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Day School, 4th November, 2017, 10am to 4pm

St Cuthbert's Parish Centre

Berwick upon Tweed

Do we still have a welfare state?


Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite

Kayleigh joined the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology at the University of Birmingham in September 2017 as a Birmingham Fellow. Her research interests focus on poverty and inequality, welfare reform, and austerity, with a specific focus on stigma. Kayleigh's ethnographic research in a Trussell Trust foodbank - 'Hunger Pains: life inside foodbank Britain' - was published by Policy Press in June 2016. Kayleigh launched the book in Parliament and continues to try and reach policy and practice with the research findings. The book recently won the 2017 British Academy Peter Townsend Prize.


Pam Vassie: Pam worked for Reading and Wokingham Citizens Advice Court Service prior to moving to Berwick. Pam is a former volunteer with Berwick CAB and worked as a General Advisor for 12 years. Pam has a thorough knowledge of local benefit issues and is a regular speaker at our events.

Report, Rose Kay:

10.30 am Pam Vassie.

Pam started by handing out details of a case study of a claimant with a problem. He was on sick pay at his job in Berwick but eventually after many hospital tests was diagnosed with MS. Before this he was receiving sick pay of £89 weekly. He had no existing debts whilst working but after stopping work he accrued some rent arrears.  He was able to claim full Council tax support and Local Housing Allowance and also Employment and Support Allowance.  After his essential outgoings which are listed on the hand-outs he is left with only £10.20 per week for food, toiletries, cleaning materials, clothes, fares and sundries. He would prefer to find a flat from social housing instead of his private landlord but he has no hope of getting this after clocking up rent arrears. Homelessness looms.

Pam says there is some homelessness prevention money which is discretionary to local councils but obviously money is tight.

If a claimant has claims of benefits rejected their only recourse is reconsideration and it transpires that 80% of such claimants are going to have their claims rejected. This leaves the right to appeal to a tribunal but representation is hard to find.

People with debt do need personal help and support which saves money in the long run. The government is introducing Universal Credit under which only the first two children in a family are eligible for benefit support. Pam asks – what if the third child has a disability? Then the family will receive a disability element but not the basic child element for that child. The changes are draconian and all about cutting the Benefits bill without regard for need.

Pam then talks about the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which has replaced Disability Living Allowance and in the process has drastically reduced the number of people who are eligible. There are strict criteria to be followed concerning the distance in metres that a person can walk which has been cut. 50,000 people have lost their Motability cars. This leaves many people isolated and unable to get to work.

There are many appliances on the market to help people stay in their own homes: For instance, grab rails, special toilet seats and raised shower seats etc but applicants have quite embarrassing questions to answer about their personal needs. E.g. do they need help in washing below the waist and why. People who use aids and appliances can score points for this on their PIP assessment.

People with epilepsy and mental health issues are particularly affected by the new rules and regulations because they cannot guarantee to get to an interview or meet time deadlines. Fits can be debilitating for days or weeks. Mental health issues are hard to diagnose.

Pam reports that the new rule on support for only 2 children is to be challenged in court. Also, there are postcode anomalies.  In Berwick TD15 is used on both sides of the Border and Scottish payments of Universal Credit differ from English. Benefit can be paid fortnightly not monthly for instance.

Pam has managed to show her findings to Anne-Marie Trevelyan in person after booking an appointment 4-6 weeks ahead. Trevelyan seemed completely out of touch and showed no interest in the evidence of severe hardship in certain cases.

As far as large families are concerned Pam insists they are much rarer than the press would have you believe. If one compares the carbon imprint of a wealthy number six child with a deprived number six one the wealthy one has more air-miles etc etc.

On the subject of landlords, Pam confirms that private landlords can evict tenants after the end of the fixed term (mandatory minimum 6 months) for no particular reason.  Social tenants can also face eviction but the landlord will usually have to provide grounds for this.

The government is not doing enough about the housing shortage and many builders are wriggling out of their obligations to build a percentage of social housing – there are loopholes.

It seems that claiming benefits is deliberately demoralizing. We all benefit from the Welfare State, especially pensioners.  Poverty is not a disease but it is “sair”.


Coffee break.


Personal Independence Payment: Applicants are given a 40 page application form with a time limit of 5 weeks to return it. Much of it involves ticking boxes but there are spaces to describe their condition in more detail. It is essential to fill these in. Ticking the boxes is not enough. After submission a medical assessment is made in person. The assessor is from a private company and may be a nurse or a doctor or other medical professional. However, if the applicant has a medical problem the interviewer will not be a specialist of their condition. The applicant is watched carefully as they go along the corridor and also back from the interview to see how mobile they really are. If a heavy bag is carried that is suspicious and if they can hang up their coat themselves it is another black mark.


Speaker: Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham).

She has spent 4½ years studying poverty in Stockton-on-Tees. There was funding to do this and she compared the affluent area of Hartburn with a deprived area around the town centre just 2.3 miles distant.  The life expectancy of males is 17.3. years less and 11.4 less for females in the deprived area. Durham and Tees Valley is the third poorest region in N. Europe. Surprisingly Stockton is running for the U.K. city of culture in 2025. It has many amenities and is rated as the 6th best place to live based on crime rates, health and home ownership.

Kayleigh did voluntary work for the C.A.B, attended yoga classes and helped at a food bank. She interviewed 125 people during her stay.

She noticed a huge gap in wealth with the Hartburn residents using out of town shopping (Teeside Park) rather than town centre shops. Some of the worst housing has been demolished but as yet has not had the promised rebuilding. The centre is almost a ghetto area with little mixing between rich and poor.

Some of her recorded conversations were shown on the screen. One lady observed that people did not seem happy and many were obese.

Kayleigh said that the poorest housing was overcrowded with up to 16 to a house. Cockroaches were rife. Needles are seen in the park – not a safe place for children to play. Other people are judgemental saying that many people are drunk or on drugs.




Speaker: Millie from Northern Soul Kitchen.

Millie is a trained nutritionist. She is planning to have a café in West Street (former TV shop) using 90% unsold food waste and asking people to pay what they can for their meals.

So far she has pledges from the Green Shop, Fords and some supermarkets: Tesco and M&S with some funding from Simpson’s Malt promised. Cost and Café Nero are happy about the scheme. 

The premises have not been used for three years but she has volunteers to help its restoration. She plans to run workshops and encourage families with children having learning difficulties to join. She hopes it will become a community hub and a community effort.  She is still awaiting planning permission and hopes to open in the Spring.


13.45 Speaker Kayleigh; “Hunger Pains: life inside foodbank Britain”

This is the title of her book which won the prestigious British Academy Peter Townsend Award on October 2nd 2017. Kayleigh goes on to describe how she researched the book over a four year period in Stockton-on-Tees.

Kayleigh described how the Trussell Trust Food Bank is now providing 3-day emergency food supplies for 1.2million families. In the last few years despite a Parliamentary Group warning about children being hungry many voters have not believed that claims on food banks are genuine. There is still an atmosphere of stigma and shame for the people who use food banks. Their use has increased steadily since 2009.

The government believes that getting employment is the only answer. However, reasons for need are complex. Many jobs are low paid or precarious, with zero hour contracts.  The Trussell Trust has 427 foodbanks and 40,000 volunteers. Claimants need a red voucher for each claim. 90% of the food is donated by the public with other donations from shops. Volunteers store the food and pack the bags.  The red vouchers can only be obtained from the C.A.B. or G.P or Probation Officer, Housing Officer etc.

Only three vouchers will be issued to each claimant. The bags contain cereals, tins, pasta sauces, biscuits, toiletries etc, (nothing perishable) though eggs can be an exception.

People are signposted towards receiving cookery classes. Job Centres only refer 2% people to food banks.

Michael Gove criticized users for not managing their finances correctly perhaps prioritizing alcohol or drugs or cigarettes.

Kayleigh researched on why people were there and sometimes interviewed people in their homes or at referral agencies.

We are shown the contents of a typical food parcel which did not contain luxuries. The vouchers are red to avoid photo-copying. The Food Banks themselves are made welcoming with seats and tables and tea and toast provided so that claimants can have relaxed chats. The volunteers are mainly churchgoers and retirees.

There are quite strict rules and regulations about issuing the food bags so as not to be exploited.

Her book explains that most claimants have ill-health or mental issues.  Recently many have had benefit sanctions. Instances include:

  • One person missed their benefit interview because their mother had to be taken for her chemotherapy.
  • Another missed their appointment because of a family funeral when family members were killed in a car crash..

Questions included ‘How much warning is given for an appointment about benefits”

I could not hear the answer to this but I did hear that 25% of people in work are claimants so it is not just unemployed people suffering.

Kayleigh has reckoned that the volunteers perform 4.1 million hours annually.

She also stresses that the government should listen to people in poverty.

We hear a bit more about the way in which Kayleigh tried to integrate into the local community by joining in activities such as swimming and yoga and we were encouraged to buy her book from the book-stall at the back of the hall manned by Willie Black who had come down at short notice from Edinburgh(sfbbooks.wordpress.com) .


Lunch provided by the Northern Soul Kitchen


Book-stall by Sfb Books



Previous day schools on welfare are listed below.

Day School 2015

Challenging Myths About Benefits



                                                        Berwick's People Assembly

- the attack on the working class and what to do about it -

Saturday 2nd November, 2013, Cuthbert’s Hall, Berwick,

10am - 4pm


Youth Unemployment

Re-claim our NHS

Axe the Bedroom Tax

Local Transportation & Renationalisation

10.20 am. Tony Dowling Chair North East Peoples’ Assembly

Tony welcomes the audience of around thirty five saying that People’s Assemblies in the N.E. are growing in number.  It is important to offer hope. We need to fight back because we are angry. The latest taxes are affecting the poor and vulnerable. The government uses every trick to alienate us branding the needy as frauds and skivers. It is a fact that disabled people are hit much harder by the austerity measures. Yet £1.3 T has gone to the banks and senior management is still getting huge bonuses.  BhS, Topshop, Boots all use legal ploys for tax evasion using offshore bases.  5 million people are on zero contracts e.g. at Macdonalds, Burger King etc. We need unity and resistance to stop the government undermining the NHS and Welfare State.

Tony suggests that there is a way of organizing society and that we must join up with other Trades Unions and Societies to bring about social change. This requires demos and may need strike action

10.40 Matthew Giles on Youth Unemployment.
Matthew is aged 22 and graduated in Media Studies in 2012. He begins by showing a sample of his documentary work which should have been seen on the large screen but due to technical problems we had to see it on his laptop which did not do it justice.  He then explained that he aspired to go to the best university, Bournemouth to study but financial constraints meant that he lived at home in Sunderland and followed a course there.
As a student he supported the Lib Dems especially when Clegg promised to abolish tuition fees but he was sadly disillusioned. In 2010 a coachload of students joined the protest in London but the fees were tripled from the £3000 he had paid.
Matthew admits that he has tried in vain to get work although he did regularly go to the Job Seekers and accepted the work programmes on offer which were basically call centres on commission. He quotes that there are 958,000 unemployed young people under 26 and that the vacancies that are available at any one time are mostly concentrated around London. In addition the government is trying to get 600,000 disabled people back to work.  The reasons why unemployment seems to be going down is due mainly to voluntary redundancies. People are often put on the scrapheap. The government is only concerned with statistics. Many people are over qualified for the jobs that they do get.

Matthew thinks that many employers do not get past the first few CVs at the top of the pile. Employers also want people with experience but even volunteering is oversubscribed.  Matthew recognises too late that Apprenticeships are more valuable to get a job and wishes he had known that at school. He now has a debt of £10,000 after his degree and this is increasing annually due to interest accrued.  In future students will leave with debts of £27,000 and £700 interest accrued annually. This policy is likely to ruin thousands of lives and people are going to be priced out of education.   We need to fight back.

11.45 – 12.30 Craig Johnston RMT Relief Regional Organiser
North Local transport and rail re-nationalisation.

• Craig comments that we have not had decent apprenticeships since Thatcher attacked U.K. industry
• Both the young and elderly will die due to the new energy policy.
• He stresses that we cannot leave basic utilities in the hands of international capitalists.
•  He recently read about the return of rickets which shows how little has been done to curb inequality. ATOS is hammering people. Remploy has closed. There is a CLASS WAR.
• The present government is pushing privatization at full throttle. Only last week a multi millionaire yacht owner held the country to ransom over the possible closure of Grangemouth.  Instead of giving in we should have nationalized it.  The capitalists won. 

• It is rumoured that soon we shall be charged £20 to see a doctor. This is the beginning of the end of NHS.  It betrays the fact that we all pay for the NHS.

• Changes in Employment Law has led to increasing numbers of unfair dismissals (not just affecting the RMT). The govt. has introduced charges for tribunals (£250 to get registered and then £950 to have the tribunal). Spurious reasons are given by employers to dismiss employees.

We need to lobby all the parliamentary candidates to repeal these charges. Legal service Trade unions are being viciously attacked. Majority of cases are lost.
When reading sub-contracts most people need a solicitor to understand the implications.

• Railways are going from bad to worse. Last week during the gales they closed down altogether for many hours. Unprecedented. This was because Network Rail had cut back maintenance so that the banks where the trees grow and all the infrastructures were ignored. There are not enough staff to clear the fallen trees. This is a ridiculous way to run a railway. Since privatization franchises collapsed and subsidies increased 3 and 4 fold.
• Craig travelled today from Carlisle in carriages that were nearly 30 years old and not fit for purpose.  The network needs better infrastructure and better regional representation.
• East Coast gives back more into the exchequer than the West Coast which is privatized.The West Coast franchise was bungled with Branson challenging and causing mayhem. We have unbelievable fare costs and high subsidies that are possibly the highest in Europe.
• Craig takes the case of the cleaners on the Tyne Wear Metro who went on strike for three weeks. The Metro is operated by German State Railways after it was privatized by the Labour Government. The cleaners have no pension provisions and their meal breaks were scrapped after they got a pay award.  Since the conflict the numbers of union members has increased from 6 to 60.  The pay award followed the predictable progress:
1. Ignored
2. Laughed at
3. Fought
4. Members won after 33 days of strike action. They got a 5% pay rise over the next 5 years. Also awarded time and a half on Sundays and pay would be back dated. 
There is no alternative but to fight.

13.45 -14.45 Alan Wylie of No2Bedroom Tax Campaign.
Axe the Bedroom Tax.

Alan from Paisley  states that the poor have been hammered by the government. The Bedroom Tax has drawn opponents to shout outside conferences for as long as four days.  He says it is a Housing Benefit Cut not a tax.  400,000 disabled people are affected. There are just not enough 1-bedroomed houses available. There is an urgent need to build social housing.  The policy does not make economic sense and has lost revenue of £1.8million. On-line it is described as a vicious, repulsive, iniquitous policy and he says that ATOS is shameless.  Anger is justified and it need a mass response. Say NO to eejits in control.

In the discussion the point is made that an extra bedroom provides a space for a schoolchild to study. Another point is that a house is more than a house – it is a home. Anecdotal evidence is given of a pensioner who was in a 2-bedroomed house and moved to a 1-bed-roomed house which cost more because 1-bedroomed houses are in short supply.

15.00 -16.00. Jan Shortt: Reclaim our NHS.
Jan begins her talk by discussing pensions, allegedly the lowest in Europe. She is a member of the National Pensioners Convention to which trade unions can be affiliated (£25 for a group such as our Trades Council.).  This means that a delegate from the group can be sent to the national conference held in Blackpool but in addition anyone who is interested can attend. 
She goes on to explain that admin costs to the group are small e.g. a volunteer General Secretary whose travel expenses are paid. Most of the office work is done part time by volunteers.  There will be an Action Day on Feb 1st 2014.
Friends of the group pay £1 annually.

NHS is under threat – going private by the minute.  Jan pleads that we write to our MPs and join campaigns about fuel poverty.  Remember that women have suffered most from low pensions because many didn’t work or were carers.  Changes to pensions include a rise to £146 per week but will have to contribute for 35 years for this. Despite this increase  the poverty level is estimated to become £178 per week in a few years. We must try to negotiate an increase in state pensions to this threshold. She predicts that occupational pensions will disappear due to bad handling.
Next she tackles the NHS.

• NHS has  been significantly under-funded.
• Money has to be clawed back by “efficiency savings”
• Interest on loans is spiralling
• Hospitals are struggling
• Private companies are using the NHS logo to front their activities.
• There are attempts to replace nurses with less qualified staff and doctors by technicians.
• Drug companies have vested interests.
• Patients’ interest is secondary to cost of treatment.
• No accountability when things go wrong.
• GPs lack expertise to manage money so they pay private companies and the NHS is further commercialized.

Jan refers back to basic problems. Since the Welfare State was conceived we are all living too long. Pensioners also get freebies like bus passes, concessions, winter fuel allowance etc.  The govt does not take into account the amount that pensioners save the country in unpaid volunteering and family child care etc.
She compares our situation to that in US where health insurance of £62 per week is needed and on top of that it costs $100 to see a doctor and costs $200 per day in hospital. Many Americans are in deep debt.

She recommends a book by Dr. Jackie Davies on the NHS.

The big question is “Are we In or Out of the EU Free Trade Agreement” It is certain that the NHS will be unsustainable in 5 -20 years. Our present govt wants privatization to be pushed through before the next election.  If the EU agreement  is signed they are beyond the law and the change will be irreversible.  They are sidelining any democratic process.  NHS will become a dream not a legacy. 
She begs us to write to the Minister of Health and the Shadow Minister of Health. Cameron, Miliband and our MEP. We must state that our NHS is NOT for sale and must be fully exempt from the EU agreement.  Please give feedback to the NPC.

Berwick People's Assembly is ongoing - please add remarks and suggestions via Gusetbook and Feedback pages.

Visit us on Facebook -  berwickpeoplesassembly

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Day School 2012

The State of Berwick from Poor Law to the Present

------- Day School, Saturday 13th October, 2012 ------

St. Cuthbert’s Hall, Berwick

How to Defend Social Welfare

10.30 -11.30. Chris Green.
“Berwick’s economic and industrial history”

Around 1801 Berwick was famous for its  Grain industry- mostly barley but there were numerous other smaller industries. These included clay pipes, snuff, carpets, textiles, kippers, Prussian Blue dye at the Spittal Point factory, rope making and of course the salmon fishing.  It was a fairly prosperous town in fact a Boom Town during the Napoleonic Wars.  The Berwick Smacks devised a means of transporting live salmon to London and millions of hens eggs were transported on specially constructed crates and the egg albumen was used to refine sugar.  21 Berwick Smacks operated at the height of the trade.  Some fine buildings were built in Georgian times but later slums were allowed to develop with overcrowded conditions. 

The town itself was heavily under the Guilds influence established in 1604 and the members dominated the commerce and received rates from tenants that used the land or shops. The system still exists today with Freemen rights handed down from father to son. Freemen neglected to invest this money in further improvements and the town became quite squalid with butchers using Church Street to slaughter their animals and the resulting entrails and blood were allowed to decay and cause a terrible stench.  There were contentions about cobbling streets and paving with cases going to court. The Guild members ran up enormous debts in courts cases within the time of the 19th century.


During the Industrial Revolution there were lime kilns along the coast south of Spittal. Seahouse was built for the Carr Family who owned the clifftop at Scremerston. By the 1820’s coalpits proliferated.  There were also quarries, claypits and saltpans around Scremerston.

A workhouse was established in Berwick and rebuilt in 1802. The inmates were forced to wear blue uniforms after they had been stripped bathed and de-loused. They worked picking oakum for rope making and were fed very basic food such as porridge, potatoes and bread. It was not a soft option.

The painter, Thomas Sword did a few realistic contemporary paintings and these give a hint of the drunkenness, disease and smuggling that went on in the mid 19th century.  Walkergate was notorious for debauchery and lewdness and there were 180 unlicensed whisky shops in Berwick.

Chris told us more about the fishing industry which was badly affected by pollution from the textile industries in the Borders as well as human waste. Hundreds of thousands of salmon were caught annually before the pollution took hold.  Everyone put their untreated waste into the river Tweed in those days and the Salmon Company took action. They chose to target the fishermen and restricted the fishing considerably. In 1857 the company  brought in hired thugs from Newcastle to act as water bailiffs and there were frequent violent confrontations. In 1872 a gun boat opened fire on a fishing boat.  The pollution was not cured until 1951. The herring industry also suffered a decline  by about 1900 and paintings and photos give records of the masts of dozens of ships at Berwick Quayside. There was a brief spell of ship building in Tweedmouth Docks too.

Chris did not touch on the history of Berwick as a garrison town as time did not permit.      

11.45 -12.30: Chris Green
‘Historical background to our welfare reforms.”

Chris cleverly used many sources of photos, cartoons, paintings and museum reconstructions from Ripon Workhouse Museum to illustrate his points.   He then moved on to the Beveridge Report which was worked upon during the Second World War and finally brought Social Welfare to become the National Health Service in the post war Attlee years. He used contemporary cartoons to show the mood of the country as well as photos of political figures including Lloyd George, Churchill, Nye Bevin and Ernest Bevan. 

12.30 we finished for a delicious buffet provided by Moira.            

1.30 – 2.45.  Pam Vassie:
“Housing Benefits: how did we get to where we are? Where we ought to be going.”

Pam explained about the housing crisis caused by the industrial revolution when people flocked to urban areas and disease spread much more quickly. In Berwick in 1895 was the first slum clearances and at least half of the dispossessed were rehoused.  The Great Depression in the twenties caused further suffering. A new estate: Highfields was built on the north side of the town in the 1930’s and the inhabitants were nicknamed Abyssinians because of the war there at the time. In the usual short sighted way no shops or amenities were provided at the time.  338 families moved out there. Nationally 4 million social houses were built before the war.  After the war the new Labour Government had a ten year plan to build mixed communities. Slum clearance continued and villages declined.  By the 1980’s Thatcher introduced the ‘Right to Buy’at discount and councils were actively discouraged from investing in new housing.  Residents of council houses only had a token representation on housing boards.  This led to more private lending and exploitation by landlords.  Pam states that tenants get more security of tenure from housing associations than from private landlords.  It is very difficult for a tenant to force a landlord to carry out essential maintenance when their tenure might be at risk.

According to Halifax Berwick has the lowest average wages in the country.  Help is available for instance Council Tax relief.  But this will be cut by 10% in 2013. Housing Benefit (Local Housing allowance) depends on the type of property. It used to be paid directly to the landlord but now is paid to the tenant. This leads to more problems.  Pam says that one bedroomed property is almost unobtainable and there are complex rules about gender and age of the family. Disabled children are not exempt from these rules. E.g. children under ten must share a bedroom regardless of gender. Benefits are cut if a bedroom is unoccupied. 

Housing Benefit is £65 weekly and if anyone becomes homeless they are eligible for help but if intentionally homeless there can be problems.  Temporary accommodation can be provided if five tests are passed.  Squatting is now a criminal offence.  £10 billion is supposed to be removed from benefits.

The cuts in Child benefits will provide much of these savings.  According to the government poverty is a lifestyle choice. Some low paid people could lose £75 per …?  Only 70% compared to 80% of childcare costs will be met in the Working Tax Credit.  In Berwick this affects women directly. Child Benefits will be frozen. At present it is £25.30 for the first child and £13.40 for the second.
The government is targeting benefit fraud even though only a tiny 0.7% of the cases are proven.  Many cases were actually due to errors.  As many as half a million people have been sanctioned and this means their benefits are suspended from 1 to 26 weeks.

People on Sickness Benefits are another target.  The firm ATOS interviews all recipients and they are awarded points which qualify them to receive Employment Support Allowance.  About 40% of these people have mental health problems and are driven to suicide by the draconian system.  Also many disabled people are told they are fit for work when they obviously are not.  Many appeal successfully but soon legal aid support is to be withdrawn so this will make it an impossible option.

People now have to be degraded and humiliated to claim.


3.0pm – 4.0pm Gerry Jones :

“Social Profile of Berwick and how the cuts affect different sections of the community”.

Gerry starts to explain how the poor are punished.  He thinks we are approaching the conditions of the 30’s with very high unemployment. Then Jarrow had 67% unemployment and Stockton had 70%.  This created bitterness. Households had mean tests with more than half the claims disallowed or benefits reduced. Officials came into homes.

Now the National Insurance Scheme is used to administer benefits but it is expensive and stigmatizes people. Many benefits are unclaimed. Some have no choice and are trapped by low pay. Historically poverty is blamed upon the poor with drunkenness drug dependency and poor parenting all cited.  Yet many poor are working for instance 2.2million children are on the edge of poverty despite one parent being in work.

People have to wait six weeks for job seekers allowance to come. Casualisation of job market – many are part timers or self employed.  In Berwick 40% are part time. Men are more likely to be self employed.  The minimum wage of £6.19 per hour only brings in £247 per week which is a poor wage.  One third of the population is economically inactive.  The 2011 Welfare Act assumes that people are on benefits by choice.  There will be means tests for Universal credits for Pensioners (agreed by Labour too). This can only be managed on-line and will be paid monthly.  Council Tax benefit will be reduced by 10%. Loans will be abolished. Frank Fields who advises the Coalition predicts a meltdown by the computer system. Gerry asserts that means testing encourages dependency. We are going backwards to means testing by another name.

Moira Kay had provided the coffee and five star food.
(email; moirakay@googlemail.com)

Book stall provided by Bookmarks –

Event organized by Berwick upon Tweed & District Trades Union Council.
Event sponsored by Steve Stevenson, Deal, Kent
and the Northern TUC

Report - Rose Kay, for Berwick & District Trades Union Council


William Beveridge

Berwick MP from July 1944 to the 1945 General Election

Beveridge was a British economist and social reformer, closely associated with the development of the welfare state.
William Beveridge was born on 5 March 1879 in Bengal, India, where his father was a judge in the Indian Civil Service. He trained as a lawyer but came to prominence during the Liberal government of 1906 - 1914 when he was asked to advise David Lloyd George on old age pensions and national insurance. During World War One, Beveridge was involved in mobilising and controlling manpower. In 1919, he became director of the London School of Economics where he remained until 1937.

When, in 1941, the government commissioned a report into the ways that Britain should be rebuilt after World War Two, Beveridge was an obvious choice to take charge. He published his report in 1942 and recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five 'Giant Evils' of 'Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness'.
In 1945, the Labour Party defeated Winston Churchill's Conservative Party in the general election. The new prime minister, Clement Attlee, announced he would introduce the welfare state outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. This included the establishment of a National Health Service in 1948 with free medical treatment for all. A national system of benefits was also introduced to provide 'social security' so that the population would be protected from the 'cradle to the grave'. The new system was partly built on the national insurance scheme set up by Lloyd George in 1911. People in work still had to make contributions each week, as did employers, but the benefits provided were now much greater.

In 1946, Beveridge was made a peer and became leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords. He died on 16 March 1963.
(Source: BBC history)

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