“Labour-run areas suffer Tory cuts the most. It’s an ignored national scandal”

Owen Jones writes in the Guardian… According to a report commissioned by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, almost all the reduction in spending on disadvantaged people has been in the most deprived fifth of local authorities in England.

According to Newcastle’s council leader, Nick Forbes, his local authority will lose the equivalent of £268 per household by 2020. In relatively affluent, Tory-held Wokingham, the cut will be just £2. That leaves Newcastle with similar spending power as Wokingham, even though it has four times as many looked-after children and three times as many adults receiving social care. As Forbes puts it to me, if Newcastle wanted to counter the funding collapse by increasing council tax by 1%, it would raise about £1m. The same rise in leafy Surrey might expect to bring in more than £13m.

Take Salford, which is in the top 5% most deprived councils, and where rough sleeping has surged by 600% in the last five years. The causes are clear: cuts to council housing, benefits and council budgets. According to the new report, nearly half of spending on preventing homelessness has gone in favour of a 56% rise in spending on homelessness support.

“Local government is only making ends meet by robbing Peter to pay Paul,” explains the Lloyds Bank Foundation’s policy director, Duncan Shrubsole. “They’re now at a tipping point. If you’re having to cut preventative funding, to stop someone being homeless in the first place, to put more money into crisis – well, you can’t keep doing that.”

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

Tory Council approves £38k for iPhones for councillors minutes after saving £43k by doubling disabled bus fares

From Evolve Politics: The Tory majority on Lancashire County Council voted through measures to double bus fares for disabled people from 50p to £1, estimated to save the council £44,000… just minutes after approving the spending of up to £38,000 on state-of-the-9art smartphones for individual use by councillors.

With both measures approved, councillors will now be given the opportunity of handpicking a device for their own individual use, with a top-of-the-range iPhone 7, costing £455 each, being among the choices.

[Read full article on Evolve Politics…]

Tories slammed by Labour over axed bus routes in northern England and the Midlands

From Morning Star: Bus passenger numbers have plummeted by millions in northern England and the Midlands as a result of routes being axed because of Tory austerity, Labour has said.

The party revealed its analysis of government figures as shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald and shadow minister for buses Matt Rodda visited Northampton.

Since 2010 bus passenger numbers have fallen by seven million a year in both England’s north-west and in the east Midlands, by five million in Yorkshire & Humber, by four million in the north-east and by three million in the west Midlands.

The figures show that the number of routes is projected to be cut by nearly 5,250 nationally by 2022.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Rodents, bedbugs, mould: UK asylum housing still a hostile environment

From openDemocracy: Mothers with babies in a Manchester hostel run by Serco have shown their dirty and dangerous living conditions. Carole showed a video on her phone of two mice running around her bed in the middle of the night. I could hear her frustrated voice: “I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep.” The kitchen ceiling showed evidence of water leakage from the flats above — presenting risks of electrocution and fire.

[Read full article on openDemocracy…]

The New York Times: In Britain, austerity is changing everything

From the New York Times: A walk through this modest town in the northwest of England amounts to a tour of the casualties of Britain’s age of austerity.

The old library building has been sold and refashioned into a glass-fronted luxury home. The leisure center has been razed, eliminating the public swimming pool. The local museum has receded into town history. The police station has been shuttered.

Now, as the local government desperately seeks to turn assets into cash, Browns Field, a lush park in the center of town, may be doomed, too. At a meeting in November, the council included it on a list of 17 parks to sell to developers.

[Read full article on New York Times website…]

Video: Schools washing uniforms, charging phones for families with no electricity at home

This devastating 95-second video shot by ITV News in Morecambe shows primary schools giving out shoes and coats and using washing machines to wash children’s uniforms, teachers charging parents’ phones because they have no electricity at home, GPs treating kids for rickets, and parents passing out in the school hall because they’ve done without meals.

The reality of child poverty

Primary schools using washing machines to wash children's uniforms, teachers charging parents' phones because they have no electricity at home, and GPs treating kids for rickets. This is the poverty we have found in the UK in 2017.Watch more: http://bit.ly/2C6idEi (via Granada Reports)

Posted by ITV News on Tuesday, December 12, 2017

North of England hardest hit by Tory cuts

From BBC News: The north of England has seen the biggest cuts in Tory government spending over the past five years, official figures show.

Spending in the north has fallen by £696m in real terms since 2012, while the south of England has seen an increase of £7bn.

Labour have called on the government to end its austerity programme in the budget on Wednesday.

Government figures show that, when inflation is taken into account, every region in the north of England has seen a fall in spending on services since 2012, while every other English region has seen an increase.
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Grace is 25. Her student debt: £69,000

From The Guardian: When Grace Parkins opened her first statement from the Student Loans Company she wasn’t prepared for what she saw. After four years studying she discovered she was now more than £69,000 in debt.

Parkins was one of the first generation of students to sign up to £9,000 a year tuition fees. Like many recent graduates, she had no idea she was also racking up £8,000 of interest on her student loan while still at university. Students currently pay interest of 4.6% while they study, and this will rise to 6.1% in September. “That should have been made much clearer,” she says. “I didn’t expect that at all. All I really knew was that I wouldn’t be repaying until I earned £21,000 and my outstanding debt would be written off after 30 years.”

Parkins, 25, graduated from the University of Westminster last year and now works for a PR firm in Leeds. She doesn’t yet earn enough to start repaying – it kicks in at 9% of earnings above £21,000. “One of the reasons I am not totally panicking now is that I know I’m never going to repay all of that £69,000,” she says. “The government should do something about the level of debt students take on. It put some of my friends off going to university.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]