children

City council children’s services described as ‘utter chaos’

khyra-ishaq-137487805-3891663

The children’s social care watchdog committee heard the department is on course to spend its fifth year tagged as inadequate unless there is a drastic turnaround. Labour backbencher Coun Barry Bowles (Hall Green) was equally scathing suggesting: “There seems to be a reluctance from the director to attend the committee. Bad organisation doesn’t come from the bottom up, it comes from the top down If we don’t get it right there are consequences for the children in our care.”

Read the full article here – Birmingham City council children’s services described as ‘utter chaos’ – Birmingham Post.

BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL TO GIVE MARION WAY SOME TLC

The long awaited plans to upgrade Marion Way Play Area began yesterday and we have written to all residents living near to the park to let them know what is happening!

The park at Marion Way has been neglected and under used for a long time and has over the last five years fallen into a real state of disrepair. This has been extremely bad news for youngsters in the area as it is presently the ONLY park in Hall Green providing play equipment for children and young people.

Monies have now been released to be specifically used for this project and as the long awaited signs of Spring finally arrive, the refurbishment could not be more timely, and it is hoped that children in Hall Green will soon be able to use these new facilities and enjoy themselves in a safe fit-for-purpose park.

Despite the refurbishment, Cllrs Sam Burden and Barry Bowles are fully aware that Marion Way offers a limited facility, and as the number of children and young people in Hall Green grows, so does the need for additional facilities. As your elected representatives, they continue to pursue the establishment of additional facilities and resources and continue to move forward to locate another playspace for children and young people at the Newey Goodman Open Space, which is located on the Stratford Road, near to the Robin Hood Island. If successful, this can only spell good news for all in Hall Green.

When asked about the planned refurbishment, Councillor Sam Burden said “I am extremely pleased to see the park refurbished. We need to ensure we have safe areas for our children and young people and the upgrading of the park with new equipment is much needed in a Ward where our children have so few places to have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Councillor Barry Bowles said “Play and playgrounds foster communality and free expression. A child who plays regularly learns to respect the environment and the world around him or her. Children of school age, who have been able to play regularly, have been shown to possess a higher level of co-ordinated skills that equip them for life and make them confident. By providing a specific area where they are welcome and where they can be valued and cherished, children and young people learn that the world they live in respects them.”

We believe this new upgrade is great news and we are sure that all parents will be pleased that Birmingham City Council will be overseeing this vital work for future generations. We will also continue to drive forward plans to ensure the children and young people of Hall Green are afforded the facilities and resources they deserve.

Please be sure to let us know your thoughts once the refurbishment of this lovely little park is complete and of course of any other issues that concern the Hall Green community.

DSCN2203

A Bleak Future for Families

A Bleak Future For Families, new research published by the TUC demonstrates how low wages, welfare changes and taxes will push down living standards for 690,000 more children in the next two years.

Tax and welfare reforms alone – both existing and future changes – will be responsible for nearly half a million more children living below the breadline, says the TUC.

The TUC report based on analysis by Howard Reed of Landman Economics – examines the current and future impact of various benefit and welfare changes, including Universal Credit, direct and indirect tax changes and real wage growth since 2010 on the incomes of different households and family types.

The research finds that the cumulative impact of government policies and slower than forecast wage growth over the course of this parliament will mean that 690,000 more children will be living below the minimum income standard – the level of income needed to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living in the UK – by 2015.

Minimum income standards (MIS), widely accepted and established by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2008, vary by family type. For example, the current MIS for a single pensioner is £12,623, rising to £23,992 for a single parent with two children and £24,643 for a couple with one child.

Tax and welfare changes, including tax credit cuts, the VAT rise and the increase in the personal allowance, will have the biggest net impact in terms of increasing the number of children whose families are struggling to make ends meet – pushing 460,000 more children below the breadline by 2015.

Slower than initially forecast wage growth over the course of this parliament pushes another 170,000 below the minimum income standard, while the pay freeze and cap for public sector workers will see 80,000 more children falling into hardship.

When all these changes are taken into account, Universal Credit – the government’s flagship welfare scheme designed to tackle poverty and make work pay – will only lift 20,000 children above the MIS, says the research.

The research shows that an extra one million families will be living below the minimum income standard by 2015, compared to where they would have been under the policies and forecasts the government inherited in 2010. The majority (54.4 per cent) of children will be living below the MIS in two years time, says the TUC.

A Bleak Future For Families shows that nine in ten families will be worse off by 2015, with only the poorest ten per cent of households better off – and then only by a measly 57p a week. A middle income household will be nearly £1,200 a year worse off by 2015 – a 6.6 per cent cut in their income – with the biggest single loss as a result of tax credit cuts (-£505).

The research shows that while all bar the top ten per cent of households are net gainers as a result of changes to the personal allowance and the primary threshold for national insurance, all these gains are wiped out by the VAT rise in 2011. The poorest ten per cent of households gain just a penny a week from direct tax cuts but lose £3.38 by the VAT rise.

While the government has justified welfare cuts by saying that they target those out of work, working families are also hit hard by government austerity policies, says the research. Working lone parents are set to lose the equivalent of 8.2 per cent of their total income – far more than the median household loss of 6.6 per cent – mainly as result of tax credit cuts.

Households in Wales (-7.2 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (-6.9 per cent) will suffer the sharpest loss in incomes. This is partly due to the higher than average concentration of public sector workers in these regions, who are facing the biggest real terms cut in their wage packets.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Families are suffering the tightest squeeze in their living standards in nearly a century. On top of wages that do not keep up with prices, government policies are making life even more miserable for millions of low to middle-income families through tax increases and cuts in benefits and tax credits.

‘By the 2015 election, the majority of children in Britain will be living below the breadline. For any civilised society, that should be shaming.

‘But while the Prime Minister says there is no alternative, the truth is that support is growing for a new approach. The Budget should start from recognising that what Britain faces is a growth, jobs and living standards crisis. Rather than targeting tax cuts at millionaires, cutting VAT would benefit everyone, and would help poorer households far more than raising the personal allowance.’

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Impact of real wage growth, tax and welfare changes on number of children under the Minimum Income Standard by 2015

Policies Change in number of children below MIS
Tax, tax credit and benefit reforms (except Universal Credit) +460,000
Wage growth to 2015 +170,000
Wage growth restrictions for public sector workers +80,000
Universal Credit -20,000
Total +690,000

Baseline for government policies is May 2010. Real wage growth compared to Office for Budget Responsibility forecast from June 2010 with the 2012 Autumn Statement.