Category Archives: Local Government

After This Site suggested it, Tories are letting experts tackle Covid-19 instead of their chums

I know. It’s just a coincidence.

But isn’t it interesting that, the day after This Site asked, “Don’t you agree that giving control of the response to Coronavirus back to people who actually know what they’re doing might turn the tide?” the Tories are talking about doing just that?

I had suggested, “Let’s see the Tories reopen the contract system to multiple tenders, with assignments of Covid-related contracts going to the firms best-suited for the work. Or – indeed – to the public organisations and authorities best-placed to handle it.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick made the admission that this will happen on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today (October 11): “People who know their own community… are bound to be better than Whitehall or national contact tracers.”

Here’s the clip:

There’s an obvious question to be answered here:

Yes – why weren’t they used in the first place?

The obvious answer is that individuals within the Johnson government have corruptly and opportunistically used the pandemic as a chance to funnel cash to their fellow-Tory friends. Certainly there is a movement now to find out how much money has been wasted on so-called services that haven’t worked at all:

That question of wasted time is crucial because many people have died.

What happens if we find that those deaths happened because the Tories were giving money to their friends – for nothing – rather than to people who could actually keep that death toll down?

Will there be any accountability?

Or will Boris Johnson just shrug his shoulders, say “Now is not the time,” and forget about it?

For further information, here‘s the Mirror‘s piece.

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Care workers awarded £100,000 in back pay – but why is their NEW employer paying it?

How pleasant to see home carers being awarded the pay they are due!

In a court victory, home care workers contracted by Haringey Council in North London were awarded £100,000 in back pay.

That’s between them, not individually – amounting to around £10,000 for each of the 10 claimants.

It seems the council had given the work contract to a private provider called Sevacare that cheated them out of money they should have been paid for travel time between patient visits.

As a result, some of them ended up being paid less than £4 per hour – less than the minimum wage, and much less than even the “National Living Wage” that the Tories introduced, which still doesn’t cover living expenses.

Care service companies, Kaamil Education Limited, Diligent Care Services Limited and Premier Carewaiting Limited say they inherited the case when they took over the work contract.

The firms who took over the contracts were ordered to pay the claimants.

Wait – what?

Why were the new providers ordered to pay? Why couldn’t the offending firm do it?

Has it gone out of business? Government contractors seem to do that, don’t they? Does anybody remember Carillion?

Mrs Mike was completely unimpressed by this story.

She reckons the problem is the sub-contracting of care work by councils to private providers, who always say they can do the work for a very low price.

Then the bosses and shareholders take their cut (Mrs Mike said), and the people who do the actual work end up with whatever’s left – the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel.

It’s a consequence of privatisation, she said. It was better when councils employed care workers directly.

Given this result, I’d say she makes a good point. Wouldn’t you?

Source: Unison: Care workers who made £4 an hour awarded in £100,000 court case – BBC News

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Spectators told ‘stay away’ from St Leger after This Site’s story about it

Jam-packed: This is how the crowd at the St Leger event in Doncaster usually looks. With Covid-19 back on the rise in the UK, Boris Johnson’s Tory government was happy to allow it to go ahead. Fortunately, the local authority was more interested in public safety than private profit.

This Writer would love to take credit for the latest u-turn but I don’t really think it is anything to do with me.

Shortly after This Site asked whether the decision to impose new Covid-19-related restrictions on public gatherings after the weekend had anything to do with the St Leger horse racing event being during the weekend, organisers were told to forbid entry to the public in any event.

I had pointed out the extraordinary business interests in horse racing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and ‘Test and Trace’ boss Dido Harding.

As MP for horse racing centre Newmarket, he receives significant donations from the horse racing industry, while she is a director of the Jockey Club.

So it seemed reasonable to ask whether these facts had anything to do with the delay in the new restriction. Many others have pointed out that you can’t do a deal with Covid-19 to wait until after the weekend, after all.

And we should all be reminded that the Cheltenham Festival, in March, was allowed to stay open to the public – and expert evidence suggested that this led to “increased suffering and death”.

In the end, it seems, any personal interests people like Hancock, Harding, or indeed Boris Johnson may have in the St Leger turned out to be immaterial:

Doncaster Racecourse has been told by local health officials to stop spectators attending its St Leger meeting after Wednesday’s opening day.

“On the grounds of public health and public safety I have instructed the course to hold the St Leger Festival behind closed doors from tomorrow,” said Dr Rupert Suckling, director of Public Health for Doncaster.

So any corrupt or greed-motivated reasons for delaying the restriction have been thwarted.

Good. It is the right decision for the health of the nation.

Source: Doncaster Racecourse told to stop spectators attending St Leger meeting – BBC Sport

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Elderly man’s health failed and he died after council sent his wife to a care home

When care isn’t so caring: one partner was taken into a home and the health of the other deteriorated until he died. Why didn’t the council consider this? Or was it just a financial consideration?

In these days of Covid-19, one might be forgiven for thinking this gentleman was worrying himself sick that his wife would catch the virus and die.

But it is also a recognised phenomenon that if a couple who have been together for many years are split up, most commonly because one of them dies, then the remaining partner’s health often suffers – possibly to death.

So This Writer is led to question why the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead didn’t take this into account when it split up the couple in this story. Was it just a question of money – that it was cheaper to split this couple, and never mind of one of them died? And what happened to the house where the deceased gentleman had been living?

An elderly couple of 59 years were split up with little regard for their welfare by Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The couple were separated when the wife was discharged to a care home after leaving hospital.

The husband was left to live in the family home with the help of care workers, but quickly deteriorated.

He became very low, did not eat or drink properly and lost weight. He stopped going out and instead spent a lot of time in his bed.

When the family complained a few days later the council agreed to take more steps to help the man visit his wife, but he passed away just a few weeks after.

A report by the Ombudsman found the council did not do enough to consider the man’s situation when his wife left hospital, despite his family telling it he would suffer at home.

Windsor and Maidenhead Council has a history of ill-treating people. Back in 2018, it tried to get police to arrest homeless people under the Vagrancy Act so they wouldn’t be on the streets during the Royal Wedding.

Then it imposed a fine on aggressive or proactive begging, requests for money, leaving bedding and belongings in a public area and other behaviour associated with homelessness – totalling an unaffordable £1,000.

Needless to say, it is a Conservative-run authority.

Source: Elderly man suffers after council splits him from his wife

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Whoever says scrapping 213 smaller councils could save £3 billion hasn’t been paying attention to Tory spaffing

Rubbish: who does the bins in your council area? A private firm? Expect much more privatisation if smaller councils are scrapped; the £3 billion we’re told would be saved has to be spent somewhere!

It seems some people really do have a blind spot.

Whoever wrote the report that says the following, for example:

Abolishing 213 smaller councils in England and replacing them with 25 new local authorities could save almost £3bn over five years, a report says.

The report for the County Councils Network says one body in each area would reduce complexity and give communities a single unified voice.

However, others argue bigger councils are unwieldy and undemocratic.

It’s a good point that bigger councils may be unwieldy and undemocratic, but the better point is that they won’t save a penny while we have a Tory government.

The money will be spent outsourcing decision-making to private consultants like PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey, and outsourcing work to private firms like Serco – who will probably go bust because they habitually offer to do it for too low a price after the bosses and shareholders have taken their enormous cut of (council taxpayers’) cash.

If this happens, just watch what happens and see if I’m right.

Source: Scrapping 213 local councils could save £3bn says report – BBC News

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Are we letting Dominic Cummings off, now we have other things to entertain us?

Dominic Cummings in the Rose Garden: his attitude was “I can do whatever I like”.

Whatever happened to Dominic Cummings?

Did he quit his job as a prime ministerial advisor, ahead of being sacked? Did he apologise to the nation?

No.

Boris Johnson told us he was on his “last warning”, as if that means anything to us.

His arrogance has been unforgivable. His “last warning” should have been before the lockdown was imposed in Mid-March – not after he broke it in everybody’s face.

Nobody believed it anyway. When Boris Johnson failed spectacularly during Prime Minister’s Questions this week, we all thought he was wearing an earpiece so Demonic could Dominate him from a backroom.

There has been one dead cat after another. Today’s was the revival of a plan to build a new Royal Yacht, to cost the people of the UK £100 million that would be better-spent rebuilding the fabric of our ruined society after 41 years of neoliberal conservative rule and the Covid-19 pandemic.

So this question is pertinent:

Also, if Cummings was on his “last warning” earlier this week, shouldn’t he be out on his ear after this revelation?

Apparently…

Dominic Cummimgs; a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, made it clear that he had stayed at a “spare cottage” at his father’s farm when he addressed allegations that he had broken lockdown restrictions in April.

The cottage in question is not registered for Council Tax, nor has planning permission been sought for the cottage from Durham County Council.

So he broke lockdown and social distancing rules in order to stay in a house that is a standing violation of planning laws, where Council Tax is avoided. Am I correct in that assumption?

And still this creepy little rule-flouter is drawing fat amounts of cash from the public purse.

Why?

Simon Wren-Lewis makes some good suggestions on Mainly Macro. He writes:

The old rules, like when an adviser becomes the story they go, just do not hold anymore, because this government has no respect for those rules.

Cummings is so valuable… He gaslighted half a nation into making them[selves] poorer because of an issue few of them had cared about before the referendum. To then convince enough people that Johnson accepting a deal which the EU originally proposed and the UK rejected was some kind of triumph was also impressive. Winning a large majority in the subsequent election sealed his reputation as a master manipulator of voters, although it has to be said that with all these things he had tremendous help from the collective media.

He wants a say in everything any minister does that might influence his mission… [and Boris Johnson] is happy to allow his partner in crime to pursue his own agenda, because Johnson does not have an extensive agenda of his own.

The ultimate in Cummings gaslighting was his appearance in the Rose Garden of No.10. As Frances Coppola writes, it was a gigantic show, a show of personal power. Look what I can do, he was saying. I can lie about why I went to Barnard Castle, I can lie about how I foresaw how vulnerable the UK was to a pandemic, and there is nothing you can do about it, much like all the previous lies I have made in the past and got others to say.

Yup. This Site drew attention to this lie but hardly anybody paid attention.

And later, when a BBC presenter tells the truth about what he did, his helpers get the BBC to give her a reprimand.

Again, I highlighted the injustice of this, to a chorus of tumbleweeds.

It is not as if Cummings necessarily improves Johnson’s decision making capacity. What Johnson desperately needs is someone with a proven record of gaslighting a nation to get voters to forget about it all as quickly as possible. For that reason Cummings survives, for now at least.

So there you have it.

Dominic Cummings will remain at Downing Street as long as he manages to do what Boris Johnson cannot, which is to make Boris Johnson look acceptable.

He has enjoyed the complicity of the right-wing media in this.

But the press pack has shown signs of turning lately. With Keir Starmer dragging Labour back across to the political right-wing, they have a new horse to back while still supporting the idea that rich people should be allowed to do what they want, especially if it humiliates the poor.

Maybe Demonic’s days are numbered after all. But don’t get your hopes up because even if that does happen, you won’t reap the benefits.

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Is rough sleeping set to rocket amid claim Tories are quietly withdrawing hotel room funding scheme

Back to the streets: do the Tories think the coronavirus crisis is over so they can dump homeless people back on the streets?

Homeless people are set to be forced back onto the streets after it was claimed the Tory government is quietly scrapping a scheme to house them in hotels during the coronavirus crisis.

According to the Manchester Evening News,

Civil servants have told Greater Manchester officials that the scheme – known as ‘Everyone In’ – is no longer being funded by central government and that March’s original Covid guidance to local authorities has been scrapped.

So far 1,600 homeless people with nowhere to self-isolate have been put up in emergency accommodation here during the crisis, including hundreds in hotels, as authorities were directed to protect them from the spread of the virus.

But a leaked report to the region’s combined authority reveals the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government has now ‘drawn a line’ under its programme and has told councils it will no longer be funded, although no ministerial statement has been made to that effect.

The government denies reneging on its commitments.

Indeed. Here‘s RightsNet:

The government has said that it does not recognise clams that it is winding up its support for rough sleepers helped off the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government press office has said:

“We do not recognise the claims made by Greater Manchester Combined Authority in one of their internal reports which was leaked to the media.

“Any suggestion that the government is reneging on the commitment set out at the start of this national emergency is entirely wrong. We have been clear councils should continue to provide safe accommodation for those who need it, and any suggestion that funding is being withdrawn or people asked to leave hotels by central government is entirely incorrect. This misleading information causes unneeded anxiety and confusion for vulnerable people at an already difficult time.”

Others see the matter differently:

https://twitter.com/CorbynistaTeen/status/1261392134118076416

Who’s right?

Well, we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?

All we have to do is check whether we see more people sleeping on the streets.

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‘A Bed Every Night’ plan for rough sleepers SEEMS to be working – but is it really?

Andy Burnham: It’s been so long since he has appeared in a story of national interest that this image is from 2016.

This would be encouraging if it weren’t for the fact that the government’s ‘snapshot’ figures of rough sleeping have been proved false.

So Greater Manchester’s claim to have cut rough sleeping by 44 per cent in two years via its ‘A Bed Every Night’ scheme is questionable.

However: The figures available show fewer people sleeping rough as a result of the scheme – so it seems fair to say that, no matter what the UK Statistics Authority says is the true size of the rough sleeper population, the Greater Manchester model is doing at least some good.

Initially a crisis response to the ‘Beast from the East’ cold weather snap in November 2018, A Bed Every Night has developed as a co-commissioned service with investment from Greater Manchester’s devolved health and social care services, homelessness, and prison and probation services, and has supported 3,400 people since its introduction. The scheme also enables those accessing help and support to recover and move into longer-term accommodation and a life away from the streets – since November 2018, 1,250 people have done just that.

For those who have slept rough for a substantial period of time, Greater Manchester’s Housing First pilot works alongside A Bed Every Night to provide ongoing intensive support in a home of choice. Funded by £7.6m of public money, Housing First in the city-region has so far helped 84 people off the streets into their own homes and is set to run for a further two years.

The scheme seems reminiscent of the ‘Utah’ model that This Site has praised in the past: get people off the streets and support them back into a home of their own, and you relieve pressure on services like the police and NHS that would otherwise have to deal with them.

There is still that question of the real number of rough sleepers.

If that total is genuinely more than five times what the government has claimed, then ‘A Bed Every Night’ may have merely slowed the Tory-driven increase in homelessness.

But that’s better than nothing and suggests that Andy Burnham deserves the extra funding he is requesting. But will he get it?

Source: Mayor calls on Government to help fund A Bed Every Night as rough sleeping down 44% in two years – Greater Manchester Combined Authority

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Council’s ‘rape clause’ blunder leaves family with disabled child homeless

This is what happens when you give too little cash to the poor – and too much power to bureaucrats.

A single-parent family were thrown out of their home after the London Borough of Haringey wrongly told their private landlord they owed more than £8,000 in overpaid housing benefits.

The council had failed to properly apply the rules which limit benefits to a family’s first two children (two-child limit).

The so-called “rape clause” demands that a family can only claim benefits for more than two children if the mother can prove the additional child or children were the result of non-consensual sex.

It has been attacked as an extra humiliation for women who would already have suffered enough.

And in this case, it was irrelevant: the mother should have always had the allowance for her third child because her youngest son was born before April 2017.

Worse still, the council failed to handle the families homelessness applicatoin properly, failing to refer the case to the appeal tribunal – as it was obliged to do by law.

Why so many errors?

Well, we may find out. The council has agreed to investigate why it made calculation errors, audit cases where it calculated overpayments applying the two-child restriction and, if necessary, consider how to detect and remedy any systemic problems.

This Writer’s guess is that we’ll find the mistake happened because the Tory government has piled too many overlapping penalties on the poor, overcomplicating the system and creating injustice.

Source: Young family with disabled child left homeless after benefits blunder

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Huge rise in homelessness among ill and disabled people is no accident

The Tories have been stepping up their hate campaign against sick and disabled people, with a 53 per cent increase in homelessness over the last year.

People with long-term illnesses who can’t work can claim Employment and Support Allowance, but the government has tightened criteria to the point at which assessments might as well start with an official telling the claimant they are lying – or deluded – about being ill.

Disabled people can claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP), even if they can work – but the Tories have tightened criteria for that benefit too, meaning the chances of receiving the benefit are equally remote.

With PIP, 56 per cent of new claims, together with 28 per cent of claims by people who have been transferred from Disability Living Allowance, are refused.

Only 10 per cent of rejected claims go to appeal, which means 1,585,000 rejections have gone uncontested since the benefit – if you can call it that – was introduced.

With so many benefit claims rejected, sick and disabled people find it hard to make ends meet – especially if they have been housed in dwellings with more bedrooms than they need, laying them open to the Conservative government’s Bedroom Tax.

With all these Tory policies stacked up against them, it’s no surprise so many sick and disabled people end up presenting as homeless.

The Tories have made it the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that these people have a place to live, but – oh! That’s right – councils don’t get enough funding from Westminster to provide that service.

The upshot of all this is that, under the Conservatives, long-term illness or disability has become a fast-track to a life on the street.

short life on the street; while Tory communities secretary Robert Jenrick says the number of people sleeping rough has fallen by two per cent in the last year, the reason for that is probably that a rough sleeper days every 19 hours in the UK.

It’s all part of the Tory plan.

The Nazis went after the sick and disabled first, too.

Source: Homelessness among ill and disabled people rises 53% in a year, figures show | The Independent

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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