Tag Archives: Analysis

How will Brexit affect people in poverty and on benefits – and why won’t the DWP say?

Food bank: Will Boris Johnson’s Brexit increase the length of the queue? And why won’t the DWP tell us what its research has revealed?

The Department for Work and Pensions has analysed the impact of Brexit on people in poverty, on low incomes and on benefits – but won’t publish the findings. Why not?

That is the question put by the Scottish National Party over the weekend, with a deafening silence as the DWP’s only response.

According to Welfare Weekly:

The call for the full publication of the findings comes after the Poverty Alliance used a Freedom of Information request to ask whether or not the DWP had carried out any assessments to look at the impact of different Brexit scenarios on levels of poverty and inequality in the UK, as well as analysis on the impact on low-income households, on wages, employment and costs of living.

The DWP replied to confirm that it does hold some of the analysis but that it would not publish any of the findings as it was not in the public interest to do so.

The call for the full publication of the findings comes after the Poverty Alliance used a Freedom of Information request to ask whether or not the DWP had carried out any assessments to look at the impact of different Brexit scenarios on levels of poverty and inequality in the UK, as well as analysis on the impact on low-income households, on wages, employment and costs of living.

The DWP replied to confirm that it does hold some of the analysis but that it would not publish any of the findings as it was not in the public interest to do so.

Why is it “not in the public interest”?

Neil Gray, the SNP’s Social Justice spokesperson, reckons he knows why – we have a “Tory government intent on inflicting a damaging policy no matter the price ordinary people and families will have to pay.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that a Tory Brexit will push vulnerable people across Scotland and the UK into further poverty and hardship, yet the UK government callously carries on regardless.

“People are already suffering under a decade of Tory austerity, however analysis has shown time and time again that under all Brexit scenarios, jobs will be lost, wages will be hit and people’s living standards will be harmed.”

Rather than not being in the public interest for the expected impact to be known, then, isn’t it more accurate to say that it wouldn’t be in the Tories’ interest?

We won’t know until we see the report.

So let’s have it.

Source: DWP urged to publish ‘secret’ Brexit impact analysis

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

No policies, no direction, no hope: Theresa May’s speech showed the Tory Party is in its death agonies

How times change: No security, no stability in 2018 – and the only opportunity for Theresa May’s political group is to die.

Things have come to a pretty pass when the most useful part of Theresa May’s speech was the silly attempt at a dance at the start.

Still, I suppose we should consider what she said and what it meant.

Don’t get your hopes up.

Patriotism

After the usual flannel you get at the start of speeches, Mrs May gave us a lot more flannel about the centenary of World War One and the patriotic sacrifice of those who laid down their lives for their fellows.

It was a bit much, coming from her.

Because Theresa May knows very little about patriotism – as Arthur Snell laid out in a series of tweets:

https://twitter.com/SnellArthur/status/1047420015849484289

https://twitter.com/SnellArthur/status/1047420020064751616

https://twitter.com/SnellArthur/status/1047420024154206208

https://twitter.com/SnellArthur/status/1047420029262860288

https://twitter.com/SnellArthur/status/1047420056429314048

Compassionate politics

She said: “No party has a monopoly on good ideas. That getting things done requires working together – within parties and beyond them.

“When our politics becomes polarised, and compromise becomes a dirty word, that becomes harder.

“We have in our hands the power to set a standard of decency that will be an example for others to follow.

“Let’s say it loud and clear: Conservatives will always stand up for a politics that unites us rather than divides us.”

That was a bit much, too:

Labour and Jeremy Corbyn:

She went to town on Her Majesty’s Loyal Party of Opposition and its leader, with claims that every Labour Government left unemployment higher than they found it, ran out of other people’s money to spend, left the economy in a mess. False claims – for example, Labour has spent far less of other people’s money than the Conservatives, and Labour has paid back more of it than the Conservatives ever did.

She lied that the heirs of the old Labour Party were sitting on the back benches while something called the “Jeremy Corbyn Party” was in charge. Mr Corbyn’s politics is classic Labour; the charlatans are the so-called “moderates” who Mrs May would far prefer to face because their beliefs are far too similar to hers.

And she repeated a few of the lies that have been circulating recently, such as that in which “a leading Labour MP says his party is ‘institutionally racist'”.

Sajid Javid:

The following tweet is self-explanatory:

The National Health Service

Apparently Conservatives have looked after the NHS for most of its life. That is probably why it is currently being run into the ground and privatised by stealth.

Austerity

Mrs May said: “A decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off.”

This is a lie. Her own Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced he was sticking with austerity in his own speech to the same Conservative Party Conference at which Mrs May spoke those words.

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1047479981364981761

Savings

Mrs May tried to tell us that her government will help ordinary people with the cost of living. This at a time when there is more in-work poverty than anybody living can remember, when child poverty is at a record high, when wage increases have been artificially depressed to make more money for the rich and when savings are at an all-time low.

She chose this moment to say: “The difference it makes to have a little bit of money left to put away at the end of each month isn’t measured in pounds and pence,” and to claim the Tory Party exists for these people, and instituted measures like the National Living Wage (a misnomer as it doesn’t cover the cost of living, and not a Tory innovation as it is based on Labour’s minimum wage), the extension of free childcare (which is failing) and the freezing of fuel duty to help them. It is more accurate to say she believes these people exist for the benefit of the Tory Party.

Our best days are ahead of us

Finally, Mrs May pleaded with her audience to join with her in another whopper: “I passionately believe that our best days lie ahead of us and that our future is full of promise.”

Last word

What are we to make of all this, other than that Mrs May did not come out with any solid policies at all in more than an hour of oratory. She mentioned a plan to improve cancer diagnosis that had been trailed already, and that she was lifting the cap on local government borrowing in order to allow councils to build more houses – but local authorities are already going into debt and it seems more likely that they will need the money for other purposes.

I thought the whole speech was just one lie after another, embedded in a series of meaningless platitudes.

And I notice that another person who was deeply unimpressed appeared to be former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke*, who didn’t even bother to hang around and listen:

He had the right idea. Theresa May’s speech showed the Tory government is leaderless and in crisis. But this time, with an aging membership and voter base, it has nothing left to do but die.

*Alas, it seems likely this was a parody account.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

The mainstream media’s ‘anti-Semitism’ assault on Labour – analysed

This is revealing – a series of articles analysing the press assault on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.

Isn’t it interesting how the accusations spike during election campaigns?

During the three years of Corbyn’s Labour leadership, the association of antisemitism with the Labour Party has been a relentless media narrative. The 2,087 articles published in that time have come at an average of nearly two per day.

Yet in more than six and a half years prior to his election, just 178 articles were published associating the Party with antisemitism, at an average of one every fortnight. Is antisemitism 25 times more prevalent in the Party now?

Perhaps the most surprising trend is the recent drop in stories about antisemitism that don’t associate the problem with Labour. In the five years prior to Corbyn’s leadership such stories steadily grew in frequency, but the past two years have seen a progressive decline (despite the overall number spiking massively).

Source: The annual assault of antisemitism [PART 1] – Patrick Elliot – Medium

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Request for new Brexit impact analyses shows the UK and EU are dancing in the dark

Embrace? Theresa May is trying to draw Jean-Claude Junker into her death-grip but he is determinedly holding her back.

This will be the final brand in the bonfire of David Davis’s 58 (or however many there were supposed to be) Brexit analyses, then.

MPs have signalled they either don’t believe the information in those documents – or they are out of date.

It also shows that the Conservative government has been trying to negotiate a Brexit deal without any idea of the possible effects – of any outcome. Perhaps Mr Davis should have spent a little more than four hours this year in talks with his counterpart, Michel Barnier?

The situation is akin to Theresa May trying to dance with Jean-Claude Junker in a completely dark room; for all she knows, he is as far away from her as it is possible to be – and that is probably the way he wants it.

The story simply reinforces the view This Writer put forward on June 2: Members of the Tory government don’t care what impact Brexit will have on the people of the UK.

Their only concern is how they personally can profit from it.

The Treasury and Bank of England have been asked to draw up analysis of the impact of any Brexit deal struck with the UK.

The Commons Treasury select committee said it had also requested research from the Financial Conduct Authority on the potential impact of the withdrawal agreement and future framework.

Treasury committee chairwoman Nicky Morgan said MPs should be “properly informed” before the promised parliamentary vote on the deal.

Source: MPs request Bank and Treasury Brexit analysis

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Known liar says UK could lie about Brexit deal; what is the EU supposed to think?

[Cartoon: Ben Jennings.]

David Davis really should know when to keep his mouth shut – especially after his own Brexit ‘impact assessments’ debacle and the recent behaviour of his colleague Boris Johnson.

Let us remind ourselves of the disgrace with which Mr Davis has covered himself, courtesy of this video by Peter Stefanovic:

It is clear that Mr Davis lied about the existence of these documents. If anybody wants to split hairs about the difference between an “analysis” and an “assessment”, This Writer would urge them to look up a dictionary definition of both terms and consider whether there really is a huge difference between them.

Now he has said the last-minute agreement on the Irish border, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement between the UK and the EU27 on Brexit is “non-binding”.

According to the BBC: “He stressed that the deal struck by Theresa May on Friday to move to the next phase of talks was a “statement of intent” and not “legally enforceable”.

“Mr Davis has said “full alignment” would apply to the whole of the UK, not just Northern Ireland, but the Sunday Telegraph said Conservative Brexiteers had been reassured that it was “non-binding” and had been included to secure Ireland’s backing for the deal.”

This shows an extraordinary lack of intelligence from Mr Davis.

Only a few weeks ago, his colleague Boris Johnson caused an international incident when he said he believed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching journalism in Iran – confirming the claims of the Iranian authorities who had arrested her (such actions are considered to be ‘soft’ campaigning against the ruling regime there). In fact, she had been on holiday.

Of course the Iranians took Mr Johnson at his word and threatened to double Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s prison term. The imbecilic foreign secretary is in Iran at the time of writing, trying to put right his monumental blunder.

Now Mr Davis has made almost exactly the same kind of blunder – but one that could have far more serious repercussions for everybody in the UK.

And why not?

All they would be doing is judging him according to his character: He lied about the ‘impact assessments’ and he reckons Friday’s agreement is a lie as well.

And he is, after all, the UK minister responsible for Brexit.

The harm to Mr Davis’s reputation is indelible. If you want proof – look at the reaction to his claims about trade deals after Brexit.

He told Andrew Marr that the UK could sign a “Canada plus, plus, plus” trade deal with the European Union “the second after we leave”.

What do we think of that? See for yourself:

We have a Brexit Secretary who has ruined his own reputation with a silly lie – and giggled like a schoolgirl about it when his falsehood was exposed, let’s remember.

He has acted in extremely bad faith and the EU’s negotiators – not to mention the leaders of the other 27 nations – know it.

And he has ruined not only his own reputation but that of the UK internationally.

Still, he won’t be resigning any time soon. Theresa May is too weak to demand it and besides, the stupid Tory government will simply try to hide behind another lie.

Here it is, in fact:

“New sense of optimism?”

New smell of merde, more like!


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

May and Rudd ‘stripped anti-extremism unit to focus on Brexit’ | The SKWAWKBOX

Amber Rudd and Theresa May.

Is this more irresponsibility from the least responsible UK government ever?

Theresa May stripped the UK’s police of their ability to handle terrorist attacks (as we saw in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing).

Now, it seems, we are finding that she stripped the country of its ability to anticipate attacks such as that at Manchester.

All because she didn’t have enough resources to handle Brexit properly – probably because of her own party’s cuts to the public sector.

And how’s Brexit going?

The Home Office has a department named the Extremism Analysis Unit responsible, as its name suggests, for identifying and analysing potential extremist groups and individuals in order to identify the most serious threats to the safety of UK citizens.

And a civil servant close to the unit alleges that Theresa May, along with her successor Amber Rudd, intentionally moved resources away from it in order to increase resources available to Brexit teams.

Source: Exclusive: May, Rudd ‘stripped anti-extremism unit to focus on #Brexit’ #GE17 | The SKWAWKBOX


Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Vote Tory for a tiny economy, terrible jobs and no welfare state

150211economic-downturn

No doubt some of you will scream that this post is overdramatizing, but the consequences of further fiscal consolidation (that’s austerity to most of us), as laid out in Professor Simon Wren-Lewis’s latest Mainly Macro article, seem undeniable.

He tells us the National Institute has used the model NIGEM to analyse the macroeconomic impact of the different political parties’ fiscal plans post-2015, which is published in the latest Review. (Chris Giles has a FT write-up.) The result: The more fiscal austerity you undertake, and if monetary policy fails to perfectly offset the impact on demand, the lower output will be.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see what this means, if we get another Conservative, or Tory-led, government. Lower output means a lower tax take, therefore less money to spend on the NHS and welfare benefits (areas like Defence and International Development will always have funds – we can’t let ourselves go defenceless and we must continue our programmes of cultural imperialism, after all).

So further Tory austerity instantly implies the imposition of even harsher standards of qualification for state benefits, pushing even more vulnerable, sick and disabled people off the books and into their graves. We’ve all known that voting Tory is an endorsement of state-sponsored suicide but it’s time we all owned up to it.

It means the sale of the National Health Service in England to private companies will be accelerated, with consequent impacts on the amount of grant funding for the health service in the other UK countries; the service will continue to worsen and even more deaths will be the result.

But the Tories will want to pretend to the media that all is well, which means an increased push to get people into part-time, temporary or zero-hours work, and an increased number of benefit claimants being funnelled into work activity programmes that, in fact, reduce the number of available jobs. The resulting low-pay economy is exactly what the Conservatives want; the workers will be kept down and the employers can pocket the profits.

Nobody in the government or even the Bank of England will tell you this because, it seems, they haven’t done any analysis and won’t make any such forecasts.

The Office for Budget Irresponsibility is not allowed to look at alternative fiscal policies in the short term and must therefore put the bravest possible face on what is offered to it – that is why every single forecast to come out of that organisation has been hopelessly optimistic.

We’re back to evidenceless policies again. The Tories are saying “everything will be okay”, because – for them – it will be. They and their rich friends will have loads of cash. Who cares that the entire infrastructure of the United Kingdom – and the British way of life – will be dismantled and disappearing from under them?

Think this is overexaggerating? Let’s go back to Prof Wren-Lewis and examine the Tories’ record. He writes: “If you go back to 2010, the OBR’s main forecast didn’t look too bad: the recovery was continuing, and interest rates were able to rise as a result.

“But good policy does not just look at central projections, but it also looks at risks. Then, the risks were asymmetric: if the recovery became too strong, interest rates could always rise further too cool things, but if the recovery did not happen, interest rates would be stuck at their lower bound and monetary policy would be unable to keep the recovery on track.

“In 2010 and beyond that downside risk came to pass [bolding mine], and the recovery was delayed. Fiscal policy put the economy in a position where it was particularly vulnerable to downside risks, which is why it was an entirely foreseeable mistake.

“Exactly this point applies to 2015 and beyond. The problem with further fiscal consolidation while interest rates remain at their lower bound is that it makes the economy much more vulnerable to downside risks.”

In other words, it seems Conservative policy, as set down by History graduate and towel-folder George Osborne, deliberately weakened this country’s ability to recover from the crash of 2008 and afterwards.

How secure is you job? How safe are your savings?

Do you really want to risk them on more Tory bungling?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
explaining the extent of Tory economic bungling.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

FOI? Or just FU?

140113FoI

It seems Yr Obdt Srvt has become the victim of DWP game-playing that shows contempt for sick and disabled benefit claimants whose lives are threatened by poor decision-making.

You may be familiar with the following saying (or at least with the fact that George W Bush wasn’t): “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

I mention this as a precursor to the following story, for reasons that should become clear.

Back in May, I sent another Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and Pensions, again asking for an update of the ad-hoc statistical release Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of Recipients from mid-2012 (long-term readers will be aware a previous request was refused as “vexatious”).

In it, I pointed out: “A response to a previous Freedom of Information request (FOI 2013-IR665) stated that ‘Whilst we currently have no plans to directly update the ad hoc report on “Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of Recipients” published on 9th July 2012, the Department does monitor requests we receive for new statistics and consider whether we can produce and release analysis that will helpfully inform public debate. The Department is therefore looking at this issue with a view to seeing what statistics could be produced on a regular basis.’

“It went on to state that ‘the balance of the public interest test falls in favour of withholding this information. As I have explained above, statistics on this issue will be published in due course.’

“I have studied DWP release schedules extensively and in the 11 months since I made my request, I have found no publication of statistics on this issue… Was the DWP’s statement that ‘statistics on this issue… will be published in due course’ made in error?

“If this is the case, then there can be no public interest argument against disclosure of this information in response to either my previous request or any future request, as it is not set to be published as part of the DWP’s current schedule. I remind you that this is time-sensitive information; it is important that the data becomes public knowledge as soon as it is available, in order to inform government policy and avoid preventable fatalities in the future.”

If this was not the case, I continued, then – as at midday on May 28 this year, what was the date on which it is planned that the DWP will be publishing figures from November 2011 to those which are most up-to-date?

If no date of publication was set down, I concluded, then the DWP had a duty to provide an update, to me, immediately.

I reminded the Department’s FOI officers that an email from the DWP to the Information Commissioner’s office, dated October 21, 2013, stated that “we can confirm that the Department does hold, and could provide within the cost limit… the information requested.”

The substantive issue: A DWP statistical release in 2012 showed that more than 200 people were dying every week as a result of Iain Duncan Smith's changes to assessment procedures for incapacity benefits - either they were put into groups where unreasonable demands were placed on them or the stress and anxiety of constant re-assessment was too much for their bodies to take. Many were driven to suicide.

The substantive issue: A DWP statistical release in 2012 showed that more than 200 people were dying every week as a result of Iain Duncan Smith’s changes to assessment procedures for incapacity benefits – either they were put into groups where unreasonable demands were placed on them or the stress and anxiety of constant re-assessment was too much for their bodies to take. Many were driven to suicide.

Apart from acknowledging receipt, the DWP ignored my request. I therefore invoked my right to have it reconsidered, immediately after the legally-prescribed period ran out. By this time the DWP was already breaking the law.

Apart from acknowledging receipt, the DWP ignored my reconsideration request. Are you getting angry about this yet? Remember, it is about deaths caused by government policy. I therefore notified the Information Commissioner and requested a ruling on this matter.

The Commission responded late last month, saying the DWP had 10 working days to get a response back to me. Tomorrow was the deadline and the response arrived today.

You’re really not going to like it.

“Unfortunately there was a mistake in the response you were sent for FOI 2013-IR665. Due to an administrative error an Annex A (about the Public Interest Test) appeared at the very end of the letter. It was not intended for this response and as such there is no mention of it anywhere in the main letter.

“So the answer to your first question ‘Was the DWP’s statement that ‘statistics on this issue [incapacity benefits: deaths of recipients] will be published in due course’ made in error?’ with respect to the reply you received is yes. That statement was not intended to be part of the response and was therefore made in error. We therefore attach a corrected copy of the reply to FOI 2013-IR665 and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

That is not good enough. There was no way I could have read that response without believing that I was being told updated statistics were to be published in the future; any other interpretation would have defied common sense.

Also, it makes a nonsense of what was said in the body of the response – that the DWP was working on releasing figures on a regular basis.

And it means one of two things: Either the DWP was lying then, when it said work was progressing on what could be published, or it is lying now, by saying the information about the public interest test was included in error.

Either way, it seems clear that the intention was to stop my request from progressing any further.

Let’s move on to the really insulting part. Today’s response states, and I quote verbatim:

We can confirm that we do intend to publish further statistics on this topic and these will answer a majority of your questions. As the statistics are intended for future publication this information is exempt from disclosure under the terms of Section 22 (Information intended for future publication) of the FOIA. This exemption is qualified, and is therefore subject to a public interest test. The public interest test is where the Department considers whether the balance of the public interest falls in favour of withholding or disclosing the information requested.

“Arguments in favour of disclosure: There are public interest arguments in favour of disclosure of this information at the present time. Disclosure would for example improve transparency in the operations of the Department.

“Arguments against disclosure: There are public interest arguments against disclosure of this information at the present time. These arguments include that it is in the public interest to adhere to the existing publication process for official statistics, which includes time for the data to be collated and properly verified.

“It is also in the public interest to ensure that the publication of official information is a properly planned and managed process, to ensure that the data are accurate once placed into the public domain. It is also in the public interest to ensure that the information is available to all members of the public at the same time, and premature publication could undermine the principle of making the information available to all at the same time through the official publication process.

“On this occasion, the balance of the public interest test falls in favour of withholding this information. As explained above, statistics on this issue will be published in due course.

“We do not have a planned publication date at this stage but we will pre-announce the agreed date.”

That’s right – having apologised for misleading me into believing that updated information was to be produced when it wasn’t, the DWP went on to say that updated information was to be produced, but it wasn’t going to provide that information to me – even though no publication date has been set – for precisely the same reasons, to the letter, for which it had just apologised.

I get the impression that someone in Caxton House is trying to be funny.

What a big joke – to put off a Freedom of Information request about thousands of needless deaths with an excuse that has already been used wrongly, on the basis that it was wrong then but it isn’t now.

No. Not funny.

Pants: Iain Duncan Smith

Pants: Iain Duncan Smith

The situation is reminiscent of one mentioned in an article earlier today, wherein someone blew the whistle on Iain Duncan Smith’s expenses claim for underwear so he called her into a meeting and reduced her to tears with a show of belligerence. The substantive issue was of no interest to the man we call RTU (Returned To Unit); his only worry was that it should be hidden from the public. The same applies here.

As mentioned at the start: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I won’t be fooled again.

The information is held by the DWP, and could be provided easily enough.

The public interest test cannot be applied to my request as the DWP has not proved that statistics on this issue will be published in due course. For this to apply, a publication date would have to have been provided in the response and none was forthcoming.

Therefore I conclude that the DWP’s response is false and will be appealing to the Information Commissioner again – and to the First-Tier Tribunal if necessary. The tribunal is likely to take a very dim view of this as, after a previous hearing, its members stated that “we have considerable sympathy for the appellant”.

We have to prove that these people are not above the law.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Buy Vox Political books and help us
expose DWP attempts to hide the facts!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
Y
ou can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Cameron’s Con: His ‘planned’ rules against benefit tourism are already British law

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog - http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ - which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK's real problems.

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog – http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ – which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK’s real problems.

David Cameron seems to have created quite a stir with his plan to restrict access to benefits for EU immigrants. Would he have made such a splash if it was widely known that, firstly, benefit tourism is a myth and, secondly, most of his ‘new’ measures are already in place?

The BBC has reported that Cameron is “proposing powers to deport homeless migrants and cut rights to unemployment and housing benefits”. This is simply not accurate.

The ‘proposal’ to stop out-of-work benefits being paid after six months unless a claimant has a “genuine” chance of a job is already enshrined in UK law.

Take a look at the Citizens Advice Bureau website, which states quite clearly: “If you’re looking for work and have registered as a jobseeker at Jobcentre Plus… you will … have to take the Habitual Residence Test [to prove residence in the UK] and prove you intend to settle in the UK and make it your home for the time being. Usually, you can only have jobseeker status for six months. However, this period can be extended if you’ve a genuine chance of finding work.

“If you lost your job in the UK and it wasn’t your fault and you’re still genuinely looking for work you won’t have to take the HRT. This is called involuntary unemployment. For example, you might have been made redundant or your fixed-term contract ended. You must also have been employed for one year before you lost your job, and be now registered as a jobseeker. If you’ve been employed for less than one year you can only keep the status of worker for six months after you lose your job. However, you can keep the status for longer if you show that you’ve a genuine chance of finding work.”

So the plan to stop payments unless a claimant has a “genuine” chance of a job is not a plan at all. It is already taking place.

What about the ‘proposal’ to ensure that new migrants cannot claim housing benefit immediately?

This one’s a little less clear, but the CAB website again comes in handy, where it states: “If you are from overseas or have recently come to live in the UK you may have difficulty claiming the benefit, depending on your immigration status.”

The ‘proposal’ to deport people caught begging or sleeping rough is already part of UK law. The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 allow such deportations on the basis that beggars who are sleeping rough are “not exercising residence rights in the UK”.

The proposal to quadruple fines for employers that do not pay the minimum wage seems genuine – but of course this is not a sanction on European Union migrants at all – it is an extension of a previously-announced plan to toughen penalties for any employer in the UK that fails to pay the minimum wage.

Some might say that the new plan does not go far enough. The maximum fine for transgressors is currently just £5,000; quadrupling it is just £20,000. That’s peanuts to a large firm.

All of the above leaves just one new ‘proposal’ in Cameron’s list – to deny out-of-work benefits to new migrants for the first three months of their residence in the UK.

In all honesty, we should be able to live with that. If a person is coming to this country to work, it makes sense for them to have a job waiting for them – or for them to be able to support themselves until they are able to secure one.

[But it turns out that even this is nothing new. As commenters have stated since the article went up, EU migrants who claim benefits and then move to another country in search of work must fill in an E303 form in order to receive benefits at the destination country. These are issued at the same rates as in their country of origin, for a total of three months only. Failure to find employment in that time means the loss of the benefit or a return to the country of origin. This means Cameron has proposed nothing that is new.]

It is the context of this measure that is sinister. Cameron is implying that EU immigrants are coming here as “benefit tourists” – setting themselves up in the UK to suck down benefits that they do not deserve, with the British taxpayer footing the bill. Evidence shows that this claim is untrue.

Channel 4’s FactCheck Blog made it clear – less than one month ago – that it “found little empirical evidence that the problem existed”.

The evidence shows that “immigrants are generally net contributors to the British economy, paying more into the system in taxes than they take out by accessing public services.

“Migrants from the A8 countries of central and eastern Europe who joined the EU in 2004 were 60 per cent less likely than native-born Brits to claim benefits, and 58 per cent less likely to live in council housing. In every year since 2004 the A8 immigrants had paid in more than they had taken out.”

The blog entry quotes a study from CReAM (the Centre for the Research and Analysis of Migration) which states: “Whereas [European Economic Area] immigrants have made an overall positive fiscal contribution to the UK, the net fiscal balance of non-EEA immigrants is negative – as it is for natives.”

In other words, UK citizens are a greater drain on the state than immigrants from Europe. Between 1995 and 2011 EEA immigrants paid in 4 per cent more than they took out, whereas native-born Brits only paid in 93 per cent of what they received. Between 2001 and 2011 recent EEA immigrants contributed 34 per cent more than they took out, a net contribution of £22bn.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions agree with the thrust of this research (although the figures are not directly comparable): At February 2013, 16.4 per cent of working-age UK nationals were claiming a working-age benefit compared to 6.7 per cent of non-UK nationals, and 5.9 per cent of foreign nationals who registered for a national insurance number in 2011/12 were claiming out-of-work benefits within six months, down from 6.6 per cent the year before.

There is no evidence that significant numbers of people come to the UK seeking a life on benefits.

David Cameron has proposed a series of phantom measures to combat a phantom problem.

It might please his swivel-eyed followers, but the rest of us should despair of him.

He is pandering to fantasies rather than working for the national interest.