Tag Archives: change

How could police raid G7 activist’s home without warrant or reason?

Police: it seems they are expanding their powers unilaterally, so they can harass you even before you have given them any reason to.

It seems Boris Johnson’s fascist government has decided to accelerate its attack on your right to protest by putting planned restrictions on your freedom into action before legislation has passed through Parliament.

How else are we to understand the raid at G7 activist Rob Higgs’s Cornwall home, workplace and the business where he keeps his boat, last Thursday (May 13)?

Rob, who is a theatre maker and co-founder of climate action group Ocean Rebellion, said of the raids: “They searched the premises without any warrants, interviewing all my neighbours and tenants, asking about me, what I do and telling people at the boatyard that I am a ‘person of interest’.

He told CornwallLive: “The police’s quote was, ‘We’re just letting you know that we will not in any way stop peaceful protest but we can arrest you at any time that we believe you might be considering disrupting the G7 Summit’, which wouldn’t be legal as normally you’ve got to break a law to be arrested, unless what they’re hinting at is conspiracy charges.

He added: “It’s because I’m a co-founder of Ocean Rebellion, which is an entirely peaceful, legal organisation trying to raise awareness of the oceans.

“We basically make photo shoots and small pop-up theatrical performances that gets good media and global coverage about ocean degradation and how the seas are dying. We’re trying to raise awareness of that and push legislation from the UN to reverse the ocean degradation.

“For the last few months the G7 police have been asking what our plans are and made contact early on saying they’d like to facilitate a peaceful protest. We said ‘thanks but generally you stop it whenever we tell you what we’re doing.’

“We’ve got a dedicated police liaison officer already who has been in discussion with them for months now trying to get them to tell us what we can and can’t do and where we can and can’t go, and we will design all our actions around that to stay within the legal frameworks. I don’t want to break any laws.

“They have refused to let us know, specifically on the water, where the exclusion zones are. They come back to our police liaison officer asking what we’re planning and we tell them we can’t say until they tell us where we can do it!”

Mr Higgs is filing an official complaint to the police and had also taken it up with the Cabinet Office.

What a bizarre situation – it seems the police are being deliberately obstructive of these campaigners’ attempt to mount legal protest, in order to have a reason to arrest them!

I think it would be hard to make a conspiracy charge stick when this group has a police liaison officer who has been trying to plan legal activities but has been foiled by the police’s refusal to co-operate in any way.

But it seems clear in any event that the police are being used as political tools – sent to harass this organisation in order to frustrate its efforts.

And what is the terrible, terrorist act that Ocean Rebellion wants to do?

It wants to raise awareness of the fatal effects of climate change and pollution on sea life – effects that will eventually impact on human beings like you and me in possibly catastrophic ways.

Bang goes Boris Johnson’s attempt to claim environmental credibility.

I can’t wait to hear him try to justify it but I bet he won’t even acknowledge that it has happened.

Source: G7 summit activist in Cornwall files complaint after police ‘raid’ his home and work – Cornwall Live

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Johnson government admits Cameron’s NHS ‘reforms’ were wrong. But what will replace them?

Andrew Lansley spent years planning ways to take healthcare away from people who need it, and David Cameron allowed him to put those plans into practise. But is Boris Johnson really going to put a stop to the damage?

Isn’t it nice to know that the current Conservative government has admitted the austerity administration of David Cameron was wrong to impose privatisation on the NHS!

Except… is that really what Johnson – and his minister for death, Matt Hancock, are saying?

Here’s what the BBC story tells us:

The changes would aim to tackle bureaucracy and encourage health services from hospitals to GP surgeries and social care to work more closely.

The draft policy paper also says the health secretary would take more direct control over NHS England.

Instead of a system that requires competitive tendering for contracts – sometimes involving private companies, the NHS and local authorities will be left to run services and told to collaborate with each other, says the draft White Paper, designed to set out proposed legislation.

It doesn’t say private companies will no longer be allowed to take NHS contracts; nor does it say that the billions of pounds worth of NHS contracts that were awarded to private companies will revert back to the public sector.

In fact, it says

‘there will continue to be an important role for voluntary and independent sector providers’.

It just doesn’t say what that role will be.

And that should make us all nervous.

One of the reasons given for the need to change is that

the Covid pandemic “demonstrated plainly that this broader approach to health and care is not only desirable, but essential”.

But we know that the Covid pandemic has been a catastrophe for private-sector health firms.

Private contractors failed to provide vital ventilators and PPE (personal protective equipment) when they were needed.

The privatised test-and-trace system has done nothing but haemorrhage money; it has been worse than useless in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

And of course the Tory government itself abused the emergency system for awarding contracts, giving them to organisations run by party donors or with links to ministers rather than to those that could actually carry out the work.

To This Writer, it suggests that the private sector is irresponsible and should be removed from the provision of public health care, in all our best interests, as soon as possible.

But that is not what is being suggested.

Until we find out exactly what Johnson and Hancock are proposing, it seems much too early to get out the bunting and celebrate the salvation of the NHS.

Source: NHS: Government plans to reverse Cameron-era reforms – BBC News

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More gay and bisexual men can give blood – after wait of more than six years (at least!)

It is more than six years since I tore metaphorical shreds off of Michael Fabricant for suggesting the ban on all gay men giving blood should be lifted – and this announcement proves I was right.

At the time, Fabricant reckoned the ban on sexually promiscuous gay men should be lifted as straight men who behave in the same manner do not suffer the same discrimination.

I stated that this was insane – partly because it misrepresented the issue.

The problem, I said, was that the ban did not only affect sexually promiscuous gay men, but any man who had had sex with another man, with or without a condom.

This clearly discriminated against gay men who were in a monogamous relationship in which both partners were free of infection. They should not be covered by the ban, I said.

Fast forward to the new announcement:

Men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will now be able to donate blood at any time.

The new criteria [focus] on individual behaviours, lifting a blanket ban for any men who have had sex with men in the last three months.

All blood donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, will now be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.

Under previous rules, all men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months in order to donate.

It is as though the authorities had (belatedly) read my article.

There was more to it than is being stated by the BBC, though. Here’s what I wrote, back in 2014:

The ban was put in place – unless the memory cheats – because blood supplies donated by gay men were discovered to be infected with HIV. Anybody can see that a ban on anything that could spread HIV is entirely sensible and should only be lifted if technology has moved on enough for doctors to spot infected blood immediately or screen out the infection in blood that has been donated.

The issue then was that people who had been in a monogamous relationship for a long period of time, and who did not have HIV when they started it, were not going to have it when they applied to give blood either, and it was discriminatory to ban them from doing so.

The new change rectifies that. I welcome it.

Source: Blood donation: Rule change means more gay and bisexual men can give blood – BBC News

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Is the United States getting serious about climate change? If so, it could be a game-changer

It seems Joe Biden wants to tackle the climate crisis. Perhaps he sees it as a way to make his mark on history.

If so, he is to be applauded. If the United States commits to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it will take a lot of pressure from smaller countries – and pile it onto larger economies like China, Russia and India.

And while the UK has paid lip-service to climate commitments, the influence of America could force Boris Johnson (and his successors) to pay closer attention to making sure they are honoured.

This is another good news story. Perhaps the tide is turning at last.

The US will hold a climate summit of the world’s major economies early next year, within 100 days of Joe Biden taking office, and seek to rejoin the Paris agreement on the first day of his presidency, in a boost to international climate action.

Leaders from 75 countries met without the US in a virtual Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UN, the UK and France at the weekend, marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris accord. The absence of the US underlined the need for more countries, including other major economies such as Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, to make fresh commitments on tackling the climate crisis.

Source: US to hold world climate summit early next year and seek to rejoin Paris accord | Climate change | The Guardian

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Thousands of disabled students could get Universal Credit after woman wins legal fight

Tactical cruelty: perhaps DWP bosses realised they were going to lose a court case so they changed the law in order to ensure that disabled students would continue to be unable to claim Universal Credit.

This is good news for many – but not for everybody:

Tens of thousands of disabled students could qualify for Universal Credit after 22-year-old mostly-blind Sidra Kauser won a legal victory over a loophole saying she could not claim Universal Credit.

To receive the benefit, she would have had to take a work capability assessment – but the DWP’s rules contained a bizarre ‘Catch-22’ that she could not take the test, because she is a student.

As a result, she could not be found to have limited capability for work, and therefore couldn’t receive the benefit.

The High Court has quashed the DWP’s decision, saying it breaches the Tory-run government department’s own regulations, dating back to 2013 – and ordered it to pay Ms Kauser’s legal fees.

But this fight is not over because the Tory government changed the law on August 5, ensuring that disabled students claiming Universal Credit after that date would not be invited to a work capability assessment and therefore would not be eligible for the benefit at all.

That will have to be challenged in a future court case.

But this is another victory for crusading lawyers Leigh Day, who explained the case:

Sidra Kauser, aged 22, from Halifax, is visually impaired and is currently studying for a masters degree at York University.

She received Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but that, combined with a student loan, was not enough to provide her with an acceptable standard of living. After payment of her rent, she had £120 a month to live on.

She applied for universal credit, but because she was a student, she was refused a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which meant she was effectively disentitled from claiming universal credit.

Sidra applied for a judicial review of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) policy (which stated that disabled students shouldn’t be invited to a WCA), arguing that the law required the DWP to conduct a WCA to determine whether she had limited capability for work, in which case she would be entitled to universal credit.

Now, after the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, told the court in July, 2020 that she would not be defending Sidra’s claim, a high court judge has ruled that the SSWP had acted unlawfully and has quashed the decision to refuse Sidra’s claim for universal credit.

Sidra will now be given a WCA, and if she is deemed to be unable to work, she will be entitled to make a claim for universal credit.

The court ruling also has an impact on those disabled students whose applications for universal credit had previously been unsuccessful because they had been refused a WCA.

However, on 5 August the DWP changed the law so that other disabled students who made a claim for universal credit after that date would not be invited  to a WCA and would not therefore be able to establish their limited capability for work.

Ms Kauser said: “I am glad I decided to take a stand and pursue my claim for judicial review of the DWP decision to refuse me a WCA. Hopefully other students will benefit from the court ruling.”

Leigh Day solicitor Lucy Cadd added: “Sidra made a brave stand against the decision to refuse her a WCA and it has proved successful. It has been estimated by the charity Disability Rights UK that the Secretary of State’s unlawful policy, which has been in operation since 2013, could have adversely affected 30,000 disabled students. Other disabled students who were refused a WCA prior to 5 August 2020 and therefore lost out on their claim for universal credit, should ask the Secretary of State to revise her decision.

“Although the DWP has callously changed the regulations to prevent more disabled students being entitled to a WCA, there may be scope for legal challenge to the new regulations.”

Source: Disabled student wins right to be considered for universal credit

Heatwave exposes failures of Tory UK to cope with climate change

Heat death: the far north has experienced its hottest temperatures ever, with fires breaking out across the world. But the Tories see no need to adapt to climate change and Keir Starmer has abandoned Labour’s policies to deal with it.

This Site received a strange response to the article on Tory class war yesterday (August 14), to the effect that I should be writing about climate change instead. In fact, the two are intertwined.

The Conservatives don’t accept climate change because the changes that acceptance would require would bite into the profits of their donors – and therefore into their own funds.

The recent/current heatwave has brought the issue into sharp focus. This Writer has been stewing, every day – and the nightly thunderstorms, while entertaining, didn’t make up for the fact that it has been hard to concentrate.

It seems I am not alone.

Our buildings are unsuited to hot weather; they were made to keep heat in during the winter. There is still no legal requirement to ensure homes, hospitals, schools or care homes are designed for the current or future climate – and under the Tories I do not believe there every will be.

It costs too much.

Parts of England are set to run out of water soon, because the Tories privatised water provision and the new companies fell into the hands of foreign government-owned franchises that have taken huge profits but invested nothing.

Our transport and energy networks are also facing crisis – look at the Stonehaven derailment which has been blamed on a landslip after heavy rain.

What is the government doing? It’s making matters worse.

Rishi Sunak has announced a £2 billion fund to make homes more energy efficient, with the cash going towards insulation – but the wrong insulation can turn a house into a heat trap.

And Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is no help with Keir Starmer at the helm. He has abandoned Jeremy Corbyn’s ambitious plans to combat climate change because he thinks they’re unpopular with the voters.

We’re facing a wholesale failure in thought and deed by our leaders.

And when the fabric of the nation falls (even further) apart as a result, who do you think will get the blame?

We will.

Source: UK infrastructure inadequate for climate emergency, experts warn | Environment | The Guardian

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Did Tory-run DWP change rules on cancelling benefits to avoid humiliation in court?

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions has quietly changed its rules on stopping benefits of vulnerable claimants – after relatives of a man who died of starvation won the right to have a judicial review.

Relatives of Errol Graham were granted permission for a judicial review of DWP policies after the department failed to review and revise them itself, following his death.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though.

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

Not only that, but the DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Solicitors Leigh Day, acting for Mr Graham’s family, revealed they had won the right to have a judicial review last week.

And on Tuesday – the day before Parliament rose for the summer recess – the DWP told Parliament’s Work and Pensions committee that it had changed the rules.

Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield said: “If we tried all of that [contacting the claimant by phone and carrying out two safeguarding visits] we would then take that back and have a case conference about the individual and particularly, obviously if it’s someone with vulnerabilities that we know about, then we would seek to involve other organisations that might have a different way of knowing about that individual.

“And then we would seek to understand what do they know about that individual and how can we support them.

“And if that fails that could then be escalated to the safeguarding leads. And in that way basically what we’d seek to do is provide support not removal of benefits.”

Do you believe that?

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day seems sceptical, still: “Today’s announcement that the procedures have changed is news to us and news to our client.

“Whilst we cautiously welcome the announcement, it is imperative that the Secretary of State publishes the relevant guidance immediately so that our client and the public can see whether it actually requires decision makers to liaise with different agencies in cases like Errol’s and whether enough has been done to ensure that the vulnerable are adequately protected.”

This Writer thinks the best way to achieve that aim is to go ahead with the judicial review. Why were these changes only brought in when the Tory government was facing humiliation in court?

Source: DWP chiefs quietly change rule on stopping benefits after man starved to death – Mirror Online

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Floodgates open as 300+ disabled people issue court claim for Universal Credit cash

A landmark court ruling looks set to cost the Tory government a small fortune as people with disabilities line up to demand their lost cash.

More than 300 people are involved in this initial claim – but solicitors Leigh Day reckon more than 13,000 could be owed lost income totalling £170 per month or more.

Here are the details:

More than 300 severely disabled people have issued a claim in the High Court for lost income under the universal credit system.

The group, represented by Leigh Day solicitors, say they have each missed out on at least £170 a month since they were moved on to universal credit as the new benefits system has been rolled out across the UK.

All of the group were moved on to the system before January, 2019 and lost the severe disability premium which they had previously claimed, which left them worse off.

However, severely disabled people who have been moved on to universal credit since January 2019 have not missed out on the severe disability premium.

Instead, their universal credit claims have been managed by the Severe Disability premium Gateway system which has been put in place to ensure that severely disabled benefits claimants do not end up worse off under the universal credit system.

The claimants argue that they have suffered because of the unlawful implementation of the Universal Credit  (Transitional Provisions) 2014, the SDP Gateway Regulations, January 2019, and the Managed Migrations Regulations 2019.

They claim they have suffered discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The current litigation appears to follow a Court of Appeal ruling on these issues – that the government not only discriminated against disabled people moving from Severe Disability Premium onto Universal Credit, but then tried to discriminate against them with the repayments.

The issue was discovered by two claimants, anonymised as TP and AR, whose disability benefits were cancelled when they moved from one local authority area to another. They were put on Universal Credit instead, with £180 per month wiped off the amount they were set to receive.

The government attempted to rectify the situation with regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from moving over to Universal Credit and provided those who had already moved over with back payments.

But in another failure of the kind that has made the Tory government notorious, the disabled men were only paid back at a rate of £80 a month, rather than the £180 that they had lost.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants.

This site previously reported that a pre-action protocol letter had been sent to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Leigh Day solicitors have now issued the full claim, saying she failed to substantively respond to that letter.

They believe that up to 13,000 disabled people in the UK have been affected by the change and may be entitled to make a claim to retrieve lost benefit payments.

“Our clients believe that it clearly cannot be right that they find themselves £170 a month worse off under the universal credit system when other claimants have the assurance that they will not be worse off on universal credit,” said Leigh Day solicitor Ryan Bradshaw.

The claimants are asking the Work and Pensions Secretary for compensation equal to the amount of money they have lost following their transfer to Universal Credit, for their previous level of benefits to be restored and maintained until a lawful migration scheme is established, and for compensation for the stress they have been caused.

Source: Disabled benefit claimants issue claim for lost income under universal credit system

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Why aren’t Tory voters furious after their party u-turned on free school meals and all their other disastrous policies?

Tearing Britain apart: it’s what Conservative voters supported, so why aren’t they complaining about every policy alteration that prevents it?

This Twitter user makes a very good point:

Mr Maginn is absolutely right.

If you voted Conservative, you voted for a party that would starve your children in the school holidays. Why aren’t you demanding that they stick to their principles?

This got me thinking about all the other ways the Tories have let their voters down over the last few months.

For example, we know that the Tories dismantled all the systems that had been in place to combat a pandemic like Covid-19. Conservative voters supported that.

So, if you’re a Conservative voter, why aren’t you absolutely raging that your demand for the entire nation to be infected, in order to develop “herd immunity” has been rejected? Voting Tory means that’s what you wanted, no matter how many people it killed.

Why aren’t you furious about the lockdown that interfered unforgivably with your ability to make money for yourselves and your family and boost the economy? You voted Tory – that’s what you had a right to expect, even if it meant your entire family caught Covid-19 and died.

Why aren’t you frothing at the mouth about the fact that the Tories were shamed into casting around for PPE (personal protective equipment) for NHS staff dealing with the coronavirus in hospitals? You voted Tory and the Tories decided long ago that this equipment would not be necessary – and we know they have been quietly dismantling the NHS for the last decade; if doctors, nurses and support staff all caught Covid and died, that would achieve the aim very well.

If you voted Conservative, then you supported that party’s Brexit policy that has discouraged foreign workers from coming to the UK – so you must be seething at Tory attempts to entice them back to harvest this year’s fruit crop before it rots. You voted for that crop to rot in the fields! It is unconscionable that the Tories should go against your wishes in trying to save it.

Progressing from there, if you voted Conservative, then you support the underlying racism that supported the “hostile environment” policy, and the Windrush generation deportations. You must be raging against the Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the UK and the calls for statues glorifying slavers and racists to be taken down. Why aren’t you contacting your MP, demanding that charges against the Nazis who rampaged through London on Saturday be dropped on the grounds that they are only good British citizens acting in concord with the policies of the Conservative government and its racist leader Boris Johnson?

Need I go on?

Too often, voters confuse what the Conservatives have done with what they wanted to do.

If Boris Johnson’s government had done everything it wanted, then the United Kingdom would already have been decimated by plague and famine (caused by deliberate starvation as well as failure to bring in the crops) – with worse to follow.

It’s what Conservative voters wanted. Perhaps someone should point that out to them.

DWP faces legal action over lost benefit cash – from no fewer than 275 people with disabilities

It seems people with disabilities are seizing the opportunity granted them by a landmark court ruling – and taking legal action against the government over lost benefit income.

Leigh Day solicitors have sent a pre-action protocol letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey on behalf of no fewer than 275 former claimants of disability benefits who say changes forced on them by the government department deprived them of £170 per month – or more.

They say they lost the cash because they were moved on to Universal Credit before January 2019, when the Department for Work and Pensions introduced the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) Gateway system.

This aims to ensure that people previously entitled to the Severe Disability Premium do not end up worse off when they are transferred to Universal Credit.

The 275 claimants involved say the unlawful implementation of the Universal Credit  (Transitional Provisions) 2014, the SDP Gateway Regulations, January 2019, and the Managed Migrations Regulations 2019 mean they have suffered discrimination, as defined by Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Leigh Day solicitors reckon up to 13,000 disabled people in the UK have been affected by the change and may be entitled to make a claim to retrieve lost benefit payments.

The current litigation appears to follow a Court of Appeal ruling that the government not only discriminated against disabled people moving from Severe Disability Premium onto Universal Credit, but then tried to discriminate against them with the repayments.

The issue was discovered by two claimants, anonymised as TP and AR, whose disability benefits were cancelled when they moved from one local authority area to another. They were put on Universal Credit instead, with £180 per month wiped off the amount they were set to receive.

The government attempted to rectify the situation with regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from moving over to Universal Credit and provided those who had already moved over with back payments.

But in another failure of the kind that has made the Tory government notorious, the disabled men were only paid back at a rate of £80 a month, rather than the £180 that they had lost.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants.

At long last, it seems, people with disabilities have a chance to get compensation from a Tory government that has persecuted them for more than a decade.

Source: 275 severely disabled people launch legal case against DWP over lost benefit income – Welfare Weekly

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/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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