Friday, November 24, 2017

#GlitchUK - Online violence & hate speech against women and girls

Founded by Cllr Seyi Akiwowo, we are a organisation working to reduce online violence against women and girls (OVAWG) and online hate speech through advocacy, campaigning and training workshops.
When we look back on this period of time, we want to be able to say that the rise in OVAWG and online hate speech was only a “glitch” in our history. Glitch! believes that online violence of all forms is a vehicle for movements that aim to divide society and spread fear. OVAWG is a weapon used to silence women online, particularly women with an opinion, influential women and women in public office.  Online abuse takes many forms and we have seen a particular increase in OVAWG and online hate speech. We believe this has been a consequence of, and enabled by, a number of events:
  • Rise of far right movements across Europe
  • Rhetoric used during the UK EU Independence referendum and the 2016 US Presidential Election
  • Social media companies are not adequately nor consistently following enforcing rules to ensure safety of all users.
  • Underreporting of incidents to the police and robust commitment from the criminal justice system to prosecute
We believe the increase in OVAWG and online hate speech is a temporary malfunction that can be fixed. There are three important stands to our work…
1- Lobby social media companies to do more to adequately and consistently address online violence and online hate speech on their platforms.
2- Campaign to raising awareness of specific forms of online abuse and it’s impact and with partners.
3- Deliver workshops to helps cultivate the agency of users particularly young people and start conversations on how to be responsible online citizens.
Mobilising and working in partnership with other organisations, activists and survivors to amplify our voices, increase our impact and avoid duplication.
Lobbying decision and policy-makers to put pressure on social media companies to better self-regulate and to update UK laws.
Sign posting and providing information on rights, social media rules and how to report abuse.
Delivering interactive and informative training workshops in schools and to onlinetech developers.
There’s a lot of discussions and movement on online abuse given recent events so the time to make sustainable and inclusive impact is now Would you like to be a Glitch! UK Supporter? We have five ways you can become one:
We want to build an inclusive movement to end online violence against women and girls, online hate speech and repair this glitch. Follow us online and share Glitch!UK with your Facebook friends and your Twitter followers.
You can also sign and share a pledge on social media and encourage at least three of your friends to do the same:
You can also share these statements on social media encourage at least three of your friends to the same:
“In decades from now when we look back on this period of time, I want to be able to say that the rise in online violence against women and online hate speech was only a “glitch” in our history. #GlitchUK”
“Online violence against women and girls and online hate speech is a glitch in our online world and social media companies can and must fix it #GlitchUK”
We’re now heading to where it matters most, with education and young people. We cannot afford for our generation and the next to become desensitised to online violence and online hate speech.
We delivering a number of pilot workshops to supplement citizenship, PHSRE and Humanity lessons as well as school assemblies. We will officially launch our “Glitch! Training Programme” in 2018 but in the meantime we want to work with as many young people, schools and youth groups as possible.  We are also looking to work with after school youth groups and young leader groups such as Youth Councillors and Young Advisors.
Our mission to fix this current glitch in our online world can only be achieved through collaboration and partnership. We do not what reinvent the wheel nor duplicate work. Over the last nine months we have developed an inclusive movement to both raise awareness of OVAWG and online hate speech and begin repairing this glitch. If you’re an individual or an organisation working to make the online world safer and would like to be part of this movement, we would love to work with you.
  1. TELL US
Evidence strengthens our call for change. We would like to capture as many experiences of online abuse. You can share your experiences with us using the #GlitchUK hashtag or anonymously via our online form.
Do you also think social media companies can do more to deal with online abuse? We have written some recommendations on how social media companies can do more to address online violence. Tell us your thoughts and ideas.
If you have skills or expertise to help Glitch!UK grow we would love to hear from you!
If you like what you’ve read and would like to help keep us going for another nine months you can make a financial donation via paypal. You could make a £1 pledge and encourage at least three of your friends to do the same.
A regular donation means you can give small amounts every month that make a huge different to our work. Monthly gifts give us a predictable income so we can commit to raising the profile of our campaign.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

UNISON LGPS Seminar - date change now January 10th 2018 UNISON Centre (& London CIV meeting)

(I will be chairing this meeting again. London UNISON LGPS will also be meeting on Monday 11 December in order to attend the public meeting of London CIV at London Councils building. We will have pre-meeting at venue nearby beforehand. Details to follow)

"We have had to change the date for the seminar - but on the plus side we can confirm Jim McMahon Shadow LGPS Minister will be speaking

National Seminar: Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)

Wednesday 10th of January 2018 - 10.30am to 4.30pm

UNISON Centre – 130 Euston Road, London

The union’s Capital Stewardship Programme is holding a seminar for all LGPS Board members, regions and branches on the governance and economics of the LGPS. There are major reforms being implemented England, Wales and Scotland and these will be discussed across

The union has began a major organising campaign to discuss how best regions and branches can win seats on the LGPS pools.

Outside speakers have been invited from Labour’s Shadow LGPS Minister, the LGA, and DCLG

Preliminary agenda

Labour and the LGPS
The Scheme Advisory Boards - progress
Valuations, cost sharing and the 50/50 scheme
LGPS Cost Transparency – why costs matter to you
LGPS Pooling – how do we win representation
Carbon disinvestment and a just transition – how to campaign

Please contact me if you wish to reserve a place (UNISON LGPS activists only)

Best wishes

Colin Meech, National Officer, Capital Stewardship Programme"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"How the housing crisis is affecting the sector’s own staff"

A harrowing and disturbing article by Inside Housing's Jess McCabe. What happens when the workers who try and provide homes for the vulnerable are themselves living as homeless. What a sick society we live in. Employers must accept their responsibility for their staff and raise their game. See motion to UNISON Community Conference on this need.

A lack of decent, affordable housing is also affecting social landlord employees. Jess McCabe investigates. Illustration by Nick Chaffe

Social landlords are proud of their social mission: to provide decent and affordable housing. So what does it mean if some of their own staff – tasked with that very mission – are struggling to keep a roof over their heads?
Earlier this autumn, the chief executive of a large London housing association made a passing comment during an interview with Inside Housing. She had discovered that members of her own staff were living in insecure housing.
“If they were in the social sector we would consider them homeless.”

“They’re all in shared houses, or even shared bedrooms, or living in places that are disgusting,” said Kate Davies of 32,000-home Notting Hill Housing. “If they were in the social sector we would consider them homeless in those circumstances.”
It sounded shocking that a housing association’s staff could be considered effectively homeless by its chief executive.
Inside Housing wanted to investigate if this was a one-off, perhaps focused on the struggles of London life. Or was it a widespread phenomenon? We launched an anonymous survey to find out more.
What we discovered was startling. Members of staff in housing associations, councils and homelessness charities are going into work every day to contribute to the running of Britain’s social housing – and then coming ‘home’ to face the hard realities of the modern housing market (see below).
First, we must put into context that such housing problems do not affect the majority of respondents. A full 68% said they are satisfied with their housing situation. Indeed, 59% of respondents own their home, while a small number (2.5%, or 14 individuals) are in shared ownership. Another 12% live in social housing themselves. This is not always a cakewalk – particularly for staff whose employer is also their landlord – but these respondents are, by and large, happy with their lot.
Most of the problems were reported by the remaining one in five housing staff who live in privately rented homes, temporary housing, shared housing, or with friends or family. Some of these respondents were at the beginning of their careers on salaries well below the national average salary, which is £27,271 this year.
“We have members who rely on food banks and mini cabbing in the evening.”
But earning above this average, and having a managerial job, was not an absolute protection either. Even homeowners on a high income are affected by housing problems: one chief executive reported that their own child was sofa-surfing.
The majority of housing staff spend more than 30% of their salary on rent or housing costs, while 7% spend more than half their earnings on putting a roof over their head.
Many respondents told us of struggling to pay the rent – or prioritising their rent but struggling to afford food as well as things that, while not essential, are part of a satisfying life. “Some months I’m not left with much or anything after my rent goes out,” one told us. Another simply said: “I just go without everything else.”
It’s a story that is familiar to John Gray, a housing officer in east London who is Unison’s National Executive Committee member for the housing sector. “We have members who rely on food banks and mini cabbing in the evening and weekends to support their families,” he says.
Staff in the capital are particularly affected, and some are “fleeing London” for less expensive parts of the country, Mr Gray adds. He has submitted a motion calling for action on this issue to Unison’s community conference in February 2018.
Several respondents admitted to feeling despondent and even depressed about their housing. “Good housing makes for a good family life,” one noted. Of course, the converse is that a lack of good housing is not conducive to good family life.
“Depression, unable to imagine a future, no possibility of raising a family,” summarised one manager in the East of England.
When shown the results, Alison Inman, president of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “I wonder what the consequences are when staff feel that the tenants they are working with are housed more securely, and in far better maintained homes than they are able to access themselves?”
“I feel like people [living] in social housing should be more appreciative of what they have.”
When we asked housing staff about how their own housing conditions affect how they feel about their job, a minority simply said: “It doesn’t.” But for most there is a direct connection.
Some of this is good, such as for one staff member who commented: “My job keeps reminding me of how lucky I am to have a safe, secure home, unlike others who do not.”
But the feelings stirred up are not all positive. Two respondents simply said they felt “angry”.
Others admitted resentment. “I feel like people [living] in social housing should be more appreciative of what they have, rather than expecting the housing association to fix every little thing that goes wrong,” said one administrative staff member, who lives with their mother. “If I was a resident, I would be grateful.”
Another said: “I love my job and what we do is so important but it’s frustrating that at 35 I still can’t afford something more permanent than a house share and because of my circumstances will never qualify for any useful help.”
Yet another comment was: “Sometimes you see residents who have [a] higher standard of living than you yet [are] still getting state aid in the form of social rents.”
Those who had experienced housing problems and been directly refused help by their employer were particularly disillusioned.
Speaking to Inside Housing about these results over the phone, Ms Davies of Notting Hill Housing is not surprised. But what can landlords actually do? Is the answer higher pay?
On the one hand, Ms Davies says that London employers in particular may struggle to retain staff if they can’t afford to live in the capital. The problem is real, she says, with “people in couples and even with kids in shared housing”.
But it may not be possible for landlords to solve their staff’s housing problems by raising salaries alone. “If the average salary is £26,000 to £27,000, that only sustains £700 a month [on housing costs]. Wages would have to be doubled to make any difference whatsoever,” Ms Davies notes.
If that is unlikely to happen, should employees despair of their employers doing anything to help?
Ms Davies argues not, pointing out that Notting Hill runs a tenancy deposit loan scheme for staff, which can help with one large cost of housing in the private rented sector.
Since April 2015, 19 employees have taken up the loan, with five currently making repayments. Landlords also should ensure that their staff are not excluded from renting or buying, or applying for schemes their employer runs.
Even if these measures are not going to be enough to solve all the housing problems of staff, they might help people working in housing feel less excluded, and as if the sector has no answer to their housing woes.
The results of this survey are in many ways a challenge to social landlords.
Knowing that their own staff members are suffering from the housing crisis, what – if anything – are they going to do about it?


The below are all quotes from staff working in the social housing sector:
“I suffer from mental health problems after being served so many Section 21 notices when a landlord is ready to sell. I live in London and have had 14 addresses in 13 years. I have had to seek counselling for this and was medicated in the past. My two-year-old daughter has had four addresses already.”
“I always have low-level anxiety about security. I feel unable to better my situation – trapped, it exacerbates my depression and feelings of dependency.”
“My job makes me appreciate how lucky I am and how fragile housing security can be.”
“I ended up on antidepressant tablets for depression and anxiety. I was breaking down in tears and my company didn’t support me or help to rehouse me when I asked for help.”
“I’m not paid enough to afford a decent home event after working full time. It makes me realise how close I am to the people I support (one month’s salary away from homelessness).”
“It affects all aspects of your life, because you do not have your own personal space or privacy, especially when you’re living in an overcrowded flat.”
“I am struggling currently and am going to be homeless soon and am unsure where I am going to go. This makes me feel anxious and the unknown is daunting.”
“It makes me appreciate the work housing associations do for people, but I’m annoyed at government for ignoring housing as an issue to be dealt with.”
“I feel sad that I have very minimal rights in relation to those we serve – I see the contrast between the rights of social and private tenants to be worlds apart.”
“Of all the people that promote and lobby for more social housing, few live in it and are often homeowners despite being disparaging about those who aspire to have this choice.”
“I have moved to cheaper accommodation (sharing with seven people) in order to reduce costs.”
“I am always looking at things from a customer’s point of view and find myself empathising with their financial struggles. It can be difficult to then turn these emotions off and think of the needs of the business first and pursue arrears when tenants are struggling, often through no fault of their own.”
“I feel unable to complain about occasional poor service as my landlord is my employer.”
“I am a grown adult living with parents.”
“Most of my colleagues are homeowners of social tenants themselves so it can feel very lonely as they really do not understand some of the issues with living in [the private] sector.”
“Very frustrated sometimes. I am helping people all the time but there is no help for me and my situation.”
“I live on a mixed-tenure estate and think that’s an incredibly positive experience for my family.”
“My housing association is rubbish and penny-pinching when it comes to repairs. They are also quite arrogant.”
“My relationship is fine but I couldn’t afford to stay on if we separated.”
“Other people are in a much worse situation, and without housing associations would end up homeless. I am frustrated that my own housing situation isn’t better, but I think this is the result of government housing policy.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


(Picture of former Newham Labour Councillor & Civic Mayor, Vic Turner after his release from prison)



Nearest tube – Upton Park
Buses 5, 58, 115, 147


In the blazing hot July of 1972, 5 London dockers were jailed in Pentonville prison. They had picketed in defiance of Tory anti-union laws. This led to a wave of unofficial industrial action and protest involving hundreds of thousands of workers sweeping the country forcing the release of the 5 within a week.
It was a massive working class victory – part of a wave of actions during the early 1970s including factory occupations, work-ins like Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, Briant printers and Fakenham women. A long battle against anti-union laws was underway. There were epic miners strikes in 72 & 74.  In Ireland 72 saw Bloody Sunday in Derry.

This event celebrates this great victory but also looks at the lessons for our battle today against anti-union laws and rampant capitalism. Pentonville stands in the list of historic victories from Tolpuddle onwards.

Join us for this historic celebration and find out about our history and our future.

Monday, November 20, 2017

"It’s the 21st century: homes should not be unfit for human habitation"

An excellent post copied from Labour Housing Group "Redbrick" while photo (and list) from "AnotherAngryVoice".

I get to speak at meetings a fair bit, normally Labour Party or tenant campaign meetings around the place. Recently I’ve taken to asking audiences if it is possible for a landlord to let a home that is ‘unfit for human habitation’. Of course not, they usually say (although some think it was probably a new measure brought in by David Cameron….).
If they were right there would be no need for the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill which Karen Buck MP has introduced as a private member’s Bill. It is scheduled to have its second reading on 19 January 2018.
Having been involved in one successful private member’s Bill in the past (on standards in houses in multiple occupation, which passed the Commons but was lost when the 1983 general election was called) I know how hard it is to make progress with one unless it is something around which there is a strong consensus and government support (or at least acquiescence).
There have been two recent attempts to ban the letting of homes that are unfit – Tories ‘talked out’ a previous Bill and voted against it when it was brought up as an amendment subsequently. However, the electoral arithmetic has changed since June, the government is beginning to be embarrassed by its reputation for being callous in its treatment of poor people, and the time might be right for them to want to be seen to be doing the right thing.
Crucially, for the Bill to proceed there must be 100 MPs present on 19 January to guarantee a vote. It’s not as easy as it sounds because private member’s Bills are debated on a Friday when most MPs have returned to their constituencies. So: that’s where everyone interested in progressive housing policies comes in. Please make sure your MP is there to vote for the Bill!
Karen is advised by a team of legal experts and the Nearly Legal website has had excellent coverage of the detail of the Bill and its progress. Giles Peaker of Anthony Gold solicitors has written a short briefing on the Bill, setting out why it is important and what it does. I’ve extracted key points below, but the Nearly Legal website will be the best destination for detailed information about the Bill.
Giles is asking that you should contact your MP and to ask them to attend on 19 January. You can find your MP here. He also refers to Shelter’s petition in support of the Bill.
“I make no apology for going on about this. It is a relatively simple change to the law, but one that could have significant and lasting effects. It is too important to be allowed to be filibustered out. Some one million rented homes in England, social and private, have category 1 HHSRS hazards, amounting to a serious risk to health.”
Please support this important Bill.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill promoted by Karen Buck MP
Why is the Bill needed?
Currently, landlords have no obligation to their tenants to put or keep the property in a condition fit for habitation. There is an obligation on the landlord to repair the structure of the property, and keep in repair, heating, gas, water and electricity installations, but that only applies where something is broken or damaged. It does not cover things like fire safety, or inadequate heating, or poor ventilation causing condensation and mould growth.
There are a whole range of ‘fitness’ issues, which seriously affect the well-being and safety of tenants, about which tenants can do nothing at all. For private sector tenants, or housing association tenants, it is possible for the local authority to enforce fitness standards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and Housing Act 2004.
However, there is a huge degree of variability in inspection, notices and enforcement rates by councils. About 50% of councils have served none or only one HA 2004 notice in the last year. One London council, which has an active enforcement policy, amounted to 50% of notices served nationally and 70% in London. What this means is that there is a complete postcode lottery on the prospects of councils taking steps – with the real prospect being that the council won’t do so.
For council tenants, the Housing Act 2004/HHSRS standards are all but pointless. Local Housing Authorities cannot enforce against themselves. So council tenants have no way to enforce or seek to have enforced basic fitness standards, including fire safety, if their landlord doesn’t do anything.
Poor standards are a widespread problem. According to the latest English Housing Survey, 16.8% of private tenanted properties have Category 1 HHSRS hazards (which are classed as a serious risk to the occupiers’ health). That is 756,000 households, at least 36% of which contain children, and there are a further 244,000 social tenanted properties which have Category 1 HHSRS hazards. That is a million properties altogether. It is likely that more than 3 million people, including children, live in rented properties that present a serious risk to their health and safety.
What does the Bill do?
The Bill aims to complement local authority enforcement powers, by enabling all tenants to take action on the same issues and standards as local authorities can, and to give council tenants recourse. It follows the recommendations of the Law Commission and the Court of Appeal.
For any tenancy granted for less than 7 years term (including all periodic tenancies), the Bill will add an implied term that
(a) that the dwelling is fit for human habitation at the time of the grant; and,
(b) that the lessor will thereafter keep it fit for human habitation.
If the property is a flat, the obligation extends to all parts of the building in which the landlord has an interest, so it would include the common parts and the outside of a block of flats if all owned by the same landlord.
There are some exceptions, where the problem is caused by the tenant, or where the landlord can’t do anything to fix the problem without breaking the law, or where they can’t do anything without the permission of a superior landlord and that has been refused.
What this would mean is that the tenant could take action against the landlord to make them put right any problems or hazards that make the property unfit and could seek compensation when the landlord hasn’t done so.
It is not a replacement for the council’s own powers, but works alongside them, enabling tenants to take action where the council hasn’t, or can’t. For all new tenancies after the Bill comes into force, it will make it a right to have a home fit for living in".

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"The nastiest, hardest problem in finance"

Check out top pension blogger Henry Tapper on why 85% on those able to transfer their pensions out of a DB (defined Benefit Pension scheme) would be best advised not to take it (or F...k'n bonkers to do so - in my non financial advisor language)
I will quote the section where John talks about the value of retaining rights to a pension as it is as relevant for a BSPS member as for anyone else. It is an exceptional piece of writing.
Cashing in a defined benefit pension means giving up a guaranteed monthly income, increasing in line with inflation, usually from age 65 until you die, and half this amount for your surviving spouse.
Once the pension is cashed in, the decision cannot be reversed.
A final salary pension provides complex guarantees, including longevity — not running out of money, however long you live — and investment performance, as the monthly payout will continue regardless of investment returns.
The value of these guarantees to an individual member may be low if they are wealthy and their chances of running out of enough money are tiny, however long they and their spouse live.
But most people are not so wealthy and because their pension is a large part of their overall wealth, these pension guarantees are very valuable.
Make no mistake, how much to spend in retirement, so you don’t run out of money, is the most complex financial decision anyone has to make. Even Nobel prizewinner Bill Sharpe recently described it as “the nastiest, hardest problem in finance”.

Anyone looking at cashing in their pension now with high transfer values shouldn’t think they are making a financial-genius play on future real interest rates, future equity returns and their life expectancy. They especially shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they can rely on holding equities for the “long run” to replace their guaranteed pensions. The expected return from equities is not a loyalty bonus, but is just the reward for taking risk".

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Petition To Newham Council: Affordable Housing levels at former Ford Motor Showroom in Plaistow Road.

This petition is being supported by West Ham Labour Party ward. It is really positive that the branch is leading a campaign by local residents to ensure that regeneration projects comply at least with our own Borough targets for social housing. 

Ward Councillors John Whitworth and myself have formally objected to the current proposals by the developers. we have already been knocking on doors and asking residents to sign the petition. 

"The former Ford Motors’ showroom, on Plaistow Road E15, is going to be developed into
residential accommodation. As Newham residents we are keen that the site will be developed
for desperately needed social housing and not only for private sale. At the moment the
proportion of affordable housing proposed by the developers is 25% - with 60% of this
fraction being social housing. This is inadequate and falls well short of Newham’s own
targets of 35-50%.

We ask the Council to give an assurance that an increase in the proportion of social and
affordable housing in the development is being pursued on behalf of local people and in line
with its own and the improved London-wide suggested targets of 50%. We consider 50%
affordable housing to apply to 50% of all types of housing units and 50% of housing square

footage in the development".

Friday, November 17, 2017

West Ham Labour - campaigning update 17th November 2017

Dear Member

I hope you can help out and enjoy these political and social events. Don't worry if you have never been knocking on doors for Labour. We will explain things and support you at every stage.

Labour in power: what can Labour councils do?

Have your say in Newham Labour’s Campaign for 2018
19.30 – 21.30, Tuesday 28th November
Venue: 306 Stratford High Street, London E15 1AJ

West Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) is pleased to invite you to an information sharing, discussion and social event on Tuesday between 19.30 and 21.30 on Tuesday 28th November.

1. Labour in power - what can Labour councils do? Cllr Sarah Hayward (former leader of Camden Council) will talk about the possibilities for Labour councils to transform and improve their local communities.

2. Cllr. David Christie, who is coordinating the project management of the 2018 Newham Labour Manifesto – which will form the policy platform that our candidates will be standing on – will talk about the process of drafting and agreeing the manifesto and will hear from members about their priorities for Labour in Newham; and

3.Cllr Charlene McLean (West Ham CLP Chair)
We know that many members won’t have been involved in selecting Labour candidates or helping to shape a manifesto before, and we want to make sure you really do have your say in your local Labour Party. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a member, if you haven’t been a meeting before or for a long time, or whether you are a regular attender at your local Branch meetings – we’d love to see you on Tuesday 28th November at 306 Stratford High Street, London E15 1AJ.

PS. We know winter nights can be cold and miserable, so refreshments will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there!

[Please note this event was originally planned for the 21st November - so many apologies if you have received a notice for this date.]

Other campaigning & social activities in the CLP

Saturday 18th November; 11.30am; Custom House Library, Prince Regents Lane, E16 3JJ. Canvass. Contact: Rokhsana Fiaz, Custom House.

Sunday 19th November; 11.00am; FG Rail Station E7 0NF; Canvassing and calling on existing members; R. Tripp; Forest Gate North.

Sunday, November 19th 2.00pm to 4 pm, Barking Road Community Centre, 627 – 633, Barking Road, E13 9EZ. Canvass. Plaistow South.

Sunday 19th November; 11.00; Sainsbury’s Local, East Village, (E20 1DB); Canvassing and leafleting; Contact: Karl Lewis on Stratford and New Town.

Tuesday 21 November 7pm Newham Trades Council - Guest Speaker: Matt Wrack. General Secretary FBU Black Lion Pub E13

Friday 24 November 7pm Newham Fabians meeting Seb Dance MEP will be speaking. Eat16 Cafe in St Luke’s Centre (Canning Town).

Saturday 25 November. National Campaign Day. 
11.15 ATL cafe, Plaistow Road, E13 3ET, West Ham Ward Contact David Christy 
1 pm Canning Town South Ward Canvasing Meeting corner Munday and Victoria Dock Road (Adjacent to steps Royal Victoria DLR). Contact Terry Paul 
11-1pm Street Staff, near Forest Gate Railway station contact Carel

Sunday 26 November 11.00 – 1pm, meet outside Nisa Local, 53 Freemason Road, E16 3PJ. Canvass. Custom House

Friday 1 December 6pm Pentonville 5 Event, East Ham Working Man's Club, E6 1QE, Greater London Trade Councils

Saturday 2 December Forest Gate North Winter Social 7.30pm email Carel on or

Saturday 9 December & Sunday 10 December branch hustings for local Councillor Candidates

Thursday 14th December - Newham Compass debate: "What should the Left be doing about Brexit?" at East Ham Working Men's Club, Boleyn Road E6 1QE at 7.30 pm. Stephen Timms MP & Gordon Murray of the SNP are the speakers. Contact for details.

We look forward to seeing you!
John Gray
Vice Chair (Campaigns and Comms) West Ham CLP

t @westhamlabour
f westhamlabour

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Poverty Pay and Rotten Housing for Housing Association & Voluntary Sector workers

I hope this motion will go to the UNISON Community conference next year.

"This conference notes

1.       A Chief Executive of a Large Housing Association recently remarked at a meeting that many of the workers and their families employed by the association to support and rehouse the homeless lived in worse accommodation than the people they were trying to help.

2.       Years of below inflation pay rises and massive increase in rents and property prices means that many Housing Association and Voluntary workers live in privately rented shared, damp, expensive, overcrowded and insecure homes.

3.       Most of their income is spent on rent and travel costs with nothing left over in order to save for a better quality home.

4.       Housing Associations and Voluntary sector who operate in expensive property areas have a duty and responsibility to their workforce to ensure that they live in suitable and affordable accommodation.

5.       If a Housing Association or Voluntary sector worker is inadequately housed and living in poverty then the service they provide to residents and clients will also be adversely affected.

6.       Historically, Housing Associations and other housing providers in the past did provide accommodation for some of their workers and today many still provide services tenancies to staff. Others provide “Key worker” accommodation.

7.       Housing Associations are also major developers as well as Landlords who build homes for sale, shared ownership, provide Student and supported accommodation as well as market, near market and social rents. They are uniquely able to provide housing solutions to their workers.

This Conference resolves:-

1.       To call upon the Community Service Group Executive to continue to campaign with Labour Link, branches, regions and self organised Groups for extra funding for the sector and better wages for staff including sector pay boards.

2.       To also work with the National Housing Federation and Voluntary sector employer organisations to campaign for their workers to be treated as “key workers” and for them to provide safe, secure and affordable homes for them if needed.

3.       To also work with the Co-operative movement to see if a co-operative housing model could provide decent homes for housing association and voluntary sector workers and their families. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Revealed: the true cost of the House of Lords

The Electoral Reform Society have released a devastating analysis of the state of the House of Lords in 2017 – revealing the ‘democratic crisis’ at the heart of the Lords.

The Audit coincides with a key Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday calling for reform of the upper house [1] –

It follows a report from the Lord Speaker’s Committee on the Size of the House [2] suggested moving to a still-unelected, 600-member house by 2028. ERS polling found that 88% of people believe the Lords should be smaller than 600 members [3].

The findings have spurred the ERS to call for substantive reform of a ‘crumbling, crony-packed chamber’, with The High Cost of Small Change: The House of Lords Audit revealing:
  • Lords-a-claiming: 455 Lords claimed more than the average take home pay of full-time employees during the 2016/17 session – despite the house sitting for just 141 days.
  • 33 inactive peers picked up £462,510 in tax-free expenses [4] – claiming an average of £746 per vote
  • Daily allowance and travel costs for the 2016-17 session came to over £19 million.
  • Couch-potato peers: Nearly 1 in 10 of the peers eligible to vote throughout 2016/17 (9.2% - 72 of the 779) are inactive when it comes to scrutinising the government’s work on committees, in the chamber, or through written questions – vital roles for the revising chamber
  • A noisy minority: The top 300 voting peers account for over 64% of all votes in divisions during the 2016/17 session – suggesting much of the work of the Lords is done by a minority of peers
  • Not so independent: Despite claims that the Lords is less partisan than the Commons, 78% of Conservative peers failed to vote against the government once in 2016/17, while the average Labour Peer voted against the government in 90% of votes
    • Meanwhile, Crossbench peers vote far less than partisan Lords – 41% voted fewer than ten times in 2016/17 (compared to 14% for Labour and 7% for the Conservatives)
  • An ageing upper chamber: Nearly one in five peers (18%) are over the age of 80 – compared to just 6.6% of the over-21 population (only over-21s can sit in the upper house)
  • House of Has-Beens? The House hosts 184 ex-MPs, 26 ex-MEPs, 11 ex-MSPs, 8 ex-Welsh AMs, 6 ex-London AMs, 11 ex-MLAs and 39 current or ex-council leaders, as of April 2017.
See report on the House of Lords below by the ERS. I do believe in having "checks and balances" on the House of Commons and much good work is done in the Lord's currently but it is currently an undemocratic and expensive mess that needs urgent reform.

"72 peers failed to speak in the chamber, table a written question or serve on a committee at all in the whole of 2016/17. 33 of them claimed a huge £462,510 (an average of £14,015 each).

New analysis shows the 33 expenses-claiming ‘couch potato peers’ took part in just 24% of votes – meaning they claimed an average of £746 per vote.

Recent analysis by the ERS shows 109 peers made no spoken contributions - with 63 of these claiming a total of £1,095,701 in expenses.

The ERS is calling for a proportionally-elected upper house of 300 members.

In 2015, the ERS launched House of Lords: Fact vs Fiction [5], showing that in the 2010-2015, £360,000 was claimed by peers in years they failed to vote once. Yet the problem of inactive peers appears to have worsened significantly.

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Despite some minor reforms, the problems of Britain’s broken upper house continue to fester. With nearly one in ten unelected peers failing to contribute in key ways – despite many of them picking up large sums – we have a democratic crisis in our second chamber.

“The vast majority of party-affiliated peers toe the line, while many Crossbench peers simply don’t turn up. The so-called ‘independent’ chamber is packed full of party loyalists.

“The past few years have seen one expenses scandal after another, with peers turning up to claim without substantially contributing. We have seen a barrage of appointments based on patronage. And we’ve seen Peers themselves admit they treat our upper house as a retirement home, a private members’ club. This is no fit state for the Mother of all Parliaments.

“This report lays bare the rotten state of this unelected second chamber – from couch-potato peers to lobby-fodder lords. We need real reform now – not tinkering around the edges.

“Politicians must now meet the challenge before this crumbling, crony-stuffed house declines even further. Voters want real change. It’s time for both MPs and peers to embrace it.”

The report concludes:

“The second chamber is demonstrably in need of serious reform. Whether it is the thousands claimed by inactive peers or the dominance of defeated politicians, it is clear that until we let the light in, the rot within the Mother of all Parliaments will only get worse.

“We must see parties commit to a far smaller, proportionally-elected upper house. At a time of significant constitutional, economic and political change, the need for an effective House of Peers or Senate is overwhelming.

“Whatever the final details [of an elected upper house], the principle remains: those who vote on our laws should be accountable to those affected by those laws. As we have shown, that is a matter both of principle and pragmatism.

“Now is no time for minor tinkering; the public call for a real overhaul is loud and clear. Let’s get on with meeting our democratic duty - and give voters the revising chamber Britain needs.”


A copy of the report available to view here: