Almost one million families to be hit by Theresa May’s plan to end free school launches, think tank warns

https://players.brightcove.net/624246174001/BJzWBN5uu_default/index.html?videoId=6016935391001

Related video: Nick Clegg slates Theresa May’s ‘callous’ plan to remove free school meals

The Prime Minister has been branded “the lunch snatcher” over plans that the Education Policy Institute claims could cost hard-working families up to £440 a year

Almost one million children from poor backgrounds will lose the right to free school meals if Theresa May pushes through cuts in the Conservative manifesto, an educational think tank has warned.

The Prime Minister announced last week that universal free lunches for infants will be stopped if the Tories win the June 8 general election, with free breakfasts on offer instead.

The move will cost families around £440 a year for each child affected and is thought likely to save around £650 million a year, according to the research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

Jamie Oliver calls May’s plan to drop free school lunches a ‘disgrace’

The EPI found that those losing hot lunches would include 100,000 from families living in relative poverty, and 667,000 from those it defined as coming from “ordinary working families” of the kind that Theresa May has said she wants to help.

Those from the poorest backgrounds will still be entitled to a free midday meal.

EPI executive director Natalie Perera told The Observer: “Around 900,000 children from low-income families will lose their eligibility for free school meals under these proposals. Around two-thirds of those children are from what the Government considers to be ‘ordinary working families’.

“The typical annual cost for an ordinary working family would increase under these proposals to around £440 for each child aged between four and seven.”

Universal free lunches for infants were introduced under the coalition government by Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws, now the EPI’s executive chairman.

The party’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “This just confirms the sleight of hand from the Conservatives – scrapping universal infant school lunches hits some of the most hard-pressed families the hardest. The offer of free breakfasts won’t reach the children who don’t come to breakfast clubs.

“All Theresa May’s talk of helping the ‘just about managing’ will ring hollow as long as this regressive decision remains in place.”

But a Conservative spokesman said: “We don’t think it is right to spend precious resources on subsidising school meals for better-off parents. So instead we will give that money to headteachers, to spend on pupils’ education instead.

“We will make sure all those who need it most still get free lunches – and will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school. So the most disadvantaged children will now get two free school meals a day rather than one.”

When the pledge was announced, Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem education spokeswoman, said: “Margaret Thatcher was know as the ‘milk snatcher’. Theresa May will go down as the ‘lunch snatcher’.”

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original posting

 

Brexit – New Vice-Chair of Tory policy commission warns party over Brexit disunity.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire sits with Mick Clarke, left, chief executive of The Passage, and Brain Ward, right (60), who has been a client of the homeless charity for 19 years as MP Chris Skidmore urged Tory colleagues to return their focus from Brexit to domestic policies. Mr Brokenshire was speaking to volunteers and homeless people at the charity’s base in central London as the government launched a £100 million plan to end rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2027.

A CONSERVATIVE vice-chairman has issued a warning to the party of the dangers of disunity over Brexit.

Chris Skidmore, who was appointed this month by Theresa May to chair the new Conservative Policy Commission, issued the warning as the October deadline approaches for agreement on the UK’s withdrawal deal and a political declaration on the future UK/EU relationship.

Meanwhile, the “facilitated customs arrangement” at the heart of Mrs May’s Chequers plan for Brexit was described as “fanciful” by one trade expert.

The government has claimed that 96 per cent of goods would pay little or no tariff at the border under the FCA scheme.

But Alan Winters, professor of economics at the UK Trade Policy Observatory at Sussex University, told The Times that this figure related to all trade, and the proportion for imports alone would be significantly lower.

“It is weird that they are using the whole of trade for the basis of their calculation when it is clear that it is only imports that will be affected and it has nothing at all to do with exports, ” Prof Winters said.

“The idea that you would know where all finished goods being imported were headed also doesn’t make sense.

“The whole thing when you analyse it is pretty fanciful.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Kingswood MP warned feuding Remain and Leave Tories that the history of the 1990s demonstrated the “futility of members of the same political family prioritising division over our duty to serve the country”.

He said that Conservatives must return their focus to domestic policies such as public services, tax and controlling welfare bills.

And he stressed that delivering on Brexit would not be the key to winning the next election.

“We must recognise the advantages that Brexit can bring, but let us never be defined by it,” he said.

Analysis by consumer analytics company Focaldata of polls involving more than 15,000 people found that 341 out of 632 parliamentary seats in England Scotland and Wales now have a Remain majority.

The company found that 112 seats had switched from Leave to Remain since the 2016 referendum, 97 of them in England, 14 in Wales and one in Scotland.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.

 

UK: Protect free expression online online and reject Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=14UnVwhUm89ZchVzIiRIgb_YlfiAyJLGB

ARTICLE 19 has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, urging them to oppose the proposed Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018. The Bill contains new over-broad offences that would criminalise controversial opinions about terrorist groups without intent to cause harm as well as the viewing of terrorist material. If adopted, it would seriously threaten freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, thought and religion of individuals. It would also set a dangerous precedent for broadening terrorism offences in countries such as Turkey or Russia, potentially putting human rights defenders and dissenters at risk.

ARTICLE 19 is particularly concerned about the following:

Criminalising opinions over actions: clause 1 of the Bill makes it an offence to express an “opinion or belief” that is “supportive” of a terrorist organisation which may recklessly encourage others to support such groups. ARTICLE 19 is very concerned about this provision as it criminalises “supportive” expression by individuals, though they may not intend to encourage support for terrorist groups or cause harm. The term “supportive” is not defined – meaning that it can be interpreted widely, potentially limiting debate where the legitimacy of organisations or merits of their actions are discussed. ARTICLE 19 is particularly worried about the discriminatory impact of the Bill on Muslim communities and that NGOs may get caught in the provision where they defend the rights of alleged members of terrorist organisations.
Criminalising the publication of an image of an item of clothing: clause 2 further criminalises the publication of an image of an item of clothing or other articles that arouse “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is a supporter of a terrorist organisation. The concern here is that young people who take such pictures and post them online as part of a joke could be prosecuted. We are also concerned that similar provisions could be replicated in less democratic countries, leading to human rights activists and reporters being prosecuted when documenting human rights abuses, as is currently happening in Turkey. More generally, ARTICLE 19 notes that taking a picture of oneself with an ISIS flag in the background is not necessarily proof of an intention to cause harm and commit a terrorist offence.
Criminalising the viewing of terrorist material online: The Bill would criminalise the viewing and or streaming of terrorist-related material. Clause 3 of the Bill prohibits individuals from viewing material “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” on three or more occasions and applies whether the person is in control of the material viewed or not. ARTICLE 19 is very worried that this clause will create a chilling effect on those who seek to investigate or conduct research into the ideology of terrorist groups. ARTICLE 19 also believes that the government is misguided in its view that accessing the material three or more times establishes a “pattern of behaviour” rather than spontaneous curiosity, as there may be many reasons for why an individual accesses and views the material multiple times. ARTICLE 19 further believes that individuals should be able to access information about terrorist groups without being perceived as intending to commit a terrorist offence.
Finally, ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the potential increase in the lengths of sentences for a number of existing offences under the Terrorism Act 2000 and Terrorism Act 2006 and their knock-on effect on the new offences outlined in the Bill. In some instances, the term of imprisonment would be increased from 10 to 15 years. In ARTICLE 19’s view, these sentences are too harsh, unnecessary and disproportionate.

If adopted, ARTICLE 19 believes that the Bill would seriously threaten freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, thought and religion. For this reason, we urge the Joint Committee on Human Rights and Public Bill Committee to protect freedom of expression online and reject the Bill’s clauses highlighted above.

Read the full submission.

National security and counter terrorism Europe & Central Asia United Kingdom
Accountability
Governance and funding

With many thanks to: ARTICLE 19 for the original posting.

Proposed Brexit Law if passed would ban paramilitary images being published.

CONTROVERSIAL legislation proposed by the British government will make it ‘illegal’ to publish images linked to the republican movement and loyalism and would be punishable with six months in prison.

The Terrorists were the British not the Irish and I will gladly spend six months in prison at HM expense but England has no control or power’s in Ireland. Ireland belongs to the Irish.

The proposied clampdown is contained in new the counter-terrorism and border security bill which is making its way through Westminster.

The Irish News revealed on Friday how planned legislation will result in the establishment of a mile-wide ‘stop-and-search border zone’. Now it has emerged that the bill also proposes to outlaw clothing and images associated with paramilitary activity. While other legislation, including the Terrorism Act, covers some of this ground, the proposed legislation will go further. There are 14 republican and loyalists organisations proscribed by the British government. Several of the groups, including the main republican and loyalist organisations, are on long-term ceasefire.

The planned legislation says that: “A PERSON commits an offence if the person publishes an image of – (a) an item of clothing, or (b) any other article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. The proposed legislation says “an image is a reference to a still or moving image [produced by any means]”.

This means that anyone who published an image relating deemed to be in support of a paramilitary organisation would be breaking the law. How far this will be enforced is unclear but it is thought it could be applied to flags and other images associated with both republican and loyalists groups.

Human rights groups have voiced concern about the proposed legislation. Deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Daniel Holder said: “The reality is, as it stands, if these laws were in fact applied to the North of Ireland, there would be huge community alienation, street violence would probably erupt and the cause of peace would be put back immeasurably. “So if these counter-terrorism measures are not only useless but counter-productive for the North of Ireland, how are they appropriate for the rest of the UK?”

The CAJ and nationalist politicians have also voiced concern about the prospect of a ‘stop-and-search border zone’. If the bill becomes law any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are engaged in “hostile activity”. SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna last night said the proposals would be a “grotesque assault on border life and on the [Good Friday] agreement of which the UK government is a co-guarantor”. “The UK government appear to neither care nor understand the anxiety they are causing here,” she said.

SDLP MLA Carmel (Claire) Hanna

“At this point in the Brexit negotiations there is very little we could put past this government who seem prepared to sign up to almost anything in the name of Brexit and oblivious to the tension these proposals create.”

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill accused the British government of “duplicity”. “The use of stop and search powers is already a cause of massive concern in nationalist areas and if powers as wide-ranging as these were introduced, it would be disastrous,” she said. “It runs counter to human rights provisions. It runs counter Good Friday Agreement and the principles of the European Common Travel Area. “I will be taking this up directly with both governments because it is clear that, through this legislation, London is preparing for the imposition of a hard border in Ireland.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young and The Irish News for the original story.

Irish News Editorial

Legislation must be scrutinised 

WHILE considerable attention has been focused on the Brexit withdrawal bill, another piece of legislation which could have far-reaching repercussions for the border has been making its way through Westminster largely unnoticed. The counter-terrorism and border security bill contains proposals that, if passed, could have alarming implications for people in the border area of the North of Ireland. Under the terms of the planned legislation, any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are entering or leaving the nort. An ‘examining officer’ may question the person to determine if they are engaged in ‘hostile activity’.

It is not clear if this means police or border force officers will be protrolling the border area, able to stop and question any person they wish without due cause. Obviously this would be viewed with deep concern, particularly at a time when efforts are under way to ensure there is no hard border on this Island following the UK’s departure from the EU in March next year. It is also worrying that this legislation, which contains other broadly-constructed measures that will raise serious concern, has already passed the Committee stage and could come into law before Christmas. These proposals must be subject to careful scrutiny and assessment with political representatives making sure we do not end up with a hard border as a result of Brexit or any other form of legislation.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

Call for two-child limit on benifits

FAMILIES would only be able to claim bbenefits for two children under plans put forward by a member of David Cameron‘s policy board aimed at cutting billions of pounds off the Welfare Bill.

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi wants to limit child benefit and child tax credits to families ‘first two children’ only!!!

The radical proposals set out by Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi would limit child bbenefit and tax credits to families’ first two children. Writing in the Mail on Sundayhe said capping benefits by family size would “save billions and help the next generation think more carefully about their relationship with the welfare state“. A family with three cchildren, with parents earning below £50,000 and so able to claim child benefit in full, would lose out on £696.00 by only being able to claim for two children. The Mail on Sunday Said those earning less than £30,000 will also be denied child tax credits worth £2,725 a year under the plan.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.