News from Kent Greens
Questioning the Bedroom Tax
Sun, 16 Jun 2013
Green Party Kent County Councillor, Martin Whybrow, is pressing for answers on the extent to which the coalition government's 'bedroom tax' is hitting some of the county's poorest residents. Martin says:
"While some councils around the country have been busy 're-classifying rooms' in social housing, there is concern that KCC is leaving its residents fully exposed to the bedroom tax. I have asked KCC's Andrew Ireland, corporate director of families and social care, how many households in Kent and Medway are affected by the bedroom tax and how many households have had rooms 're-classified'. I have also asked for details of the number of one bedroom social housing properties in the county and how many one bedroom properties are currently available for re-letting in the social rented sector.
"The aim of the tax is to push people out of 'under-occupied' social housing to be replaced by others with insufficient rooms. Anyone remaining is docked 14 percent of their housing benefit per week for one 'spare' room (on average, £14) and 25 percent for two or more. This form of social experiment might have sounded okay at the drawing board stage but should have been scrapped as soon as anyone had considered the reality. Instead, the government ploughed on, uniting in opposition groups as diverse as charities and the National Housing Federation(1). . "Having met of late with residents on the receiving end of this and with the local Citizens Advice Bureau, it is only too clear that behind the stats are the human costs(2)."
Ends c258 words
FURTHER INFORMATION: Martin Whybrow Green Party County Councillor for Hythe - St.Catherine, Cliff Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 5XW 01303 269827 07787 124794 www.kentgreenparty.org Promoted by H.Dawe for Kent Green Party, both at 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF. KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at www.kentgreenparty.org
1. False Economy, the trade union-backed campaign, collected data from 107 local authorities which shows 86,000 households have been forced to look for one-bedroom homes, of which only 33,000 have become available in the past year.
2. Many people do not want to uproot from family and friends, so they are staying where they are and suffering as a result. Rent arrears are clearly increasing as a direct result, with evictions to follow. "Even putting aside the moral argument, the tax also makes no economic sense," says Councillor Whybrow. "Kent's poorest residents are under attack from a range of benefit cuts and the bedroom tax is one aspect of this. I hope to hear how our council is working to minimize the impact."
A Living Wage or more child poverty
Sun, 09 Jun 2013
Kent Green Party supports a Living Wage policy. Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party, explains why the Party is writing again to all local councils in Kent ask them to become Living Wage employers and to encourage private sector employers to join in:
"Government policies have led to more than one in four children living in poverty(1). Kent Green Party supports a Living Wage as a response to the declining incomes of the poorest fifth of households. Kent Greens want all employers to pay a minimum wage of £7.45 per hour. Kent County Council is one of the worst offenders, paying over 1200 staff less than the living wage of £7.45 per hour(2). A Living Wage is based on the principle of being set and maintained at 60% of net national average earnings(3). This policy would reduce benefits going to poor families with at least one earner(4), and means more money would go into local economies. Kent Green Party wants local councils to lead a campaign by adopting Living Wage policies themselves and strongly encouraging employers to do the same.
"Kent Green Party recognises that austerity policies have had more impact on women than men (5). A Living Wage can contribute to changing this.
"A Living Wage should be an essential element of the forward planning of our local councils and all other Kent employers. Local Green parties throughout the country have joined in campaigns for a Living Wage, and London Mayor Boris Johnson is a leading supporter(6)."
Ends c 258 words
FURTHER INFORMATION: Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party, on 0797 0436 029. Contact address as above. Published by Kent Green Party and promoted by H.Dawe, both at 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF.
1. SEE Child Poverty Action Group: http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures
2. Freedom of Information response from Kent County Council to Kent Green Party: copy available on request to email@example.com
3. SEE: http://www.livingwage.org.uk/
4. There are about 6.1 million people living in families with at least one earner who remain in poverty due to low wages. This is more than the 5.1 million living in workless families. SEE: joint churches report The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty, p.13.
5. Peter Taylor-Gooby The Double Crisis of the Welfare State and what we can do about it (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp10-11.
6. Local Green Parties have been at the forefront of Living Wage campaigning in England: Camden, Lewisham and Lambeth in London and Sheffield have all introduced local Living Wage policies as a result of campaigning by Green Party councillors eg. http://camden.greenparty.org.uk/localsites/camden/news/Introduce-London-Living-Wage-for-Camen-Council-contractors-now.html & http://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2010/02/02/living-wage-without-delay/ Living Wage policies were introduced in London as a result of Green Party Members of the Greater London Assembly successfully lobbying the previous Mayor, who set up a Living Wage Unit. In 2007, Oxford Green councillors succeeded in passing a Council motion to bring in a Living Wage of £7 for Council workers, and are now pushing to have this extended to contractors as well. http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2008-10-24-younggreens.html Brighton and Hove Green Party's Budget for their Council for 2011-2012 included planning for a Living Wage: http://www.brightonhovegreens.org/assets/files/localparties/brighton/publications/Greenalternativebrightonbudget2011web.pdf
Greens Oppose Badger Cull
Thu, 06 Jun 2013
Kent Green Party strongly opposes the badger cull on the basis of the scientific evidence and significant animal-welfare, public-safety and ethical concerns. The scientific evidence is clear: the Randomised Badger-Culling Trial (RBCT), a large-scale trial of culling, concluded that 'badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB.' It also concluded that other approaches to culling would at best give only slightly better results and at worst have a detrimental effect.
Caroline Allen, veterinary surgeon and national Green Party Spokesperson on animal issues, said:
"I completely understand the distress this issue causes to farmers and that TB is a serious disease of cattle. However the feeling of frustration and wanting to 'do something' must not mean we disregard the facts and ethical considerations. The current plan is a dangerous one."
It is very unfortunate that the Government has chosen to reduce the funding of badger-vaccination trials.
Whilst the Government has pledged that it will take measures to ensure the cull is carried out humanely and with high regard to animal welfare, the anatomy of the badger means that the method chosen - free shooting - is simply not appropriate, since it carries a very high risk of leaving badgers wounded and in pain. In addition there is a risk to people of injury and even death from the use of firearms at night to carry out the cull.
Caroline Allen added, "Even if there were a better chance of success I don't believe it is ethically right to be attempting almost to clear an indigenous species from large tracts of our countryside. Sadly the badger has become the scapegoat for this disease. I call on the Government and Defra to wake up and show some leadership and deal with other aspects of disease transmission, including cattle-to-cattle transmission. Then we may start to make some progress against this disease and the distress it causes to farmers and their herds."
FURTHER INFORMATION: Caroline Allen, Green Party spokesperson on Animals: For any interview enquiries, please contact Green Party national press office, 020 7549 0315. Promoted by H.Dawe for Kent Green Party, both at 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF. KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at www.kentgreenparty.org Members of the Green Party were amongst those attending the recent anti-Badger Cull demonstration, in London.
Green Party obtains Councillor in Thanet
Tue, 21 May 2013
The Green Party has acquired another principal authority councillor in Kent, after the success of Martin Whybrow in being elected to Kent County Council for Hythe in the recent County Elections.
Ian Driver, independent councillor for Northwood Ward on Thanet District Council, has joined the Green Party. Ian has a long experience of working for Citizens' Advice and as a campaigner against Live Exports from Ramsgate and Dover. Ian will now be working with the Thanet branch of Kent Green Party to promote Green policies in Thanet.
Ian has already been a vigorous campaigner in Thanet, trying repeatedly to improve the quality of decision making on Thanet District Council, as his Blog makes clear: https://plus.google.com/112920699360246198166/posts
"I welcome the opportunity to join with the Green Party in promoting messages of hope in Thanet. Green policies(1) can deliver more employment than relentless austerity and declining incomes in over half of all households. The Green Party has repeatedly suggested two key initiatives for Thanet:
Â· Moving a Government department from London to Thanet to change employment opportunities on the Isle permanently;
Â· Converting the economically unsuccessful, noisy and polluting Manston Airport into an all-weather leisure development(2).
"Combining these with rational levels of spending on public services resulting from a fair system of taxation would reverse decades of economic difficulties in Thanet."
Ends c224 words
FURTHER INFORMATION: Councillor Ian Driver, 45 Sea View Road, Broadstairs CT10 1BX Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 07866 588766. Contact address as above. Promoted by H.Dawe for Kent Green Party, both at 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF. KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at www.kentgreenparty.org
1. See Kent Green Party manifesto at www.kentgreenparty.org in the Manifesto section for many examples.
2. Combined with the remarkably successful Turner Centre and the prospect of a revived Dreamland, Thanet's tourism offer could be radically increased.