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The main topic of debate of Eastleigh Labour party’s January 2018 meeting was the WASPI campaign for fair transitional arrangements for women affected by the unjust way in which increases in the State Pension Age have been introduced.  The following motion was unanimously agreed:

Given the significant impact that changes to State Pension Age (SPA) for women has had on 6,700 Eastleigh residents, Eastleigh CLP calls upon the Government to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1950, who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the SPA without sufficient or appropriate notification. 

Local campaigners Carolyne Jacobs and Sally Robinson from Solent WASPI Supporters’ group gave an informative presentation and answered questions.

WASPI is not campaigning about the equalisation of men and women’s SPA, but are protesting about the way in which these changes have been brought about. The 1995 Pensions Act equalised the state pension age at 65 for men and women; these changes were to be implemented by 2020.  Women were not notified directly about the 1995 changes until at least 2009; some women were never notified. Many women were not aware of the changes until they were nearing their expected retirement age of 60. 

The 2011 Pensions Act changed the SPA for men and women to 66, resulting in accelerating the SPA change, which has particularly affected women.

3.8m women nationally are affected by these changes, 115,000 in Hampshire and 6,700 in Eastleigh.   The women affected have up to an extra 6 years wait for pensions, with a financial loss of up to £46,000.  In addition, they will not receive a bus pass or winter fuel allowance until much later than expected.

The Government brought in these changes to save money.  However, it has clearly had a very severe effect on people’s lives and therefore compensation is necessary to alleviate their situation.  

The WASPI campaign is self-funded and therefore would be very grateful for any contribution to their funds as well as any other support for the campaign.  More information can be found on the following link. http://www.waspi.co.uk/

Unanimous Support for the WASPI campaign

The main topic of debate of Eastleigh Labour party’s January 2018 meeting was the WASPI campaign for fair transitional arrangements for women affected by the unjust way in which increases...

Click for video.

Agreeing with the issues already raised around environmental destruction, inadequate infrastructure and sustainability I will use this time to raise the issue of unmet affordable housing demand in Eastleigh of which the emerging plan will once again have little impact.

A recent report by the Halifax showed that the total value of homes in London is now worth more than all the houses of Scotland, Wales and the north of England put together and that this is spilling out into the SE.  Over 55s hold 63.3% of this housing wealth and the under 35s just 3.3%.  This shows the huge regional and generational inequalities locking young people in the SE out of home ownership.

After Low levels of house building we acknowledge the need to build housing however investment and speculative gain by developers, buy to let landlords and other housing providers, plus potential population movements particularly from London means that there is little indication that increased supply of housing in the SE will have any significant impact on affordability.

Eastleigh particularly has significant unmet demand for affordable housing as shown by its home choice register for socially rented housing.  The last local plan was rejected in part because it failed to meet the needs for affordable housing and for it’s reliance on private rental provision to meet this affordable shortfall. Eastleigh Labour believe that exploitative private renting generally fails on affordability, adequate standards and in the provision of long term secure tenancies – essential for families and vulnerable people with regard to schooling and community support. 

Of the 35% so called “affordable housing” provided within these developments only a fraction will be for socially rented housing which is where the greatest demand lies and that which is will be based on an affordability rate of 80% of market rents.  This is a significant increase in comparison with traditional Council housing whose rents were based on an affordability rate of 25% of income ( roughly 50% of market rents). EBC’s last plan was criticised as “entirely inappropriate” for looking at affordable rents above 30% of income yet it is now considering how an increase to 40% of income will reduce it’s need for affordable homes  to 266 households per annum from 439.*1  Eastleigh Labour says you do not reduce affordable need by redefining affordability and we believe that the level of rents already being charged by Eastleigh’s housing associations are forcing more tenants onto housing benefit in the same way as those renting in the private sector.

With all political parties acknowledging the failure of the current housing market particularly around affordability in the SE and increasingly looking at council housing once again to meet the demand for genuinely affordable housing we ask the LibDem controlled EBC to re-think its emerging plan.  To stop its reliance on the needs of large corporations and housing associations and to put the needs of local people first.  Eastleigh Labour sees this as an opportunity to get it right for the long term - to provide genuinely affordable and quality housing whilst protecting valuable and irreplaceable natural habitat and wildlife for future generations.

Eastleigh Labour Party’s proposals are as follows

  • All significant developments to provide more than 40% quality council housing - promoting new technologies for carbon reduction.
  • To stop exploitative practices by developers such as unregulated and uncapped maintenance fees on private “unadopted” estates
  • to reduce the number of  low density greenfield developments which are so profitable for developers and to preserve natural habitats – just 5% of Eastleigh borough remains as such
  • to encourage the use of public transports by building around established rail networks where possible and incorporating cycle lanes within developments.
  • To encourage the use of smaller local building firms where possible

Unsustainable property building fuelled by investment and corporate profits is not the answer for our community who need genuinely affordable houses for homes.   As such we do not support the councils emerging plan or the planned developments within it.

*1  https://www.eastleigh.gov.uk/media/102797/ppi_EastleighhousingneedsstudyJune15.pdf

 

Local Plan: Jill Payne addresses the Eastleigh Borough Council

Click for video. Agreeing with the issues already raised around environmental destruction, inadequate infrastructure and sustainability I will use this time to raise the issue of unmet affordable housing demand...

Dear Mims

I am writing on behalf of Eastleigh Labour Party to urge you to speak in a Backbench Business Debate on the future of refuge funding at 9.30-11am on 12 December 2017.

Refuges for victims of domestic violence and abuse are more than only a ‘bed for the night.’ They are specialist services, providing safe and anonymous shelter and support for women and children escaping domestic abuse. Demand for refuge remains sky-high; 60 per cent of total referrals to refuge were declined in 2016-17 and shockingly, on just one day this year, 90 women and 94 children were turned away. As survivor Mandy Thomas has said, “if you don’t have a place to go, you back”.

The Government recognise refuges’ critical role and have delivered welcome emergency grants for ‘support funding’ in refuge since 2014. The Government will also lead a ‘review’ of refuge funding in 2018 - the same year as a landmark new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill will be scrutinised in Parliament.

We are concerned, however, that the Government’s proposals to reform refuge funding, as part of a new funding model for ‘short-term supported housing services’ from 2020, threatens to undermine this welcome legislation and will dismantle the national network of refuges. Women’s Aid’s research shows the new funding model would force over half of refuges to close or reduce their provision in England. It is also estimated that refuges would have to turn away 2,058 women and 2,202 children from life-saving shelter.  

Currently, housing benefit provides around half of a refuge’s total income. The Government’s proposed model would end a woman’s entitlement to housing benefit - or Universal Credit - when in refuge, and devolve this ‘housing funding’ to local authorities. This would end the last sustainable national income that refuges receive, and result in the full devolution of responsibility and resourcing - at a time when we already have a ‘postcode lottery’ of refuge provision.

Women’s Aid and refuge providers are warning that this local model risks the end of the national network of refuges. As two thirds of women flee to a refuge outside of their local area to escape a perpetrator, these services cannot be planned or operate on a local basis alone. 

Please support Women’s Aid’s SOS: Save Refuges, Save Lives Campaign, attend the Backbench Business Debate on refuge funding, scheduled for 9.30-11am on 12 December 2017, and write to the Secretaries of State for Work and Pensions and Communities and Local Government to raise concerns about the impact of this funding model on life-saving refuge services. You can find Women’s Aid’s briefing on the reforms here.

Eastleigh Labour party took part in the recent White Ribbon day for men to pledge never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.   We sold many ribbons on our street stall in Eastleigh and discovered this was a very important issue for residents.

Your recent Constituency Newsletter reported on the work you have been doing to promote #drawaline is UN Women's global campaign to end violence against women.   As the MP for Eastleigh and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in Parliament, I hope you will add your support for this campaign and help save refuges.

Yours sincerely
Phil Baker
Secretary, Eastleigh Labour Party
69 Leigh Rd, Eastleigh. SO50 9DF

Mims Davies: Urgent debate on the future funding of Women refuges, 12th December 2017

Dear Mims I am writing on behalf of Eastleigh Labour Party to urge you to speak in a Backbench Business Debate on the future of refuge funding at 9.30-11am on 12 December 2017....

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