Anybody’s Child – ChatBack Production

Very busy evening last night. Two important functions attended. First of all the Premier of the latest Chatback Production.

This film group is made up of kids in care. The latest film “Anybody’s Child” was written & performed by kids from the group. A very emotive film about how easy, how fast & how kids can easily become embroiled in Child Sexual Exploitation.

The kids as ever did a fabulous job. The DVD will be no doubt for sale & it is something every family should be aware of. As soon as the DVD is out on sale I will let people know.

A close family friend is involved with the film so I will be quite happy to send people their way to get a copy. I really hope every school will be buying a copy to show to each year group.

I was very proud to be invited & to see the kids doing something very poignant. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the last 2 premiers. By the way Josie Lawrence has again given her time to be in the film. She is such a great supporter of the things the kids have done she’s been in every film I think

Then we were off to UKIP Stourbridge branch event at the Hare & Hounds. The ever lovely & thoughtful Margot Parker MEP gave up her time to speak at the event.

She told people about how she became involved in politics, the hardship endured by those who don’t have private means to fall back on however sheer determination can see you through on relatively little because you invariably still have more than those who come to you for help.

It was a message of hope. That no matter how financially poor you are, in UKIP you must graft, work with the intention of helping make life better for those locally, get involved nationally etc. The key message being that UKIP is an extended family whereby we all look out for each other.

We help people in all regions in every practical way possible whether it be sorting out ASB or the ever glamourous litter picks. There is always a way to help & help people a few at a time.

I’m with Margot & am fully on board with the UKiP family. It’s how we work, it’s how we can support each other to do what we do.

Ps; pain meds worn off so I’m awake waiting for time when I can take my next does. Must remember to get to the chemist later, I’ve run out out of a few of my meds so need to get them or I will be bonkers barmy with pain later!

Benefit Cap – Problems Inherent in the System, part 2

Hello everyone, here the latest instalment of my views regarding Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship benefit changes. The Benefit Cap, as with all the new benefits recently rolled out, was started in April 2013 but only in a handful of Boroughs around London. From DWP Website:

“How much is the benefit cap?

The level of the cap is:
a). £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)

b). £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them

c). £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them”

Any new claimant would be put on the Capped Rate with others being “migrated” over as and when their number is churned out on the DWP Lottery Computer.

On a TV news programme last week, there was a lady who had been receiving £582 per week for her and 8, yes EIGHT, kids.

She is no longer with their father and she is unable to work. “Imagine the child care costs!” It was not discussed whether the father contributes to the children’s upbringing but this is a factor worth looking into.

She was recently migrated over onto the Benefit Cap. If we look at this one family in essence they receive £82 a week less than they did prior to the changeover.

If she wasn’t a single parent and the father of her children was in paid employment, working over 24hrs they would not be, as a family, subject to the benefit cap.

Is this a cunning ploy to encourage the together but apart families, who can get more money under the current system, to become a “legitimate” family? Maybe not, BUT if this is an unintended consequence then the winners will be the children and the taxpayers.

It may be that this family of 9 will be “signposted” (this week’s new buzzword) or told where the foodbank is, given the voucher and sent on their not so merry way.

Clothing can be bought from charity shops, there will no doubt be hand-me-downs and school uniform for the kids in Junior school is quite cheap in the supermarkets these days. There may also be access to what was the “Social Fund”. This is no longer a cash benefit claimed via the DWP, it’s a new benefit given out by local councils. They can give vouchers to purchase food, clothing and necessities in the home such as beds, cookers and bedding.

There are some people and families who will not be subject to the cap. Some of you may remember Heather Frost, the Mother of 12. She has never worked, had her first child aged just 14.

What do these two Mothers have in common and what makes them different?

Well they both have 8 or 9 kids living at home, they do not live with the father(s) of their children. One has to manage on £500 per week but the other one does not because she falls into the category whereby the Cap does not affect her level of benefits.

It is a legitimate reason, for the difference being that one of Ms Frost’s children has a disability. Simply purchasing the most basic equipment to help make the child’s quality of life and possible ways towards some independence is eye wateringly expensive!

For Those Not Affected by the Cap, I’ll quote the DWP Website again:

“You’re not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

1) Disability Living Allowance
2) Personal Independence Payment
3) Attendance Allowance
4) Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
6) Employment and Support Allowance, if you get the support component
7) War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
8) War pensions
9) Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
10) Armed Forces Independence Payment”

I would keep the cap but would reduce the amounts payable BUT I would not want kids to suffer though. So for children already living I would recommend that the families who would lose most (those with the largest numbers of children) be exempt, implementing the measure with respect to children born after a given date.

Those who have 3 children are likely receiving around £500 so there would be no changes needed. However should a family decide to have a 4th child then they would not receive any more money in benefits.

This is likely to discourage people from having extra-large families in the future, who could once have been “paid” for simply having babies. That “Career Path” would be closed to them!

It’s no fault of the children if their parents decide to have so many of them. I just worry that the kids living in a capped household may suffer and it may limit their life choices in the future.

The Government will not have considered the wider macro repercussions. The impact on the Social Services budget will be phenomenal as it is likely kids who are not in any danger of abuse by their parents could end up being taken into care, simply because they’re hungry.

We are supposedly living in in the 7th Largest Economy in the world yet some of our most vulnerable people are having to go to food-banks so they don’t starve. It is what you’d expect to hear about in a Dickensian novel not in 21st Century Britain.

So as with Universal Credit bomb and The Benefit Cap scud missile about to go boom, I fear the children will be the unintended casualties of this badly drafted piece of legislation!




Children’s Centres Save Money Long Term

In my local area the Council in their cost cutting escapade are about to close the children & family centres. Many may think oh well it doesn’t affect me & will go about their merry way. Well it does affect you in some way. So please give me a chance to elaborate and read on.

Children & family centres are a support system for all the family not just the kids who attend. I visited our local one today and along with the local parents group my other half has set up a meeting to discuss how the centre can be saved.

The local Labour MP was visiting and whilst he said he thought centres like the one just a few streets away from my home, were excellent & do an amazing job BUT the Labour Council has to find savings of over £2 million quid.

Personally I think this Labour MP turned up to show a modicum of faux outrage but will not raise any complaints to his chums in the Council House to actually actively save the centre!

It’s this sort of hypocrisy that really grinds my wheels of steel! He says he will attend the meeting on Monday evening, I wonder if he will turn up & will he have any practical ideas to offer? I doubt it but I’d very much like to be proved wrong on this particular issue.

One of the very few things Labour got right in the 13yrs they were running the shop was the Sure Start Children & Family Centres. Credit where it’s due for implementing these community hubs.

Enough of bigging up the opposition!

Anyway what do these centres provide?

1) They give new mums support & guidance.

2) They provide a space for kids to play in a safe & caring environment.

3) The parents & carers of the children can go to other parents or the staff to discuss how they feel without being judged.

4) These Centres can help parents develop better parenting skills which can help keep families together. This support can prevent kids who are loved from going into care because the parents are getting the support & advice they need to provide a safer environment for their kids.

5) They support parents who suffer from post natal depression. With this support many parents (yes not only mothers get post natal depression) are able to cope better & their PND is reduced & they recover faster.

6) it provides high quality child care at affordable prices. This helps parents who tend to work during the time their kids are in the centre. If the centre is closed how many parents will have to stop working? This isn’t good for the parent or the child.

7) this particular centre caters for children with special needs. I met 2 mothers, who travel a good few miles to go to the centre, both their sons have Autism. This centre has been a lifeline for the mothers and the children. They kids were both non verbal and they have interests in certain things. The mothers said the kids love going to that centre. They mix with kids who don’t have Autism and it helps these little angels a chance to see, hear & copy the other children. If this centre closes plus others in the borough who will be there for these kids?

8) there are parenting skills & advice on hand from a variety of parents and the staff. Relationships have been built & trust is a great part of these relationships. As the parents feel they are able to say “this is how I feel & I don’t like feeling this way”, they can do this without fear of being judged. Another vital element of these centres is the trust & relationships that have been built up over the years.

10) If the centre where to close the costs that the Council think they will make is going to be a good hundred thousand or 5 maybe more.

11) the centres can prevent higher costs for the Social Services Department;

a). Kids who attend the centre are monitored & fewer of then need assistance from Social Workers. This leaves them free to investigate the more horrific cases we hear about on the news.

b). Parents are able to work part time & most parents there do. They enjoy working & they pay taxes. If the centre closes how much will it cost in unemployment/out of work benefits?

c). Parents who work are less likely to suffer from depression. If the centre closes then it highly likely that there will be a rise in the number people with depression/anxiety. How much does it cost if the parents suffer with depression have a major meltdown so all manner of agencies get involved.

This will increase costs so to cut these centres is a totally false economy. The centre provides the care of an extended family. The centres & the staff are there to look after the children BUT also the parental units.

There are so many reasons to keep this centre open & only 1 reason to close it and that reason is the cuts being made via the Council House inmates to the whole area of children services.

Surely there are many other costs that could be cut, which won’t cause us the real problems associated with being a parent. Children learn so much in those early years so we must provide such places as Children’s Centres.

I met and spoke with so many of the parents & they could give you many more reasons to keep the centre open. I hope this will be used as the preamble and I’d really be grateful if any of the parents would state their reasons for keeping the Children’s Centres.

I look forward to hearing your views on this issue.

Don’t forget the meeting on Monday Evening at Sedgley Workings Mens Club. Starts at 7pm prompt. Please do try to bring along friends & family. These cuts affect us all!