Rise in homelessness not result of our policies, says housing secretary

From The Guardian: Rising rough sleeping in Britain is not the result of government policy… the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, has claimed.

The number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled since 2010 to 4,751 according to the government’s own figures. The homelessness charity Crisis believes that this is a fivefold underestimate and that 24,000 people will be sleep on the streets, in cars and in tents. Sofa-surfers make up a further 68,000, according to Crisis.

But Brokenshire insisted the growing problem is not a political failure, even though charities which run hostels and advice lines believe that caps on housing benefit and welfare sanctions introduced as part of austerity policies have been key factors driving rises in homelessness every year since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

“I don’t see it in those terms,” Brokenshire said.

[…] Highly visible increases in tents in shop doorways in towns and cities and hidden rural homelessness mean this year’s government figures, taken during a census last month, are likely to show an eighth consecutive annual rise in homelessness in England.

[…] The prisons minister, Rory Stewart, also conceded that “far too many” inmates released after short sentences are struggling to find housing, with over a third of rough sleepers in London known to have been in jail.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]


Theresa May accused of giving knighthood to buy MP’s Brexit silence

From The Guardian: Theresa May has been accused of bringing the honours system into disrepute after handing a knighthood to a former minister known to be wavering on whether or not to support her Brexit deal.

Downing Street announced the award had been granted to John Hayes MP, a junior minister to May when she was the home secretary, on Friday afternoon.

“People will rightly look at this knighthood and wonder how it relates to the looming Brexit vote in the Commons,” said a spokesman for the Scottish National party leader, Nicola Sturgeon. “That ‎brings the honours system into disrepute. But, more fundamentally, it exposes how broken the whole Westminster system is.”

The shadow cabinet secretary, Chris Matheson, also criticised the move, saying it would be a “spectacular act of desperation for Theresa May to be giving away knighthoods in a bid to win votes for her botched Brexit deal. This stinks of cronyism from the prime minister. We need to know if anything has been promised in exchange for this honour.”

Chris Green, a Conservative MP who followed the former Brexit and foreign secretaries, David Davis and Boris Johnson, in resigning from his Department for Transport job over May’s Chequers plan in July, told the Financial Times: “They will use whatever patronage is available to them. They are feeling the heat.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Transport secretary accused of suffering from ‘tin ear’ over rail in North

From the Morning Star: Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was accused of suffering from “tin ear” and “memory loss” when he told the Commons that rail services in northern England were improving.

Mr Grayling said northern rail networks were delivering “more services rather than few,” despite one of the worst weeks of rail chaos in the north since new timetables were introduced in May.

He was responding to Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire, one of the areas affected, who accused him of “showing a bit of a tin ear to the lived experience” of her constituents.

She said it took one constituent six hours to complete a 75-mile rail journey in Yorkshire — “a feat that with a good wind I could have achieved on a bicycle in the same amount of time.”

Rail union RMT northern organiser John Tilley told the Morning Star: “Not only is Chris Grayling tin-eared to the plight of rail passengers in the north, he is also losing his memory.” He said Mr Grayling had cancelled northern rail investment projects such as electrification of the Trans Pennine route and two extra platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station.

“To be telling the House of Commons that there are more trains to run in the north, in the same week that we are witnessing another meltdown of services, and on some lines in the north, where all trains are cancelled with a full week of bus replacements, is breathtaking,” Mr Tilley added.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Fury as education minister bets school heads a bottle of champagne he can find more to cut at their schools

From the Morning Star: Teachers have reacted furiously after a Tory education minister bet school chiefs a bottle of champagne that he could find more to cut in their schools.

Multimillionaire academies minister Lord Theodore Agnew told the School and Academies Show in Birmingham that he was like a “pig hunting for truffles” when it came to identifying “waste” in schools.

Cradling a copy of a book entitled The Future of Capitalism, the founder of the Inspiration Trust academy chain asked head teachers to take up his wager that he could identify potential cuts in their school and promised them a bottle of bubbly if he failed to do so.

National Education Union joint executive council member Gawain Little said Lord Agnew’s comments were “a bloody disgrace” at a time when schools with inadequate, overstretched budgets are doing their best to support children who come in hungry and malnourished, all because of the political choices made by this government.

“Incompetent ministers see fit to make light of the situation, flaunting their personal wealth and insulting head teachers,” Mr Little added.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng shrugs off UN poverty report and brags about deficit

From HuffPost UK: Tory Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng was branded “absolutely shocking” after dismissing a UN report which uncovered “staggering” levels of child poverty by talking about “good management of the economy”.

Kwarteng was confronted on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show with the plight of brain-damaged teenager Emily Lydon, who faces losing her home as part of her move to Universal Credit. The 19-year-old was asked to attend a work capability assessment but is deaf and cannot walk because her mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease (BSE) when she was pregnant with her.

Kwarteng called it “a sad story” and said “what [the government has] done is manage to reduce the deficit”.

It comes after professor Philip Alston, special rapporteur for the UN on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a “state of denial” about the levels of child poverty in Britain. Prof Alston found “a lot of misery, a lot of people who feel the system is failing them, a lot of people who feel the system is really just there to punish them” during his 12-day tour of UK cities.

But Kwarteng simply said “I don’t know who this UN man is” and claimed “it is a total distortion to suggest that the government has somehow mismanaged the economy”.

When faced with Emily Lydon’s story, he said: “I spent 18 months as the Chancellor’s PPS. I got to know the Treasury very well. I was involved in the last Budget. If you look to the last Budget, which was very, very well received, you could see the benefits of good and strong economic management. What we’ve done is manage to reduce the deficit, I know Polly doesn’t like going on about it, but the actual economic framework which this country is in is a very strong one.”

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

Tory Councillors gorge themselves on £1,600 feast just moments after cutting free transport for disabled kids

From Evolve Politics: Just moments after voting to block a Labour motion to reverse proposed cuts to free public transportation for children with special educational needs and disabilities, Tory councillors in North Yorkshire congratulated themselves by gorging on £1,600 worth of pavlova, roast beef and salmon.

Councillors feasting on a dozen types of cheese was revealed – after a Freedom of Information request – to have taken place following a meeting in February during which Council Tax in North Yorkshire was also hiked up.

Throughout the region, the devastating scythe of Tory austerity has swung its blade across libraries, bus services and street lights, amongst many other vital public services. In January, the council determined that after £16.5m would be cut from the budget, £3m would have to be found in reserves. Cuts included £2m from free transport for kids with special needs, £1m from support for local schools and another £1.1m from support from vulnerable young people. North Yorkshire police have had to cut their budget by 10% (£16.1m) – down from already having one of the lowest budgets per head in the country, and fewer police officers than most other forces.

[Read full article on Evolve Politics website…]

Theresa May fails to acknowledge responsibility for devastation caused to Windrush Generation citizens

Via the Labour Party: Theresa May waffles on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, instead of accepting responsibility for lives being turned upside down by the Windrush scandal she personally caused with her policies while Home Secretary.

BBC | Andrew Marr Show | This Should Never Have Happened

Shameful that the Prime Minister either doesn’t know or doesn’t care how many people from the Windrush generation lost their homes, their jobs, and were denied NHS treatment.Theresa May's hostile environment policy is a disgrace and Labour will scrap it.

Posted by Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday, September 30, 2018

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…]

Theresa May waffles when asked if she agreed with Thatcher that Nelson Mandela was a “terrorist”

Video from Channel 4 News: Theresa May went to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. In this clip it’s clear she did nothing whatsoever at the time to call for his release, and Maybot waffles hard to avoid answering whether she agreed with her party leader Margaret Thatcher that Mandela was a “terrorist”.

Theresa May questioned by Michael Crick about her stance on apartheid during the 70s and 80s

"Mrs Thatcher believed that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist…Did you think the same thing?"Theresa May is questioned by Michael Crick about her stance on apartheid ahead of her visit to Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tory government drops fracking question from public attitude tracker

From The Guardian: The Tory government has stopped asking the British public whether they are for or against fracking for shale gas, just weeks before the first fracking operation in seven years is due to start.

The number of people against extracting shale gas has outweighed those in favour since 2015, and the latest polling by officials found 32% opposed with just 18% in support.

Now the Tory government, which backs fracking and recently relaxed planning rules to help the shale industry, has temporarily suspended that line of questioning.

“This is scandalous as the government knows full well that there is overwhelming public opposition to fracking,” said Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow business secretary.

Tony Bosworth, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Perhaps having recently tried to change planning rules so that fracking companies could drill more easily, they were just scared of a record bad survey result for them this time, so have stopped even asking anymore.”

The question was dropped from the latest update of the four-year-old public attitudes tracker run by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Boris Johnson won’t budge from his rent-free taxpayer-funded £20m mansion for weeks

From Daily Mirror: Boris Johnson has refused to budge from his £20million taxpayer-funded mansion, as Downing Street admitted he could still be there for “weeks”. There is growing anger as he remains at the luxury official residence, despite resigning as Foreign Secretary 12 days ago.

[Read article on Mirror website…]

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