Tag Archives: grant

Latest feared Brexit-related shortage is of GRITTER DRIVERS. Good luck on the roads this winter!

We’ve had shortages of fruit and veg harvesters in farms, and are now seeing shortages of butchers and abattoir workers.

We’ve had shortages of nurses for years.

Our transport infrastructure is already suffering because of the shortage of hauliers, and now it is about to take a second hit because…

Local councils are saying they cannot pay drivers as much as haulage firms, meaning there won’t be any gritter lorries de-icing our highways during the winter:

This could bring the UK to a total standstill – and in the depths of winter, when we’ll need food and supplies that allow us to heat our homes more than ever.

Of course, the reason councils can’t afford to pay gritter drivers is simply that the government doesn’t pay them enough grant money to be able to afford the new going rates. Any resulting tragedies must then be laid at Boris Johnson’s door.

According to Sky News:

Transport spokesman David Renard added: “While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted.”

Although he stressed that councils will be trying to plan ahead to ensure their winter services are resilient, he warned additional training for this on-demand sector will “not alleviate the short-term pressure on frontline services”.

Given these courses take up to 16 weeks to complete, trained drivers won’t be hitting the roads before Christmas – fuelling fears that shortages could overshadow this year’s festivities.

Mr Renard said: “Fast-inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector risks exacerbating issues in the public sector, with the rises potentially creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.”

It should be remembered that the government has tried to lure drivers back from the EU with a temporary HGV visa scheme.

However – and possibly because they remember being stuck in a Kent car park over last Christmas, with no toilet or washing facilities – very few drivers have taken up the offer. Very few:

This Writer saw a suggestion on the social media that even those 27 applications were not, in fact applicable.

The suggestion was that they were test applications relevant to each EU member state, made to ensure that the system was working properly!

And, of course, the Tories are also running into “sauce for the goose” arguments:

Yes indeed – and we know that the government can’t blame poor pay and conditions for nurses on anybody else. It is therefore hypocritical of Johnson and his cronies to berate haulage firms over low pay when their derisory pay rise for NHS staff has now been translated into a pay cut by new conditions that their political choices have created.

All we can do now is hope for a mild winter.

If we get ice, there will be death on the roads – because of Boris Johnson and his godawful Brexit.

Worse still, the knock-on effect could bring death to our homes – and, depending on how often we all check on our neighbours, it could be weeks or months before we even know the total death toll.

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Rush for fuel shows what we think of Tory ministers’ promises


“‘Buy petrol as normal,’ says minister” – according to a BBC News headline.

So of course we all did the exact opposite. Motorists have been queueing at filling stations all day long, topping up their tanks and bringing Jerry cans along to be filled as well.

“Once bitten, twice shy”, as the old adage runs – and we have all been bitten far too many times by our worse-than-useless Tory government.

Remember: the Tories deliberately caused the crisis in fuel by making damned sure that Brexit would create a shortage of lorry drivers.

They have also caused huge problems with the import and export of goods, thereby ensuring that prices would skyrocket and you would not be able to afford them.

What kind of government – of Prime Minister – deliberately engineers the impoverishment of their entire nation?

Boris Johnson’s Tory government – that’s what kind!

I’m only sorry I’m unlikely to be around to see how the history books describe this perfect storm of stupidity in around 100 years’ time.

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Government will relieve HGV driver shortage by removing ‘reversing’ element. Idiotic

Tempting fate: this is what happened when an HGV driver tried reversing in a Welsh country road. Expect many more such incidents after the Tory changes to HGV driver tests take effect.

The UK’s stupid Tory government has promised to increase the number of HGV driving tests available in order to relieve the current driver shortage – by eliminating a vital element in which drivers must show they can reverse the vehicle.

This Writer knows how valuable the ability to reverse properly is, because I have reported on what happens when it goes wrong.

Very early in my career I reported on an inquest into the death of a man after an HGV reversed into him. I won’t go into the details because they are distressing.

So I am looking forward to the Conservative government guidance that shows how HGV drivers will be able to avoid reversing in the future.

Also eliminated are the “uncoupling and recoupling” element for vehicles with trailers.

The government says these parts of the test take a long time so it’s better not to bother. They’ll do it later… maybe.

Why not do it straight away, at the test that shows drivers are qualified to do it? I don’t believe what these ministers and civil servants are saying.

In addition, car drivers who want to tow a trailer or caravan won’t need to take a test, freeing up a further 30,000 more HGV tests.

The new legislation to make these changes legal is being pushed through by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT says the move won’t affect the standard of driving required in order to drive an HGV, while car owners are being encouraged to undertake extra training in order to tow trailers and caravans.

Huh?

If car drivers will need extra training to tow trailers and caravans, then they won’t be qualified to do it… and that implies that the parts removed from HGV tests are also vital. Doesn’t it?

That’s what I’m seeing on the social media:

I suggest a new general election slogan for, well, any party, really:

Keep death off the roads! DON’T VOTE CONSERVATIVE!

Source: Government promises 50,000 HGV tests a year and relaxes car towing rules – Car Dealer Magazine

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If Tory donors don’t influence government policy, why would they pay such huge amounts?

Grant Shapps: he 

Reality check: the super-rich never pay money for nothing.

So Grant Shapps’s claim on the Thursday morning (August 5) media round that Tory donors have “no influence” on Tory government policy already looks dodgy, before we even go into it in any depth.

Now consider the fact that the people he was discussing have been giving at least £50,000 to join a so-called ‘Leader’s Group’ and have access to the Tory leader/prime minister – and more than five times as much (a quarter of a million pounds per year – to be in the so-called ‘Advisory Board’ (unless they were friends of Ben Elliot, allegedly).

Leader’s Group. Advisory Board. Those are not the names of clubs whose members have ” no influence”. Quite the opposite.

It is true that political parties rely on funding for their existence – from party members and from donors. They don’t manufacture anything that is sellable, after all.

But they do provide a particular service – or at least they say they do – which is to run the affairs of the United Kingdom according to a clearly-defined policy platform.

Most of us – including rank and file party members – get very little say in how those policies are shaped.

But now we come back to that issue of very rich people paying astronomical sums of money purely to be told the policies they are supporting at occasional events – as Shapps wants us to believe.

It simply isn’t plausible.

There needs to be an investigation into these schemes. How are donors enticed into contributing, what are they told they get in return, and what do they actually get?

If Shapps says his party adheres to Electoral Commission rules, then he should not object to an investigation.

In fact, the Electoral Commission should be empowered to run undercover investigations.

It seems to This Writer that the best way to make sure the sleazy Tories stick to the straight-and-narrow is to make them fear prosecution and punishment if they don’t.

Shapps himself was once called “Britain’s most perennially caught-out serial liar” and a glance at his career makes the reason clear.

At least we haven’t heard anything about his aliases Sebastian Fox and Michael Green for a while.

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For once, it IS important for us to know that Boris Johnson had affair with Jennifer Arcuri

Johnson and Arcuri: I know there’s no real justification for the image of her in that costume, but if anybody is appalled that she put it on, how do you feel, knowing that HE probably took it off?

Of course I’m not interested in the sex revelations. The thought of bloated Boris Johnson bouncing around on some debutante can only inspire concern for her health (both mental and physical).

But the fact is that between 2012 and 2016 Johnson had the affair with a woman who then received benefits from him, as Mayor of London and later as Prime Minister, that she may not otherwise have had.

The Mirror makes this clear in its “world exclusive”:

Boris Johnson faces an inquiry by the Greater London Authority – responsible for the mayor’s office – over claims his failure to declare his relationship with Arcuri may have been a breach of the Nolan Principles of Public Life, which are contained in the Mayor of London’s code of conduct.

Arcuri was granted access to events at three top level trade missions, despite her businesses not meeting the criteria for the trips.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said there was no evidence he’d committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office but he may have breached the Nolan Principles.

Not only that, but he also handed her £126,000 of public money:

Jennifer… went on to receive £126,000 of taxpayer money in event sponsorships and grants. The bulk, £100,000, came in a government grant in 2019.

Johnson was cleared of impropriety in public office by the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which is tasked with ensuring that the London Mayor’s office does not fall prey to corruption.

The police investigation said that Johnson did not influence decisions to let her go on the three trade junkets or to give her the public money.

But there were serious faults in the inquiry, as This Site pointed out last year:

Why were records relating to this case deleted – what did they cover and when were the deletions made? We may never know, but the questions should be enough to raise suspicion.

Why were some records never made? The report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct remarks on them so it is reasonable to believe that they were necessary. Who was responsible for making these records? What information would they have provided?

Why did the third parties mentioned in the report delay providing their information? What influenced them to inconvenience the investigation and would their information have been different, had they not done so? What was the subject of the information they had been asked to provide?

Possibly most damning is the statement that officers working for Johnson and making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions “thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making”.

It seems those officers were right. As it influenced their decision-making to put Arcuri on trade missions, it seems to This Writer that Johnson had a case to answer after all.

Ah, but the police don’t prosecute senior politicians. Like all fascist dictators, Johnson is above the law.

It’s not good enough. We deserve better answers than we’ve had so far – and Johnson should resign (of course). He never does because he’s an unaccountable fascist, but it is always worth reminding ourselves that he should. Here’s a tweet about it:

The BBC, under its Tory Director-General, has been hiding the story:

Still, there is an upside to it all. At least the satirists are having fun:

Amazingly, Twitter is also filling up with apologists who are still moaning, “But Corbyn..!”

Source: Jennifer Arcuri admits four-year affair with serial love cheat Boris Johnson – Mirror Online

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After ‘hamper’ fiasco, Tories want to deny kids free school meals during half term week. But what are they hiding with all this noise?

Scandal: only two days ago, the Tory government came under attack for letting an outsourcing company skim £25 in profit from the cost of a £30 food hamper FOR CHILDREN. Now the Tories are trying to confuse parents by forcing them to apply to their local council for food vouchers over half term week. Is it all a big distraction from something else they don’t want us to see?

Isn’t it incredible?

Days after they were found to have been starving children by outsourcing £30 ‘free school meal’ hampers to a company that provided only £5 worth of food and kept the other £25 to itself, the Conservative government has announced a plan to starve schoolkids during half term week.

They say they won’t allow schools to provide free meals to pupils who usually get them; instead, local councils have been given responsibility to provide food under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

This scheme provided £170 million to councils in December. Under it, families have to apply to their local council for help, and will get a £15 voucher for each qualifying child.

It seems a deliberate attempt to cause confusion by switching schemes just when families need clarity.

And how much of that £170m fund has been spent already? It’s not a lot, divided across the whole of England (other UK countries have equivalent schemes, according to the government).

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned that switching schemes meant “yet more disruption to free schools meals could lie ahead in half term”.

He said that rather than allowing schools to carry on providing food it would cause an “unnecessary logistical nightmare”.

He said ministers should now “hang their heads in shame” for threatening more “chaos and confusion” over providing food.

“These are battles which should not have to be repeatedly fought,” said Mr Courtney.

But they are.

And both the media and the public tend to focus on recurring issues like this, to the exclusion of other matters happening at the time.

School meals don’t cost a huge amount – in government terms – and it won’t cause too much upset if the Tories are forced to capitulate again.

So This Writer is left to ask what else is happening that the Tories don’t want us to know?

Source: Row over half term free school meals plan – BBC News

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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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