Sorry for neglecting the blog. As everyone knows, Facebook is my main focus. You can check it out at www.facebook.com/jsuknews However, I promise to start updating this again soon.
Rossendale based PCSO Chris Hamer tweeted out a few days ago that he was looking for a man who had been sanctioned by the Jobcentre after doing all he could to look for work, which left him without money for food, power or gas, leaving him in a crisis situation.
After the above tweet gained traction on social media, it seems that the sanction has been lifted…
What a thoroughly nice gentleman, meanwhile Rosendale & Darwen Conservative MP Jake Berry continues to vote for every welfare cut. I think this tweet from one of Chris’ colleagues sums it up best…
Imagine if we all cared like this.
Almost two thirds of UK councils are in ‘severe’ need of affordable housing
Planning deregulation is to blame for the shortage of affordable homes, claims a new report.
The introduction of permitted development – a prior approval process that removes the need for developers to make a full planning application – in 2015 has allowed the creation of more housing units but they have not been filled with affordable properties.
In fact, an Association for Public Service (APSE) report – based on research by planning charity the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) – found that 63 per cent of 141 UK councils described their need for affordable homes as ‘severe’ with a further 35 per cent classed as ‘moderate’.
The government must be bold and ambitious in challenging the shortfall of housing for those in the most need in society
A total of one in three councils in England stated that permitted development would have a have a negative impact on councils’ ability to build affordable homes whereas just four per cent thought that it would improve matters.
And the lack of housing is not helping local authorities to stem the tide of rising homelessness – with 70 per cent of England’s 124 councils reporting an increase in statutory homelessness over the past 12 months.
That trend is replicated in rough sleeping with 57 per cent confirming that they have seen a rise in people living on the streets over the same period.
DID YOU KNOW…
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The report, titled Delivering affordable homes in a changing world: Ensuring councils can meet local housing need, has been released to coincide with the closing date of the government’s consultation on the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework today.
As a result of their findings, APSE and TCPA have outlined 10 recommendations aimed at tackling the housing crisis, ranging from investment in homes available for social rent to enabling councils to retain 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts.
It also calls for a reverse to Local Housing Allowance cuts to prevent driving private renters into homelessness as well as giving powers back to local authorities by reining in permitted development laws.
Kate Henderson, TCPA chief executive, said: “We are not providing anywhere near enough genuinely affordable homes and homelessness is rising. Our latest research highlights that councils want to provide more affordable housing for their local communities, but their ability to do so is being undermined by planning deregulation.
“Relaxing permitted development has led to tens of thousands of new homes being created without having to get full planning permission – for example through the conversion of commercial buildings into homes – and this means that councils are unable to secure a contribution to affordable housing from the developer, and little or no thought is given to the most basic issues, such as where children can play or whether there are enough doctors’ surgeries in the area.”
Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, added: “The government must be bold and ambitious in challenging the shortfall of housing for those in the most need in society.
“As part of this, it must help councils return to their historic role as a provider of homes – recognising that evidence clearly suggests that we cannot rely on the private sector alone to meet the shortfall of housing supply.”
Government to give £50m to expand grammar schools despite concerns over funding crisis
“The government has announced plans to hand over £50m to existing grammar schools to help create thousands of new places despite a funding crisis in other state schools.
Critics hoped the government’s focus on expanding academic selection had been dropped after controversial plans to allow the creation of new grammar schools were scrapped.
But the Department for Education has said the money for existing schools will create greater choice for parents, with the cash made available during the school year starting in September.
The funding will be dependent on grammar schools – of which there are 163 in England – setting out what action they will take to boost the number of disadvantaged pupils they admit.
Measures are expected to include prioritising pupil premium pupils in school admission policies, as well as a commitment to improving outreach work with primary schools.
But critics have complained that the move allows the expansion of selective education in a “covert” way by allowing the creation of annexes, which can be on separate sites to existing schools.
It also follows criticism that grammar schools do not help improve social mobility during a government consultation.
Figures show that around 2.6 per cent of grammar school pupils are on free school meals, compared to 14.1 per cent across all school types.
Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads’ Association, said the expansion would meet high demand from parents for selective education at a time when “increasing numbers of pupils reaching secondary age”.
But Melissa Benn, chair of campaign group Comprehensive Future, told The Independent: “A number of grammar schools have indicated that they would like to expand and I dare say we will see some of those plans go ahead. I think we will see more annexes. It is a way of getting around the ban.”
Last year, the Weald of Kent Grammar School opened a controversial annexe in Sevenoaks – 10 miles from its original site – after ministers ruled it to be an expansion of the same school.
Ms Benn added: “The expansion had been done in this rather covert way. Annexe expansion or increasing the number of children from certain backgrounds – none of that is going to make much difference to the policy itself which is not a good one and it’s not a modern one.
“At a time of public spending restrictions – particularly in the school system – it is a waste of money and it is a waste of an education budget. We should be using that money to improve all schools.”
Education unions have accused the government of pursuing an “elitist policy” during a funding crisis. Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “The government cannot point to a single piece of evidence that shows strong educational benefit of this misguided policy.
“While it may benefit a small minority, it will not close the gap between rich and poor pupils and if anything will increase the divide.”
He added: ”School budgets are at breaking point. The state-funded school system is rapidly heading towards insolvency. To pursue such an elitist policy as expanding grammars at a time of crisis is a distraction at best. This money should be spent for the benefit of all children, not just the tiny number who attend grammar schools.“
The confirmation of cash for grammar schools is likely to be seen as a revival of Theresa May’s pledge to expand selective education.
Controversial proposals to lift the ban on creating new grammar schools were a key part of the Conservative manifesto in last year’s snap general election, but the plans were dropped in the wake of the election result, which saw the Tories lose their overall majority.
One government insider, talking about the new rules to give more places to pupils from poorer backgrounds, told The Independent: “We were never going to lift the ban on new schools, but we could make sure existing schools were more accessible, and that is what this is all about.
“Ironically, what the Prime Minister ended up with is no new grammar schools and quite strict conditionality on current ones expanding.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The grammar school corpse has climbed out of its coffin once again despite evidence of the damage that selective education causes.
“Once prior attainment and pupil background is taken into account, research shows there is no overall attainment impact of grammar schools, either positive or negative.”
From The Independent
Jobcentres sanctioning refugees for learning English, watchdog finds
“Families who fled war in Syria are being wrongly sanctioned by jobcentres for attending English-language courses, the chief inspector of borders and immigration has said in a report critical of the Home Office.
David Bolt said recently arrived refugees faced “substantial barriers” to finding work and some had had welfare payments stopped while trying to learn English.
His report to the home secretary also said Home Office policy meant “particularly vulnerable” pregnant women were giving birth in refugee camps instead of in the UK despite being safe to fly.
Bolt said the vulnerable person resettlement scheme (VPRS), which aims to take in 20,000 refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict by 2020, was “essentially effective”. However, he criticised the Home Office’s lack of strategic oversight once refugees arrived in the UK, and accused it of appearing “closed to the idea that there is any room for improvement”.
Inspectors found it was default Home Office policy to “pause” all cases involving pregnancy until the child was born, “even when there was no indication of any risk and the woman was in the ‘fit to fly’ timescale”.
The Home Office said its policy on pregnant women was to avoid arranging accommodation in Britain where there was a risk the person would not travel for any reason, but it would emphasise to caseworkers that there “should not be an automatic assumption that they should not travel”.
The inspection also found jobcentre staff had not been given specific guidance or training on how to deal with refugees resettled under the VPRS, which has so far taken in more than half of the 20,000 target.
The absence of clear guidance meant some refugees had been sanctioned while undertaking English-language tuition rather than seeking work, the report said, and others had been refused applications for personal independence payments or disability living allowance.”
From TThe Guardian
Barclays chief executive fined £642,430 for trying to unmask whistleblower
“Barclays chief executive Jes Staley has been fined £642,430 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for his attempt to unmask a whistleblower.
Mr Staley was fined by the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which concluded that he failed to “act with due skill, care and diligence”.
The regulators are also forcing Barclays to report on how it handles future whistleblowing cases. Senior managers will be required to update the watchdog on their systems and controls every year.
Mr Staley tried to identify the author of a letter sent to Barclays in 2016 which claimed to be from a shareholder of the bank.
The letter contained a number of allegations, some of which related to Mr Staley.
Regulators said on Friday that Mr Staley should not have tried to investigate the letter himself because there was a risk he would not be impartial when deciding how to respond.
The complaint in the letter was being dealt with by Barclays’ group compliance team. The regulators said the team should have been left to do their work unimpeded by the chief executive.
Barclays chief executive Jes Staley was fined £642,430 by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Barclays chief executive Jes Staley was fined £642,430 by the Financial Conduct Authority. Credit: PA
The City watchdog said his actions showed “serious errors of judgment”.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “Given the crucial role of the chief executive, the standard of due skill, care and diligence is more demanding than for other employees.
“Mr Staley breached the standard of care required and expected of a chief executive in a way that risked undermining confidence in Barclays’ whistleblowing procedures.”
The regulators noted that Mr Staley made no personal gain from his actions, and said he settled at an early stage of their investigation.
His fine represents 10% of his annual income, and the settlement brought down his fine significantly, from a possible sum of £917,800.
Sam Woods, deputy governor for prudential regulation and chief executive of the PRA, said: “Protection for whistleblowers is an essential part of keeping the financial system safe and sound.
“Mr Staley’s behaviour fell well below the standard we require, resulting in today’s fine and public censure.””