Coventry councillors vote to hike Council Tax by nearly 5%

Coventry councillors vote to hike Council Tax by nearly 5%

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Marching against cuts in Coventry

Labour controlled Coventry City Council has voted yet again to increase Council Tax – this time by 4.9% – meaning we will pay more for less.

Tory cuts from central government have hit cities like Coventry, since 2010 the money coming to Coventry has decreased by £107million. At the same time because the Council has not fought back, this has only encouraged the Tories to cut even more. Not a single Labour (or Conservative) councillor voted against the rise in council tax today.

Rather than fight back against the government, the Council has slashed thousands of jobs, closed libraries, introduced charges for children’s disability transport and brought in volunteers to do jobs previously done by paid employees.

Since 2010, whilst having their money cut the Council has increased their reserves from £45 million to over £94 million.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and the national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has consistently put forward that the Council should use this money to halt cuts in services, link up with other Labour councils and campaign to win the money from central government. The government is weak. A concerted effort could win. The alternative to this is passing on Tory misery to Coventry people. It is fantastic that as leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has been putting forward anti-austerity policies – this must also extend to ending Council austerity here in Coventry.

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DWP u-turn over outsourcing core work to Capita

DWP u-turn over outsourcing core work to Capita

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The below article was written by Socialist Party members in the PCS union.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has ended up doing an about-turn and scrapped plans to outsource some of its core work to Capita.

The original plans would have seen the handling of new claims to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) being instead done by Capita staff, on a much lower salary.

This would have been disastrous for some of the most vulnerable in society – those unable to work due to sickness or disability – for whom ESA is intended. A high proportion of claimants will have mental health issues.

Capita’s previous failure to process Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims on time led to a backlog being built up – which DWP staff then had to go and help clear!

It is near impossible to avoid hearing the flood of horror stories about the private sectors’ handling of medical assessments for benefit claimants. ATOS – now along with both Maximus and Capita – became notorious for the callous way in which its medical assessors would lie about claimants’ conditions in reports, as well as resorting to ‘tricking’ claimants into failing their assessments.

Among the 4,000 submissions of evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee on the assessments, such examples were highlighted as suicidal claimants being asked why they had not already tried to kill themselves, and blind or visually impaired claimants reported as being able to walk dogs they didn’t actually have. It even came to light that some assessors would ask claimants “when they caught” Down’s Syndrome!

Nothing else could highlight so starkly the complete failure of the private sector to properly carry out work that should remain in-house.

This u-turn is of course a victory – but given the context against which it is set, it should only be seen as one step in a series of future victories against this weak, crisis-ridden Tory government.

Their list of climbdowns is almost embarrassing – far from any ‘strong and stable’ rule, replicating the ‘Iron Lady’, we have seen multiple u-turns and defeats, mostly brought from the pressure of trade unions and the seething anger amongst many in society.

From having to scrap employment tribunal fees, making benefit phonelines free, and even being forced to slash the amount of university tuition fees, there are more victories to be won if the pressure remains and increases!

The demand that all essential public service work be brought back in-house where it belongs is vital.

Fill in the form below if you are in PCS and want to link up with Socialist Party members.

Support the 3rd of March protest in Coventry to defend our NHS

Support the 3rd of March protest in Coventry to defend our NHS

NHS SOS

On Saturday 3rd March, Coventry Keep our NHS Public are organising a protest that will take place in the city. This follows on from the successful day of action earlier this month, where tens of thousands of people marched through central London and more than 50 local protests took place around the country.

Recent events have shown that it is more important than ever to build a mass movement to defend our health service against the Tories and their privatisation agenda.

We will post more details when they are available – however make sure you save the 3rd of March in your diary!

1 in 4 West Midlands rental properties “unfit for habitation”

1 in 4 West Midlands rental properties “unfit for habitation”

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An article from the 10th of February in the Coventry Observer reported that over a quarter of private rented homes in the West Midlands are unfit for human habitation. The figure for social housing from each local authority in the West Midlands came to 12 percent. These findings are based on the government’s English Housing Survey’s report for 2016/17.

These figures add weight to calls for tenants to have further powers to defend themselves from rogue landlords. The government has announced its support for the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19, but this bill is still a long way from becoming law. Also, considering the wealth gained from being a private landlord, whose interests are represented by the Tories, this bill may never actually see the light of day.

The Socialist Party believes that everyone has the right to high quality, safe housing. Though we support the efforts behind the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill, tenants need safe and suitable housing now! This is why we support tenants to collectively organise and campaign for their demands against dodgy landlords including, when necessary, rent strikes and/or non-payment of service charges.

If you live in either privately rented accommodation or social housing and are interested in setting up a tenants association to campaign for better housing or would like more information please fill in the form below.

Warwick protest greets Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev

Warwick protest greets Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev

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Warwick Socialist Students join the protest

A protest was held this evening at Warwick University, against Israeli Ambassador to the the UK, Mark Regev who was addressing a meeting held on the campus.

Regev, a former spokesperson for Binyamin Netanyahu, is known for his defence of Israeli state terror on the Palestinian population, including the various wars against the people living in Gaza.

Protestors included members of the UCU branch on campus, activists from various solidarity campaigns around the Coventry area and were joined by students including Warwick Socialist Students.

Given Israel’s ongoing Occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, typified by the arrest of Ahed Tamimi and many other child prisoners it was right that a protest took place. Combine this with the government’s attempts to deport thousands of refugees from Eritrea and Sudan to Rwanda or Uganda (which has been condemned by Holocaust survivors), it was important that Regev’s visit did not go unchallenged.

Warwick Socialist Students, with members of the Socialist Party, will continue to build the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people, whilst at the same time building support for a revolutionary socialist alternative to end the Occupation and put an end to capitalism in the Middle East and here in the UK.

For our latest article on Ahed Tamimi click here

Fill in the form below to get involved and fight out more information!

 

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Jobs threatened at Culture Coventry Trust

Jobs threatened at Culture Coventry Trust

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The Herbert

The plans to deliver Coventry’s City of Culture in 2021 were badly dented as news was released that as many as 17 staff (over 15% of the total workforce) could face redundancy at the city’s main museums and art galleries, including the Herbert and Coventry Transport Museum.

With reduced funding from Council grants and general cuts to art’s funding, the cultural experience for Coventry citizens and visitors to our city is continually threatened.

Cuts to library services, reductions in opening hours of museums and more reliance on volunteers have weakened the cultural foundations in our city. Initiatives such as the historic 12th century Grammar School building in the centre of the city are also at risk.

Local groups are constantly struggling to provide and enhance those activities which enrich so many people’s lives with arts and music, especially disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities. Many are having to spend huge amounts of time on bids and fund raising to keep their groups going.

Art, music and other subjects in our schools are under threat because of government underfunding and the pressure to deliver narrow exam results.

People in the past had access to a wide range of Adult Education classes in arts, crafts and music but many of those have now been cut.

It’s undeniable that Coventry has a rich cultural history and there is lots going on, but just imagine what cultural life in Coventry could be like if there were much more resources available and people had more time to get involved.  We are a wealthy country, but whilst the top 1% syphon off their money to squander on hugely expensive pieces of art for personal gratification instead of paying their fair share of taxes, the rest of us are expected to put up with endless cuts.

As Socialists, we believe that investing in the arts is important.  It is about creating a world to allow all people to live life to the full: to run society, to study, and to create.   We want to see a society where every city and community is a beacon of culture and not just for one year. To do that, will mean fighting for a different type of economy – a socialist system where human need is put before private profit.

  • Not a penny to big business or property development projects!
  • Use the money to fund services and leisure opportunities for working class people all across the city!

Shocking levels of child poverty in Coventry – time to fight against capitalism

Shocking levels of child poverty in Coventry – time to fight against capitalism

Coventry City Council

Figures from the End Child Poverty coalition have shown that in seven wards in Coventry, more than a third of children now live in poverty.

The highest rate is in St Michaels ward, which has a staggering child poverty rate of 52.7%. In Foleshill, the rate is 49.2% – affecting 3,400 children, the highest number of all the wards. (It is 2400 children in St Michaels ward).

Earlsdon ward has the lowest rate in Coventry, but even there, the poverty rate is 11.7%, affecting almost 300 children.

In total, the rate across the whole of Coventry is 32.7% – there are 24,931 children in the city living in poverty.

This is a major problem nationally – in 2015, 21 electoral wards had at least 50% child poverty rates. Now, it is 87 wards across the country which have that rate.

Clearly government cuts to benefits as part of the Tory austerity agenda, combined with rising living costs are to blame. But here in Coventry, the role of local Labour councillors in carrying out cuts and implementing austerity cannot be ignored.

Libraries and youth centres face closures, while cuts have had an impact on social services across the city.

Add to this the rise in council tax, going hand in hand with cuts to the council tax support scheme – due to affect large numbers of Coventry’s poorest households. Labour councillors need to be standing up against austerity and helping to organise resistance to the Tory agenda – if they don’t they need to be challenged.

This Tory government is weak and in crisis, and could be brought down by mass movements channelling the anger against austerity.

This is the sixth richest country in the world – the child poverty here in Coventry is a stark example of the complete failure of the capitalist system, and shows the vital need for an alternative.

Now more than ever, it is time to fight for socialism.

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