Official report on
May local elections in England published
ON Friday, 18 July 2008, the
Electoral Commission has published its report about the May 2008
local elections in England.
The report finds that the elections went smoothly and there were few
problems. Changes to elections rules first introduced last year were
now well established and there were a relatively small number of
elections compared to 2007.
However, the report makes a number of recommendations for changes
that will help prevent any potential problems in future years when
more elections are held and when turnout may be higher:-
· Changes to electoral rules introduced in 2007 are now well
established, meaning that organising the elections was a less
challenging process for Returning Officers. The Commission continues
to recommend that any future changes to electoral law should not be
made within the six months before any election.
· In light of increasing pressures during the time available for
printing and processing postal votes, the report also calls for the
UK Parliamentary election timetable to be increased to 25 days, in
line with other UK elections.
· The Commission was pleased that almost all Returning Officers (ROs)
checked personal identifiers (voters’ date of birth and signature)
on 100 percent of returned postal votes. Electoral law only requires ROs to check 20 percent of postal votes, and the Commission
continues to call on Government to make 100 percent checking
The report also found that public confidence in the security of
postal voting has further increased this year. In our public opinion
survey, 51 per cent of all respondents said that they thought postal
voting was safe from fraud or abuse, an increase of 10 percentage
points from last year. But Tthe Commission continues to call to
improved security through the introduction of individual voter
Karen Quaintmere, Head of Electoral Administration at the Electoral
Commission said:- “Although the elections went smoothly in
England this year, this does not mean that future UK-wide elections
can be predicted to go as well. Our report makes a number of
recommendations that will allow us to build on this success for
future elections and to ensure that procedures are revised to avoid
The elections in May showed the benefits of establishing electoral
law well in advance of polling day to ensure elections are planned
for and run effectively, something the Commission has been calling
In autumn of 2009, the Commission will be setting performance
standards for Returning Officers to support improvements in the
quality of election management and ensure electors’ interests are
put at the centre of the democratic process.
here to see a PDF file about the
Roscoe School blooms!
HUNDREDS of pupils at two of
Liverpool’s most historic schools are to hold a massive playground
party to celebrate their amalgamation. Roscoe Junior and
Roscoe Infants Schools in Tuebrook were the first to be built in the
city after the first world war around 1920. They were named
after William Roscoe, an 18th century philanthropist who created
Liverpool’s famous botanical collection. Although they are
located in the same building, they have always been run separately.
But from September they will merge to become Roscoe Primary School,
with a single headteacher and administration. To mark the
historic change, the children held a party in the playground next
Tuesday, 23 July 2008. Organised by the PTA, it will involve
all 300 pupils in music and dancing. Also the youngsters made
their own bunting for the special occasion. Headteacher Amanda
Anders said:- “This party is a great way of the school
celebrating the end of one era and the start of another. We
are absolutely delighted that the schools are coming together as
one. It marks the beginning of a new chapter in the long and
proud history of the schools.” Councillor Keith
Turner, executive member for education, said:- “Bringing both
schools together will enable the leadership team to concentrate on
furthering the excellent progress made recently in improving
standards of teaching and learning.” Memorable moments
in the school’s history include bomb damage caused by the Luftwaffe
in 1941 and a visit from Mastermind presenter Magnus Magnusson in
2000. The new school will be officially opened on 17 September
2008 by Lord Alton, who founded the Roscoe Lectures.
one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility
INCAPACITY benefits and Income
Support are to be abolished as part of far-reaching new proposals,
the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell announced
on 21 July 2008.
In a radical overhaul of the welfare state, Mr Purnell announced
proposals to scrap incapacity benefits by 2013 and abolish Income
Support to create a more streamlined system based on just two
working-age benefits - the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA),
for those who have a medical condition which prevents them from
working, and Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) for everyone who is able to
Unveiling the new reforms in a green paper published today called No
one written off... reforming welfare to reward responsibility,
Mr Purnell said:- "Our proposals are based on a simple deal:
more support in return for greater responsibility.
This green paper proposes a simpler benefit system that rewards
responsibility, gives people the incentive to do the right thing and
ends the injustice of people being written off on benefits for life
without any hope of getting the support they need to get back to
We will help people find work, but they will be expected to take a
Under the plans, people on incapacity benefits will be moved on to
ESA by 2013. This will provide temporary support for all but
the most severely disabled people. Everyone currently on
Incapacity Benefit and new claimants will go through a new enhanced
medical assessment and be assessed on what they can do, not on what
they can't. Doctors will be asked to make clear the point at
which the individual should be fit for work and people will be
assessed again at that point.
People with severe disabilities will get more cash under ESA.
The rest who qualify for the benefit will be placed in a
"work" category. They will receive personalised
back-to-work support to help them prepare for work and overcome any
barriers they face.
It will be made clear to this group that
ESA is a temporary situation to help them get fit to return to work.
The green paper also sets out proposals to move towards a
streamlined benefit system, moving lone parents with children under
seven on to JSA. While lone parents with children under seven
would not be required to actively seek work, the green paper
proposes voluntary measures to give them more support to prepare
them for work and includes a 'skills for work' premium
on top of existing benefits to act as a weekly financial incentive.
The conditions attached to receiving JSA will also be strengthened
with a "work for benefits" scheme for the long-term
unemployed. People unemployed for over two years and those
abusing the system could be forced to take part in full-time
activity such as community work at any point in their claim.
People will have to train to get their job skills and drug users
would be required to seek treatment or could lose their benefits.
In return for these greater expectations for people on benefits to
find work, Mr Purnell also announced measures offering greater
support. These include:-
► Doubling the funding of Access to Work which provides assistance
to disabled workers and their employers, which already helps 24,000
people a year gain employment or stay in their job. There will
also be significant increases for the schemes which provide support
into employment for the most severely disabled people. People
on incapacity benefits who find work through the Pathways to Work
programme could get a £40 a week top-up on their wages to ease the
transition into work
► A "full disregard" for child maintenance, so that
payments will not be taken into account when calculating how much
out-of-work benefits a parent should get. The full disregard,
combined with existing reforms to the child maintenance system, and
measures to support lone parents with older children into work, will
lift up to 200,000 children out of poverty.
► Exploring more ways we can give disabled adults greater control
over the combined budget which the government spends on their
The publication of the green paper will be followed by three months
of public consultation on its proposals. Mr Purnell urged
everyone - whether large private firms or individual benefit
claimants - to make their views heard and play an active role in
shaping the policies.
Email us your views and feelings about these changes to welfare