Tuesday, 27 August 2013

New Mums are being betrayed by this Government - Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper
New figures show new mums being let down by Tory-Lib Dem Government, as Labour launches consultation on new deal for new mums.
Labour believe Tories and Lib Dems are betraying new mums by making it easier to discriminate during maternity leave and hitting new parents hardest financially.

*  a shocking 50,000 women are estimated to be losing their jobs while on maternity leave each year - according to Labour Party analysis of Slater and Gordon research.

*  new House of Commons library figures show an average family with a new born baby is losing £2,000 as a result of David Cameron's cuts to tax credits, maternity pay and support for new families.

*  the cost of living for new families is getting worse and worse each month under David Cameron. Just in the last year he cost of looking after a new baby is rising by 4.5 per cent according to Child Poverty Action Group figures, yet average earnings are only going up by 1.5 per cent, and new mothers are also more likely to face a drop in income due to taking maternity leave, working part time, or miss out on pay rises due to discrimination.

*  the Government is making it easier for employers to discriminate against women during maternity leave by charging £1,200 to take a maternity discrimination case to employment tribunal.
Labour will shortly be launching a survey of mothers and new parents, to hear first hand their experiences of pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life. It will look at:

*  the impact of Tory cuts to maternity pay and support for families, as well as the living standards of young families and Tory cuts to Sure Start;

*  the extent of maternity discrimination faced by new parents, with a view to ensuring that the existing legislation is properly enforced and/or strengthened;

*  the availability of affordable childcare and flexible working for both women and men.
The survey will also look at maternity services and other family support, such as Sure Start.

Yvette Cooper MP said:
"New mums are being betrayed by this Government. They face a triple whammy from maternity discrimination made easier by Ministers, big cuts to family support by George Osborne, and the cost of living with a new baby is far outstripping wages.

“Discrimination against women who take maternity leave is a hidden outrage, and a complete waste for the economy. The revelation that up to 50,000 women a year could be losing their jobs on maternity leave is a shocking one. Yet far from doing anything about it, Ministers are making it worse by charging women who challenge discrimination at an employment tribunal.

"And new parents are being particularly hard hit by George Osborne's tax and benefit changes - losing maternity pay, child benefit, tax credit, pregnancy grants and Sure Start. At the same time the cost of living for new parents is rising far faster than wages. Yet at the same time, millionaires are getting tax cuts.

"The first few months of a new baby's life are extremely important for the whole family and should be a special time. They shouldn't be clouded by fear of not having a job to go back to, or worry about how to manage financially.

“We know David Cameron has a problem with women. This is now resulting in him failing new families. We need a new deal for new mums that shows motherhood is valued, and that recognises the vital role parents play in the economy as well as in the home."


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Broadstairs Folk Week 2013

By Broadstairs Town & Thanet District Councillor - Jenny Matterface
'After a couple of years with issues surrounding the week caused by those not attending events who felt it was an opportunity to cause mayhem it was agreed something had to be done. A multi-agency group was set up involving Thanet District Council's Community Safety Partnership team, Kent Police and cabinet member, Cllr. Iris Johnston with input from town and district councillors to assist the event organisers.
Regular meetings were held and a scheme drawn up to be implemented by TDC officers, with support from other agencies.
The result has been a successful week with a visible much greater police presence, early morning street cleaning, enforcement of the no drinking in public places rule. The SOS van at the bandstand was a great source of help including reuniting lost children with their parents.
The parade of artists taking part was brought forward so that families could enjoy the spectacle. This was a very welcome change.
The difference seems to have been, apart from a greater presence of police, local during the day and from elsewhere in the evenings, a more proactive approach to issues as they arose. One example of that being at the bandstand where, following some anti-social behaviour on the Friday late in the evening once the music al event had finished, fencing was erected on Saturday night and the area closed off.

Portaloos were installed in areas and more, as needed, brought in.

A police officer told me that ‘this year is the benchmark by which the event will be judged and we will look forward not back to what happened in the past’.

Thanks to all those who helped. The week brings a welcome more than £2million to the local economy. The pubs were busy, the restaurants full and the problems that occurred in previous years in Albion Street largely avoided by the road being kept open for most evenings'.

Cllr Jenny Matterface

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Real story of labour market is living standards crisis with falling real wages, and millions working harder for less - Stephen Timms

Stephen TimmsStephen Timms MP, Labour’s Shadow Employment Minister, responding to Labour Market Statistics, said:

“Any increase in employment is to be welcomed, but the real story of the labour market is a living standards crisis with  falling real wages, and millions working harder for less. David Cameron says he’s fixed the economy but for ordinary families things are getting harder not easier. Ministers just sound out of touch when they ignore the fact that the number of people who are working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job is at record levels. 
“The Government’s welfare reform has comprehensively failed at a time when youth unemployment is edging towards a million, and long-term unemployment is at its highest level in 17 years. The Youth Contract is on course to miss its target by 92 per cent, and the flagship Work Programme has not hit a single one of its minimum performance standards. 
“Ministers should be taking urgent action both to help middle and low income families and to bring down long-term unemployment with a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get anyone unemployed for more than two years into a paying job – one they would be required to take. Instead the Government are giving a tax cut to millionaires, with unusually high bonus payments as they cash in."


Tuesday, 6 August 2013


Despite obvious reservations, in the interests of openness and transparency, TDC councillors agreed to debate two motions put forward by Independent and UKIP members on Tuesday evening (6th August).
However, following the debate, the council quite rightly decided not to accept either motion and rejected them both, as the measures that were being called for had already been put in place by the council’s administration.
TDC Leader Cllr Clive Hart said “I’m afraid several Independent and UKIP councillors appear to have been duped into supporting the call for an extraordinary meeting of the council on Tuesday evening which was totally unnecessary.
There was nothing new proposed through the Independent / UKIP motions to council and Tuesday evenings extraordinary meeting of the council was a complete waste of ratepayer’s money.
Indeed, had the Independent and UKIP proposers spoken to me before submitting their motions I could have explained to them that the council is already meeting their expectations. This could have been done in just a few minutes over a quiet cup of tea. In any event, there was certainly nothing urgent discussed at Tuesday’s meeting that could not have been left until the next planned meeting of TDC.
Instead, many hours of leading officers, administrative staff and councillors time has been wasted staging what I believe was nothing more than an expensive publicity stunt for a few misinformed Independent and UKIP councillors who really should know better, and all at ratepayers expense.
It really was quite a pathetic and ridiculous state of affairs and although it took all five of the Independent and UKIP councillors to jointly call for the meeting, in the end, even those five failed to give both motions their full support. 

Worse still, through their intransigence, at one point all five actually voted for a motion which would have considerably weakened, not strengthened, existing financial management at the council."
Independent & UKIP motion to Council:
"That any debt owed to Thanet Council, including multiple debts owed by a single organisation and/or its subsidiaries, which exceeds £250,000 must be reported to a meeting of the Full Council along with a debt recovery plan at the earliest opportunity. Members of the Council will be entitled to ask questions about and comment on such debts".
Labour administration response: 
This was dealt with in paragraph 5.2 of the Budget Monitoring Report 2013/14 agreed at the last cabinet meeting on 1st August, which stated:
As the level of aged debt is an important indicator of the financial risk being carried by the Council it is proposed that the Financial Procedure Rules be amended to include the requirement to report to Council any debt owed by an organisation, or its subsidiaries, where it exceeds £150,000. The report will also include details of the debt recovery measures in place. Debt will only be reported after it has becomes 'aged', i.e. falls outside of the Council's standard payment terms of 90 days, to the next available ordinary council meeting.

(Note - the Independent / UKIP motion would have reduced effectiveness of existing monitoring procedures by £100,00).

Independent & UKIP motion to Council:
"That all the documents, background papers, and e-mails related to Transeuropa Ferries debt to Thanet District Council be made available for inspection by Councillors within 10 working days of this decision being agreed by Council."
Labour administration response:  
This was dealt with through an email sent to all 56 councillors by the Monitoring Officer on 24th July, which stated:
Dear Councillor,
A request has been made by a Member to access the council’s records that form the 2012-13 accounts and associated items relating to the Transeuropa debt.
The Account and Audit regulations give all Members (and the public) the right to inspect and copy prime documents that are used in the formulation of the statement of accounts, and I am writing to remind you that the inspection period runs until 9 August 2013. If you would like to make an appointment to view any of the books of accounts, deeds, contract bills, vouchers and receipts relevant to the 2012/13 accounts please contact Sarah Martin for an appointment. 
In addition, the Transeuropa debt will be subject of an Overview and Scrutiny Working Party, where, in accordance with the Council’s constitution, requested background documentation will be made available to Members of the working party for review.  
Your sincerely
Harvey Patterson
Corporate & Regulatory Services Manager