Displaying items by tag: Government
Due to a homelessness crisis, Edinburgh is poised to declare a housing emergency. The city council's housing convener, Jane Meagher, will table a motion to establish an emergency action plan and request urgent funding from the Scottish government to address the severe challenges. Edinburgh currently has around 5,000 households in temporary accommodation, the highest in Scotland. The crisis is exacerbated by a severe shortage of social rented homes, with approximately 200 bids for each advertised property. Rental costs are soaring, with Edinburgh having the UK's highest rental inflation rate at 13.7%. If the motion passes, Edinburgh will be the first Scottish city officially to declare a housing emergency. The council plans to write to the First Minister and the housing minister to request additional funding.
In August, high inflation led to increased government finances, creating pressure on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to boost support for state services, according to the Resolution Foundation. Government borrowing for August was £11.6 billion and nearly £70 billion for the first five months of the current fiscal year. This left the Chancellor £11.4 billion better off for 2023-24 than March's official forecasts had predicted. The Resolution Foundation noted that while higher inflation had led to increased tax payments, it had strained public services with pre-inflation budget allocations, making future public service cuts less tenable. Conservative backbenchers have opposed increasing department budgets in favour of tax cuts, while former prime minister Liz Truss has advocated tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. The borrowing figures highlight the need to manage inflation and government finances.
Canada's high commission in India has said that it has decided to ‘adjust’ staff presence in the country temporarily after some diplomats received threats on social media platforms, adding to spiralling tensions between the two countries. The statement from the high commission came soon after an Indian company published a notice that it was suspending visa services for Canadian citizens. Tensions between the two countries escalated earlier this week when Canada said that it was ‘actively pursuing credible allegations’ linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June. Prime minister Narendra Modi's government has categorically rejected the claims. With both nations expelling a diplomat each, and India urging its nationals in Canada to ‘exercise caution’, relations between the two countries have touched the lowest point.
The Venezuelan government has announced that it has regained control of a notorious jail, which had been controlled by the powerful Tren de Aragua criminal gang. Some 11,000 security personnel stormed the Tocorón prison, which had been run by inmates for years and had hotel-like facilities including a pool, nightclub and a mini zoo. It doubled up as the gang’s headquarters. From it, Tren de Aragua ruled a criminal enterprise spanning several Latin American countries and reaching as far as Chile. Its members engage in human trafficking, run prostitution rings, and extort migrants. One commentator said that the clearing of the prison did not automatically constitute the end of the gang. ‘Their centre of operations has been closed down, but the leaders of this organisation and its cells abroad can continue functioning’, she said.
The family of a Colombian man who is believed to have killed himself at a Heathrow immigration removal centre say he begged for help and was willing to leave the UK. Frank Ospina died on 25 March, within a month of being detained, while he was waiting to be deported. His family say that he had no existing mental health problems. The BBC has been investigating conditions inside immigration centres, at a time when the Government is taking a harder line on migrants. Documents have shown mounting strain on detainees because of the delays in processing their cases, and also there was an incident in which a group of detainees tried to kill themselves three days after Mr Ospina's death. This news comes ahead of the publication of a report, due soon, into abusive behaviour by staff at the Brook House facility, a centre near Gatwick. A public inquiry was launched following a landmark undercover Panorama investigation in 2017: see
Last month we prayed for water quality to be improved and managed before protected areas are built upon. This week the House of Lords blocked the Government's plan to relax restrictions on water pollution to encourage house building in England. Governments often lose votes in the House of Lords, but what makes this one stand out is that ministers can't revive this plan easily. Because it is a new idea, parliamentary procedure means the only way to have another go would be attaching it to another proposed law, or bill. This is a row that gets to the heart of one of the biggest issues in contemporary domestic politics. Building more homes in England in places people want to live. Labour plans to solve environmental concerns by letting developers build but ensuring they have sorted out the environmental issues before anyone can move into the new homes.
The Government refused to attend a UN review of its treatment of disabled people after an inquiry warned of grave violations of disabled people’s rights. The UN report found welfare reforms had adversely affected disabled people. The UK's delegation should have gone to the Geneva hearing on 28 August to assess their progress, but the Government pulled out, saying it would meet UN officials in March 2024 instead, sparking anger from campaigners. The UK published responses to the UN's recommendations in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and was to give a further update this year. After its no-show there were feedback sessions with British disability rights groups who complained, ‘No one from the Government heard the facts and stories of increasing poverty, lack of support, inaccessible services, and an infrastructure that limited the life chances of disabled people’.
Greenpeace activists unfolded 200 square metres of oil-black fabric over the home of Rishi Sunak and unfurled a banner saying ‘Oil Profits or Our Future?’ in front of the manor house, protesting against North Sea oil and gas drilling licences amidst a summer of escalating climate impacts. See Christian Aid warned the Government that issuing 100s of new oil and gas licences ‘flies in the face of climate science.’ They went on to state that ‘Now more than ever, UK’s Government must show leadership and strengthen their climate plans to protect millions in low-income countries. Instead, these wrongheaded priorities on new oil and gas licences obliterate the UK’s net-zero commitments and lets down people on the frontline of the climate crisis. The Prime Minister needs to put people and planet first.’ Pray for the government to acknowledge the calls from environmental campaigners and recognise that there needs to be an end to North Sea drilling.
An Ipsos poll of 1,087 people conducted between June 30 and July 3 suggests Rishi Sunak still has a long way to go to restore the Conservatives’ reputation for competence. Just 23% of people questioned said they think the Tories can run the country competently, while 57% said they cannot. The poll was not completely positive for Labour either, with the public divided on whether they like the Opposition’s policies. 27% say they do, 28% say they do not, and 25% say they don’t know much about them.
The Children's Society reports that parents spend on average £422 a year on secondary and £287 on primary uniforms, despite government rules meant to lower the costs. Schools requiring parents to buy costlier branded items were partly to blame. One mum said, ‘Constantly replacing damaged clothing makes it even more expensive’. Under changes to the Education Act last year, schools should be helping cut costs by promoting cheaper second-hand uniform options or removing unnecessary branded items from uniform lists. But pupils still must have an average of three branded uniform items. Almost 1/3rd of secondary school pupils must own four to five branded items, and 45% of parents said school uniform policies had still not been updated. Pray for more clothing banks like Reloved who provide pre-worn uniforms free to families struggling with costs. In 11 months it has supported 3,000 families, and demand is rising as the cost of living soars.