Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Benefits Changes 2013 - A Brief Summary

Neil Gerrard, former MP for Walthamstow, has produced the following notes about the Benefit Changes that begin to take effect starting in April:-

Housing Benefit: As from April 2013 Housing Benefit will be cut for people in social housing who have more bedrooms than their family needs according to the rules. Pensioner households are not affected. Several hundred families in Waltham Forest will be affected. For those with 1 extra room the cut will be  14%, and for 2 extra rooms 25%.

Benefits Cap: Starting in 4 London Boroughs (not Waltham Forest) in April, and elsewhere later in the year, by the end of September. Total benefits received by a household will be capped at £500 per week for a couple or lone parent and £350 per week for a single person.

(Some benefits exempt you, eg people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or receiving Working Tax Credit aren't affected by the cap).

The cap will be imposed by the Council when they work out someone's entitlement to Housing Benefit.

Council Tax: The Government has passed the responsibility to Councils as from April. Currently there is a national scheme, which the Council implements, and is then reimbursed by the Government. From April Councils have to implement their own schemes, BUT they will have 10% less money, and they will have to have a scheme which does not make pensioners worse off, and does not make people better off on benefits than in work.

Disability Living Allowance: As from April 2013 will be replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). All new claimants will go on to PIP and then existing DLA claimants will be moved across over a period of time, probably up to 3 years. There is no guarantee that someone currently getting DLA will qualify for PIP, and the Government expects a 20% reduction in awards.

Employment Support Allowance: Rules have been tightened recently which may mean some people will lose ESA.

Universal Credit: Will begin in October 2013. Universal Credit replaces current means tested benefits, so income based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), income based Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Tax Credits, and Housing Benefit, will all disappear and be replaced by this single benefit. The Housing Benefit cuts and the Benefits Cap will both carry over into Universal Credit.

In October it will be new claimants who go onto Universal Credit, followed by people on existing benefits who have major changes in circumstances, and then over a period of up to 3 years all other existing claimants will move across to Universal Credit.

There will be both winners and losers from this. There are major concerns about whether the systems will work, as all claims will have to be made on line, and payments will generally be monthly in arrears.

Some changes are being made now to JSA and ESA to align the rules with those for Universal Credit, which will mean a tougher sanctions regime.

Social Fund: Currently the Social Fund is operated by DWP. It provides crisis loans to people, and budgeting loans and community care grants. As from April much of this will pass to local Councils to run their own schemes.

Legal Aid: As from April there will be major changes in legal aid, which will remove all benefits cases, and the majority of debt and housing cases from eligibility for legal aid. This will have a major impact on people trying to get help with appeals to tribunals on benefits, and people needing help to get debt relief orders to write off debt.

On top of all this there will be the 1% limit on annual benefit increases which recently went through Parliament, and the cuts which are already in place from last year affecting private renting.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow this week

  • On Monday 25th February speaking out against the high cost of credit at a Centre for Responsible Credit conference. More information and then returning to parliament for the Children and Families Bill. 
  • Campaigning in Eastleigh on Tuesday 26th February ahead of this week’s by-election. 
  • On Thursday 28th  February holding a budget review meeting to scrutinise my budget – to come along email me.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sex Entertainment Venues (SEV) Consultation - Waltham Forest

The Borough Council is currently running a consultation on the regulation of sexual entertainment venues such as lap dancing clubs. Responses need to be submitted by 1st March and can be made:
on paper to:
  • The Licensing Service, Sycamore House, Town Hall, Forest Road, London E17 4SU, 
or by email to:
The consultation documents are here (word) and here (pdf)

Detailed background is available on the Licences - sex establishments page of the LBWF website.

In brief the Policing and Crime Act 2009 introduced new powers for local authorities to regulate sexual entertainment venues (ie where live entertainment or displays of nudity take place; typically lap dancing venues). There are no lap dancing clubs currently in Waltham Forest but the increase nationally in recent years has caused concern among many local authorities. Currently these clubs are licensed under the Licensing Act 2003 which allows objections only on these four criteria:
  • The prevention of crime and disorder;
  • Public safety;
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm.
The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on whether the Council should adopt the new powers and if yes, what the policy in Waltham Forest should be.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

#OBRUK Flashmob Parliament 11am Thurs Stella Creasy MP

Watch the video for the Flashmob - 11am outside Parliament on Thursday 14th February. #OBRUK: Stella Creasy MP Rising - with apologies to Coldplay . . . .

 OBRUK = UK arm of the global One Billion Rising movement to campaign for an end to violence against women and girls. Annual dance celebration on V Day - February 14th!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow this week

  • On Saturday 9th February holding a drop-in surgery at The Mall Walthamstow between 2-4pm for local residents. 
  • On Monday 11th February taking part in Home Office Questions in Parliament
  • On Tuesday 12th February taking part in the final committee sessions on the Crime and Courts Bill in Parliament.
  • On Wednesday 13th February doing a webchat with Gransnet and speaking on Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 about the One Billion Rising campaign.
  • On Thursday 14th February taking part in #OBRUK events around London – you can find out how to get involved by heading to the website
  • On Friday 15th February holding an appointment only surgery at the Town Hall – phone 0208 8521 1223 to discuss arranging an appointment.

Kinnock the Movie, Kinnock the Meal

Former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock (now Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty) comes to join us for a fundraiser on March 14th, but why is he important? What did he ever do for the Party?

The answer is 'loads of things', but his most important achievement was to make the Labour Party re-electable again after the trauma of the winter of discontent, and the Thatcher victory in 1979. Labour lost 50 parliamentary seats in 1979, and a further 60 in 1983, after which Neil became party leader and the long fight back began. One step in this was a very combative speech to Party Conference in 1985, which was quoted in a very effective party political broadcast in 1987 known affectionately as . . .

And now Walthamstow CLP brings you . . .

Kinnock the Meal 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Baron Kinnock Fundraiser 14th March

We're delighted to announce that Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty (better known as Neil Kinnock*) is coming to Walthamstow as guest of the CLP at a fundraising curry meal. It will be on Thursday March 14th 2013, at the Asian Centre in Walthamstow - 18a Orford Road, London E17 9LN (see below for map and directions) - doors open from 7.30pm (timings provisional).

Book Tickets online here
Book by phone to 07957 228019
Book by email to campaigns@workingforwalthamstow.org.uk

  • Single - £25
  • Unwaged / pensioner - £20
  • Block bookings of 4 or more - £20 per head
  • Special discount for table of 8 - £155

Prices for Tickets on the door: 
  • £30 per head
  • £24 concessions (unwaged / pensioner)

The Meal: Ticket includes admission and a delicious curry meal, with vegetarian options. There will be a raffle with exotic prizes; alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at a donation bar, and of course a fascinating speech from a heroic figure in the Labour Party.

How to get there
The Asian Centre Walthamstow
18A Orford Rd, London E17 9LN
(Click on map for full page map - Walthamstow Central is less than half a mile due west - to the left!)
  • Nearest tube Walthamstow Central (8 mins walk)
  • Nearest overground Walthamstow Central
  • Bus W12 from Walthamstow Central bus station

All proceeds from ticket sales, raffle tickets, and donations go to the Walthamstow CLP campaign account.

*Neil Kinnock - as he was then - lead the Labour Party from  1983 to 1992, and although he didn't manage to win either of the general elections he fought (1987 and 1992) Labour Party support grew steadily under his leadership. He is generally credited with restoring the party as electable following the decline it suffered after the 'winter of discontent' in 1979, and the 'entryism' of the Militant Tendency, and after he stood down, at the next election in 1997, Labour stormed to victory under Tony Blair. Watch 'Kinnock - the Movie' here.

 'Kurry with Kinnock'.
We rely on the generous donations of members and supporters to be able to continue to campaign for Labour's values. We hope you will be able to help us by buying ticket(s)for this great event. Event promoted by Simon Redfern, chair of Walthamstow Constituency Labour Party, 23 Orford Road London E17 9NL. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Borough Biker? - watch this

Our Borough is one of the safest for bikes in London according to the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) - see the earlier post on this blog - but cycling is still scary at times.

LBWF committed to maximum Lorry safety says LCC