Category Archives: Public services

Do you believe this ‘four-day working week to create half a million jobs’ bunkum?

Commuters: to many of them, the idea of a four-day working week may seem highly attractive – but not on these ‘castle in the air’ terms.

Someone’s trying to lead us up the garden path:

The public sector should switch to a four-day week to create 500,000 jobs and help ease a predicted spike in unemployment following the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.

The Autonomy think tank said “the time has come” for a shorter working week as the end of the government’s furlough scheme in October is expected to cause an unemployment crisis.

Research by the thinktank suggests public sector workers could move to a 32-hour week without any loss in wages at a cost of up to £9bn a year.

This figure, according to Autonomy, represents 6 per cent of the public sector salary bill and costs the same amount as the furlough employment scheme brought in to save jobs during the peak of the pandemic.

Who says any government is going to give public sector workers a cut in their working hours while keeping their wages the same (that’s a massive real-terms raise) – especially a Tory government? They imposed a public sector pay freeze for years!

And the claim that it would cost up to £9 billion a year – the same as Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme – is just more evidence that it wouldn’t work. Sunak is scrapping the furlough scheme on grounds that it is too expensive to continue indefinitely.

Not realistic.

Source: Four-day working week in public sector could create 500,000 jobs, says thinktank report | The Independent | Independent

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Raise taxes on the rich, voters tell Johnson. They’ll be disappointed – it was never in his manifesto

Voter confusion: a survey has shown that voters’ policy preferences indicate they should have put Labour in power, not the Tories.

The Independent reckons Boris Johnson is facing a dilemma after a survey found voters who gave him his election landslide want him to raise taxes on the rich.

There’s just one problem:

That was never a Conservative manifesto promise so he’s under no obligation to do anything of the sort.

Did these people not realise that they were voting for the promises the Tories put in their manifesto?

Voters have never had the right to make demands on a government after putting it in power.

And I know it must seem unfair, considering governments very rarely act according to their manifestos. Theresa May’s 2017 manifesto was obsolete almost before it was published.

And in Johnson’s case, the dilemma isn’t even “Does he deliver for Conservative voters or business leaders?” as the news website claims.

Johnson will deliver for himself, as always. If anybody else profits, that’ll be their good fortune.

But the survey does make one thing very clear.

Voters who want government intervention in the economy, tax rises for the wealthy and spending on public services made a mistake voting Tory.

Those were Labour policies.

Source: People who voted for Boris Johnson want government to raise taxes on the rich, survey finds | The Independent

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‘A great deal’ for whom? The UK will haemorrhage money!

Thumb up: But Boris Johnson won’t lose money on his Brexit deal like the rest of us.

Read this, which refers to Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal:

A “great deal”? Or a nightmare?

Some of you will no doubt be saying, “Don’t give us all that Project Fear talk, Mike! It’s all just scaremongering to keep us as vassals to the fascist EU superstate!” Or whatever.

But is it scaremongering? Is it really, when the economic figures come from Boris Johnson’s own official government analysis?

Isn’t it more accurate to say that the unelected prime minister is once again lying through his teeth in the knowledge that the kind of voter who would respond as I suggest above will lap it up?

Analysis published by the UK government last November suggested that a deal along the lines of that agreed by Johnson would have a major adverse economic impact on the UK, with British people hit by falling wages and declining growth.

Consider this:

Johnson’s own government’s analysis suggested that a deal along the lines of that agreed on Thursday will reduce annual economic growth by 6.7% compared to staying in the EU. That’s a major hit to the UK economy which will make average households thousands of pounds poorer than they would have been had we remained in the EU.

The UK government’s own analysis also suggested that a deal along the lines of Johnson’s would have a big impact on the average wages of people living in the UK. According to its central projection, average real terms wages would fall by 6.4% compared to staying in the EU.

The economic hit would inevitably lead to the UK government being forced to borrow more, or dramatically slash the services it provides to the public. According to the government’s own analysis, there would be a 3% increase in borrowing as a percentage of economic growth.

Admittedly, negotiations over the final shape of the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe – and the rest of the world – have not yet begun – Boris “Get Brexit Done” Johnson lied about that too.

But the broad direction is clear. The UK economy is going into a ditch.

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Nice – an ‘above inflation’ pay rise for public sector workers. But is it enough?

Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by the pay rise that has been announced for people in the public sector.

Their pay was frozen for two years in 2010, and capped at a one per cent increase every year since. That’s well below inflation.

How much would this rise need to have been, to make up all the increases these people have lost, just to be paid in line with inflation?

It seems to me that the Tories are trying to look generous in giving this increase now.

In fact, it should highlight their cruelty.

In the nine years since they imposed their ridiculous austerity, shrinking the state by starving it of cash, while giving huge tax cuts to the very rich, the 100 richest people in the UK have become £55 billion richer, we’re told.

And what has happened to MPs’ pay in the same period?

The rest of us have suffered – and will continue to do so. Remember that.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers are reportedly set to get a pay rise.

The Treasury will unveil the biggest public sector pay rise in six years as one of Theresa May’s final acts as prime minister, The Times reported.

Soldiers are set to get a 2.9% rise, teachers and school staff 2.75%, police officers, dentists and consultants 2.5% and senior civil servants 2%.

It is thought the money will come from existing budgets.

Incidentally, this is a pay rise for police and soldiers, among others.

Considering current developments over Brexit, are the Tories planning to face widespread public unrest – possibly even violence?

Source: Public sector workers ‘to get above-inflation pay rise’ – BBC News

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Convicted expenses forger’s ultimatum to voters: ‘You’ve got to support me’

Chris Davies: Some of us think he should be behind prison bars rather than campaigning to win back his comfortable Parliamentary seat.

Disgraced former Tory MP Chris Davies has scandalised voters in Brecon and Radnorshire by campaigning for re-election with the words “you’ve got to support me”.

They come at the end of an election communication full of logical contradictions. Let’s examine them – we can laugh at him at the same time.

He begins: “Over 10% of residents in Brecon and Radnorshire have signed the recall petition. That means we’ve now got a by-election.”

This is true – but it was almost 20 per cent of residents who signed the recall petition. With by-election votes being significantly lower than in normal elections, this hostility to Mr Davies seriously harms his chances.

“Over three years ago as a new MP, I made a stupid mistake. I submitted incorrect paper work (sic) for a legitimate expense for my office. As a result, I’ve completed community service and paid a fine of £1,500.

“This is my fault and no one else’s.”

It is welcome that Mr Davies admits that he was responsible for the wrongdoing – even if he doesn’t want to admit that it was a criminal offence for which he was convicted in a court of law. People voting for him would be supporting a convicted criminal and endorsing the actions that led to his conviction.

“I sincerely apologise – to you and to all the residents of Brecon and Radnorshire.”

I doubt the sincerity of this apology. Firstly, he spent nearly a year denying that he had committed an offence and only admitted it when his case got to court. Secondly, my household did not receive this letter so he is clearly not apologising “to all the residents of Brecon and Radnorshire”.

Now he moves on to discuss the by-election. Does he mention Conservative policies that will make life easier for the people of the constituency, or that are already doing so? No.

“But we’ve got a by-election now. And we’ve got a simple choice,” he writes.

“This by-election is between me, who votes for Brexit in Parliament – and a Liberal Democrat, who will block Brexit in Parliament.”

What utter gibberish. Clearly he is terrified of Labour candidate Tomos Davies, who is the freshest face in the constituency’s politics and also the only one whose reputation is not stained by failure. And why not mention Brexit Party candidate Desmond Parkinson, who would also vote in Parliament to leave the European Union and whose party has enjoyed considerable success in the matter of weeks since it was formed?

The fact is that the result of this by-election will be dictated by several elements: Most important will be the different candidates’ policies regarding issues that affect people in the constituency. These are grassroots issues. People will want to know who supports the structures of our society – the services provided by local government, our education system, law and order. Which is the best party (among those standing) to combat climate change? We know the answer to all these questions is Labour. The Tories and Liberal Democrats colluded in dismantling the fabric of UK society between 2010 and 2015 and the Brexit Party is a one-issue organisation as its title clearly states.

Secondly, Brecon and Radnorshire is a marginal constituency where people vote tactically in order to achieve the result they want – but this has not worked well over the last decade or so. In 2010, a majority of people voted Liberal Democrat because they did not want a Conservative government – but the Liberal Democrat they supported (Roger Williams) then went into a coalition with the Conservatives that had been agreed by his leaders two months before the election. His supporters ended up with a Tory government in any case and the following five years were an appalling betrayal of their trust.

In 2015, the Liberal Democrats demanded that the election in Brecon and Radnorshire was a “two-horse race” between them and the Tories in a desperate bid to head off a growing vote for Labour in the constituency. Thousands of voters were fooled and Mr Davies slipped into Parliament on the back of the resulting split in the opposition vote.

And in 2017 the Liberal Democrats repeated the lie and Mr Davies increased his majority.

Finally, Brexit skews everything. There are supporters of every party who are reconsidering where they will put their vote on the basis of their opinion about whether the UK should stay in the European Union.

So where Mr Davies writes: “For the last 40 years, only Conservatives and Lib Dems have won here. It’ll be the same this time round,” he is talking through his hat.

He compounds the lie in the very next sentence, which ends with an ultimatum: “So if you want an MP who’ll back Brexit in Parliament, you’ve got to support me.”

This is a lie. Two parties in this election support Brexit no matter what – the Brexit Party and the Conservatives. Both will be happy to leave the EU without any deal to support UK businesses and the economy, and this could be disastrous for the majority of people here; we have already seen a large drop in production as a result of uncertainty, and what about all the international car manufacturers who are threatening to pull out?

The Liberal Democrats support remaining in the European Union because they think it will encourage people to vote for them – and let’s face it, their performance in the European Parliamentary election – even though no MEP will have any say on Brexit at all – suggests they are right. For a party that is struggling, with only 13 MPs in the Westminster Parliament, it could be a lifeline. But their policies have not changed and they would merrily jump right back into bed with the Conservatives if it meant they would have another taste of power.

None of these parties care about what happens to the people of the United Kingdom. They have ideological or selfish reasons for saying what they have. The only party interested in the well-being of the UK population, it seems, is Labour. That’s why Labour says it won’t support a ‘no deal’ Brexit that will harm the people, and will only support a deal that has a chance of maintaining living standards in the UK. It is also the reason Labour wants any Brexit proposals to go back to the electorate for a confirming vote, alongside the choice to remain in the EU if those proposals aren’t worth taking.

Mr Davies ignores all of that. His words: “A vote for anyone elsse will let the Lib Dems sneak through.

“We saw what happened in the Peterborough by-election a few weeks ago. People voted for the Brexit Party – and they got Labour.” This is a gross misinterpretation of events there. The Brexit Party attracted votes from traditional supporters of both the Conservatives and Labour. If that organisation had not stood a candidate, those votes would have remained in their traditional homes and it is likely that Labour would still have won.

“It’ll be just like that here,” writes Mr Davies. “A vote for the Brexit Party will mean that we end up with the Lib Dems.”

It’s like a bad attempt at brainwashing – or a return to what the Nazis called “The Big Lie”: Repeat a claim often enough and people will believe it.

This time it isn’t true.

“The Lib Dems have promised to do everything they can to stop Brexit. So another MP voting against Brexit will mean it could be delayed again – or even completely blocked.” Mr Davies writes as though any Brexit will be good for the UK. This is a lie.

“The Lib Dems are completely open about their plans to stop Brexit. So if you don’t want ANOTHER MP who’ll block Brexit, then you’ve got to support me.”

That’s his line: Don’t support the Brexit Party because he’ll give you exactly what they are offering. Support a convicted criminal so he can put your livelihood in jeopardy.

I have an alternative proposition.

Think for yourself.

Don’t let yourself be led by the nose, like a farm animal going to the slaughter, by these ideologically-obsessed suits whose only interest is lining their own pockets.

Vote for a candidate who will stand up for better services and living standards in Brecon and Radnorshire, and who will demand that Brexit works for all the people of the UK – not just the rich and selfish – or should be scrapped altogether if the people demand it.

Any other choice is insanity – and that especially includes voting for convicted expenses forger Chris Davies.

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Trump’s talk of a trade deal with ‘everything on the table’ should trip alarm bells

Protesters: Apparently Donald Trump hasn’t seen any.

Was all the flannel spoken at the Donald Trump – Theresa May press conference intended to obscure the terrifying claims about a trade deal, made by the president and not denied by the prime minister?

Mr Trump said he is looking forward to agreeing a “phenomenal” trade deal with the UK, and “everything is on the table”.

Clearly, “everything” includes your National Health Service, your workers’ rights, your environmental protection rights, the standard of goods you will be expected to buy (chlorinated chicken, anyone?) and much more – all heading into a race to the bottom in order to comply with lower US standards.

Mrs May cannily said there would only be a deal if both sides agree, but with Tory leadership candidates who are highly supportive of stronger business ties with the US (read: selling out the rights and well-being of UK citizens), those of us who want to at least maintain the standard of living we have at the moment have a right to be afraid.

Elsewhere in the press conference, Mr Trump revealed himself to be something of a fantasist. He said thousands of people were on the streets to cheer him yesterday (June 3). Like this?

As for the protesters who really have been lining up to make their feelings known, Mr Trump said he had not seen any yesterday, and those he saw today were a very small group.

So he didn’t see these people:

And the small crowd today? They were highly vocal, it seems:

The evidence suggests Mr Trump only sees or hears what he wants to see or hear.

And that is also bad news if he is planning to do a “phenomenal” trade deal with us, post-Brexit.

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Brexit talks are stalling because May wants to sell the NHS to Donald Trump

Theresa May and Donald Trump: That’s not what he really wants to get his hands on!

What’s left of it, anyway.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Brexit talks with the Conservative government are stalling because the Tories want deregulation, partly to ensure a US trade deal.

Deregulation, for those of you who aren’t in the know, means a lowering of standards – in this case to allow American firms to trade their lower-quality goods with the UK – chlorine-washed chicken being the most-quoted example.

It would allow the Tory government to sell off the remains of the National Health Service to American profit-making interests.

And it would also allow the Tories to set up the UK as a tax haven, right on the EU’s doorstep.

Environmental responsibilities and workers’ rights would also be sacrificed in Mrs May’s march to Donald Trump’s drumbeat.

Mr Corbyn won’t accept any of it. He’s standing up for you – to give you a fighting chance to maintain our current rights as a bare minimum of what we can expect in the future, to retain current high consumer standards, to make sure that the super-rich pay their taxes, and to stop the Tories plunging us into an expensive and harmful US-style health system.

Every single citizen of the UK should support him in that, for an obvious reason.

Brexit represents the desire to stop giving away our assets to foreign countries and companies, but that is precisely what Mrs May is trying to do.

AFTERWORD: Some might say Mrs May is neglecting a deal better-suited to Donald Trump:


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What’s the REAL reason the DWP destroyed a report on Job Centre safety failings?

The person responsible for this image has asked me to signpost you to their current project. You can find it here.

It isn’t often I disagree with John Pring of the Disability News Service, but I think he’s being far too charitable to the Department for Work and Pensions.

A report on the DNS website has suggested that the DWP destroyed a report on failures by Job Centre staff to have proper regard for the safety of benefit claimants because the government doesn’t want the facts to get out.

I have a simpler suggestion: The Conservatives simply don’t want benefit claimants to benefit from important information that could save them from serious harm or even death.

Failure to provide this information indicates a serious breach of the government’s duty of care to people claiming benefits.

The DNS report shows that the DWP illegally delayed its response to a Freedom of Information request demanding copies of all reports written by “Community Partners” in London in 2017 and 2018.

The report in question had been created by three disabled people who had joined the “Community Partners” initiative that had been set up to improve relations between the DWP and local communities.

They wrote it only weeks after joining, after becoming increasingly alarmed by the failure of 18 Job Centres to take basic actions that would protect people claiming benefits such as universal credit, employment and support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

DNS described some of the incidents, as recorded by one of the “Community Partners” going under the pseudonym “Rachel”:

On one occasion, Rachel heard a member of staff explain that a claimant with cancer of the spine, who needed his dressing changed every day, should be found fit for work “so he’s looking forward to the future”.

She also remembers sitting in on an interview with a universal credit claimant, who was 55 and not disabled and had just been made redundant.

He had been hit by the bedroom tax and said repeatedly that he was hungry because he was so short of money, but the DWP civil servant failed to tell him that he could request foodbank vouchers.

When Rachel asked the civil servant after the interview why she had not told him he could ask for vouchers, she was told: “Because he didn’t ask.”

Rachel said: “He said four times that he was hungry and couldn’t afford to go shopping and didn’t have enough money for food.

“That is just dangerous. That person is going to end up with malnutrition and depression.

“It was just a regular guy who was doing his best and did not know how the system worked, let alone that the magic word was ‘foodbank’.”

On another occasion, a man in extreme mental distress who had previously self-harmed in the Brixton jobcentre after being found fit for work, returned to the jobcentre and again began self-harming by banging his head against a window.

Staff were standing around watching, said Rachel, who had to take control, find a manager and tell them to contact the council’s social services department.

Despite her intervention, no report on the incident was written, despite her repeatedly asking for an incident report form.

She believes her insistence that the incident needed to be written up was one of the reasons she was eventually sacked, although DWP claimed it was because she had retweeted a social media post criticising Iain Duncan Smith, even though she believes the tweet was sent before she started working for DWP.

She said: “They all know they are putting people at risk but all they are concerned about is ticking boxes.”

Note the claim that “Rachel” was sacked for criticising Iain Duncan Smith – tacit confirmation that the Conservatives coerce employees into silence about their harmful policies and practices.

According to DNS, the DWP illegally delayed releasing the documents that had been requested, then said the report by “Rachel” and the other two “Community Partners” had been destroyed under a rule that such documents should not be kept longer than 12 months.

This is an unconvincing argument because the DNS Freedom of Information request had been made four months before that period had expired.

The evidence is clear: The Department for Work and Pensions will never willingly help benefit claimants whose safety is in danger.

There are moves to force the department support its own safeguarding rules: The Justice for Jodey Whiting petition demands an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the DWP.

The petition was set up because the department failed five times to follow its own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to her suicide in February 2017.

It has been signed 25,000 times in three weeks. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, it may be debated in Parliament.


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New council chief gets £55 for UNCONTESTED elections – and there’s no money for services

Powys County Hall.

What a barmy contradiction!

Powys is, geographically, the largest county in Wales – with the smallest population. It habitually receives the least extra cash in the annual settlement from the Welsh Assembly.

As a result, it struggles to provide services – partly because private companies that carry out many of those services assume local authorities have money to burn and charge accordingly (I had that from a council officer).

It must be true, the reasoning runs, because just look at the salaries paid to the council’s chief officers.

And salaries paid to chief officers are high because if they weren’t on a par with richer councils, nobody would even offer to do the job.

So everyone with a chance to demand more is on the take – and who can blame them in these uncertain times?

And public services suffer.

But the only reason we pay our taxes – council tax, income tax, and any other tax that feeds into local authority budgets – is to receive public services.

But (again) we can’t withhold our tax money on the grounds that these services are being withheld from us, because that is a crime and we would be fined at the very least (thereby giving more money into the pot).

Whatever happens, we lose. And this will continue as long as public servants are paid £55 for doing nothing at all.

Incoming Powys chief executive Dr Caroline Turner, has been given a cash boost worth more than £25,000 by Powys councillors.

This will be on top of her salary of £138,000 a year.

At the Full PCC meeting on Thursday, January 24, councillors had to appoint Dr Turner to … statutory roles [including] election returning officer.

There are five sets of fees, some of which are set by external bodies:

Parliamentary elections fees which are set at Westminster – £2,685 for Brecon and Radnorshire and £2,500 for Montgomeryshire.

Welsh Assembly election fees of £4,730 for Brecon and Radnorshire and for Montgomeryshire it’s £4,730.

Elections for Police and Crime Commissioner (set by the Police and Crime Commissioner Board) – £2,870 for Brecon and Radnorshire and £2,574 for Montgomeryshire.

European Elections (which may not happen again) – £5,952.

Local Government elections £110 per contested ward and £55 per uncontested ward.

Source: POWYS: New Chief Executive gets over 25k payment boost | County Times

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Grouse shooting estates: Why is Theresa May starving our public services in order to make a small number of toffs extremely rich?

Why were we funding these estates in the first place, let alone increasing that funding now?

Public money is for services to which all the public may have need or should have access.

Grouse shooting estates do not qualify.

Mrs May needs to explain why she is depriving us all of the services I mentioned above, and using the money to make a very small number of people exceedingly rich.

Theresa May says there isn’t enough money for doctors, nurses, hospitals, firefighters, so little money that she has had to cut 20,000 frontline police officers, not enough money to help the 400,000 more children in poverty since her government came to power, the 300,000 more pensioners in poverty or the homeless whose numbers have risen by 53% since 2010 …

… BUT SHE’S FOUND ENOUGH OF OUR MONEY TO INCREASE SUBSIDIES FOR GROUSE SHOOTING ESTATES FROM £30 PER HECTARE TO £56 PER HECTARE?

The amount you are now paying for her wealthy mates ‘sport’ has risen from £45m to £84m.

Exceedingly rich people are about to get considerably richer – all willingly paid for by you and me.

Source: Theresa May INCREASES taxpayer subsidies for her wealthy mates to go grouse shooting | Pride’s Purge

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