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Archive for November, 2011

 

 

 

Autumn Statement – Building a stronger economy for the future

In The Plan for Growth, published alongside Budget 2011, the Government set out a comprehensive programme of structural reforms. Work has started on all 137 commitments.

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has announced how the Government will accelerate its programme of structural reforms to infrastructure, support enterprise and lay the foundations for strong, balanced growth, supporting around £30 billion of new capital investment. This includes:

  • working with UK pension funds to target up to £20 billion of private sector investment in infrastructure;
  • providing £6.3 billion, of which £1.3 billion was announced earlier in the autumn, of additional infrastructure spending over the Spending Review 2010 period – funded by savings – including tackling congestion on the road and rail networks, superfast broadband, extra money for schools and housing, increasing the Regional Growth Fund, and more funding for science and innovation; and
  • supporting around a further £1 billion of investment by Network Rail.

Through this investment, the Government is:

  • supporting the delivery of the National Infrastructure Plan;
  • increasing the Regional Growth Fund by £1 billion;
  • providing £600 million of funding for 100 additional Free Schools, alongside an extra £600 million for Local Authorities with the greatest pressure on school places; and
  • introducing a new build indemnity scheme for builders and lenders to stimulate the construction of new homes, and launching a new £400 million Get Britain Building investment fund.

The Government is also:

  • launching a new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) from April 2012; and
  • making 100 per cent capital allowances in the Enterprise Zones in Sheffield, the Black Country, Liverpool, Tees Valley, North Eastern, and the Humber.

Up to £21 billion in a package of interventions – known as credit easing – to ease the flow of credit to businesses that do not have ready access to capital markets, was also announced as part of the Autumn Statement.

Growth Review and National Infrastructure Plan related links

An update on the 137 commitments made in The Plan for Growth, published alongside Budget 2011, and more information on the Growth Review.

The National Infrastructure Plan 2011 sets out a new strategy for meeting the infrastructure needs of the UK economy.

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Autumn Statement: help to households

To help households and businesses cope with higher inflation, and to ensure the deficit reduction plan is implemented fairly and support young people in the labour market, the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement that the Government will:

  • defer the 3.02 pence per litre fuel duty increase due to take effect on 1 January 2012 to 1 August to 1 August 2012; the second increase planned for 1 August 2012 will be cancelled;

 

  • increase the Bank Levy to 0.088 per cent from 1 January 2012 to ensure it raises at least £2.5bn each year, as set out at Budget 2011;

 

  • limit the increase to Transport for London and regulated rail fates to inflation, measured using the retail price index, plus one per cent for one year from 2012;

 

  • provide extra support from Jobcentre Plus for unemployed 18-24 year olds; and

 

  • via a new Youth Contract worth a total of £940 million:
    • provide an offer of work experience or Sector Based Work Academy place for every unemployed 18-14 year old who want one after three months on Jobseeker’s Allowance;
    • fund wage incentives for 160,000 young people to make it easier for private sector employers to take them on.

The Government will also invest a further £380m a year by 2014-15 to extend its new offer of 15 hours free education and care a week for disadvantaged two year olds, to cover an extra 130,000 children. This is in line with the Government’s plan to tackle the causes of child poverty.

View the Government’s announcements on the other key themes for the Autumn Statement:

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The Chancellor has acknowledged that the government will not meet its target of cutting the deficit by 2015

 

however….. Working age benefits will  not be cut but will be uprated by 5.2%…

 

This is a big win for Iain Duncan Smith who argued vehmently that the poor should not be penalised:

 

…well done IDS!!

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Universal Credit… the warning

According to the Shadow Employment minister Stephen Timms, the current tax credit system was better at supporting people who wanted to escape unemployment by setting up their own business.

However, Labour has claimed that the Government’s Universal Credit could hit small business start-ups, .

During Work and Pensions Questions in the Commons Stephen Timms said:

“The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has said tax credits today support self-employment much better than the proposals for universal credit will in the future. This is because universal credit will assume people are earning at least the minimum wage which is completely unrealistic in the early years of self employment.

He asked the government to look again at this particular issue with universal credit, at least for the first year or two of self employment…

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

We will be monitoring very carefully how decisions we take around Universal Credit work.

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The Times & Telegraph report of a backlog in the benefits system

The Times & The Daily Telegraph have reported today that the backlog of appeals by welfare claimants against the removal of their benefits is now long enough that the government has had to hire 84 new judges to deal with it.

Both the Times and the Telegraph write that for the first time extra posts have been needed since 2007, when only ten Social Entitlement Chamber judges were recruited to oversee welfare appeals. In recent months 84 have been hired to help to deal with the caseload, at a pro-rata salary of £101,000 per year.

Under the programme to check whether all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit are actually fit to work about 11,000 claimants a week are being reassessed. Judges have warned about the growing queue of people appealing against being taken off benefits.

In 2010-11 the number of appeals in the Social Entitlement Chamber, where welfare appeals are heard, were 23 per cent higher than the preceding year and 72 per cent up on 2008-09.

Comments

On one level it is clearly showing that the government is serious about reform and that it is having a real affect. Others will argue however that this shows that the government is getting it seriously wrong

…….maybe the truth is somewhere between these two stools… no pun intended

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Don’t rob Penny to pay Paul – lone parents and young people both need help to get back to work!

I am not an expert on youth unemployment, and I try in these blogs to be factual and informative rather than campaign on particular issues.

But, for goodness sake, and from direct first hand experience of how tough it is out there for families, I would say to the government: PLEASE don’t make the help for young people come at the expense of supporting familes with young children who receive Working Tax Credit.

I have spent this week running a Take three days W2W programme with mothers, mainly lone parents, in East London. They are trying so hard to get back to work. These are women who are spending hours each day looking on-line, knocking on doors, going on courses, volunteering, and sending out CVs and application forms. Their three big concerns are

  1. The cost of childcare
  2. Making sure work pays
  3. That employers will want younger people with work experience

The coalition government’s reduction in childcare support for working families has been a big blow to lone parents.  If this is combined with a cut in the uprating of WTC and direct subsidies for young people with-out any extra help for lone parents they feel that the ladder is being pulled out from under them as they are struggling to get their foot on the first rung.

And remember Lone Parents attract no extra premium on the Work Programme.

Everyone who is out of work needs support commensurate with the barriers they face. It is certainly right to help young people. But not at the expense of those who have children.

 

Liz Sewell

Programme Director
Take three days

www.takethreedays.com

 

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Grant Shapps: on housing

Housing minister attempts to challenge social housing prejudices

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has announced new flexible tenancies in order to tackle prejudices about social housing and ensure that it becomes a springboard for success.

New instructions have been published by Shapps which will ensure housing associations and councils are able to ensure that more people benefit from social housing for the time that they need it, rather than a home for life .

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

“For too long social housing has been seen by many people as a byword for failure, a home for life in a dead-end street. I want to restore pride to social housing, so a social tenancy is once again seen as a launch pad to fulfil aspirations.

 

“These changes will not affect existing tenants, but allow landlords to make more housing available for those most in need and give people the helping hand they need, for as long as they need it, including lifetime security where it is appropriate.”

The new standards include:

  • Tenure reform: to allow social landlords to issue flexible tenancies, subject to conditions, to make better use of existing and future stock. In implementing these reforms, we will respect the rights of existing secure and assured tenants.

 

  • Mutual exchange: to enable access to internet-based mutual exchange schemes to give tenants who want to move the best possible opportunity of finding a match.

 

  • Tenant involvement: to strengthen landlord accountability to tenants and support the Tenant Cashback model, providing new opportunities for social housing tenants to get involved in commissioning repair and maintenance service for their homes.

 

  • Rent: to make changes to reflect the introduction of the Affordable Rent model.

 

  • Quality of Accommodation: to clarify that providers are expected to maintain their stock at a decent level.

Read the responses to the consultation document and final directions

 

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

 

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