Here are the latest updates from the Local Authority Debt Audit campaign and friends. Please share widely again!
We wanted to start the new year by updating you on the way we are currently working.
Some of Debt Resistance UK members (Vica, Joel and Fanny) started a co-operative last year. It is called Research for Action, and we are very excited as it had been in the pipeline for quite some time. Much of the research work we previously did as DRUK is now done by Research for Action, which is why we often link to blog posts by the cooperative in our newsletters. In particular, Research for Action obtained a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to develop a Citizen Debt Audit in Newham, which as many of you will know by now has some of the highest LOBO loan debt in the UK.
Debt Resistance UK continues to be the open grassroots group that not only keeps the national #NoLOBOs campaign going, including the objection procedures, but also aims to work on other forms of oppressive debt. Debt Resistance UK is a voluntary organisation so any help in supporting our work is very much valued. You can set up a recurring contribution or make a single donation here.
Due to the overlap of the work of the two organisations, we hope you don’t mind that we have added your email also to the database for the Research for Action Newsletter. If you would prefer not to receive news from Research for Action than you can unsubscribe here.
Debt Resistance UK
NEWS FROM THE PAST MONTH
OPEN LETTER TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION AND COMMUNITIES SECRETARY
We have published an open letter that is intended to be circulated cross-party throughout networks of local government councillors in England, Wales and Scotland in councils affected by LOBO loans calling for action from the Local Government Association (LGA).
The letter calls for a political solution, so that further taxpayer funds are not spent pursuing banks, brokers and advisors through the courts to attain justice. If you are a councillor and happy to add your signature, please do so. If you are a local resident please write to your councillors and ask them to sign, You can find your councillors’ email here. It has already been picked up by the MunicipalJournal..
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL DECLARES BANKRUPTCY
As you might have heard, Northamptonshire County Council announced at the beginning of February that it was banning all new expenditure except what was mandatory to fulfil its legal obligations.
The council has £150m worth of LOBOs, some of which it is paying up to 7-11% interest on. You can read more in our press release following Northamptonshire’s announcement. See details of Northamptonshire CC’s LOBO lending here.
We are delighted to say that the BBC has finally covered LOBOs! Unfortunately it had to take a council going bust.
On Radio 4, CIPFA CEO Rob Whiteman raised the possibility of councils taking legal action against LOBO mis-selling – you can see our response in a press release here, and Room151’s coverage here. We are excited to see how things develop from here – we have also been approached by CrowdJustice about crowdfunding for a possible legal challenge, so if you want to know more or are in position to consider one, please get in touch.
With Carillion collapsing in January and CAPITA shares plummeting at the beginning of this month, it looked like CAPITA might be the next outsourcing company to fall. London Borough of Barnet that has outsourced a significant chunk of its functions to the company even had to admit it had made contingency plans in case the company was to fail. For us, CAPITA is known for its role in advising councils that had taken out LOBOs – such as Northamptonshire. You can read more in our press release on CAPITA.
In May, there will be elections in many local authorities across England, which is a great opportunity to campaign on LOBOs. Here is a table showing which of the councils going to the polls, have LOBO loans. If you live in one and you would like us to organise an event, provide a briefing or documentation on LOBOs for your councillor candidates, please get in touch.
RESEARCH FOR ACTION
21 March 2018, 7pm – 10pm
Newspeak House, 133-135 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 7DG
Research for Action is celebrating its first birthday with an evening of discussion on the relationship between research and action followed by music and drinks! The conversation will be kicked off by a panel of excellent speakers:
- Kam Sandhu – Journalist and Founder of Real Media, a journalist co-operative dedicated to public interest news
- Christina Laskaridis (TBC) – PhD researcher at SOAS, University of London, and author of “False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide To The Eurozone Crisis (by CorporateWatch)
- A member from Focus E15 – a housing campaign group in London’s Newham
- Joel Benjamin and Fanny Malinen from Research for Action
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCES OF CITIZENS’ DEBT AUDITS
Save the date: 22 March
Debt Resistance UK and Research for Action are organising an event on international experiences of debt audits with guests from Madrid and Barcelona. Details are yet to be confirmed, but it’s worth putting the date in your diaries already!