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Fact checkers have supported Vox Political’s claims about £70/week pension cut

Less cash for senior citizens: this story was about the removal of an allowance for dependent adults from nearly 11,000 people’s pensions. There is no guarantee that they will receive top-ups of the same value from other benefits, despite assurances from the Conservative government.

Independent fact checkers have confirmed much of what This Site has said about the end of ADI – the adult dependency increase – on thousands of UK pensions.

But this has done nothing to allay This Writer’s fears about the use of so-called independent “fact check” services.

I stated that the Tories will be cutting £70 a week from around 11,000 people’s pensions – and this is confirmed by Full Fact.

I also expressed doubts about the government’s claim that people who are set to lose around £3,500 a year as a result of the cut will be able to get a top-up from other benefits – and this is supported by a comment in the Full Fact article.

There are reasons to believe that at least some pensioners who were in receipt of ADI payments may struggle to claim the money in other ways once the payments end.

From 15 May 2019, couples who aren’t both over the State Pension age cannot make a new claim for pension credit, unless one is receiving housing benefit for pensioners.

Changes to Universal Credit mean a couple where one person is below the State Pension age are considered working-age and will share a standard monthly allowance of £498.89. It can only be claimed if the younger partner is eligible.

Steve Webb, who was minister for pensions in the Coalition government from 2010 to 2015  and is a former Liberal Democrat MP, told Full Fact he was “deeply sceptical” that the loss of ADI payments would be offset with other benefits.

He said recent changes to pension credit mean any mixed-age couples who were not already receiving the payment “have little chance of claiming it when their income drops £70 a week”, while the Universal Credit rate is “so low” that that they may not “get much even if they qualified”.

I’m not convinced about the criticisms of other reports in the Full Fact site, though.

The fact was that “It is not right to suggest all pensioners will be £70 per week worse off, given how few receive this benefit.”

But the infographic on the Wear Red – Stand up and Be counted Facebook page (for example) correctly stated that “The £70 per week allowance for adult dependents is being scrapped from April”.

It could have been better-phrased, to make it clear that not all pensioners receive that allowance – but then, why should any reader assume that they all do?

Some of us have concerns about the use of so-called “fact check” facilities, because it is possible that they could be used to reinforce particular political viewpoints.

Claims that articles are presenting fake news, that are not correctly explained (such as the Full Fact piece), do not instil any confidence at all.

Source: Some pensioners will lose £70 a week, but Boris Johnson didn’t introduce the change – Full Fact

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Give the public a say before selling off the NHS, demands Burnham

torynhsposter

Scheming, lice-ridden vermin: All the airbrushing in the world could not erase the brutal, calculating dishonesty of the Conservative 2010 election poster.

This guy has been impressive from the get-go: Today (Tuesday) Andy Burnham will call on the Coalition to put its plans for further NHS privatisation on hold until there is clear evidence that the public wants the health service to be sold off.

The speech in Manchester is being timed to take place before the Conservative-led government signs a series of new NHS contracts that will – underhandedly – tie the hands of a future government.

Sly little devils, aren’t they?

The British public has never given its consent for far-reaching and forced privatisation of services – and that’s what Mr Burnham will be saying.

He will point out that the forced privatisation of the NHS is entering new territory and becoming harder to reverse: Contracts are being signed that will run throughout the next Parliament and beyond, tying the hands of the next government in a crucial area of public policy.

Not only is this unacceptable to Labour, but it has never been accepted by the public, and Mr Burnham will say that comedy Prime Minister David Cameron needs to be reminded that the NHS does not belong to him but to the British people – and he never received our permission to put it up for sale.

He will remind everybody that Cameron was dishonest about his privatisation plans before the last election. Cameron said there would be “no top-down reorganisation”.

If he wants to continue to force privatisation through, he should seek the consent of the public at the 2015 Election, Mr Burnham will say.

And he will contrast the increasingly fragmented and privatised travesty that Cameron wants to force on you – where service has become a postcode lottery dependent on the cost-effectiveness of providing certain forms of healthcare in your locality – with a public, integrated NHS as Labour intends to re-form it.

It was confirmed last week that NHS spending on private-sector and other providers has exceeded £10 billion for the first time.

“For all its faults, it is a service that is based on people not profits,” Mr Burnham will say. “That principle sets our health service apart and was famously celebrated two years ago at the Opening Ceremony of our Olympic Games.

“When his reorganisation hit trouble and was paused, David Cameron explicitly promised that it would not lead to more forced privatisation of services. But… on his watch, NHS privatisation is being forced through at pace and scale.

“Commissioners have been ordered to put all services out to the market.

“NHS spending on private and other providers has gone through the £10 billion barrier for the first time.

When did the British public ever give their consent for this?

“It is indefensible for the character of the country’s most valued institution to be changed in this way without the public being given a say.”

Among the long-lasting agreements due to be signed by the Coalition in a bid to tie the next government into its privatisation of services are two contracts for cancer care in Staffordshire lasting no less than 10 years and worth a massive £1.2 billion; a five-year contract worth £800 million for the care of older people in Cambridge; and a contract in Oxford and Milton Keynes set to begin a month before the General Election for medical staffing.

The last of these is using a ‘reverse auction’ process where the lowest bidder wins, confirming fears of a ‘race to the bottom’ culture and contradicting claims from the Government of no competition on price in the NHS.

Once again Labour shows us that there is no depth to which the Cameron administration will not stoop. This time they are using the summer Parliamentary recess to sign contracts intended to prevent any future government from restoring our health service and reversing the appalling damage they have done so that they and their friends can profit from the suffering and sickness of the poor.

They could not do more damage if they were a filthy, sickening, scheming plague of lice-ridden vermin; in fact, that is exactly what they resemble.

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Why we’ll never have full employment – even though we need it

austeritydolequeueToday Vox Political is offering a guest blog, for your edification and education. Graeme Beard wrote the following in response to ‘Millionaire’s government will make paupers of us all’. It’s far too long for me to put in the ‘Comment’ section of that article but far too interesting to let it go unpublished. Therefore I am reproducing it as an article in its own right. If anyone else has anything they want to get off their chests, I’ll happily consider other submissions as well.

Over to Graeme:

OK – well let’s get something rather nasty out of the way first. Austerity for the masses is an extremely efficient and effective macro-economic device. Absolutely counter-productive and even destructive to a consumer based economy it is the best way by far, (apart from slavery) on a macro-economic level to shift money from the pockets of the poor to the pockets of the rich.

Make no mistake, the austerity measures being introduced are moving £Billions ‘upward’. None will come ‘downward’. The national debt will be paid off by the poor and the poorer. It will not, and is not being paid off by the rich and affluent. They are untouched and seem to be untouchable. In fact the rich and affluent are seeing their personal wealth increase at an incredible rate.

The following is a global perspective but it applies just as strongly to the UK. The rich are enjoying a boom time and for this particular conspiracy theorist I am of the opinion that it is a deliberate measure. They want it all.

Secondly, let’s state the ‘bleedin obvious’: We live in a consumer society. Like it or not – want to change it or not – it’s what we got, playmates. To that end we have to play the ‘consumer game’ cards in hand. There is no choice. It is a given.

A consumer society (be it local, national or global) depends almost entirely on consumers having a disposable income. That is, money above and beyond that which they need purely to survive. If they do not have a disposable income over and above that needed to satisfy their basic needs such as food, clothing, utility bills, shelter etc then, in many ways, they become what economists call ‘non-consumers’.

For instance, they can’t spend money on what some would consider to be luxury goods like new or used motor cars, or books, or education, or to replace a cooker or fridge that’s on its way out. They make-do, make-shift and mend. Their ‘extra’ spending on consumer goods (the very goods we need to be purchased by consumers in order for the economy not only to grow, but survive) is dead in the water. If they haven’t got it they can’t spend it. The more that have no – or diminishing – disposable income, the more the economy will contract.

It’s happening now and there’s more to come. Far more. People thrown out of work, because of slowing demand or even a demand crash in consumer goods they make or services they provide, or those that become disabled and draw state benefits, are a prime example. They do little more than survive and become non-consumers above subsistence in double quick time. Ergo they are lost to the consumer society. It is a downward spiral and the Multiplier Effect takes over in negative form. See below.

Now this is not rocket science and can plainly be seen repeatedly with only a cursory glance at macro-economic history. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself! To introduce and pursue measures of austerity for the mass of the population in an attempt to ‘heal’ a consumer economy is like trying to catch hold of the world by the arse and pull it uphill.

These austerity measures are either being pursued in ignorance (which I find very hard to believe) or as a deliberate measure to engorge the rich and affluent at the expense of the poor.

For 35 years, post-Second World War, the UK had full employment. Bankrupted by the conflict and in massive national debt, the population was fully employed; the NHS was introduced; the welfare system proposed by ‘The Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services.’ (The Beveridge Report) was adopted and applied with vigour. People had jobs with disposable income; they consumed (and in quantity – demand for consumer goods went through the roof); tax incomes to the government went up enormously; numbers of people on benefits were minuscule (they had jobs); the construction industry went off ‘bang!’; etc etc. I’m sure you get the drift. John Maynard Keynes’ ‘Multiplier Effect’ in motion and this time in positive mode.

Bit of a problem though! Full employment came with a terrible cost. It gave those in employment power – mainly the power to withdraw their labour and expertise.

And that’s the reason we will never have full employment in the UK ever again.

It gives people at the bottom power and those at the top really don’t want that. They need the sticks of unemployment and poverty for them to sustain their lifestyles.   People on the breadline and/or in debt or under threat keep their heads down, live smaller and smaller, and consume less and less in the hope it will eventually, by some kind of magic, get better. It rarely does.

In concert with that, and at the very same time, those who feel insecure and threatened but are in decently-paid jobs and who could shut down their spending too and save more and more for their (maybe) ‘rainy day’ are also removed, if only in part, from the consumer society that we all depend on.

So, actually impoverishing consumers – the very consumers who could – and, history shows, would – drag this economy out of the faecal mess that the cretinous politicians and bankers put us in in the first place, means they are unable to do so – because they are struggling with ‘austerity measures’ and seeing their disposable income decrease alarmingly.

Full employment, as dangerous to those ‘above’ as it may be, is good for a consumer society. Taxes are paid alongside National Insurance contributions; welfare payments reduce exponentially because people have jobs; demand for consumer goods increases and, via the ‘multiplier effect’, more jobs come online and more money is made available to spend. It is an upward spiral.

If you want to heal a consumer economy, don’t introduce more disease. Austerity for the masses is exactly that – a disease – to a consumer society. Don’t believe me though – gawd forbid! Look around you, because it’s happening now, and happening just about everywhere apart from the more affluent areas of the UK.

And that, in part, is why our towns as a working example are full of charity shops, pawnbrokers, and people wanting to buy your surplus gold for two and a half buttons so they can get rich and you can eat or heat next week.

As an addendum: http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2011-10-25&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email