Tag Archives: damage

Universal Credit causes mental illness – but won’t get you a new job, study finds

A study of Universal Credit has found that it increases mental illness in claimants while failing to get them into new employment.

The finding should cause huge concern among the two million people who are said to have signed up for the benefit after the Conservative government imposed its coronavirus-prompted lockdown, forcing them to sign onto the benefit when their incomes disappeared.

The study of able-bodied people (those with disabilities have already been shown to suffer adverse effects due to changes in their benefits) found a 6.57 per cent increase in psychological distress.

This led the study’s authors to estimate that an extra 63,674 people suffered psychological distress between 2013 and 2018, as a result of being put on Universal Credit.

They estimated that 21,760 might reach the diagnostic threshold for depression.

They believe that, although the effect sizes identified are moderate, the potential for psychological impact is substantial owing to the widespread national policy implementation.

Levels of distress remained constant for people who were not put on the new benefit.

The study revealed that there was no increase in the transition into employment amongst those on Universal Credit, compared with those who were not – despite this being the key rationale given for its introduction.

The Tory government has commissioned its own evaluation of Universal Credit – but this will focus on labour market outcomes and not assess the effect on health and wellbeing.

Won’t it be interesting to see whether this study finds an improvement in employment?

Source: Universal Credit mental health problems, but not employment

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Man arrested for vandalising eight ambulances: this is deliberate danger to life

The vandal put eight ambulances out of action when they are needed to handle coronavirus cases.

Take note: selfish idiots are still trying to harm our chances of surviving the coronavirus.

At a time like this, criminal damage to ambulances – putting them out of action – is nothing short of a deliberate attempt to endanger human lives.

The charges against the arrested man should reflect that – as should the penalty if he is convicted.

A man has been arrested after eight ambulances were damaged in Kent, forcing them out of service as medics across the UK contend with the spread of coronavirus.

The 47-year-old from Ramsgate, Thanet, was detained on Wednesday morning on suspicion of causing criminal damage on two dates last month.

Kent Police had launched an appeal after holes were drilled into nine tyres on six ambulances at a depot overnight on Saturday 21 March.

Source: Man arrested after eight ambulances vandalised and forced out of service during coronavirus crisis | The Independent

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PIP assessor terrorises household. What kind of people is Capita hiring?

This should concern anybody who has a long-term illness or disability, who has a family member with one, or may develop one in the future.

Disability News Service has reported that an assessor working for Capita, the sub-contractor hired by the Depatment for Work and Pensions to assess claims for Personal Independence Payment, basically terrorised a household.

The man, believed to be in his 50s, was carrying out the assessment at the home of Cheryl Matthews, in Cardiff.

Ms Matthews works as a customer service agent and has several long-term health conditions, including one that could cause a fatal aneurysm if she becomes anxious.

She already receives the PIP standard rates for daily living and mobility, but had requested a new assessment after her health worsened in recent months.

But the assessor seems to have been determined to ignore her information about recent events, describing them as “irrelevant”.

His attitude angered Ms Matthews’ 22-year-old son, who asked for the assessment to be ended.

On his way out, it seems the assessor shoved her son so hard that he fell against a door – then challenged him to a fight before leaving the front door open and kicking the safety gate – that protects their three dogs – off its hinges, damaging the wall of the house.

He made off, saying that he would be back to fight Ms Matthews’s son.

She has struggled to sleep since the incident, according to the report. Considering her health condition, it seems that – rather than helping Ms Matthews meet the challenges of life with a disability – the assessment put her life in danger.

We are told Capita has suspended the assessor and offered Ms Matthews £600 in compensation. South Wales Police has launched an investigation into allegations of criminal damage.

To This Writer, that seems right and proper – but what about other people facing assessment?

I should say that Mrs Mike had her PIP assessment at home, and the Capita assessor in that instance behaved in an exemplary manner. She was polite and considerate, and paid attention to everything Mrs Mike had to say.

But the incident in Cardiff suggests that others may not be so lucky.

It certainly seems appropriate to raise questions about the standards under which private companies, working for the government, hire people to carry out this work.

While the policy of privatising this task may be attractive – it allows the Conservative government to distance itself from incidents like this – it does suggest that the government is also putting people at risk.

Is this incident not an argument for these assessments to be brought back in-house – under the auspices of the public service, with higher, public-service standards?

Source: PIP assessor told claimant to ignore her ‘irrelevant’ suicide attempt… then challenged her son to a fight – Disability News Service

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Tories block move to publish Universal Credit briefings. You KNOW what this means

Under Universal Credit, child poverty is skyrocketing. It seems the Tories knew this would happen but decided to hide it from you.

For years, the Conservatives in government have been telling us that Universal Credit is better for everybody, helping the claimant into work and then towards better-paid work at less expensive to the taxpayer in a streamlined system.

But the result of Labour’s Opposition Day debate on the controversial system seems to prove one thing:

The Tories’ claims were nothing more than the vilest of lies.

Why hide the reports otherwise? If they don’t say anything that would turn the public against the Tories, then there wouldn’t be any need to keep them from public view.

Therefore they contain information that shows the Tories knew UC claimants would lose money – badly.

We’ll consider some of the ways they lose out, later.

Here’s the headline:

And here’s Labour’s official response from Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood: “The Tories have voted to shamefully cover up the impact that Universal Credit is having on families and people who most need our support.

“We all know that this policy is causing chaos and misery but this Government is refusing to listen and refusing to come clean.

“The roll-out of Universal Credit must be stopped immediately.”

Dawn Butler agreed that the Tories need to reveal the facts:

Members of the public have already drawn the correct conclusion:

The Tories came out with false arguments during the debate:

And they made offers they had no intention of honouring:

Apparently people have already tried, and had no response.

Tory Johnny Mercer trotted out the old chestnut that the best way out of poverty is employment. We all know that this is no longer true, as more people in work are in poverty than those who are out of work.

Claimants who tried to get assistance from the Department for Work and Pensions have found their pleas falling on deaf ears:

But what does Universal Credit actually do to claimants? We have already learned that it causes disproportionate harm to families with children, women, and people in minority groups. Here, Jeremy Corbyn elaborates:

And there is evidence to show the harm to children:

Those are merely the latest revelations this week!

What more could we learn over the next few days?

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Tax offices refuse to charge rich people with evasion – to avoid reputational damage

How sympathetic of our tax guardians! And if I get caught evading my tax responsibilities, will I receive the same treatment?

No?

Then this is unfair and must end.

It also seems contradictory. Look:

A senior HMRC official admitted that the UK tax authority panders to the rich and powerful when chasing them for tax evasion so they can avoid “reputational damage“.

If you ever had any doubt that in Britain there really is “one rule for them, and another for the rest of us“, this utterly astonishing admission by the UK’s tax authority proves it.

Richard Las, a deputy director of HMRC, said that criminal prosecutions are not the “default option” for cases of tax evasion, money laundering or fraud. He went on to say:

“When deciding whether to deploy our resources, we try to understand what motivates different types of offenders. For example some tax offenders are very wealthy, prominent members of the community. We know that these types of people do not want the reputational damage of custodial sentences, and we can use that to our advantage.”

I could understand this strategy if it resulted in a larger repayment to the Treasury, but the evidence indicates that it does not.

Can HMRC point to anyone who has paid more back to the state as a result of the organisation using the threat of reputational damage “to our advantage”? No – because that would make the whole exercise pointless.

And consider this: Is HMRC admitting it blackmails the rich?

The more one thinks about the HMRC statement, the less credible it seems.

This government department is apparently admitting blackmailing rich people with the threat of reputational damage if they don’t pay up – but we have no evidence to show that they have paid everything they owe.

We need a lot more information.

Source: HMRC refuses to charge rich and powerful people with tax evasion to ‘avoid damaging their reputation’ | Evolve Politics

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The Tories’ lack of a Brexit plan will harm the UK more than anything in last 50 years

Sir Michael Leigh.


This is hugely damaging for the UK’s reputation, let alone the country’s future.

Sir Michael Leigh is saying that David Davis has no authority as the UK’s lead negotiator, because there is division in the minority Tory government’s cabinet and no firm direction from the prime minister because she has lost power as a result of the general election she called for the sake of her own vanity.

Nobody believes that the Tories have prepared for Brexit negotiations in any serious way.

Nobody believes that a new free trade agreement will be in place in less than two years.

And nobody believes the UK will be able to pick and choose the conditions of EU membership it will be able to retain during any transitional period.

The EU has the upper hand – as does the strongest party in any negotiation. Theresa May should consider this carefully before launching any free trade negotiations with Donald Trump’s United States – but she probably won’t because she simply isn’t intelligent enough.

The decisions taken by Prime Minister Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron over the UK’s relationship with Europe will be as harmful to Britain’s interests as any decision the government has taken for over 50 years, a former EU negotiator has told Business Insider.

“The decisions taken by the former prime minister David Cameron, exacerbated by the decisions taken by his successor, are the most harmful decisions that have been taken by a British government for decades,” Sir Michael Leigh, who was a European Commission Director-General from 2006 to 2011, [said].

“You have to go back to the Suez crisis in 1956 or to Munich in 1938 to find decisions taken by a British government that will turn out in time to have had such negative consequences for the United Kingdom.

“It’s clear that the Commission has used the full period since the notification under Article 50 to prepare detailed position papers.

“The general impression is that Britain has not used the time since notification to prepare detailed negotiating positions. The main reason for that is division among Cabinet ministers as to the approach to be taken and of course, that’s exacerbated now by the loss of the government’s majority and therefore the loss of authority for the prime minister.

“Michel Barnier [chief EU Brexit negotiator] may notionally have David Davis in front of him as his negotiating partner, but if senior Cabinet ministers go on record almost every day with divergent positions on key issues like the single market and transitional arrangements, then it’s a fact that the person opposite Barnier does not have the authority to take a clear and sustainable negotiation position.

Read more: Former EU Official: Conservative Brexit strategy the most harmful government policy for over 50 years


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Economists agree: Austerity is bad for you

150401badforeconomy

You may have seen the infographic above on the social media yesterday. Today, this blog received confirmation of its claims from the Centre For Macroeconomics.

The CFM’s survey asked: Do you agree that the austerity policies of the coalition government have had a positive effect on aggregate economic activity (employment and GDP) in the UK?”

The response was clear: Only 15 per cent agreed, 18 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed, and 66 per cent disagreed. According to the CFM: “Ignoring those who sat on the fence, 19 per cent agree and 81 per cent disagree with the proposition. This ratio is unaffected by confidence weighting.”

This evidence is conclusive disproof of the claims in the ‘business leaders’ letter to the Daily Telegraph that was published earlier this week. But then, it seems that letter was written by Conservative Campaign Headquarters and its 100+ signatories were inflated by the addition of Samantha Cameron’s friends.

In its summary of responses, the CFM notes that Professor Simon Wren-Lewis (Oxford) asked: “This is a joke, right? The only interesting question is how much GDP has been lost as a result of austerity.”

On his own blog, Mainly Macro, Prof Wren-Lewis adds: “I myself participated in Radio 4’s World at One (about 11 minutes in) as a direct result of the survey. Robert Peston went as far as to ask: “Who to trust – business leaders or economists?” I liked the way he introduced his post:

“’Neither business leaders nor economists have a monopoly of wisdom on what’s good for Britain or are free from political bias. But it is perhaps therefore all the more important to remember that those paid to think about how best an economy should be run don’t necessarily agree with those paid to run companies.’

“He might have also added that, probably without exception, we are paid a lot less than business leaders, so the danger that our opinions might be influenced by Labour policies like reintroducing the 50p income tax rate or introducing a mansion tax is perhaps also smaller!”

On the second question – whether the election’s outcome would have non-trivial consequences for aggregate economic activity (employment and GDP) – if those who neither agreed nor disagreed are excluded, the majority rises to 93 per cent.

They’re saying a future Conservative-led government will harm the UK economy.

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Liars exposed! Why has nobody been sacked yet?

Questions to answer: Maria Miller, the minister for evasion, cannot be expected to respond. She obstructed Parliament's inquiry into her expenses claims and her eventual apology for her misdeeds lasted just 32 seconds.

Questions to answer: Maria Miller, the minister for evasion, cannot be expected to respond. She obstructed Parliament’s inquiry into her expenses claims and her eventual apology for her misdeeds lasted just 32 seconds.

This blog asked yesterday whether Downing Street communications chief Craig Oliver was a liar, an incompetent, or both after he denied that government officers threatened the Daily Telegraph with tougher press regulation if it published its investigation into Maria Miller’s expenses.

It turns out he was both.

The Telegraph has now published a recording of the conversation between reporter Holly Watt and Miller’s advisor Joanna Hindley, on which its allegations are based. There can be no doubt that the reporter did indeed have Leveson held over her (corruptly); there can be little doubt that this was done at the request of Miller; and there can be no doubt at all that Mr Oliver knew about it.

So – a liar. And incompetent, because he had obviously discounted the possibility that the Telegraph reporter might have recorded the exchange.

It appears that Mr Oliver still has his job, despite having become the second person to disgrace it out of only two appointed by David Cameron. We cannot comment on Joanna Hindley.

The bullying, possibly blackmailing fraudster Maria Miller – who also persecuted thousands of disabled people while she was minister for equalities, also remains part of the government.

This speaks volumes about the lack of judgement displayed by ‘comedy’ Prime Minister David Cameron.

The longer he delays removing his rotten minister, her rotten advisor and his rotten media chief, the more rotten he and his government will become – in the opinion of the public.

And for this Prime Minister, public opinion is everything.

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The Telegraph must stand firm against Downing Street bullies

Self-satisfied: Downing street communications chief Craig Oliver. But does he have any reason to look so pleased with himself?

Self-satisfied: Downing street communications chief Craig Oliver. But does he have any reason to look so pleased with himself?

Is Downing Street director of communications Craig Oliver a liar, or incompetent? Or is he an incompetent liar?

These are the questions we should ask after he denied threatening the Daily Telegraph with tougher press regulation if it published details of its investigation into Maria Miller’s expenses.

The Telegraph reported that Miller’s parents were living in her taxpayer-funded south London second home, implying that she had fraudulently claimed expenses for it, in December 2012 – and immediately followed its report with another, alleging that government advisers tried to bully the paper out of running the story.

The Telegraph claimed that Miller’s special advisor, Joanna Hindley, told a reporter that the Editor of the Telegraph was involved in meetings with the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary over implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, and that the reporter should discuss the issue with “people a little higher up your organisation”.

The report continued: “Miss Hindley immediately contacted the Telegraph’s head of public affairs to raise concerns about the story. The news group decided to delay publication in order to ensure the facts were correct.

“Having carried out further checks, the newspaper concluded that the story was accurate and decided to publish the article at the first opportunity, meaning it appeared on the day same-sex marriage was debated in the Commons.” The government then suggested that the Telegraph was using the story to “overshadow” the announcement.

“Miss Hindley also accused the Telegraph of harassing Mrs Miller’s father, John Lewis,” the story continued

“In fact, reporters had a brief conversation with Mr Lewis in order to establish how long he had lived with Mrs Miller. Over the course of the conversation, Mr Lewis said he enjoyed reading the Telegraph.”

These claims are clearly damaging to Miss Hindley’s reputation as she is shown to be threatening, on Miller’s behalf, to use government powers to clamp down on reports in the Telegraph, which would be an abuse of the system.

Today’s report on the BBC News website has former Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher claiming that Mr Oliver contacted him to “lean” on the newspaper and “prevent it going about its legitimate business”.

He said: “She has done the free press a great favour,” he said.

“Maria Miller provides a cast-iron example of why politicians should have no power over the press.”

Mr Oliver denied the claim that the Telegraph was threatened. But the question remains: If this is true, why did he not take appropriate action sooner?

If he is right in his claim, then the government could have sued the Telegraph for libelling not only Miss Hindley, but also Mr Oliver andMiller herself. Why didn’t he?

The Telegraph provided its own version of events immediately after they took place, but Mr Oliver has waited 16 months to offer us his side of the story. It’s too late now.

We can only conclude that he is either lying about what happened, incompetent in not having taken the appropriate action at the appropriate time, or an incompetent liar because – given then evidence available to us – it was those acting for the government who misbehaved.

And the bullying, possibly blackmailing fraudster is still in her job. Why?

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