Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Proposals to seize rail services from failing private companies are being drawn up by Labour in an escalation of its support for renationalising the railways. Under a motion passed by Labour's conference in Brighton, a rail task force will look at "bringing private franchises into public ownership as they expire and also using break clauses to accelerate this process when this is in the interests of passengers and taxpayers".
Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell has said a Labour government would bring academies and free schools under greater local authority oversight. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Powell said the party would not return free schools to local authority control but would allow local government to intervene where necessary: "I think the idea that the secretary of state herself can manage and oversee and support all those schools directly is wrong-headed. We should have local oversight of those schools," she said.
Saturday, 26 September 2015
I have been asked questions about who is entitle for a free meal at school. Please read below for information.
Children who receive, or whose parents receive, one or more of the following support payments are entitled to receive Free School Meals (FSM),
- Income Support (IS)
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
- Income-related employment and support allowance (IRESA).
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income, as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, that does not exceed £16,190
- Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit
- Where a parent is entitled to Working Tax Credit run-on (The payment someone receives for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
Sunday, 6 September 2015
Becky Barrow examines the rise in fines for driving in bus lanes in the Sunday Times. Spurred by receiving a fine of her own, her research shows that following the introduction of the Traffic Management Act 2004 there were 9,838 tickets issued by one council (Reading in Berkshire) in 2006. In 2012-13, the latest year for which figures are available, councils outside London issued a record 554,773 bus lane fines. In London the figure was 242,541, raising an estimated £70m that year. Some experts suspect councils may be shifting their resources away from parking and towards bus lane penalties, writes Ms Barrow. "Bus lane fines are the new parking fines," said one source, who did not wish to be named.
The Sunday Times’ Charles Clover discusses the rise in littering and fly-tipping, examining possible reasons for the increase, such as more home moves or an increase in council fees for waste disposal. He says farmers and other landowners are paying the price for cleaning up fly-tipped waste. Mr Clover points out that many instances of fly-tipping involve domestic waste that many councils take for free, so ignorance is also a causal factor. He also mentions that enforcement costs for fly-tipping cases were £17.3m in England alone in 2013-14, so perhaps “there is a case for being a little more accommodating to white van man.” The Government needs to respond by developing a strategy that will encourage a change in behaviour, he concludes.
Hundreds of Britons are offering their homes to refugees on the website avaaz.org, reports the Sunday Times, while over 400,000 people have signed an online petition asking for Britain to "accept its fair share of refugees seeking safety in Europe". Meanwhile, David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's asylum, migration and refugee task force, has said David Cameron needs to consider how allowing thousands more refugees into the country will impact councils’ finances. "If the government wants a new approach, where a temporary safe haven is offered but people are clearly not going to be able to stay in the UK beyond the point at which it is safe for them to return to their country, then they need to set out and implement that in policy and law from the start," he said. Mr Simmonds added that Bob Geldof’s offer to put up families in his homes in Kent and London was "pie in sky". "If Bob Geldof is willing to make that offer, I'm sure his local council, which will already have a lot of people on its housing waiting list, will be very happy to bring them around this afternoon." Elsewhere, Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday voices his concerns over what he fears could be “an unstoppable demographic revolution” resulting from the refugee crisis, in which Europe and the UK “merges its culture and its economy with North Africa and the Middle East.”