Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Severe Weather Emergency Provision or Protocol: What is SWEP?

"Homelessness is an emergency whatever the weather but in winter and freezing weather, people are in even greater danger. Hannah Faulkner, Head of Pan-London Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo's explains how we help bring people in from the cold during SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Provision or Protocol).

If you see someone sleeping rough, and the situation is an emergency, please don’t hesitate – call 999 for an ambulance or the police. Otherwise please use StreetLink to tell services where you’ve seen someone sleeping rough. StreetLink is the national homelessness referral line, which we manage in partnership with Homeless Link.. If you see someone sleeping rough, please @Tell_StreetLink through their website or app. Not sure what SWEP stands for? Watch our video:"

Monday, January 21, 2019

Newham Peoples Budget Forum - East Ham

Picture collage from this evenings consultation forum at Newham Town Hall. Which I thought went very well. I chaired the meeting due to last minute illness. The Mayor, Cabinet lead for Finance and officers did excellent presentations. Residents gave lots of feedback (and push back) but  there was broad support for keeping "eat for free" for primary school kids, increasing youth services, paying London Living wage for all carers, increasing Council tax while at the same time reducing it by nearly 50% for our poorest residents.

All in all a good day. Many thanks to all the borough staff involved in these forums (and for the photos).  A really professional event.

The last forum will be:-
Stratford & West Ham​Thursday 24 January​10.30am- 1pm​Old Town Hall, Stratford, 29 The Broadway, Stratford, E15 4BQ

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Right to Buy: Wrong for London

"Dear John

Tomorrow I’m publishing a new report which reveals the extent to which former council homes sold through the Right to Buy are now being rented out by private landlords. In advance of its publication I wanted to share some of the individual borough findings with Labour councillors in London today.

Across London, 42% of homes sold off through the Right to Buy are now being rented out by private landlords at market rates – up from 36% when I last investigated this issue in 2014.

That’s at least 11,000 more council homes in the hands of private landlords than there were five years ago, a shocking transfer of wealth from the many to the few.

In Newham, 44.6% of former council homes sold through the Right to Buy are now being rented out by private landlords. There are at least 5 individuals in Newham who own five or more former council homes.

My report also reveals that councils in London are spending a total of at least £22 million a year renting back 2,333 of their former council homes to house homeless families. These were homes they were forced to sell at a discount that they now have to pay market rates to rent back.

Newham has to rent back 808 homes at an annual cost of £12,858,869.

This is ludicrous, and the blame lies squarely with Tory government policies.

It would be galling if the crucial work Labour councils across London are doing building new council homes for the first time in a generation was undermined by the continuation of the Right to Buy.

That’s why I’m asking people to take action by signing this petition calling on Theresa May to end Right to Buy in England. The Scottish and Welsh governments have already done so.

I would be extremely grateful if you could promote this petition on social media so that it can attract as much support as possible.

The full report will be published on my website tomorrow along with the data tables. If you have any questions about the research, or would like to discuss it, please let me know".

Best wishes,

Tom Copley AM
London Assembly Member | City Hall Labour housing spokesperson

(this is a great evidence backed campaign led by Tom which should be supported by all of us concerned with the housing crisis in London and elsewhere. I have signed the petition)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

UNISON NEC elections 2019: Black Member's Conference

Great picture from a chilly Llandudno, North Wales this morning. UNISON black members conference is taking place here. Members were out leafleting delegates as they arrived for conference.

NEC branch nominations last until 15 February. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Malvern Hills New Year Walks 2019. Joy & Sadness

Mostly off message but Gill and spent new year in Great Malvern, Worcestershire. We had never been here before but I had seen the historical railway poster (see bottom right) and thought it might be a good place to go walking.

It turned out to be a fabulous place to visit and go walking. We stayed in a lovely rented cottage in Great Malvern (much better value than anything on Airbnb).

Walk across the road and you start climbing up the hills which are "an area of outstanding natural beauty".  Our best walk was from Great Malvern along the ridge to the ancient celtic fort now called the "British camp". Then walk down across countryside to Colwall railway station and take train back home. About 8 miles walking and under 5 hours. Stunning views from beginning to end.

There are a number of good restaurants, cafes and pubs as well as an impressive church with beautiful medieval stained glass windows (and outside were Annie, the 10 year old daughter of Charles Darwin is buried. We actually stayed near where she actually died. I remember the moving film about her death and the impact on her father and science "Creation").

Another nearby sad sight but one bang up to date, was the flowers and messages in the Great Malvern department store doorway, (see top left) where in this prosperous, very middle England town, a young homeless man was found dead on Christmas day. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nominate John & Denise for UNISON NEC Community seats 2019

The UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) is our union's parliament which oversees the running of the union in between our annual National Conference, which is held each year in in June. UNISON members vote every 2 years by postal ballot to their home addresses for NEC representatives.

Denise and I are asking UNISON branches that have "Community" members (those who work for Voluntary sector and Housing Associations) to nominate us for the forthcoming election. There are over 500 such branches and we have emailed all of them.

You can download nomination forms and election guidance here. You have until 15 Feb to hold a qualifying branch or committee meeting.

Denise is employed in the voluntary sector and I am employed by a large national housing association.

Check out our Facebook page

Ballot papers are sent out from 15 April.

Many thanks for consideration

John & Denise

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Campaigning for a Fairer private rented sector

This is a model housing motion from London Labour Housing Group. It makes perfect sense to me. I have submitted to West Ham GC as a UNISON delegate.  

"This conference notes:

1.That the number of households in London who rent from private landlords is up from 15% in 2000 to 27% in 2017 and that Shelter forecast that nationally this growth will continue.

2. The lack of security for private tenants causes unnecessary homelessness and makes it very difficult for private tenants to lead settled lives.

3. High rents in this sector cause hardship for tenants and leads to the taxpayer subsidizing private landlords via housing benefit.

4. Shelter believe that the reasons behind Labour winning in Canterbury and Kensington is due to the number of private tenants voting Labour ( the rentquake).

Conferences therefore calls upon the London Labour Party:

1. To hold a London wide campaign day in 2019 for Labour’s proposal to improve the private rented sector.

2. To produce campaign materials for constituency labour parties on the private rented sector.

3. To set up an on -line petition to call for an end to no fault evictions and rent controls for the private rented sector.

4. To produce guidance for all Labour Council Groups and constituency labour parties on how the Letting Fees bill currently in Parliament should be enforced by local councils.

5. To ask the London Mayor to produce a vision for the private rented sector in the capital and to make the reform of the private rented sector a key political issue in the manifesto for the 2020 London elections.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Newham RMS report to Extraordinary Council meeting 22 January 2019

"*Stop Press* Papers for next week's Extraordinary Full Council at 7.30pm Stratford Town Hall - open to all Newham London residents and public. All welcome. You'll find out what really happened in the council's Highways Repairs & Maintenance which led to a £8.6 million overspend before May 2018. Plus what we plan to do next. #transparency Hat tip Mayor Fiaz. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

NEC Elections 2019: Community General Seat & Female Seat Nomination Request (2)

John Gray & Denise Thomas
RMS 3083288 RMS 8688788

If you are a Community UNISON member please ask your branch to nominate us. They have all been sent our nomination requests. 

We deserve a Pay Rise!

Care and support staff wages in particular are under threat as unscrupulous employers deliberately underbid to win contracts then try and do their upmost to destroy TUPE protections.

Many Housing management organisations are cash rich after years of rent rises yet still refuse to give their staff decent pay rises. In the voluntary sector employers are funding the National Living wage by attacking terms and conditions and increasing workloads.

Both of us as NEC and SGE members have been working and campaigning with branches and regions to oppose these measures. We believe that Community members must play our part in opposing Austerity and arguing for an alternative economic policy. We need to pull together and get rid of the current UK government

We also support the Community specific campaigns below such as:-

Better funding & resources for branches that support Community members. Community workers often work for small employers and in isolated workplaces.

Campaign for Inclusive Workplace policies by employers

No public money for “union busters”. Any employer that does not have a trade union recognition agreement should be barred from grants or contracts from local or national governments.

Sector Wage Councils. Set up to decide the pay and conditions of all staff by collective bargaining including a living wage minimum for all Community workers and agency/sub-contractors.

UNISON Ethical Care Charter. All employers must be called upon to support and sign up.

Better governance and democracy. Increasingly many of our employer management boards are run by highly paid unelected and unrepresentative “elites”. There should be union employee representation on all Community Trust or management boards, especially remuneration committees (if applicable)

Defend Pensions. Protect the Social Housing Pension fund and the Pension Trust from further cuts. Access to a decent defined benefit pension scheme for all.

Better health & safety at work in particular protecting members by supporting the “End Violence at Work” charter.

Recruit & train more activists to support members

We believe that we would both work together well as your Community NEC team. While Denise’s employer is a charity, John’s is a housing association, so we represent and complement both of the major sectors in the Community Service Group.

If you would like either of us to come and attend a branch meeting or hustings (under UNISON election rules) then please let us know and if we can, we will be delighted to come and speak.

You can contact Denise by denise_thomas2@msn.com or John on john.gray2012@icloud.com

Part 1 was https://www.johnslabourblog.org/2019/01/nec-elections-2019-community-general.html

Saturday, January 12, 2019

UNISON Membership Services - latest deals and offers

These are the info and links to the newest deals from UNISON Membership Service Providers. I always check these links before I buy any service. Sometimes they not the most competitive but usually they are and you can be reassured that they have been vetted

I like the slogan "We’re always looking out for you when you’re at work, but there’s much more to life".

There is of course also the lovely UNISON owned beach holiday resort in Croyde Bay!

UNISON Health & Dental Plans

'Win a £2,000 Holiday' with UNISON Health & Dental Plans Enter the Free Prize Draw exclusively for UNISON members below.

Get your NHS dental bills repaid in full up to £500 per year.

Join today to get your money back each time you visit your NHS dentist.

To find out more about the UNISON NHS Dental Plan and to enter the Free Prize Draw Click Here <http://comms.unionbenefits.co.uk/unison-dental-plan-prize-draw-apply-now>

Prefer to get your money back on everyday health expenses like trips to the opticians as well as the dentists?

You can with the UNISON Health Plan. To find out more and to enter the Free Prize Draw Click Here<http://comms.unionbenefits.co.uk/unison-health-plan-prize-draw-apply-now>

Welfare/There for You

Get help with winter fuel bills

UNISON members living on a low income constantly struggle to make ends meet - and this can be particularly acute in the winter when the cost of heating homes rises as the outside temperature falls.

UNISON's welfare charity There for You has a limited fund to help members on low incomes towards the cost of their winter fuel bill through a one-off payment of £60.

Contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0857 857 for a form to be sent to you - or download:

Winter Fuel Grant application form<https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Winter-Fuel-Grant-Application-Form-2018-19.pdf>,

Winter Fuel Grant Q&A<https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Winter-Fuel-Grant-Q-and-A-2018-19.pdf>,

Winter Fuel Grant poster<https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Winter-Fuel-Grant-Poster-2018-19.pdf>

Completed applications need to be sent to There for You, (WFG) UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY by Friday 15 February 2019 at the latest https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/services-support/there-for-you/


LV= is UNISONs approved Car insurance provider and UNISON members have been enjoying exclusive discounts on LV= Car and Breakdown insurance for many years.

We're excited to now offer UNISON members our new Multi Car policy that gives UNISON members discounts on every car.

With this new multi car policy UNISON members can:

· Add up to 6 cars and 12 drivers on one policy

· Add all cars at the same time, schedule some for later or add them in afterwards

· Choose the cover level and specific optional extras you'd like for each car

· All cars will share the same renewal date

For more information on multi car, breakdown cover, motorbike, classic car and caravan insurance head to https://www.lv.com/UNISON 21820-2018

Vision Express

For January only, exclusive for Unison Members:

- FREE eye test, no minimum spend. Offer valid from 01.01.19 - 31.01.19.

- Current national offer or save £30 on complete glasses

- 3-months supply of soft disposable contact lenses when joining our contact lens direct debit scheme (Complete Contact Care) - terms and conditions apply

- 10% off non prescription sunglasses

- Additional vouchers for a family member or friend HOW TO CLAIM

1. Click http://www.visionexpress.com/unison

2. You will be redirect to a new page

3. Fill out the form to register

4. Your vouchers will be emailed to you

5. Show your vouchers in store

Union Energy

If you're paying more than £1,137 a year for gas and electricity then go to our website to see if you could switch and save at www.unionenergy.co.uk<http://www.unionenergy.co.uk> or telephone 0800 094 9039 quoting Unison.

UNISON Credit Union - Christmas Club Savings Accounts

Membership of London Capital Credit Union is open to any union member in Greater London. Now is the time to start thinking about a Christmas Club for 2019.

If you are about to get a big post-Xmas credit card bill, why not consider a low cost credit union loan to clear your credit card?

Find out more by visiting> https://www.credit-union.coop/index.asp

UNISONProtect, UNISON Prepaid and UNISON Rewards
A summary of some of our products:

* Straightforward insurance for when life gets unexpectedly complicated, including life cover, accident covers and female cancer cover - www.UNISONProtect.com<http://www.UNISONProtect.com>

* Free £5,000 Accidental Death Cover - 12 months of cover for UNISON members aged 18-69. Annually Renewable & Always Free - www.UNISONProtect.com/rs<http://www.UNISONProtect.com/rs>

* UNISON Prepaid Card - Did you know as a UNISON member you can earn unlimited cash back on your everyday shopping at a wide range of major retailers, including Sainsbury's, Argos ASDA and Boots?

For more details and to apply for your card visit www.unisonprepaid.com/winning<http://www.unisonprepaid.com/winning>.

The UNISON Prepaid Plus Cash back Card is arranged by Union Income Ltd.

* UNISON Rewards - Shop online and earn cash back savings from hundreds of retailers, like B&Q, Argos and Tesco.

It's free to join, plus you'll get a FREE £10 Welcome Bonus in your online account! (Terms and conditions apply) Sign up today at www.UNISONrewards.com/bonus<http://www.UNISONrewards.com/bonus>

UNISON an introducer appointed representative of UNISONProtect who arrange all cover and are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The free accidental death cover is underwritten by Advent Insurance PCC Ltd - UIB Cell.

UNISON Croyde Bay Resort

Includes all dates March 1st - December 1st 2019 Book by March 2nd - full details https://www.croydeunison.co.uk/unison-double-discount/