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Comment on the NAO report on “Implementing reforms to civil legal aid” – Sadiq Khan

kahnSadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, responding to the NAO report on “Implementing reforms to civil legal aid”, said:

“This damning report by the National Audit Office completely exposes David Cameron’s reckless assault on access to justice for what it really is: bad value for money and leaving hundreds of thousands without proper legal advice.

“Labour warned that denying people legal aid in this rushed way would merely see costs rise in other areas but sadly the Government failed to listen. They claimed they would, instead, divert people into mediation but these figures reveal there have been 17,246 fewer mediation assessments in the last period. On every measure, David Cameron’s Government have completely failed on legal aid.”

Posted on November 20, 2014 8:52 am by Paul Gleeson

Let’s hope they have common sense in Lincoln about HMOs

Boston’s Labour Councillors were interested to read recently that residents in Lincoln are being urged to take part in a consultation about rented housing in Lincoln. A petition calling for restrictions on houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), where each room is rented out, was handed to the city council in August. Opponents claim HMOs damage communities but others say they serve an urgent housing need. Officials said they were considering options and people only had another two weeks to express their opinions.

The 1,100 name petition called for an Article 4 direction to be introduced in the city’s West End – the area with the highest HMO density. An Article 4 direction would give the council more control over the amount and location of HMOs, as it would mean home owners and property developers would need to apply for planning permission to convert a house into a HMO. The results of the consultation, which ends on 24 October, will be presented to a council meeting on 12 November.

The chair of the council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee said: “We would need to support an application for an Article 4 direction with robust evidence justifying its purpose and extent, to ensure we could overcome any challenges to it. There is a clear need to manage the overall volume and concentration of HMOs in the city and we are hoping for the widest possible participation from across the city as we take positive steps to address this situation.”

We have seen the call for tougher controls of HMOs in Boston being completely politically engineered by our conservative councillors who voted against bringing in restrictions even though most people in Boston would support the need to licence HMOs. Let’s hope Lincoln’s councillors have more common sense than the tory councillors do in Boston.

Posted on November 19, 2014 8:39 am by Paul Gleeson

Response to Joseph Rowntree report on private renting

emma reynoldsEmma Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, responding to the Joseph Rowntree report on private renting, said:
“This report shows that for many people the prospect of a decent home at a price they can afford is slipping out of reach.
“To tackle this crisis we need to build many more homes but David Cameron has presided over the lowest levels of house building in peacetime since the 1920s and has refused to stand-up for Generation Rent. The Tories have no plan to tackle the housing crisis.
“Labour has a plan to get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 and get a fairer deal for private renters by legislating for longer stable tenancies with predictable rents and a ban on letting agent fees to tenants.”
Social security spending £25 billion more than planned under Tory-led government
Social security spending by the Department for Work & Pensions has been £25 billion higher than George Osborne planned in this Parliament, according to new analysis.

The figures were commissioned from the independent House of Commons Library by Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves.

The figures cast serious doubt over George Osborne’s ability to deliver promised savings in social security spending in the next Parliament.

Having failed to balance the books George Osborne is now talking about £12 billion more cuts to social security after the election. But these figures show he’s over-spent by more than twice this amount in this Parliament.

A key cause of the Tories’ overspending is their failure to make the economy work for working people, leaving thousands more reliant on housing benefit, as well as mismanaged reforms at the DWP.

Analysis of official figures shows that:

–      The Tories have overspent by £1.4 billion on housing benefit for people in work – an amount over four times the amount they have saved in housing benefit from people moving into work.
–      The number of people needing to claim housing benefit in work to make ends meet has increased by over fifty per cent since 2010, and is set to double by 2018/19.
–      The government has spent over £8 billion more than they planned on incapacity benefits due to their chaotic delivery of reforms and failure to help disabled people into work.
–      Delays to the delivery of the Personal Independence Payment have meant not only uncertainty for thousands of disabled people, but a mounting cost to the public purse, with £1.7 billion more spent than planned over the parliament.
–      And £130 million has been wasted on failed IT for Universal Credit, which is still only reaching less than one per cent of its intended caseload.

In an article for Politics Home, Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves write:

“George Osborne promised to balance the books in this Parliament, but it’s now clear he will totally fail.

As the OBR has said stagnant wages and too many low-paid jobs has led to shortfall in tax receipts and more borrowing.

And now figures from the House of Commons Library show the government has also spent £25 billion more than planned on social security. In other words, if we’d had a welfare cap in this Parliament the Tories would have breached it.

This isn’t because George Osborne and Iain Duncan-Smith haven’t cut vital support for families. They’ve certainly done that. Over the last few years we’ve seen the unfair and cruel bedroom tax, cuts to tax credits for working families and even cuts to maternity pay.

But savings from those decisions have been outweighed by their total failure to tackle the root causes of rising social security spending.

Because the £25 billion of overspending comes despite changes to benefits and taxes that have left families on average £974 a year worse off and despite recent falls in unemployment.

A key cause of the Tories’ overspending is their failure to make the economy work for working people, leaving thousands more reliant on housing benefit.

House of Commons Library analysis shows that the Tories have overspent by £1.4bn on housing benefit for people in work – an amount over four times the amount they have saved in housing benefit from people moving into work.

The number of people needing to claim housing benefit in work to make ends meet has increased by over fifty per cent since 2010, and is set to double by 2018/19.

And at the same time the Tories have created a culture of waste at the DWP, with key reforms mismanaged, and failing to deliver the savings they promised.

The government has spent over £8 billion more than they planned on incapacity benefits due to their chaotic delivery of reforms and failure to help disabled people into work.

Delays to the delivery of the Personal Independence Payment have meant not only uncertainty for thousands of disabled people, but a mounting cost to the public purse, with £1.7 billion more spent than planned over the parliament.

And £130 million has been wasted on failed IT for Universal Credit, which is still only reaching less than one per cent of its intended caseload.

Labour has been clear that we need to control social security spending, and have committed to an overall cap on social security spending.

But you can’t get the social security bill under control unless you’re tough on the causes of rising social security spending.

That’s why Labour’s economic plan will tackle low pay and earn our way to higher living standards for the many, not just a few.

Our approach is rooted in tackling the root causes of spending, boosting pay and tackling high housing costs.

So our plan will make work pay by increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour, introducing tax incentives for firms that start paying the living wage and expanding free childcare for working parents to 25 hours a week

We’ll scrap the bedroom tax and shift funding from benefits to bricks by getting at least 200,000 new homes built each year and introducing stable rental contracts in the private rented sector.

We’ll back the next generation by boosting apprenticeships and ensuring there is a paid starter job for every young person out of work for over a year – which they’ll have to take or lose benefits, paid for by a tax on bank bonuses.

And we will get a grip on the shambolic management at the DWP, to ensure that we can deliver a fair safety net for all those who need it.

That includes calling in the National Audit Office to review universal credit to ensure it delivers value for money and a better system for claimants. And it means getting a grip on disability assessments with tougher penalties when contractors get decisions wrong, and clear oversight of the process by disabled people themselves.

This government has failed to deliver an economy that works for the many and not just a few. This failure isn’t just hurting millions of working people, it’s costing the exchequer too.

And having failed to balance the books in this Parliament, George Osborne is now talking about £12 billion more cuts to social security after the election. But he’s over-spent by more than twice this amount in this Parliament – casting real doubt on his ability to make those promised savings.

Only a Labour government will be tough on social security spending by being tough on the causes of rising social security spending. That’s the way to back working people and get the deficit down in a fairer way.

Posted on November 17, 2014 11:54 am by Paul Gleeson

Tories and the NHS

Even the Tories are saying that their NHS reorganisation is their worst mistake — but we think they should be owning up to many more.

Other damaging things this Tory government has done

  • The £3 billion NHS reorganisation
  • Trebling tuition fees
  • The Bedroom Tax
  • Cutting taxes for millionaires…
  • …While wages fall by £1600
  • Unqualified teachers in schools

Paul Kenny, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Boston & Skegness says “Let’s all rally round and support our NHS”.

So Vote Labour on 7th May 2015

Promoted and published by Boston Labour Party on behalf of Paul Kenny, all at 17 Bradford Rd, Boston. PE21 8BJ

 

Posted on November 17, 2014 8:43 am by Paul Gleeson

Press release Boston Borough Council Labour Group – Re removal of Cllr Raymond Singleton McGuire from being Deputy Leader & member of the Councils Cabinet

The Labour Group read with concern the press release issued by Boston Borough Council, this was the first formal notification we received of the council’s actions. We know no more about the circumstances of Cllr McGuire’s removal than the statement in the press release.
Being mindful of the ruling group’s insular approach in dealing with the community, we will do our best to ensure that any enquiry into this matter includes all councillors and is as far as possible carried out in public.
We will be interested to learn when the circumstances leading to this action first became known to the council and whether the council acted as quickly as possible.

Posted on November 13, 2014 10:51 pm by Paul Gleeson

Ed Miliband: I’m fighting for a fairer, more just Britain

Posted on November 13, 2014 5:11 pm by Paul Gleeson

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech at Senate House

edEd Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech at Senate House, said:

You know there is a saying which goes: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Being Leader of the Opposition, particularly in the last few days, I know what it means.

You need resilience in this job.

You need thick skin.

But above all, you need belief in what you are doing.

Not belief based on a longing to have a picture on the wall in Downing Street.

Not belief driven by a sense of entitlement, that it is somehow Labour’s turn.

Instead, belief driven by how we must change the country.

That is why I am in this job.

That is why it matters to me.

That is what drives me on.

And it is through our beliefs that we’re going to win this election.

And if ever my job seems pretty hard, to you or to me, just pause for a minute.

And think about the people doing really hard jobs.

Shift work.

Night work.

Zero hours contracts.

Sixty hours a week.

Two jobs, even three jobs, to make ends meet.

For me, this election is about them.

And let me just say this:

I am willing to put up with whatever is thrown at me, in order to fight for you.

That’s my duty, that’s my responsibility.

That’s our duty, that’s our responsibility.

Not to shrink from the fight.

Not to buckle under the pressure.

But to win.

And remember:

We’re in a fight not because our opponents think we’re destined to lose the election.

But because they fear we can win.

And between now and the election they are going to use every tactic to try to destabilise, distract us and throw us off course.

Our task, the task for every person in this party, is simple:

To focus our eyes on the prize of changing this country.

Now I have heard some people say they don’t know what we stand for.

So let me take the opportunity today to spell it out in the simplest of terms.

It is what I stood for when I won the leadership of this party.

And it is what I stand for today.

This country is too unequal.

And we need to change it.

This inequality doesn’t just affect a few.

But it is about a country that increasingly doesn’t work for the many.

So it starts with one core belief.

Our country only works for the privileged few today, not for most people.

And when I say, “Britain only works for the privileged few”, it is not just a slogan or some theoretical idea, it is rooted in the lives of people in every part of our country.

This is what I stand for.

It is about:

People asking why are they being told there is a recovery when they aren’t feeling the benefits.

People working so hard but not being rewarded.

Young people who fear that they are going to have a worse life than their parents.

People making a decent living but who can’t afford to buy a home of their own.

People who worry that one of the foundation stones of their security – the NHS – is under threat.

People asking why they are on zero hours contracts while some of those at the top get away with paying zero tax.

The zero zero economy we need to change.

And we will be saying more about tax avoidance and how we tackle it later today.

And it is about all those people who feel that there is something just not right about the values of a country when they see Chief Executives get a 21 per cent pay rise last year, as everyone else’s wages have fallen.

These are the symptoms of a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country.

That’s why I want to be Prime Minister.

To change it.

And this inequality is not some accident.

It is driven by beliefs about how you run countries and how we should run Britain.

Wrong beliefs.

Beliefs that have had their time.

The belief that insecurity is the way you make working people work harder.

The view that low pay is the only way we can compete in the world.

The idea that markets will always get the right outcome, even if that means powerful interests have all the power.

The notion that we cannot afford decent public services when money is tight.

And above all, the most mistaken view of all, that the success of the country depends just on a few at the top.

And when they do well, everyone in Britain does well.

These are the failed ideas of the past.

These are the failed ideas that have landed us with the problems we have as a country.

These are the failed ideas I will consign to history if we are the next government.

And this Conservative government can never change these ideas because they believe all these things and more.

Because they have a core belief, just like we do, but its content couldn’t be more different.

They think that Britain does best when the most powerful do best.

That’s why, when they twist and turn to try to pretend that really, truly, they are on the side of working people, don’t believe it.

They won’t act on zero hours contracts because they think they are good enough for working people.

They won’t do anything about low pay or the living wage, because they think that’s how we compete.

They won’t stand up to the banks or the energy companies, because they are in hock to the vested interests.

They won’t stand up for all our young people because they think we can succeed with only a few doing well.

They won’t raise taxes on the very richest for the NHS, because their donors and lobbyists won’t wear it.

And they simply don’t get why it would matter that we see such unequal rewards in our country.

In fact they make it worse with tax cuts for millionaires and a recovery skewed to the top.

They don’t understand the problem and they can’t stand up for you.

So what do we replace these failed ideas with?

Here’s what I believe.

Basic security at work is the foundation of a successful economy.

That’s how Britain has succeeded in the past and that’s how we will succeed in the future.

Everyone who works hard should be rewarded.

And we cannot put up with an economy based on low pay and low skills.

No vested interest, whoever they are and however powerful they are, from banks to energy companies, should ever be able to hold our country back.

Decent public services are the foundation of who we are as a country.

And above all Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

Basic British values.

Security.

Hard work rewarded.

Vested interests made to work in the public interest.

Public services there when you need them.

And a country succeeding together, not ripped apart.

Labour values.

The values of the British people.

The values that will win us the general election.

And this isn’t just what I believe, it is who I am.

Let me say directly to the British people, here’s what I think matters in a Prime Minister.

When I hear the stories of people who say this country isn’t working for them and they don’t see a future, I don’t shrug my shoulders and say there’s nothing we can do.

Because I was brought up to believe that it matters and we can change things.

When powerful forces try to tell me “no way”, I answer: “who says?”

Because I’ve always believed that no force in our country should be too powerful to be held to account.

And I am proud to believe that we need big ideas to change our country.

Decency, determination and ideas to change Britain – that’s what matters to me.

Big ideas, not the old ideas.

That’s the journey we’ve been on since 2010.

The old ideas won’t work anymore.

There was a global financial crash only a few years ago and there is a deficit that still has to be paid down.

And we will pay the deficit down in a fair way.

That’s why change has to be about big reform, not about big spending.

And in fact, big spending can’t change the fundamentals of an economy that doesn’t work for working people.

And we won’t have the money to do it anyway.

This is about our character as a party.

The wealth creators, not just the wealth distributors.

Because we need to make possible good, private sector jobs at decent wages.

The devolvers of power, not the centralisers.

Because we believe in giving power away so people can change their own lives and communities.

And the reformers of the state, not the defenders of the status quo.

Because we can’t just make decisions in Westminster.

Just as tackling economic inequality is Labour’s mission, so too tackling inequalities of power must be our mission too.

And we’ve changed in other ways as well.

Like on immigration.

It isn’t prejudiced to worry about the effects of immigration.

It is because of the real impacts it has.

I am the son of immigrants.

It is 70 years next year since my grandfather was killed by the Nazis.

And I know the contribution my family has made to this country.

But I also know that it is not enough to say immigration benefits our country as a whole.

So just as we should apply the values of the British people in the way our country is run, so too on immigration.

A sense of fairness means that we can’t simply allow wages to be undercut.

A sense of fairness means that entitlement to benefits should be earned, so you contribute for longer before you claim.

And belief in community means that people should learn English and be part of our society.

We should be proud to stand up for those values.

We will be talking more about immigration as a party.

But always on the basis of Labour values, not UKIP values.

We know that the deep discontent with the country gives rise to those who suggest false solutions.

But unlike the Tories, what we will never do is try to out-UKIP UKIP.

I think it is time we levelled with people about UKIP.

They’ve got away with it for too long.

It is time we had a debate about where they really stand.

They do have a vision of the past.

But I say to working people in this country, let’s really examine their vision.

Because when you stop and look at it, it is not really very attractive.

And it is rooted in the same failed ideas that have let our country down.

Piece together the different statements from Mr Farage and his gang and think about what it says:

That working mothers aren’t worth as much as men.

Life was easier when there wasn’t equality for gay and lesbian people.

You feel safer when you don’t have someone who is foreign living next door.

The NHS would be better off privatised.

Rights at work, whether they come from Europe or from here, are simply a barrier to economic success.

And let’s get out of the European Union.

Is that really the country we want to be?

I don’t believe that.

I don’t believe that’s the kind of country people want.

Of course, people rightly feel a sense of loss about the past.

Jobs that have gone.

Communities that have changed.

Prospects for your kids that are diminished.

But the answer is not to return to a more unequal, more unjust past.

Mr Farage, you may want to live in that world.

But come the general election, I don’t believe the people of Britain will follow.

We’re Britain, we’re better than this.

Surely the better thing is to construct a vision of the future, which does work for everyday people.

And here’s the thing: you can’t construct a vision of the future if you don’t think working women are as valuable as men.

You can’t build a vision of the future if you don’t believe in equal rights.

You can’t succeed as a country if you try to close yourself off from the rest of the world.

You can’t make a fairer Britain if you try to destroy our National Health Service.

The Tories have no answers to the discontent people feel.

UKIP have wildly wrong answers to that discontent.

And who knows what one can say about the Liberal Democrats?

Friends, I say we can take this lot apart and it is time we did.

And we know how we will do it.

Door by door.

Street by street.

Town by town.

And just in case you find people who still believe that there is no difference between the parties, just tell them what we are fighting for:

An £8 minimum wage.

An end to the exploitation of zero hours contracts.

Freezing energy bills until 2017.

Putting our young people back to work.

Paying down the deficit and doing it fairly.

Reforming our banks so that they work for small businesses.

Cutting business rates.

Apprenticeships alongside every government contract.

Building 200,000 homes a year.

Abolishing the bedroom tax.

Tackling tax avoidance.

Hiring more doctors, nurses, midwives and careworkers, and putting the right values back at the heart of the NHS and repealing the Health and Social Care Act.

That’s a plan to build a country that works for everyday people, and not just a privileged few.

A recovery that works for you and your family.

The next generation doing better than the last.

The NHS there when you need it.

We’re less than six months from the general election.

We’re in a fight but it is our fight to win.

Millions of people in this country are resting their hopes on us.

We can’t let them down.

We must not let them down.

We will not let them down.

Let’s fight for a fairer, more just, more equal Britain.

That’s what I am going to do.

That’s what you do, day in, day out.

That’s what every person in this Party must do.

That’s the way we’re going to fight and win this general election.

Posted on November 13, 2014 12:43 pm by Paul Gleeson

Figures show fewer than 18,000 people claiming Universal Credit, 18 months after it launched – Chris Bryant

bryantChris Bryant MP, Labour’s Shadow Welfare Reform Minister, responding to new Universal Credit figures published today, said:

“These figures show fewer than 18,000 people are claiming Universal Credit, 18 months after it launched. That’s 982,000 fewer than the million people Iain Duncan Smith promised would be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014. At this rate it will take centuries to roll out Universal Credit across the country.

“The government has wasted over £130 million of taxpayers’ money on failed IT. Ministers must urgently get a grip of the spiralling waste and endless delays to this £12.8 billion programme.

“A Labour government will call in the National Audit Office to urgently review Universal Credit to see what can be salvaged from the shambles which David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have left.”

Graph showing how Universal Credit has ground to a halt – projected Universal Credit caseload versus actual Universal Credit Caseload: 

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/368805/uc-at-work.pdf and http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/10132-001-Universal-credit.pdf

Posted on November 13, 2014 8:59 am by Paul Gleeson

Let’s go the extra mile to commemorate those who served our town

We were truly delighted to see the large crowds coming out to remember and salute the gallant people who have served our town over the last 100 years during the Remembrance Day service on Sunday. It was pleasing to see the number of people who have taken the armed forces to their hearts and who wish to be a part of important days like Remembrance Sunday and Armed Forces Day. We now believe that the town should go that little bit further and put large poppies on the lampposts. Many towns like Camberley and Bromley already do this. We think that Boston Borough Council, Lincolnshire County Council and the Royal British Legion could develop this idea for Boston. We could ask the people of Boston as well as the businesses to help finance such an idea. It would show that Boston is prepared to go the extra mile to remember those who served us and made the ultimate sacrifice for our town.

 

Posted on November 12, 2014 8:34 am by Paul Gleeson

Armistice Day

Armistice Day

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the end of World War I when Germany and Allied troops reached a peace agreement in 1918.

Britain’s fallen will be remembered in Boston today with a two-minutes’ silence to mark Armistice Day at the War Memorial Gardens in Wide Bargate.

At the same time across the rest of the UK, shopping centres, offices, schools and high streets will fall silent at 11 o’clock in memory of those who have lost their lives while serving their country.

For the Fallen

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam

Robert Laurence Binyon, CH (10 August 1869 – 10 March 1943)

Posted on November 11, 2014 8:27 am by Paul Gleeson