …”

https://tompride.wordpress.com/2018/12/09/pub-chain-owner-denies-using-taxpayer-money-to-subsidise-wages-in-public-row-with-dwp-over-universal-credit/

“Pensioner poverty rises as benefits freeze bites”

“Declining home-ownership and rising rents mean that one in six may have to choose between food and heat, warns Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

One in six pensioners is now living in poverty as a result of declining home ownership, soaring rents and the benefits freeze, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned. Pensioner poverty is rising, having fallen steadily for nearly two decades, the charity said. The figures prompt fears that many pensioners will be forced to choose between paying for heating and buying food this winter, as benefits remain frozen below inflation for the third year in a row.

The foundation’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: “Pensioner poverty is a problem that we thought had gone away.”

The incidence had halved over 20 years, but began rising again in 2012-13. By 2016-17, 16% of pensioners were living in poverty, rising to 31% among those in social housing and 36% among private renters. Poverty here is “relative poverty” – an income of less than 60% of the median among pensioners, after housing costs.

Robb said: “For middle-aged people who have been struggling over the past few years, who don’t have many savings and don’t own their own home, the prospect of being a pensioner is very challenging.” The “golden age” when people enjoyed rising home-ownership and well-paid work was coming to an end, he added. About 20% of all pensioners rent their home, and the proportion is growing.

The problem is compounded by the benefits freeze, in place since 2016. “As rent goes up faster than housing benefit, pensioners have a huge gap to fill,” Robb said. “This tips people into poverty, and forces them to choose between food and heating.”

Figures published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies this year reveal that relative poverty among pensioners has risen in the past five years, while “absolute poverty” – an income of less than 60% of what the median of the general population was in 2010-11 – has fallen by just 1%. By comparison, absolute pensioner poverty fell by 12% between 2002-03 and 2007-08, and by 3% between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The foundation called on the government to end the benefits freeze and to build genuinely affordable housing. “These figures are part of a wider increase in poverty across all age-groups,” said Robb. “If we don’t tackle the causes now, we fear that we are going to see poverty – particularly among pensioners – rise even more.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/09/pensioner-poverty-rises-bnefites-freeze

“The Government Thinks No-one Will Notice Their Devastation Of Local Government – We Won’t Let That Happen”

“Unless this Government changes tune, elderly people will be lonelier, disabled people will get sicker, vulnerable children will fall through the net.

Despite unprecedented pressure and growing warnings, Councils are bracing themselves for the biggest cuts they’ve had to face since 2010. That is the prospect of the Tories’ local government settlement set to be announced.

The past eight years have seen councils forced to make cuts – but they’ve reached the end of the line, with so-called “non-essential services” being cut to the bone, leading to even deeper reductions to the services that we all rely on like street cleaning, libraries, and children’s centres, and to many of the preventative services that previously reduced the pressure on the NHS and police.

So severe and urgent is the crisis facing our councils, that the UN’s special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights mentioned it in the opening paragraph of his recent report, saying that local authorities had been “gutted by a series of government policies”.

Despite all the warnings, the Government will announce a further 36 per cent cut to local government funding, the largest annual deduction in almost a decade.

Councils of all parties are facing a funding crisis with devastating effects on key public services – children at risk, disabled adults and vulnerable older people – and the services we all rely on, like clean streets, libraries, and children’s centres.

In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this is an unacceptable position to be in. It is a national scandal that 1.4 million older people are now not getting the necessary help to carry out essential tasks such as washing themselves and dressing – up 20% over the last two years. The deterioration of social care alone will fundamentally damage the fabric of society as we know it. Huge amounts of money have been taken out of the system, despite obvious rising demand.

This is a crisis of the Tories’ creation, but as ever they are pushing the blame on to councils, communities, carers and families. Our councils were the first target when the coalition government came into power, losing 60p out of every £1 that the last Labour Government was spending on local government in 2010.

As a result of these cuts, the Tory-led Local Government Association is predicting that next year, councils will be facing a funding gap of £3.9 billion just to maintain current services, including £1.5 billion gap in adult social care funding.

Instead of showing the leadership that is needed in this crisis, the Government continues to put sticking plaster after sticking plaster, on what is now, an open wound.

Previous local government settlements under this Tory government have been unacceptable, unfair and unhelpful. Unless this Government changes tune, elderly people will be lonelier, disabled people will get sicker, vulnerable children will fall through the net, and our communities will become more unpleasant, unsafe and unattractive places to live. All councils are now reaching breaking point and short term sticking plasters will not keep the wolves from the door for much longer.

Andrew Gwynne is the Shadow Secretary of State, Communities & Local Government and Labour MP for Denton & Reddish”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/local-council-cuts_uk_5c07d022e4b0a6e4ebda854a

Grants to facilitate people with disabilities to put themselves forward for office

“People with disabilities are to be offered thousands of pounds to help them run for elected office in next year’s council elections as part of an effort to tackle under-representation in town halls.

Grants averaging £4,000 will be made available to some to cover costs of campaign expenses including specialist transport, screen reader software, sign language interpretation and braille transcription.

Only 10% of councillors have a disability, compared with about 20% of the UK population. The government is offering £250,000, which is expected to fund around 60 candidates. [The Guardian]

The Access to Elected Office fund provided such grants since its launch as a pilot in 2012 under the Coalition government, but after the 2015 general election the Conservatives put it into limbo.”

https://www.markpack.org.uk/156796/access-to-elected-office-fund-returns/

Tory grandee says Tories should take blame for increase in poverty and he wants no part in it

“Lord Michael Heseltine has warned MPs against voting to “make this country poorer” in the looming House of Commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

In a rousing speech on Wednesday afternoon, the Tory former deputy prime minister told the House of Lords that if it votes for slower economic growth, lower tax revenues and lower public spending “those who will suffer most are those least able to bear the strain”.

“I tell you there are no solutions that help the fortunes of the least privileged in the most stressful circumstances,” said the famously pro-Europe politician.

“When the election comes, it will have been a Tory that led the referendum campaign,” Heseltine continued.

“It will have been a Tory government that perpetuated the frozen living standards.

“It will be a Tory government that is blamed for what we are talking about today.”

“I will have no part of it,” he added. …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/michael-heseltine-breixt-theresa-may_uk_5c08293ee4b069028dc61a1e

“School standards dip across the South West – but nurseries and childminders impress Ofsted”

“An annual report published by schools watchdog Ofsted showed, as of August 31 2018, 87 per cent of primary schools in Devon were judged as good or outstanding – a drop of four per cent compared to August 31 2017.

Seventy-six per cent of secondary schools in Devon were judged good or outstanding, a drop of six per cent.

The report said: “By the end of August 2018, 83 per cent of schools in the South West were judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection, compared with 86 per cent nationally.

“This was a four percentage points decline for the region compared with August 2017.

“For primary schools, 84 per cent in the region were judged to be good or outstanding, a four percentage points decline compared with August 2017 figures. For secondary schools, 73 per cent were judged to be good or outstanding – below the national figure and a six percentage points decline compared with August 2017.” …

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/school-standards-dip-across-the-south-west-but-nurseries-and-childminders-impress-ofsted-1-5806946