Thursday, 17 April 2014

Ed Balls: Why Labour won't stop talking about the cost of living crisis

Ed Balls has written for the Guardian on the cost of living crisis the government fails to address and Labour’s ideas to mend the broken link between the wealth of the country and people's own finances.

Over the coming weeks we can expect ministers to start telling us that the cost of living crisis is over but for most families in Britain today such a declaration, on the back of a handful of economic statistics, will only confirm just how out of touch this government is.

Labour will continue to set out radical but credible policies to earn our way to higher living standards for all, not just a few and tackle this deep-seated cost of living crisis. We will make work pay and tackle insecurity by strengthening the minimum wage, incentivising the living wage, ending the abuse of zero-hours contracts and expanding free childcare for working parents.

This is in addition to Labour’s policies to:
• Reform our uncompetitive banks
• Reform the energy market including a price freeze for families and businesses
• Create more good jobs
• Devolve economic power to Britain's towns and cities
• Boost vocational education
• Get young people into work
• Cut business rates
• Introduce a British Investment Bank
• Increase house building to at least 200,000 a year

To read Ed Balls’ article please see the link here - http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/14/labour-party-cost-of-living-crisis

Latest foodbank figures top 900,000: life has got worse not better for poorest in 2013/14, and this is just the tip of the iceberg

  • 913,138 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in 2013-14 compared to 346,992 in 2012-13
  • Figures are ‘tip of the iceberg’ of UK food poverty says Trussell Trust Chairman
  • 83% of foodbanks report ‘sanctioning’ is causing rising numbers to turn to them
Foodbank figures trigger biggest ever faith leader intervention on UK food poverty in modern times.



Over 900,000 adults and children have received three days’ emergency food and support from Trussell Trust foodbanks in the last 12 months, a shocking 163 percent rise on numbers helped in the previous financial year. Despite signs of economic recovery, the poorest have seen incomes squeezed even more than last year reports The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network. More people are being referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks than ever before.

Static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, underemployment and problems with welfare, especially sanctioning, are significant drivers of the increased demand. 83 percent of Trussell Trust foodbanks surveyed recently [see notes below] reported that benefits sanctions, which have become increasingly harsh, have caused more people to be referred to them for emergency food. Half of referrals to foodbanks in 2013-14 were a result of benefit delays or changes.


Exhibition of Local Artwork, Churchfield House, Great Harwood.

David Cameron promised to clean up politics, but he has failed

People are right to be appalled by the actions of Maria Miller and David Cameron this week. Maria Miller should have resigned a week ago over transgressions with her expenses- you can’t have one rule for Cabinet Ministers and a different rule for everybody else.

But the truth is David Cameron was too slow to act, and that failure has undermined trust, not only in his policies but in politics as a whole.

Politics really needs to change. We must change the system which oversees standards in Parliament if we are to restore confidence in politics. Labour is pushing for a quick reform on this but the Tory-led Government is resisting.

In opposition, David Cameron promised to clean up politics and make a difference.
I don’t think this is what most people had in mind.

Labour will bring in a new approach to immigration

David Cameron is failing on his net migration target and numbers have gone up. Illegal immigration is getting worse, but the number of fee-paying overseas university students has fallen for the first time in decades, cutting the investment they bring into Britain.

I know people in Haslingden and Hyndburn want to see tough action on immigration which is exactly what Labour is determined to do.

We want stronger border controls – including proper exit checks so we know who is here and who isn’t, and action taken about the hundreds of thousands of people who overstay their visas.


Summary of last week in the House of Commons:

Elsewhere in Parliament:
Finance Bill Committee Stage
On Tuesday and Wednesday the House of Commons debated a number of amendments to the Finance Bill as part of its Committee Stage.

Dear Mr Jones, How can Big Lottery Fund best help communities and people most in need?

From now until July we are inviting people to add their voice to a UK-wide conversation to help us answer this question.


The Guardian video: "FOBTs: the crack cocaine of gambling"


Dear MP, The Guardian last night released a video entitled "FOBTs: the crack cocaine of gambling", the most comprehensive and insightful film on fixed odds betting terminals to date. You can watch it here.

The video features:
  1. an interview with a drug dealer who uses FOBTs to launder the proceeds of crime
  2. a former addict who has lost everything to the machines
  3. the chief executive of the company that produces FOBTs avoiding questioning
  4. shop staff disclosing how FOBTs have changed the nature of their job, and why their pay structure is irreconcilable with social responsibility
The Prime Minister is expected to announce proposals to restrict fixed odds betting terminals very soon. The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is calling for a reduction in the maximum bet per spin to £2, which would bring them into line with other easily accessible gaming machines in Britain such as fruit machines.

At present on FOBTs it is possible to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on casino games, the most popular being roulette. Betting shops are limited to four FOBTs per shop, which is why multiple outlets are opening in "clusters" on the high street.

Restricting the maximum stake per spin to £2 would reduce the incentive for bookmakers to open in clusters, would better protect the player from harm and would return the focus of the betting industry to racing and sports betting, which should be their core business. However, FOBTs currently account for more than half of their profits.

Find out more about our campaign at stopthefobts.org

Regards Campaign For Fairer Gambling