Meeting in Stoke on Trent 2 Dec 2016

Our next meeting will take place on Friday 2 December 2016 at Staffordshire University in Stoke on Trent.


Film screening

There will be a special, free screening of The Divide at 7.15pm on Thurs 1 Dec. The screening is in room R001 in the Science Centre on Leek Road:

The Divide tells the story of 7 individuals striving for a better life in the modern day US and UK – where the top 0.1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%. By plotting these tales together, the film uncovers how virtually every aspect of our lives is controlled by one factor: the size of the gap between rich and poor.

If you would like to attend the screening please email Richard Machin before 6pm on 30 Nov so that he can reserve you a space.

You must be a member of NAWRA to attend the meeting. If you are not already a member, find out more about joining.

Brian McGarr

Sad news from Durham Welfare Rights:

Brian McGarr one of our former colleagues has passed away. A lot of people who are new to Welfare Rights won’t know of Brian. It’s probably only the ‘oldies’ who will remember Brian because he wasn’t active in Welfare Rights for many years due to ill health, but he was one of the pioneers of early Welfare Rights.

He started as  a community activist in Glasgow, then as a WRO with Strathclyde Regional Council, ending his working life with Durham Welfare Rights in the late 90’s.

He was a tremendous influence on the many WRO’s who had the pleasure of working directly with him, and those who knew him from attending his always packed workshops at NAWRA. He was a funny, kind, generous man and a brilliant and innovative WRO.

For those of us who worked with Brian at Durham he was the heartbeat of the service, and he set the standards and the level of commitment that we try to live up to today.

NAWRA members pay their respects to one of our early activists. Brian is survived by his son Christopher.

For details of funeral arrangements please contact Scott McInally.

Readers are welcome to post their thoughts and memories of Brian below.

Attendance Allowance consultation

NAWRA has submitted a response to the ‘Self-sufficient local government: 100% business rates retention’ consultation voicing our concern at the proposal that Attendance Allowance would no longer be a cash benefit in England and Wales if responsibility for it transfers from the DWP to each local authority’s social care budget.

Our submission is available here.

Thanks to our North-East representative, Julie Henry (Durham County Council), for drafting it.

Basic Income – the modern form of Social Security

Tying in with a theme of our meeting in Glasgow tomorrow, we are reproducing part of a blog by Dr Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform. (Reproduced with kind permission of the author.)

“Although the idea of Basic Income has been around for at least two and a half thousand years, it is still unfamiliar to most people in modern Britain. However it is an idea whose time has come. Currently only the Green Party is officially championing it, but it will come to dominate debate about what a fair and sensible system of income security should look like; for it is ideally suited to the modern world and it brings with it significant economic advantages.

What is Basic Income? It is the simple idea that we give everyone an adequate income – unconditionally. Every child, every adult, every older person would gets a basic income – not because they’re poor, not because they’ve paid into some scheme, not because they’ve got special needs – just because they are human and human beings need an income in order to survive. Basic Income is the best way to meet our basic human right to exist.

Is Basic Income affordable? Well, like most things in life, the answer is – it depends. But the easiest way to see how affordable it could be is to recognise that we already do provide people with such an income – but in a complex and perverse manner:

  • Children get child benefit
  • Older people get pensions
  • Working age adults get a mixture of benefits, tax credits and tax allowances

So, for instance, if you are paying 25% income tax, after a tax allowance of £10,000, then this is financially equivalent to being given £2,500 and then paying tax on every pound of your earnings. Basic Income is best thought of as the integration, and simplification, of all the current systems of income security into one universal system.

It is this universality which makes it such an essential reform.”

To continue reading the full article, and for suggestions for further reading around this subject, visit Dr Duffy’s Basic Income blog.