More than 1,000 councillors back NEU Councillors Network call for more investment in schools

Locally-elected council members from across the country have backed the campaign by the NEU’s Councillors Network, which is supported by education fair funding campaign group f40, in expressing concern about the desperate state of school funding in England and Wales.
They are urging Government to invest more money in schools in the Spending Review this year to help meet the huge funding crisis across education, which is resulting in growing budget deficits, cuts in teaching staff, a reduction in some subject areas, and a poorer education for children.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies states that schools have suffered a cut of 8 per cent per pupil since 2010. The Education Policy Institutehas said almost a third of all council-run secondary schools are now in deficit and, according to last year’s Kreston UK report, eight in ten academies are in deficit.

The NEU believes the situation cannot go on and there needs to be a reversal of cuts to school budgets since 2010, and for the funding of schools and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision to be of a level that ensures all children and young people get the education they deserve, regardless of where they live.

Campaign group f40, which started more than 20 years ago with the aim of influencing significant change in the way government allocated funding to local authorities and schools, threw its weight behind the NEU’s letter to Damian Hinds.

Cllr Jumbo Chan, Brent, NEU Councillors Network Convenor, said:

“This letter represents the next step in trying to lobby the government to urgently stop the hugely damaging cuts to school funding.

“Last autumn, the NEU Councillors Network persuaded a majority of councils in London to pass motions opposing the school cuts. It is now clear that many individual councillors from all over the country also feel strongly about this very important issue. The government must heed the calls of locally-elected representatives who can see first-hand the havoc school cuts – compounded by biting cuts to precious local government funding – are wreaking on many young people.”

Cllr James McInnes, f40 Chairman and cabinet member for children and schools in Devon, said:

“The f40 campaign for fair funding has given its full support to the NEU’s letter to Damian Hinds and is pleased it’s been so well supported by councillors from across the country.  It’s clear that elected representatives are unhappy with the government’s handling of school funding and are demanding an increase in budgets, as well as adjustments to the way funding is allocated.”

Cllr Maggie Browning, Southwark, NEU Councillors Network Convenor, said:

“The cuts to school budgets have reached epidemic levels in England and Wales. Increasingly, tighter funds mean schools across the country are narrowing their curriculum and cutting subjects like drama and art, which is a travesty.

“Schools are also struggling to provide adequate support for students with Special Educational Needs and some are even closing early or starting late to save money. Teachers’ workloads have become unsustainable as they are asked to do more and more with less, including larger class sizes and fuller timetables with less support.

“This is fuelling the recruitment and retention crisis across the country, with one in three teachers leaving in the first five years of joining the profession. This is a complete waste of talent and is deeply disruptive to the learning of students. The Spending Review is a vital opportunity for Damian Hinds to commit to a full reversal of the cuts to school budgets and a significant increase in per pupil funding, particularly for SEND.”

Letter from NEU Councillors Network reads:

Dear Damian Hinds MP,

As councillors, we are writing to express our grave concerns over the Government’s ongoing cuts to school funding.

Our excellent state-funded schools have lost out in billions of pounds in funding since 2015. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has equated this to an 8 per cent real cut per pupil in real terms, since 2010. The funding crisis has become so overwhelming that according to the Education Policy Institute, almost a third of all council-run secondary schools are now in deficit, and eight in ten academies are in deficit according to last year’s Kreston UK report.

Many schools are now desperately overwhelmed, as more and more students are competing for fewer and fewer resources. Compounded by biting cuts to local council services, in addition to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, the current settlement is not tenable.

We demand that the Government address this funding crisis in its Spending Review by:

•        Reversing the cuts to school funding since 2010.
•        Giving our schools the funding they need.
•        Funding Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision properly.

Our children only have one chance to go through the school system. By cutting funding to schools, the Government is failing them. It must change course urgently, and give our schools, education professionals and students the proper funding they need.

Your sincerely,

The Undersigned

Kick Out Capita success marked with special welcome as workers come back in-house

From Barnet Alliances for Public Services (BAPS) and Kick Out Capita who have campaigned vociferously for out-sources services in the Tory Flagship London Borough of Barnet  to be brought back in-house.  This is a landmark decision and perhaps a warning to other boroughs.

Monday 1 April is officially the first day back into Council employment for former Capita Finance and Human Resources staff. This will mean Phase One of the Capita review has been completed. After years of campaigning, BAPS and the #KickOutCapita campaign invite you: Join us to welcome back the workers who return in-house There will be cake and Welcome notices, feel free to bring your own placards. All welcome! However, we also want to send a very clear message to Barnet Council that we want to see the swift return of all the former Council services, currently provided by Capita, back in-house ASAP. At the moment councillors are considering bringing back the services in phases over 18 months: Phase Two: Highways & regeneration (scheduled to be discussed in Policy & Resource committee in June 2019) Phase Three : Estates, Social Care Direct, Safety, Health and Wellbeing, Strategic planning, Procurement, Insight, Cemetery and Crematorium, Revenues and benefits Phase Four: Customer services, Information Services (IT), Planning (development management and enforcement), Regulatory services, Transactional HR services (including Payroll and Pensions Administration), Any other remaining services.

But we think that the proposed time scale is dragging the process far too long. Other councils like Southampton, Blackburn and Darwen, Sheffield and Birmingham all in-sourced the services within a much shorter time.

Victorious campaign to save hospital A & Es has lessons for us all

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s campaigning video

Amidst the distraction of the Brexit farrago a statement was slipped out in the House of Commons last Tuesday of great significance for everyone campaigning to save the NHS and against austerity cuts to public services.
The Secretary of State announced the decision with many a swipe at the local MPs

A key factor in  the campaign was how Hammersmith and Fulham Council got behind the local community and hopsital campaigners and devoted resources to savinf their local hospital A&E. Unfortunately the Shaping the Healthier Future plans that led to the closure of the A&E  at Central Middlesex Hospital, although well fought.,were implemented and the A&E is still missed today, particularly by residents in the Park Royal, Harlesden and Stonebridge areas.

Save our Hospitals Hammersmith and Fulham said:

The Secretary of Health Matt Hancock announced on March 26th that the closure plans for both Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals contained in the cuts & closures plan known as Shaping A Healthier Future have been withdrawn.  We’ve won. It’s not been easy taking on a well funded posse of spin doctors, management consultants and political ideologues but many thousands of people have done just that and after a 7 year fight we’ve stopped a closure plan that was downright dangerous. Everyone has done their bit whether that’s signing petitions, challenging bureaucrats in meetings, running street stalls, demonstrating, fundraising or delivering & displaying posters. We should feel really proud of ourselves and celebrate our collective achievement.

Of course there are still huge problems: The £30m primary & community cuts planned for H&F, the state of disrepair in our hospitals, on going understaffing & under resourcing coupled with the threat of privatisation by the likes of Babylon and Virgin. Some may have seen the laughable attempts of local conservative MPs and councillors to claim responsibility for a victory they have consistently done their best to sabotage  It’s also true that the government could change it’s mind and come back with new closure plans in the future.

So we’ll have to keep campaigning – we’ve proven today that campaigning works. But for now let’s just celebrate a victory won by lots of different people (including you) working together to Save Charing Cross Hospital.

Kind Regards AD(SOH chair)


Ealing Save Our NHS said:

Finally, the Government has admitted the horrible ‘Shaping a Healthier Future Plan’ (SAHF) is not workable!

Former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson had called these plans “the most significant reconfiguration project in the country”. But since they first announced SAHF plans to cut nine major hospitals in North West London down to five, Ealing Save Our NHS has been campaigning against it side by side with many others including Save Our Hospitals Charing Cross and the Councils in Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham. SAHF spent tens of millions of pounds of NHS cash on management consultants. All for nothing. 
Now Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, has announced the Department of Health no longer supports it. Ealing Save Our NHS has distributed a quarter of a million leaflets, held protests, attended carnivals, organised parties, lobbies, petitions, car convoys and much more to spell out the truth. On the other side huge amounts of NHS money was spent on public relations staff and glossy leaflets to pretend that our health would mysteriously be improved if they closed A&E’s and hundreds of beds. It didn’t work.

So what will happen now? Ealing Save Our NHS will keep on campaigning. This disastrous SAHF plan has seen the closure of two local A&Es, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith, as well as the closure of Ealing A&E to children. As a direct consequence, waiting times for Type 1 urgent A&E visits increased greatly. Ealing Hospital’s excellent maternity department was also closed, forcing Ealing mothers to travel long distances and negatively effecting continuity of care for many.

But health bosses appear to have learned nothing and continue to defend the indefensible. Mark Easton, the head of the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups, in announcing the death of SAHF has just made the mind-boggling claim that maternity care and emergency paediatric care have improved. This is certainly not the view of local parents whose local services have closed. Ealing Hospital remains seriously underfunded and in crisis. But at least there is a ray of sunshine, the horrible plan underlying all these cuts has gone and we can focus on calling for proper funding and restoration of local health services.
Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public added,

This is a very important victory for the people of Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham. Campaigners must be proud of themselves for standing up for the NHS and their local communities for 7 long years – with integrity, skill and huge impact. Elections unseated the council backing closure of Charing Cross and the Ealing MP backing government attacks on the local NHS and public services. Campaigners won the local councils to their side and refused to give in to the irresponsible plans of ‘Shaping A Healthier Future’ in North West London. Well done and thank you. The battles are not over. We are with you in your fight to restore the damage done and win back maternity and children’s services in Ealing Hospital.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council said:

We did it together! The government has finally been forced to retreat on closing Charing Cross Hospital.

Thanks to Save Our Hospitals campaigners, Michael Mansfield QC (who ran the independent commission that provided such unchallengable evidence against the plans) and to the many, many residents who have fought with us so hard and for so long.

Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan says: “This is a huge validation of Michael Mansfield QC’s findings and a huge victory for the Save Our Hospitals campaign. Thank you to all the residents who worked with us to save Charing Cross Hospital.”

Statement from North West London CCG (26 March 2019): “We will not be taking forward the plans as set out in SaHF for changes to Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals.”

What was planned?

We’ve won the battle to save Charing Cross Hospital from proposals to demolish most of it and replace its A&E with an urgent care clinic – leaving just 13 per cent the size of the original hospital.

·      We joined forces with local residents and with Ealing Council, who have been fighting the closure of Ealing Hospital
·      We commissioned a public inquiry led by Michael Mansfield QC that has provided a strong evidence base for why the proposals are wrong. Read the full report here.
·      We’ve refused to sign the ‘North West London STP’ – because it restates the plan to reduce acute services from nine major hospitals to five.
·      We commissioned a review of the NHS proposals and the STP – Read the review (pdf 4MB).
·      We’ve held scrutiny meetings to publicly quiz NHS managers on their plans
·      We’ve invited local people to public meetings, rallies and demonstrations
·      We’ve presented petitions and published individual residents’ own experiences and stories
·      We’ve kept local people updated on the campaign through letters, leaflets, posters and social media.

The current much-loved Charing Cross Hospital was to be replaced with an urgent care centre, diagnostics and out-patients only.

The NHS plan included:
·      Demolishing the current Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most the site
·      Replacing the current Charing Cross Hospital with a series of clinics on a site no more than 13 per cent the size of the current hospital
·      Replacing the current A&E with an urgent care clinic
·      Losing more than 300 and possibly all the acute care beds
·      The detail on the proposals is in the NHS Case for Change.


CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED FROM THE GREEN PARTY TRADE UNION GROUP



GPTU welcomes the launch of the Trade Union Clean Air Network


The Green Party Trade Union Group welcomes the formation of the Trade Union Clean Air Network . This is its Charter:

Trade unions need a response to the public health emergency and also the occupational health emergency of air pollution.  Over 40,000 people die each year in the UK where the outdoor air that they breathe is a major contributory factor. Thousands of people will also die because of occupational diseases caused by air pollution at work. Pollution arising from work and travel to work are health issues for which employers take little responsibility. There is hardly any recognition of this in national and local authority strategies. This is an issue for workers and their families at all stages from before birth to old age and particularly damaging the growth and development of babies and children.  This charter provides a framework for unions to campaign for the health and environmental concerns of workers.  We call on the Government to:


1. Introduce a New Clean Air Act that enshrines the right to breathe clean air. It must set stringent legal limits for ambient air quality, which reflect WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines. There should be recognition that air pollution is an occupational health issue. Employers must be required to make Environmental Impact Assessments on the pollution related to their work activities. They should have a duty to present strategies for minimising and eradicating pollutants within the workplace and in the wider community.


2. Update Health and Safety Law – The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations and related guidance should be amended to reflect new research on indoor and outdoor air pollution.  This  includes amending Workplace Exposure Limits to place duties on employers to monitor and adopt control measures for diesel and other toxic vehicle emissions not currently covered by HSE (Health and Safety Executive) EH40. 


3. Ensure effective enforcement – Strict enforcement by relevant agencies of the occupational and environmental legislation with the power to hold public bodies and employers to account. Representatives of the trade union movement must have seats on the relevant agencies.


4. Involve the workforce – Air quality measures for indoor and outdoor occupational air pollution must be subject to the consultation requirements of the SRSC (Safety Reps and Safety Committees) Regulations.  Measures should cover both employees and others, and especially the needs of vulnerable occupants of buildings, including in particular children and young people.  Employers should be required to raise awareness and support workforce training on risks and control measures. Workers may need access to independent advice on exposure levels and health effects.
5. Protect jobs – Government and employer clean air strategies will have implications for jobs and employment. The application of Just Transition principles, including consultation and negotiation with appropriate and industry unions, must include full equality impact assessments, to ensure positive and fair outcomes for all workers.


6. Rapidly expand clean and inexpensive public transport systems alongside investment in active transport to increase levels of cycling and walking – Cleaning up air in the UK will require significant public expenditure. Government should drive the policies to ensure that those least able to afford it are not expected to pick up the bill, and to subsidise measures for less polluting forms of energy and transport. Including affordable public transport.   This will encourage more integrated and more active forms of transport.         For more information contact: gjacoms@gmail.com or janet@gmhazards.org.uk

Spring Conference 2019: 7-10 June, Scarborough Spa


Join us in Scarborough this June to recharge your political batteries after the local elections! Conference is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded members from across the UK, learn more about our policies, take part in our activist training sessions, take part in debates, network and socialise… 

And all this in the beautiful setting of the Victorian Spa on Scarborough’s South Bay Beach.

Over the four days there will be policy making and discussion groups, topical fringes and panel debates, social sessions such as walks and music, an exhibition, and of course we will be discussing the outcome of the Holistic Review which will decide the future governance of the party.

Bookings are now open! Can’t commit to four days? No problem – you can book for single days or all four days. Members and supporters alike are welcome. View the fees.

Join the conference facebook event to get the latest updates and connect with others who are going.
Or join the conversation on twitter #gpconf

Caroline Lucas urges support for the New Green Deal Bill proposed in Parliament today

Today I am feeling hopeful. A Green New Deal would tackle both climate breakdown and the shameful levels of inequality and underinvestment that helped drive the Brexit vote.

It would unleash unprecedented levels of investment in bold climate action over the next ten years, transforming the economy while creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

That’s why today I’ve put forward a Green New Deal Bill in Parliament.

We are in the midst of a climate emergency and at the same time need to repair and restore a divided country, creating opportunity and hope for millions of people who have been let down by the status quo. That’s what a Green New Deal can deliver.

We can have cleaner air, warmer homes and greener communities. We can have good, well paying jobs. We can limit climate catastrophe – and we can redefine prosperity. All of these things are possible, it just takes political will.

It’s an idea not just limited to the UK. It’s a proposal Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently reinvigorated in the US, too.

I’m so excited about this. Ten years ago, I was part of the group which came up with the Green New Deal.

As a member of the Green Party, you’ve help keep this idea alive for a decade. Thank you. Now it is time to make it a reality.

If you’re with me, ask your MP to sign my motion calling for a Green New Deal.

Thank you for your support.

Caroline Lucas MP

NEU Climate Motion for Easter Conference supports school student strikers

The NEU, the largest teachers’ union has been in the forefront of union action on climate change.

Support is building for the following motion which has been updated to include reference to the current school students’ strikes.

NEU and UCU members and school student strikers call for ‘Climate Truth’ to be taught

Conference recognises that the latest UN climate report shows that: 

1. Without more rapid action, there will be at least a 3 degrees temperature rise by 2100; 

2. 1 degree rise above pre-industrial levels has already led to increasing fires, hurricanes, floods and droughts; 

3. The transition to a zero-carbon society to keep below a 1.5 degree increase is the most urgent problem facing humanity and is technically feasible; and 

4. The obstacles are entirely political. 

Conference believes that: 

i. The consequences of a failure to act – or an unjust transition, whereby those with wealth and power dump the costs downwards – will be severe for our members, our communities, the children we teach and – in the worst case – could threaten our survival; 

ii. We have to help lead a Just Transition; shifting energy production, transport, housing and agriculture onto a sustainable basis within the lifetimes of the children currently in our schools; with workers and communities most directly affected not dumped into destitution like the miners, but re-skilled to carry the transition out; 

iii. This needs immediate Government investment for a qualitative shift within 12 years, including a significant shift in the focus and aims of Education; 

iv. The current Government’s market solutions are failing, leading to the UK missing its targets; and 

v. The Labour Green Transformation Plan grasps the scale and speed of the transition required but this must be integrated into every level of the proposed National Education Service (NES). 

Conference instructs the Executive to approach NUS, UCU, other education unions and interested parties to: 

a. Lobby Government to press them on plans to carry out their obligation under the Paris Agreement to educate the public about the scale of climate change and the measures needed to deal with it – including through school’s curricula – and a recognition that for every school to be zero carbon by 2030; 

b. Make Just Transition a key narrative in our discussions about the NES; and 

c. Hold an Education for a Just Transition conference in the Autumn. 

Amendment

Add to point iii) as required by Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.

Add new point vi) That the inadequacy of government action in the face of the urgency of the crisis has led to a rapidly growing global school students movement rightly taking the lead in demanding that their politicians urgently take the action needed to tackle the climate crisis and that our education system reflects this priority.

Add new point vi) As a generation without a voice in elections, but one which the climate crisis will impact the greatest, we commend their willingness to engage in political debate to ensure their voice is heard. 

Add after “interested parties” – including the school students movement.

Add new point d) Welcome the statement by Education International stating that “education unions stand with the students”, to disseminate this statement widely and propose that EI promotes an international campaign to implement Article 12.

Add at end

Conference agrees that the National Education Union affiliates to the Campaign Against Climate Change.

GPTU Slam Government Benefit Sanctions Policy

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) urge people to get involved in the campaign against the Tory’s cruel and vindictive benefit sanctions policy. Whilst issues such as Brexit and the state of the NHS are rightly in the news at the moment, the government quietly continues to pursue a policy that has caused untold misery for many. GPTU co-secretary and former benefit claimant, Lee Burkwood had this to say:

“Whilst claiming Jobseekers Allowance myself, the Job Centre threatened to cut my benefits unless I agreed to do unpaid work at Tesco for four weeks. I literally had no choice but to work for less than the minimum wage at a multi-billion pound company. It was deeply humiliating.”

Benefit sanctions were set up to catch people out who cheat the system. However, the evidence clearly shows that many legitimate claimants are caught and punished unfairly. In the past year, half a million people have had their benefits stopped for reasons such as: being minutes late for a Job Centre appointment, not applying for work whilst waiting to start a new job, and even missing a meeting to attend the funeral of a family member. Furthermore, the evidence shows that this dysfunctional policy costs the taxpayer more to administer than it saves. Analysis from the National Audit Office shows that the DWP spend £30-50 million yearly in applying sanctions and around £200 million a year in monitoring the terms it sets for jobseekers – yet these measures only reduced the benefits bill by £132 million in 2015.

This is why we are supporting Unite Community’s day of action on Thursday, urging the government to scrap their policy of benefit sanctions and instead investing taxpayers’ money into genuinely helping people to secure and sustainable work, rather than punishing them for minor indiscretions and pushing them into poverty. See the website below to find out how you can get involved and use the hashtag #No2Sanctions to share your stories on this issue.

http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/

London Greens reaffirm support for safely staffed tube stations

London Green Party urges everyone to support the RMT’s campaign to make sure our tube stations are safely staffed.

Former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson cut over 800 staff from TFL, meaning ticket offices were closed and stations are now dangerously understaffed. it seems Sadiq Khan isn’t rectifying this and has condemned the industrial action that RMT and TSSA have been forced to take in recent times.

Green Party Assembly Member Caroline Russell said “With TFL staff saying they feel unsafe working on the underground and with passengers frustrated at lack of assistance, it is important that this situation is quickly resolved.

With the recent introduction of the night tube, it is more important than ever that our stations are safely staffed and that staff and passengers’ voices are heard.”

Green Party Trade Union Group co-secretary Lee Burkwood added this. “On a personal level, I have seen what it is like when underground stations are understaffed. As a passenger I needed assistance recently and to get the help I needed, it took a lot longer than it should have done because the station only had two staff present. Whatever action the RMT and TSSA have to take in future, we as a Trade Union Group will be supporting.”

There is a public rally in support of RMT’s campaign at 6:30pm tonight and Green Party representatives will be there and urge everyone reading this to go. The details are below and hopefully this will be the start of a widely supported campaign to make sure that the safety of staff and passengers on the Underground is guaranteed by the Mayor.

NB: Details of the rally are on the link below. 

http://www.rmtlondoncalling.org.uk/event/public-rally-staff-our-stations

GPTU supportive of action taken by UCU members at the College of North West London

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) express solidarity with University College Union (UCU) members at the College of North West London College (CNWL) that 5 days ago voted for strike action over a planned merger with the City of Westminster College and over the suspension of their colleague, Indro Sen.

The plans to merge CNWL with City of Westminster College were first announced back in 2013. Despite CNWL saying it was consulting staff over the merger, several staff have been made redundant since, with no guarantees over current staff jobs and no guarantees that both current campuses will stay open. Indro Sen, Branch Secretary of UCU at CNWL and a vocal critic of the merger plans, was suspended back in October 2016 whilst representing a former CNWL employee at a tribunal.

A GPTU spokesperson has said “It is obvious that the reason the colleges are merging and staff are being made redundant is because of severe cuts to further education from, firstly the coalition, and now a Conservative majority government. Sadly this is happening all across the country and shows the callousness at the way the Tories are endangering young people’s future and education for all local communities. ”

“Whilst we understand the College is in a difficult position with funding cuts, we support strike action voted for by 95% of UCU members as they are doing all they can to protect the CNWL from going under.”

To find out how you can support UCU members involved in this action, please visit their website. https://www.ucu.org.uk/