Monday 30 September 2013

Greenwich Labour Council, Further proof Labour Leader unfit to run Greenwich council .

Caught on tape: Greenwich Council leader bullying cabinet member

by Darryl

Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts verbally abused one of his cabinet members by voicemail and threatened to strip the councillor of their job in a row over the Run To The Beat half-marathon - yet the council's Labour group is yet to take action against him, this website understands.
Roberts left the four-letter verbal barrage on the voicemail of the cabinet member after the councillor raised concerns over this year's race, which the council leadership pushed through without promised consultation with local residents.
The cabinet member suggested in an email to Labour councillors that any decision over the 2014 Run to the Beat event would be left to whoever was in power after May's elections - after which Roberts has said he would stand down as leader.
Greenwich Council leader and bully Chris RobertsBut Roberts responded by leaving a message on the senior councillor's voicemail threatening the removal of their portfolio, adding that the representative should "get it through your fucking thick skull".
The voicemail has been widely shared both within the local Labour party, and outside of it. But over two weeks after first being made aware of the voicemail, Greenwich Council's Labour group chief whip Ray Walker - an ally of Roberts - has so far declined to investigate the incident.
Verbal abuse of a fellow councillor is against both Greenwich Council's rules, plus Labour Party regulations.
But the voicemail's existence being widespread knowledge - this website has had this confirmed by multiple sources - the cabinet member concerned is reluctant to take the matter to the London regional Labour party, for fear news would leak and cause embarrassment to the wider party.
While this website is not naming the councillor involved, it is surely in the public interest - and the Labour Party's wider interest - that Chris Roberts' bullying of his fellow councillors is discussed openly.
Roberts is notorious for threatening councillors who step out of line. Earlier this year, Blackheath Westcombe councillor Alex Grant declined to stand again over the "culture of bullying" and "sinister threats" within Greenwich Council's Labour group.
But the existence of the voicemail is, for the first time, tangible proof of how Roberts bullies and abuses Labour councillors - who have no effective way of blowing the whistle on such behaviour. Roberts is widely believed to be reconsidering his earlier plans to stand down as council leader next year.
The voicemail furore comes as Roberts seeks to crack down on any form of dissent from his councillors ahead of May 2014's election. Multiple sources have told this website that Labour councillors have been treated to a tirade against the evils of social media, while a clampdown is planned on Labour councillors emailing officers to investigate issues without first going through cabinet members.
What's not widely understood is why Chris Roberts, who steered the council through last year's Olympics, is so anxious over the relatively trivial matter of the staging of a half-marathon, run by international events conglomerate IMG.
The fear of doing damage to the wider Labour Party permeates the council's Labour group - many of whom have spent their lives in the party, and socialise within the party and related groups such as the Co-operative party. This situation has enabled the leader to get away with his harsh treatment of those who question him.
Publishing details of this voicemail will almost certainly have consequences. But to stay quiet about this bullying is to be complicit in it, especially when details of this voicemail are so widely known. Some will see this an example of anti-Labour bias - yet it is in the public interest that the dominant party in Greenwich borough treats its public representatives fairly.
Perhaps now others will speak out and take action - and those higher up in the Labour Party will get it into their "thick skulls" that they have a problem in Greenwich which needs fixing.

Mandatory Reconsideration . Job Seekers and ESA claiments will find this of Help. Law from 28 Oct 2013. Be Ready

Mandatory Reconsideration – The DWP’s new powers

This change will take place on The 28th of October 2013 and it’s going to have a big impact.
Here’s why:
‘Mandatory reconsideration’ is the term the DWP use to mean that a claimant must ask for a revision before they will be able to appeal a decision. The DWP has indicated that it will introduce mandatory reconsideration for all benefits they administer on 28 October 2013. Universal Credit and Personal Independence payments are already covered by this revision before appeal rule. Mandatory reconsideration will not be introduced to Housing Benefit decisions.
A claimant has a right to be paid ESA ‘pending determination’ of an appeal against a decision that they have failed the Work Capability Assessment. This right arises when a claimant’s appeal is received by the Jobcentre Plus office dealing with their claim. It does not arise if they request revision of the WCA decision. The government has not altered the rules to allow ESA to be paid pending the outcome of a revision, so claimant’s will be left without income whilst waiting for the outcome of their revision request or will have to consider making a claim for JSA.
If a client applies for JSA whilst waiting for the revision decision the Jobcentre must accept the claim but the client must confirm that they are available for work and actively seeking any work that might be available to them, taking into consideration the limitations imposed by their mental and/or physical health condition. JSA rules allow a claimant to place restrictions on their availability for work if those restrictions are reasonable in light of their mental or physical health.
The client would need to provide some evidence to show what restrictions are reasonable because of their condition. For example, a claimant with severe arthritis in both knees, and who struggles to stand for longer than 15 minutes, could restrict the work he is available for to jobs that do not involve long periods of standing. If a client states that they are unfit for all work, their claim for JSA will be refused.
Regulation 10 SS&CS (Decision & Appeals) Regulations 1999 provides that a decision on limited capability for work is conclusive for the purposes of other such decisions. This means that all Jobcentre Plus decision makers are bound to accept a decision that a claimant must still satisfy the Jobcentre that they are available for and actively seeking any work that they could reasonably do. If they satisfy these labour market conditions, they would also be entitled to national insurance credits for unemployment for the period.
Unless the government changes its position before 28 October 2013, many claimants who fail the WCA will be faced with a difficult choice – claim JSA or have no income whilst waiting for a revision decision.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Labour Party Conference 2013. People Before Profit lead the campaign call to end PFI and save Lewisham Hospital

People Before Profit got up at crack of dawn Sunday to march on Labour party conference calling on leadership to Save our Hospital, and end PFI. sadly no other group was lobbying Labour conference so we covered both entrance areas with banners, a loud hailer and flyers.
Most grass roots labour activists agreed with us, and many wanted to buy the ever popular Lewisham People Before Profit Badges.
We were able to Give flyers to Tessa Jowell, Chuka, Andy Burnham , most Labour MPs kept well away from us, but would have found it impossible not to note our protest.
Later in the day, Diane Abbott MP and a shadow Health Minister was talking at a New Statesman Fringe meeting. Anne Schman, Clive, Jim, & Maureen joined Me in attending.
Hidding my badge i was able to speak at the packed meeting, calling for an end to PFI and the terrible problems this causes the NHS and that if we merge with debt ridden Greenwich, Lewisham hospital could risk going bust, as Daily Telegraph was in the packed room, she was not keen to speak out on this in fear of upsetting party leadership. i raised the issue of Atos lack of accountability and its impact on the disabled and vunerable, lastly i was able to say the reason i was in People Before Profit and not Labour party, and that Labour must move forward defending the poor and low paid to loud applause from the room.
As we set of home, People Before Profit as always left our mark, Made more Friends . It would have been great to see other campaigners, The fire fighters, The postal workers and more. Our battles must not just be taken to the Torys. Labour is also responsable for the crises we presently have, and we must ALL do what we can to campaign with one voice at Labour, Lib dems and the Conservatives.
Next week, we are at Manchester insuring as always that Lewisham and its people are at the very front of community activism and profile. you would not expect anything less from People Before Profit.
Its time to get Councillors elected at  next May local elections.
Follow Ray on twitter@Raywoolford
Join PBP 

Matthew Oakley to carry out Review of welfare reform impact. Please send him your story.

Matthew Oakley appointed to carry out an independent review of benefit sanctions for the government.
Matthew Oakley, a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee, has been appointed to carry out an independent review of benefit sanctions for the government.
The review – which is stipulated in the Jobseeker’s (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013 – will look at the clarity of information given to Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to help them understand the consequences of failing to take part in mandatory back to work schemes, and navigate the appeals system.
Mark Hoban, Minister for Employment said:
It is important that jobseekers know exactly what is expected of them when they apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, and that they risk having their benefits sanctioned if they fail to play by the rules.
This independent review will help us to ensure the way we communicate with claimants is as clear and straightforward as possible.
The review will consider, where a sanction has been issued, the clarity of the information provided to the claimant about their sanction, and the options they then have including applying for hardship payments, and an explanation of the review and appeals process.

More information

The review will report in Spring 2014.
The review will be carried out by Matthew Oakley in a personal capacity, independent of any other roles he holds. Read the full terms of reference.
Matthew Oakley was appointed as a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee in January 2013. He is Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange where his team focuses on welfare reform, growth and the UK economy, public sector reform and financial policy. Before joining Policy Exchange he was an Economic Adviser at the Treasury, where he worked on a number of tax and welfare issues for the previous 8 years.

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Bedroom Tax How to appeal and Win. If you are in London, We can help at our advice Centre 467 New Cross Rd. 0207 231 0535 for appointment

How to appeal the bedroom tax – its so easy and so right!

I have consistently stated that all 660,000 bedroom tax decisions were unlawful and that all 660,000 could and should be appealed against on the sham decision making process all councils used to make them.
The successful Fife appeals strongly support that view and in fact ruled that way though feel forgiven reader if you missed it as everybody did.  So many never got my point of argument before about the sham of the decision-making process and chose to focus on bedroom size issues – which they said would never happen!! – And the size issue is and always has been just one part of the sham of a decision-making process (DMP).
To put this very simply if you have a 3 bedroom house and all 3 bedrooms are the size of football pitches your bedroom tax decision is still wrong in law and is a sham decision.  This is because the one and only decision-maker, the council, never asked you their size.  The councils never asked you about the room purpose either or whether it was appropriate for these rooms to be deemed a bedroom or whether they were fit for the purpose of being a bedroom or what the rooms were used for.
The size, the purpose, the appropriateness and room usage are all constituent elements of what a bedroom is the judge ruled -and the council decision-makers in all housing benefit departments never asked the tenant about these issues and that is why the decision-making process was a sham – and why all 660,000 should appeal their decisions.
The reason why they never asked is because it would have been too costly and an administrative burden.  Yet that is no excuse in law, explanation perhaps but not excuse.
All of the councils accepted the word of the landlords and all of them said the room size standards do not apply as they are not in Housing Benefit Regulations (HBR) yet judge Simon Collins QC said the size standards are clearly in HBR.
In the David Nelson case the judgment at paragraph 23 says the judge rules:
“…I would accept that the disputed room is of a size that would normally be regarded as too small to be used as an adult bedroom. I accept that the thrust of Mr Sutherland’s submission here, namely that under-occupancy can be seen as the flip side of overcrowding, and that it is relevant to have regard to statutory space standards.   These indicate that a room of this size is appropriate for use as sleeping accommodation by a young child but not an adult.  It is in effect regarded by section 137 of the 1987 Act as only half a room.”
Those first four sentences everyone focuses upon as they state unambiguously that a bedroom for an adult needs to be 70 square feet in floor space and that as room sizes matters for overcrowding then it matters for ‘under-crowding’ or under occupation.  Yet what has not received the focus of attention is the last sentence and here the judge rules: -
“I also accept, having regard to Circular A4/2012, that paragraph B13(5) generally presupposes that to be classified as a bedroom a room should be large enough to be appropriate for use as a bedroom by an adult – or by two children.”
The bedroom tax guidance (the A4/2012) says that paragraph B13(5) of the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012, the one which introduced the bedroom tax policy, generally presupposes that a bedroom is big enough for 1 adult or big enough for 2 children.
In simple terms the size of the room is to be found within the HB regulations and all HB officers should have seen this and asked about room size of alleged bedrooms.  Yet HB officers at all councils never did see this and they never did ask tenants (or landlords) about room size.  And because they never asked then ALL 660,000 bedroom tax decisions are a sham and ripe for legal challenge such as appeal.
As one the councils responded when challenged over room sizes, we don’t have to look at statute such as the 1985 Housing Act said HB officers we only have to look at HB Regulations they said.  Well it was in HBR all the time says the judge at B(13)5 – the new amendment regulations which introduce the bedroom tax.
That alone gives just cause and legitimate grounds for all 660,000 tenants to appeal the sham of a bedroom tax decision they got from their councils.
Appeal, appeal, appeal was the refrain from the Welsh Tenants conference in Llandrindod this week where I spoke about the Fife judgments and what they mean to all tenant groups from all corners of Wales.  A fantastic conference it was too and incredibly well organised and attended and a few hundred delegates left the conference with fire in their belly’s to appeal – Dragons indeed!
I had to repeat my session due to interest and I also put on an impromptu workshop about how to appeal – and it takes no more than 10 minutes to do so.  It is extremely simple and within 10 minutes tenants were advising other tenants how to appeal too.
1. Get a copy of form GL24 from your council or download a copy here
2. Print out pages 21 to 24 which is the form itself
3. The usual name, address, NINO is needed and you are appealing a HB decision
4. Section 8 fill in WHY you are appealing, then sign and date and hand in to your local council making sure you get a receipt and a copy back.
Section 8 – WHY
a) Room size – if one or more of your alleged bedrooms has less than 70 square feet of floor space then say so and include the measurements.  It is as simple as saying: -
“My alleged bedroom measures 9 feet by 7 feet making 63 square feet of floor space and below the 70 square feet needed to be deemed an adult bedroom.”
Yes it really is that simple!
If that is your only reason then that is all you need to write although I would strongly advise to say “I ask the council gives due regard to the First Tier Tribunal judgment reference SC108/13/01362”
This is the case I reference above.  This is a universal ground of legitimate appeal and one that has a very strong chance of success which will mean that all of the bedroom tax deductions that have been taken from you will have to be paid back if the council agrees on the room size issue and/or it goes to appeal and the judge upholds your case.
As I have stated previously Fife Council estimate that over 30% of tenants across Fife will be taken out of the bedroom tax on this room size ground alone which if replicated nationally is 200,000 cases!
All the rest of the grounds of appeal such as room usage or purpose are NOT universal and each case needs to be decided on its individual fact and merit (as they should have been in the first place of course!!)
b) Room usage or purpose – If you have to store significant or large sized disability equipment in the alleged bedroom then say that as your second ground.  There is no need to give sample wording here and it is best you do so in your own words.
A photograph of the room may help. As it is not disputed that 420,000 of the 660,000 bedroom tax households contain a disability then many thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands may well succeed on this ground.
I could elaborate on room appropriateness and other principles of successful appeal that came from the Fife judgments. However it is not rocket science for each tenant to draft their own words on these and of course each case will have its own individual facts and merits.
Finally, I would strongly advocate you do reference the Fife judgments as these were the first ones to rule on room size.  They not only establish room size as a legitimate appeal ground they show that councils NOT ASKING the tenant about room sizes are very significant.  It reveals that the original decisions were a sham of a decision-making process and gives grounds for your appeal being out of time to be automatically heard and decided upon by the tribunal.
Each benefit decision can be appealed 13 months after it was made.  However, in the first month after the original decision any appeal is ‘in-time’ and must be heard.  Yet any appeal 2 – 13 months after the original decision is an “out-of-time” appeal and the tribunal could decide not to hear that appeal.  The tenant needs to give good reason why the appeal is late and the Fife judgments give very good reason for the ‘lateness’ of the appeal and if one or more of your alleged bedrooms is less than 70 square feet in floor size then each tenant has substantive merit in their appeals.  Add to this the fact that councils never asked about room size and room usage and room purpose and there is very substantive merit in your appeal.
On 9th April I gave 19 appeal reasons or grounds here and they are still valid.  You may also wish to look at my posts here or here or here or here if you need more reasons to appeal. There is no reason not to appeal and you have nothing to lose by appealing. You should also read my piece here in which I say that councils ruling universally that any bedroom has to be at least 70 square feet in floor size – or their working definition of a bedroom – is good news for councils and landlords as well as tenants – and start lobbying your council to do precisely that!! In fact lobby your landlord to lobby your local council too!!
Follow rRay on twitter@Raywoolford;

Clive Peedell and the NHS, another reason in London if you love NHS to vote People Before Profit

Global Neoliberalism and the consequences for healthcare policy in the English NHS
Clive Peedell (IAHPE 2009)
“Services are coming to dominate the economic activities of countries at virtually every stage
of development, making services trade liberalisation a necessity for the integration of the
World economy”1
International Chamber of Commerce1
“The commodification of public space has now become an aggressive Blairite objective”
Roy Hattersley, Labour MP (quoted in the Guardian, 7th November 2005)
“All public services have to be based on a diversity of independent providers who compete
for business in a market governed by Consumer choice. All across Whitehall, any policy
option now has to be dressed up as “choice”, “diversity”, and “contestablity”. These are the
hallmarks of the “new model public service”
John Denham MP, former Health Minister quoted in 2006
According to former Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, the creation of the NHS was:
“Labour’s greatest achievement. It is a working example of the best interests of the people in
this country. It is the most popular institution in Britain”2
Neglect of the NHS was a principal cause of the Conservative government’s downfall
and a major issue that helped New Labour mobilise mass political support for a landslide
election victory in 1997. Labour’s election manifesto in 1997 warned that only Labour could
“save the NHS” and a decade of New Labour in government has resulted in the largest ever
sustained increase in healthcare spending in the history of the NHS. The King’s Fund has
since reported that significant improvements have been made in quality of care, with “huge
progress” in the reduction of waiting times and “more and better services”3
However, the reform of the NHS has been described as “Labour’s greatest domestic
political challenge over two terms in power” 4, with NHS reforms proving to be highly
unpopular both within and outside the mainstream Labour party. In 2001, David Hinchcliffe,
the Labour Chair of the Health Select Committee warned that if pushed to their logical limits,
the reforms could amount to “a complete betrayal of everything that the Labour Party stood
for” and “would cause outrage within the mainstream Labour party circles”5
. At the 2005
Labour Party Conference a resolution was passed that attacked the Government’s move
“towards fragmenting the NHS and embedding a marketised system of providing public
services with a substantial and growing role for the private sector”6
 and in April 2005 more
than two thirds of signatories to a 1997 statement in The Times backing Labour’s policies on
health announced that they would not do so again.7
The Government continues to deny systematic piecemeal privatisation of the NHS
and are always quick to point out that healthcare remains “free at the point of delivery”.
However, despite the rhetoric, it is clear that a market-based approach has become central to
healthcare delivery and the role of the private sector is expanding. Labour MP, Michael
Meacher summed this up well recently8
“Equity, equal rights according to need, public accountability, a professional standard of care
and integrity are being replaced by targets, cost cutting, PFI top slicing of public expenditure