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Showing posts from July, 2013

Discretionary Housing Payments and the "Bedroom Tax"

OK, so it isn't a bedroom tax, but everyone understands what those words mean. Today the administrative court did not conclude that the government's policy on disabled people and the spare room subsidy was unlawful. However, the details are important. There are people who as a result of disability do need a spare bedroom. There is no question about this. The government's plan was for these people to be funded through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP). The court accepted that the government were producing detailed guidelines to ensure that such people go get DHP. I had a case like this in my constituency. Initially the council refused DHP, but I complained about this and they granted DHP. A big question in terms of the implementation of this policy is the amount of DHP that is available. As at the first quarter in Birmingham Quarter 1 a total of £1,007,256.94 had been spent or committed. £763,395.70 was spent in the first quarter, £207,282.05 was committed for

Camilla Cavendish on published judgments - Martin Narey is wrong (as is often the case)

Camilla Cavendish has written in the Sunday Times about the publishing of the judgments. Her column is behind a paywall, but I have extracted the last paragraph: You may say that this is none of our business. But the number of blunders that seem to have been made in this case, by a local authority in chaos, suggests it needs to be our business until there is true openness. I hope the good lord justice will finish the job; and that those who so confidently proclaim that there are only a “handful” of miscarriages of justice will realise how tragically wrong they have been.

"In effect a last resort"

It is interesting to note in Peter Jackson's judgment here the following: (2) In this Court there is no disagreement in relation to legal matters. With the advantage of the decision of the Supreme Court published only yesterday in the matter of Re B (A child) [2013] UKSC 33 it is clearly understood that an order of the kind that was made in this case can only be made where it is necessary and proportionate and in effect as a last resort in meeting the needs of the child concerned. Further, when considering arguments about the manner in which the trial judge approached matters, the question that the appeal court must ask itself is whether the judge was wrong. What is interesting about the Supreme Court decision is that it lowers the threshold for challenging adoptions through appeal from "plainly wrong" to "wrong". Although anyone who has studied any substantial number of care proceedings knows that adoption is not "a last resort", but the preferred

The publishing of judgments

The Daily Mail has an article by Sue Reid talking about the changes in terms of published judgments. The production of the new practice direction was subject to an entry on this web log about two weeks ago. What is the case is that you can find on Bailii a number of published judgments from some judges already. Some of them seem to be on Recent Decisions , but not under the relevant division. Even though only a few of the better judges have started publishing their judgments there are already some interesting judgments published This one is one of Mr Justice Peter Jackson (who I believe to be one of the better judges>. In essence children who were placed with the grandparents have been put into foster care because the grandparents allowed the parents too much contact. There are two points about this. Firstly, people would not generally be aware that this would be likely to happen. Secondly, it raises a complex question as to whether this is actually more generally best f

The Friends of Hassan Water Fund

Following the sad and unnecessary death of Hassan Mahmood last week his friends have launched a campaign to raise funds for a project in Niger.

Ukrainians arrested in Yardley over Mosque Bombings

With the EDL doing the best they can to cause further division in society comes the news that the people arrested for the Mosque Bombings, who were working in Yardley Constituency, are Ukrainian (see today's Birmingham Mail - I was aware of this beforehand from the police, but had not got their permission to reveal this). This raises some serious questions as to the motivation behind this spate of terror attacks. Ukraine, of course, is neither a member of the EU nor of the EEA. There is a division between Russian and Ukrainian cultures in Ukraine. It is worth people being aware that there are people whose objective is to cause division. The people who oppose violence and division need to stand together against people like the murderers of Lee Rigby, the EDL and others who wish to create division and strife. Noting later that a further arrest has occurred it raises yet further questions. Ones which, over time, will be answered - however.

Can you trust Labour with the NHS? Should Andy Burnham Go?

Labour have to respond to the revelations today that they did not respond properly to being sent data on higher than expected death rates from 2001. The link above is from an interview on BBC Breakfast (That I watched whilst in the Gym as one does). Sir Brian Jarman, Emeritus Professor at Imperial College's School of Public Health has said information on higher-than-expected death rates was ignored for more than a decade. He told BBC Breakfast: "My view is that there was political pressure for the information to be ignored and had been ignored at least since 2001. "I actually sent the data to Andy Burnham in March 2010 and seven of the hospitals in the 14 were among the ones that I sent him." "We published the information in national newspapers every year from 2001 onwards," he added. We also have the further revelations about the Liverpool Care Pathway. This seems to have been used in the case of John Maddocks whose daughter was imprisoned in secre

The new draft Family Court Transparency Practice Direction

A new practise direction involving the publication of judgments has been published. I don't think it is on the Judiciary website as yet. It is an improvement and should be welcomed. However, until there is independent scrutiny of the evidence (which is where much of the difficulties lie) there will remain many problems. Later amendment: Here it is.

I won't accept the IPSA pay increase

I have previously said (actually on Radio WM) that I would not accept the IPSA proposed pay increase. I think IPSA are wrong about this. My own view is that they should concentrate on ensuring that MPs do not have to subsidise the operation of their offices. I believe that around 92% of MPs are having to do this now. That is the sort of issue that causes problems for people of ordinary means who wish to be a Member of Parliament. Obviously I don't need the increase as anyone who has looked at my declaration of interests would know. However, I think it is wrong for this to be done at a time when parliament is asking for restraint from others.

Labour's incompetence in running Birmingham City Council

It is difficult running public sector organisations during austerity. However, Labour's incompetence in running Birmingham seems to exceed their traditional levels of incompetence. The first thing they did on taking control was to change the structure of the cabinet. Rather than having a system where it was clear who was responsible for what issue power was diffused. That means that any difficult decisions get kicked into the long grass. Then we have the Wheelie Bin saga. They have messed up on their financial calculations and are now expected to spend around £1 Million on publicity alone. We also have the saga about charging people on JSA Council Tax. Initially they decided to refuse the government grant and charge 20% to people on Council tax. After some effort from me keeping the door open to a request for funding they have now agreed to charge only 8.5%, but because they have done this part way through the year they have not got the software sorted out. Hence we have