Exclusive: An open letter to Iain Duncan Smith: Universal Credit questions that need answering


Existing problems with Universal credit risk being replicated unless you resolve them

IDS no copyright2jDear Iain,

At your party conference you announced your intention to “accelerate the delivery of Universal Credit … from the New Year, bringing forward the national roll-out through 2015/16 to every community across Great Britain”.

As 985,920 fewer people receiving are Universal Credit than you originally said would be claiming the new benefit by April 2014, acceleration is clearly necessary.

However, given the litany of problems with the delivery of this scheme to date, and the £130m of public money wasted on IT, it would be extremely worrying if even the limited expansion of the scheme you have announced was being driven more by a political  timetable than by due concern for effective and efficient delivery. Read More »

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This week’s most read: Leaders’ debates, Labour’s working class problem and MIPIM


Green PartyThe most read stories on Left Foot Forward this week:

1. A majority in Scotland still want changeNicola Sturgeon

2. On any objective test the Green Party should be in the leaders’ debates - Natalie Bennett

3. The MIPIM property fair: everything that is wrong with regeneration in LondonToby Hill

4. UKIP is tapping into ‘left behind’ BritainAlex Glennie

5. Labour has a working class problemJames Bloodworth

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Austerity economics don’t add up and Scotland’s public services are living through a lost decade


The political energy released during the referendum campaign is focused on inequality during Scotland’s Challenge Poverty Week

PovertyjTrade unions and the wider civil society have come together this week in a series of events culminating in a march and rally in Glasgow on Saturday. The aim is to highlight the damage inequality does to everyone in Scotland and provide a space where new ideas can be debated and developed.

UNISON Scotland’s contribution includes a report on the impact of austerity on Scotland’s public services and the staff who deliver them. Creating decent work and providing dignity for those who cannot work is at the heart of the battle against austerity and tackling inequality. It makes economic sense and this report demonstrates why. Read More »

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SNP most trusted to deliver for Scotland – Labour’s problems mount up


In Glasgow, 40 per cent trusted the SNP most compared to 16 per cent who said Labour

Nicola STurgeonThe SNP and its leader to be Nicola Sturgeon are the party most trusted in Scotland to deliver further powers for the Scottish Parliament, according to new polling published today.

The findings, collected by TNS, who surveyed 993 people aged 16 and over, reported that 37 per cent said they trusted the SNP to deliver the extra powers for Holyrood the country wants, compared to just 15 per cent who trusted Labour, 8 per cent who trusted the Conservatives and 1 per cent who trusted the Lib Dems. Read More »

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Disabled people know what it will take to help them into work. Will Labour listen?


Labour must prove it has changed its spots since the days of hiring Lord Freud as welfare reform adviser under Tony Blair

disabled ncrNarrowing the 30 per cent disability employment gap will be a cornerstone of Labour’s policy on disability, Kate Green and Stephen Timms announced last week.

But is this a genuine move to win the votes of Britain’s 11 million disabled population, worse hit than any other group by austerity policies? Or is it more posturing to out-tough the Tories on welfare?

The dual aim of fulfilling disabled people’s potential while bringing down the benefits bill sounds like a no brainer, except that we were here with Labour 10 years ago. Similar pronouncements gave rise to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in 2008 and few policies have done more damage to the fortunes of sick and disabled people. Read More »

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The Lyons Review: Britain’s housing crisis – and how we solve it


Labour has published its plans on how it will deliver 200,000 homes a year in the UK

Housing for sale signs JPEGPublished this morning, the 180 page report from the Lyons Review of housing opens with recognition of the extent of the housing crisis a Labour government will face next May. Two or more decades of under-supply, house prices eight times average incomes, worsening rental affordability, increased overcrowding and growing homelessness are just a few of aspects of this burgeoning crisis.

But fashioning solutions to such a deep crisis is not so easy – and so it proves with the Lyons Review report.

While the report recognises that housing must become a priority for the nation again as it was in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the proposals are a starting point for tackling the crisis rather than a means of solving it. Read More »

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Older women are demanding a better deal and Labour must deliver it


The UK has a 43 per cent gap between pensions received by men and women – the third highest level in the EU

Woman ncr“I am first in the queue for redundancy, and the last in the queue for a job,” said a woman in her 50s at a meeting I held in my constituency of Slough back in 2011.

She and other women who broke glass ceilings and fought for equal pay are getting older, and in my many discussions with older women – from all walks of life – I heard that they feel they are disappearing from the public sphere.

Indeed, women over 50 disappear from our television screens, they are retired early because of caring responsibilities or regarded as too close to retirement to matter in the workplace, and their contribution to family care is taken for granted. Read More »

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A spirit of compromise is needed in Stormont


A spirit of compromise is needed in abundance at today’s talks

StormontNorthern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers will today begin a fresh round of political talks at Stormont aimed at resolving long-standing sores which have severely hampered the ability of ministers in Belfast to govern.

At stake are the thorny issues of parades, the flying of flags, the legacy of the past, welfare reforms and the operation of the devolved institutions. For the sake of the people of Northern Ireland these talks need to succeed to prove that devolution really can deliver for them and to show that their trust in the Good Friday agreement is not being betrayed. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses

Cameron’s welfare plans risk making young people homeless


Without the safety net of a welfare system, many under-25s have no other means of supporting themselves

Job Centre ncrjDavid Cameron left home at 13. So when he announces policies affecting young people living independently, he is speaking from experience.

Unlike many students and young people though, Cameron’s situation was one of unimaginable privilege. While some of us leave home because of disruption, abuse and estrangement, he did so to join one of Britain’s most expensive boarding schools.

Cameron’s latest policy announcement aims to revoke Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for 18-21 year olds and deny housing benefit to under 25s. He wants to use these cuts to fund 1m more apprenticeships. Read More »

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Good news on the jobs front, but pay is definitely not recovering


We’re going down an uncertain path, with serious threats for working people

Job Centre ncrjWhat should we make of today’s employment figures? With unemployment finally dropping below two million, but pay only 0.7 per cent higher than it was a year ago?

One of the difficulties for progressive economic commentators at present is how to get the balance right. At a time when the government and its cheerleaders insist that each month’s labour market statistics are a sign we’ve entered a new golden age there’s a natural tendency to go to the other extreme, and insist that there’s nothing positive going on. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Responses
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