Richard Bridge: A Right to the City?: The new legislation driving York’s gentrification

This is so similar to what is happening in Bath, another small city with astronomical rent.

York: Histories Behind the Headlines

Introduction: In November the York and Housing: Histories Behind the Headline project invited different people to outline their views on the issues facing housing in York. In March the project began again – through a stall in Parliament Street on Good Friday – with a focus on crucial issues for the Local Plan, not only housing but also public space, flooding, traffic and green space. Many ideas and issues were raised through discussions on the stall but housing came up again and again. Richard Bridge discuss how York’s housing situation will be affected by recent and proposed legislative changes – how can York resists the drivers which look likely to price out many of the people who have built their lives here?

York should celebrate Bishopthorpe Road’s recent victory as Great British High Street of the Year but, Richard Bridge argues, there are inherent risks to that success which also apply to other areas of York. York should celebrate Bishopthorpe Road’s recent victory as Great British High Street of the Year but, Richard Bridge argues, there are inherent risks to that success which…

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The scandal of Child poverty. Some practical steps we can take to address the issue

not very jolley

Yesterday I watched an Ruth Smeeth MP use the House of Commons Adjournment Debate to raise the issue of Child poverty and holiday hunger. She gave an excellent, impassioned speech, well researched, full of facts to show about how difficult life can be for those poorest and weakest in society, I was suitably impressed that a new MP could do so well, so it was particularly annoying to see her arguments ignored by the minister whodidn’t see fit toinclude anything pertinent about holiday hunger in his response.

She seemed to descendinto the trap I sometimes fall, providing all the facts, all the supporting proof and assuming that is enough to win the argument. But as history shows, evidence alone won’t always win you the political argument.

I am therefore finishing off an old blog which takes on the issues raisedand offersa way forward, a way of prioritising these children…

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The start of a new era

I have no doubt in my mind that some big changes are coming soon in British politics. This comment seems stupid as it is so obvious. Yet just a few weeks ago there was no hint of the turmoil ahead for the Labour Party.

Recent days have cut us all to the core regarding “Just what does the Labour Party stand for?”

It’s anyone’s guess just now, as 80% of Labour MPs can’t be bothered to stand up and brave the lobby to say “No: we do not agree that little kids should suffer for the perceived sins of their parents.”

My heart sinks, and my spirit is crushed, to think of my senior Labour colleagues agreeing with such cruelty, as represented by the present tory policies, tantamount to eugenics.

Too Many New Recruits

I just have to write a post today in view of George Osbourne’s evil budget.

In so doing, I must also acknowledge that the benefit cap no longer engages merely with those of us with large families and large rents, but now encapsulates families who would not previously have been described as large, and/or families that live in locations that no one previously considered to be particularly sought after.

In addition, in a spectacular performance, George has punished those very same hard-working families who probably thought that they were immune, given that they were doing the right thing. It’s a hard pill to swallow. We, who were already benefit capped, know all too well, since many of us also work (most people are not aware of that). We know how it feels to have our best efforts earn us the title of workless scumduggery.

I have tried my best to put our argument forward, with some success yesterday – I had a letter published in the Guardian:

However, we need way more people speaking up for the downtrodden, which, as far as this blog is concerned, concentrates on the benefit capped, and, also those who feel that their family planning decisions are being made for them by DWP (do we live in China? asked my 15-year-old daughter. I, feeling proud at her insight, said that we didn’t, but I could see her point.)

The repercussions of the 2-child policy are horrendous, believe me.

More later.

IDS aka I-Double-Speak

Yes, IDS has finally lived up to his acronym, and revealed that it really stands for “I Double Speak”:

Since the poor are responsible for their own poverty and the disabled are responsible for their own disability.

For today IDS announced that child poverty has come to an abrupt end – the relief – since he has redefined poverty (details to follow), therefore it no longer exists:


The relief is immeasurable for all stretched families on the minimum wage: “Ten pound an hour, here I come!”; the weight has been lifted from the benefit capped: “It was just a bad dream after all!”

Priti Princess has waved her magic wand, and it is all over guys, child poverty is gone forever, and all that is left is a guilt-ridden herd of inadequate workless, alcoholic/drug-addicted, separated single parents, who, collectively constitute the new definition of child deprivation, which has no correlation whatever to income per capita, no relation to £s per day per person available for meals, since these considerations are just not relevant to kids these days.

More later, the cognitive dissonance exhausts me.



£23000 becomes £20000 or “How low can they go in their dreams?”

Well, would you credit it, as my Mum used to say, well yes, and no…

This, from November 2013: Please bear with me:

Cut benefits cap to £20,000, say Tories: Group of MPs says amount should be cut by £6,000 to send message to workshy that they cannot live comfortably on handouts

By Jason Groves for the Daily Mail 23:37 18 Nov 2013, updated 00:01 19 Nov 2013

No one should be allowed to claim more than £20,000 a year in benefits, an influential group of Tory MPs said yesterday.

Members of the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs issued a unanimous call for the flagship welfare cap to be reduced from its current level of £26,000.

Tory MP Brooks Newmark said the benefits cap should be reduced to the value of the average £26,000 salary after tax – equal to just over £20,000
MPs said it would help raise cash to pay for middle-class tax cuts, as well as sending out a powerful message that the unemployed should not be able to live a comfortable life on benefits.

Tory MP Brooks Newmark said the cap should be reduced to the value of the average £26,000 salary after tax – equal to just over £20,000.

Mr Newmark said: ‘Many hard-working people in my constituency do not understand why we have a welfare cap that allows people to get £26,000 effectively post-tax. That is equal to an income of £35,000 pre-tax.

‘If we want tax cuts elsewhere we should lower the welfare cap to something more reasonable. For people who are fit and able to work they should be able to get no more than the equivalent of £26,000 post-tax.’

Fellow Tory David Ruffley said private polling conducted on behalf of Number 10 showed that the benefit cap was supported by about 80 per cent of the public. But he said 80 per cent of those backing it also thought it was too high.

Mr Ruffley said: ‘Most people think it is way too high – we should cut it to £20,000.’

My reason for recycling this nonsense is since it was, apparently, resurrected as a possible course of action in the last couple of days. This was reported by SpyJoeHarwood today. What can I say? How could they pay for tax cuts for the high earners by plunging tens of thousands of kids into homeless poverty?

The consequences are going to be so outrageous, so horrendous, that it will surely be an own goal against the Tory Party’s insidious selfish lack of imagination.

Five or six very long weeks


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Well I can’t quite remember whether it was five or six weeks, all I know is that it took just forever for my first Universal Credit payment to come through.

I think they used to call them “waiting days”, but, I seem to remember, being absolutely outraged about waiting three days for my dole payment last time I was unemployed (some 27 years ago, just for a few months – god I sound like I was ashamed or something: I wasn’t, but I sure as hell am now).

To return to the point, well now it’s not waiting days, it’s waiting weeks. Yes indeed, you get yourself a “managed migration” from Jobseekers/tax credits/housing benefit whatever, and then you have to wait 5-6 weeks before you get it. Oh yes, I kid you not, you are fully used to receiving your housing benefit fortnightly (one week in arrears, one week in advance) and your child tax credits, often paid weekly, plus your job seekers (not sure tbh), and then they announce you won’t get a blinding fuck for six weeks. Speechless wasn’t the word, I was like telling everyone that I didn’t have a bean of income for six weeks. Even left-wing friends showed limited sympathy, which was, I suspect, since they couldn’t quite believe what I was saying: they assumed that I was exaggerating quite extravagantly (what a card, get her another drink and shut her up).

Quite different was experiencing it however. WTF, six weeks includes the bloody landlord wanting his rent, and the phone companies/waterworks/council tax wanting their direct debits; it includes your kids wanting new shoes/kids’ parties/school club fees/shinpads/anti-acne facewash/feminine hygiene products/mascara, and Saturday lunch in town with friends – so can I have some spending money please Mummy. It includes several trips to the doctors, at the hard-working tax-payers’ expense, to discuss the lowering of mood which one experiences, and the relief when l got my increased dose of antidepressants.

I am lucky, I still have credit cards which I can use, but what if you do not have access to magic money. Starvation, begging, what the fucking HELL does the government expect these people to do for five or six weeks?

Well what happened to me is I acquired a clinical depression the depth of which surpassed any previous attempts I had made in a distinguished career of quasi-normality, achieving a top-ranking GAD7 not to mention a worrying PHQ9, or whatever my most appropriate measurement of misery and desperation might have been. I sure wasn’t up to being scrutinised by a panel at an employment interview, nothing could have been further from my mind, not when my maternal survival instincts were kicking in.

But what the hell, it was only six weeks, I had the benefit cap to look forward to after that, rejoice!

How hard must you work to escape the cap?

Earnings and UC Benefit Cap 1) Under UC, the work of people on the minimum wage is devalued – they have to work harder to avoid the cap. The decision to apply a Benefit Cap is made on an individual monthly basis. If you have earned at least £430 in that month you are not capped, otherwise you will be capped. So an office cleaner could have done 66 hours of work in that month at the minimum wage, and get capped, while a locum GP might have done 6 hours of work in that month and not get capped (on HB/Tax credits it was based on working 16 h per week at any wage). So, if you have neither the qualifications nor the experience to take on a high powered role with a good part-time, Full-time Equivalent (FTE) pro rata salary you’ll just have to work more hours at the minimum wage to try and earn your £430/month. 2) Disparity between those with regular hours of work and those with irregular patterns of employment. This crazy rule also messes up the situation for seasonal workers and term time only workers, such as teaching assistants. That half term break welcomed by your teaching colleagues may push your paltry earnings below the threshold and risk another dreaded month on the benefit cap. For seasonal workers earning on average £430 per month over the whole year, they could find themselves capped for several months of the year, and losing say £600 for each of those months. 3) Actual monthly income becomes critical between £400-£450 level for capped families with a cliff edge effect Single parent 4 children Rent @ £1300/month; Notional Allowance £2530/month Benefit Cap £625/month (unemployed) Therefore income £1905/month £605/after rent Effect of part time work (Work allowance is £263/month) Example 1: Earns £350/month Gains £350 Allowance reduction £350-£263 = £87; £87 x 60% = £52.20 So capped by (£625-£52.20) = £572.80 Income still £222.80 less than allowance Work has merely lessened the extent of capping: is this what “making work pay” means? How soul destroying to work in such circumstances, and yet be denigrated as a work-shy scrounging shirker. Many women are in the position of doing bits and bobs of work such as lunchtime school meals assistants. Example 2: Earns £400/month net Allowance reduction: (£400-£263 = £137); £137 x 60% = £82.20 So capped by (£625 – £82.20) = £542.80 Income now £142.80 under allowance Working more but still capped. Example 3: Earns £450/month net – not capped Allowance reduction: £450-£263 = £187; £187 x 60% = £112.20 So receives £112.20 less UC Total gain of £337.50 Work has finally paid over allowance, but how precariously. The £23K cap can only make this situation worse as the gap between Examples 2 and 3 will be even wider: Ex 1 – Earns £350, £472.80 less Ex 2 – Earns £400, £392.80 less Ex 3 – Earns £450, £375.20 more A whopping £768/ month difference for 10 hours more work. I thought Iain D-S was trying to get rid of such cliff edge discrepancies? How stressful to know that an extra hour’s work will be so critical to your kids’ well being. 3) Home owners keep more of their earnings than renters or mortgage payers. You are allowed to keep some of your income on UC. However, there are two different rates for people who have housing costs (similar to HB), and for those who don’t. For a single parent living in a house owned outright (maybe from divorce proceedings) they can earn £734/month (lose 60% after that); for a single parent in rented accommodation she can earn only £263/month before losing 60% of earnings. So if you are lucky enough to own the property you live in you -Earn more without losing 60% of it -Are much less likely to be capped since housing allowance is often a major component of UC This favours those who already have more, but what else are we to expect from this government. ——————————————————————————————–