Daily Archives: August 21, 2020

After private firm linked to Gove & Cummings helped cause ‘A’ level disaster, will new health ‘Institute’ go the same way?

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Dido Harding: Isn’t it funny how McKinsey was hired to work on an organisation fronted by a former McKinsey consultant? Did I type “funny”? I meant “sickening”.

Were you aware that the disastrous strategy to deprive lower-class students of their higher ‘A’ level grades was devised by a firm of consultants, apparently hired because of links to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings?

I mention this because the same criteria seem to have been used to get advice about the “vision, purpose and narrative” of Matt Hancock’s new public health “institute”.

Public First, a policy and research firm owned by James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, who both formerly worked for Gove, was involved on the project with Ofqual since June after being granted a contract that was not put out to competitive tender.

Details of the contract have not been made public and Ofqual declined to say how much public money had been spent hiring the firm of Tory cronies.

The collaboration led to the result we all know:

The algorithm used by Ofqual downgraded 40% of the A-level grades assessed by teachers under the process set after the exams were cancelled, leading to a storm of protest from students, parents, school leaders and teachers, that culminated in a complete government U-turn on Monday and the system being scrapped.

Most of us would expect the Tories to be coming out with the usual “lessons will be learned” speech right now – but they can’t, because they haven’t.

The Johnson government has already hired McKinsey – under the same “exceptional circumstances” rules used to award the Ofqual contract to Public First – to play the same role.

And guess what? According to the Financial Times, the new National Institute for Health Protection’s boss – Dido Harding – is a former McKinsey consultant.

What a cosy, cronyist world they all inhabit.

There is one difference between the NIHP situation and Ofqual. We know how much of our money McKinsey has been paid: £563,400. At a time when the national debt has just topped £2 trillion, the Johnson government has shovelled another half a million of borrowed cash into private, profit-grubbing hands.

That’s a lot of money for something that I’m happy to bet will be a worse travesty than the ‘A’ level debacle.

Source: Firm linked to Gove and Cummings hired to work with Ofqual on A-levels | Education | The Guardian

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The Tories have pushed public debt past £2 TRILLION after they promised to eliminate it

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“Spaffed up the wall”: Boris Johnson’s phrase – inappropriately applied to public money used to investigate child abuse – may now be more correctly applied to his own government’s use of all public funds..

Remember when the national debt was just £950 billion and the Tories slithered into office with a claim that they would eliminate it?

What happened?

George Osborne – remember him? – promised that he would eliminate the national deficit (regular borrowing by the government) by 2015, and would then reduce the debt.

He never did. And now he’s nowhere to be found.

And the national debt is now more than double what it was in 2010.

The Tories will say it’s because of the cost of the Covid-19 crisis – which they have increased exponentially by involving inept private health companies that have failed to carry out a single task adequately.

They may say it’s due to the cost of Brexit – which Boris Johnson pushed on us with a campaign of lies back in 2016 and which has cost us more in four years than we paid in more than 40 as an EU member state.

And they will certainly try to blame the Labour government of 1997-2010 and the international financial crisis that happened during that period, which had nothing to do with Labour policies.

They’ll also say a Labour government would have made matters worse, even though they have squandered more money in the last 10 years than was ever spent by every Labour administration the UK has ever had.

And don’t forget that Labour has reduced the national debt when in office, which is more than the Tories have done in our collective lifetime.

The BBC article is full of Tory apologists saying there was nothing they could do, but it simply isn’t true.

The Conservative Party has, in the words of Boris Johnson “spaffed up the wall” all the public money it could get its hands on, and then borrowed more than a trillion pounds more.

And ministers will say that you have to pay it back.

Source: UK government spending on virus measures pushes debt to £2 trillion – BBC News

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Covid test waiting time soars as IT failure hits private ‘lighthouse’ testing lab

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Matt Hancock: this is the brain-dead nincompoop who thought it would be a good idea to let private companies try to make a profit from a deadly pandemic virus. Nothing works properly and we all remain in deadly danger six months after Covid-19 arrived in the UK.

Once again private profiteers have failed the people of the UK.

An “IT systems failure” at a ‘Lighthouse’ mega-laboratory in Cheshire “resulted in a delay to the processing of results,” the government said.

“In addition, the increase of tests across all routes has resulted in backlogs in some laboratories.”

The labs were built in April, in a partnership between the Department of Health and Social Care, Medicines Discovery Catapult, UK Biocentre and the University of Glasgow, supported by pharma companies GSK and AstraZeneca.

It means just seven per cent of people who took a test at a “satellite centre” got their results within 48 hours in the week to August 12 – down from 75 per cent two weeks earlier.

And only 28 per cent of people who were posted home testing kits got the result within 48 hours – down from 72 per cent.

This is what happens when you commit the health of the nation to the hands of people who want to make a profit from it: nothing works.

Source: New coronavirus chaos as test result waiting times soar due to IT malfunction – Mirror Online

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Covid lockdown and Tory PIP assessment cruelty made woman attempt suicide

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Lockdown cruelty: if you thought this image had been retired for the duration of the Covid crisis, it seems you’re to be disappointed because the Tory government had other plans.

The incompetent – or just plain cruel? – Tory government’s failure to make adequate provision for us all during the Covid-19 lockdown has been worst in the cases of disability benefit claimants, this story shows.

Cambridgeshire Live has published the story of Katy (not her real name), who said the stress caused to her by the Department for Work and Pensions’s assessment for Personal Independence Payment drove her to attempt suicide.

It seems she was put through an assessment interview with an employee of private contractor Capita – and it followed a traumatic pattern that readers of This Site should by now understand well.

Initially offered as a face-to-face interview, the assessment was rescheduled to be on the phone because of the pandemic – and rescheduled three times at the last minute, ensuring that Katy’s mental health support worker could not participate, despite that having been agreed.

The call was pleasant enough but – long-term readers of This Site will know what’s coming – the report that came back was riddled with “gross inaccuracies”.

Denied the benefit, she was forced to file a complaint about the assessor and request a mandatory consideration to receive the funds she deserved.

As a result she was pushed into debt.

In addition – in lockdown and isolated – she had to handle the “incorrect documentation” of a psychiatric assessment.

These symptoms of incompetence by the authorities could not help but exacerbate her condition, which forced her to cope with he side effects of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including nightmares and flashbacks, and limiting her from carrying out daily tasks like washing or shopping.

It all became too much and she tried to take her own life. Fortunately – and all-too-unusually – the attempt failed.

Now – after Katy’s case was taken up by her MP, Disability Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire Live, and may therefore be considered to have become a public relations problem – the government has granted her the highest rate of PIP.

Funny how that happens when there’s a whiff of bad publicity, isn’t it?

Both the DWP and Capita have offered the usual arse-covering soundbites about using all the information available and changing the decision when new facts come forward.

But the fact is that a woman was driven to take her life because of the cruelty of a so-called benefit system that the Tories have perverted into a death-by-deprivation scheme.

This Writer has been campaigning against this deadly policy for years, and the fact that there is now uncontradictable proof that the DWP has been driving people to suicide is welcome.

But I fear I know what will come of it: Absolutely nothing.

Source: PIP payments: ‘The disability benefits assessment made me want to end my life’ – Cambridgeshire Live

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