Tag Archives: duty

Coffey’s not your mate! Watch her dodge duty of care to vulnerable benefit claimants

Therese Coffey: she’ll dodge any implication that she has a duty of care to vulnerable benefit claimants – remember, she couldn’t care less about a human being who starved to death because of the decisions of her Tory colleagues.

This is very revealing.

Questioned on whether the Tory government has a duty of care towards vulnerable benefit claimants – think “people with disabilities”, “people with mental health issues”, “people with long-term illnesses” – Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey could only say that no such duty has been written into the statute books.

She avoided giving an opinion on whether she had a moral duty to look after the interests of people claiming state benefits:

Well she would, wouldn’t she?

Since 2010, the Conservatives have presided over – no, they’ve precipitated – the deaths of uncounted numbers of people: with disabilities, with long-term illnesses, with mental health problems, in care homes, in their old age, and I’m sure I’m missing a few categories.

They have deliberately avoided any effort to count the dead, saying once people have been pushed off benefits, the government has no responsibility for them.

But that isn’t true.

There’s a question of whether the government is right to deny benefits to people, or to make them so low that people starve, or fall into despair, and die.

That’s where the moral question is useful.

Is there a likelihood that a person’s health will suffer as a result of benefit denial?

If so, shouldn’t the government monitor their progress?

If not – how does the government know, and shouldn’t it monitor them anyway, to make sure they have other means of support – both financial and mental?

That’s the question Ms Abrahams was asking.

Ms Coffey’s response tells you everything you need to know about her, and the Tory government she represents.

They say they aren’t killing anybody, but it’s only because they aren’t actually stabbing or shooting people. The effect is the same.

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We have no ‘moral duty’ to do anything Fat Boris Johnson says – especially about schools

Lecturing: when Boris Johnson gets behind the pulpit, you know he’ll only give you a load of bull.

Fat Boris Johnson really has a lot of cheek, hasn’t he?

Trying to tell us what our “moral duty” is!

Did he mention “moral duty” to his boss buddy Dominic Cummings when the latter unilaterally decided that lockdown rules didn’t count and took his trip to Barnard Castle, encouraging so many other Brits to disregard the rules in the same casual manner?

Did he consider his own “moral duty” during the many affairs he’s had with women who were not his wife?

Did he think about his “moral duty” to hold an inquiry into Tory racism while he was delaying it for eight months (and counting)?

I doubt it.

So when he told us

There is a “moral duty” to get all children back into schools in England next month

It can hardly be surprising that we reacted like this:

We all know what he means.

He knows parents won’t go back to work unless their kids have a place to go, so he’s trying to emotionally blackmail us into sending them back before we know it’s safe. And consider this:

Furthermore: after Children’s Commissioner Annie Longfield said there should be weekly Covid-19 testing in schools to detect (or better still, prevent) outbreaks, Johnson’s schools minister Nick Gibb rejected the suggestion out-of-hand.

I expect this follows his government’s promise to provide weekly testing at care homes… which has since been withdrawn. Clearly Johnson can’t even manage a simple testing system.

But it raises an obvious question:

If Johnson cannot see that he has a “moral duty” to protect our children when they go to school, then it is our moral duty to ignore him.

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Still think the Queen had no choice but to prorogue Parliament? Think again!

The Queen: It seems she has failed to do her duty in the most unacceptable way.

Craig Murray’s aim is not the same as mine in this – he’s after Scottish Independence and I think the countries of the UK are still better together – but he makes excellent points in his article (link below).

He says the Queen was wrong to appoint Boris Johnson as prime minister because her duty is to appoint whoever can demonstrated that they have the support of the Commons – and he has not done so.

Now, in proroguing Parliament for him, she is offering him the chance to delay the moment when we find out he can’t muster up that support.

This is because his flagship policy is “no deal” Brexit – and Parliament has rejected this policy, time and time again.

The course of the Queen’s actions suggests a specific plan – one which puts her in an extremely questionable position.

The Queen has appointed a Prime Minister who does not have the support of the House of Commons and then has conspired to prevent the House of Commons from obstructing her Prime Minister. That is not the action of a politically neutral monarchy.

Whatever happens in the future, this should end the role of the monarchy as it is currently described.

Source: The Queen’s Active Role in the Right Wing Coup – Craig Murray

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Suicide: If the Jeremy Kyle show had a duty of care to guests, what about the government’s duty to benefit claimants?

Steve Dymond: His death following an appearance on a TV show is more important to Conservatives than all the many thousands their benefit policies have triggered.

Tory double-standards have hit a new low.

It seems the Conservative government – including its leader – has expressed “deep concern” about the death of a guest on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle Show.

The concern is that the show’s producers did not adequately observe their own duty of care to guest Steve Dymond, who is believed to have taken his own life after being filmed for an edition of the programme.

It seems Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said the death was a “deeply concerning case”.

According to Sky News,

“Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and well-being of participants and viewers of their programmes,” they said.

“We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place.”

Damian Collins, Conservative chairman of the commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said TV companies

“have a duty to care to the people who take part in their programmes”, while Tory MP Simon Hart, who also sits on the committee, described the Jeremy Kyle Show as “car-crash TV which revels in people’s terrible misfortune and sometimes their vulnerabilities”.

And Charles Walker, vice-chair of the parliamentary group on combating suicide and self-harm, called on ITV to stop commissioning the show

Mr Walker demanded a crackdown on programmes that put people under a “huge amount of pressure and wait until they go pop”.

All of these criticisms are accurate. But I notice Mr Collins mentioned a “duty of care”…

What about the Conservative government’s duty of care to the many thousands of benefit claimants – particularly the sick and disabled – who have committed suicide because of the cruelty of the Tory system?

What about the people named by Debbie Abrahams in her evidence to the debate on 10 years of the work capability assessment?

What about the many others she didn’t mention?

What about the many, many others who weren’t considered to be benefit-related deaths because they did sometime after the arbitrary period following loss of benefit that the Department for Work and Pensions continues monitoring their condition?

The government has rejected a call for an independent inquiry into the deaths of many benefit claimants including Jodey Whiting, who died after the DWP breached its own safeguarding guidelines no less than five times.

The government has tried to hide the fact that concerns had been raised internally about the DWP’s safeguarding failures, rather than address them.

This means its position regarding the Kyle Show death is nothing short of homicidal hypocrisy.

And that has not been lost on the general public:

We’ve been here before, sadly.

The government won’t address its hypocrisy because the government consists of Conservatives and, for them, hypocrisy is a way of life.

The only way to stop the deaths is to end Conservative government and replace it with a responsible socialist administration.

But in the current pandemonium over Brexit, who would consider anything as radical as that?

Source: Jeremy Kyle Show death ‘deeply concerning’, Downing Street says | UK News | Sky News

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The plan to let councils opt out of child protection – are your children safe with the Tories?

"The Bill does not require any consultation with children, care leavers or families before the removal of legal duties" [politics.co.uk]

“The Bill does not require any consultation with children, care leavers or families before the removal of legal duties” [politics.co.uk]

No – they aren’t.

Here is just some of the evidence from an article on politics.co.uk – I urge you to read the full article as well.

In a recent House of Commons debate on social work reform, children’s minister Edward Timpson MP called for “a debate based on facts, not on unfounded propositions”. He was speaking about the clauses in the Children and Social Work Bill which, if passed, will permit individual councils to be excused from legal obligations to vulnerable children and care leavers.So let us focus on those facts. Here are seven for starters.

FACT 1: The government has plans to ‘academise’ children’s social care. In December 2015, the then prime minister, David Cameron MP, said six of the country’s best local authorities would be given “academy style freedoms” in children’s services. Clause 29 of the Children and Social Work Bill allows every council in England to ask to be excused from legal obligations. Clause 32 permits the secretary of state to remove duties from struggling children’s services, even when a council hasn’t asked for it.

FACT 2: Our country’s most vulnerable children and young people rely on social care duties for protection and support. Deregulation in social care involves exponentially more risk than in education.

FACT 3: There is no evidence that legal duties get in the way of innovation in children’s social care. Councils can already innovate.

FACT 4: Parliamentary scrutiny of exemptions will be weak. Parliament has very limited powers when it comes to statutory instruments (which is the form exemption orders will take).

FACT 5: There was no consultation before this Bill was introduced into Parliament. The Bill does not require any consultation with children, care leavers or families before the removal of legal duties.

FACT 6: The government is keen to create a ‘market’ for children’s services, but not to share its market-scoping report.

FACT 7: The government is ploughing ahead with ‘Takeover Trusts’ in children’s services without any evidence they work better for children. It states that the Bill will not lead to more profit-making in children’s social care services and has tabled an amendment to that effect. But there is no empirical evidence that children benefit from social care services moving away from local councils.

Source: The truth about plans to allow councils to opt out of child protection laws

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Apprentice death could have been prevented – but government couldn’t be bothered

The late Cameron Minshull: This 16-year-old was killed when he was dragged into a lathe due to poor health and safety measures.

The late Cameron Minshull: This 16-year-old was killed when he was dragged into a lathe due to poor health and safety measures [Image: Daily Mirror].

Work placement providers’ duty of care for people on apprenticeships and other government-sponsored work placements is being questioned after a factory boss was jailed over the death of a 16-year-old youngster.

Cameron Minshull was dragged into a lathe because he was wearing ‘unsuitable’ ill-fitting overalls which hung from his wrists and had not been trained to use the machine, Manchester Crown Court was told.

At the time, he was being paid just £3 an hour, after being rushed into a placement by recruitment agency Lime People Training Solutions – which puts people into apprenticeships in order to get public money from the Conservative Government’s Skills Funding Agency, according to the Daily Mirror.

The factory owner was jailed for eight months and his son received a suspended four-month prison sentence after admitting health and safety offences.

But Lime People Training Solutions was let off with a £75,000 fine – equivalent to its for putting around 17 youngsters in work placements – after denying any such breaches.

This happened because the government isn’t interested in health and safety. It considers calls for proper monitoring to be over-bureaucratic and burdensome.

On the Health and Safety Executive’s website, in the page dealing with work experience, HSE chair Judith Hackett states: “Work placement arrangements are too often seen as over-bureaucratic and burdensome, putting off potential employers.”

She continues: “Employers should already be managing the risks in their workplaces and are best placed to assess whether or not they need to do anything additional for a new young person joining them.”

And she states: “Schools and colleges… should not be second-guessing employers’ risk assessments or requiring additional paperwork.”

This next part is absolutely appalling: “An appreciation of risk and how to deal with it can be one of the biggest benefits offered by a placement.”

Is this appreciation to be gained through the death of an apprentice?

Work placement organiser companies are told: “If you are advised that a particular placement is not possible due to health and safety, the person giving you that advice may well be wrong – there are very few work activities a student cannot do due to health and safety law.

“Remember that the placement provider (employer) has primary responsibility for the health and safety of the student and should be managing any significant risks.” The only step the organiser is advised to take is to talk through the work required of the apprentice/person on the work placement, and discuss relevant precautions. There is no requirement to ensure those precautions are in place.

So that’s all right then. There’s no need to worry about health and safety concerns; they are somebody else’s problem.

Employers are told: “Under health and safety law, work experience students are your employees. You treat them no differently to other young people you employ.

“Simply use your existing arrangements for assessments and management of risks to young people.”

There you have it.

There is no legal requirement for extra measures to ensure the health and safety of young people placed with employers – and nobody checks an employer’s practices to ensure they conform with legal requirements.

The death of Cameron Minshull could have been prevented – but the government couldn’t be bothered.

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Conservatives: Exploiting hardworking people

140214intern

Exploitation: The logo on the cups says, “Conservatives – for the privileged few” – and the intern carrying them isn’t included.

“We’re all in it together” are we, George?

The Conservative Party represents “fairness”, “for hardworking people”, does it, David?

It seems not – if we are to judge the Conservative Party by its actions, rather than its words.

Yesterday a website focusing on graduate careers blew the full-time whistle on these deceptions, exposing how the Tories have been briefing MPs and candidates on ways to avoid paying the minimum wage by exploiting the perceived differences between volunteers, interns and paid employees.

The article on Graduate Fog said a memo circulated to Party members was advising them to start calling their unpaid interns ‘campaign volunteers’, in order to evade “potential hostile questioning” about exploitative business practices.

The Conservative Party has denied doing anything wrong by providing advice on ways its members may avoid paying the minimum wage.

It would have been better for the Party spokesperson to deny that Conservatives have been wrongly recruiting people as employees – under the umbrella title of ‘interns’ (which means nothing in UK law), while treating them – for payment purposes – as volunteers.

But that was impossible because it is exactly what has been happening – as the memo makes clear.

Look – here it is:

140214interns1

140214interns2

Graduate Fog kindly published it for us all to examine.

The part that blows the gaff is a “suggested template reply” for “hostile questioning” about the issue of “recruiting unpaid interns”.

Clearly, this is what Conservative chiefs want to avoid.

Clearly they would not have gone to the effort of circulating a memo if NOBODY was “recruiting unpaid interns”.

So there is a clear implication that some Conservative Party MPs and prospective Parliamentary candidates, in fact, have been “recruiting unpaid interns” – and illegally exploiting them by demanding that they carry out the duties of employees.

The tone is clear from the get-go: The Conservative Party is running scared.

Members are told that people working in an unpaid capacity are no longer to be described as ‘interns’ – they are ‘campaign volunteers’ from now on because, that way, there is no obligation to pay them.

Conservatives are advised not to pay anything at all to these ‘volunteers’ – even expenses – as this could lead to them being classed as ‘workers’ and establishing ‘mutuality of obligation’. This would be equivalent to payment for services rendered – and the ‘volunteer’ would therefore be classed as a ‘worker’, requiring payment for services rendered, at the minimum wage or higher.

From now on, the memo states, recruitment adverts should be “appropriately worded” – meaning there must be nothing resembling a “formal job description”. This means references to “work”, “worker”, “hours” of work, “tasks” the ‘Volunteer’ will be “expected” to perform, and “expenses” are all out.

Instead, Party members are advised to use words like “volunteering”, “volunteer”, “campaigning administration”, and “help” – and to describe functions carried out by the “volunteer” as “the kind of activities it would be great to get some help with”.

This advice would not be necessary if Conservative Party MPs and prospective Parliamentary candidates had not been illegally “recruiting unpaid interns”.

For the interns themselves, this should be terrific news: There can be no requirement for them to turn up to work, and no disciplinary measures may be taken against them if they don’t. They may come and go as they please and do not have to conform to any set working hours. Nor may they be expected to perform any specified duties.

If the Tories want people to do that kind of work, they can pay for it like everybody else.

… although the minimum wage probably won’t be enough.

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Coalition policy success: 80,000 children homeless for Christmas

shame

Tory politicians don’t care and Liberal Democrats don’t have any power – that’s why 80,000 children are being housed in temporary accommodation, alongside drug users and enduring threats of violence, as reported by Shelter today.

The government’s own figures show 2,090 families living in bed and breakfasts – an increase of eight per cent on 2012 and the largest number in 10 years, according to The Guardian. Of these, 760 have been living in B&Bs longer than the legal six-week limit – a 10 per cent increase on last year.

More than 43,000 other homeless households with children are in other emergency accommodation – usually privately-rented short-term flats, which are expensive. This is an increase of nine per cent on last year.

To put this into context, a Labour government commitment to halve the number of families in this kind of emergency accommodation meant the total fell between 2005 and 2010 – but it has been rising again since June 2011.

This is a human disaster created by the Coalition government.

Most families interviewed by the charity said they felt unsafe, with one child directly threatened by a man after an argument over a shared bathroom. Almost half said their children had witnessed incidents such as sexual offences, drug use and dealing.

One mother of three said: “One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine.”

Most of the 25 families Shelter interviewed lived in one room; half said the children were sharing beds with parents or siblings and the family was sharing kitchen facilities with others. All but three said it was hard to find a safe place for their children to play. Three families had no cooking facilities and one reported sharing a cooker and fridge with 22 other people.

More than half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, with 10 families sharing with seven or more other people; two-thirds had no table to eat on, and schoolchildren were finding it hard to do homework.

And their health is suffering: “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here, let alone a Christmas dinner. He’s getting really pale and is so tired all the time. He gets so scared but it’s difficult when I’m scared myself. This is no place for a child to live,” said a mother in a Hounslow B&B.

“This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, who described the charity’s findings as “shocking” and the conditions forced on families as “shameful”.

He said: “No child should be homeless, let alone 80,000. But tragically, with more people struggling to make ends meet and homelessness on the rise, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.”

Housing minister Kris Hopkins couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed.

“I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”

Let us be very clear on this: the problem is not that Tories like Hopkins don’t understand. This is exactly the result that they wanted; they just won’t acknowledge it because it is electorally damaging.

Look at the policies that created this problem: The bedroom tax; the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’, otherwise known as the Council Tax reduction scheme; the benefit cap that so many people in this country seem to support without understanding any of its implications.

Vox Political reported back in January what they would mean: “There will be a rise in rent and mortgage arrears… affordable housing will be less available and landlords less able or willing to rent to tenants on benefits… Private sector rental may become less attractive to landlords if tenants aren’t paying the rent. This will lead to a growth in homelessness. Councils have statutory duties and may see an increasing burden.”

But increases to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund have been entirely insignificant compared with the extra burden councils have faced. They received £150 million between them; Durham County Council had £883,000 and spent it all within eight weeks.

We have seen the start of the social cleansing predicted by this blog back in August 2012, when we noted that at least one council would use these measures to “clear out the poor and set up shop as a desirable residence for the rich”.

The housing bubble created by George Osborne with his ‘Help To Buy’ scheme will accelerate this process.

So don’t let a Tory tell you it’s nothing to do with them. They wanted this. In fact, 80,000 homeless children at Christmas is probably not enough for them.

Police: ‘To protect and serve’ their own interests?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

When did you lose faith in the British police?

Was it after Plebgate, the subject of a considerable controversy that has resurfaced this week? Was it after Hillsborough? Do you have a personal bad experience with officers whose interpretation of their duty could best be described as “twisted”, if not totally bent?

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says that the row involving whether former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell used offensive language against a policeman who stopped him from riding a bicycle through the gates of Downing Street should have led to disciplinary action for the officer involved, along with others who supported his story.

IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass questioned the “honesty and integrity” of the officers involved and said that West Mercia Police, who investigated the affair, were wrong to say there was no case of misconduct for them to answer.

Now, there is plenty of evidence that this police complaints commission is anything but independent, and that it provides verdicts as required by its superiors – either within the force or politically. But the weight of the evidence that we have seen so far suggests that, in this instance, the conclusion is correct.

The Plebgate affair began less than a month after serious failings were identified in the police handling of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It was revealed – after a 23-year wait – that serious mistakes had been made in the policing of the infamous FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, during which events took place that killed 96 people and injured a further 766.

In addition, post-mortem reports on the deceased were falsified and the police tried to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

These were both events that received national news coverage – but what about the local incidents that take place all around the country?

Sir Hugh Orde, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers said, “130,000 police officers are delivering a good service” – but are they really?

This blog has already mentioned the experiences of several people here in Mid Wales who have had unsatisfactory experiences with the police, including victims of serious physical, psychological and sexual abuse who were told to go back and suffer more of this personal hell by policemen and women who either couldn’t care less or were complicit in the crimes. Years later, attempts to get justice fell on the equally deaf ears of officers who didn’t want to know.

And this week the front paper of my local newspaper (the one I used to edit) carried the headline ‘Hello, hello, what’s going on here then?’ over a story about two local police officers who, while on duty, seemed more interested in having sex than upholding the law.

One was an inspector; the other a (married) constable. The inspector, prior to her promotion, had been instrumental in sending a friend of mine to prison on a particularly unsavoury child sex charge. There was no concrete evidence and the case hinged on the opinion of a doctor that was hotly disputed by other expert testimony. But my friend’s path had crossed this policewoman’s before and she had failed to gain a conviction on the previous occasion. It seems clear that she had not forgotten him.

I have always believed that the jury convicted my friend because its members were worried that he might be guilty – despite the lack of evidence – simply because he had been accused. “There’s no smoke without fire,” as the saying goes. It seems likely now that this conviction reflects the policewoman’s preoccupations with sex, rather than any criminal activity on the part of my friend.

It also seems to be proof of the fear raised by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week – that police have been sending innocent people to jail and letting the guilty go free.

My friend is still inside, by the way. He has maintained his innocence throughout the affair but, having been released on parole and then dragged back to jail for a breach that was more the fault of the authorities for failing to give adequate warning against it, he is now determined to serve his full sentence rather than face the heartbreak of having his freedom stolen with another excuse.

Who can blame him?

Hands off my medical records, Jeremy!*

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

Conservatives. They think they own everything – including your medical records.

If you live in England, Jeremy ‘The Misprint’ *unt wants your doctor to send your confidential patient record to a national database, from which it will be sold on – sold on to make money for him, mark you – to “approved” private companies and also universities.

The system is called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) – although exactly who it serves is entirely up for debate. You may also see it described as the care.data scheme.

He thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

And an NHS England spokesman told the paper, “The programme will provide vital information to approved organisations about the quality of health services.”

Oh really?

So in fact this information could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National, publicly-funded, service, yes?

How would it help in screening for common diseases? This information becomes freely available without any data having to be sold – how else would we know when an epidemic breaks out?

And how is this valuable for medical research – beyond the possibility that the now-infamous ‘job offer’ for people to take part in human medical experimentation may be targeted at particular individuals, according to medical records that they thought were only available to their own, trusted GP?

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Some Local Medical Committees (LMCs) are already discussing whether to opt out of the system – and this blog would urge all the others to do the same.

If you are concerned about this gross invasion of your privacy, you can contact your own LMC and request that they opt out. Contact details can be found on the British Medical Association’s website here.

*In fact he won’t be able to get his filthy hands on them anyway because I live in Wales. The title is for effect.