“UNSURPRISINGLY THESE CHANGES WILL SEE THE RICHEST PROTECTED WHILE THE POOREST LOSE”
Commenting on changes to welfare coming in this week, Labour’s London Assembly economy spokeswoman, Fiona Twycross AM, said:
“These punitive cuts will leave many Londoners financially worse off, including the most vulnerable.
“London’s high cost of living means that many people are dependent on child tax credits, housing benefit and Employment Support Allowance to get by.
“Amongst those penalised most severely by these cuts are families, people with disabilities, young people and the bereaved.
“This is a heartless move from the Government who should be making life easier for those who are struggling, not making things harder.
“Unsurprisingly, these changes will see the richest protected whilst the poorest lose. The Prime Minister needs to think again if this is what she considers an economy that works for everyone.
“I would urge anyone that needs advice about the changes to visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau.”
o Two-child limit on child tax credit, from 6th April;
o Scrapping the “family element” of child tax credit for all families except those with a child born before 6th April;
o Employment and Support Allowance claimants in the Work-Related Activity group (WRAG) will get £29.05 less per week;
o Housing benefit scrapped for jobseekers aged 18-21, from 1st April;
o New Bereavement Support Payment. Lump sum given to grieving families will increase from £2,000 to £3,500, but weekly taxable benefit of £112 (up until the youngest child leaves education) will be cut to £350 a month (with a time limit of 18 months), from 6th April;
o A report from the Resolution Foundation found that incoming tax and benefit changes will leave poorer households worse off, whilst richer households unaffected by benefit changes will be better off.
Fiona Twycross AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member (Source: Mayor of London’s office press release)
REAL MADRID PROJECT KICKED OFF BY CLUB STAR
Former Real Madrid footballer Emilio Butragueño has officially launched the UK’s first Real Madrid Foundation Social Sports School at The Cedars school in Croydon.
Speaking at the launch, the award-winning goal scorer explained how football is a wonderful tool that helps many children develop and grow, not only as sportsmen and women, but also as people.
Introduced by Matthew Sherwood, CEO of the PACT educational trust, which runs The Cedars, he thanked both the school and the council for their help in providing such fantastic facilities and said how great it was the school so clearly shares the values of the Real Madrid Foundation.
The sports school is now one of 75 around the world supported by the Spanish club with the aim of helping children between the ages of eight and 11 who may be at risk of exclusion. It offers young people activities to develop their skills, both in sports and in terms of relationships and social integration.
The project will be focusing mainly on helping children from the south of the borough, and is a partnership between Real Madrid, The Cedars School, Football for Unity, the council, and the Kinetic Foundation.
Anyone wanting to book onto the free Saturday sessions which run from 9am to 11am can register via the croydon.gov news website (press release dated March 24th).
The Cedars was established three years ago in a listed building on Coombe Lane, adjacent to public land off Lloyd Park. The council has since worked closely with the school to enable them to turn part of this land into high quality sports pitches in order to enable the Real Madrid project to be launched.
“Our young people are the leaders of tomorrow and it’s our job to keep them safe, healthy and happy and help them be the best they can be. “This is a brilliant opportunity for some of the children in Croydon’s more deprived wards to learn skills that will help them throughout their lives.”
Football for Unity works internationally to use the sport to forge links between young people from different backgrounds and help aspiring players flourish, whatever their background.
The Kinetic Foundation is a Croydon-based sports charity that delivers a wide range of educational services and opportunities for young people to help them learn new skills and improve their employment prospects. (Source: Croydon council press release)
NEW CCTV CAMERAS TO CATCH FLY-TIPPERS WILL ‘FLY’ AROUND LAMBETH
New CCTV cameras have been rolled out across Lambeth with the sole aim of catching and deterring fly-tippers.
The cameras will be moved from place to place, with a focus on known fly-tipping hotspots, recording images that can be used to prosecute people who dump rubbish, say Lambeth council.
Fly-tipping includes dumping bags of waste or unwanted furniture out on the public footway, as well as the larger scale dumping of building materials etc.
Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Fly tipping is a blight on our streets and we are determined to tackle it.
“It not only ruins the environment and angers neighbouring residents, it costs the council a fortune to deal with. “Some people might think it’s OK to put out an old mattress or the odd bag of rubbish – it’s not.
“Fly-tippers be warned – your behaviour will not be tolerated in Lambeth, we will catch you and we will prosecute you.”
The three additional cameras, that feed back into the council’s central CCTV system are able to cover a total of 36 different locations each year.
Fines: Fly-tipping can be punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a magistrates court, or an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment if convicted in a crown court.
There are also a number of other possible penalties, including fixed penalty notices of between £150-£400 and seizing a vehicle and/or its contents because of suspected involvement in fly-tipping. (Source: Lambeth council’s Love Lambeth website)
COUNCIL CALLS FOR REVERSAL OF PLAN TO STOP IVF FUNDING
A letter from Croydon council’s health and social care scrutiny committee calls on the government to stop the withdrawal of funding for IVF treatment in the borough.
Sent to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, the letter asks him to look at the Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group’s cost-cutting decision.
NHS England figures show that 1 in 7 may have trouble conceiving, meaning that there are potentially more than 9,000 adult individuals living in deprived areas that might have trouble conceiving.
The impact of a decision to remove access to IVF will mean that those in the most deprived, low-income areas will be unable to afford to pay for private treatment and will probably never know if they could have had children.
The committee says that withdrawal of funding could make people think twice about moving to Croydon, and that a postcode lottery has resulted as people in other London boroughs continue to have access to IVF treatment.
With the average cost for one treatment being almost £9,000, and an annual cost of more than £880,000 for providing IVF at Croydon University Hospital, the CCG sees the withdrawal of funding as necessary as it strives to find savings of £36m this year.
It says that if the service remains in place, savings will have to be found elsewhere.
Committee members fear a rise in people requiring mental health services to treat the anxiety and depression caused by being unable to have children. And they say that, in the longer term, relationship breakdowns can have a high cost to society.
A recent CCG consultation showed that 77 per cent of almost 800 respondents thought the funding should be retained.
Cllr Carole Bonner, who chairs th council’s health and social care scrutiny committee said: “We’re making this referral because of the potential long-term adverse health effects the removal of IVF will have on Croydon residents.
“Not only can infertility result in family breakdown and the ending of relationships, but it often has an impact on the mental health of those affected.
“A comprehensive study was carried out by Middlesex University and the Fertility Network that showed a clear correlation between infertility and depression, with 90pc experiencing depression.
“The committee is acutely aware of, and has sympathy for, the CCG’s underfunding and the inconsistencies of the funding formula when compared to similar authorities. “But we feel the effects of the withdrawal of IVF funding in Croydon are not in the best interests of the borough’s residents.”
Council leader Tony Newman said: “It’s true to say that the decision to withdraw funding will be reviewed in a year, but, even if the funding is restored at that point, there would be residents who have passed the age limit and missed the chance of conceiving
“On a personal level, that could have devastating consequences, and that’s why we’re urging the secretary of state for health to review the CCG’s decision and also to allocate additional funding to the historically underfunded Croydon group.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
TOGETHER WE CAN TACKLE CHILD ABUSE
Bromley council are once again working with the Department for Education (DfE) to raise awareness of what to do when worried about a child.
The clear message is ‘keeping our children safe is everyone’s business’. The main aim is to give members of the public confidence to act on their suspicions and make a report if they see or hear something that concerns them.
Bromley council are committed to keeping children safe and has placed ‘ambitious for all our children’ at the heart of its Building a Better Bromley priorities, said a spokesperson.
“Following its support for ‘Together, we can tackle child abuse’ – the campaign launched last year by DfE – the council will again be letting local people know what to do if they are concerned, through its website, posters and social media.”
Cllr Peter Fortune, Bromley’s executive councillor for education and children’s services, says:
“Sometimes, it’s difficult for people to speak out, but if you have a feeling that something’s not quite right, talk to Bromley’s social care team who can look into it.
“Every call counts – last year, 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed they needed help.
“It is crucial that people contact our dedicated safeguarding team, or a social worker, if they suspect that a child is being abused or neglected.
“We understand people’s concerns about reporting, but it is likely that your report could form a part of a bigger picture. “If we all involve ourselves now, we help to remove our children and young people from harm’s way.”
Are you worried about a child in the borough? If you think it, report it. Please visit: www.bromley.gov.uk/worriedaboutachild (Source: Bromley council press release)