Monday, December 06, 2010

Proof that work just doesn't pay in Britain: Child poverty among unemployed families is falling ... but INCREASING in working homes

Child poverty is rising among working families while generous benefits cut it for the unemployed, a report has revealed. The study by the respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an indictment of Labour’s record in power – and casts doubt on the Coalition’s ability to deliver its pledge to ‘make work pay’.

It reveals that while the policy of lavishing benefits on the unemployed has helped tackle some aspects of child poverty, many working families have fallen behind. Child poverty in workless families fell in 2008/9 to 1.6million, despite the impact of the recession. But during the same period child poverty among working families rose to 2.1million – the highest on record.

The figures continue a trend that began five years ago and mean that 58 per cent of children in poverty now live in homes where at least one parent works.

Tom MacInnes, co-author of the report, said ‘substantial’ increases in benefits had helped drag many children in workless homes above the poverty line. But he said there had been too little focus on the children of people in low-paid jobs. ‘The figures suggest that something is going wrong for people in this group – it is disappointing. It demonstrates that work alone is not always a route out of poverty,’ he said.

‘The current Government needs to take that into account. We have heard a lot of talk about making work pay, but it has all focused on the rate at which benefits are withdrawn. These figures show that it is also about rates of pay and hours. There is a significant problem with working poverty that needs to be addressed.’

Mr MacInnes said there were a number of factors behind the rise in poverty among children in working households. In some cases parents may have had their pay rates or hours cut. In others, one parent may have lost their job. Rising living costs, including council tax, may also have contributed.

The figures are adjusted according to the number of people in the family and are calculated after deductions for taxes, housing costs, water bills and insurance. In 2008/9 the poverty line for a single adult was set at £119 a week, while for a family with two school age children it was £289 a week.

The report will make worrying reading for the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, whose new Universal Credit scheme is designed to ensure that unemployed parents who decide to take a job will not be crippled by the immediate withdrawal of all their benefits. At present people can find themselves barely better off if they go from unemployment to a low paid job because they lose almost as much in benefits as they earn.

Under Government plans those returning to work will be able to keep at least 35p in every extra pound they earn.

But the study suggests that more may have to be done around the issue of low pay to reduce poverty. Ministers have already indicated they will take a wider view, rather than focusing on the precise income of individual families.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also said it is more important to focus on a child’s life chances than on dragging them one pound above an artificial poverty line.

The Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘Over the last decade vast sums of money has been poured into the benefits system in an attempt to address poverty, but as today’s report shows, this approach has failed. ‘Work is the best way out of poverty which is why we are radically reforming the welfare system to ensure that work always pays and people aren’t trapped in a cycle of dependency and worklessness.’

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report found that between 2008 and 2009, 13million people in the UK were living in poverty. It also discovered that by mid-2010, the unemployment rate among those aged 16-24 was at 20 per cent – the highest in 18 years and three times that for other adults.

Last week respected Labour MP Frank Field called on the Government to end automatic increases in child benefit and tax credits to free up resources for better services to help the children of the poor.


Is capital punishment racist?

Jeff Jacoby

It is a passionately-held article of faith among death-penalty opponents that capital punishment is racially unjust. But the facts stubbornly say otherwise. Ever since the Supreme Court compelled the states to rewrite their death penalty statutes in the 1970s, white murderers have been more likely than black murderers to be sentenced to death, and more likely to actually be executed. Though blacks commit approximately half of all murders in the United States, they accounted for only 390, or 35 percent, of the 1,136 murderers executed from 1977 through 2008. (Whites made up 57 percent; the rest were Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian.)

The race-of-the-victim claim that so appalls Stevens collapses under scrutiny. The Washington Post's Charles Lane -- an admirer of Stevens, as it happens -- shows why in a new book of his own. Because the vast majority of the murderers who kill blacks are black themselves, he writes in Stay of Execution: Saving the Death Penalty from Itself, the fact that the murder of a black victim is less likely to be punished with death is another way of saying that fewer blacks are put to death by the state. That reflects not racism, but racial progress.

It isn't because prosecutors place a lower value on black life that they are more reluctant to seek the death penalty for black-on-black homicide, Lane explains. It is because prosecutors don't press for a punishment of death unless they think the jury can be convinced to support it. And in the largely black communities where most black-on-black crime is committed, "persuading a jury to sentence a defendant to death is relatively difficult." Similarly, "in jurisdictions where elected prosecutors must appeal to black voters, prosecutors are that much less likely to support capital punishment."

In short, says Lane, far from harking back to the awful era when legally powerless black Americans were murdered by lynch mobs, the race-of-the-victim disparity today shows how blacks have been empowered. Before the Civil Rights revolution, most blacks couldn't vote or serve on juries. "Now that they do, they appear to be using this power to limit capital punishment in the cases closest to them."

Reasonable people have disagreed about the death penalty for a long time, but there is nothing reasonable about smearing the modern capital-justice system as inherently racist. Stevens changed his mind on the death penalty, but most Americans continue to regard it as a legitimate tool of justice. To imply that there is a whiff of the lynch mob in their view may make a good story for the Sunday paper. It doesn't make a convincing argument.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Julian Assange treated like non-citizen by Australian government, says lawyer

THE lawyer representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has attacked the Australian government for failing to offer help to his client. And Mr Assange’s London-based lawyer, Mark Stephens, has said sex charges against Mr Assange amounted to a "show trial".

As the fallout from the release of diplomatic cables spreads to Australia, Mr Stephens questioned the worth of an Australian passport. "He has had no assistance or offers of assistance ... by the Australian authorities in Sweden, or London or America," Mr Stephens told ABC radio. "One has to question what the value of an Australian passport is, whether you agree with what he has done or not."

"One would think that having an Australian passport you would get some assistance but thus far, I have to say, the high commissions and embassies have been shutting their doors to Julian Assange."

Asked if his client had broken any laws by releasing thousands of confidential diplomatic cables, Mr Stephens said "not that I can see”.

He dismissed suggestions that his client was a terrorist. "Julian Assange is giving out useful information, journalists, investigative journalists, have been doing that for years," he said. "What he got, unasked for, he didn’t hack for it, was the electronic equivalent of a brown envelope. Quality investigative journalists have been working with brown envelopes and material given to them to hold our governments to account, to ascertain whether what they are doing is what we want them to be doing.

"If Julian Assange is a criminal than every national newspaper that has published exactly the same stories is also a criminal. Are we going to lock up editors from all over the planet? I don’t think so."

On the charges his client was facing in Sweden, Mr Stephens said the original allegation of rape brought against his client had been dropped and that he had now been charged with "sex by surprise".

"Originally the allegation was one of rape and many will remember that but of course what has not been reported is that the Swedish court of appeal dismissed the case of rape and said the facts don’t support it," he said. "They are now investigating something called sex by surprise."

"It is the very first time Sweden has actually sought extradition for this charge … it is a fairly minor charge and usually carries something like a 5000 Krone penalty."

Yesterday, Mr Stephens, had expressed concern that the pursuit of Mr Assange had "political motivations", in comments to the BBC.

Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, who is handling the rape allegations in Sweden, said: "I can very clearly say no, there is nothing at all of that nature." "This investigation has proceeded perfectly normally without any political pressure of any kind," Ms Ny said. "It is completely independent," she added. [She would say that, of course]

Mr Assange is in hiding somewhere in the world, believed to be Europe. Interpol has issued a "red notice" against him alerting all police forces that he is a wanted person in Sweden, which wants to question him "in connection with a number of sexual offences". [Interpol issues a notice over something that is a crime in Sweden only?? Patently improper]


Australia: Bosses fearing parental leave burden not hiring women

Entirely foreseen but ignored by the Left

WOMEN of child-bearing age are in the firing line as struggling small businesses baulk at the cost of implementing the Gillard Government's paid parental leave scheme. Dozens of cases of pregnant women being bullied and unfairly sacked have already been lodged with authorities, fuelling fears of widespread discrimination once paid parental leave starts on January 1.

Business groups warn that the onerous cost of administering payments will force some employers to think again about hiring women. Queensland's Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss David Goodwin said small businesses - already hurting from the financial downturn - could not absorb the costs of filling out "welfare papers" and changing payroll systems. Some small businesses "probably" won't hire women of child-bearing age.

"If you've got three staff and one goes on maternity leave, that's 30 per cent of your workforce," he said.

Eligible women will be paid $570 a week for up to 18 weeks and, after July 1, businesses will receive money from the Government to administer the scheme for workers. Businesses will have to withhold tax under PAYG, provide pay slips and keep records for staff and the government.

In the past 16 months, the Fair Work Ombudsman has received 95 complaints from pregnant women, including many in Queensland. The Ombudsman said allegations included:

* Working hours reduced or work status changed to casual because an employer said the woman was unreliable because of her morning sickness;

* Receiving a written warning about inappropriate dress due to pregnancy;

* Being bullied and harassed because they were pregnant.

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said she did not believe paid leave would spark more discrimination but added: "Where there is a propensity for confusion there is a propensity for discrimination. "It is a right and not a privilege for women to work during pregnancy. Pregnancy is seen as a total inconvenience for some businesses."

She said businesses should be the paymasters of the scheme because it enabled worker and employer to maintain contact.

But raising fresh concerns, Opposition small business spokesman Bruce Billson said business groups had warned that having further administration burdens could have unintended consequences. "Small business recruit the best person for the job, but if it's a line-ball decision (between a man and a woman), I hate to think that the new paid parental leave pay clerk burden the Government is imposing on employers would discourage the employment of a woman," he said.

Mr Billson introduced a private member's Bill to keep the scheme's administrative responsibility with a government agency. It will be voted on in February.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said "recent events have highlighted that sexual harassment continues to be a widespread problem in the workplace" but the Government had strengthened workers' rights and protection in amended legislation.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the scheme would help employers retain skilled and valuable staff. [So the government knows better than the businessman what is best for business??]



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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