Cost of living crisis emergency campaign – sign our charter if you live in a Tory constituency in the Leeds-Wakefield area

Unite Community members outside Rishi Sunak’s  constituency office in Northallerton

THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS EMERGENCY CHARTER

THE RISING COST OF LIVING

  • Energy prices have just gone up 54% and are now unaffordable for many households.
  • Rents are rising, council tax is going up and food price inflation is reportedly approaching 10%.
  • But pay, pensions and benefits are not rising in line with inflation

SUPPORT THE COST OF LIVING EMERGENCY PEOPLE’S CHARTER

Energy and utilities

  • Scrap VAT on energy bills – this will save you £200 per year.
  • A £500 annual winter fuel payment for everyone.
  • No extra charge on pre-payment meters.
  • No disconnections of gas, electric supplies or phone lines.
  • Energy, transport & water in community ownership and control.

Taxes, food prices and free school meals

  • Taxes on big business and wealthy individuals to help with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • A 20% wealth tax (will bring in £69 billion).
  • Regulate basic food prices.
  • Provide free meals for children whether in school or on holiday.

                                                      Workers

  •   Scrap the National Insurance increase.
  • Have a £15.00 per hour minimum wage.
  • No pay freezes for workers.
  • Raise Statutory Sick Pay to same level as the minimum wage for the equivalent of a week’s work.

Benefits

  • Add £20 per week on Universal Credit payment and all other benefits.
  • Cancel the cut to Universal Credit for young disabled people in education.
  • Increase all benefits in line with cost of living increases.

Pensioners

  • Keep pensions linked with cost of living and restore free TV licenses.

Renters

  • Give security of tenure for renters and introduce rent controls.

HOW TO SIGN THE CHARTER

As we are sending signed charters to Tory MPs according to constituency, please click on the link for the constituency that applies to you.

Dewsbury

Elmet & Rothwell

Morley & Outwood

Pudsey

Thank you for your support!

Solidarity the families of Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close.

The residents of Sugarhill Close and Wordsworth Drive have been living with the threat of eviction for 4 years now.  70 homes in a close knit community at the mercy of private developers.

Unite Leeds and Wakefield Community Branch stand in solidarity with the families in their campaign for a just outcome and support their resolution to the issue which they are putting to Leeds City Council in an open letter format.

We are providing a link to their own outline of what is happening to them and the ways in which we can all help them to achieve their goal – the removal of the threat.

#SaveOurHomesLS26 – A community’s fight to save their historic and affordable homeshttps://saveourhomesls26.org/

Steve Johnson’s Cancel the Cut Speech

Steve Johnston’s speech on behalf of Unite Community to climate change event, Feast in the Street Sunday 8th August 2021

Now, imagine you’re on Universal Credit, you are unemployed, this is not the same for the 40% of people claiming Universal Credit who are in work poverty. What they are, are people on zero hours contracts, on minimum wages and on precarious jobs. As a result, they don’t earn enough to live, and, at the end of September, the Tories are threatening to take £20 off them a week.

It’s the same September when fuel poverty will be massively increased because the fuel industry, the industry that does pollute and damage our climate; the Government are now allowing them free rein in terms of pricing, so they’re going to take £139 a month off the poorest people. £139 a month off the poorest people combined with the £1000 per year that they’re going to lose in income. People in the UK facing massive poverty, people being made homeless, people living on the streets, kids going hungry, kids cold at night. Now that is only six weeks’ time.

So, we have a stall here, Unite Community, and there’s a petition and there’s posters available for people to take away.

And we need to campaign to make sure that the £20 is kept but also extended, because a lot of people are also in poverty because their benefits have not increased because of Covid restrictions. As a result, they have had their standards of living massively cut.

Now, people might say this [event] is all about climate, why are you dealing with poverty? It’s simple really. The very people who are causing the crisis in the climate, the Amazon owners, the big fossil fuel industries, the oil companies, the car manufacturers, all these people are super-rich because they pay people such low wages.

And the second thing I want to point out is that it’s time that Leeds got organised in a campaign, supported by Leeds Trades Council and the Bakers’ Union, starting this month, where we want to try and recruit as many people into trade unions to fight for decent wages, decent conditions, because once you get decent wages and decent conditions, then the option of eating properly, eating what you want, heating your house and buying decent food is available. So, please come up, take a leaflet and sign our petition and thank you for listening.

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A Guide to Food Aid and Other Services in Wakefield & District

Also includes information about services on domestic abuse, children’s clothing, welfare rights, housing and homelessness, mental health, and asylum-seekers and refugees.

Social Security Working Group

Unite Community
Leeds & Wakefield Branch

July 2021

Our branch of Unite Community is pleased to launch A Guide to Food Aid and Other Services in Wakefield & District. This follows a similar guide we did for Leeds prior to the pandemic and which we are now updating. The Wakefield guide is also available on our Welfare Rights and Food Aid page.

We hope the Wakefield guide, produced by our Social Security Working Group, will be useful as an online tool initially. However, as the pandemic starts to ease, we also hope to use it as a tool for outreach work outside Wakefield and District job centres. This will be given to anyone who needs it,, alongside some of our campaigning literature.

The idea to include servcies other than foodbanks was borne of research undertaken by Unite Community, which suggested that because of the difficulties with Universal Credit, help with other servcies was required. The Research report is available here: Universal Credit: Not Fit for Purpose.

In the guide, therefore, we list sources of food aid of which we are aware and available at no cost, including foodbanks, places where hot meals can be obtained and help with children’s clothing.

We also include agencies offering welfare rights advice, in formation and advice on housing and homelessness, mental health services and support for asylum seekers and refugees.

As far as we aware, the information in the guide is accurate at the time of publication. We hope to update it as changes take place and new services become available.

Solidarity with Rashford, Sancho and Saka

Unite Community Leeds & Wakefield members in Solidarity with Rashford, Sancho & Saka
Friday 16 July 2021. Dortmund Square, Leeds.

Unite Community Leeds & Wakefield members joined this demonstration to #TakeTheKnee in solidarity with Rashford, Sancho & Saka.

Millions of people have been outraged by the racist abuse faced by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following the penalty shoot out in the Euro2020 final.

The England team had shown their opposition to with racism their #TakeTheKnee throughout the competition joined by many other teams and supported by the vast majority of fans.

But when some so called ‘supporters’ booed the team the government in the shape of Boris Johnson and Priti Patel backed the ‘right’ to boo and attacked the ‘gesture politics’ of the team.

We wanted to show our solidarity with the players and call out the hypocrite Boris Johnson.

A year on from the #BlackLivesMatter explosions demand action on racism now! 

Thanks to Leeds Stand Up To Racism, https://www.facebook.com/leedssutr, for organising this event.

Unpaid carers are trapped by love: proposals for a national care service by Jo Walton

Jo Walton is a full-time unpaid carer and a member of Unite Community and campaigner. Here she reflects on what it is like to be a carer and why a well-designed National Care Service is urgently needed. We asked Jo for a contribution for Carers Week and we are grateful to her for her thought-provoking account and ideas. Solidarity with all carers.

Reflections on caring

We don’t apply for or seek out the role, it finds us! I would hazard a guess that none of us want the role because to have it means that someone we love has needed care. We are all different. We can be children, parents, spouses, siblings, partners, neighbours or friends. Our caring responsibilities come to us at different points in our lives; for some they come with birth whilst for others it is in old age and others occupy every stage of life in between.

For many of us, caring changes our futures, the lives we had worked for and planned are replaced by an unwanted experience which cannot be gone over, under or around but must be got through. Often there will be no happy ending. No amount of care and love will change the ultimate outcome, there are no hearts and flowers just exhausting hard work and ultimately the hope is for a peaceful conclusion.

We aren’t trained for the role; we are dropped into it and have to learn quickly the physical tasks, the medical knowledge and the systems in place (seemingly to prevent not) to enable us to have the services and equipment that our loved ones require. We are sleep deprived, time deprived and relaxation deprived. We do what we do because of our love for the person who needs the care and because the alternatives are too dreadful to contemplate.

Then as the years roll by and the joints become stiff and age makes tasks take longer, we worry about whether the loved ones need for care will outlive our capacity to deliver it. As long as one foot goes in front of another we keep on caring. We don’t need others to come in and take over, we don’t need a break or a holiday away from the person we love, we need a National Care Service, which will enable us to identify when we want support and what support we want. A reliable service in whose arms we can leave all loved ones with confidence.  This is what we need.

A National Care Service

A National Care Service that is professional, flexible, consistent, participatory and well–funded is called for, so here are my proposals.

A professional service

  • Free at the point of delivery like every other NHS service.
  • Delivered by a professional service with staff who are trained and qualified in exactly the same way, although with different content, as nurses.  Not everyone has the required aptitudes to be a good carer and those that have, need nurturing.
  • Staff who work within a properly paid service with a proper career progression structure which acknowledges excellence, not by moving people to manage but keeps them on the front line.

A flexible, consistent and participatory service

  • All those who require care do not require it for the same purposes and to the same extent.  The service needs to be flexible enough to cope with the differences and treat each as an individual
  • The service needs to be flexible in its delivery but ensure continuity so that those who need care can build relationships with their carers, who get to know their clients’ needs in depth, rather than different staff members coming on each visit.
  • Assessments need to be professionally undertaken and focus on the needs of the service user not on the cost to the service deliverer.
  • Management of the service needs to be as flat as possible with carers actively involved in developing service delivery and developing their own ability to deliver.
  • There needs to be an understanding that the best way to care for those who need care is to listen to what they want.  If they wish to stay in their own home then this should be the aim for as long as possible, if they would like to be cared for in a community or a care home environment then this should be facilitated. 
  • It is cheaper to keep people in their preferred living tier than to keep them in a hospital bed.
  • The mental health of service users is inextricably linked to their physical well-being.  It is important that carers have an understanding of the mental health impact of those who need care and to be able to respond appropriately to the service users who are suffering and refer onwards if they detect developing problems.  Developing illnesses which restrict former activity can be borne and lives lived to the full with the right level of support and understanding. This requires highly trained and intuitive staff and they need to be paid appropriately.
  • The available support needs to take account of the needs of unpaid family carers.  Not everyone will want the same things.  Some may need to have care increased to enable them to get away for a while of respite.  Others may need Government to ensure that the relevant legislation is in place to guarantee access to the holiday activities that enable them to have their respite with the person they are caring for.

Funding

  • There should be no difference between the funding of continuing care and social care – anyone who requires care as a result of illness or disability is entitled to the same level and quality of care.
  • If the right care is in place, then it may well turn out to be less expensive to the public purse than is being calculated.  The right care in the community will reduce costs within hospital settings.  Service users will experience less infections which will also have a positive impact on anti-biotic and other drug and dressing use.

Successive governments keep kicking the can into the long grass. Please stop reviewing and start planning the roll out!

Better Buses Meeting

Save our buses – invite to Better Buses meeting

You can sign up for the event (held on Zoom) here:
https://bit.ly/KirkleesBuses

Dear Friend,

Buses are a crucial part of community life for essential and leisure travel, yet buses in West Yorkshire are under threat after 35 years of mismanagement. Bus use has fallen by over 60%, prices have skyrocketed, and we have lost millions of miles of bus service.

All this is happening because our buses are fully deregulated, meaning bus companies set their own routes, fares and prices.

But it doesn’t have to be like this! In London, where buses are still run as a public service, bus use has more than doubled over the last 35 years. And just last month, the people of Manchester won their campaign to bring buses back into public control, meaning they can insist on affordable fares, and routes that work for people not profit.
West Yorkshire deserves the same! That’s why our branch of Unite Community is joining forces with our Huddersfield branch to support Better Buses for West Yorkshire.
https://www.facebook.com/BetterBusesWY

They are running a community meeting via Zoom on 21st April from 12:00 midday-1:00 pm to explain how our region can win a publicly controlled bus network.

You, other members of your organisation and interested friends are cordially invited to attend.
The meeting is an opportunity to share your stories about how our buses can be improved and to help send a clear message to local politicians: save our buses!

You can sign up for the event (held on Zoom) here:
https://bit.ly/KirkleesBuses

You can also sign their petition here
https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/take-west-yorkshire-s-buses-back-under-public-control

Best wishes,
Unite Community, Leeds & Wakefield Branch
uniteciommunityleedswakefield@outlook.com