Monday, May 23, 2016

UNISON "there for you" grants for School Uniforms

UNISON's special charity for its own members "there for you" is helping low paid families to meet the cost of providing school uniforms. If your net earned (work) income is less than £18,000 per year (see below) and you have savings of less than £800 then you can get £40 per child uniform grants from UNISON "there for you"  up to £120 (for 3 kids).

What are UNISON There for You School Uniform Grants?
In addition to our normal range of services and in response to the growing difficulties many members on low income  face,  a programme has been put in place that will assist our most vulnerable members with the cost of purchasing school uniforms.

How much are the Grants?
They are one-off grants of £40.00 per school age child, up to a total of £120.00

Am I eligible?
To be eligible you must be:
·         A member who has paid 4 weeks subscriptions before the launch date of this programme (23/5/16)
·         Have a total net annual household income of £18,000 or less.  [Note:By household income we mean net earnings after tax, national insurance, pension deductions  of you, your partner and any other adults living in the property.   Please also refer to next bullet point:
·         The following is not included as income for the purpose of this specific grants programme:
-          Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Child Benefit and the childcare cost element only of Working Tax Credit
·         Responsible for meeting household bills and struggling to pay them
·         Financially responsible for the child/children.
·         Not eligible for funding for uniform costs from your Local Authority

Is there anything else that may affect my entitlement to apply?
·         Members and their partners must not have combined savings or, a rolling bank balance of more than £800.00.  Savings of any other adults in the household do not apply
·         You must not have received financial assistance from UNISON There for You during the previous six months
·         Applications are limited to one per household
·         Ensure you send all requested paperwork with the form or the application cannot be accepted

How do I apply?
To apply for a School Uniform Grant simply:
·         Download from our website
·         Contact Unison Direct on 0800 0857 857 for a form to be posted to you
·         Provide us with evidence of your entire household income by sending copies of :
o   You and your partner (if applicable) last month’s payslip(s)
o   Last full month’s bank statements for all bank accounts held by you and your partner (if applicable)
·         Submit the form along with the completed short survey by 15 July 2016.
·         Post your application including all supporting paperwork to: UNISON Welfare, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY.

Where can I go for further help or advice?
There is a limited amount of funding in the school uniform grants programme and once it has been exhausted no further awards for the year can be made.  However if you are facing unforeseen hardship it may be possible for you to apply to our general grants programme.  We will let you know if this applies to you. 

For further information, please see our web pages at, contact your Branch Welfare Officer or the There for You Support Team on  020 7121 5620  or email   If you are experiencing difficulty with credit card and other consumer debts, please refer to our additional  information at, or contact our Debline direct on 0800 389 3302.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

London Loop Walk Section 6: Banstead to Kingston

This post is a little late and off message but the weekend after the May 5 elections I resumed my attempt to walk around the London Loop route from last year.

The London Loop is a 150 mile circular walk around London split into sections. I had hoped to complete the whole walk last year but only managed to do the walks 1-5. The further away from East London the more difficult it was to get to get to and fro the start and finish of each walk.

This time I decided to do one Loop walk on the Saturday and stay over for the night then do the next walk the following day (Sunday).  It was about 11 miles.

It was a nice walk but mostly urban and suburbia.  Tudor Nonsuch Park and Palace was pretty and interesting but the main path along the river Hogworth was a bit disappointing. Ewell was well worth a visit with the Roman remains and the Village Jail. Brought refreshing ice lollies at Bourne Hall. There was beautiful tree blossom throughout the route. May is a wonderful time of year to go walking.

The best part of the walk was the ending in Kingston upon Thames. There was a Airbnb apartment just off the route and 10 minutes walk from the centre. Kingston is lovely and had a great meal in a restaurant next to the river in the evening and was able to carry on route 7 the following day (Sunday). 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Has Labour betrayed the Working Class?

I am not really into so called "betrayal politics" but recently I had a disagreement with someone over the cause of the relative decline in support for Labour by some white working class voters.

East European Immigration was given as the reason.

I argued that immigration policy is important but the main reason why some white and black working class people feel that Labour is no longer their Party is that they think they have been betrayed.
There used to be a compact in this country that if you were went out to work you would get a decent job with decent wages.

At work you would be treated with respect by your employer and protected if you became unemployed or sick. You would be able to afford good quality housing to bring up your family. Now, for decades we have had a decline in real wages, privatisation, often rubbish jobs that only pay a minimum wage, reduced employment rights, zero hour insecure contracts and completely unaffordable rents and house prices.

If you lose your job or become sick you are treated with contempt and as a sponger by the state.

The right wing media and UKIP racists whip things up by blaming "Johnnie Foreigner" for all these ills but the real blame lies elsewhere.

The solution has little to do with immigration.

I missed the Jeremy Corbyn "New Economics" conference today but it is about time that Labour promised to tackle inequality, build 100,000 Council homes per year and create high skill, high value and secure jobs.

( Picture of Aneurin Bevan visiting newly built Council homes in 1949).

Sunday Night Live 22 May: Remain & Leave on Trial

I hope to attend this debate on Sunday evening.  Should be interesting.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Newham Council AGM 2016

Yesterday evening the official Council AGM took place at the main hall of the Old Stratford Town Hall. It started with local primary school children choir and band. I believe that they played a Soviet Red  Army marching song which always goes down very well in Newham!

Next, Council members elected the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council for the forthcoming year and agreed the appointments of chairs of Committees.

Then there was a "Freedom of the Borough" Presentations to 10 New Alderman/Alderwomen who have given public and civic service to Newham.

This included former Councillors Shama Ahmad MBE (who was the first Asian female Mayor), Christine Bowden, Lew Boyce (trade unionist and one of the first 4 African Caribban Cllrs elected in Newham1982), Marie Collier, Keith Hasler (only one of 2 Cllrs still alive from the 1965 merged East and West Ham Council), Kevin Jenkins; Volunteer's Paul Chelliah and Valerie Fone; Newham & Essex Beagles Athletic Club; West Ham FC footballer Mark Noble and local small businessman, Devendra Patel.

The Newham Young Mayor was thanked for his term of office and the meeting ended with the Mayor, Robin Wales, giving his annual report and work plan for 2016/17.

This was followed by reception in the Council chamber then late night drinks in the King Eddies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

UNISON Remain In the EU

Check out UNISON advice to its 1.3 million members here
"On 23 June the UK must make a decision. The referendum gives us all the chance to decide whether to remain part of the European Union (EU) or whether to leave.

It is an important decision for the UK and our future. UNISON knows the EU isn’t perfect – far from it – but we have looked in detail at all the evidence from both sides and have come to the view that our members’ interests are best served by remaining part of the European Union.

As your trade union, UNISON is here to protect your job, your standard of living, and the public services that we rely on every day. We believe that leaving the EU will make it harder for us to do that".

and "Another Europe is Possible" for the real Left progressive case to remain and reform Europe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

A two term limit for elected Mayors

Last Thursday at a very well attended meeting of my local Forest Gate North Branch Labour Party,
members voted overwhelmingly to support the below rule change.

There was a really good debate with a wide range of different views and arguments expressed. I supported the rule change. At the same time the rule change was also being supported by (West Ham CLP) Forest Gate South Branch, Stratford Branch, Canning Town North and Manor Park Branch (East Ham CLP).

Supporters of the rule change made it clear that this was not about personalities but about principles and governance. This rule change is being supported nationally by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. It will now go to the West Ham Labour Party General Committee on Thursday 26 May and if it is passed it will be submitted to the National Labour Party to be possibly considered at our Party Conference in September.

On the same night Forest Gate North branch also voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that paid Mayoral advisors should not hold Labour Party branch or Executive Committee officer positions. This was to improve good governance and avoid conflicts of interests. This motion will now go to the West Ham Labour Party AGM in June.

Proposed rule change for Party conference 2016

A two term limit for elected Mayors

"The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 Chapter 5 Selections, rights
and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office.
Clause I. General rules for selections for public
office. Sub-Clause 1. G. i. Alternative Procedures (page 20) ,
reads as follows:

‘For any mayoral selection the NEC may consider the use of
primary elections, subject to the absolute power of the NEC to
cancel or amend procedure, and subject to:
a. Procedural guidelines set by the NEC.’


Add new sub-clause:

b. If a selected candidate is elected for two consecutive terms
he/she cannot apply for selection as the Labour candidate for the
same mayoral post for the following third term”.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Striking junior doctor Dr Rosena Allin-Khan picked as Labour candidate for Tooting

Picture of the new Labour Candidate for the Tooting By-election  "We are delighted to announce that Rosena Allin-Khan has been selected by local members as Labour's candidate in the upcoming by-election in Tooting, following Sadiq Khan's election as Mayor of London.
The by-election will take place on 16 June 2016 – if you are eligible to take part please make a note of the date and remember to vote.
Following her selection, Rosena said the following:

“I love Tooting. I was born and raised here, and there’s no other place I’d rather raise my children.
“As your MP, I will use all my experience, including as an A&E specialist doctor at St George’s hospital, to improve local services and make sure our area remains affordable for everyone living here.”

Saturday, May 14, 2016

UNISON Parliamentary Reception with Stella Creasy MP on Workers' Memorial Day

This is a late post but picture collage is from the UNISON Parliamentary reception on 28 April 2016 for about 50 Labour Link members in North East London.

The Greater London UNISON Political Officer, Steve Terry introduced the Speakers.  The first speaker was Ilford North MP, Wes Streeting MP, who spoke about being a new MP and the importance of people participating in the political process. He then had to dash off since he was leading a tour of the House of Commons for his constituents.

Next was Stella Creasy MP who talked about her experiences involving her constituents in campaigning on local and national issues such as the eviction of tenants whose homes had been sold to developers and helping to get interest rates on "payday" loans restricted.

I spoke as Chair of Greater London Labour Link about this day being Workers Memorial Day and the 50,000 people who die prematurely each year from work related ill health. It is a day not only to mourn the dead but to fight like hell for the living.

Afterwards Stella and her Parliamentary assistants organised tours around Westminster. Many of the UNISON members present had never been to Parliament before.

(picture in bottom right of collage is the painting of Tony Benn which was outside the meeting room).