By Charlie Mower / Justice / / 0 Comments

On 18th February, the Conservative-dominated Kent County Council voted down a proposal which would have given £1.4million to youth services. This is just one example in a long-line of instances which shows that the Conservative Party are letting down young people. Though Sean Holden, the Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Development, has argued that “It’s not the worst time it’s ever been and we are not a heartless county council that’s just going to abandon these people’, the evidence shows quite the opposite.

Nationally, between 2012-2016, 600 youth centres were closed down, 3,500 youth workers lost their jobs and 40,000 places in youth centres for young people were cut. These shocking figures show the level of contempt which Tories hold towards young people, but for the ageing councillors, youth services are a far-cry from what they, themselves, would need. In a survey of youth worker UNISON members, 88% felt that the cuts to youth services were causing higher youth unemployment and 84% considered it to have led to an increase in crime. But, for the Conservative councillors, the consistent blindness towards issues facing young people continues.

The failure to invest in youth services, the Tories may claim, is necessitated by the fact that local government funding has been decimated by central government. The great irony, however, is that it is their own Party that has done this to them, but it is the rest of us that feels the effects. The next Labour government will ring-fence funding for youth services, ensuring that this vital service is protected from any future cuts and will develop local strategies to re-invest and develop the work done by youth workers and centres.

Councillor Sean Holden, and the rest of his Conservative colleagues, may not need youth services themselves – but young people do and the effects of not having them are hugely detrimental to communities. Matthew Scott, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, has noted that vulnerable young people across Kent are being targeted by gangs from the London boroughs. It is therefore incredibly disappointing that his own Party on Kent County Council have chosen to make those young people more vulnerable by increasing the chances of them being exploited.

In a week whereby residents have been complaining online about the anti social behaviour of young people during half term, lets remember the important role that youth services play.  Let’s continue our fight to bring back youth services, invest in schools and build proper housing so that future generations of young people won’t be let down like the ones before them.


By Chris Cornell / Justice / 0 Comments

This week there was a huge debate about whether Jeremy Corbyn muttered “stupid woman” or “stupid people” under his breath during the heated, final Prime Minister’s Questions of 2018. I have no intention of giving that debate any more airtime when the real issue is that your government does not care for people’s suffering, particularly women’s.

It is disgusting that you have sought to make political capital out of this issue. Yesterday you emailed your constituents, calling out the Labour leader as misogynistic and asking them to join the Conservative party instead. Weaponising feminism in this way is deeply bizarre given the current political landscape.

Last month Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, gave an extraordinary report on your government’s austerity policies. He concluded that they have inflicted “great misery” on the 14 million people living in poverty in the UK. He also damned the British welfare system as “so sexist it may as well have been compiled by a group of misogynists in a room.”

How has this government inflicted systematic misogyny on the women of this country? After nearly a decade of austerity it is clear that women are disproportionately shouldering the burden of these policies. This is born out by research carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Women’s Budget Group and the Runnymede Trust demonstrating that women, particularly BAME women, are disproportionately affected by cuts to public services and other spending.

What does this burden look like Helen? It looks like this:

To seek to create political capital over the events of this week when your government has enacted policies that amount to nearly a decade of systematic misogyny is an act of gross hypocrisy. If you actually care about seeing an end to misogyny then please, clean your own house first, women’s lives depend on it.

By Chris Cornell / HousingJustice / / 0 Comments

Two years after the government made coercieve or controlling behaviour a criminal offence, over 50 members of the Labour Party in Kent have signed an open letter calling on the government to reverse their planned housing benefit cap for domestic violence refuges.

Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. The letter notes that “if Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit – the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.”

In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given. However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator.

If these reforms proceed, Labour is concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence.

The letter was signed Councillor Alan Baldock, Leader of the Labour Group on Canterbury City Council alongside Labour leaders in Dartford, Medway, Thanet and Medway.  Elected Labour representatives from North Thanet, South Thanet, Maidstone & Weald, Faversham & Swale, Rochester & Strood, Gillingham & Rainham, Chatham & Aylesford, Dover & Deal have also made a stand.

The letter asks that the government “reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.”

Signing the letter on behalf of Canterbury Labour Party were Helen Bintley and Mel Dawkins who serve on the Executive as Women’s Officers. In lending their support they said ‘we support this letter and hope those in power consider the effects that these cuts will have on the lives of women and children in Kent; it’s about time the government starts listening to the true stories and how it effects these people on a daily basis.”