Food poverty in UK has reached level of ‘public health emergency’, warn experts

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From The Independent  CHARLIE COOPER  HEALTH REPORTER

The Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem

Tuesday 03 December 2013

Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.

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From The Guardian: The lies behind this transatlantic trade deal

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Plans to create an EU-US single market will allow corporations to sue governments using secretive panels, bypassing courts and parliaments

 The Guardian, Monday 2 December 2013

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/transatlantic-free-trade-deal-regulation-by-lawyers-eu-us

Panic spreads through the European commission like ferrets in a rabbit warren. Its plans to create a single market incorporating Europe and the United States, progressing so nicely when hardly anyone knew, have been blown wide open. All over Europe people are asking why this is happening; why we were not consulted; for whom it is being done.

They have good reason to ask. The commission insists that its Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should include a toxic mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement. Where this has been forced into other trade agreements, it has allowed big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments.

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See also The Guardian article

This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy

Brussels has kept quiet about a treaty that would let rapacious companies subvert our laws, rights and national sovereignty

 The Guardian, Monday 4 November 2013

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don’t either. Mind you, I spent 10 minutes looking for my watch the other day before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn’t there? After all that agonising over whether or not we should stay in the European Union, the government wouldn’t cede our sovereignty to some shadowy, undemocratic body without consulting us. Would it?

The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

A Freudian Shambles; Disabled People: Mobility Benefits

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House of Lords Monday December 2nd 2013

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, nearly 30% of those who get enhanced mobility payments turn them into a Motability car, so approximately 100,000 to 120,000 people stand to lose their car. We

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know that when they go to appeal, 60% win their appeal but in the process, given the time it takes, they will have lost their car before having the additional expense of starting all over again. Will the Minister therefore ensure that anyone going to appeal does not lose their car until the appeal has been heard?

Lord Freud: My Lords, that is not the process which we are going through. It is difficult to draw a line between people with enhanced mobility and those on Motability. That is one of the things that we will be looking at as we do this review, which will report towards the end of next year—before large volumes of people are due to go in, so we will be able to look at this closely.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, can my noble friend indicate whether he is satisfied that every penny that is available to Motability goes to those in greatest need? Can he tell the House what the salary is of the highest paid director?

Lord Freud: My Lords, Motability puts out a report and accounts. I was looking through the latest the other day, which was from 2012, and its highest paid director was paid something more than £800,000.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Grey-Thompson (CB): My Lords, I declare an interest in that I am in receipt of DLA but not of a Motability car. Regardless of whether the Government know the figures of who will be affected, this will affect a significant number of people. I travelled on a train this morning from Darlington to London. There were two spaces for wheelchairs and no accessible toilet on board. Can the Minister explain what consultation there has been with other government departments to ensure that when this huge number of people is affected, the public transport system will be able to cope?

Lord Freud: My Lords, we have had a very thorough consultation on this. I cannot bring to mind right now the exact level of consultation with the transport department. I will need to write to the noble Baroness with that information.

 From Hansard read full debate here

Can you afford Christmas? -Day of Action on Saturday 14th December

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Austerity will cost lives this Christmas
As winter comes, the impacts of the cuts are increasingly tangible as more and more people struggle to make ends meet. At the same time, real wages continue to decline, precarious working conditions mean continuous insecurity for those lucky enough to find employment, energy prices have risen extortionately and people are being forced into poverty and into the hands of loan sharks just to meet their everyday needs.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity calls for a national day of action on the high streets to highlight the impacts of austerity on the people.
These can range from actions targeting loan sharks, energy companies, tax dodgers, corporations using zero hours contracts … watch this space ……the possibilities are endless!