The standards we demand in mental healthcare

It is very easy to pre-judge a Parliamentary debate – on any subject – if you know a little about it already. As a carer for a person with mental health issues, This Writer could list off on my fingers the main issues that need to be tackled. First, I would single out early recognition of the signs that somebody has a mental health problem. So many of the people I know who fell victim to mental issues as adults were already suffering in their childhood and adolescence – but…

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Osborne rebuked over EU surcharge reduction claim

It’s official – George Osborne lied when he said he had halved the £1.7 billion EU budget surcharge, and his claim that he had achieved a “real result for Britain” was nonsense. Even more stinging must be the fact that this rebuke comes from a fellow Conservative – Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee. “The suggestion that the £1.7 billion bill demanded by the European Union was halved is not supported by published information,” he said in a report by the committee. “The terms of the…

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Bercow bemoans ‘sorry saga’ of European Arrest Warrant

John Bercow is a Conservative – although, for much of the time, it’s hard to tell what planet he’s on, let alone whose side. As Speaker of the House of Commons he is supposed to be impartial but he seems to find it hard to maintain this stance, with his own party bearing the brunt of his displeasure more often than not. Today has been a prime example. The government had scheduled a debate over the European Arrest Warrant but there was confusion over whether a vote would take place. It had…

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IDS should be a candidate for his own Work Programme

Iain Duncan Smith has failed to get Work Programme providers to “support” harder-to-help claimants into work, according to the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee. It used the example of Employment and Support Allowance to illustrate its criticism, saying almost 90 per cent of claimants on the Work Programme have not moved into jobs. This is no surprise to anybody. If it’s news to you, where have you been for the last three years? Work Programme providers hit back against criticism in 2013 by saying they needed more money – a move that…

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Labour calls Commons vote over Lord Freud comments on disabled workers – The Guardian

Labour will force a Commons vote on Lord Freud’s future after David Cameron refused to dismiss him as welfare minister for his suggestion that some disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage, according to The Guardian. The Conservative peer has been allowed to remain in his job after apologising for the comment, but Labour will table a motion of no confidence to be voted on later this month. Separately, the Independent on Sunday reported that a second government minister had made contentious comments over the role of disabled people…

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Educating Dr Litchfield – a few facts about the Work Capability Assessment

Ignorance is most definitely not bliss for Dr Paul Litchfield. The man was hand-picked by the Coalition government to review its hated Work Capability Assessment system of handling Employment and Support Allowance claims, amid rumours that previous incumbent Professor Malcolm Harrington had been unhappy with political decisions that ran against his findings. But he delivered a woeful performance to the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions committee last month. He claimed to have no information about the staggering number of people who have died after going through the assessment system he…

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Tories and scandal (go together like a horse and carriage)

The Party of Sleaze shoots itself in the foot yet again. It seems the Conservative Party has been keeping documentary evidence of Tory MPs’ indiscretions, crimes and bad behaviour in a “black book” (actually a blue folder), but this has now been destroyed for fear that the Party might be forced to reveal its contents under the Freedom of Information Act. The information in the “book”, which was destroyed a little more than four years ago as the Tories prepared for the 2010 general election, was used by party whips…

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Mr ‘Political’ goes to Westminster, looking for justice

Congratulations are due to Labour MPs John McDonnell and Grahame Morris, who have persuaded Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee to agree that a debate on the ‘WoW’ petition will take place in the House of Commons, early in the New Year. Responsibility now falls back on the British people to make sure our elected representatives do not squander the opportunity, as the Commons Work and Pensions Committee squandered its chance to hold Iain Duncan Smith to account for his own, and his department’s, statisticial inaccuracies. The petition, on the government’s website,…

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Are landlord councillors resorting to illegal antics to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions?

It seems the ruling group of Powys County Council, here in Mid Wales, has challenged the law in its attempts to block a ‘no-eviction’ motion on the Bedroom Tax. The Labour motion was put forward at a meeting of the full council on October 24. It called on councillors to note the comments of Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Housing, who said that the Bedroom Tax policy could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing, and asked them to pledge that Powys will not evict…

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ESA audio recordings: Did Hoban answer and does it matter either way?

He did – and some of the responses were actually encouraging. Most were questionable – meaning, it seems, the government will continuing trying to obstruct attempts to make the assessment process more open. Those of you who read yesterday’s article will know that the adjournment debate in the House of Commons yesterday was about the audio recording of work capability assessments, which are made as part of the claim process for Employment and Support Allowance. The government has claimed that, when the service was offered in a pilot scheme, too few…

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