Mayoral leads reflect on 2018 (part four)

In the fourth and final of our series of blogs, our Mayoral leads reflect on 2018 and look ahead to 2019

Councillor Jane Corbett –  Assistant Mayor for Fairness and Tackling Poverty

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”

Under the banner ‘Come2gether for a fairer future’ a network of partners working together across our City have drawn up a report we’ve called ‘Universal Credit, Unintended Consequences’. The document is about making hope possible, together, alongside the many thousands of our Liverpool people suffering real hardship due to the unintended consequences of welfare reform; and the thousands more that will suffer from the roll out of Universal Credit in its present form.

Many of the stated aims of Universal Credit are commendable – to make the claiming of benefits more straightforward and to provide greater support to those moving into work, in low paid and in precarious work. However, the implementation is showing us something very different. There is mounting evidence, including our own Liverpool research, that shows the actual effect is the reverse of what was intended; Universal Credit is harming the very people it was designed to support. It is forcing households into debt, causing severe poverty including to those in work, leaving too many people, including children, facing food insecurity, destitution and eviction.

Many of the people needing to claim welfare are in work on very low incomes, are unable to work, or have very young children, are sick, are disabled or are caring for a relative. Our own ‘Welfare Reform Cumulative Impact Analysis’ shows that the groups most adversely affected by the Government’s raft of over 20 ‘welfare reforms’ are made up of those who are long-term sick and disabled, families with children, women, young adults and our people in the 40-59 age group who live in social housing.

At its most counter-intuitive, the welfare reforms rolled out from 2010 onwards have had a direct negative impact on working households with many suffering a shortfall in Housing Benefit, Housing Allowance and a reduction and removal of many other benefits, all set against the backdrop of ever increasing living costs.

So why do we even use the word ‘unintentional’ so in the report? Because we must believe Government made the welfare reforms in good faith; that the ‘learn’ part of the ‘test and learn’ roll out of Universal Credit will lead to it now being ‘paused’, reviewed and fixed. Because who would deliberately perpetuate a system that has been proven to discriminate against our people who are sick or disabled, that takes financial support away our children, that attacks our low income households with a barrage of reductions to in-work benefits and support under the premise of ‘making work pay’?

So, we choose to believe that human nature is intrinsically good and that genuine mistakes can be rectified. We choose to believe that the damage being caused is unintentional.

The report shares thoughts from a cross section of some of the leading members of our civic life. They may have different life experiences, different political allegiances, but they all have one thing in common; that it’s time to call a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit. Why? Because the Government must take stock, they must learn from their mistakes, from the unintended consequences, and they must listen to the voices of those most affected.

A young child, Jack, wrote to me, knowing I was the Liverpool Councillor for Fairness and Tackling Poverty, and said: ‘Listen to me. You are grown-ups. This is bad. You are being bad unless you do somefink (sic) about it’.

I hope that by the time you read this blog the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has pressed the stop button on Universal Credit and has agreed to fix it….however, I doubt it, sadly.

But there must be hope for young Jack, and for the other thousands of Jacks across our great City. We are a City that has a proud tradition of standing up to fairness and for justice, and we will continue to do so into 2019 and beyond.

Councillor Ian Francis – Mayoral Lead for Veterans and Armed Forces

The month of November is always a solemn time for remembrance but this year in particular has been special. Why this year, you may ask. This year is special as it is the anniversary of the end of the First World War; they said at the time that it was the war to end all wars.

We know that wasn’t true as just 21 years later came the Second World War and all the wars and conflicts that have followed, during the first world war almost 17 million were killed, almost 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel and if you count the millions that were wounded the figure is estimated to be around 37 million, and earnt itself as one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of the human race.

That is why this year’s Remembrance commemorations were special as it was 100 years since the end of World War One, on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that the Bells started ringing to say that the war was over.

But we don’t just remember those that fell during the First World War but all those that have fell in wars and conflicts since and to the present day.

So what was happening this month that I attended? The first event was on the 7th when there was a service of remembrance by the Duke of Lancaster regiment at St Nicks followed by a march by the regiment to the Town Hall and an Inspection by the Lord Lieutenant, High Sherriff and Our Very own Lord Mayor, they were also accompanied by the Duke of Lancaster Regimental Band, which always are spectacular to watch, the service went well, and no wrong moves during the march and inspection. Lots of the public came to watch and to support the Regiment march through the city.

The next event that I attended on the 8th was again at St Nicks the very next day, and this was the Merseyside Police remembrance service – again a very solemn and fitting service as over 150 police personnel never made it back home from the front line in World War One.

Event number three on the 9th was the Lancashire festival of remembrance which was held at the Preston Guild hall, there was a welcome reception at the Museum beforehand. The Festival was excellent as it showed off all three services as well as the Cadets and the skills that they have whether that be through drill, exercise or music it was all there to enjoy and remember those that have fallen.

Event number four on the 10th was again a musical spectacular, and I must say that it was so powerful, which was Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (pictured right), which was performed in the Anglican Cathedral by not one orchestra but 2, and 2 choirs and 3 solo singers from Liverpool and Hannover in Germany, this was an outstanding evening, the music was just fantastic and so powerful, everybody was fixed with pure delight by the performance of everyone, and a special mention to the conductor Andrew Manze.

Event number five on Sunday 11th saw our own City of Liverpool remember those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we as a nation can live free. Liverpool has the biggest remembrance service outside of London and there are well over 10,000 people who regularly attend, this year saw reading from Roger Philips and Sue Johnston, all of the armed services are represented as well as the cadets and all the uniformed emergency services and Veterans whom have served in the armed forces over the years, at 11 o’clock when the last post is finished and the start of the 2 minutes silence and there is that respect from this city for those 2 minutes, then comes the reveille and the Guns from 103 Artillery Regiment Blast into the air and the poppies start falling from the sky, it is such an honour to be from this city. The end of the service is always marked by the reading of the Kohima Epitaph:

‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’

Then the march off with the band leading the way for all the Armed Forces representations. What a Day.

Now you might think that the 11th was my last event, but you would be wrong. My last event of the remembrance events was on the 26th and that represented when the guns fell silent throughout the world. The event was quite different for me, as it was held in The Jewish Orthodox Synagogue on Princes Road. The event was entitled ‘British Jews in the First World War’, this was different for me as I had to wear a Kippah, which was for me quite embarrassing as it kept falling off when I moved my head, but I kept my head still as much as I could, and enjoyed the remembrance service in English and Hebrew, and learnt of many local Jewish people had given their service and fought in the First World War.

All throughout the services and events that I attended to mark this special year of remembrance I saw life size cut outs of ‘Tommie’s’, they were at every event on the seats next to me or standing up guarding a doorway, these were a national memorial artwork called ‘There But Not There’, there are thousands all over the country and the campaign was launched to raise £15 million for Veterans Charities.

At the end of every event that I attended an excerpt was read from the Poem called For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon – The Great War 1914 – 1918

‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.’

Liverpool Waterfront