|Should read 'Independents'|
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Friday, 20 May 2011
Benefit Entitlement Checks, which were part of the old scheme, have been cut. These helped people who were unaware of the benefits they could claim or perhaps were too proud to claim. This not only helped improve their incomes ( on average by £1850 in 2009/10) but also meant they could become eligible for a Warm Front installation that they previously didn’t qualify for (over 11,000 in 2009/10). It made the scheme a more holistic approach to tackling fuel poverty as it addressed both income and energy efficiency. The Government clearly are wanting to not only restrict the funding on warmfront but also on people who can legitimately claim benefits they are entitled to. Something the Government have done which I won’t argue with is cancelling the voucher scheme for reductions off the cost of central heating to pensioners. This never had any real validity wasn’t based on income and was never properly policied to ensure heating companies weren’t simply profiteering off it, but this is a small consolation compared to the decimation of a valued scheme like Warm Front
On occasions the costs of central heating jobs under Warm Front may not be covered by the grant maximum and so customers are asked to contribute towards the costs. So people in the direst circumstances could be asked to find £300, £500 or more. Sometimes this money can be found from a variety of pots, some local authority monies, though this is becoming limited, Royal British Legion or charities. What the government have done now is to limit the customer contributions ‘offer’ to 30 days meaning that many people may not be able to get the money together in time to arrange to pay for an installation and they will lose out.
When the Warm Front scheme first started a few years ago now there were significant issues with quality of workmanship which I and others took up with DEFRA. Many householders suffered with substandard, dangerous and illegal gas installations. As a result a strong inspection regime was brought into place which helped raised standards. This was vital when many customers are vulnerable and may be reluctant to speak up for themselves. All gas jobs were inspected now only 10% will be inspected.
Low Carbon technologies have been dropped from the scheme offer, though to be fair this was a bit of a shambles in the old Warm Front scheme with very little drive to make this a real offer
The big change is with the eligibility critera. Less people will now be eligible for Warm Front and there will be virtually no promotion of the scheme. This is supposed to demonstrate better targeting of the scheme. Only houses with an energy efficiency SAP rating of under 55 are supposed to be helped by the scheme which may sound reasonable but there will be no proper measurement of this it will be based on assumptions based on some basic questions. For all these reasons I‘ll stick my neck out and say they have restricted the Warm Front scheme so much that I believe it will underspend in 2011/12.
Monday, 9 May 2011
|Labour's 2011 Kirkburton leaflet|
On this occasion Mike's on about the Kirklees Budget and the fact that we were the only party not to sign up to slashing millions off the social care budgets. He says that we,
' had no alternative budget and said the Council should spend at the previous levels. The Greens would bankrupt the Council just as Lambeth and Liverpool did in the 80's'.
Leaving aside the fact that these were Labour Councils that he is criticising, the Green Party did actually go through the whole budget process and felt that to support the cuts as the other Parties had done was something that we could not do as a matter of principle. We never said the Council should spend itself into debt. We disagreed with the rules of the budget game laid down by central government and we saw no reason to put our hands up for a budget that we fundamentally disagreed with. Ultimately government should take more from the rich and the banks and give it to those in the direst need. 'We are all in this together' is not an acceptable statement for a millionaire to make to a pensioner on a low income needing personal care. If you don't buy into the Coalitions programme for cutting the deficit you cannot support this by proxy by voting through cuts at the local government level.
Saturday, 7 May 2011
There are of course rules that Kirklees make which are often ignored by certain parties such as don't put them on lamp posts with other signs attached which they could obscure if they slip. Another is that they should not be nailed into trees or telegraph poles. All these rules were ignored by the Conservatives in the Kirkburton Campaign. Another irritating thing was that we were given permission to put up our boards on land around Farnley Tyas by the landowner and so were the Conservatives. One morning our boards had disappeared and were replaced with Conservatives ones. Now I'm not implying anything, well maybe I am.
There are benefits to getting your posterboards up first but the downside is that the opposition can come by afterwards and turn your boards sideways while they're putting there's above yours. We've always prided ourselves on getting ours down early and usually Derek Hardcastle is getting them down in Kirkburton the next morning. One year we were a bit slow at getting them down and found some of ours pushed higher up the lamp posts presumably by the oppostion while taking there's down. Nice!
We also had a good showing in the Kirkburton Parish elections with 12 Greens being elected onto a Parish of 25 (Parish Results). The really satisfying thing is that we now have at least one Green Party Parish Councillor in every Parish Ward in the Kirkburton Ward which bodes well for the future. It was a shame that we didn't get the rest of our 6 Parish Candidates elected but hopefully better luck next time. The important thing now is to turn that result into more successful local action at the community and Kirklees level.