John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Saturday, May 24, 2014
  Evidence of postal vote fraud
2014 postbox This was in 2014. More details coming when I get them.
 
  Labour's 2/3rds claim
2014 05 two thirds The above is an extract from a comment used on a number of Labour leaflets.  It indicates that the money that Birmingham has available to spend has been cut by 2/3rds.


I have asked Sir Albert Bore to explain where this figure comes from. The spending power of birmingham in the current year was cut by under 6% not over 60%.
 
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
  Speech from March 2014 about National Finance
Here is the debate in Hansard.

It is often said that a week is a long time in politics, but in one sense that is wrong. Dealing with Government finance and the economy takes multiple years, so the problem that we had in 2010 will take at least eight years to resolve. People who interview me every so often say, “Oh, we have more cuts this year,” but those decisions were made in 2010 and they were driven by Government policy in the previous years.
I shall quote a few comments about Government policy from 2005 to 2010 because they are relevant to this debate and the issue of budget responsibility in the long term. One person said in his memoirs:
“However, we should also accept that from 2005 onwards Labour was insufficiently vigorous in limiting or eliminating the potential structural deficit.”
That was Tony Blair, who was Prime Minister at the time.
Lord Turnbull, who at one stage was the Cabinet Secretary, the chief civil servant, noted that excessive borrowing started to be a problem from 2005. He said:
“It kind of crept up on us in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and we were still expanding public spending at 4.5 percent a year”.
His argument, essentially, was that the Labour Government should have been aiming to put money aside in the good years. He cited examples of other places that began to accumulate surpluses for a rainy day—places such as Australia.
The Government were borrowing £2,500 on behalf of every person in the country so that, in effect, a baby would have borrowed £45,000 by the time it reached the age of 18. That had to be brought under control, but it cannot be done immediately. It is important that we properly manage Government finances. If anyone can be bothered to read the Charter for Budget Responsibility March 2014 update, they will find on page 10 that if the welfare cap is found to be breached, there are three options, one of which is to
“explain why a breach of the welfare cap is considered justified.”
Members can vote against the motion only if they do not believe in the Government managing and knowing what they are doing. I would be worried if there was a scheme whereby somebody came and said, “I need benefits. I’ve got no money,” and the Government said, “We’ve run out of money. We have no money to give you jobseeker’s allowance.” People will still have entitlements, but if we spend more than we intend to spend, the Minister will, as an absolute minimum, have to explain why.
I worry still about how the Government manage finances. I have asked questions, for example, on tax credits, to try to work out how many effectively fraudulent self-employed schemes there are, often run by people who are recent migrants. People set up nonsense scrap metal businesses that exist not as businesses, but to qualify for tax credits, but the Government cannot give that information. That is bad. We should be able to analyse the figures.

We need a good benefits system that ensures that there is a solid and straightforward safety net so that if people end up in difficulty, there is a way of rescuing them and keeping them from destitution. However, to argue that we should not try to manage the total costs is nonsense. Hence, I am not surprised that the official Opposition are backing the motion. Anyone who believes in having the money available to look after people believes in managing the accounts and knowing what is happening, and if we spend more than we expect, as an absolute minimum the Minister should explain why.
 
  Labour face trial of green waste policy on 11th June
I received an email from the court indicating that the trial into the Labour Party's policy of leaving the city in a mess (apart from the odd clear up) will be on 11th June.

It will be interesting to see if they concede the point now that they have done one rather erratic clear up.

Many constituents have contacted me asking for a refund as well.

 
Sunday, May 18, 2014
  Council Budget figures (why Labour's leaflets are misleading - Green Waste and Cuts)
The Labour Party have made many claims about how much money is being cut from Birmingham's budgets.  They are doing this to justify their prioritisation of cutting the green waste collection.  It happens to be that Solihull spends in total around £700 per annum less per dwelling, but still provides a free green waste service (one bin - they charge for a second bin)

However, these are the figures in total (in £million) including the forecasts.  It is important to remember that Labour nationally are committed to the 15/16 figure and have said they will make further cuts if they come into government (although the cuts may not be the same)

I have in front of me a Labour leaflet claiming the total cuts are two thirds.  I don't see that from the quoted figures below.


Net Budgets 2011/12 onwards
Actual Figures Forecasts based on 2014+ LTFP
2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Council Tax 332.198 333.218 252.104 258.529 267.499 273.394 281.919
Government Grants 691.206 646.52 783.384 706.408 597.73 554.432 499.534
Net Budget 1023.404 979.738 1035.488 964.937 865.229 827.826 781.453
The big shift in grant last year is a different treatment of financing council tax benefit where the support previously given is included in the basic grant.
Additionally the council has a budget head of "savings not achieved". It would be very simple to allocate these funds to the green waste collection. In fact the saving in terms of not having to collect fly tipping would assist.
 
Saturday, May 17, 2014
  Green Waste and Legal Issues
The campaign to clean up Birmingham will not be resolved quickly. The City Council are continuing to refuse to clear refuse more generally although there are reports that secret instructions have been given to do a specific clear up following my application to court.
The application I made to the court on Thursday is specifically about 18 dumps of green waste. One of those was cleared on the day. Some have been there since before 24th April.
This is a specific form of legal action that is allowed under S91 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Taking legal action against public authorities is risky because of the potential to be hit by their costs. However, the rules on rubbish and litter are that the council pays the costs if the litter is there when the application is made (which we have photographic evidence of for 17 of the sites).
 
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
  Ireland and Spain
Here can be found a report on Irish TV about the numbers of people going from the UK to ireland (which I don't recommend) - 48 last year.

This is a report from Emily Sparkes, a mother in Spain
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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