Tag Archives: fee

Tories force £100 million payout so outsourcing giant can chase over-75s for TV licence fee

The Conservative government’s relationship with private outsourcing firms is becoming more questionable by the day.

It has been revealed that the BBC is having to pay nearly £100 million to Capita so the firm can hire new staff to chase down senior citizens who fail to pay the TV licence fee.

People aged over 75 had been exempt from paying the fee because the government subsidised it – until George Osborne decided that he was going to axe the subsidy for no apparent reason other than cruelty.

The BBC was then forced between betraying all licence fee-payers by cutting its output significantly, or betraying over-75s by demanding that they pay the fee again.

It wasn’t any choice at all.

At least we’re all laying the blame where it’s due. As the Mirror article states:

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “The BBC has taken this decision but in reality the principal responsibility lies with the Government.

“Until a previous administration transferred these free licences to the Corporation under a tapering funding arrangement they had taken the form of a welfare benefit for a generation, and to have done that without any consultation left a really bad taste in the mouth.

“The Government cannot absolve itself of responsibility for the upset and distress being caused to many of our over-75s today, the poorest and most isolated above all – and the sadness is that these older people have already endured so much over the last few months.

“The Government needs to sit down with the BBC urgently to keep these TV licences for over-75s free.”

Ms Abrahams’ suggestion is right – but we know the Tories won’t act on it.

They’ll say the Covid crisis, Brexit, and the collapse of the UK’s economy (all their own fault) mean the nation cannot afford to take back the TV licence subsidy.

In reality, though, the real reason is that they’ve given all the money to privatised outsourcing firms like Capita.

Source: BBC to spend ‘£100m of taxpayer cash chasing over-75s not paying licence fee’ – Mirror Online

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Job done: BBC got the Tories re-elected and now Tory pollster is softening us up for privatisation

“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: but is the BBC irredeemable or could it be restored to its role as the greatest impartial news provider in the world – if the Tories don’t privatise it first?

Did you enjoy a lot of TV over Christmas? Did Worzel Gummidge tickle you? Or was Dracula more to your taste? How about that classic-with-a-new-face, Doctor Who?

BBC output – and not just drama – appears to have won the Christmas ratings war, but the corporation itself is in danger of being destroyed by politicians.

Boris Johnson said in the run-up to the general election that he thought the BBC in its current format – as a public service broadcaster supported by a licence fee paid by all television users – has had its day.

This Writer finds that a strange way to repay the organisation that has done more to re-elect the Conservatives than any other. Around 70 per cent of the UK gets its news from the BBC and a high proportion of those people let its newscasters tell them what to think.

The BBC’s election coverage was hugely controversial; there is a large body of opinion that the Corporation went far too easy on Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, despite policy positions that are, frankly, completely whacko.

In contrast, BBC presenters were almost feral in their reaction to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, whose policies – should they ever be discussed – were actually far more in tune with the thoughts of the nation.

There are many possible reasons for this behaviour by a broadcaster that should have been impartial – especially considering the fact that it relies on our money for its existence.

But I don’t think that’s why YouGov has just released a poll saying most people want to scrap the licence fee.

YouGov is the Tory polling organisation. It was set up by Nadhim Zahawi and another prominent Tory, and has always existed in the shadow of its founders’ political ambitions.

So, following up on Mr Johnson’s comments, it seems likely to This Writer that YouGov has polled the people most likely to support the end of the licence fee, in order to produce these results.

Remember: polls are published in order to tell you what to think, not to tell you what other people think.

The Tory plan would be to turn the BBC into a subscription-only or advertising-funded service, making it far less capable of providing the services it currently offers.

Then private, billionaire-owned companies could rush in to fill the gap – especially in news programming – with pro-Tory propaganda.

And the BBC itself could be taken over by privateers, leaving the logo only to mislead us into thinking that it’s the same as it ever was.

You know – like the Tories are doing with the NHS.

Labour offered reform of the BBC to eliminate political interference but you (or your fellow voters) didn’t want that.

If you lose the best broadcaster in the world because of the election result, I hope you know where to place the blame.

Source: Half of Britons want the BBC licence fee scrapped, new poll reveals | Daily Mail Online

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Great Labour election promises: they’ll scrap fees for dental check-ups

This is great news, for all the reasons below.

Now, if Labour could make it possible for everybody to have access to a National Health Service dentist, that would be great.

I haven’t been able to see one since June 2018. Fortunately I have good dental hygiene, but I’d still like access to an expert.

Oh, and you know the reason I don’t have an NHS dentist any more? The company providing the service here in Mid Wales is privately-run.

Health service privatisation – it will always leave us short-changed.

Labour will bring back free dental check-ups if they win the election.

The £22.70 fee to see an NHS dentist will be axed and leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said the ultimate ambition is to scrap ALL dental fees.

The £450 million-a-year plan will free up resources long-term by focusing on prevention. Fees were introduced in 1951 to pay for UK involvement in the Korean War.

But one in five adults puts off seeing a dentist because of the £22.70 charge for a basic visit. Under the first stage of Labour ’s plans, check-ups, oral cancer examinations, X-rays, clinical scaling and polishing and emergency treatment won’t cost a penny.

Worrying numbers [have] turned to internet kits for scaling and makeshift fillings which can cause major problems.

And 515,000 patients a year with toothache go to GPs or A&E – costing the NHS more than £38 million.

More than 100 children a day have rotting teeth removed in hospital and 90 per cent of cases could have been prevented by early treatment. And decay is the leading cause of admissions among kids aged five to nine.

Source: Labour to scrap dental check-ups costs in election policy with some real bite – Mirror Online

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Tories even screw up their pre-Budget smear attempt | The SKWAWKBOX

This is rather hilarious.

The Tories seem to have forgotten that their lying claim that Labour promised to pay off all student debt (it never happened – Labour promised to end tuition fees if elected in June) – has been debunked and nobody believes it.

Peter Stefanovic did a video blog about it:

He wrote: “It’s hard to believe but the Conservative Party is still tweeting today the old lie today about Jeremy Corbyn and student debt! I completely debunked this months ago! Isn’t it time they caught up?”

For clarity: The video in the tweet below is A LIE.

Furthermore, the Tories also seem to have forgotten Parliamentary procedure – the fact that it is the Leader of the Opposition, not the Shadow Chancellor, who responds to the Budget speech.

If their claim had been accurate, it wouldn’t be a big deal – the accusation would apply just as much to the Labour Leader as the Shadow Chancellor.

But it’s a LIE, so it doesn’t apply to anything at all.

… Apart from the boss of the Tory Party press office – one Carrie Symonds, if This Writer recalls correctly.

She is proving to be worth her weight in gold – to the Labour Party.

The Conservatives’ Twitter account put out their defamatory ‘fake news’ this morning:

Thing is, the Shadow Chancellor doesn’t respond to the Budget. The leader of the opposition does.

One Jeremy Corbyn, who haunts the nightmares of every reeling Tory incompetent – and of whom they’re clearly so terrified that they blocked out the thought of facing him across the despatch box tomorrow.

Source: Tories even screw up their pre-Budget smear attempt | The SKWAWKBOX


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Astrophysics professor’s response to universities’ Brexit letter is sharp – and hilarious

Professor Peter Coles.

[WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE]

In an effort to respond to Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris’s call for universities to provide details of courses and lectures that refer to Brexit, Professor Peter Coles of Cardiff University has provided a breakdown of his syllabus.

The document lists the main points of his course, with references to Brexit highlighted in red. There’s only one issue:

Peter Coles is an astrophysicist.

Ah, but, you see, his course is on the physics of the early universe – the EU.

Here’s his syllabus:

For those who can’t read images, the document is entitled: “PXT223 Physics of the Early Universe (EU) and Brexit

Highlights include: “Basics of the Big Bang: Summary of basic cosmological theory as it relates to Brexit.

“Thermal History in the Big Bang: The cosmic microwave background. Radiation decoupling and recombination. The cosmic neutrino background. Cosmological Nucleosynthesis. Baryogenesis. Relic particles. Dark matter. Implications for Brexit.

“Cosmic Inflation: Cosmological models with scalar fields. Phase transitions in the early Universe. The horizon and flatness problems. Inflation. The ‘Graceful Brexit Problem’.

“The Cosmic Microwave Background: Physical origin of temperature and polarization fluctuations. CMB experiments, the establishment of the standard cosmological model by the metropolitan elite.

“Cosmic Structure: … The cosmic web, the large-scale structure of the Universe and Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

“Unanswered Questions: Limitations of the Standard Model and why the fuck are we doing Brexit?


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Tory MP’s letter revives old lie that educators indoctrinated students against Brexit

In an open tweet to Chris Heaton-Harris, fellow Tory MP Paul Scully claimed: “This is what a lecturer was handing out to my daughter who spends £9k pa for him to be teaching engineering, not politics.” Believable? Or a set-up?

Does anybody remember a story in July this year, claiming that teachers were indoctrinating students to support ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum?

That story has been revived by the Daily Heil, after Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris wrote to universities, demanding details of their courses on the EU, with particular reference to Brexit.

This Writer understands that Mr Heaton-Harris might be in some difficulty after Jo Johnson suggested he wanted the information for a book he was writing. There was no mention of this in the letter, which was written on House of Commons paper. The suggestion is that, by pretending to be writing in his capacity as an MP, rather than as a private citizen researching a book, Mr Heaton-Harris was trying to gain a pecuniary advantage by deception (his book would earn money for him personally, you see. Writing in his capacity as an MP means the information would be used, at least nominally, in the interests of the national political debate). In layperson’s terms, that’s fraud.

But the Daily Mail has seized on the letter – and the reaction against it (one university lecturer told Mr Heaton-Harris that he can have access to the materials he requested by joining the course and paying £9,000, just like everybody else) – to claim that universities are a hotbed of Leftie ‘Remain’ support.

The Mail article stated:

The extent of anti-Brexit bias at some of Britain’s best known universities was laid bare last night amid a furious row.
A Tory MP was castigated this week and accused of ‘McCarthyism’ for asking universities what they are teaching about the UK’s departure from the EU.
But yesterday the Daily Mail uncovered a string of examples of senior figures at universities explicitly speaking out in favour of Remain.
Before the vote, a raft of senior academics spoke publicly to urge their students to back staying in the EU.

Source: How open-minded are our universities? As an MP provokes a storm just for ASKING what students are being taught about Brexit, disturbing questions about propaganda in the lecture halls emerge

Of course, it’s nonsense. As the Tory-run DWP would say, it is anecdotal evidence. If considered as a survey, there is no balance in the respondents. It is simply the opinions of Daily Mail readers – and of the right-wing rag’s reporters and editors.

And already a backlash is taking place:

https://twitter.com/MattTurner4L/status/923478029967548418

And what is Mr Heaton-Harris doing?

Not a lot, it seems, as this tweet from Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick suggests:


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Tory MP demands details of university lectures on Brexit. This lecturer’s response is perfect

Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris: The new McCarthy?

Chris Heaton-Harris had it coming.

The Tory whip and staunch Brexiteer took it upon himself to write a threatening letter to universities, demanding that they provide him with details of courses teaching European affairs and the names of the lecturers teaching them.

https://twitter.com/KamBass/status/922805136728174593

The move has been condemned as an attempt to introduce McCarthyism into the UK – creating fears of a witch-hunt against pro-EU lecturers and thinking.

Mr Heaton-Harris has denied this –

– but he is a Tory, so of course nobody believes him.

https://twitter.com/Barkercartoons/status/922804410501263360

The best response is the one sent to Mr Heaton-Harris by Dr Ben Whitham, Lecturer in International Relations at Leicester’s De Montfort University. In fact, considering what the Tories have done to students, it’s perfect:

For those who can’t read images, it says: “Of course you can access my recorded lectures @chhcalling. Just enrol and pay the £9,000 per year your party deems fair, like everyone else.


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This is the reason Theresa May’s own MPs are stabbing her in the back over the cost of Brexit

Here’s an argument that rings true: Hardline Brexiteer Tories think they can dupe us into blaming Brussels for blackmailing Britain, when the facts betray nothing of the sort.

They must think we’re all stupider than they are.

I do hope they’re mistaken.

The so-called Brexit bill – in fact a calculation to be made of the UK’s share of projects that we have already agreed to – is something that Theresa May cannot settle because of a deliberate strategy of the hard line Brexiteers on the right wing of her party.

They are in a panic because opinion polls are showing that public opinion has not rallied, as expected, behind Brexit. If anything, it is edging the other way and could well go further as the chaos, confusion and economic damage of the Tory Brexitshambles becomes more and more apparent.

The Brexiteers therefore want to have a row about money, and keep it going as long as possible.

They calculate that this is a subject they can portray as a grasping EU trying to blackmail Britain into paying an unwarranted exit fee. They rely on the complexity of the issue which they hope will deter people from looking beyond the headlines. The tried and tested tactic of Blaming Brussels will, they hope, deflect public disquiet away from them and lessen calls for a rethink on Brexit itself.

Source: Why May can’t settle on the money  – Richard Corbett


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Tory attitude to students is scorned in this doctor’s terrific put-down

The Tories have tried to recruit young people with Momentum-a-like organisation Activate – to limited success. Mostly the attempt has attracted ridicule of the kind shown here.

The Tories want to reform their image in the opinion of young voters – but they won’t do it like this!

In a bid to attract students into the blue-blooded fold, they’re trying to kid Britain’s brightest and best that they’re about-turning on their own high-fee policy.

Here’s a tweet they’ve put out in support of this claim:

How silly! “We must take action on student debt” – as if the Tories haven’t done enough by creating that debt in the first place!

Here’s Dr David Wrigley’s put-down:

Who would you believe?


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Fees and loans have made higher education a perk for the rich

Of those who said they were likely to study for a degree, around half said they were worried about the cost of higher education [Image: Getty].

This is what it means to vote Conservative in the UK: It is now impossible to get the education you need for a good job without going deep into debt, possibly for your entire working life.

The proportion of young people who think they are likely to go to university is at its lowest level in years, new figures suggest, with many citing cost as a primary concern.

According to a new report, the prospect of going on to higher education has become less desirable for many young people – news that closely follows separate figures published on Tuesday revealing a decline in student satisfaction levels overall.

Responding to the annual Sutton Trust poll – which questioned more than 2,600 11 to 16-year-olds in England and Wales – around one in seven (14 per cent) said they were unlikely to go on to higher education, compared with 11 per cent last year and eight per cent five years ago.

Of those who said they were likely to study for a degree, around half (51 per cent) said they were worried about the cost of higher education, up from 47 per cent last year.

The biggest money concern was tuition fees, followed by having to repay student loans for up to 30 years and the cost of living as a student.

The figures have fuelled concerns over a lack of social mobility within higher education, and come amid growing debate on the future of tuition fees, which rose above £9,000 to £9,250 in English universities for the first time this year.

Read on: Number of young people planning to go to university falls to lowest level in eight years


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