On Your Side in Milton

ONYOURSIDE

Southend Council cabinet back Labour motion against tax dodging

The cabinet of Southend Borough Council has voted to back a motion proposed by Labour councillor Cheryl Nevin, seconded by fellow Milton councillor and Labour candidate for Southend West, Julian Ware-Lane, criticising the government’s failure to tackle tax avoidance.

The motion notes that the Treasury loses up to £120 billion of tax due to tax avoidance by multinational corporations, whilst council budgets are stretched through austerity. Southend has seen its budget cut by almost £12 million for 2015/16 alone. It calls upon the government to take action to end the large-scale avoidance of tax.

Cllr Nevin was approached by a number of Southend residents asking her to support the motion, which is part of Action Aid’s “Towns against Tax Dodging campaign”.

Cheryl said, “I am delighted that the cross-party cabinet has seen the benefits this motion will bring to our town, and hope that this will put pressure on the government to reverse the trend of cutting tax collector posts across the UK. The money lost due to tax dodging could ease the strain of cuts on Southend, and many councils like it.”

Julian Ware-Lane said, “I was delighted to be able to endorse Cllr Nevin’s motion. Tax dodging robs local authorities of funds that would be spent on services such as libraries and care homes. We must have a robust and fair tax system.”

More details about the ActionAid campaign can be found at: http://campaigns.actionaid.org.uk/page/speakout/townsagainsttaxdodging_councils

Here is the motion:

This Council resolves to support Action Aid’s campaign TOWNS AGAINST TAX DODGING, for tax justice, supporting the motion:

“While many ordinary people face falling household income and rising costs of living, some multinational companies are avoiding billions of pounds of tax from a tax system that fails to make them pay their fair share. Local governments in developing countries and the UK alike would benefit from a fairer tax system where multinational companies pay their fair share, enabling authorities around the world to provide quality public services. The UK government must listen to the strength of public feeling and act to end the injustice of tax dodging by large multinational companies, in developing countries and the UK.”

The council notes:

–‐ It has been estimated that the UK Treasury loses as much as £12 billion, although recent estimates from PWC put it much higher at £120billion in tax dodging by multinational companies every year – enough to significantly reduce the UK national deficit which is putting such pressure on Local Council budgets.

—Developing countries lose three times more to tax dodging than they receive in aid each year, enough to give a basic education to the 57 million children currently missing out.

–‐ The UK has a particular responsibility to end tax dodging, in the 1 in 5 world’s tax havens in the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

–‐ The use of tax havens by UK companies is rife, with 98 of the FTSE 100 companies routinely using tax havens.

–‐ Large multinational companies pay as little as 5% in corporate taxes globally, while smaller businesses pay up to 30%, this cannot be right, or morally justified.

This council believes:

–‐ As a local authority we have a duty to provide the best possible public services. This council has faced significant cuts to services which is set to continue for future years, which is directly impacting disproportionately on the poorest and most deprived wards. Our ability to maintain quality local services would be significantly enhanced by the increased revenues from the Government tackling tax dodging.

—This local authority believe that Southend-on-Sea would benefit from any incoming Government redeployment of public sector staff away from London in supporting of this motion to collect lost tax.

–‐ All who benefit from public spending should contribute their fair share.

–‐ The UK must take a lead role in creating a fairer tax system and combating tax dodging.

Cllr Nevin on Policy and Resources Scrutiny

Cllr Cheryl Nevin writes:

Last’s weeks Policy and Resources Scrutiny meeting was interesting for the fact that Leader of the Conservative Group John Lamb took exception to my labeling the “spare room subsidy” as the “bedroom tax”.

Definition of a subsidy

money given as part of the cost of something, to help or encourage it to happen:

When was additional money given to Council tenants as part of this so called “subsidy”?

Definition of a levy /or tax

an amount of money, such as a tax, that you have to pay to a government or organization

I rest my case.

We learned that 200 South Essex Homes residents have been affected by the “Bedroom tax” or “Benefit Caps”, attributable for approximately £10,000 of the rent arrears now owed by tenants of Southend Council. Many tenants are willing to move to smaller properties but are awaiting suitable swaps, or vacated properties to be re-located to, whilst still accruing debt in rent arrears. The Labour Party calls this unfair and will abolish this unjust, immoral tax.

There may be a further impact on rent arrears when Universal credit is introduced in February 2015, Southend Council is working towards reducing that risk, by working in partnership with DWP, who will be supplying on site guidance and advice.

I asked the portfolio holder to “seek assurance” from the DWP that they have identified those most likely to be affected and conducted a systems “trial run” to limit the impact to claimants when the switch over occurs. Also, to make sure “proper risk assessments have been completed” as often changes in benefits claims cause real hardship to tenants.

I am glad to see that the Council has opted to keep the Essential Living Fund for emergency situations to March 2019, following the withdrawal of government funding for our most needy and vulnerable residents.

Milton councillors in the news

Leigh and Westcliff Times, October 21st edition, page 10

Leigh and Westcliff Times, October 21st edition, page 10

Southend Echo, October 27th edition, page 8

Southend Echo, October 27th edition, page 8

Cllr Cheryl Nevin and I get pretty regular press coverage, and this is down largely (in my humble opinion) to our industry as campaigners and councillors. Whatever our residents may say about us (and whilst many will be kind we do have our detractors) they cannot accuse us of being either low-profile or lazy.

Southend Councillor warns Labour Conference of dangers of NHS privatisation

A Southend Labour councillor, Cheryl Nevin, recently warned the Labour Party Conference in Manchester of the dangers of expanding the private sector within the NHS. In a prepared speech, she said “Recent CQC reports have shown Taxpayers are picking up the compensation bills for complications within private healthcare botched operations, often occurring at a much higher rate than in the NHS” and cited several examples where patients were left with permanent damage.

Cheryl told a reporter “David Cameron said that the NHS was safe in his hands, but 50% of NHS trusts are now projected to be in the red by March 2015, 7,000 nursing positions have been axed across the NHS, whilst our local Hospital at Southend struggles to find the nurses it requires to provide adequate care in the Accident & Emergency Department.” Cheryl said ” 70% of all new tenders are now going into private hands, at a time when CQC have highlighted the costs already being imposed on the taxpayer in a new report.”

She added, “The latest world bank figures show the UK spends 9% of GDP on health in comparison to the USA who spend 18% yet we get similar patient outcomes. If your partner has ever had a baby, if your child has visited A&E, if your elderly mother has ever had a long term medical condition then you have benefited from NHS services. Now is the time to stop further Privatisation of the NHS, to have a proper debate about what health actually costs.”

Street blitz

streetblitz

Cllrs Ware-Lane and Nevin, about to get stuck in

Cllrs Ware-Lane and Nevin, about to get stuck in

Four Labour councillors joined residents and community activists in cleaning up a part of Milton ward today. Milton councillors Julian Ware-Lane and Cheryl Nevin were joined by the new Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Ian Gilbert. The portfolio holder for Children and Learning, Cllr Anne Jones, lent her time and energy to this good cause as well.

The area covered ran from Whitegate Road to Heygate Avenue, and was bounded on the east by the Queensway. Many skips and rubbish bags were filled, giving a bit of a logistical headache to the organiser, SEAL, who were faced with overloaded skips.

A number of Labour activists were also present, and residents were grateful for the help given to making their area tidier.

As well as drinks cans, bottles and other bits of rubbish, furniture, mattresses and fence panels were also removed. At least one hypodermic syringe was found as well,

“I turned gardener at one point as well, helping one resident hack back ivy that was threatening to block an alley. I collected all sorts of rubbish – it amazes why the stuff was dumped when most of it would be collected in the street side weekly rubbish collections” said Cllr Ware-Lane.

It is hoped that residents will help keep the area clean and tidy, although a return visit at some point is not ruled out. Other areas of the borough will also want some attention – the next blitz is believed to be pencilled in for September.

Carrying on

010Cllr Cheryl Nevin is not allowing the dust to settle after the recent campaign, she is already out and about trying to improve the environment in Milton ward for its residents and visitors.

She accompanied me to a well-known black-spot for litter and fly-tipping, an area that we are forced to report to the Council on many occasions. Once again we have requested rubbish and weeds to be cleared here.

A councillor for only nine days, Cheryl is determined to be as good as her word and strive for a cleaner and better Milton.

Milton now has two Labour councillors – we are hoping to complete the hat-trick in 2015. In the meantime if you wish to contact one of Milton’s Labour councillors you can do so by emailing either cllrnevin@southend.gov.uk or cllrware-lane@southend.gov.uk.