Tag Archives: grant

Will people realise the food shortages they suffer in January are due to Brexit?

Grant Shapps: he’s telling us supply chains will remain open after Brexit-imposed border restrictions are imposed from January 1. But he’s the guy who said it was perfectly safe to go back to work, while remaining safe at home himself.

Wasn’t it a stroke of genius to stagger the date the UK leaves the EU and the date any changes to our relationship take effect, so people don’t recognise the connection?

Clearly Boris Johnson wasn’t behind it. We can all agree that a yoghurt has more intelligence than the prime muppet.

So the UK is no longer a member of the European Union at the time of writing – but the Tory government still needs to make preparation for border controls that must be imposed from January 1.

And that isn’t happening.

Rod McKenzie, from the Road Haulage Association, said the government should “act now before it’s too late”.

Mr McKenzie told BBC News: “It is a real case of the government sleepwalking to a disaster with the border preparations that we have, whether it is a deal or no-deal Brexit at the end of December.

“The supply chain on which we are all dependent to get the things we need could be disrupted and there is a lack of government focus and action on this.”

He added: “When we are trying to emerge from the crisis of covid, if we then plunge straight into a Brexit-related crisis, that will be a really difficult moment and we need real pace.

“The difference here is between a disaster area and a disaster area with rocket boosters on.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is busy fitting the rocket boosters to this disaster area.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he “could not pre-empt the outcome” of trade talks with the EU, which he conceded created “some uncertainty”.

But, he said the government had kept supply changes going [I think he means “routes open”] throughout the pandemic and “we are absolutely confident we will do that again in the future”.

Let’s take a moment to remember that the Tory government was unable to supply personal protective equipment during the pandemic, meaning many doctors and nurses died of Covid-19 and Covid-related conditions.

The Tory government was unable to supply respirators during the pandemic, meaning tens of thousands of UK citizens died of Covid-19 and Covid-related conditions.

The government did not keep supply routes open – in fact, there is evidence that the Tories consciously shut them down.

And now Grant Shapps wants us to believe in his pie-in-the-sky promise that everything will be fine.

I don’t buy it. And that’s not all that you won’t be buying from January onwards, if your MPs don’t get their fingers out of their collective rear ends.

Source: Brexit: UK ‘sleepwalking into disaster’ over border plans, hauliers warn – BBC News

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If Grant Shapps wants us to go back to work, why is HE still working from home?

Failure of leadership: Grant Shapps, at home, telling us we should all go back to work. Why should we if he won’t?

Tories just don’t get it, do they? Leadership demands that you give people something to follow.

Example: Grant Shapps trying to get people to go back to all that time-wasting travelling to and from their places of work when they can do the job just as easily from home (and nine out of 10 people say they prefer it).

Here he is, being interviewed at his home, telling us to go to work:

It’s no inducement.

If Shapps wants us all to go – via overstuffed public transport – back to crowded workplaces full of other people who may have Covid-19 and could spread it to us and our families, why isn’t he leading by example?

Covid is on the rise again, with this week seeing the highest number of new cases recorded since June – more than when Shapps’s government put us all into lockdown in March – but now he wants us to go back to work. It’s a contradiction. It doesn’t make sense.

If he really believes that it is safe to go back, why is he not promising that when Parliament resumes next month he will be sitting on a crowded front bench, next to super-spreaders Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock, with all 635 (or so) other MPs, plus Parliamentary employees, crowded around him, as usual?

I’ll tell you why:

Because he’s afraid he’ll catch the virus.

And because he voted to give himself a £10,000 incentive to work from home, while the rest of us took pay cuts.

It’s not a persuasive argument, is it?

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Universal Credit is increasing debt and failing disabled people, says SNP

Protest: This is still the most appropriate image for the way the benefit system attacks people with disabilities. story below [Image: VoidOne.].

The SNP has renewed calls to make Universal Credit advance payments non-repayable grants instead of loans after new research showed the five week-wait and advance payments under Universal Credit are contributing to financial hardship and debt – particularly for disabled claimants.

The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needs to do more to support vulnerable people and others claiming Universal Credit, revealing that disabled claimants and people on low incomes are more likely to claim advances and have other debts to repay.

Claimants and representative organisations told the NAO that the wait for the first payment contributes to financial hardship and debt, despite the availability of advances.

The SNP said the solution is to turn advance payments into non-repayable grants once the claimant has been deemed eligible for Universal Credit.

This would remove the need to reverse the five-week wait, which the DWP has said would be “operationally challenging”, and minimise the risk of fraud – the reason given by the UK government for not implementing grants instead of loans.

The architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith, has admitted that keeping Universal Credit advance payments as loans instead of grants “is a policy decision, not a structural issue, so whatever the Government decides to do it is wholly feasible to do it.”

“The Chancellor’s statement was a missed opportunity to put building a fairer society at the heart of the recovery, with no measures to put cash in the pockets of those who need it most and lift people out of poverty,” said the SNP’s Neil Gray.

“And the Tories are missing another opportunity to address rising debt issues by refusing to make advance payments grants instead of loans.

“Addressing this issue is not an impossible task, as the SNP and leading anti-poverty organisations have repeatedly made clear by proposing a simple solution. The Tory government’s decision to keep advance payments as loans – which are pushing people into, or further into, debt – instead of making them non-repayable grants is a political decision, and nothing to do with operational or fiscal challenges.

“There is overwhelming support for the UK government to implement our proposal, and with unemployment rising and incomes being cut back, it is more critical than ever that the UK government starts taking serious action to address rising poverty and rising debt.”

According to the NAO Report – “Universal Credit: Getting to first payment” – 80 per cent of claims by low-income households, 67 per cent of claims including someone who has limited capability for work because of a disability or health condition, and 70 per cent of claims including a disabled child had a deduction applied to their first payment to cover advances repayments or other debts. This compares with 61 per cent of all claims.

Around 57 per cent of households making a new claim take a Universal Credit advance payment to help them manage during the five-week waiting period until their first payment.

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Grant offer for farmers to protect the soil is a VERY rare instance of the Tories doing what’s right

Soil degradation: It’s a huge threat to UK farmers but they seem to need government incentives to fight it.

Mr and Mrs General Public sure seem stupid – from news stories over the last few days, it seems government policy really does need to lead them by the nose.

This Site has reported on the fact that members of the public would rather have a faster train journey than protect valuable natural habitats.

Now it seems farmers need to be incentivised into protecting the soil that they need, in order to keep their businesses viable (and us fed).

What is wrong with people?

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, if we continue to degrade the soil at the current rate, the world could run out of topsoil in about 60 years.

Without topsoil, the earth’s ability to filter water, absorb carbon, and feed people plunges and we all die.

But farmers still need a financial incentive to do the right thing.

It’s as This Writer has said for many years, though: government sets the conditions under which we all live.

People will do whatever they can to live as well as they can – in the short term, because they delude themselves that the long-term future is someone else’s problem.

That puts a lot of power and influence in the hands of our elected representatives.

So, before anybody starts praising the Tories for doing the right thing in this case, consider all the cases in which they are not.

A promise to do more to protect the soil will form part of a vision for the UK farm industry being unveiled by the government.

Ministers have accepted that farmers need incentives to farm in a way that leaves a healthy soil for future generations.

Soil protection has become a core issue of the Agriculture Bill that is returning to Parliament.

In post-Brexit Britain [farmers] will be rewarded for providing services for society like clean air, clean and plentiful water, flood protection and thriving wildlife.

The grant changes will be phased in over seven years.

Source: Agriculture Bill: Soil at heart of UK farm grant revolution – BBC News

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These young ladies of Brexit need to be seen to be believed

I promise this is not a send-up and these people are for real.

Watch the video embedded in Kerry-Anne Mendoza’s tweet. You won’t need to go very far into it to get the gist:

Alice and Beatrice Grant (for those are their names) have been getting roasted online ever since this went out.

They are genuine Farage fangirls who, let’s be honest, don’t seem to understand much of what they’re on about.

This Mail article gives a little more background:

“The two young women are in fact sisters Alice and Beatrice Grant, aged 17 and 15, privately educated granddaughters of the late industrialist and former Governor of the Bank of Scotland Sir Alistair Grant.”

Oh right, so a background like that should give them a qualification in … Capitalism, not Socialism. I’d have thought so, anyway.

“The girls argue that what Britain needs is a swift No-Deal exit from the EU. In their eyes, Nigel Farage is a hero for standing up for Britain and fighting for British independence from the ‘corrupt EU’. And while they are still too young to vote, they have little time for those who doubt they are the genuine article.”

The piece goes on to say the girls like to spend their spare time looking for vintage clothes in charity shops. Personally, I see them more as looking in shops like “I Saw You Coming” from Harry and Paul. On the subject of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, here’s one Twitter user’s response to Alice and Beatrice:

Here’s a comment on their style of autocue-reading (if it was even that sophisticated).

Obviously, as Brexiteers, they’re fans of UKIP’s new leader, Dick Braine, too:

https://twitter.com/Kit_Zongo/status/1161569658543194112

It would be beneath This Writer to suggest that the only reason these girls have been put forward as faces of Brexit is the fact that they’re easy on the eye.

But we can all agree – can’t we? – that it wasn’t for their intelligence.

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Lottery bosses say they won’t withdraw funding if charities speak out about Universal Credit. Do we believe them?

This is a welcome announcement from the Big Lottery Fund – that it won’t withdraw funding from any organisation that speaks out on social issues like the human disaster known as Universal Credit.

But it is very easy to say such things. Considering the situation, it is important for us to see this organisation put its money where its mouth is.

Ellie Waugh, of the charity Humanity Torbay, made her situation as clear as crystal when she spoke out against the misery caused by Universal Credit in a video posted to Facebook last week.

And she made it clear that she had been told the charity would lose money if any of its representatives criticised the so-called benefit and its disastrous effects.

Now further details have emerged, courtesy of iNews.

An article states: “Ellie Waugh, who is CEO of Humanity Torbay, said she was visited by a Lottery official after she applied for £130,000 of funding for the charity… which would pay the rent on their building and pay two staff members.

“But she claimed the official told her to not express any more of her opinions about Universal Credit and the Government or she won’t receive any money.

“The Big Lottery Fund is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

“Trustee Shirley Holbrook said she was in the room when lottery official allegedly made the statement.

“Shirley said: “She said categorically if we were to receive a big lottery grant we would be unable to speak out against Universal Credit or any other government measure that affected our clients adversely.

“We are not a political organisation. We speak out about homelessness because we deal with the results of it every day.””

Those are contradictory statements, and there is only one way for the confusion to be resolved – with a decision on the charity’s £130,000 grant application from the Big Lottery Fund.

If the grant application is honoured, then we will know that charities need not fear losing out on funding if they speak out on social issues that the Conservative government may find embarrassing.

If it isn’t, then we know Humanity Torbay’s story was right, and the Tories are trying to hide the effects of Universal Credit through threats – by a form of violence, if you like.

The arrogance of such a choice is staggering. The UK has an honourable tradition of free speech and it is intolerable that the Conservatives should try to make restricting such comment a condition of funding from them.

That goes for any kind of funding. Bear in mind the Home Office’s attempt to gag members of the Windrush generation with non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before paying out fast-track compensation for the horrors they suffered under the Tories’ “hostile environment” policy.

The Home Office’s only comment on this is that NDAs are no longer used on the Windrush generation. Not exactly encouraging, is it? No admission, no apology, no willingness to change.

Humanity Torbay deserves to see all three, in addition to its funding: An admission of guilt, an apology for bad behaviour, and an undertaking to change for the better. And £130,000 of grant money, of course.

Source: Homeless charity boss ‘told she won’t get Lottery funding unless she stops criticising Universal Credit’ – inews.co.uk

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This charity chief broke the Tory gagging order on the effect of Universal Credit. Her words are heartbreaking – and infuriating

The lady in the video below is Ellie Waugh, chief executive of the charity Humanity Torbay, which aims to help the vulnerable secure homes, jobs and training.

Part of that mission has involved working with the Conservative government – but this has come with strings attached, including a demand not to criticise Tory policies such as Universal Credit on pain of losing grant aid.

Ms Waugh has chosen to speak out despite these threats because she thinks the public needs to know how bad the situation is.

Her statement is clear: “It is absolutely awful out there.”

Anyone who is not heartbroken by her message and infuriated at the Conservative government for making it necessary, and for creating the situation that made it necessary, should seriously consider trying to find their own humanity.

Please share the clip. People need to see it.

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Five things George Osborne doesn’t want you to mention about his spending review


Let’s mention them:

Tory backbenchers cheered, but plenty of people will be hit. As experts look for the devil in the detail, here are five changes already causing alarm.

1. Grants abolished for nurses

Student nurses are to have their grants cut and will instead have to take out loans to pay for their tuition fees. A saving of up to £800m a year for the Government, some would-be nurses have already been put off. Katie, who planned to enrol on a postgraduate diploma in adult nursing next year, told HuffPost UK: “The NHS are crying out for nurses, more so those who have a bit of life experience behind them. But these cuts look to have more than out priced many of us.”

2. Tax credits protected – for now

The reversal of cuts to tax credits will avoid almost all the immediate losses next April, on average a £1,300 hit per family on the top-up benefit for workers. But as the Chancellor said: “Tax credits are being phased out anyway as we introduce Universal Credit.” So the Universal Credit – all welfare payments rolled into one – is likely to contain the cut when implemented in 2020. The Resolution Foundation says that by 2020 more than 3 million households are still set to lose an average of £1,000 from the £3.5bn cut. “Pain tomorrow is better than pain today – but it is still pain,” said Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation.

3. Free childcare limited

A flagship pledge of 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds has been scaled-back, meaning it will only available to parents working more than 16 hours a week when it launches in 2017. It will also no longer apply to families with incomes of more than £100,000. The biggest victims? Single parents working part-time. The Family and Childcare Trust warned of a “new barrier to work for those parents”. “We urge the Government to re-examine these criteria so that all working families can benefit from this generous offer,” said chief executive Julia Margo.

4. Housing benefit crackdown

A cap on housing benefit for new tenants in the social rented sector was announced. The reform will mean that housing benefit will “no longer fully subsidise families to live in social houses that many working families cannot afford”, official documents said as it bring rules in line with the private sector. The disability charity Mencap warned: “This could seriously impact on people with a learning disability living in social housing and specialist supported housing, jeopardising their ability to live independently in their communities.”

5. “£56 added to the tank”
Tucked away in the Autumn Statement “scorecard” is a saving of around a quarter of a billion pounds every year by retaining the diesel supplement in the company car tax until 2021, when new cars will have to be cleaner. This will cost the average BMW 3 Series driver in a company car £182 if they are the basic rate taxpayer, and £365 for higher rate taxpayers. Treasury sources said that £126 would be deducted by employers via National Insurance – but that is still a fuel tax hike of £56. Not a great message to send “hard-working families”.

Source: 5 Things George Osborne Doesn’t Want You To Mention About His Spending Review

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Newcastle City Council ‘forced’ to plunder welfare funds – BBC News

We all knew this would happen – central government cuts funding to councils, then devolves funding for welfare grants and crisis loans to the same authorities. What did ministers think was going to happen?

They know local authorities don’t have an unlimited pot of cash – in fact, they should know exactly how much money is available to each council.

Now Newcastle City Council says government budget cuts are forcing it to use welfare funding on other services.

Exactly according to the Conservative Government’s plan.

Read on: Newcastle City Council ‘forced’ to plunder welfare funds – BBC News

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Tory NHS sniping fails to hit targets

141024NHS

Heartfelt words: A short poem by Lorna (pictured) on YouTube has been more persuasive than any of the Tory smear tactics.

The Tories have been working very hard on their campaign against NHS Wales; shame they don’t have a brilliant health service in England to hold up in comparison.

Twitter lit up around teatime yesterday (Thursday) with allegation after allegation about the service in Wales – for example, that one in seven Welsh patients are on waiting lists, including more than a thousand (if memory serves) for more than a year.

Yr Obdt Srvt countered by pointing out that Mrs Mike had to go to NHS Wales-arranged hospital appointments twice last week; on both occasions she was seen promptly and received appropriate treatment immediately.

All right, came the response. What about the appalling record of the Welsh Ambulance Service, which remains unable to reach all of its emergency calls within the mandatory eight-minute deadline?

The response should be obvious: How many of those patients died? They didn’t have an answer for that. It seems that the health of the patient is of less concern to the statistic-keepers than the speed with which they are attended. The situation conjures up images of Mussolini’s (fabled) Italy in which the trains all ran on time and you can imagine a Tory-run NHS Wales report right now: “None of the patients survived the journey to the hospital but the ambulances were all punctual!”

In fact, even if the Tories had been able to dredge up an answer, they would have been trumped. Yr Obdt Srvt has friends who work in the ambulance service and it just happens that, only a few days ago, one of them told us proudly how they had been working in a team who had arrived too late to stop the patient’s death – and had then brought this person back to life.

(As an aside, it was pleasant to be addressed by members of Conservative Central Headquarters, by the Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, and by the Welsh Conservatives’ official Twitter accounts while debating the above issues (and others). Either Vox Political is going up in the world or they had nothing better to do than argue the toss with a small blog site. If you’re a Tory, try to work out which of those alternatives is least embarrassing for you!)

So, before criticising hard-working ambulance crews who have to negotiate gridlocked city centres, miles of winding country roads, and sometimes both – and are still expected to do it all within eight minutes, just take a moment to thank them for the amazing feats they can perform when they do arrive.

Wales isn’t like England. The terrain is different and the service is intentionally under-funded by the Westminster government, which has been cutting its grant to the Welsh Assembly ever since the Conservative Party came into office on the back of Liberal Democrat collusion.

As for the service in England itself – well, you’ve seen the image of Lorna adorning the top of this article. Have a listen to the following YouTube clip; it’ll tell you all you need to know about public feeling on that account!

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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