Lesson for business and political worlds

As with the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, the recent Olympics, proved pre-games sceptics wrong.

The facilities were ready on time, the crowds vast, stadiums full and the competitors gave great sporting performances. At a time of gloom and depression these games united most of the nation, made them proud. It showed what the British are capable of when we pull together.

Team GB’s incredible top performance showed the nation what dedication, team spirit and unselfish leadership can achieve.

Attention has now turned to the Games legacy. Will tourism benefit after the frequent shots of London’s ionic landmarks? Will it get our couch potato nation off their settees? Will our schoolchildren, with limited finance offered, be keen and able to enjoy sport? These goals, important though they are, miss the real lessons of Team GB‘s success. This great sporting achievement exposed the failure, widespread greed, selfish attitudes and bad leadership at top levels including bankers, corporate bosses, politicians and lawless, dumb-down newspaper editors.

If our nation wants to emulate the great success of Team GB then, in every boardroom, union executive, public body and in parliament, from top to bottom they have to change their ways.

Peter Ward, former international athlete, finance business director, president of a national trade union

Concern over housing benefit

We read with concern the recent SFHA report that the abolition of housing benefits for Universal Credit will mean significant financial losses for tenants with children who are living on low incomes.

Though we welcome simplification of the system as it promises speedier and more efficient access to benefits, subsequent changes still need to take into account the disproportionate reliance of women and children on the welfare system.

Currently, only 18% of women work full time while their children are younger than three. The rest work part time or not at all. As a consequence, women are statistically proven to be more reliant on Housing Benefits to boost their income.

What’s more, currently it is proposed that Universal Credit ‘…would be payable to the household member making the application’. While we understand this would be easier for administrative purposes, it could lead to further inequality, putting significant numbers of individuals in a precarious economic situation, where the designated ‘head’ of the household does not share the incoming benefit amongst the individual members of the household appropriately.

Again, this is a measure which is likely to predominantly affect women, particularly those from certain ethnic backgrounds.

If the Department of Work and Pensions are serious about putting “fairness back into the system” it needs to tighten up these issues around its proposal to ensure women and their children are not being discriminated against with these reforms.

Rob Tolan, Head of Research and Policy, Elizabeth Finn Care