Not-so Universal Credit

Often said that Universal Credit is fine in theory, by which I think is meant making judgements outside of the total impartibility of the scheme which is years late and relies on too many things to be got right.  And of course a reminder that it is not “Universal” cos it doesn’t include Council Tax Support which people will lose if they don’t claim early enough.
The scheme is thought good in principle cos it combines 6 payments so ought to mean less money lost on administration.  But it relies on employers being able to report quickly and effectively, relies on clients having IT access and skills, and presumes there wasn’t an agenda to reduce the amount of money issued.  It  is also vulnerable to pratfalls associated with some firms paying out money early for Christmas.  
Trying to  help clients make claims and appeals too has become trickier with the loss of printed letters to work with.  
The roll-out has now happened in Nottingham and new claimants & claimants with new circumstances are now being transferred to Universal Credit – although not for claims involving 3 children or more.  
Meanwhile cuts are significantly affecting people with disabilities or disabled children.  
Then there’s the gap that comes with moving from payment as is needed yo payment a month later.  
The responsibility falling upon tenants to pay rent rather than money being paid directly to the landlord has also caused challenges and unwelcome changes.  Nottingham City Homes are working very hard and getting rent paid first.  But social housing agencies elsewhere are deciding. not to take people who are not run employment which given some of them used to be council house providers is just shocking, especially since we’ve just celebrated the end of World war 1 and homes for heroes.  Some private landlords have also given up offering homes, whilst the rent being demanded has gone up generally.  Since 2015, the benefit available for renting – local housing allowance – has been frozen, such that only 1 house within 5 miles of The Meadows, advertised by Right Move is available for within £50 more than the allowance.  
Meanwhile, if a claim for support in one of the six aspects goes wrong, it is the whole lump that is affected, not just one part.
So yeah, fine in principle, but in practice, a lot of people are going to get hurt.  
Universal Credit has been condemned by Michael Heseltine and John Major.  
We rehearsed the matter again at Nottingham City Council recently.
I’m not surprised the Labour Party has said they’ll abolish it.  



Protest against closure of Queen Street Crown Post Office

Lilian Greenwood MP says “Campaigning to save our Post Office on Queen St in Nottingham city centre alongside CWU & Labour members from Nottingham South and beyond including local councillor Michael Edwards and Castle ward candidate Angharad Roberts.
“Strong support for keeping the Post Office in its central accessible location, close to buses and trams, rather than franchised out and stuck in the back of WHSmiths at the far end of the Victoria Centre. Worrying to hear that many experienced staff are leaving rather than be transferred to a struggling retail chain.”

Audit committee – November 2018

Hearing that the City Council does well on health & safety.  So we suggest checking trends and comparisons with similar public authorities.  
Some of the internal audit reports have actions a few years old, so we suggest refreshing the whole report next times so every recommendation is re-stated.
Hearing that capital accounting is improving, so we’re having a meeting to check.
Not sure Audit committee can ever be newsy, despite the efforts of a student journalist to take an interest.  Because we’re supposed to prevent something newsworthy happening by reviewing things in a way that prevents problems occurring.  
That said, the committee’s report on Brexit made news this month, and we’ll be meeting to discuss it again in January (18th, 1:30pm).

Ward walk – November 2018

From Bridgeway Shopping Centre to Arkwright Walk to Uppingham Gardens. 
Pictures include – 
– New flats being built at the north end of Arkwright Walk; 
– New retractable bollard to allow a new alternative entrance into Bridgeway Shopping Centre;
– Barriers managing construction traffic at the junction of Kirkewhite Walk and Arkwright Walk; 
– Renewing the pavement along Arkwright Walk;  
– Kiddies swing seat damaged by dogs whose owners let them chew seats to maintain their teeth; 
– New houses along Arkwright Walk;
– A picnic table with wheelchair access; 
– Hicking buildings phase 2 being built.  
 Fuller res photos available on Facebook.

List of Nottingham City Labour MPs and MEPs

Provoked by a lack of reference to Labour politicians in an exhibition on local politics, I have listed Nottingham City Labour MPs, from six different constituencies, sourced from wikipedia –

Nottingham Central

1945,  Geoffrey de Freitas,  Labour (’til 1950)
1950,  Ian Winterbottom,  Labour  (’til 1955; later joined the SDP)
1964,  Jack Dunnett,  Labour,  (“til Feb 1974)

Nottingham East

1945,  James Harrison,  Labour (’til 1955);
Feb 1974,  Jack Dunnett  Labour (’til 1983);
1992,  John Heppell,  Labour (’til 2010);
2010Chris Leslie,  Labour Co-Operative

Nottingham North

1955,  James Harrison,  Labour   Died May 1959; seat remained vacant until general election in October
1959,  Bill Whitlock,  Labour    Defeated at 1983 general election.
1987,  Graham Allen,  Labour  Retired at 2017 general election
2017,  Alex Norris,  Labour

Nottingham North West

1950,  Tom O’BrienLabour,  (’til 1955)

Nottingham South

1929,  Holford Knight,   Labour (’til 1931National Labour).
1945,  Norman Smith,  Labour Co-operative (’til 1955)
1966,  George Perry,  Labour (’til 1970)
1992,  Alan Simpson,  Labour (’til 2010)
2010,  Lilian Greenwood,  Labour

Nottingham West

1918,  Arthur Hayday,  Labour   (“til 1931)
1935,  Arthur Hayday,  Labour (again, ’til 1945)
1945,  Tom O’Brien,  Labour (’til 1950)
1955,  Tom O’Brien,  Labour (’til 1959).
1964Michael EnglishLabour (’til 1983)

Also Labour MEP’s with responsibility for Nottingham

Mel Read, first Nottinghamshire and North West Leicestershire, then East Midlands
Philip Whitehead, East Midlands
Glenis Willmott, East Midlands
Rory Palmer, East Midlands.


A selection of elections

An exhibition on elections and electioneering in Nottingham and Notts which tells the not known enough story of the torching of Nottingham Castle as working people expressed their frustration of delays to a Reform Act which was an Act that was finally passed in 1832.
Documents on management of registers, and stuff on student union elections.
The stories of interesting election candidates.
Helena Brownsword Dowson, Secretary of the Women’s Suffrage Society in Nottingham, and the first woman Nottingham City Councillor, elected in The Meadows in 1920.
More surprising, James Morrison, elected as a Conservative MP for Nottingham East in 1910, owner of Basildon Park (so, very rich), but lauded for his work with a social security scheme in St.Ann’s and Sneinton.  Strange.
Then a Communist who stood for Mansfield a number of times.  A far more interesting story is John Peck, who was actually elected as a City Councillor in Bulwell East in the late eighties, (1987- 1997, moved to Green Party in 1990; contested 49 elections; having served in RAF bomber command in WWII).
But no mention of Feargus O’Connor, only Chartist MP ever to have been elected; or any of the Luddites and Hampden Clubs that led the revolutions and riots.
And no mention of any Labour Party candidates.
That’s when you wonder if the exhibitors have spoken to anyone local (dare I say, outside the ivory towers).

Or is it just that there were no interesting Labour Party candidates, or elections involving them?
Maybe Labour’s emphasis on collective working meant less emphasis on the individual?

Off the top, an alternative list might offer –
* 1945: the vindication of universal suffrage; and the tragedy of 1951 – losing despite winning over half the vote.
* Labour Cabinet Ministers from Notts – Don Cancannon and Geoff Hoon – though not from the city; city MPs have held Ministerial posts – Bill Whitlock, and also Graham Allen and John Heppell.
Perhaps this isn’t dramatic enough, so –
* Vernon Coaker – Labour’s best electioneer – winning Gedling when it was not expected in 1997, but holding it ever since, even in 2015 when Labour lost nationally by 7 points.
* The Ashfield by-election defeat in 1977 (which I think triggered the Lib-Lab pact) – a spectacular defeat in a safe seat when Labour held Grimsby the same day.
* Frank Higgins – local Labour council leader who pioneered radical local transport policies including “zone and collar”;
* Betty Higgins – first woman city council leader who in the early eighties doubled the city council’s rates (then a district council) to provide free bus passes for the elderly and the less mobile, that was to sustain the city bus services network that other cities lack;
* Dennis Pettitt, leader of Notts County which expanded public spending to defend those in need and the capacity of the council to deliver change; and was a D-Day veteran, co-created the first multi-racial party in Africa, was elected to Birmingham City Council where he pioneered recognition for the interests of gypsies, and campaigned for the disabled.  As Leader of Notts, he held off the councillor who’d lost the Ashfield by-election and held Labour Councillors together during the split between the UDM and NUM..

But my knowledge is limited, so I have listed elsewhere the Nottingham City Labour MPs and MEPs, sourced from wikipedia.