War of words over work programme

The Department for Work and Pensions seems to love pushing the public around, but has a real problem when the public pushes back. Don’t these people understand that they are civil servants? The system of government is described as a mechanism by which the public elects members of Parliament to serve the interests of the majority, and MPs in turn are supported by the civil service, which is constituted to ensure that those interests are promoted and safeguarded in a practical and legal way. When MPs get it wrong –…

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Encouraging words about disability – masking a sinister intent?

Even when David Cameron is saying something positive, we need to look for the hidden meaning, it seems. This week, in Comedy Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron fielded a query from Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland about last year’s Paralympic Games. Mr Mulholland said: “We were all hugely inspired by the wonderful Paralympic Games in London last year – not only a triumph for sport but also a triumph for perceptions of disability. “Will the Prime Minister welcome the ‘Generation Inspired’ report which is going to be presented to Downing Street…

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Cameron’s crocodile tears over social housing

Neither Caerphilly MP Wayne David nor the rest of the Labour Party should take seriously David Cameron’s posturing over social housing, as demonstrated in Prime Minister’s Questions today. Mr David raised the serious question of a disabled couple who have been living in the same house for 26 years, and who will have to pay the government’s ‘bedroom tax’ on the property, starting in April. He asked: “What justification can there be for this?” Mr Cameron’s initial response was predictable: “This is not a tax; a tax is when someone…

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NHS U-turn would be right choice – but for wrong reasons?

Fellow blogger Sam Bangert just published his latest article, in which he quotes reports in the Telegraph and the Guardian that the government is preparing to withdraw its new regulations that open up the NHS to “compulsory competitive markets”. It seems that Statutory Instrument 257, that would have seen the demise of the English National Health Service as anything other than a brand name, may be scrapped before it has a chance to wreak the devastation that so many of us fear. That’s a good thing. The regulations were being…

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We will all pay for the raid on Legal Aid

The House of Lords: The more one hears of the debates there, the more one is impressed by them. One side of them, at least. For example the debate on the Benefits Uprating Bill, that took place on Tuesday, including a fascinating interlude by Lord Bach, in which he made explicit the meaning of the government’s planned withdrawal of Legal Aid for benefit claimants. The government claims the intention is to save money, but Lord Bach (pictured) made it perfectly clear that there will be no saving at all, in…

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Battle is joined – for the future of your NHS

This week the Labour Party will be launching its formal defence of the National Health Service, after the Coalition government stealthily slipped a “negative resolution” to enforce privatisation onto the books before the Parliamentary recess. The resolution, as mentioned in a previous Vox article, will force clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England to introduce competition to provide all services for which it is practical (in other words, almost everything), whether or not they believe it to be in the best interests of all concerned. Its arrival means either the government…

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Is this the way to get through to Iain Duncan Smith?

Someone just posted a story on the Vox Facebook page, that should be familiar to many of you. He was quoting a person whose cousin was on disability benefit, dying of liver failure. The DWP stopped her benefit and she had to appeal against it, enduring eight weeks of “worry, hopelessness and grief” before dying two days before her family received notification that her appeal had been granted. This is not an unusual story. In fact, it is the behaviour we have come to expect from the department run by…

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Further humiliation for Osborne and HMRC over tax avoidance

Revenue and Customs bosses, reeling from the broadside they took for claiming the UK’s tax-dodging public enemy number one was a hairdresser from Liverpool, can take no solace from the attitude of Parliament’s own public accounts committee. Three days before HMRC published its silly little list, the committee called on it to “publically name and shame” all organisations and individuals who sell or use tax avoidance schemes, in order to discourage such activity. The fact that the organisation has not taken the opportunity to do so serious undermines its position.…

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No wonder Osborne can’t pay his debts – he’s chasing hairdressers for tax-dodging!

It is no surprise at all that the UK has lost its triple-A credit rating from make-it-up-as-you-go Moody’s. The change has been expected since before Christmas, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. Gideon George Osborne spent the first years of this Parliament using it as a stick to beat Labour – that the UK’s credit rating was the best it could be, thanks to his policies, not theirs. That was a lie, of course. Others who know more about such matters can better explain the reasons but they…

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Cream and park, George; if your contractors do it, why won’t you?

It’s no surprise that Gideon George Osborne will have to humiliate himself next month, admitting that borrowing this year will go up and not down – as he predicted. Rational minds have told him this is the only possible result of lower tax receipts and higher spending. But why is spending still on the rise? Is it because – as we can assume logically from the lower tax receipts, and from headline reports about Jessops, HMV, Republic and others – more people are claiming out-of-work benefits, having lost their jobs…

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