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An MP who claimed he has “huge admiration” for dictator General Pinochet is a governor of a Foreign Office-funded body charged with the promotion of democracy. Andrew Rosindell, whose disgusting remarks were picked up by the national press after they were featured on Scrapbook last week, has a crucial role with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

According to its website, WFD describes its purpose as follows:

“WFD’s work focuses on strengthening parliaments and political parties”

Scrapbook wonders how Rosindell’s governorship of WFD is compatible with his support for Pinochet, who took power from an elected government in a bloody coup d’etat (pictured above) in which the presidential palace was assaulted with helicopter gunships and bombed by jet aircraft.

Political Scrapbook has been running a series of posts on Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, mostly focusing on the £36,000 of free travel he has claimed in the last year alone, as varies countries paid for his trips to the Cayman Islands, Taiwan, Lebanon, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and more. But today, they’ve revealed his astonishing comments about the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

Defending one of his councillors joining the “Augusto Pinochet Fan Club” on Facebook, Rosindell told the Romford Recorder that:

Pinochet ousted a communist regime in Chile that was butchering its people. Compared with the rest of Latin America during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Chile turned into a free society where people were able to prosper.

If [the councillor] happened to join a group, then so what? I would happily be a member of that group. I have huge admiration for General Pinochet.

These are some of the actions of the man Rosindell has huge admiration for:

In January 1974, Chilean Air Force troops deposited the body of a seventeen-year-old boy, an MIR party member, in a town south of Santiago. Part of the boy’s abdomen had been subjected to vivisection. Both his legs were broken, and also his left arm. His entire body was covered with holes made by cigarette burns. He had also been castrated… There were a lot of women as badly beaten up as the men were. They had also been brutally raped; they had internal ruptures and were bleeding profusely. One kept moaning. The torturers had inserted a sharp object in her vagina, and it had cut through the peritoneum. Some of the people there said they had recognized the interrogators: they were Navy infantrymen trained at the American bases in Panama. [Robinson Rojas Sandford, The Murder of Allende and the End of the Chilean Way of Socialism]

The methods of torture described in the preliminary reports from COPAHI, the “Cooperative Committee for Peace in Chile” are the following:

  • Application of electrical current in various parts of the body, usually the gums, genitals and anus.
  • Blows.
  • Blindfolding or hoods.
  • Burning with acids or cigarettes.
  • Immersion in gasoline or water.
  • Whipping in general.
  • Incarceration in unhealthy conditions or with vermin.
  • Being forced to participate in or witness sexual activities [62].
  • Being rolled over rocks.
  • Being forced to witness torture.
  • Ingestion of excrement.
  • Rack.
  • Hanging by the neck.
  • Deprivation of water for a week.
  • Deliberate fracture of a wounded arm.
  • Being thrown from a height blindfolded.
  • Knives inserted under fingernails or toenails.
  • Cutting on the hands.
  • Being exposed naked to the sun.
  • Not identified (caused death). [María Eugenia Rojas, La represión politica en Chile: los hechos]

In some camps, routine sadism was taken to extremes. At Villa Grimaldi, recalcitrant prisoners were dragged to a parking lot; DINA agents then used a car or truck to run over and crush their legs. Prisoners there recalled one young man who was beaten with chains and left to die slowly from internal injuries. Rape was also a reoccurring form of abuse. DINA officers subjected female prisoners to grotesque forms of sexual torture that included insertion of rodents and, as tactfully described in the Commission report, “unnatural acts involving dogs.” [Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability]

sinidentidades:

The government has been trying to water down key environmental regulations in Brussels despite trumpeting its commitment to green issues at home, leaked documents show.

The papers, seen by the Guardian, reveal British officials repeatedly trying to prevent the adoption of European Union rules on energy efficiency, curtailing the proposals and making them voluntary rather than mandatory in many cases. In addition, the UK has tried repeatedly to ensure that the EU does not adopt a new target for renewable energy generation.

They are significant because they indicate that Ed Davey, the energy secretary since February, has given his blessing to lobbying begun under his predecessor Chris Huhne. These government efforts have the backing of the UK’s big six energy firms, according to other documents obtained under freedom of information rules.

Both issues remain key to plans to reduce European greenhouse gas emissions – putting the government’s position in Europe at odds with its fanfare over the last few weeks for the proposed “green” energy bill. Ministers have described the bill, the centrepiece of claims to be “the greenest government ever“, as likely to generate £110bn in investment in low-carbon and efficient energy infrastructure in the UK in the biggest shakeup of the market since privatisation in the 1980s.

‘Poppy Young 13yrs old writes to Cameron “I Hate You” my mum’s in wheelchair with spinal condition.You have left us 2 starvewith no money’
A disabled single mother and her child go hungry due to the UK coalition government’s welfare cuts. (via jjarichardson)

(via titotansey)

marxistromanticist:

The Tories’ welfare reforms will kick half a million disabled people off benefits—according to the government’s own figures.

Work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith has warned that even those who have lost limbs should not assume that they will continue to receive benefits.

The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (Pip) next year.

Some two million DLA claimants are to be reassessed as part of the change—and as many as 500,000 will be denied the new benefit.

This would mean taking £2.24 billion a year out of the pockets of disabled people.

Smith says that the changes will focus benefits on those who need them most.

But the testing methods mean that those most likely to miss out are those with less visible conditions, such as epilepsy or ME. Around a third of disabled people already live in poverty.

The benefit cuts will make them more isolated and more vulnerable.

The Tories claim that DLA is open to massive fraud. But the fraud rate is only 0.5 percent, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

The cuts won’t help disabled people get jobs. Unemployment is already at 2.65 million in Britain. Having less money will make it harder for disabled people to find work.

(via solitarysocialist-deactivated20)

Freelance journalist Solomon Hughes has exposed a clash at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Employment minister Chris Grayling overruled his senior officials to generate anti-immigrant headlines about “benefit tourism” — despite the majority of claimants in a DWP study being British citizens.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling deliberately overrode the advice of his own department’s chief statistician to make claims in the Daily Telegraph that government figures showed what Grayling called “benefit tourism” and “fraud.”

After Grayling published the figures alongside his own scaremongering about “fraud” and immigration, the minister was rebuked by the government’s top statistician, Sir Michael Scholar, who said Grayling’s use of figures was “highly vulnerable to misinterpretation.”

Documents I obtained through Freedom of Information show that Grayling was also advised in advance against this attempt to “spin” the figures in the Telegraph by his own departmental statistician.

Grayling ignored this professional advice. But when Scholar criticised Grayling his boss, Iain Duncan Smith, claimed that “ministers followed professional advice” on the way they handled the figures.

The emails I obtained show this is not true.

This January Grayling persuaded civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to compile a statistical report on benefit claimants born abroad. He then arranged for the Daily Telegraph to get the statistics first, alongside his own commentary.

This stood to breach strict rules on official statistics. The government code of conduct on statistics bans ministers from “issuing a political commentary on the statistics ahead of their publication.”

They are not allowed to “spin” statistics before figures are released. The numbers are supposed to be issued for everyone to discuss at the same time, without ministers trying to force an interpretation.

These rules are designed to preserve the integrity of official figures.

Grayling came up with a plan to call these “ad hoc” statistics so they could avoid the rules, which only affect “official statistics.”

When the plans to give the Telegraph a preview of the stats were first aired, the DWP chief statistician Tim Knight emailed his manager to say he was “not happy” with this “early briefing” which “would put a coach and four” through normal practices.

A day later, on January 18, Tim Knight agreed with David Frazer, the head of profession for statistics, and DWP communications director John Shield to write to the minister advising against the plan.

Knight sent an email to Grayling copied to the permanent secretary. In it Knight rejected the “ad hoc” statistics trick.

He told Grayling: “The controversial nature of the statistics will mean that they are likely to attract considerable media attention (and thus could be designated as official statistics even though they are being released as a one-off) and it is therefore desirable that they are released in accordance with the spirit of the code, that is, in accordance with best practice.

"This is why the head of profession for statistics and I advise you that they be released for the first time at 7am on the pre-announced date, January 20, on the DWP website, thus ensuring equal access for all, while allowing the minister to comment on them early in the day."

Knight was advising against “the proposed course of action - releasing the text of the Daily Telegraph article under embargo until midnight and then publishing the statistics on the ad-hoc website at 7am.”

Knight said Grayling’s Telegraph plan “may attract criticism from some elements of the media and/or from the UK Statistics Authority.”

Knight also warned Grayling that the Statistics Authority “may take the view that they should have been released as official statistics and may write publicly to the minister to say so, or at least recommend that any future release on this subject should be designated as official statistics.”

Knight did accept that Grayling wasn’t breaking the law. He said that “in short, our advice is that the proposed release plan is lawful, but may attract criticism.”

It is easy to see why Knight opposed Grayling’s plan - the Telegraph published Grayling’s article with the figures on Thursday January 19 at 9pm. The paper didn’t bother waiting until midnight.

The figures came in an article by Grayling accompanied by a video of the minister, articles by Telegraph staff and an editorial.

In his Telegraph article and video Grayling said: “This is all about dealing with benefit tourism.”

He talks about “the level of benefit tourism,” “the fraud issue” and the “chaotic way of controlling foreign benefit-claimants” under the Labour government.

Under the title Labour Didn’t Care Who Landed In Britain, Grayling wrote about “a natural instinct that says that no-one from other countries should receive benefits at all.”

This story was picked up by other national news media. But the actual statistical report never uses the phrase “benefit tourism,” because the figures do not show any benefit tourism.

They show workers who may have been in Britain for many years and who paid national insurance, but who later legally claimed benefits.

As leading economist Jonathan Portes explained the figures show that foreign-born British workers are less likely to claim benefits than British-born workers.

As Tim Knight warned, official statistics chief Sir Michael Scholar soon criticised Grayling.

Within a week Scholar wrote to Employment Secretary Iain Duncan Smith rebuking ministers for commenting on government statistics before releasing them.

Scholar said the numbers should have been prepared as official statistics because of the obvious public interest, saying: “Many users have treated them as official statistics, and have assumed that they should have been published in accordance with the code of practice, which would, amongst other things, have prevented government ministers from issuing a political commentary on the statistics ahead of their publication.

"These statistics are both highly relevant to public policy and highly vulnerable to misinterpretation," he wrote.

Duncan Smith wrote back to Scholar: “Ministers followed professional advice throughout this process regarding the status of this release from the head of profession for statistics.”

However, the emails show that this was simply not true.

Grayling has been criticised over statistics before. In November 2010 Scholar told Grayling that his use of crime figures was “likely to damage public trust in official statistics.”

It seems that he doesn’t care.

This isn’t the first time Chris Grayling and his boss Ian Duncan Smith have been found manipulating figures, see list here

On 16 June 2012 a collection of ageing diehard far-right activists and a younger generation of right-wing Conservative militants will be meeting, dressed de rigueur in black tie, in an upmarket club in central London. The dinner is being held to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Enoch Powell, the former Conservative and Ulster Unionist MP, now best known of course for his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968 which did much to foment the racism of the late sixties and early seventies. The meeting will be addressed by Dr Frank Ellis, a former lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies at Leeds University, who was suspended, and then took early retirement, following a furore over controversial comments he made linking race with IQ in 2006.

This elite gathering is the latest meeting of the Traditional Britain Group, one of the few extant organisations on the ultra-right of the Conservative Party. Originally launched with little fanfare in the early 2000s, the Traditional Britain Group has been led by people with a long pedigree of activism in the murky fringes of the Conservative Party and extreme-right circles. Its membership and influence has been fairly small so far: Searchlight was aware of its presence at some of the Countryside Alliance demonstrations in 2002 and its members were active in the formation of the Conservative Democratic Alliance (the two organisations once shared a PO Box) in 2001 and at some other gatherings of like-minded ultra-conservatives such as the ‘Trafalgar Day’ conference in October 2006.

However there are signs that, following the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, the Traditional Britain Group may have undergone a revival. It has begun to attract a younger and more dynamic membership through the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter and could potentially become a rallying ground for some Tory and UK Independence Party (UKIP) members who are disillusioned with the leadership of their own parties, particularly on social authoritarian issues of race, immigration, the European Union and identity.

The main activities of the Traditional Britain Group until recently were social gatherings, particularly its annual dinners, which have featured a range of Conservative and right-wing speakers. In 2003 the guest of honour was Tony Martin, a farmer who in 1999 was convicted of the murder, later reduced on appeal to manslaughter, of a burglar in his home. He had been released from his five-year sentence in January 2003. In 2006 the speaker was Simon Heffer, former associate editor at The Daily Telegraph, a biographer of Enoch Powell and currently an online commentator for The Daily Mail.

In 2009 its meetings were addressed by Abba Seraphim of the tiny British Orthodox Church and by Gregory Lauder-Frost and Sam Swerling on ‘Immigration and the Decline of Britain’. In 2010, aristocratic TV personality Frances Fulford, veteran far-right barrister Adrian Davies and Christopher Gillibrand, a Catholic conservative intellectual and director of the Institute for Innovative Ideas think tank, were among the speakers. Its 2011 meetings featured former British National Party member Stuart Millson and Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP for London. The 2012 AGM in March was also fixated on multiculturalism with a speech from Matthew Pollard, Executive Director of the anti-immigration pressure group Migration Watch.

The Traditional Britain Group professes to combine traditional Conservative thinking and radical anti-liberalism. This can be seen on its website home page, which features images of a host of conservative thinkers who presumably influence its thought, ranging from icons of conservatism such as Lord Salisbury, Bejamin Disraeli, Neville Chamberlain, Enoch Powell and Roger Scruton to icons of the radical right such as the German ‘conservative revolutionaries’ Oswald Spengler and Ernst Jünger, influential fascist philosopher Julius Evola, French New Right guru Alain de Benoist and contemporary Russian nationalist Alexander Dugin.

The strategic and ideological impetus behind the group is described on its website – a reactionary appeal to ‘traditional’ values aligned with a more radical position on social issues, especially race. “British traditions and heritage are under threat as never before. Political correctness and enforced multiculturalism have watered down our rich national character and have forced honest and intelligent people to hide their true feelings for fear of reprisals,” it says. The website also stresses the importance of youth and the modern media: “under a new generation of young, enthusiastic and passionate talent we offer a focal point to promote ideas, discussion, networking, education and action … through the use of modern media, the internet, marketing campaigns, meetings, university groups, lectures and social events.”

The group’s current president is Eton-educated former hereditary peer Lord Sudeley, who has been associated with a plethora of right-wing pressure groups. He is a former long-term chairman of the Monday Club, a vice-president of the ultra-conservative Western Goals institute and vice-president of the International Monarchist League.

Its vice-president is Gregory Lauder-Frost, who has a similarly extensive and chequered history on the far right and who was convicted of several charges of theft while working for Riverside Health authority in 1992. His activism has included Western Goals, where, as vice-president (1989-2000), he was instrumental in arranging a meeting addressed by Jean-Marie Le Pen, former leader of the French National Front. He was also heavily involved in the Monday Club as Foreign Affairs Committee chairman as well as political secretary, and with the short-lived Conservative Democratic Alliance, which tried to unite the ultra-conservative right in the mid-2000s.

Lauder-Frost has previously shared a platform with Holocaust deniers such as Ernst Zündel and David Irving. In 2001 he was quoted in The Daily Telegraph saying: “I have been a conservative all of my adult life. Throughout that time I have observed the Conservative Party become more and more a Liberal party until we have now reached a point where traditional conservatism has been trashed altogether. … The party’s liberal embracing of the multi-cultural society, at odds with its view of the early 1970s when it proposed orderly and funded repatriation, has placed it at odds with the vast majority of its supporters.” According to a Guardian investigation in 2006 he was in contact with the BNP but “unable to be an active member, as he spends most of his time at his home in the country”.

As well as such established far-right luminaries, the Traditional Britain Group features some younger activists on its committee including Louis Welcomme (chairman), Liam Stokes (secretary), Henry Hopwood-Phillips, Calum Rupert Heaton-Gent and George Jones. Many of the younger members are active in its eight regional groups and contribute to its Facebook page, which features the usual right-wing attacks on liberalism and multiculturalism as well as cruder racist posts which associate black people with criminality.

Although the Traditional Britain Group is still small, there are clear signs that it is attracting a new generation of activists and that its reactionary views on race and immigration are finding a receptive audience. Given the lack of competition on the Tory right, other than the civic nationalism of UKIP, and the widespread extreme-right disillusionment with David Cameron’s government, there is every chance that its membership and influence could increase. Searchlight will be taking a close interest in its activities.

brosephstalin:

London’s Newest Export: The Poor?

First came the Olympics, now come the evictions.

Last week housing officers in the London borough of Newham, which hosts London’s new Olympic Park, admitted that they can no longer afford to privately house tenants on its waiting list for public housing. The Olympics have pushed the borough’s rents up, and now Newham is considering exporting unemployed residents eligible for rent relief to Stoke on Trent, a cheaper post-industrial city three hours north of London. 

So far, no displacements have taken place, but the news is starting to make Olympic legacy claims look shaky before the games even begin. While the Olympics promised a fresh start for deprived East London, it seems they may end up redrawing London’s poverty map not through creating jobs, but through shunting the poor elsewhere.

To be fair, it isn’t really Britain’s games that have landed Newham in deep water. It’s the country’s government. As part of its austerity program, David Cameron’s cabinet has capped Housing Benefit, the rent relief paid to unemployed and low-income claimants living in private housing, many of whom are waiting indefinitely to be housed in oversubscribed state-run projects. The government says that the Housing Benefit paid to these people pumps up rental prices. By capping it, they hope both to save money and to pressure private landlords into readjusting their rents to more reasonable levels.

This might happen in some areas, but London is proving particularly resistant to the government’s thesis. With anaverage rent rise of 7 percent last year – fueled by London property’s popularity as a safe haven for international investors – even Londoners on average incomes are being squeezed by Britain’s double dip recession. Private landlords can therefore safely evict benefit claimants whose handouts no longer cover the rent, knowing that they still have a large pool of other potential tenants to turn to. Admittedly property prices are actually going down in Newham – despite the proximity of hipper Hackney, its many housing projects and peripheral position in the city don’t make it an obvious gentrification hotspot. But as the number of people who can apply for mortgages has dropped even further, Newham’s rental market shows no signs of deflating yet. This pattern is repeated across the city. As this London affordability map created by housing charity Shelter shows, London’s lower rent neighborhoods are being eaten away so fast that benefits caps will struggle to stop the rot.

(Read More)

(via brosephstalin-deactivated201212)

In the last two years, [here in the UK] 40,000 more children have been plunged into poverty, millions of public sector workers have had their pay frozen and their pensions plundered, thousands of workers in public and private sectors have been thrown out of work and essential services have disappeared.

All have been outrageously and unnecessarily sacrificed on the altar of this Coalition Government’s economic policy, which the ONS figures issued today confirm is fundamentally flawed.

The reason the country is facing a double dip recession is that a key driver of the Government’s economic policy has not been about tackling the deficit, but to use the deficit as a smokescreen to pursue the ideologically driven destruction of public services.

The Government’s economic policy has been carefully and deliberately designed to cut costs and make vital public services ripe for takeover by privateers, who want to turn a fast buck and increase their profit margin at the expense of ordinary families and working people.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union | Politics.co.uk (via verbalresistance)

verbalresistance:

The UK economy has returned to recession, after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012.

A sharp fall in construction output was behind the surprise contraction, the Office for National Statistics said.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The economy shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders says it “adds to the picture that the economy is bumping along the bottom”.

She said economic output was slightly smaller now than it was in the autumn of 2010.

Wednesday’s figure is an early estimate and is subject to at least two further revisions in the coming months. It is compiled using 40% of the data gathered for later revisions.

The UK economy was last in recession in 2009 …

Read More: BBC News

Ridiculous and regressive budget… Deplorable and elitist earlier education “reforms”… Despised, unnecessary and very murky NHS “reforms”… Jerry can and pasty-related folly… £250k-for-political-leverage elitism…

All this, alongside coalition media secretary Jeremy Hunt being under question, for the rather undemocratic government-Rupert Murdoch love affair (over which Cameron-appointed Coulsen already had to resign, let’s not forget.

…and now, to top it all off, a glorious 2nd recession. Gotta love this Tory-Libdem government!


Related:

Also, on the Coalition’s failures:

Tory MEPs have voted against the withdrawal of gender identity from the the International Classification of Diseases’ list of mental and behavioural disorders.

Daniel Hannan and Nirj Deva voted alongside the likes of the BNP’s Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons in opposing Labour MEP Richard Howitt’s amendment to human rights legislation, with other Tories abstaining.

The amendment, which was passed by 353 votes to 268 with 52 abstentions:

  • Commends the Council, the EEAS, the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States on their engagement in favour of LGBT people’s human rights in bilateral relations with third countries, in multilateral forums, and through the EIDHR;
  • Welcomes the reintroduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to this end;
  • Calls on the Commission to advocate the withdrawal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and to seek a non-pathologising reclassification;
  • Reasserts that the principle of non-discrimination, also embracing grounds of sex and sexual orientation, must not be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership;
  • Reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive roadmap against homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, also addressing human rights violations on these grounds in the world;
  • Calls on the Member States to grant asylum to people fleeing persecution in countries where LGBT people are criminalised, taking into consideration applicants’ well founded fears of persecution, and relying on their self-identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Following the vote, Howitt attacked Tory views on LGBT issues as “neanderthal”, “whatever [David] Cameron claims”, with fellow Labour MEP Michael Cashman, co-chair of the European Parliament’s LGBT Inter-group, adding:

“These Tories should explain why they refused to support an engagement in favour of LGBT people’s human rights when the EU negotiates with countries outside the EU and in multilateral forums. It’s important we use our trading power to encourage reform in countries where LGBT people are persecuted.

“We called for the reintroduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution also embracing grounds of sex and sexual orientation – this is human decency and every British MEP should fully support it.

“So why did the Tories abstain?”

Former chair of Conservative future Tom Bursnall who recently defected from the Tories to UKIP on Windsor and Maidenhead council has targeted unemployed people on his Pro Capitalist blog

Should people on benefits be allowed to vote?

Before then going on to suggest rich people should receive more votes than the poor

Given the top 1% of successful hard working earners in the UK contribute 27% of all income revenue – would it not be ‘fairer’ if they were given 27 times the number of the votes?  Fiscal qualified majority voting if you like.

Homelessness charities fear that London mayor Boris Johnson has skimmed off more than £5m of government funding intended to help rough sleepers and has diverted it to other purposes.

The cash has gone missing from Johnson’s budget for support for rough sleepers, which is wholly underwritten by Whitehall. Repeated efforts by the charities have failed to win assurances that it will be restored.

At a time of rising homelessness, services for people sleeping on the streets of the capital face cutbacks or closure if the money is not reinstated.

The government has transferred a total £33.8m to the London mayor to fund services for rough sleepers over four years to 2015. The allocation equates to almost £8.5m a year.

In 2011-12, the first year of the programme, spending amounted to some £7.5m. Although the mayor says he plans to make good the underspend by committing £9.5m in 2012-13, his budget states that he will be investing a total £21m across that year and the remaining two, making a total of £28.5m.

This implies sharply reduced expenditure of less than £6m in each of the two latter years of the programme, after the Olympics spotlight moves away from London, and an overall underspend of £5.3m.

In a joint letter to Johnson, which has been seen by the Guardian, charities providing pan-London services for rough sleepers have said that the figures indicate a “clear cut” of 16% in the funding entrusted to him to disburse.

"The £33.8m was specifically transferred from central government to be spent on commissioning services that cannot or would not be provided at a London borough level," the letter states. "Cutting those resources can only imply that in future years such services will in turn be ended or their funding cut back …"

Johnson, who is campaigning for re-election on 3 May and has reduced his council tax demand for 2012-13, pledged previously that by the end of 2012 no one would be living on the streets of the capital and no individual arriving on the streets would sleep out for a second night.

To co-ordinate activity, he set up in 2009 a delivery board to bring together work on rough sleeping across London. In recognition of its success, and in line with the government’s policy of localism, the Department for Communities and Local Government devolved to him the £33.8m.

While the cash was not formally ring-fenced for rough sleeping programmes only, Johnson’s housing adviser, Richard Blakeway, assured London boroughs in February 2011 that “much of the funding is contractually committed for 2011-12 and the mayor will ringfence the remaining devolved funding to ensure that it is targeted on delivering an end to rough sleeping”.

The latest estimates suggest there may be about 700 “entrenched” rough sleepers in the capital, although a survey last summer traced some 2,000 people sleeping out on at least one night over a period of three months.

Guardian

  1. Heatherwood Hospital servicing 450,000 patients has had its maternity ward shut indefinitely and McKinsey are playing a key role in the decision (here). Local activists argue the site is due to be flogged to help clear the Trust’s debts.
  2. Royston Hospital is now undergoing a private consultation process with a view to shutting it permanently and selling off the £10m property. (I’ll have more on this tomorrow for now see here).
  3. In the last hours it has emerged Serco have been awarded a contract to service 450,000 patients in Suffolk in a new £140 million deal. (here)
  4. Vulnerable children’s services in Devon are now up for grabs to profiteers. Serco & Virgin have both tabled bids. (here)
  5. Belfast City Hospital’s A & E has been shut and a potential 45,000 patients have been transferred to the West Belfast RVH. (here)
  6. Word is coming in of 2 hospitals in south Wales under threat, I’ll have more soon.
  7. Gloucestershire has a whole host of hospitals servicing 800,000 patients that are in the process of being handed over to private profiteers (see the list here) h/t Caroline Molloy 

Today’s unemployment figures once again give the lie to the Tory claim that we’re all in this together. The figures, which include quarterly public sector employment, show that every day since the Tory-led coalition came to power, 625 public sector jobs have been lost. That equates to one public sector job being lost every 2 minutes and 18 seconds. 

With the private sector unable to create enough jobs to compensate for public sector losses, UNISON is calling on the government to drop its dangerous cuts and put in place a credible plan to stimulate growth and recovery