Tuesday, December 23, 2014

News round-up

Stop Lambeth evictions

HOUSING campaigners in Lambeth are fighting plans by the council to force people from their homes – where some have lived for 40 years or more – in order to sell off the homes and solve some of the council’s budgeting problems.
Families and vulnerable people, including elderly residents, are among those threatened with eviction from their housing co-op homes which Lambeth (a so-called 'co-operative council'!) then sell-off.
This disposals policy is to make up for a shortfall in Lambeth's budget, due in part to years of fraud and mismanagement in Lambeth's housing department.
Many of the homes were virtually derelict when the housing co-operative took them on and tenants have worked hard to make improvements and turn them into decent homes. Their reward for their hard work is to be threatened with homelessness.

Legal aid for domestic violence victims
WOMEN members of the GMB general union joined a demonstration of many women’s groups outside the High Court in London on Friday 12th December for the hearing of the Judicial Review granted to Rights of Women in Sept 2014 to challenge part of the Legal Aid Act which came into effect in April.
This clause in the Act prevents women who are victims of domestic abuse being eligible for legal aid.
Taranjit Chana, GMB London Regional Equality Forum, said: "GMB is supporting the legal challenge against the Government changes to access to justice by women experiencing domestic violence.
“GMB recognises that the cuts to legal aid prevent victims of domestic violence exercising their fundamental right to legal remedies to safety and escape abusive relationships. The changes to legal aid are unlawful as access to legal aid is often life-saving.
“GMB is a union not only addressing workplace issues but issues affecting society as a whole. We believe that access to legal aid by victims of domestic abuse is an issue for our members and society as a whole."

Tory council removes homeless mother from housing list

THE LONDON Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham last week won a legal ruling supporting its decision to remove a homeless single mother from its housing list on the grounds that since she was in temporary accommodation her situation was no longer urgent.
The Tory-run borough has been trying to trim its 10,000-strong waiting list.
But there is a danger that this ruling could set a precedent that will allow councils to remove homeless people from their lists according to their own judgement and to bar people placed in "long-term suitable temporary accommodation" from bidding for a council or housing association home.
One of those de-listed was a single mother, named in legal papers as R Jakimaviciute, who had been in temporary accommodation for two years and has now lost an attempt to seek a judicial review against the decision.
This flies in the face of many reports on the dangers of leaving children in temporary accommodation, which can have a terrible impact on their health and education.
Charities have found serious problems with some private rented houses used by councils. Lawyers argued that Jakimaviciute's treatment flew in the face of the council's legal obligation to give priority for social housing to certain groups of people including those who need to move on medical grounds, are in overcrowded accommodation or are homeless.
The lawyer for Jakimaviciute said that if the council's application of a clause in the housing act was correct, it gave it carte blanche to remove who it wanted.
Hammersmith and Fulham has been aggressive in its attempts to reduce its housing waiting list, and by excluding a number of groups from bidding for social housing it has cut the list to fewer than 800.

Pathology sell-off sparks strike action ballot
PATHOLOGY staff at three of London's largest NHS hospitals are being balloted for strike action from last Thursday 11th December over the looming transfer threat to Serco-linked private healthcare firm Viapath.
The giant union Unite, Britain’s biggest union, warned that the transfer of more than 700 NHS laboratory staff from Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Kings College hospitals to private firm Viapath on 1st January 2015 is a “patient safety time bomb” that marks the full-scale privatisation of the hospitals’ pathology services.
The ballot of Unite members closes on 22nd December setting the stage for strike action by the end of the month.
Viapath which took over pathology management at the hospitals four years ago has been beset by problems and complaints, including accusations of poor management and bullying. Last year an audit revealed Viapath may have overcharged the hospitals by over £1 million.
Unite is calling for the 1st January transfer of NHS staff to be stopped and for pathology services at all three hospitals be brought back into the NHS with immediate effect.

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