Decent Homes

Secure, affordable, decent homes. Not much to ask for really.

However, due to soaring private rents and social housing being sold off left, right and centre, for a lot of people, it’s just a dream.

The Green Party will tackle this crisis head on by abolishing the unfair bedroom tax, building more social rented homes and bring empty homes back into use to ensure everyone has access to an affordable place to live.

Vote Green. For the common good!

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Robin Hood in reverse…

THIS week sees the biggest attack on the incomes of ordinary people in a generation.

Like Robin Hood in reverse, the Tory Lib-Dem Coalition has robbed the poor and given a tax cut to the rich. ​

A Trident missile in action: The Green party says it would scrap the missile programme to save £100billion and reduce the need for benefit cuts.
A Trident missile in action: The Green Party says it would scrap the missile programme to save £100billion and reduce the need for benefit cuts.

Experts have calculated that cuts to disability benefits, housing benefit and council tax benefit will hit the poorest with a staggering 38 per cent reduction in their income.

In Tamworth, from this month, everyone of working age who doesn’t receive severe disability benefits will have to pay at least 25 per cent council tax. That’s an extra £4.57 a week for a Band A property.

Tory Tamworth council is one of the biggest cutters of council tax support in the country – most are charging less than ten per cent.

And before readers run away with the idea that people on benefit are living in luxury, I’d like to ask how many could afford cuts like this from the £71 a week, which a jobseeker gets for food, travel, utilities, clothing, toiletries, and other household expenses?

If you are hit by the bedroom tax, you will lose £10-£15 a week from your housing benefit as well.

No wonder these changes will push a further 200,000 children into poverty in the UK – a disgrace in the seventh richest country in the world.

Our own MP’s website peddles the myths Tories use to gain support for their attacks on the poor. Mr Pincher talks about how ‘it pays not to work’.

He and his ilk pretend our country is drowning under the weight of people who have never worked but play the system.

Yet the truth is that in 2012, only two per cent of working age adults had never worked: over half of them were young unemployed people who’d never been given the chance of a job.

As Mr Pincher knows, over half of the ‘bloated’ welfare bill goes in pensions – Jobseekers Allowance makes up only three per cent.

The Tories bleat about the escalating cost of housing benefit and claim this is why they need to impose the bedroom tax.

Over half of housing benefit goes to poor pensioners and people who are in work but earning poverty wages. The real scandal is the failure of this and previous governments to build social housing resulting in a grossly inflated property market.

As Channel 4 News recently showed, the bedroom tax will cost more, as people are forced to move into costly private rented accommodation. And who are these people? Disabled adults who need a room so their partner/carer can get some sleep or to store vital equipment. Separated parents who need a bedroom so their kids can come and stay.

People who can’t ‘down-size’ because smaller properties don’t exist.

I’m proud that my parents were part of the 1945 generation that built the welfare state when this country was on its knees economically.

We then had a government that knew we really were ‘all in it together’. This phrase is now a hollow lie. The Tories’ real agenda is the destruction of our welfare state because their government of millionaires don’t need it and don’t want to pay for it.

There is an alternative. The Green Party would scrap Trident missiles, saving over £100 billion. We would get people back to work in the green economy, cutting fuel bills and reducing carbon emissions as well as creating jobs. Increased employment boosts tax revenues and reduces welfare spending and is the only way to get out of the economic mess.

Ordinary people didn’t create the global banking crisis and ordinary people shouldn’t be punished for it while the richest get richer. We need a real alternative – a future that works for people and the planet.

Simon Johnson, Chair, Tamworth and District Green Party.
Read more: http://www.thisistamworth.co.uk/Poorest-hit-hardest/story-18620516-detail/story.html#ixzz2Q5apucRh

Standing up for local people

by Simon Johnson, Chair, Tamworth Green Party

The Herald’s forthright defence of the people of our town, against the ‘slob’ labels pinned on us by the national press, is to be welcomed. However, we must not be so defensive that we become complacent and fail to recognise the problems that do exist.

Tamworth Borough Council does need to do more to encourage healthy lifestyles and healthy eating with increased long-term investment, alongside other partners, in sporting and active recreation facilities – accessible to all, at rates we can all afford, building on some of our excellent local voluntary groups such as Tamworth Boxing Club. The planning system should also be used creatively to block junk-food establishments opening up in the town, in favour of healthier choices.

However, evidence shows that the key problem affecting diet and health is poverty. Unemployment, under-employment and the increased growth of low-paid, temporary and casual employment (responsible for much of the government’s mythical increase in employment) and a resultant lack of aspiration are all linked to poor health outcomes. These are things which do not just affect Tamworth but many other similar towns across the country. Sadly, but predictably, the policies of the current government – squeezing the poor to pay for the excesses of the rich – only make matters worse.

However, there are things the council should do to help hard-pressed people in Tamworth. Our council could follow the lead of Green Party controlled Brighton and Hove council, which recently passed a motion against pursuing evictions against tenants in arrears because of welfare change such as the government’s controversial and iniquitous ‘bedroom tax’ . Alternatively the council should follow the example of some Housing Associations in reclassifying bedrooms as other types of room. This protects tenants who are not in a position to pay more, and in doing so, also supports the local economy as people on low incomes spend a higher proportion of their incomes on local goods and services.

We need a council that acts creatively in the interests of local people, rather than blindly implementing disastrous government policy.

Bedroom tax – another tax on the poor and vulnerable

toryThe government’s attack on benefits could see thousands of people lose their homes.

One attack in particular, popularly known as the “bedroom tax”, is set to push almost 100,000 social housing tenants into arrears on their rent from this April.

The idea is to punish people for “under-occupying” homes that are supposedly too large for them so tenants could lose up to £80 a month from their housing benefit just for having a spare bedroom.

This may particularly affect older families where children have grown up and left the family home.

Yet councils and social housing associations report that they simply don’t have enough one bedroom homes for people to ‘downsize’ to.

Together with plans to make councils responsible for council tax benefit- and slashing the amount available so even the poorest now have to pay this represents yet another unfair attempt to make ordinary working people pay for an economic crisis not of our making.

What we need is not a bedroom tax on those least able to pay but a mansion tax on those with the broadest shoulders!

The Green Party says we should be building high quality, affordable housing to the best available standards to meet a real social need.