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Showing posts from April 5, 2013

Neglecting the realities of poverty will lead to misery for many

A stark warning from the north west's voluntary sector suggests that David Cameron's dismissal of research and monitoring would make a bad situation worse. Dan Silver offers examples Share 104 inShare1 Email The Prime Minister with Iain Duncan Smith, whose narrative of broken families and poverty is just the sort of assertion which needs testing and research. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire The stated aims of the government's welfare reform agenda appear to be sound on the surface: simplifying benefits, making work pay and reducing dependency. However, a more thorough examination reveals a deeply worrying shift, which come April will manifest itself in the suffering of many of our most vulnerable communities as they are drawn further into poverty. Evidence to support this is stark and mounting. Just last week, research by the Chartered Institute of Housing showed that 400,000 vulnerable families will be worse off with the introduction of Universal Credit, with

What do you want to ask Lord Adonis?

Education, transport, industrial policy, Michael Heseltine … post your questions for the Labour peer Share 1 inShare0 Email Lord Adonis is a shadow infrastructure minister in the Lords. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA As well as being the architect of the New Labour academies programme, Andrew Adonis has been head of Tony Blair's policy unit, an education minister, transport secretary and director of the Institute for Government. He's now a shadow infrastructure minister in the Lords as well as the person reviewing industrial policy for Ed Miliband. I'm interviewing him this week. What do you want me to ask? Adonis is not doing an education job at the moment, but he's recently published a book about the academies programme, Education, Education, Education: Reforming England's Schools, that I'll want to raise. It's an excellent book, not so much because of the vigour with which Adonis defends his policies but because it's one of the few minister

The Work Programme, payment by results and the restriction of debate

Debate over today's Work Programme figures should not forget the outsiders, argues Dan Silver. They are central to employment and poverty issues Share 18 inShare6 Email Is it working? And can he have a voice on that? An unemployed man at a Work Programme session for long term unemployed people at Pertemps in Hull. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian The Coalition Government's Work Programme brings all previous welfare-to-work programmes under the delivery of 18 Prime Contractors, who are commissioned centrally by the Department for Work and Pensions at a potential cost of up to £5 billion. Initial evidence suggests that large corporations are benefiting the most from these arrangements, whilst smaller specialist providers are left in limbo waiting for referrals. Until today, figures have not been released which show whether the programme has been a success in terms of getting people into work, and keeping them there – on which the Prime Contractors will re

Small people, not big processes

Thursday's Rotherham byelection has attracted plenty of sound and fury. Here, Independent candidate Simon Copley offers a different, calmer approach: drawing on community muscle to solve local problems effectively Share 13 inShare0 Email Here comes the sun - to a Rotherham street packed with solar panels. There's plenty of good going on in the town. Like the sun, it needs harnessing. Photograph: SolarCentury I once worked for a local charity that was very effective getting alongside disaffected young people. Despite our reputation, we struggled for funding. I suspect we were overlooked because we were too small. It was a case of a local David competing with huge national Goliaths. Our society seems hooked on big "processes" (policies, programmes, initiatives etc) trying to "fix" problems and the political/commercial elite have vested interests in controlling these and making business from them. However, I don't remember learning much about proce

Leveson: special pleading and Stockholm syndrome on Fleet Street

Everyone except the industry and 86 MPs and peers knows something must be done to curb the press's abuses of its power Share 52 inShare0 Email Christopher Jefferies is still awaiting apologies for being called a murderer. Photograph: Antonio Olmos Listening to the familiar, self-justifying nonsense being peddled by the booze industry as the government finally squares up to imposing a minimum unit price on alcohol left me with a sense of deja vu. Where else had I recently heard such special pleading from an industry which is often recklessly indifferent to the destructive consequences of its own behaviour? Bankers? Tobacco barons? Supermarkets? Ah yes, that was it: my own industry, the Fleet St in and around which I have worked since becoming the Evening Standard's summer relief reporter in 1970. I arrived just in time to be outside No 10 when a woman threw red paint over the new PM, Ted Heath. Alas, I missed the incident, being in the phone box talking to the office

Devolution for England – It's time we examined the option of an English Parliament

A Parliament in York answerable to England's historic counties. What could be more agreeable? Eddie Bone of the Campaign for an English Parliament makes his case Share 194 inShare0 Email Cultural nationalism - a rich mix in England with St George a chap from the Middle East. Photograh: Martin Argles Last week all political eyes were rightly focused on the evolutionary process of devolution and government in Wales (the Silk Report). Yet as we in England watch the blossoming futures of Wales and Scotland we appear too worried to peek at our own governance mirror. Worried because we know we will be shocked by our own lack of direction, our lack of a cohesive policy and our evident self-doubt as a nation. The future doesn't look rosy for the people of England because our reflection is overshadowed by those of the three main political parties which do not have a viable proposal for the future governance of England. The current state of affairs is quite simply untenable. It

What the golden car park of St Ives says about the UK's hourglass society

Inequality of opportunity and prosperity means many places are only for the rich and the poor - and no one in between Share 81 inShare8 Email The five parking spaces on Barnoon Terrance in St Ives, Cornwall, which have been sold at auction for a combined total in excess of £160,000. Photograph: Ryan Hooper/PA Don't know if you spotted it, but five parking spots in the Cornish resort of St Ives were sold or bid for at sums between £50,000 and £60,000 apiece this week in a town where the average local salary is £22,000 and part-time, seasonal working is rife. This seems to sum up the polarised way Britain is going and it isn't healthy. Yes, we know all this. The FT ran an analysis of the UK labour market the other day, one which it described as acquiring the structure of an hour glass – good jobs for some near the top of the glass, plenty of low-paid jobs (3 million people would like to work more hours, it was reported yesterday) at the bottom. But all sorts of middling

Portrait of a town as Rotherham votes

Photographer Ann Czernik meets some of the South Yorkshire people whose byelection today puts Rotherham in the national spotlight Share 6 inShare0 Email Ann Czernik, Thursday 29 November 2012 11.53 GMT Jump to comments (9) 1 / 13 Exit gallery and go to previous page Dawn Wright was taken into care by Rotherham social services as a child and her family has had issues with the department since, which have left her highly critical. The Labour council is to hold an inquiry into the workings of children's social care. Photograph: Ann Czernik for the Guardian

Tackling poverty and inequality need to be at the heart of any plan for economic growth in the North of England.

To mark today's conference Northern Prosperity is National Prosperity, Julia Unwin of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation calls for five key reforms Share 42 inShare1 Email Making things - big, small, mass-produced, one-off. The north must rediscover traditional skills and win its share of new ones. Photograph on Teesside: John Giles/PA As a member of the Northern Economics Futures Commission, I am passionate about the need to tackle poverty and inequality, as part of any economic growth plan for the region. As our own research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows, the northern economy will worsen and, without action, will only entrench regional disparities over the next decade. Earlier this month, I announced the new Living Wage rate for those living outside London. The national focus on the Living Wage rightly focused attention on different ways of reducing poverty and inequality. But the fact that we need two rates - £7.45 outside London and £8.55 within – tells us a lot

Sturgeon sharpens independence debate as a battle for centre-left

In her first major speech on independence, Nicola Sturgeon ought to worry Labour by attacking their recent political history and claims to be the natural champions for Scotland's centre-left voters Share 97 inShare0 Email Scotland's first minister and Scottish National party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond with deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon at the party's annual conference in Perth. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters It is some three months now since Nicola Sturgeon gave up pursuing minimum pricing and gay marriage – both potential firsts within British politics - to focus on delivering a far greater political prize, independence. In her first major speech on independence on Monday, Scotland's deputy first minister has set out her case for independence, again marking out political territory which is a direct, open challenge to Scottish Labour – the Scottish National party's most significant opponent in this contest. One key passage in that speech, at Strathclyde U

How can budget-slashed local councils subsidise business rates?

Government calls for action under Section 69 of the Localism Act are tokenistic hypocrisy, says Rochdale retailer Paul Turner-Mitchell Share 56 inShare11 Email Mark Prisk. Peddling a half-baked policy. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Archive/Press Association Ima There's nothing more pointless than a rock'n'roll star, said Radiohead's Thom Yorke. If he ever gets round to reading Clause 69 of the Localism Act he may yet come to revise this view. In pointless policy terms this one is in a league of its own. Happiness indexes and cycling lanes designed not to be used don't come close. From the perspective of many northern councils, the policy is not only pointless but also insulting. Essentially, it gives councils the power to reduce business rates, something many small businesses have long been crying out for. But to do this councils will have to cut back on care for the elderly or disabled services because it has to be paid for from council budgets that have

Autumn statement 2012 - coverage of George Osborne's speech as it happened

Closing summary • Lowest earners hit as welfare squeezed • UK to miss debt target • Highlights from 12.30pm • The Treasury view...and the Labour line Share 112 inShare3 Email Andrew Sparrow and Graeme Wearden, Wednesday 5 December 2012 18.37 GMT Jump to comments (759) The chancellor, George Osborne, delivers his autumn statement today. Photograph: PA Sort by: Latest first Oldest first Auto update: On Off 7.58am GMT George Osborne to deliver autumn statement The chancellor, George Osborne. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images There are 'no miracle cures' to the UK's economic strife. That's how George Osborne will defend today's autumn statement when he stands up in the House of Commons at 12.30pm. The chancellor is expected to admit that the British economy is in a much worse state than predicted in March's budget. With the Office for Budget Responsibility likely to cut its growth forecasts, Osborne may have to ad