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Bolton TUC are calling for a broad coalition of political parties, trades unions, service users and community groups to oppose the potential £39 million cut to next year’s Bolton Council budget and to campaign instead for a huge public investment in the town in any number of pay-for-themselves projects, such as building more Social Housing and insulating people’s homes, which Secretary of Leigh Unite and Bolton TUC member Stephen Hall says:
“…….would not only, not be wasteful expenditure burdening future generations with increased debt; but on the contrary, represent the best public investment we could possibly make right now not only in the interests of our children and future generations, but of everyone else living in the here and now. This is because what we are proposing will amongst other things, help to address the huge housing shortage and growing threat of climate change. It will also help alleviate the widespread financial pressures presently on many households resulting from the covid pandemic, by creating thousands of new jobs, and putting money into local people’s pockets and thereby the local economy.
“Any proposed cuts right now are simply unacceptable in our view and will only heap even greater misery on to already over stretched households. They will only worsen the care of our elderly and severely damage other vital public services. They will also suck money and spending power out of the local economy, all of which will detrimentally effect local businesses. Worse than that they are a completely false economy which will cost the public purse more in the long run as a result of a loss in tax revenues, increased payments of universal credit and the additional cost of addressing many other social problems they will create.
“As well as organising locally to mobilise public opinion in support of a policy of investment rather than cuts, and calling on our local Councillors and our local MPs to join us in demanding the necessary funding from the Government to enable that to happen, in order for us to realistically succeed, it is vital we unite and campaign with other Council areas facing a similar situation in Greater Manchester and beyond.
“Indeed, in the first instant, we believe our best chance, and every other Council area’s best chance of succeeding lies in building the greatest possible public support for this policy and approach across Greater Manchester and putting pressure on all our political representatives, MPs, Council Leaders and GM Mayor Andy Burnham to unite with us in demanding the Government provide the necessary funding. This approach would also look to be more in keeping with the Government’s manifesto pledge of a ‘levelling up’ agenda for The North, than the currently proposed cuts facing local Councils which will more likely do the exact opposite.
“We are delighted to hear that the Bolton West Constituency Labour Party last week unanimously endorsed a motion opposing cuts and calling for a similar approach to ours with regards to investment in our area in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Also, calling for a broad campaign across the Borough to achieve those objectives. We would like to cordially invite them, and everyone else living in the Bolton Council area who is opposed to the proposed cuts, and who agrees that a policy of public investment is the much better option, to come and join us at next Wednesday’s Zoom meeting to discuss how we might go forwards as a united campaign in the interests of us all.”
Cllr Ahktar Zaman – Labour Councillor
Andrea Egan – Bolton UNISON Branch Secretary
Karen Reissman – Bolton UNISON Health Branch
Linda Charnock – Bolton Against the Bedroom Tax
Stephen Hall – Bolton TUC & President Greater Manchester TUC
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Local council tax support is currently given to around 30,000 individuals and families in the Bolton Borough whose personal circumstances mean that they are eligible for financial help to pay their council tax. The Council are proposing that the local council tax support scheme be amended as of 1st April 2021 and are asking residents to voice their opinion as part of their review.
Whether or not council will pay heed to any contribution from the public is uncertain. Bolton TUC nevertheless urge as many residents as possible to voice their opinions and to oppose any attempt to reduce the number of people who may be eligible or to reduce the amount paid to those who qualify, especially under present circumstances.
To give you an idea of the type of comments you might care to make, here’s an example of one already submitted by a Trades Council delegate earlier this week.
While the Conservative Government are inflicting another £40 million of cuts upon the people of Bolton they are at the same time handing out over £1.9 Billion to supermarket chains via the Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates. This is resulting in bumper payouts worth millions to shareholders. In response we demand that the central government not only make up the £40 million shortfall but set forth a package of economic regeneration that will see a genuine economic recovery for all the people of Bolton.
The Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates was sold to us as essential financial support to businesses to prevent them from going under and unemployment increasing, but as is often the case, the real winners were not small local businesses but instead supermarkets who have seen sales soar and will continue to do so under a lockdown.
The Conservatives claim to be a party of low taxation but instead we see a consultation taking place on proposals for an amendment to the local council tax support scheme that will see us paying more council tax at a time when unemployment is rising and the level of in work poverty is at it highest rate ever.
As there wasn’t an ‘Other’ option to this question our Trades Council delegate chose not to reply.
Our argument remains the same throughout, in that the only way to build a strong vibrant economy is by investing in the infrastructure and the skills of the future, not using our tax to reward Tory Party donors.
A few photos and two short videos from yesterday’s protests outside the offices of local Tory MP’s Mark Logan (Bolton North East) and Chris Green (Bolton West) organised by Bolton TUC. Also, of messages left outside the offices of James Grundy (Leigh) by members of the public. All three Conservative MP’s voted against the motion to extend free school meals over school holidays until Easter 2021.
The motion was lost by 61 votes.
A spokesperson for Bolton TUC said: “Bolton TUC are gravely concerned about the plight of people in Bolton as we see the impact of Government policy that sees in-work poverty rising.
“So today Bolton TUC, members of local political parties along with members of faith and community groups will visit the constituency offices of Chris Green MP and Mark Logan MP with a visual representation of our concerns about children going hungry during the coming Christmas holiday and to ask them to apply pressure, alongside Yasmin Qureshi MP, upon the Government to put in place temporary measures that will see children provided with a nutritious meal every day until a permanent solution can be found.
“We have wrote to the MPs to invite them to meet with us in a covid safe environment.
“The Government’s decision to make sure young people could get a decent lunch while schools were closed over the Easter, half-term and the summer holidays was a massive relief to many which not only provided nutrition but a reduction in anxiety that relentlessly worrying about feeding children brings and we wholeheartedly hope that the three Bolton MPs will support our call that the same provision will be extended over the Christmas period.
“We are so proud to be part of the Bolton community that has pulled together with the council to intervene but the most vulnerable members of our community cannot be left to rely on the kindness of strangers which is why we are calling upon the government to come up with a permanent solution.”
Greater Manchester TUC President and Bolton TUC member Stephen Hall said: “It is morally reprehensible and simply unacceptable for our local Conservative MP’s and the Conservative Government to deny our poorest children the benefits of a nutritious meal during the school holidays when the cost of so doing pales into insignificance compared to the £10billion+ cost of a covid track and trace system which is clearly not World beating and doesn’t actually work.”
If you can attend please do so outside the offices of Chris Green MP (Bolton West) and Mark Logan MP (Bolton North East) at 9:00am Friday 30th October. Their addresses are listed above.
Don’t forget to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
If you’re unable to attend, please either:
Take a photo of yourself holding a plate with a message about FSM, or, make a video of yourself holding a plate with a message saying why you support our campaign for FSM during the half term and Xmas breaks.
The photos and videos will appear on our website:
Here’s a photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury
Rishi Sunak has released his Job Support Scheme and upon scrutiny he must do Better
What is the Job Support Scheme?
The Job Support Scheme will run for six months from 1 November.
It will top up salaries in companies which can’t take employees back full-time.
To be eligible, employees must work for at least one-third of their normal contracted hours.
For the hours not worked, the government and employer will each pay one-third of the remaining wages. This means the employee would get at least 77% of their pay.
What other jobs help is on offer?
To minimise unemployment, the UK government will also give firms:
£1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January
£1,500 for every out-of-work 16-24 year-old given a ”high quality” six-month work placement
£2,000 for every under-25 apprentice taken on until the end of January, or £1,500 for over-25s
But will it incentivise businesses to keep employees in work?
In an example where the employer has 3 staff, the demand has fallen by 2/3 those 3 staff would work 1/3 of their contracted hours but will be paid 55% of their wages by the employer, 22% by the treasury and take a hit for 23% of their wages. So the employer gets 1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) work but pays for 1.65 FTE.
If the employer dismissed two of the staff and just had one working full time then they would pay 1 FTE.
So what then will be the considerations for the employer?
It is likely that those highly skilled workers, along with those for whom it would be expensive to dismiss in terms of redundancy pay will be kept on, but low skilled workers will lose their jobs as there is no incentive to the employer for keeping them on.
Again we see how strongly unionised workplaces will fair better than those non unionised ones
What alternatives are there?
One simple answer is to scrap the £7.5bn JRB (Job retention bonus) which is paid to employers who retain workers the consideration being that those workers were likely to have been kept on anyway so the £1000 payment was unnecessary and should be used to meet the shortfall in wages for those workers only working 1/3 of the time. This short hours scheme will incentivise employers to keep those staff.
In Germany the Kurzarbeit, effectively a social insurance programme, and an alternative to redundancy. Under Kurzarbeit, employers reduce their employees’ working hours instead of laying them off. But the largest portion of the workers’ lost income is picked up by the state.
Better unemployment benefit in line with the rest of Europe or better still it would seem then that both the government and the employers have accepted the fate of the retail high street to be a bad one but if, as the CEO of next argues, this is so then why are we not embarking on mass training schemes to give people skills for the future whilst these wont necessarily be building solar and wind infrastructure they could well be within the internet based retail economy.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said that his latest measures, which will replace the job retention scheme that paid 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages, will not save masses of jobs from being lost. Dodds said the “million-dollar question” was whether the wage support scheme would fail to incentivise employers to keep workers in their jobs. She told Radio 4’s Today programme that “unemployment levels are rising very substantially, they’re going back towards 1980s levels.”
The Resolution Foundation think tank also warned that the “winter economic package” would not help turn the tide on unemployment. Chief executive Torsten Bell said: “Design flaws mean that the new [scheme] will not live up to its promise to significantly reduce the rise in unemployment.” He added: “Those mistakes could be addressed by scrapping the poorly targeted £7.5 billion job retention bonus, and using those funds to ensure the new support scheme gives firms the right incentives to cut hours rather than jobs.”
Trade Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady warned there is still “unfinished business.” She said: “Unworked hours under the scheme must not be wasted. “Ministers must work with business and unions to offer high-quality retraining, so workers are prepared for the future economy. “The government should target help at industries facing a tough winter, and provide more support for families most at risk of hardship and debt.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called the measures “akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound.” “Our members in the commercial sector, aviation and culture are already being threatened with hundreds of redundancies, as employers seek to capitalise on the economic fallout from Covid-19,” he said. “The Tories’ ideological opposition to increased state intervention is hurting the economy and costing people their livelihoods right now.”
Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) director Dr Faiza Shaheen called the announcement “too little to late” for those who have already lost their jobs, and for the sector’s hardest hit. She said: “What Britain needs is a real budget that sets out how departmental spending would boost a recovery, generate jobs and provide real ‘level-up’ equality. We need more vision and a real industrial strategy.” Dr Shaheen said the Conservatives’ approach to the economy is “increasingly looking chaotic and reactionary.”
Labour MP Richard Burgon called for a more radical approach, noting that Britain was facing the worst recession in Europe because of “systemic failings.” He called for “a united programme of demands that we coordinate the whole left around: the left in parliament, the unions, the party membership and social movements,” calling for adoption of a zero-Covid strategy and Labour to campaign for a programme of public works and the Green New Deal to “force the government to change track on health and the economy.”
When Addaction members were transferred from the NHS they were promised that they would retain their rates of pay, but #WeAreWithYou (the new name for Addaction) have gone back on their word. As a result, following the appropriate process in which there was a 100% turnout and unanimous vote in favour of industrial action, the workforce took their first day of strike action on Friday 23rd August 2019. They continue to remain solid having now taken a total of sixteen days of strike action on each occasion receiving the support of the local Trades Council and other local trades unionists.
What’s at stake?
One member of UNISON said “We will lose an average of £7,870 each during the course of Wigan Council’s contract with We Are With You, with some of us losing out on as much as £10,974.”
“This is simply wrong and across five years, will suck £230,000 out of the local economy whilst We Are With You directs funding towards costly rebrands and its London headquarters.”
“We work hard for We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh to ensure that local people recover from addiction, regaining health, self esteem and becoming fully functioning members of our society.”
“We work in this field because we care and because it’s rewarding to support recovery, but we deserve to make a decent living.”
“Supporting people to overcome drug and alcohol addiction is an incredibly tough job and makes a difference for every single one of us in Wigan. We deserve a decent wage for doing what is an important job for our communities.”
Here’s a list of events going on in Greater Manchester as part of Black History month. Check out our Twitter feed for other events and topical articles: @BoltonTUC1
Windrush Generations Manchester Voices Exhibition
5th – 31st October Central Library, Archives+ Digital Interactive
Windrush Generations Manchester Voices is an exhibition that focuses on the personal histories and stories of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation African Caribbeans in Manchester. Join in and discover personal perspectives on:
struggles and achievements
art and activism
the history and legacy of immigration
STEM Club Online
Inspirational Black innovators in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) that we should all know about.
For Black History Month, STEM Club are highlighting some of the individuals, past and present, who should be routinely recognised for their achievements. You can watch them all live on our Facebook page.
We hope this sparks your interest so you will actively find out more about the amazing people below and other black pioneers in STEM.
Saturday 3rd October – Highlighting Maggie Aderin-Pocock, British Space Scientist and presenter of BBC’s The Sky at Night. Join Leigh to make your own mini Solar System.
Saturday 10th October – Highlighting Dr. Mark Richards, scientist and a DJ, developer of air pollution monitoring instruments. Join Angela as she tests out the air quality in her local street.
Saturday 17th October – Highlighting mathematician Katherine Johnson, – unsung hero of NASA and the space race. Join Angela and Siobhan as they illustrate coding without a computer!
Saturday 24th October – Highlighting Granville Wood, inventor and electrical engineer who made key contributions to the development of the telephone. Join Angela and Siobhan as they show you how to make a very simple string telephone.
Monday 26th October, 2pmFantasy Landscapes with Simone
Do you need a change of scene? Simone will help you create a masterpiece today. There is even a sew it yourself tip for those who need an extra challenge.
Wednesday 28th October, 2pmSnazzy bookmarks
Everybody needs a fabulous bookmark for some serious reading. Join Simone for some snazzy bookmark making.
We Are Manchester – A Celebration of Black Poets and Spoken Word Artists
Throughout October online and in libraries across Manchester.
A new collection of specially commissioned video performances from Black poets and spoken word artists in Manchester to be launched during Black History Month. The poems will be broadcast on our social media platforms and screened in libraries across Manchester. Artists include Peter Kalu, Shirley May, Mandla Rae and Recce Williams.
Career Conversation Series for Young People
Become a Writer. Tuesday 13th October, 6:30-7:30pm
Are you an aspiring young writer? Not sure where to start in your journey? Come along and listen to Jade’s story with a chance to ask her some questions at the end.
Jade Calder, Mancunian mum of 3 and a self-published children’s author of “Mummy…What is Black Lives Matter” shares her experience of how she has juggled family life during lockdown 2020 to write and self publish her first book. Inspired by shared real life experiences of the Black Lives Matter protests with her young daughter, this new children’s book addresses the subject of racism and protest for families to read together in a positive light.
Become a Teacher. Thursday 15th October, 6:30-7:30pm
Jamal Thomas, primary school teacher, shares his journey into teaching.
Find out what inspired Jamal to become a teacher in Greater Manchester, the steps he took early on in his education and what he loves most about teaching. Join Jamal to find out more and a chance to ask him some questions at the end.
Become a Barrister. Thursday 29th October, 6:30-7:30pm
Sally Penni, barrister, social entrepreneur, author, charity fundraiser and much more shares her experience as a working mum and a busy professional. Are you interested in pursuing a career in law? Join Sally and learn more with a chance to ask questions at the end.
Tracing African Caribbean Ancestry – Who do you think you are?
Join Ancestry Talks’ Paul Crooks for this captivating account of how he traced his Black Caribbean ancestors enslaved on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, 200 years ago. In this masterclass, Paul captivates audiences with his unique account of how he traced his roots and his family’s migration down through the generations to Windrush.
Tracing Windrush Ancestry: Secrets of the Passenger lists
There are calls from people of African & Caribbean descent not to forget the Windrush generation.
“Did my parents or forebears come to England on the Empire Windrush? Or, Did they arrive on some other ship? What do I know about their arrival? What can I find out? Why are the Passenger lists important to tracing African Caribbean Ancestry? In the fervour to know more about Black History, am I forgetting my family history?”
These are questions trailblazing author and family historian Paul Crooks asked when pioneering research into pioneered research into African Caribbean.
Join Paul for this captivating talk on how he used the Passenger lists to shed new light on the history of his Octogenarian father – a Windrush generationer.
Trailblazing author and family historian Paul Crooks pioneered research into African Caribbean genealogy during the 1990s. He traced his family history from London, back 6 generations, to ancestors captured off the West African coast and enslaved on a sugar plantation in Jamaica.
In the 1990’s, Paul was told that it would be impossible to trace records of slave-ownership let alone his African ancestors enslaved on plantations in Jamaica. “No one had tried because such records did not exist.” Undeterred, he embarked on a journey of discovery that led from suburban North London to Jamaica and ultimately back to the Gold Coast of Africa; an effort that has brought him international recognition for his breakthroughs in Tracing black ancestry.
Join Ancestry Talks’ Paul Crooks for this captivating account of how he traced his Black Caribbean ancestors enslaved on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, 200 years ago.
In this masterclass, Paul captivates audiences with his unique account of how he traced his roots and his family’s migration down through the generations to Windrush.
Black History Month Children’s Storytime
‘Mummy…What is Black Lives Matter’by Jade Calder.
Saturday 10th October, 2pm
Join local author Jade live on Facebook as she reads from her new self-published children’s book ‘Mummy…What is Black Lives Matter’.
Inspired by shared real life experiences of the Black Lives Matter protests with her young daughter, Jade’s book addresses the subject of racism and protest for families to read together in a positive light.
‘Look Up!’ by Nathan Byron
Tuesday 27 October, 11am
Join Luisa from Beswick Library on our facebook page reading the Waterstones Children’s Picture Book of the Year ‘Look Up!’ by Nathan Bryon, a lovely story about Rocket and her adventures in the stars.
Longsight Library’s Anti Racist Bookshelf
Longsight Library’s Anti Racist Bookshelf curated by Longsight community group Let’s Keep Growing will launch on Sat 3 October.
The community group’s book choices have a theme of food and growing that run’s through them. The books for both adult, young people and children is accompanied by an exhibition of photos and short film. The Anti-racist bookshelf is an ongoing collaboration between Lets Keep Growing and Longsight Library.
Let’s Keep Growing is a community-led gardening project working on turning Longsight alleyways and other spaces into friendly, green havens for people and wildlife. Everyone has a relation to nature and food, so we use food growing in small communal spaces as a way to bring people together.
We promote the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning, Give.
Bolton Against COVID Evictions (BACE) was set up specifically to reduce the impact of COVID 19 on the most vulnerable members of our community.
No one should lose their home because of COVID 19 arrears yet Bolton faces a bow wave of COVID related evictions.
We aim to help people stay in their homes through providing advice and support to tenants and by demanding that the Local Authority and Landlords fulfil their obligations and remain within the law.
We seek a permanent solution that will see council houses built and managed by the local authority.
PRESS RELEASE 21-09-2020
Monday the 21st September will see us in Bolton Town centre calling for the government to do more for those who will be threatened with eviction and calling upon Bolton Council to prepare for additional renters seeking emergency housing assistance from them.
In a very short time we have seen our support grow amongst Trade Union, Community and faith groups across Bolton who share our concerns and are proud to work alongside Greater Manchester Law Centre and Greater Manchester Tenants union.
The threat of eviction for those with COVID 19 arrears
Homelessness often has lifelong consequences for people. The social and financial costs of homelessness and resettlement are huge and will fall to our already over stretched council.
Precarious employment, zero hour contracts, a shrinking jobs market and the worst sick pay in Europe all contribute to the increasing vulnerability of renters with many people struggling with in work poverty and just one pay packet away from destitution. Giving people longer to pay only delays the inevitable, you cant pay 24 months rent with only 22 months pay
Israel has gone into the 2nd lockdown and we in Bolton are worried about the lack of testing and how that may allow a second wave to develop under our noses making many of our community even more vulnerable.
Families who are evicted often have their work, school and access to medical care disrupted too.
In her review of the ONS analysis by local area and socio-economic deprivation Bolton Councils Consultant in Public Health Lynn Donkin concluded that “Therefore we might expect to see disproportionate impact of COVID 19″
In March Robert Jenrick said that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”. But the government have done little more that to kick the can down the road which gives renters little comfort and we need to see a long term solution to the housing crisis. Firstly by the halting evictions until the end of august then giving a 11th hour reprieve pushing that date back to 21st September and more recently banning evictions for six months the government have shown a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to come to the aid of renters as they did their friends in business.
The financial cost of evictions will fall upon the public purse and we demand an fully resourced intervention.
Have not assessed the potential number of evictions
Is unprepared for the additional evictions
Will end up overstretched unless they prepare
Will foot the bill for emergency accommodation
In a response to a member of our group the lead member for the council replied that
We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.
This is something that GM are looking at
1. We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.
Possession orders are heard in County Court, not the Magistrates, Bolton has one within the combined courts.
The authorities duties under HRA extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”
Prevention is the key here and hence our question about assessment of the problem and allocation of resources
It is possible that a tenant does who does not have the correct advice who leaves when a landlord serves a notice could be deemed intentionally homeless and the council would claim that they therefore have not got a duty towards them
The advise is always stay put (unless a risk of harm)
2. This is something that GM are looking at
The duty falls to the council, and whilst there may be collaboration, you’d hope that there was, the duty remains with BMBC for its residents.
There may be ways in which we can help to prevent you from being homeless.
If you’re having problems with any of the following, please get in touch with us:
Your landlord has asked you to leave……..
We can help you stay in your accommodation by offering:
A mediation service
Help with your money
Talking to your landlord on your behalf
Advising you of your rights and responsibilities
Support with your tenancy
Find alternative accommodation
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA) will be enacted from April 2018. … The Act places a number of new or strengthened duties on local authorities that are designed to ensure all households at risk of homelessness receive earlier and more effective interventions
The part of the HRA that we are most concerned with at this point is outlined in Policy Fact Sheet: Threatened with Homelessness clause 1, which we are most focused on extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”
We are calling upon Greater Manchester social housing landlords to pledge never to seek possession for rent arrears on “mandatory” grounds and hence reduce the risk of unjust evictions resulting from CV19 by making one significant commitment –
A pledge not to issue rent arrears possession proceedings on mandatory grounds.
Earlier this year a few of us began preparations for a weekend of activities at Bolton Central Library as part of Black History Month. Covid 19 put all our preparations on hold. However, the shocking death of George Floyd mobilised many to protest, and to assert that Black Lives Matter, opening up a dialogue around the world about issues such as injustice, police brutality and systemic racism.
By setting up a facebook group for those of us concerned with these issues in Bolton, we are hopeful that we can help to maintain a momentum that will keep Black Lives Matters on the agenda locally, as well as acknowledging Black History Month.
We are looking to recruit members to the group who are willing to help promote a clearer understanding of Black issues amongst the wider public. We hope we can all appreciate that the general public are deliberately kept ignorant about many aspects of history be it of the working class or any form of oppression from any corner of the globe. By knowing and informing each other of our past, we can plan and prepare a better future.