Made pertinent today by Vince Cable’s tattling about homelessness. As a Manchester resident put it to him directly today – “I blame you!”
Attended a funeral of a 59 year old man.
The second of a family of six from Netherfield.
Was a fan of Lou Reed and the Sex Pistols.
Things went wrong for him and he spent 25 years living on the streets of 6 of our big English cities, before coming back to Nottingham.
He’s helped by Framework and the Friary, and Nottingham City Homes are able to offer him a flat in one of their former warden-aided complexes in The Meadows.
He makes friends with the neighbours, frequently hailed people and joined them for a chat, and often handed out lollipops as a gesture of friendship. He found contentment.
He died on City Council Election Day from lung cancer and complications.
Some days later, a sister is found and informed of his death.
See the floral tribute.
Much more to be known I’m sure.
Plenty to reflect on.
A few weeks back, Der Spiegal came to Nottingham to report on the poverty in our country – the UK with the sixth biggest in the world – and they found the homeless, the starving, the food banks (including one in The Meadows).
I was asked to give the German magazine an hour a few weeks back and I know focussing on the poverty is why they came.
The article has been published and the photos are bleak. And they were a tad naughty when they wanted a photo of me – could I stand next to this painted plywood works box in the Square? (No – next to the left lion, please.)
But the N Post have taken exception to the bleakness and first rounded up a “pleased to be proud of Nottingham” response – a bit out of kilter with perhaps other N Post pieces (we should be more ambitious etc.).; and then that the feature “deliberately makes our city look bleak“.
Perhaps we can be critical of ourselves but the Germans (who by the way, keep showing us the way on industry, the environment and green energy) can’t be.
Or perhaps the N Post journalists are feeling a bit betrayed – it was them who asked me to meet Der Spiegal.
One friend wrote to me saying “It looked ok to me and only incidental reference to Nottingham. They were highlighting the inequity of our benefits system, sanctioning and the role of food banks. It just happened to be in Nottingham.”
Other advice I’m getting is that the situation of the individual featured is exceptional amongst the people who seek help.
And the contention that “there’s no getting away from the extent of deprivation in Nottingham” is debatable.
TO BE FINISHED
A day after Der Spiegel tell of poverty in Nottingham, and of food banks, the Daily Mirror tell their story of poverty in Nottingham, and of groups’ attempts to help people on their finances.
Michael Sheen was on the visit and I was there when he met the Aspley group “Women for Women’s sake”.
The visit was part of the Daily Mirror’s “Fair Credit For All” campaign.
Actor who played Brian Clough was in Nottingham to meet Women for Women’s Sake, a group of women tackling poverty, and starting a new initiative today.
Michael has founded the End High Cost Credit Alliance.
To be featured in The Mirror newspaper.
Full res. photos available on Facebook.
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.
TO BE RE-REVIEWED.
The advisors have served more clients in 2017-18 than ever before and helped bring in more extra benefit than before.
This for an operating deficit of £966.
Been helping elsewhere, e.g. Clifton, too.
But it turns out that the extra benefit raised is cos DWP have been more awkward in accepting claims. One of the daft things has been making venues for processing appeals more distant – at the end of a bus route in Strelley, and even in Leicester and Derby, instead of the previous venue in the city centre. And being able to make the more difficult locations has sometimes been suggested as reasons as to why they don’t need the benefit.
The rock bottom benefits are to be frozen for another year – that’s 4 years at £73 a week.
Meanwhile, the Conservative government have announced that tax allowances and the tax threshold will be raised in a ways which gives most tax reductions to the better off.
There’s been some surprise that some Conservative MPs have only just realised that Universal Credit means people will lose out.
Meanwhile gratitude to the 3 Nottingham Labour MPs and Vernon Coaker MP for attending a CAB 2-hour briefing 11 days previous. Concern was expressed that the disabled and children are the ones losing out most.
My concern remains how the poverty is not visible enough. Health visitors and schools report the issues, but the public awareness and concern is muted.
Unemployment is down, except suspicion is that it’s the ability too claim that explains the reduction. For instance, you are punished if you don’t answer phone calls, and DWP expect you to have a phone, and what’s the cost of that?
Meanwhile, people need help for money to get a bus ride for a job interview, or even money for new clothing, and organisations like the One Stop Shop ate Bridgeway Centre try to help with that.
I tried to explore whether Brexit and new less helpful trade deals threaten the kind of jobs low income families rely on.
Having brought down the mood of the meeting by exploring all the problems we face, I dud take the time to thank the advisors of Meadows Advice Group, and the volunteers on the board who serve most, those who are in most need.
TO BE REVIEWED.