Tag Archives: expert

Money Saving Expert says: don’t let the Tories blame cost of living crisis on Ukraine war

Martin Lewis: “It is a worsening of the situation – it is not the cause of the situation.”

The UK’s cost of living crisis started in the UK before the Russia-Ukraine war and should not be blamed on that conflict, ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis has said.

And he said direct political action to ease the pressure is required – in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring Budget on March 23 – because cutting household expenditure won’t be enough to save people from poverty.

He was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on March 10:

 

“Kwasi Kwarteng has said that many people are willing to make sacrifices because of Ukraine. I think he’s probably right but I am slightly worried that we are seeing what may be potentially a deliberate narrative shift that effectively says the entire cost of living crisis is due to Ukraine, and therefore we all need to make sacrifices/

“That is not correct. What has happened in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation.

“But the rises in energy, heating oil, water, council tax, broadband and mobiles, food, National Insurance, were all in place before Ukraine.

“When we have a Budget – or a Spring Statement – coming in a couple of weeks, we need to be careful not to allow that narrative to happen and to be used as an excuse that we all need to make sacrifices because of Ukraine, and that’s why we have to suck in the cost of living crisis.

“That is not a correct analysis. It is a worsening of the situation – it is not the cause of the situation.”

Mr Lewis added: “We are going to see a real increase in genuine poverty in this country; millions of people being thrown into poverty.

“The only way we can stop that is not by being money saving and tightening our belts; it is by genuine political intervention.

“We have a Spring Statement coming and I would urge the Chancellor: let’s nip this in the bud. Let’s not have people starving or freezing.”

What if the Tories don’t nip it in the bud? What if they want to push this fake narrative? What if they’re trying to use it to avoid providing any meaningful help?

You see, the mass media tries to avoid suggesting it, but this is what we need to ask ourselves:

What if the Tories are actually steering most of us directly into poverty because that’s what they want for us? Are we really going to lie back and let it happen?

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Since Brexit the UK has lost 68% of exports to its biggest market – because Gove ignored the experts

Michael Gove says the UK has had enough of experts: it seems his Chelsea scarf has cut off the supply of blood to his brain.

Now we know why senior Tories have been quietly telling us we’ll have to wait a number of years before seeing the benefit (ha ha) of Brexit.

I notice that the number of years mentioned seems to vary between five and 50. That also tells us much.

But it is our memories that we should be consulting. We were told that Brexit would take us out of the shadow of the EU and into the “sunlit uplands” of independence (even though we were never dependent on the European Union, when the UK was a member).

That was the happy fantasy; this is the bitter fact:

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit.

It’s a drop of two-thirds – a disastrous amount for any country. For the fifth-richest in the world, it signals a precipitous fall to a place much lower in the international wealth rankings.

And there must be no passing of blame. Responsibility lies firmly with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, it seems – who ignored repeated warnings from the Road Haulage Association.

In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.

In addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty because there were no goods for them to return with, due to hold-ups on the UK side, and because some UK companies had either temporarily or permanently halted exports to the EU.

“I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” he said.

Ah, well. We all know Michael Gove’s views about experts.

Yes indeed. Mr Gove said the people of the UK had had enough of experts getting it wrong all the time.

Unfortunately for him, it seems the experts – and, yes, they do come from an organisation that can be reduced to an acronym – were right and he was wrong.

I wonder how many billions of pounds he has cost his fellow UK citizens?

Source: Fury at Gove as exports to EU slashed by 68% since Brexit | Brexit | The Guardian

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Medical experts warn that government Covid-19 antibody tests are probably duff

How typical of the Tory strategy on Covid-19 that the blood antibody tests that cost them £16 million might not work:

Senior medical specialists have raised concerns about the accuracy of the antibody tests being carried out on NHS staff across the country.

The blood tests – which can tell whether someone has had Covid-19 – were previously described by prime minister Boris Johnson as “game-changing”.

The government has spent £16m buying some 10 million test kits from pharmaceutical giant Abbott and Roche with the first phase of the testing programme assessing NHS and care staff, before being rolled out to the public.

But a letter from academics and clinicians, published in The BMJ, raises concerns about the performance of the tests, the clinical reasoning for them and the cost.

“We have three concerns… Firstly, there is no specific clinical indication for the test on an individual basis. Secondly, the performance of these assays has not yet been assessed to the standard typically required of a novel test. And thirdly, the resource implications are not considered.”

“The assay is being rolled out at an unprecedented pace and scale without adequate assessment, potentially compromising public trust in pathology services in the future.”

The letter adds: “NHS England requires the result to be available in 24 hours. Given that routine testing of patients is neither clinically urgent nor meets a clear public health need, this push to introduce a non-evidence based test for uncertain gains risks inefficient use of scarce resources.”

The experts also warned that a positive or negative test result would not alter how a patient is managed either way and added that a positive result “does not indicate immunity”.

It seems the government has admitted the scientists may have a point.

The Department of Health and Social Care made a statement saying: “We do not currently know how long an antibody response to the virus lasts, nor whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit it to others.”

Nevertheless, antibody testing “will play an increasingly important role as we move into the next phase of our response to this pandemic”.

Looks like another pointless waste of cash to This Writer. How typical.

Source: Coronavirus: Medical Experts Issue Warning Over Government’s Antibody Tests | HuffPost UK

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Are they joking? UN poverty expert thought Tory response to his report was a ‘spoof’

Philip Alston: He came to his conclusions by listening to people affected by Conservative policies on the poor, sick and disabled. Tories implemented those policies by ignoring the very same people – and now they are complaining because Mr Alston hasn’t done the same.

At a time when we are all taking a long, hard look at the Conservative government of the last few years, this is damning.

Philip Alston, the New York-based human rights lawyer and United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has responded with disbelief after the Tories responded to his report on poverty in the UK.

“I thought it might actually be a spoof,” he said after ministers claimed that his report was “a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty” and that the UK was among the happiest countries in the world.

“The statement is as troubling as the situation,” he said. “There is nothing that indicates any willingness to debate over issues which have generated endless very detailed, totally reputable reports across the political spectrum in the UK. All of these are dismissed.”

Alston’s report compared Conservative policies to the creation of Victorian workhouses. Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, said she felt it was politically biased and alleged that Alston did not do enough research, only visiting the UK for 11 days.

Alston retorted that the government response amounted to “a total denial of a set of uncontested facts”.

Particularly contentious was Mr Alston’s claim that the Department for Work and Pensions had created “a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse”.

Tory apologists rushed to rubbish the claim, like historian Dominic Sandbrook, who wrote in the Daily Mail that it was “simply ridiculous” and “an insult to our national intelligence”.

“I think breaking rocks has some similarity to the 35 hours of job search [required per week to receive universal credit] for people who have been out of work for months or years,” Mr Alston responded. “They have to go through the motions but it is completely useless. That seems to me to be very similar to the approach in the old-style workhouse. The underlying mentality is that we are going to make the place sufficiently unpleasant that you really won’t want to be here.

“Is it the case that 14 million people do not live in poverty? Do they contest the child poverty predictions? That is what it seems to be.”

It seems clear that this man will not be backing down.

As long-term readers of This Site will appreciate, that is a stance with which I can sympathise.

And it really is the only position to take with a government of bullies like the Tories, who deliberately (it seems) ignore the facts in order to continue pursuing malevolent policies of hate towards the poor and vulnerable.

Sadly, as I mentioned previously, the UK government may merrily ignore the findings of the United Nations report, without suffering any adverse backlash.

We know the Tories are wrong because we can see the evidence all around us. We know they are driving the entire country to ruin.

But they refuse to see it. Their attitude is symbolic of the pig-ignorance that came into office with David Cameron, back in 2010.

Source: UN poverty expert hits back over UK ministers’ ‘denial of facts’ | Society | The Guardian

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If you haven’t done so already, please email five of your friends, asking them to pledge to this case.

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UK benefit policy is to ‘save money by ensuring people die waiting for claims to be processed’

131010benefitdenier

The Conservative Government has been challenged to let experts analyse the effects of its policies on benefit claimants, following the publication of – extremely limited – mortality figures in August.

Disability studies specialist and disability activist Samuel Miller has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, and employment minister Priti Patel, asking whether they would co-operate if epidemiologists – experts in studying the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations such as benefit claimants – requested permission to conduct a thorough investigation of government policy.

In 2013, Duncan Smith turned down Mr Miller’s request to have his department hire an epidemiologist to conduct an independent study of the impact of the welfare reforms on the mortality of claimants on Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance.

“The professionals most qualified to analyse the recent DWP statistical releases on benefit deaths are Professor David Stuckler and Dr Sanjay Basu, the co-authors of The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. Why haven’t you asked them to analyze the mortality releases?” wrote Mr Miller.

“In my opinion, thousands of sick and disabled benefit claimants died needlessly because of the benefits backlog, long waits for mandatory reconsideration decisions, and the failure of the DWP to implement a sensible Work and Pensions Committee recommendation: In 2014, that Committee called on the Government to pay sick and disabled people benefits while they appealed against incorrect ‘fit for work’ decisions.

Why didn’t you implement that recommendation, and if you would do so, how much more would it have cost your department in additional benefit expenditures?

“It’s a hard truth, but it must be stated: The purpose of a benefits backlog is to ensure that people die waiting for their claims to be processed, thus saving the Government money. The Government failed to set a reasonable timescale for the mandatory reconsideration process, leaving it open-ended. The human cost was enormous and thousands died.

“Why is your department so unwilling to implement sensible and humane mortality avoidance measures?”

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