Tag Archives: cuts

Take part in the online day of action against Universal Credit sanctions

Today – July 1 – conditionality and sanctions return to the UK’s benefit system.

This means the two million people who signed up for Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis will now be expected to show they are looking for work, and will be sanctioned if they fail to do so.

For the first time, they will experience what – for example – people with disabilities have suffered under the Conservatives for the last 10 years.

Some people are about to be rudely awakened from their previous complacency, I reckon!

Perhaps they would like to take part in this national day of action, organised by one of the larger representative organisations for people with disabilities, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) under its banner of the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance (SUCA).

Here’s what they’re about and what you can do:

There is now overwhelming evidence of both the serious harm that the sanctions regime inflicts on the most disadvantaged members of society and the fact that sanctions are punitive and counter-productive to the aim of getting people off benefits and into work.

Join the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance in our demands to:

#EndConditionality

#ScrapSanctions

#NoMoreBenefitDeaths

Ways you can get involved:

  • Get active on social media at 12 lunchtime on 1 July using the above hashtags and directed @DWP @justintomlinson @theresecoffey . You can find a list of findings, facts, stats and links for reference here: https://dpac.uk.net/2020/06/sanctions-findings-facts-stats-and-links/
  •  Write to your MP asking them to put pressure on the government not to restart conditionality and sanctions.
  • We encourage people to write to their MPs.
  • Write to your local paper
  • If you think you may be affected by conditionality restarting and putting your safety at risk because you still need to shield, it may be worth gathering what medical evidence you have (for example if you received a letter or correspondence from the NHS telling you to continue shielding until the end of July) and pro-actively sending it in to your job centre/adding it in to your Universal Credit journal. It is difficult to know what to do given the complete absence of information from the government.

Source: National [online] day of action against sanctions – 1st July – DPAC

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Fiction battles reality as Tory NHS cuts leave elderly woman with dementia on A&E trolley for hours

Jill Woolley: This former NHS worker, who has dementia, was forced to wait six hours for treatment on a trolley inches away from overworked NHS staff. That is what Tory cuts have done to the UK’s once-proud health service.

The fiction:

The reality:

A dementia-sufferer taken by ambulance to A&E at an over-stretched hospital endured six hours on a trolley as Tory austerity continues to wreck the NHS.

Photos show 88-year-old Jill Woolley – who worked for the health service as a doctor’s secretary – with other frail and elderly patients waiting side-by-side on trolleys crammed into the department.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth described Jill’s visit to A&E as “heartbreaking”. He added: “She should never have been treated like this. Boris Johnson should be utterly ashamed.

“Sadly, this is not a one-off case. This is happening to thousands of patients all the time. This is what happens from cutting 15,000 hospital beds, starving the NHS of cash and failing to recruit doctors, nurses and staff.

“This is not a winter crisis, it is a Tory-made crisis.”

And it is a crisis that will continue as long as we have a Conservative government.

But you can make a difference.

Vote for care. Vote for the NHS. Vote Labour.

Source: Ex-NHS worker with dementia, 88, left on A&E trolley for 6 hours due to Tory cuts – Mirror Online

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Deaths of homeless people hit record high – but Tories are STILL lying that they care

These snow effigies of homeless people were created in 2018 to demonstrate that rough sleepers were freezing to death [Image: @TrevorCoultMC on Twitter].

A record 726 homeless people died in 2018 due to Conservative government policies – and Tory mouthpieces Therese Coffey and Danny Finkelstein are still pretending their party cares.

The novice Work and Pensions Secretary and the former Tory speechwriter professed outrage at claims that the Conservatives were not compassionate (remember “compassionate Conservatism”?) and didn’t care in a stomach-turning display of hypocrisy on the BBC’s Politics Live.

Ms Coffey tried to blame the 22 per cent increase in deaths since 2017 on drug use. But why do people take drugs? They do it to escape the hell of their existence – a hell into which they have been forced by Tory policies.

Universal Credit, the Bedroom Tax, and cuts to sickness and disability benefits have all been engineered to make it impossible for people to afford to pay for their accommodation and to eat.

Have no doubt about this – the Tories have been deliberately levering poor people out of their homes. The evidence is in the policies and in their result.

If they really were trying to solve homelessness – as they vowed to do in 2017 – there would have been a 100 per cent fall in homelessness-related deaths, not a 22 per cent increase.

A record number of homeless people died last year, marking the biggest increase in deaths since reporting began, official data shows.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show an estimated 726 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018. This is a 22% rise from 2017 and the highest surge since the data was first collected in 2013.

Drug-related deaths saw the biggest increase, rising by 55% since 2017.

Charities called for an urgent investigation into the deaths of vulnerable people, saying it was heartbreaking and that they should not die “unnoticed and unaccounted for”.

The mouthpieces rushed to cover their political rears on Politics Live, provoking a predictable reaction from This Writer:

Even The Guardian‘s Helen Pidd was finding excuses for the Tories, with a claim that defied reason:

And the simple fact is that deaths will continue to rise until homelessness becomes an automatic death sentence.

I said that was the plan when the Conservatives announced their plan to halve homelessness by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027 – and this is more evidence that I was right.

The answer to homelessness, and the problems that come with it, have been known for years – give these people a place to live! That would relieve burdens on the health service and also on the police and justice system – as has been proved in Utah.

The Conservatives know this but refuse to take the appropriate action.

Therefore we may conclude that they are deliberately driving people to their deaths.

And there’s only one way to stop it – unless you are one of the thugs who consider rough sleepers to be targets for violence and would rather pour petrol on them and set them alight than help. And I don’t think Vox Political readers are thugs.

We need a Labour government, as soon as possible – or these Tory policy deaths will only increase.

Source: Homeless deaths in 2018 rise at highest level – ONS | Society | The Guardian

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Universal Credit staff to strike this week – but not over the state of the so-called ‘benefit’

If you think Department for Work and Pensions staff in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stockport are striking over the appalling state of the so-called ‘benefit’ they are employed to enforce… think again.

They’re striking to get an improvement in their own working conditions.

Apparently people being forced to suffer because of the conditions forced on them will just have to fend for themselves. Charming!

According to Welfare Weekly, “Universal Credit staff working at two centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton will take two further days of strike action this week, after losing patience with the government in their campaign for more staff and better working conditions.

“The walk-out will take place between Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refused to meet the demands of workers.

“Staff walked out in March 2019, accusing the DWP of treating them with “utter contempt”.”

So they should understand how UC claimants feel, then.

The Mirror has said the strike will be joined by workers at a call centre in Stockport.

Organiser the PCS union has said the action has been motivated by cuts, workload increases and the victimisation of union representatives.

It says this is making it impossible for its members to properly support UC claimants.

The DWP, on the other hand, has said staffing levels are sufficient but it will monitor the situation and hold regular meetings with the union, in order to resolve the issues.

Meanwhile, UC claimants will undoubtedly continue to suffer with benefit claims rejected on false pretences. Will the DWP try to use employees’ claims of overwork as an excuse?

Source: Universal Credit staff poised for further walk-outs

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Here are the reasons Theresa May’s ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ is a big ‘Brexit bribe’ boob

Yes, it’s time for the ‘liar liar’ image again: Theresa May is being economical with the truth regarding her ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ – again – it seems.


What do you think will happen to anything created via Theresa May’s ‘Stronger Towns Fund’?

Mrs May has announced that she is giving £1.6 billion to deprived towns whose electorate voted for Brexit – apparently independently of whether their predominantly-Labour MPs support her Brexit deal, in a bid to avoid criticisms that it is a bribe.

Big deal.

It isn’t as much as the EU funding that these areas are going to lose; it doesn’t cover the amount that the Tories have cut from local budgets; and it is to be spread over a six-year period, meaning the amount likely to be spent per area is a pittance.

It isn’t even as if ordinary local – poor – people will have a say in what happens with what cash does become available to them.

The money will be allocated according to the wishes of Local Enterprise Partnerships – committees composed of local councillors and business representatives.

And what will happen to whatever results from this funding?

People have been suggesting capital projects such as new sports centres could result.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I know what has happened to sports centres here in Mid Wales after the Tories took over in Westminster and cut funding to local authorities:

They’ve been sold off into private hands.

So I tend towards the belief that Mrs May is leading us all down the garden path.

It seems this is just another way of handing huge profit-making cash cows over to rich private businesspeople at the expense of the poor.


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Nailed: Jacob Rees-Mogg and his version of Christian values

Jacob Rees-Mogg and his nanny: The parents should take the blame.

Remember Tory darling Jacob Rees-Mogg’s appearance on Good Morning Britain, when he tried to justify his opposition to gay marriage and abortion – even in cases where pregnancy has occurred after rape – by referring to his Catholic Christian values?

Here’s the clip again:

Well, Iain Rowan of Sunderland had the perfect answer.

Writing in a newspaper (the name of which I don’t know because it isn’t mentioned in the following tweet, he stated:

For clarity, that’s: “Rees-Mogg justifies his opposition to gay marriage and abortion even in cases of rape on the basis of his Christian beliefs (Report, 7 September). So where is his opposition to welfare cuts on the grounds that Jesus went out of his way to demonstrate his compassion for the poor and the lame? When Jesus says ‘blessed are the peacemakers’, how does that fit with Rees-Mogg’s consistently voting for military intervention? Where are his statements on executive pay, reminding other MPs that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven? I thought being a committed Christian meant following the teachings of Jesus, rather than standing at the pick-and-mix counter in a sweetshop, only choosing the fizzy snakes.”

Strong words – and accurate.

And you know what?

If you take them from “Where is his opposition to welfare cuts”, they could be used to apply just as easily to that other well-known Tory “Christian” – Theresa May.


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The scandalous reason the Tories are failing victims of stalkers

This Writer knows a couple of people who have been victims of stalkers – both women.

Both have withstood their ordeal well enough – at least if one is judging by outward appearances. But asking the right questions revealed that at least one of them is having to deal with long-term psychological issues as a result – and isn’t coping very well.

In both cases, the police were a dead loss.

Perhaps it is hardly surprising. Funding cuts by the minority Conservative government mean that there are more than 21,000 fewer police officers in England and Wales than in 2010. That cut alone is equivalent to 18 times the number of police officers in This Writer’s force area (Dyfed Powys).

The police officers who remain are said to be under extreme stress – so much that some are being driven towards suicide.

So they don’t investigate stalking properly, even though 94 per cent of murders are said to have involved stalking of some kind.

The money that is no longer being spent on policing has been turned into tax breaks for rich people and donors to the Conservative Party; the UK as a whole does not benefit from them in any way.

So much for the Party of Law and Order. Under the Conservatives, you are less safe than you have ever been.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust estimates there are about 1.1 million cases every year in which victims are harassed, intimidated or made to feel unsafe by a stalker – many of which are never reported to the police.

In 2015/16, there were just 753 prosecutions for stalking offences, with 529 ending in a conviction – around 0.04 per cent of the total number of estimated incidents.

a study by the charity, set up in memory of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who disappeared without trace more than 30 years ago, revealed stalking behaviour is present in the background of a huge number of cases in which women are killed by men.

Of 358 murders examined during a three-year period from 2012 until 2014, the killer was found to have engaged in some form of stalking in 94 per cent.

Labour MP and former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said cuts to emergency service budgets made it harder for the authorities to tackle incidents.

“The police need the resources, capabilities and training to prevent and prosecute this crime. At the moment this simply isn’t the case – and victims are being let down.”

If you suspect you are, or know someone who may be a victim of stalking, call the helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website for more information.

Read more: An Incredibly Tiny Percentage Of Stalking Incidents End In Prosecution, Charity Says


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Tube strike is about maintaining good service. Don’t let selfish people tell you it’s about selfishness

The London Underground is in a mess due to cut by the Conservative Government and poor management by Boris Johnson Conservative administration.

Sadiq Khan, the current (Labour, he says) Mayor of London appeared on Radio 4, to oppose the strike, but is arguments do not ring true.

His administration may be working to limit the damage but the service is suffering now, and changes imposed by Johnson and the Tories may be hard to reverse.

The strike was called because of ticket office closures and the loss of 800 staff members under Mr Johnson. Mr Khan could only say 200 jobs had been restored, and his comments about ticket offices were limited to saying he had accepted the findings of a review by Travel Watch. He did not say what those findings were.

Meanwhile, Tube staff are striking because the service is not safe. They say the cuts, along with “brutal” unilaterally-imposed changes to working practices that have been imposed by Transport for London (TfL) have led to “a further exodus of staff from the service”.

That is their right; anybody can walk away from a contract if the other side imposes unfair conditions.

And it doesn’t take genius to work out that they are right to do so.

The level of support for the strike among those who remain – only 10 stations are open, it has been reported – is evidence of this.

The Tube system needs restoration now – not talk about doing it tomorrow (maybe).

Claims that the strike is causing misery for a day show a lack of understanding that the aim is to prevent misery on a regular – or indeed permanent – basis.

They are the claims of the selfish, the narrow-minded, and the ignorant.

Some critics are even claiming that Tube workers have decent, well-paid jobs and should not, therefore, be striking.

The only reason any employee has a decent, well-paid job, is union action – including strikes. And in this case it is clear that striking remains the only way to protect pay and conditions that the Conservative Party has tried to erode.

It’s time some of the people catching a bus today also got a clue.

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Cameron’s ‘preferential treatment’ offer to council leader breached ministerial code – claim

Wednesday really wasn’t a good day to be David Cameron.

First he was labelled stupid, for failing to realise what his cuts to local government funding actually meant.

Then he was called a hypocrite, for claiming that Oxfordshire County Council – his own local authority – should not cut particular services; services that were only endangered because of his cuts.

Now – most seriously – he has been accused of breaching the ministerial code, by offering help to the same authority that could only be provided by the prime minister, while corresponding with its leader in his capacity as a constituency MP.

There is a strict rule that ministers may not use the resources afforded to them as members of the government to provide preferential treatment to others – such as special access to top advisers.

David Cameron has been accused of offering a Conservative council chief special access to No 10 advisers as a way to resolve a disagreement about proposed budget cuts.

The prime minister is facing questions about his conduct after he wrote to Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire county council, chastising him for considering cuts to day centres, libraries and museums. Cameron’s own constituency of Witney falls within the area.

In the letter, Cameron extended an offer for how to help to manage the cuts, saying he would be happy to “initiate a dialogue” with the No 10 policy unit about the possibilities of devolution deals and suggesting that Hudspeth contact his aide Sheridan Westlake, who used to work in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Jon Ashworth, a shadow Cabinet Office minister, has written to the civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood asking for advice on the propriety of Cameron offering extra help for Oxfordshire.

He points out that the letter appears to have been written by the prime minister in his role as a Witney MP, even though the ministerial code states that he must keep separate his government and constituency role.

“Is it the case that if the prime minister has made this offer of ‘further dialogue’ available to the leader of his local county council, similar offers should be made to all the leaders of other councils?

“Surely the leader of the prime minister’s county council should not be given preferential treatment?” Ashworth writes.

Source: David Cameron ‘offered Oxfordshire council leader access to advisers’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Clueless Cameron has never considered the true impact of his cuts – until now

Stupid David Cameron pulls a stupid face. He's probably just realised how stupid his letter to Oxfordshire Council Council really was. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

Stupid David Cameron pulls a stupid face. He’s probably just realised how stupid his letter to Oxfordshire Council Council really was. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

David Cameron will go down in history as the British Prime Minister who was so out-of-touch with the impact of his own policies that the leader of his local council – who is a member of the same political party – had to spell it out to him “as if to a slow learner”.

Now, Cameron’s letter of protest to Oxfordshire County Council has prompted the Labour Party to accuse him of hypocrisy – supporting harsh cuts while pretending not to know their implication for the country.

In fact, it is more likely that he is just plain stupid – but neither explanation excuses him for what he has done.

Here’s Guardian columnist (and fellow Mid Wales resident) George Monbiot on the latest blunder of the Stupid Party:

In leaked correspondence with the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (which covers his own constituency), David Cameron expresses his horror at the cuts being made to local services. This is the point at which you realise that he has no conception of what he has done.

Cameron complains that he is “disappointed” by the council’s proposals “to make significant cuts to frontline services – from elderly day centres, to libraries, to museums. This is in addition to the unwelcome and counter-productive proposals to close children’s centres across the county.” Why, he asks, has Oxfordshire not focused instead on “making back-office savings”? Why hasn’t it sold off its surplus property? After all, there has been only “a slight fall in government grants in cash terms”. Couldn’t the county “generate savings in a more creative manner”?

Explaining the issue gently, as if to a slow learner, the council leader, Ian Hudspeth, points out that the council has already culled its back-office functions, slashing 40% of its most senior staff and 2,800 jobs in total, with the result that it now spends less on these roles than most other counties. He explains that he has already flogged all the property he can lay hands on, but would like to remind the prime minister that using the income from these sales to pay for the council’s running costs “is neither legal, nor sustainable in the long-term since they are one-off receipts”.

As for Cameron’s claim about government grants, Hudspeth comments: “I cannot accept your description of a drop in funding of £72m or 37% as a ‘slight fall’.”

Again and again, he exposes the figures the prime minister uses as wildly wrong. For example, Cameron claims that the cumulative cuts in the county since 2010 amount to £204m. But that is not the cumulative figure; it is the annual figure. Since 2010, the county has had to save £626m. It has done so while taking on new responsibilities, and while the population of elderly people and the numbers of children in the social care system have boomed. Now there is nothing left to cut except frontline services.

Have you ever wondered how the prime minister sleeps at night? How can he live with himself after imposing such gratuitous pain upon the people of this nation? Well now, it seems, you have your answer: he appears to be blissfully unaware of the impact of his own policies.

Source: David Cameron hasn’t the faintest idea how deep his cuts go. This letter proves it | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

Amazingly, the stupidity does not even end there. In a related Guardian article, a stupid spokesman for stupid David Cameron said, stupidly: “There is still significant scope for sensible savings across local government to be made by back-office consolidation, disposing of surplus property and joining up our local public services; we will be discussing with Oxfordshire how this can be taken forward to help protect frontline services.”

What part of “the council has already culled its back-office functions” is in a foreign language to this stupid spokesman for the Stupid Party? What part of the information that the council “has already flogged all the property” available to it? What local public services does he envisage “joining up” – waste collection and adult social care, perhaps?

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