Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Government urged to end negative rhetoric on benefit claimants

A leading charity working with disabled people has urged ministers to stop focusing on rare cases of fraud as a reason for benefit reforms.
Scope called for an end to government ‘negativity’ about welfare recipients after a survey showed it was affecting behaviour towards disabled people. Almost half (46%) reported a worsening in attitudes over the past year.
The poll by ComRes, which covered 500 disabled people and carers, also revealed that almost three-quarters (73%) had experienced the assumption that they didn’t work. A larger proportion (83%) agreed that media coverage about benefits scroungers negatively affected attitudes towards disabled people.
The government is undertaking a range of disability benefit reforms, including tests of fitness to work. Scope said that it was ‘impossible to ignore that the results come as government continues to focus the welfare debate on a few benefit scroungers in a bid to make the case for radical reform’.
Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes said that as London prepared to host the Paralympics, there was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve attitudes through more positive portrayals of disability.
‘It is absolutely shocking that in 2012 almost half of disabled people feel attitudes have got worse and many have experienced aggression, hostility or name-calling from other people,’ he said. ‘Disabled people keep coming back to the same concern – benefit scroungers. They single out fraudsters. They are concerned about coverage. They tell us strangers challenge them in the street about the support they claim.’
The charity also called for the government to revise the work capability assessments for people on disability benefits. These were introduced from October 2010 as people move from Incapacity Benefit to its successor Employment and Support Allowance.
Hawkes said these, which will be extended to more people when Personal Independence Payments begin to replace Disability Living Allowance from next April, are ‘failing miserably’.
He added: ‘We want the government to mark the Games with a new approach to welfare: tell the whole story when it comes to stats; make fundamental changes to the work capability assessment and avoid repeating the same mistakes when it comes to the new assessment for Personal Independence Payments.
‘Greater understanding of disabled people, the challenges they face and their achievements, should be the real Paralympic legacy we are all working towards.’
Responding to the report, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman insisted they are ‘very careful about the language we use when referring to benefit claimants as it’s clear that it's the system itself that has for too long trapped people into a life of welfare dependency’.
He added: ‘That is why this government is making such a radical overhaul of the benefits system to restore integrity and ensure that everyone who needs help and support receives it.

‘This department is absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and we are already working with disability organisations on developing a new disability strategy. One of the key areas looks at promoting positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people and tackling discrimination and harassment wherever they occur.’

Courtesy of publicfinance

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Brent has highest number of pupils going onto further education

Brent has the highest number of school leavers going onto further education in London, according to a new report by the Department for Education.
An impressive 91 per cent of the borough’s students opt to continue their education after year 11 – significantly higher than the national average for England which is 85 per cent.
The proportion going on to higher education compares even more favourable with the rest of England – at 72 per cent for Brent as opposed to just 52 per cent nationally.
Brent’s bright students are also ahead of the pack when it comes to the universities they are selected for too.
Of the 1300 students surveyed, 15 per cent had been accepted at prestigious Russell Group seats of learning, compared with only nine per cent nationally.
Cllr. Mary Arnold, Brent’s Lead Member for Children and Families, said: “This is a fantastic record which demonstrates Brent’s high education standards.
“It is really encouraging to see the track record of good quality progression into further and higher education which rank as highest in the country.
“Being ambitious for our young people is demonstrated by achieving 15 per cent going on to Russell Group universities.
“I would like to congratulate everyone in the schools, the college and in Brent Council for contributing to these achievements.”
Brent came with Redbridge, Sutton and Harrow for having the most number of school leavers who go onto the further education.

Courtesy of 24 hours.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Tony Blair Accepts Partial Responsibility For Britain's Beleaguered Economy

tony blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair says he accepts some responsibility for the state of Britain's economy.
The ex-Labour leader admitted his government had not fully understood the full impact that economic integration could have on the economy.
Economic integration was adopted by Labour in Blair's early years in power. The policy aims to reduce trade barriers and coordinate monetary policies across different states. By doing this it hopes reduce costs for consumers and producers and promote 'free' trade.

Blair admitted that Labour didn't fully understand the impact of the policy when it implemented it

The former Prime Minister told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News:
"In respect of the economy, yes, of course, everybody who was in power in the period bears a certain responsibility,"
"On the other hand I think what happened, and this is really important for people to understand, this global financial crisis was the product of a whole new way that the financial and banking sector has been working in this past 20 or 30 years where you have got this deep integration of the global economy and where you have a lot of financial instruments that were created whose impact people didn't properly understand."
Asked if that meant Labour did not fully understand it while he was in power, he replied: "No, we didn't."
Blair also issued an apparent warning to current party leader Ed Miliband who wants Britain's banks dramatically reined in, telling Sky News a "vibrant" financial sector was important for the UK.
He added: "A vibrant financial sector is also a very important part of our future. Take the necessary steps but realise that thriving and healthy banking sector is a major part of the modern British economy and will also be so."
Mr Blair who has served as a Middle East envoy for the "Quartet" - made up of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia - since leaving office, is keen to return to domestic politics.
He said: "I feel I have got something to contribute to the debates that are going on in the country and I want to do that.
"We have got an extraordinary and uncertain unpredictable situation today. I think we are living through an era of almost uniquely low predictability, economically and politically."
The full transcript of the interview can be found here.

Courtesy of Huffpost(UK)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Are George Osborne's days numbered as Chancellor?

George Osborne

George Osborne must have muttered to himself "Et tu, middle England?" after an on line poll of Daily Telegraph readers expressed their dissatisfaction with his performance and called for his quick, exit right.

The economic policy of the Coalition has entered yet another phase of 'ominshambles' and its attempt to hide its failing Plan A of austerity driven cuts by concocting Plan B rhetoric such as the rail investment programme, does not seem to be convincing the voters.

Marcus Roberts, deputy general secretary of the Fabian Society told AOL Money: "Radical economic change is needed, but there won't be radical political change...the Coalition is still hanging onto its original policies while announcing what is supposedly new initiatives such as rail funding but this can only happen with fare increases. That is not Plan B, it is another Plan A decision which will squeeze household incomes."

Reports that the UK is 50% likely to lose its AAA credit rating in the near future has applied even more pressure on the Chancellor, as well as the possibility of a "night of the long knives" where he is replaced by a fellow Cabinet member. However, would the UK really suffer if the country were stripped of its triple A status?

What the rating agencies are being accused of is making judgements based on passing fashions and forget to take notice of the realities on the ground, says Roberts.

Courtesy of AOL

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


three point turn 
How many u-turns have we already seen from David Cameron and George Osborne?

Their disastrous Budget has already resulted in u-turns – under pressure from Labour – on petrol tax, pasties, charities, caravans and skips. This is what happens when a government makes the wrong choices.

But on their most unfair and disastrous decisions, they’re going straight ahead. And they’re sticking with a failed plan that has pushed Britain into a double-dip recession.

That’s why this summer Labour is calling for three more u-turns:

* To reverse the failed Tory economic plan and urgently put in place Labour’s plan for jobs and growth, including a tax on bankers' bonuses to fund jobs for young people.

* To reverse the tax cut for millionaires – their cut in the 50p top rate of tax – so that in tough times the richest pay their fair share.

* And to reverse the “granny tax”, so that pensioners aren’t unfairly hit.

This country needs a change of direction. It’s time for a three point turn.

Sign up to the campaign at
labour.org.uk/tory-uturns and download campaign materials, including leaflets and petitions at members.labour.org.uk/campaignsnews

Monday, 16 July 2012

Brent- Population increased by 15% since 2001

In 2001, there were 269,600 people living in Brent

311,200 people live here, a change of 15% since 2001

Age groupTotal pop%Male %Female %
0 to 422,4007%51%49%
5 to 1436,50012%51%49%
15 to 64219,50071%51%49%
Download this Fusion table

Census 2011: London's population booms to EIGHT million

The population of London has hit a new peak of more than eight million with a 12 per cent increase in the past 10 years, figures reveal today.
An extra 3.7 million people are living in England and Wales compared with 2001, taking the total to 56.1 million — an all-time  high. More than half the increase is due to immigration.
Every region has seen a leap in numbers, but London has seen the fastest surge of all. It has 850,000 more residents since the last census was done in 2001.
The London total is 400,000 up on the previous estimate, from mid-2010, and appears to capture some of the capital’s “hidden” population.
The figures will heighten concern about the impact of migration and population growth on public services.
London has gained 112,700 children aged under five since 2001, putting pressure on school places over the coming years.
Nine of the 10 local authorities with the highest population growth are in London. Of the 20 most crowded local authorities in the country, 19 are in the capital.
Tower Hamlets, which has seen 26.6 per cent leap in the number of residents since 2001, has shown the fastest increase, followed by Newham, with a 23.5 per cent population rise.
Only one council in London, Kensington and Chelsea, has seen a drop in population.
Islington is the most densely populated part of the country with 13,873 people per square kilometre. That equates to about 140 people on a rugby pitch.
The 3.7 million increase in population, which equates to a seven per cent rise, is the biggest since census figures began being collected in 1801.
Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland will be calculated later, but Glen Watson, of the Office for National Statistics, said today’s figures showed the overall UK population is now 63.1 million.
More than half of the surge in population is the direct result of immigration, which is responsible for 55 per cent of the increased national total, or 2.1 million people. 
Higher births, also partly fuelled by migration, and a lower death rate are the other causes.
Today’s figures contrast with the statisticians’ previous official estimate, based on the situation in 2010, which put the UK population at 62,262,000.
That was comprised of 52.2 million people in England, three million in Wales, 5.2 million in Scotland, and a Northern Irish population of 1.8 million. London’s population at the time was 7,825,000.
Separate population projections published by the Office for National Statistics this year stated that the UK population would rise to 73.2 million by 2035 and 89.3 million by 2085 if current trends continued.
Those figures will now have to be revised in response to today’s census statistics. The faster growing rate of population increase means that population projections will be revised, almost certainly upwards, later this year, although other changes such as the government’s  immigration reforms could help to reduce any projected increase.
Figures showed that on census day, which took place on March 27 last year, the number of women over 90 was 315,000, nearly three times higher than the number of men over that age, at 114,000.
Figures also showed that one in six people in England and Wales in 2011 was aged 65 and over.
The total population figure was about half a million larger than estimates had shown a year earlier.
The population of England was 53 million while Wales was 3.06 million.
The population of Northern Ireland also increased to 1,801,900, an increase from around 1.7 million in 2001.

Courtesy of Evening Standard

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sarah Teather (MP):Why aren't you speaking about the closure of A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital?

An MP has refused to speak about how she plans to tackle the controversial decision to close an accident and emergency ward used by hundreds of her constituents.
Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, declined a one- on-one interview on the plans to axe the casualty ward at Central Middlesex Hospital.
The £62m department, which was only built six years ago, will close under the Shaping a Healthier Future programme after it was admitted by health chiefs that it was not financially viable.
Despite previously speaking directly to the Times on the issue, a spokesman for Miss Teather, who is also the minister for children and families, said she was busy with ministerial duties.
He added that she had been accused of scare-mongering by Labour politicians when she raised the possibility of the department closing in the past.
After declining an interview with the Times, she released a statement in which she said she would be speaking to hospital chiefs about the plans.
She added: “Previous bad decisions to move services away from Central Middlesex Hospital have undermined the sustainability of an on-site A&E that can deal with the most serious cases.
“I was given assurances that the A&E at Central Middlesex would not close, but this is exactly the situation my constituents now face.”
However, Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the Labour run Brent Council branded Ms Teather “hypocritical’ and claimed now was the best time for her to come out in support of residents.
He said: “The rank hypocrisy of Sarah Teather on this issue is the worst I have ever witnessed from a politician.
“She could have come forward at any time to stop or to show her support but hasn’t; she campaigned for the hospital to remain open when in opposition and is now closing it in government.
“I absolutely condemn this decision. It is not in the interest of Brent’s residents and it will affect people’s lives.”

Courtesy of  24hrs news

Friday, 13 July 2012

Illegal flat conversions landlord fined £310,000

Joint action by enforcement officers from the London boroughs of Brent and Harrow has resulted in a landlord being fined more than £310,000 for creating 28 flats in four houses in breach of planning regulations.
A judge at Harrow Crown Court ruled that Vispasp Sarkari must pay £303,000 under proceeds of crime legislation and £7,515 for the planning breaches. The defendant was also ordered to pay more than £18,000 in legal costs
Sarkari, aged 50, of Ivanhoe Drive, in Harrow, must pay the penalty within six months or face three-and-a-half years in prison.
Harrow and Brent launched an investigation after Sarkari was convicted of putting four flats into a terraced house in Wembley. The case involved properties in a range of different locations.
Half of the money will go to HM Treasury, with the rest split between the two councils, Harrow and Brent Trading Standards, and the court collection agency.
Councillor Keith Ferry, Harrow Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Enterprise, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to send out a clear message that we will not allow people to profit from illegal conversions.
"This landlord ignored planning rules designed to ensure that the quality of accommodation in the boroughs is maintained and that the environment for surrounding residents is protected. He ignored the council’s notices. As a result, he profited hugely from this sub-standard accommodation.”

courtesy of "planning portal"

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Wembley woman wins charity sponsorship

AN INSPIRATIONAL Wembley woman has won sponsorship, enabling her to focus entirely on a charity she founded supporting underprivileged children in India.
Natasha Mansigani, 23, who lives off Preston Road, is delighted to have been given a place on the Vodafone Foundation's World of Difference UK programme for 2012.
She has recently started a paid eight week placement with The Big Hug Foundation, based at her home, which she set up last year.
Miss Mansigani quit her job in the volunteer development department at Barnardo's to establish the charity, and has been since trying to run it while working in temporary jobs. Her place on the scheme will allow her to devote herself full time to the foundation, which works to provide education and shelter for youngs people in need in India.
Miss Mansigani started the charity after volunteering with orphans at Cornerstone Children's Home in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, south India.
Having a background in the non-profit sector, she worked closely with volunteers to provide homes for 26 orphans who lived in an unhygienic, cramped factory with no proper facilities.
She is now working with the children's home to carry out the work of the charity she established.
She said: "I am really looking forward to working full time on the Big Hug Foundation. I am extremely passionate about the children we support in India and am grateful to The Vodafone Foundation for giving me this exciting opportunity.
"We need to raise a lot of money this year to continue our vital work with orphan children so there's plenty of work to be done."
Miss Mansigani said she is also grateful to her family and friends who helped her set up the charity, and described gaining a place on the Vodafone scheme as like "winning the lottery".
She said: "For the next two months I can dedicate all my time to working on the charity and raising vitals funds for the children we support.
"The charity was officially registered in October 2011. Since then we have taken on an additional seven children and have plans to care and support many more in the future. The children we currently support are all destitute; some are orphans and others are runaways escaping a lifetime of neglect and or abuse. Big Hug aims to relieve these children of hardship and break the cycle of poverty by providing them with clean, safe shelter, a real education and above all, a family - what every child deserves."
To donate to the Big Hug Foundation text BHFX12 £5 to 70070
For details on the charity visit www.bighugfoundation.org

with courtesy of Harrow Observer

Neighbours look out for each other after awareness event

NEIGHBOURS worked to improve each other's personal safety at events in honour of a nationwide scheme's 30th anniversary.
Brent Neighbourhood Watch Association visited three locations in Brent to give out information and advice in collaboration with the police.

Ann Ring, who volunteers with the association, said: "People don't really have an opportunity to talk to their local police and I think people were really glad they had a chance to do this.
"We handed out advice on how to stay safe and a free pack which included a UV marker pen and
people were really appreciative."
The national association is celebrating its 30th anniversary which coincides with National Neighbourhood Watch Week.
More than 1,000 people received information packs which were handed
out at Sainsbury's in Willesden Green High Road, Asda in Forty Lane, Wembley, and Sainsbury's in Queen's Park.
For more information or to join the association, email info@bnwa.org.

courtesy of Harrow Observer

Summer library events get under way

CULTURE vultures in Brent are being offered a range of literary and inspirational events.
During July the library service is offering talks and services such as a pop up library service on Wembley Hill Road on July 3.
The Coming Soon Club is enabling people to borrow books and DVDs from 10am to 5pm at the shop on the corner with Wembley Triangle.
English National Ballet soloist Daniel Jones will also be speaking about Physical Ballet, his new dance project, Thursday July 5 at Willesden Green Library Centre from 7pm to 8pm.
At Kingston Library Plus Brent-based author Baldip Kaur will be speaking about his mysterious novel Maelstrom, which is set in London, from 6.30 -7.30pm on 19 July.
The Summer Reading Challenge will be starting in July to inspire children to read more through learning, craft and fun reading activities and libraries will hold open days to encourage people to get reading.
The first is a Story Lab craft activity on 30 June at Willesden Green Library Centre from 11am to 12.30pm and will continue with events at Ealing Road Library from 2.30pm to 3.30pm, the Town Hall Library from 11am to 12noon, Kingsbury Library from 1pm to 2pm, and at Harlesden Library Plus from 2pm to 3pm
Councillor James Powney, Brent Council's Lead Member for Environment and Neighbourhoods, said: "July is set to be another great month for Brent's libraries. Not only are there books, DVDs, CDs and ebooks to borrow or download but you can enjoy some interesting talks and events as well. All our libraries are now open for seven-days-a-week; if you can't attend any of the events in July you can still pop in to study, browse or read."

courtesy of Harrow Observer

Sunday, 1 July 2012

New Housing -Borough of Brent

Brent Council is top of the West London League for providing new homes in 2011-12 and second highest in the country for affordable homes in the socially rented sector. The figures have been made available by the Government Homes and Communities Agency and a copy is attached.

Brent also tops the league table with Completions having 523 Social rent completions out of a total of 687 in 2011 – 2012. If you add PFI the completions total 868. In the last year Brent has contributed over 50% of all new social/affordable rented housing starts in West London.

Cllr George Crane, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said “This is good news for Brent and especially for those in Housing need in this difficult economic climate but this hides a much darker story. Brent Council was one of only 35 Councils in the Country where homes in the Social rented sector have been started.  No Social Housing at all has been started in 289 Councils. This is bad news for those languishing on housing waiting lists and the government has no strategy to deal with the increasing housing crisis