Bedroom Tax in Poole and Bournemouth

The following statistics were collected using the freedom of information act, as people’s circumstances change figures will fluctuate, so please note these figures were all obtained in April/May/June 2013 the first quarter after bedroom tax was implemented.

The Borough of Poole has 635 households affected by the bedroom tax, 420 of which live in Poole Housing Partnership properties. So how have the 420 households in PHP properties fared – 160 have paid – 30 have moved – 230 now have higher arrears than at the start of the year – no eviction procedures have begun owing to bedroom tax arrears.

Perhaps to downsize is preferable to getting into arrears – surely that is the aim of the bedroom tax. 231 households need a one bedroom property; php currently has 27 empty one bedroom properties. 165 need a two bedroom property; php currently has 13 empty two bedroom properties. That figure excludes waiting lists for those not already in social housing.

Surely rather than letting tenants already on a means tested benefit fall into arrears lots of tenants will be able to get help from the council in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments – so how many people are Poole awarding this payment to, from the 635 households affected. 35 cases have received a DHP which meets their shortfall in full and 8 cases have received a DHP which covers part of the shortfall.

Well how about exchanging properties, oh wait you cannot exchange while you have arrears, even if you could find a suitable person to swap with.

Bournemouth Borough Council were unable to provide the amount of information that Poole did, as “This would take 5-10 minutes per case to establish answers to your questions”.
However we did find out the bedroom tax affects 589 households 336 of which are local authority owned and approximately 84 households had received discretionary housing payments to meet part/full shortfall in their rent. 8 households have downsized and no eviction procedures have begun owing to bedroom tax arrears.

The People’s Assembly 2013

The peoples assembly 2013 – an account by Natasha Allen
Why Austerity is a Concern to us All

Over 4000 people, united against austerity joined together at Westminster Hall on Saturday for a day of discussions and ideas on how we can involve more people in our fight against planned poverty, oops sorry, austerity.

Illustration by Stew - ART

I attended a talk on how we can get the message out about what our government is doing to us with these so called austerity measures and what we can do about it. We need to get people to come together, the cuts affect us all and we have to protect our children and our grandchildren from the consequences of these cuts. We need to “give up on the differences and look towards what we agree on”, we are part of a community who are meant to care about each other, we are all suffering so we need to come together and fight for change, when did people stop caring? What’s happened to community spirit? We should be looking out for each other and loving our neighbours, not just walking on by without a thought for anyone else. Have people made a conscious decision to be selfish?

I thought I would get the answer on how to bring us all together at the People’s Assembly, but then I realised there isn’t one. I believe the only answer is with the people; all coming together to fight against austerity that we know is only affecting the vulnerable, weak, poor and disabled. Its way past the point of ignorance now, everyone knows what is going on. It all comes down to whether you care. If you don’t care – why not? Are you that important that you will never need to use the NHS, the schools, the roads etc and obviously your bin never needs emptying!

Another discussion I attended was about immigration and how the media portrays Muslims. It has been said that if immigration continues we would need to build 17 more cities which is just an example of the rubbish that gets said. The left has been far too quiet on immigration and the bile being spouted. Immigration control is class based and only about money. If you’re not rich enough, you can’t come in, only the brightest and the best are welcome. If you get married outside of the EU you have to pay £18,600 for your spouse to enter the UK. Theresa May has now put a price tag on love!! Immigrants are treated as victims who have no rights.

There are 2.5 million Muslims living in the UK, they are peaceful people who want to live in the wider communities and be a part of society, but the media don’t want to see the good, and it’s caused a backlash against the Muslim community. The police call hate crime against Muslims anti-social behaviour, which has caused mistrust in the community and against the police. Muslims are living in fear and don’t want to go out on the streets, this can’t be right. Its 2013 and we all have a right to go about our daily lives in peace without any fear of being attacked. There are a small minority who cause trouble, as there are everywhere, but to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few is the same as blaming all white British people for the actions of the EDL. Don’t judge people, go and see for yourself.

History proves that when we are in a recession you will see a rise in racism. In WW1 when Germany had an economic collapse there was a rise in Nazi’s. We should not be surprised, it is no coincidence, it is just a classic way of dividing and weakening the working class. There is nothing to be gained about conceding to myths, all it does is feeds the likes of UKIP. Immigrants haven’t caused low wages, it’s the predatory employers who have. Without successive immigrants there would be no NHS, they take far less out of the system than they put in.

We will not let racism and fascism divide us, and we stand out and oppose any racist and fascist groups. WE are the majority and we oppose any attempts to demonise and destroy us. Islamophobia is the cause of the right wing groups and we must stand united against them. We are not going to ignore the EDL coming to our town, when Muslims are under attack we all are. We remain united against Islamophobia and racism, it’s not welcome in our town!

Protests are really good fun, we are a family friendly group at bpacc.co.uk who protest peacefully. We use a lot of creativity and humour in our demonstrations and it’s a great day out for a very important cause. You really feel like you are doing something for the good, you know that you’re making a difference and you are representing the people that are unable to protest for themselves. Someone has to help them, I know I can’t sit and watch and do nothing, to me it’s morally wrong and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing how much people are suffering everywhere. The time for doing nothing is over, it’s time for action!

See you on the streets.

Report of Living Wage meeting in Bridport

Despite the pouring rain the first Living Wage Dorset launch event in Bridport got off to a flying start. Attendance: 20. Three good speakers (all women) who each gave a different angle on the issue.

Issues arising from the discussion:

1. Immigration was being used by unscrupulous employers to keep wages down, by paying immigrant workers lower rates of pay. The Living Wage would create a level playing field and help to end this exploitation
2. Some confusion about small firms having to pay the Living Wage and maybe having to cut jobs in order to do so. Clarified that the campaign was aimed at the 16% of very large employers in the county who employ 75% of low paid workers
3. Many low paid workers were frightened to make a stand for a Living Wage, and in fear of losing their jobs. That is why a community-wide campaign is important to support those workers who are unable/unwilling to lead the campaign
4. Some workers, particularly in care and retail are on zero hour contracts – and are more concerned about the lack of hours rather than the hourly rate
5. Wide acceptance that the broader the base of the campaign, the more likelihood of it being a success

Some practical points:

1. Could the Minimum Wage be raised to the level of the Living Wage – and thus become legally enforceable
2. It would be useful to have a list of Living Wage employers and perhaps give those companies a logo/sticker to display on websites/shop windows etc
3. Support for community action such as leafleting the public about the issue, picketing low wage employers etc
4. How is the Living Wage calculated and isn’t £7.45 an hour too low

Living Wage Dorset Resources:

Campaign statement

A toolkit for campaigners

Campaign briefing

Flyer / poster

Logo

living wage logo

Low paid workers and tax payers in Dorset set to gain from new “Living Wage” campaign

living wage is moral value rszLow paid workers and tax payers in Dorset are set to benefit from a new campaign being launched to persuade local employers to pay a so called “Living Wage” of £7.45 an hour. The campaign group – called Living Wage for Dorset (LWD) – is backed by a number of faith groups, community organisations, political parties and trade unions in the county who claim that Dorset is one of the country’s low pay economies dominated by the agriculture, hospitality and service industries.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, 66,000 workers in the county – over one in four – earns less than the living wage. Research by LWD has also found:

  • Average pay for full time workers in Dorset is at least 5% lower than the national average with pay as low as 19% lower in South Dorset.
  • Women continue to earn approximately 80% of the male rates even on the lower Dorset wages.
  • Of the 18 high pay industrial sectors in the economy, Dorset’s employment is under represented in these industries. Only 11% of the Dorset workforce is found in high pay sectors, below the national average.
  • Of the 13 low pay industrial sectors in the economy, Dorset’s employment is over represented in these industries, compared with both the national average and the south west region.

LWD say the benefits of a living wage are very clear:

For a family with two working parents, one part-time and two children under 16 renting their home at an average rent for the area, working 40 hours a week; the Living Wage would increase their total net household income by £550 per annum, and at the same time save local tax payers £3,370 in Tax Credits and Housing Benefits.

Neil Duncan-Jordan, spokesperson for the LWD campaign said: “Low pay is associated with poor job security and treatment, fuel poverty, expensive housing costs, lower educational attainment, reduced mental health, suppressed economic demand and debilitates the human spirit. These are all costs that society has to bear when things break-down. But the Living Wage offers a win-win for employees, employers and tax payers. Employees get a higher income and see their living standards rise, employers get a workforce with improved morale, less absenteeism and increased productivity and the tax payer saves huge amounts of money because they are no longer subsidising low wage employers by having to top up people’s earnings with benefits and credits. This is an idea supported by all the main political parties, major employers like Barclays, as well as the Church of England.”

The campaign is being launched with three high-profile meetings across the county:

Bridport 28 May – 7pm, Town Hall, Speakers include Anne-Marie Vincent, South West Dorset Multicultural Network and Claire Moody, Unite the Union

Dorchester 31 May – 7pm, Corn Exchange, Speakers include Cllr Alistair Chisholm, Kaye Kerridge, First Dorset Credit Union Ltd and Tim Nichols, Dorchester TUC

Bournemouth 5 June – 6.30pm, Barnes Lecture Theatre, Bournemouth University Talbot Campus, Speakers include Dr Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne, Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party and Paul Nowak, Assistant General Secretary TUC

Follow the Money: Tory Ideology is all about handouts to the wealthy that are funded by the poor

Politics and Insights

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Here is yet another great Tory lie exposed – “Making work pay”. This Government have raided our tax-funded welfare provision and used it to provide handouts to the very wealthy – £107, 000 EACH PER YEAR in the form of a tax cut for millionaires. The Conservatives claim that it is “unfair” that people on benefits are “better off” than those in work. But the benefit cuts are having a dire impact on workers as well.

People in work, especially those who are paid low wages, often claim benefits. Housing benefit, tax credit and council tax benefit are examples of benefits that are paid to people with jobs. Indeed the number of working people claiming housing benefit has risen by86 percentin three years, which debunks another Tory myth that benefits are payable only to the “feckless” unemployed.

By portraying housing benefit as a payment for “the shirkers”, not “the…

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