Two pledges of national significance in the Haringey Labour Party Manifesto for the May 3rd elections which other local authorities and national government ought to adopt.
They are two pledges of principle giving rise to a third; .
1....build our own housing on out own land.
2....extend council tax relief to 100% for our least well off residents, whilst making council tax and other charges fairer.
3....the health and wellbeing of our residents must run through everything we do.
These pledges are echoed in the pledges of other Haringey parties.
The crunch will come after dust of the hustings has settled. Haringey Council will have to be held to their pledges. The compassionate majority of residents from all parties can make them do it.
LAND. At last UK land is coming to the top of the agenda. House prices and rents have risen out of reach of the incomes of Haringey residents because a pile of national and international cash has been thrown at a finite resource in the UK - at UK land since 1979. We were on the brink of allowing the council tenants to be bundled off council land, which would have fallen to a pile of cash managed from Australia. If that policy had won in Haringey there would soon have been no land left for truly affordable homes refurbished or rebuilt. The Haringey Labour Party has recognised that the lives of 15,000 council tenants or leaseholders are at stake - we will all have to work to hold the new council to the policy "...build our own housing on our own land".
COUNCIL TAX. In 2014 the Supreme Court agreed that Haringey had broken the laws in the 2012 council tax consultation in Moseley v Haringey saying " Those whom Haringey was primarily consulting were the most economically disadvantaged of its residents. Their income was already at a basic level and the effect of Haringey’s proposed scheme would be to reduce it even below that level and thus in all likelihood to cause real hardship, while sparing its more prosperous residents from making any contribution to the shortfall in government funding". Local authorities taxing benefit incomes that have been shredded by national government are causing real hardship. They taking late and non payers to court and send in the bailiffs while adding court costs and bailiffs fees to the unmanageable council tax a arrears. That is clearly unjust. The Haringey Labour Party is to be congratulated for committing itself to "... extend council tax relief to 100% for our least well off residents, whilst making council tax and other charges fairer". The new council must be held to it.
At no time did Haringey Council consider the impact on the health of council tenants of the demolition of their homes, the enforcement of council tax against benefit incomes shredded by national government or ever increasing rents enforced against stagnant low incomes. Debt and low income are known to damage health.
TAP commented in the Ham & High that the Health and Wellbeing Board seems to have been asleep. These sentences in the Labour Manifesto are therefore very welcome.
"Preventing illness is always better than curing it, hence improving the health and wellbeing of our residents must run through everything we do. Better and closer integration between council adult social care and the NHS will save money and improve lives. We will increase the role of our Health and Wellbeing Board and consider widening it to give service users, carers and voluntary groups a seat at the table."
However there is limited scope at local authority level to improve the health of low income residents under the present national benefit regime. Both London Councils and City Hall need to turn their fire in Westminster once they are past May 3rd.
Central government must learn that the prevention of illness is worth every penny of our money it spends on an adequate and fair benefit system. Of course unemployed people should look for work but starving them means they are unfit for work and the economy is unfit for the world.