DWP minister suggests families affected by benefit cap could ‘move house’ or ‘take in a lodger’

From The Independent: Government minister Justin Tomlinson has been criticised after he suggested poor families could “move house” or “take in a lodger” to ease financial pressures caused by the benefit cap.

Labour MP Ruth George said: “Take in a lodger? These are large families, they’ve often got three children in one bedroom. How are they going to take in a lodger? Just look at reality here.”

[Read article on Independent website…]

United Nations rapporteur: “Open your eyes, there is very real poverty out there”

From Channel 4 News: UN special rapporteur Philip Alston talks about his investigation of poverty in the UK…

“Thousands of foodbanks haven’t sprung up because people are looking for things to do. There’s very real poverty out there.”

Tory government ministers? “They were pretty much unconcerned. They think their policies are working.”

"Open your eyes – there is very real poverty out there."UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston says there are people in…

Posted by Channel 4 News on Friday, November 16, 2018

Tory minister backing fracking drive has never visited shale site

From The Guardian: The minister spearheading the UK’s renewed push for fracking has admitted she has never been to a shale gas well.

In the week that fracking restarted in the UK for the first time in seven years, the energy minister, Claire Perry, revealed to a fellow Conservative MP that she had not yet had the chance to visit a shale site.

Perry has spent the past few days calling on the public to “trust the science of shale gas extraction” and insisted that fracking is compatible with tackling climate change.

But asked how many times she had visited a shale exploration site, she said: “I have had a number of meetings with stakeholders interested in shale gas exploration, but have not yet had an opportunity to visit a site.”

The written parliamentary answer came in response to a question by the Tory MP Lee Rowley, who has prospective shale sites in his constituency.

Rose Dickinson, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Unlike the local community who protest outside the Preston New Road site in Lancashire every single day, it is surprising that the minister has never even been curious enough to visit.

“That the minister can cheerlead this unpopular industry without meeting the people living next door – the people who have to put up with trucks, noise, and the industrialisation of their local countryside – is astounding.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Have people inspected at Irish border after Brexit, says Rees-Mogg

From The Guardian: Jacob Rees-Mogg has sparked a fresh row about the status of the Irish border after Brexit after a video emerged in which he suggests a return to checks “as we had during the Troubles”.

The Conservative MP is seen on the footage from the public meeting suggesting the government could “keep an eye on” the border: “Ireland would not be a free for all. It would be perfectly possible to continue with historic arrangements to ensure that there wasn’t a great loophole in the way people can get into the UK, to leave us in as bad a position as we are already in. There would be our ability, as we had during the Troubles, to have people inspected. It’s not a border that everyone has to go through every day, but of course for security reasons during the Troubles, we kept a very close eye on the border, to try and stop gun-running and things like that.”

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, was sharply critical of his comments. “This man knows nothing of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, tweeted: “It’s hard to believe that a senior politician is so ill informed about Ireland + the politics of the Brexit Irish border issue that he could make comments like these. We have left ‘the troubles’ behind us, through the sincere efforts of many, + we intend on keeping it that way.”

Rees-Mogg has previously been criticised for saying he did not need to visit Northern Ireland to understand the challenges Brexit posed for communities on the border.

[Read article on Guardian website…]

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen sparks controversy with ‘no rough sleepers’ in North West Leicestershire claim

From Leicestershire Live: Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has ignited controversy by stating there are no rough sleepers in his constituency, North West Leicestershire.

The Conservative politician highlighted the statistic in a debate about house building during Prime Minister’s Questions.

While the official figures back up what Mr Bridgen said, Mark Grant, the boss of Leicester-based charity Action Homeless said they did not reflect the current reality in the MP’s patch.

Mr Grant said: “We all know the limitations with the figures. They are based on a count of rough sleepers on one given night of the year. They are just a snapshot. It is no criticism of the council that carries out the count but we know rough sleepers can be hard to locate. If you did the count on a different night, you would get a different number. Pretending rough sleepers aren’t out there is not the way to tackle the problem. Not all is rosy in North West Leicestershire. We get rough sleepers from there presenting to us.

“In fact, North West Leicestershire and Charnwood are the areas in the county where we have most people presenting from and they do have their particular social and economic problems. We know rough sleepers from North West Leicestershire migrate to Leicester to get access to services there that aren’t available where they are from.”

[Read full article on Leicestershire Live website…]

Tory MP casts doubt on poverty claims by local primary schools

From The Guardian: A row is brewing between a Conservative MP and some of his Lancashire constituents after he suggested that claims by teachers about extreme poverty at local schools were untrue.

A report by ITV earlier this week went viral after it showed schools where teachers said they had to wash their pupils’ uniforms because their families couldn’t afford to pay the electricity bills.

But David Morris, the MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, responded to the reports: “These claims are not those being experienced by myself or the jobcentre in the area.”

He later told ITV: “I’ve not got issues with the report that you’ve run, I’m just questioning the validity of it … [the schools featured] have very strong links to Momentum, and to be quite frank, all the indicators from Ofsted say that the child poverty at that school is absolutely no different to any other in the country.”

Amid claims that Morris has blocked people online who have questioned his statement, Morecambe residents are using the hashtag #blockedbydavidmorris and have started a Facebook group to air their grievances.

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