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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

People in their 30s and 40s and 50s will be hardest hit by Tory state pension cuts!

Protecting all generations of pensioners
- including today's young people
The Tories are preparing to hit the future incomes of those currently in their 30s and 40s and fail to meet the statutory deadline for responding on State Pension plans.

The main conclusions of the Review into state pension retirement age recently carried out by ex-CBI chief John Cridland was to end the state pension Triple Lock and accelerate the increase in the state pension retirement age. The Government was legally required to respond to the Review by 7th May 2017. They have failed to meet that statutory responsibility.

The TUC responded to the Cridland plans as follows:
  • The TUC opposes Cridland's proposed accelerated increase in the state pension age to 68 between 2037 and 2039. Under the 2007 Pensions Act this was pencilled in for 2044 to 2046. Substantial inequalities in life expectancy and, particularly, healthy life expectancy mean this policy will hit the poorest hardest. 
  • The TUC does not support the downgrading of the triple lock that currently governs rises in the level of the state pension in favour of an earnings link. The triple lock has been gradually bringing the state pension back up to a reasonable level. And its work is not done. The greatest potential beneficiaries of this policy are today’s young workers. There doesn't need to be a trade-off between pension age and the level of the state pension. 
The TUC view is that both these measures would, in practice, hit the future incomes of those currently in their 30s and 40s. This Generation X is already the worst placed of the generations in terms of workplace saving. And the poorest of this generation would be affected the most. For they are the least likely to be able to work into later life or have the substantial savings needed to cushion retirement ahead of state pension age.

In considering other input into the Review it was noted that Government Actuaries had projected 'viable future increases in retirement age to 69 and 70 by 2055'. This had not been included in the Review Report and the Government have refused to comment. However people need to 'watch this space'. The Tories see the state pension as a source of further 'savings' above and beyond the £8 billion clawed back in the value of state pensions since 2010. Doubtless this then allows them to further reduce taxes for their backers such as through further Inheritance Tax cuts that benefit the wealth.

Eddie Spence
ARMS Vice Chair

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Care in Crisis under the Tories

The Tory manifesto is a vague recipe for extending poverty not equality.

The Tory Government's 'Couldn't care less' attitude has led to record care home closures and an industry in crisis. Reports in the media have continued to reveal that since coming to office in 2010, the Tories promised improvement and delivered just the opposite. Their ideological dislike of local councils, cuts to their funding and deterioration of the 'care home industry' show no signs of stopping. £4.6 billion has been cut from Care funding since 2010 and when the human costs start to rise their best response is to say they may give £2 billion back - still leaving a massive £2.6 million credibility gap in their plans for Care.

Now the Tory manifesto promises that the cost of care will be met by the people who need the care themselves. Poverty amongst pensioners has increased under the Tories to almost 2 million. PM May now says the old in need of care must pay for themselves. There is of course no detail about how this is going to work. Vague references to 'means testing' criteria provide no detail about what that is and who will profit from their plans. More importantly: who will lose? The Manifesto refers to "those with modest or medium wealth". Where does that analysis start and end? Is it May’s own level of wealth? Well that is difficult to say as she has hidden her assets away in a Trust Fund. The only thing we have to go on is 7 years of broken Tory promises.

This isn't just about old people. When a person goes into a Care Home it involves whole families and different generations in managing not just the financial but the emotional cost of looking after their family member. The responsibility for the decline of 'Care' in our communities lies at the door of the Tory Government and even their own 'fanzine' the Mail recognises this. The following coverage looks more at these issues. This debate will run until and beyond the General Election.

Please share your thoughts on this Blog (comments section below).

Tory manifesto: more elderly people will have to pay for own social care - here.

More than 2,000 elderly and ill people die while waiting for care at home: Worse cases saw patients waiting nine months for treatment - here.

General election 2017: parties must be clear how they will solve social care crisis - here.

Eddie Spence
ARMS Vice Chair

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Equality and Human Rights guardians victimised

EHRC members stand firm
Tory hypocrisy over employment rights exposed as Equality and Human Rights Commission staff strike again over sackings and victimisation.

ARMs members may remember the long-running dispute over budget cuts and compulsory redundancies between members of PCS and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). You can play your part by supporting the Strikers.

PCS members at the Equality and Human Rights Commission are to take 20 days of rolling strike action starting today in support of their sacked colleagues. This follows 7 days of strike action taken between November 2016 and March this year.

The strike action includes the following dates:
  • EHRC Glasgow - 15 May to 19 May 
  • EHRC London - 22 May to 26 May 
  • EHRC Cardiff - 29 May to 2 June
  • EHRC Manchester - 5 June to 9 June. 
What ARMs members can do?
It is not an easy decision to take strike action. You can support our PCS members in the following ways:
  • Send motions and letters of support from your regional branch to PCS at londonbargaining@pcs.org.uk
  • Lobby your MP to expose the Government's hypocrisy (literature supporting the dispute is available from your PCS regional office). 
  • If there is an EHRC office in your area, invite their PCS rep to your next meeting. 
  • Go along to the picket line in your area. 
  • Organise for your regional branch to get as many members as possible to visit the picket line. 
  • Make a donation to our Fighting Fund which is used to support our members who take strike action. 
The key facts about this dispute are as follows:

Nine staff were given dismissal notices on 9 February, some by email with just 24 hours' notice; three members of staff were also sacked by email a few weeks later. After representations by PCS the EHRC have agreed to put staff back on to the pay roll but the dismissal notices have not been withdrawn and the staff concerned are banned from EHRC premises, their reinstatement is also part of the campaign

Agency staff
The Commission has spent over £260,000 on agency staff in the first 5 months of this year whilst at the same time trying to substantiate an argument that they need less staff. The union argues that the Commission have not justified the need to cut staff numbers.

However even if the Commission could justify a need for restructuring then the staff should be redeployed into Commission vacancies - more than 30 of which have been identified within the Commission, some of which are the equivalent grades of the sacked staff - or found roles in the wider civil service.

Equality
The EHRC is responsible for ensuring other public bodies consider the equality implications of their actions. Yet they have clearly failed to apply the same standards to themselves.

Of the eight union members issued notices of compulsory redundancy, six are black or minority ethnic, five are disabled and seven are older workers. Four are union reps and one was a lead negotiator opposing the cuts. PCS are now pursuing legal action against the EHRC for victimisation

Making the EHRC toothless
These cuts could threaten the Commission's UN-accredited status as a human rights body. Mark Serwotka says "The fact that the government has cut the Commission to a quarter of its original size demonstrates the Tories' lack of commitment to equality and human rights issues. Further budget and staff cuts would leave the commission toothless at a time when more needs to be done to tackle hate crime and discrimination."

More information on the dispute can be found on the PCS websitewith more info on the renewed strike action here.

Barry Fuge
National Assistant Secretary
PCS ARMs

Sunday, 14 May 2017

This 'weak leader' is taking on the whole British Establishment

Corbyn has mass meetings.
May meets selected party loyalists.
For far too long there was precious little real choice at a general election. As Labour drifted to the right and both they and the Tories fought for the same centre ground, more and more of their policies converged, which left many voters struggling to distinguish between them. Thanks to Corbyn, this is no longer the case. The leaked Labour manifesto is a programme for serious change to the way this country is run, and for whose benefit it is run.

Gone are the days when timid Labour leaderships, cowed by Thatcher’s legacy, dared not mention the word 'socialism', were afraid to talk about wealth redistribution in case it caused a media backlash, and meekly fell in line with the military ambitions of the USA, which caused many traditional Labour voters to desert the party.

Now we have a Labour party that is taking aim at the UK's gross wealth inequality and is planning to do something about it, that recognises how adversely public service cuts affect working class people and intends to reverse them, and that is prepared to stand up against unhinged Trump's foolish and dangerous war games rather than give him unquestioning succour.

Corbyn is standing up for, and firmly defending, what he believes in, putting forward a strong case for making the fat cats and wealthy corporations pay more tax in order to improve the lives of ordinary people, and today telling the USA that he will not be their poodle.

It is difficult to overestimate the fortitude and courage of a politician who is prepared to challenge head-on the accumulated privilege of the whole of the British establishment, along with all the rich and powerful interests it protects, yet he seems to be relishing the task. In that respect, Corbyn is arguably a far stronger Labour leader than any since the 1980s (with the all too brief exception, perhaps, of John Smith).

Working class voters can no longer complain that they only have a choice between Tory and Tory-lite. They can now choose between a full-blooded Labour party that firmly has their interests at the core of its manifesto and a determination to carry it out, or a Tory party that has run out of ideas, will make their lives even worse, and whose manifesto, I predict, will contain barely any firm policies to 'help ordinary working families'. The choice this time will be stark.

The Tories portray Corbyn as spineless - even though nothing could be further from the truth - because they know that his policies are very popular (the leaked manifesto has very high approval ratings already) and that their best hope of stopping him is if they can maintain the myth that he is weak and unfit to be prime minister.

So, don't expect May's 'strong and stable' mantra to stop anytime soon.

Brian Nelson
ARMs Yorkshire and Humberside region

Friday, 12 May 2017

NPC Campaign Bulletin May 2017

Please find a link to the May 2017 issue of the NPC's Campaign! Bulletin - here

The NPC has also produced a print friendly version which reduces the amount of ink needed when the document is printed out. This can be found here

If you have any further queries about this bulletin, please get in touch with the NPC.