DWP is wasting your money on bid to block publication of fit-for-work documents

The Department for Work and Pensions is wasting our money again: Documents relating to the government’s controversial fit-for-work tests could be blocked from publication after the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) launched a legal challenge. In April, John Slater submitted a Freedom of Information request (FOI) asking for details of the ‘outcome reports’ which are completed by the private company contracted to carry out the tests. The reports would include information about the number of people with a terminal illness or limited capability to work subjected to the test.…

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Iain Duncan Smith’s latest foolishness: He no longer uses poverty to measure poverty

We all knew this was coming because we have a Conservative Government whose policies have been intended to increase poverty since 2010 – while apparently working to eliminate child poverty by 2020. It simply couldn’t be done, and now the Gentleman Ranker, Iain Duncan Smith, has admitted it. This is not a failure by the Conservative Government – it is a mark of its success in increasing poverty while fooling people into believing that they are better-off being ruled by a gang of greedy, selfish, chinless toffs. RTU’s (Returned To…

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When will the BBC get its priorities right?

It seems the BBC is delighted to carry out saturation coverage of popular demonstrations against injustice – as long as they are taking place in a foreign country and not right here in Blighty. Compare the huge amount of coverage being given to today’s (Saturday) rally for Gaza in London, where “tens of thousands” of protesters have turned out to protest against the deaths of almost 2,000 people since “violence” broke out between the Israeli government and Palestinian Hamas terrorists (as far as VP is concerned, both sides are terrorists) around…

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How do we wrestle fairness from a rigged economic system?

It’s terrific when an article makes you think. Why Capitalism needs unemployment, by Cheltenham & Gloucester Against Cuts, tells us that unemployment is used as a weapon against the workers – with the threat of it used to force pay cuts on employees, while we are told to fear inflation if unemployment falls. So fatcat company bosses win either way, it seems. The article commented on Margaret Thatcher’s ideological mentor, Milton Friedman, who “understood that low levels of unemployment give confidence to workers, who can fight for better pay and…

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My Bedroom Tax protest speech

Vox Political was relatively quiet yesterday; although I reblogged plenty of articles from other sources, there was no new piece from the site itself because I was in Caerphilly, delivering a speech at a Bedroom Tax protest there. Caerphilly is the birthplace of the late, great comic Tommy Cooper, and it was in the shadow of his statue that the demonstration took place. I instantly (and privately) named the location ‘Cooper Corner’. I took the opportunity to lighten proceedings at the start by suggesting that Mr Cooper (albeit in petrified…

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‘WoW’ debate on sickness and disability benefits live blog

That concludes today’s live blog. Thanks to everybody who visited and pressed ‘F5’ to keep up with events. 2.38pm The motion for the government to commission a cumulative impact assessment has been passed – resoundingly – after the debate. Admittedly very few people attended but the result was what the 104,000 people who signed the ‘WoW’ petition wanted. However, there now arises the question of what the government will do. As was noted in the debate, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition has been defeated three times in succession over social security…

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‘Scrap maternity pay’ – how Tories see the future of ‘welfare’ reform

Yesterday (February 11) we had a chance to see what the Tories – or at least some of them – want to do to state benefits. Charlie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, launched a debate in the Westminster Hall in which he called for the axing of maternity pay – and other in-work benefits – to make way for a new insurance system into which employers and the self-employed would pay, and from which the costs of maternity leave and other benefits would be met. He suggested that participating employers would…

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Have 230,000 sick and disabled people been wrongly knocked off-benefit and forgotten?

After all the government’s efforts to kick people off long-term sickness benefits, the number of claimants has risen – but statistics seem unable to account for nearly a quarter of a million people. Even though Atos and now other private assessors are working hard to meet increased reassessment targets for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance, the government is paying out more money on these benefits – to around two million claimants. This is a surprise for an administration that has been merrily throwing people off-benefit since it came…

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Abuse of sanctions causes huge drop in unemployment claims

Esther McVey must be so proud. She has managed to make the unemployment benefit system do the exact opposite of its original purpose. Today, the Coalition announced that in the last three months the UK has enjoyed “the largest quarterly rise in employment since records began”, with 30.15 million people in work. This might be a good thing, depending on whether those jobs are well-enough paid to keep their holders from having to claim in-work benefits. The number of hours worked has also increased, but this may be due to the…

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Let’s start the New Year with some hopeful news

The Information Commissioner and the Department of Work and Pensions will have to defend, before a tribunal, their decision to refuse my Freedom of Information request on claimant mortality. Readers will recall that this blog, along with others, has been trying to use official channels to secure publication of the number of people who died while going through the claim process for Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance during 2012. This process has been drawn out beyond reason; the first request for the information was made before that year…

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