So Motability’s “£2.4 billion cash stockpile” is in fact nothing of the sort.
The money is needed to buy cars for people with disabilities and to protect it against business risks. That seems much more realistic than the far-right rag’s claims.
There does remain the matter of chief exec Mike Betts’s £1.7 million annual salary, which does seem exorbitant.
But an organisation’s remuneration schemes are its own business, and it seems entirely unfair of the Mail to complain about one executive being paid £1.7 million when others, such as bankers, take home far more while producing far less.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Motability Operations said: ‘The Daily Mail claims there is a £2.4 bn ‘cash stockpile’ or ‘spare £2.4bn’.
‘It’s quite clear to us that the Daily Mail has totally misunderstood what this £2.4 billion of reserves represents. It is not held as cash but is used to buy cars for disabled people. This reduces the amount of borrowing required.
‘It also underpins the scheme’s financial stability, protecting it from the business risks it faces, particularly in relation to used car values. The Charity Commission has today stated “that we consider the level of operating capital held by the company in order to guarantee the scheme to be conservative”.’
Moving on to the issue of the salary paid to Mike Betts, the charity said: ‘The remuneration of Motability operations directors is decided by the Motability operations board, based on the advice of their remuneration committee.
‘Remuneration is reviewed against the market to ensure that it is both competitive over the long term, and to ensure that any rewards are related to performance especially in relation to the quality of service provided to customers.’
It added: ‘The current chief executive of Motability Operations, Mike Betts, has been in place since 2003 and has been instrumental in ensuring the company is able to operate successfully and effectively.’
According to all the reports This Writer has seen, the government’s changes to Personal Independence Payment criteria mean thousands upon thousands of people have been losing the Motability cars that allowed them their valuable freedom.
So how is it that Motability’s chief executive is supposed to be pocketing such a vast amount of money every year?
It doesn’t make sense. The organisation should be contracting.
Can anybody shine a light on the reasons for this apparent contradiction?
A company providing taxpayer-funded cars for the disabled is hoarding £2.4 billion – and paying its boss £1.7 million a year.
The cash ‘surplus’ has been run up by Motability, a charitable scheme run by chief executive Mike Betts. Thanks to bonuses, incentives and pension payments, he pocketed 11 times as much as the Prime Minister in 2017, a Daily Mail investigation reveals.
The firm offers a fleet of vehicles to wheelchair users and others in return for part of their State disability allowance.
Jessie and Ray Lorrison have spent the last 70 years together, but have now been told they must live separately [Image: North News and Pictures].
The criteria under which Ray and Jessie Lorrison are being separated for what could be the last few months of their respective lives are in the Conservative Government’s Care Act 2014.
The Tories may wish to quibble that the implication of the Act is for local councils to interpret, but it seems likely this is another Tory attempt at penny-pinching, and never mind the human tragedy it causes.
How many more couples are being separated in this entirely unacceptable way?
There is a petition, which you can sign if you visit the Mirror‘s story (the link is below).
But will it do any good if the law is against this couple?
How did we – the British people – ever come to accept such laws as reasonable?
An elderly couple who have been by each other’s side for 70 years are being ‘forced apart’ by social services – as they ‘don’t meet the criteria’ to live together.
Jessie and Ray Lorrison, of South Shields in South Tyneside, have spent nearly every day of their lives together since they first met in 1946 – but have now been told they must live separate lives.
Ray, 95, is living at Westoe Grange Care Home in the town, while his heartbroken wife Jessie, 88, is in hospital after being told she ‘does not meet the criteria’ to join her husband.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “The Council is not able to comment on individual cases, however any decision on care and support for an individual is based on their own needs and is made in line with the Care Act.
The Bedroom Tax was invented by Conservatives in 1989, according to the Parliamentary record, Hansard. The reference to Freemasonry is of interest, but requires further research.
It’s time to put a final end to the bleatings of SNP supporters, Tories, UKIP and anyone else who insists that Labour had anything to do with the creation of the hated Bedroom Tax. This blog article by Rob Gershon shows clearly that the Conservatives intended to restrict housing benefit according to size criteria at that time.
The applicable line is from a speech by David Trippier (then Conservative Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment) and was made in a speech on the Water Bill on March 21, 1989. He said: “We do not believe that full Exchequer subsidy should generally be available where a claimant is living in unduly large accommodation.”
He also said: “A tenant who has all or most of his rent met by housing benefit does not, obviously, have the same incentive to bargain with his landlord to keep the rent to a reasonable level as would be the case if he were paying it from his own pocket. We do not believe that the Exchequer, which provides up to 97 per cent direct subsidy on housing benefit, should be expected simply to underwrite any rent that the landlord demands. Therefore, it is essential to have an independent check on the rents being paid from the public purse to ensure that those are not significantly above market level—in other words, above the rents being paid by tenants who are not in receipt of benefit.
“Besides considering claimants’ rents, rent officers will also look at the size of their accommodation.”
One very interesting aspect is the following comment: “Local authorities have long had powers to limit benefit in such circumstances.” If this is true, then it seems to have been optional, with authorities either choosing not to use these powers (on grounds that this may cause undue hardship to the tenant?) or being unaware of them. The imposition of the Bedroom Tax legislation, in such circumstances, would be a matter of forcing local authorities to use these powers, against their better judgement.
Note also that he asserts the Exchequer should not be expected to support any rent demanded by landlords. This applies equally to private landlords and we can therefore conclude that any Conservative who attacks Labour for imposing the Local Housing Allowance rules on private tenants is a hypocrite; Tories introduced these concepts – that landlords should not be allowed to ‘rip off’ the state – and should support them. It’s one of those rare instances in which both parties may agree on a policy point (although for differing reasons, perhaps).
The full comment can also be read here, for those who desire further proof.
The article on ‘Welfare Reform’, with a Bedroom Tax flavour places an interesting emphasis on the role of freemasonry in the creation of the Bedroom Tax – but that is a matter for its author, and not an issue for us at this time. It states: “Contemporary Members of Parliament vie to offload responsibility for the bedroom tax, with coalition MPs wrongly suggesting that the previous government brought it in for Private Tenants. Some commentators wrongly believe that the policy was trialled in 2001, though this is also a grand falsehood.” [Bolding mine.]
It continues: “Behind the apron of respectability, the evolution of this policy has come to be manipulated to blame social housing tenants for the rising rents in that sector, and to suggest that the ever-rising rents of recipients of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector are somehow the fault of tenants. It is tenants, ultimately who are paying the financial price for these prejudices, and thirty years of failed housing policy.
“And so, finally, to the notion that the Labour Government piloted the Bedroom Tax in 2001. It doesn’t seem to matter to those that share it, who stem from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, SNP and UKIP parties, that no pilot ever took place, and that no such policy was ever introduced.”
Who do you bank with? This piece of public opinion was picked up from Twitter [Author: Unknown].
Isn’t it a shame that on of our national Sunday newspapers has chosen to disrupt everybody’s enjoyment of our Easter eggs with a specious attempt to expose abuses of food banks and make operator the Trussell Trust look hypocritical?
Isn’t it also a shame that the Mail on Sunday didn’t make a few inquiries into the procedure for dealing with people who turn up at food banks without having been referred?
The paper’s reporters and editor could have, at least, opened a dictionary and looked up the meaning of the word “charity”.
Unfortunately for reporters Simon Murphy and Sanchez Manning, both situations are – in fact – allowed, because food banks must be flexible in the way they deal with individual cases. They would have known that if they had done their homework – as yr obdt srvt (who’s writing this) did at several meetings on the organisation of food banks here in Powys.
The paper’s investigation claims that there were “inadequate checks on who claims the vouchers, after a reporter obtained three days’ worth of food simply by telling staff at a Citizens Advice Bureau – without any proof – that he was unemployed”.
It turned out that this person had to fill out a form providing his name, address, date of birth, phone number and the reason for his visit before an assessor asked him why he needed food bank vouchers. In contradiction of the introduction to the story, he explained – not simply that he was unemployed, but that he had been out of work for several months and the harsh winter had left him strapped for cash and food. He said his wife had left her job and was not earning and that they had two children. These lies were sufficient to win food bank vouchers.
What the report didn’t say was how the details given by reporter Ross Slater would have been used afterwards. The CAB would have booked him in for a further interview with a debt advisor, to which he would have had to bring documentary evidence of his situation. When he didn’t turn up, he would have been identified as a fraud. The food bank would also have taken his details, to be fed back into the referral system. Job Centre Plus would have picked up on the fact that he isn’t unemployed. From this point on, he would have been identified as a fraud and refused further service.
You see, it is true that food banks run on a voucher system, but that is only a part of the scheme. The questions asked of people who need vouchers are used to ensure that they get the help they need to avoid having to come back – that’s why they’re asked. They also weed out abusers like Mr Slater.
If the paper’s editor had looked in a dictionary, he might have seen charity defined as “voluntary provision of help to people in need, or the help provided” in the first instance. However, reading further, he would have seen “sympathy or tolerance in judging” listed as well. It seems the Mail on Sunday would have no such sympathy and would have deserving cases turned away to starve.
It is telling, also, that the paper had to go to Citizens Advice to get its evidence. Far more food bank vouchers are handed out in the Job Centre Plus, where all a citizen’s circumstances are available to advisors. But not one word is said about the fact that the vast majority of food bank referrals are for people in real need and not newspaper reporters.
The paper also stated: “Staff at one centre gave food parcels to a woman who had visited nine times in just four months, despite that particular centre’s own rules stipulating that individuals should claim no more than three parcels a year.”
It continued: “Individuals experiencing severe financial hardship are able to claim food vouchers but there are no clear criteria on who should be eligible. Once received, the vouchers can be exchanged for three days’ worth of food at an allotted centre.
“The Trussell Trust has a policy that an individual can claim no more than nine handouts in a year, but undercover reporters found this limit varied in different branches.”
No – it is far more likely that it varied according to the circumstances of the person who needed the help. Rigid rules, such as one that limits people to only three visits, mean those who need the most help would be cut off while they still needed assistance. People working in food banks would be aware of who these were, and would be more likely to be tolerant towards them.
Meanwhile, the other support services – Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice, Social Services and so on – would be working to help them. With some people, it simply takes longer. It should be easy for anyone to think of reasons why this may be the case.
This may also explain the situation in which a worker at a Trussell Trust food bank said people “bounce around” locations to receive more vouchers. The assessment system is a way of monitoring these people and determining whether they need extra help.
It is not true that the criteria are not clear – the paper is misleading with this claim. Food banks, the charities running them, and referring organisations all have to agree on the circumstances in which they permit people to receive parcels. You really can’t just walk in the door and expect to get a free handout. That’s why the questions are asked and forms filled out – they will check up on everybody.
Another claim – that “volunteers revealed that increased awareness of food banks is driving a rise in their use” is unsubstantiated, and is clearly an attempt to support the government’s claim that this is the case. But it is silly. Of course starving people will go to a food bank after they have been told it exists; that doesn’t mean they aren’t starving.
And the paper wrongly said the Trussell Trust had claimed that more than 913,000 people received three days’ emergency food from its banks in 2013-14, compared with 347,000 in the previous financial year. This is a misreading of the way the charity records its work, as the Trussell Trust records visits, not visitors. It would be hard to work out exactly how many people attended because some will have visited just once, others twice, a few for the full three times, and some would have required extra help.
The claim that many visitors were asylum-seekers is silly because food banks were originally set up for foreign people who were seeking asylum in the UK and had no money or means of support.
Of course it would be wrong to say that nobody is trying to abuse the system. There are good people and bad people all over the country, and bad people will try to cheat. Look at Maria Miller, Iain Duncan Smith (Betsygate), George Osborne (and his former paddock), Andrea Leadsom’s tax avoidance, Philip Hammond’s tax avoidance, Charlotte Leslie who took cash to ask Parliamentary questions – to name but a few.
The Trussell Trust has agreed to investigate the newspaper’s allegations – but it is important to remember that these were just a few instances of abuse, and only claimed – by a newspaper that is infamous for the poor quality of its reporting.
Nothing said in the article should be used to undermine the vital work of food banks in helping people to survive, after the Conservative-led Coalition government stole the safety net of social security away from them.
UPDATE: Already the Mail on Sunday is facing a public backlash against its ill-advised piece. A petition on the Change.org website is calling for the reporter who claimed food bank vouchers under false pretences in order to make a political point to be sacked. Vox Political has mixed feelings about this – it targets a person who was sent out to do a job by others who are more directly to blame for the piece, but then he did it of his own free will and this action brings all newspaper reporters into disrepute. Consider carefully.
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