Tag Archives: million

£2.7m TV studio shows Johnson hasn’t only been wasting cash on Covid-19

Press briefing: Johnson spent millions of pounds of your money on a TV studio he hasn’t used once, despite an apparently endless succession of press briefings and ministerial broadcasts.

Sometimes the news is focused so heavily on the Coronavirus that it’s easy to forget that Boris Johnson’s government is incompetent in every other way, too.

Case in point: he spent £2.7 million on a television studio that has never been used.

Worse, there are doubts that it ever will be, as attitudes have changed since your money was used to pay for it.

I’d say the money could have been spent on personal protective equipment but I am reminded that Johnson’s government has spent £15 billion on PPE – and then lost the lot.

This is incompetence on a historic scale.

The TV studio was part of Johnson’s infatuation with the presidential system in the United States:

The room is believed to have been modelled on the press room in the West Wing at the White House in Washington.

It was intended to be used for on-camera briefings from press secretaries and ministers.

The plans for the briefings had to be delayed due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions preventing journalists from gathering.

But with the plans on hold, it isn’t clear when they may be back on the table.

They may never be revived. This studio – worth a fortune – may remain unused for years to come, until somebody remembers it and finds a better use for the space.

In the meantime it stands as a metaphor for the contents of our prime minister’s skull:

Dark and empty.

Source: Boris Johnson ‘spent £2,700,000 on a TV studio which hasn’t been used’ | Metro News

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Covid-19 – don’t be fooled: 15 million ‘first jabs’ do not mean 15 million people have been vaccinated

The disinformation is strong in the government’s story.

The Tory government has been making a huge song and dance about having vaccinated a quarter of the UK’s population against Covid-19 – even though they haven’t.

They had an opportunity to vaccinate large numbers of the population – but with both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, that would involve giving people two injections, with the second preferably happening after a three-week interval.

That hasn’t happened. Instead – in an attempt to grab headlines by publicising a large number of people getting the vaccine – the Tories ruled that nobody would receive their second jab earlier than 12 weeks after the first.

(That’s nobody apart from super-rich people like Boris Johnson’s father Stanley who could afford to pay for it, of course).

By then, the effects of the first injection are likely to have worn off.

The 15 million people mentioned in the headline are, in fact, unlikely to have any protection at all.

Still, it’s nice that they think they’re protected, isn’t it?

I wonder what will happen if (when?) somebody who’s had the injection then contracts the disease, or even – God forbid! – dies of it.

Who will Johnson try to blame then?

I’m not saying this will definitely happen.

But by ignoring scientific advice – from the manufacturers of these vaccines, for crying out loud! – Johnson and his government have made it much more likely.

Source: Covid: UK vaccinates 15 million people | The Independent

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£831m ‘recovery fund’ for 72 high streets. But what will they do with £11.5m each?

Lip-chewing Sunak: if I kept wasting money on projects that won’t actually help the economy, I’d be nervous too.

I don’t get it. If high street businesses across the UK have gone to the wall because of the government’s lacklustre response to the economic effects of locking us all away from Covid-19 – how will this cash be spent?

The Tory government has announced that 72 high streets will get a share of £831 million – that’s around £11.5 million each.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is bitching because Boris Johnson had offered £1 billion previously, but that’s not the point.

The question is: how is it going to help?

Many people – not just conspiracy theorists! – reckon the hardship forced on small-to-medium-sized business people may have been deliberate, in order to concentrate shoppers’ money in the hands of a few very large consumer chains.

I see little actual support for high street businesses in the projects mentioned by the Guardian article:

Among the projects selected for the funding were £17.9m for the renovation of the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange in Worcester, a scheme to build 186 homes in Birkenhead and a plan to convert empty retail units in Tamworth, Staffordshire, into community spaces.

But according to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, the money is supposed to be for

projects that level up opportunities and create jobs right across the country.

I don’t see how the latter will be achieved by the former. It’s just throwing cash away.

It should be injected into businesses to ensure they continue to be going concerns.

But then, of course, Sunak’s government is now best-known for spaffing £11 billion on companies owned by Tory cronies, for Covid-19-related supplies that they had no idea how to provide, while experts who had applied for the work were ignored.

That should tell you everything you need to know.

If I had a pound for every time Sunak has messed up someone’s finances, I would be richer than his wife.

Source: Government names 72 high streets in England to share £831m recovery fund | Business | The Guardian

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Don’t let them get away with it: next time Tories mention £63m fund to feed kids, remind them it has been SPENT

Money, money, money: and none of it is for hungry children. The £63m fund mentioned so often by Boris Johnson and others was not for that purpose and was all spent before they even started talking it up.

You know that £63 million fund Conservative ministers like Robert Jenrick, Nadhim Zahawi, Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson keep saying is available to feed poor children over school holidays?

It was all spent weeks ago.

It came to only a few hundred thousand pounds per council.

When they Tories provided it in July, it was with a proviso that the money had to be spent within 12 weeks.

And it wasn’t specifically for feeding hungry children anyway.

Here’s Peter Stefanovic:

Don’t let them get away with it.

Next time a Tory minister turns up on the media peddling this lie, complain.

Complain to that minister personally, and also to the media outlet, be it the BBC, Sky News or some local radio station operating out of a Portakabin.

Let’s expose these liars and child-starvers for what they are.

Note: This Site has been reminded that a handful of Conservatives voted in favour of feeding children during the school holidays, in rebellion against their party’s line that called for your kids to starve. Obviously they should not be targeted during protests. The are:

Caroline Ansell( quit Government post)
Robert Halfon
Jason McCartney
Anne Marie Morris
Holly Mumby-Croft

No doubt there are perfectly good reasons to criticise the above-named people as well – they are Tories, after all – but this isn’t one of them.

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Nazanin to go back before Iranian court to face new charges – linked to Johnson’s blunder

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.


Just when it seemed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Iranian prison ordeal was coming to an end, she’s being dragged back into court.

And that country’s officials have taken great pleasure in letting us know that her plight is due to blundering Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime muppet.

Johnson was the idiot who blurted out in Parliament – in 2017, when he was Foreign Secretary – that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “training journalists”.

She had been doing nothing of the kind.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she had been doing nothing more sinister than visiting her family for the Persian New Year celebration when she was arrested in 2016.

But the Iranian authorities seized on Johnson’s idiotic remark and threatened to use it to add five more years to her five-year prison sentence.

Now – three years after Johnson misspoke, it seems they have decided to follow through on the threat:

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife will appear in court on Sunday accused of “spreading propaganda against the regime” in Iran.

Apparently that’s how they describe the teaching of journalism – which she wasn’t doing in any event.

Of course we all know that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment has more to do with the £400 million that the UK government owes to Iran.

It could not be paid before because of international sanctions – but when Boris Johnson’s career was in danger, it seems such concerns evaporated.

How contrary, then, for us to find that the money has not been paid, apparently because Johnson doesn’t want to upset Donald Trump.

Johnson, it seems, wanted to wait until after the US presidential election on November 3 because he wanted to know whether Trump would still be US president before taking action.

So the Iranian decision to go back to court now has put him in a particularly sticky situation.

Will he pay up and get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe back?

Or will he delay, to stay on the right side of Donald Trump?

I think we all know the answer to that. Johnson is the runt of international politics.

When powerful people squabble, it is always the innocents who suffer.

Source: New Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe charges linked to Boris Johnson’s infamous gaffe – Mirror Online

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Tories have wasted £120m in two years trying to tell people they’re not disabled

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

What a waste of time and money.

Over the last two years, Conservative governments have spent more than £120 million in taxpayers’ money fighting disability benefit claims – despite losing three-quarters of tribunal appeals.

That means automatic wastage of £90 million – but it is likely that the quarter of claimants who lost their appeals also had valid grounds to claim Personal Independence Payment and/or Employment and Support Allowance but were outflanked by a prejudiced system.

The increase in expenditure is far greater than the 13 per cent increase in applications would suggest. And it is happening at a time when the country can ill-afford to waste any cash at all. There can only be one reason for it: sick cruelty – the Tories are enjoying torturing sick and disabled people to death.

And why are there so many applications for disability and sickness benefits in the UK? Do conditions here – especially working conditions – cause illness and disability?

The new figures are further proof that the Tories’ convoluted appeal process has nothing to do with saving money from fraudsters and everything to do with starving people with disabilities – to death, if possible.

It is now well-documented that claimants initially have to go through an internal appeal process within the Department for Work and Pensions called mandatory reconsideration.

The courts only recently ruled that a Tory regulation forcing claimants to go without any benefit payments, and therefore without any income, for the period of a mandatory reconsideration – no matter how long that may be – was illegal.

Only after the DWP rules that a claim should be rejected can the sick or disabled person take their case to a tribunal.

And it is at tribunals that 76 per cent of PIP claims, and 75 per cent of ESA claims, are upheld.

This means the Tories have needlessly and cruelly deprived these people of their means of survival for the number of months – years in some cases – that these claims have been disputed.

We all know that there is hardly any fraud in disability benefit claims – the last recorded number This Writer saw was somewhere in the region of one or two per cent of claims.

So the huge proportion that the Tories refuse – and the amount of time and money wasted in the appeal process – can only mean one thing:

The Tories hate disabled people and want them to die.

Why isn’t this a national – if not international – scandal?

Source: Government spends £120m in taxpayer money fighting disability benefit claims in two years, figures show | The Independent | Independent

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Johnson’s government has spent £100 million on consultants because he can’t think for himself

Spaffer: Boris Johnson has thrown so much money at private consultants and contractors that the UK’s financial stability is in peril.

The cost of privatisation: faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, Boris Johnson has paid consultants more than £100 million to do his thinking for him – and the cash has been wasted.

Clearly it’s money for old rope, considering the failure of every policy announced by Johnson and his cronies including Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and Dominic Raab.

And the waste is very clearly a result of privatisation; before Tory neoliberalism demanded that even ideas should be outsourced, governments used to rely on people called civil servants who spent their entire careers in public service and could therefore be relied on to know how things worked.

Those people have been largely ostracised, retired or otherwise cast out by know-nothings like David Cameron, Theresa May and now Johnson, in favour of their know-nothing friends in the private sector. Here’s the gist from the Financial Times:

The UK’s largest consulting firms have been paid more than £100m to advise the government on its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a string of delayed disclosures from Whitehall in recent weeks. A total of 106 contracts worth £109m have been agreed between various government departments and consulting firms such as PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey since March, as civil servants scrambled for support to source personal protective equipment, set up test and trace programmes and acquire thousands of new ventilators as the pandemic gathered pace.

The UK’s public finances are now in a terrible state after Johnson and his people awarded huge contracts to firms that were incapable of honouring them – some of which even turned out to be dormant companies – on the advice of firms like PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey. Weren’t these people supposed to be cheaper than doing the work in-house?

The government has been mired in scandal because it adopted a biased algorithm to award ‘A’ level results, on the advice of an outsourced consultancy firm.

It’s a well known adage that the definition of madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

And yet we see Johnson going back to these private consultants for more advice.

Why aren’t we all drawing the obvious conclusion?

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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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‘Sack Cummings’ petition set to test whether Boris Johnson has any interest in democracy


A million signatures is a lot of people, but you can be sure that Boris Johnson will try to ignore this public exercise of democracy.

My reason for saying this is simple: look where the petition is being hosted.

If it had been on the UK Parliament’s petition page, it would have needed only 100,000 signatures to guarantee a discussion in the House of Commons – but it would never have achieved it because it would have been removed on the grounds that petitions about government employees are forbidden.

So much for democracy.

As this one is on Change.org, it give Johnson an opportunity to deny its legitimacy and refuse to pay attention to it, no matter how many people eventually sign.

Remember when the ‘Revoke Brexit’ e-petition – that was on the UK Parliament site – reached six million signatures?

Even after there was a debate in the Commons, the government of the day ignored it.

Johnson will try the same tactic here – but he has far less justification for doing so.

Even after the Brexit e-petition gained its six million names, that was only slightly more than a third of the number of people who voted to leave the EU, so there was some legitimacy in the claim that it should not overthrow the referendum decision (although the fact that the claim was made before the final number of signatures was known made it ambiguous at the time).

But nobody voted Cummings into Downing Street. He’s a hired hand.

The fact that so many people have signed a petition calling for his removal is significant – and indicates that far more people are unhappy with him continuing to hold any position within the workings of government.

So Johnson has put himself between a rock and a hard place.

If he sacks Cummings, then he will be admitting he was wrong to support his chief advisor. But the longer he delays, the more people lose confidence in him – and the more likely he is to be replaced.

A petition calling for Dominic Cummings’ departure from government is on course to reach one million signatures, as fury over the scandal fails to die down.

A Change.org page that demands the PM’s top aide either resigns or is sacked now has the backing of more than 945,000 people.

A survey has suggested that 80% of the public disagrees with his actions, while around 40 Tory MPs have called for him to leave Downing Street.

Source: Petition for Dominic Cummings’ sacking set to hit 1,000,000 signatures | Metro News

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Coronavirus: Three million people go hungry because the Tories won’t introduce Universal Basic Income

 

Radical solution: It’s unlikely that the government would really want us to adopt the methods of Hannibal Lecter, but its current policies are little better.

The Financial Times almost got it right.

The bit that says

More than 3m people in Britain are going hungry

I think we can all agree with. But

because of the coronavirus crisis

isn’t quite right.

The research the FT quotes says that many families have been pushed into poverty because the lockdown means they have suffered “stark drops in income” – but isn’t this because the Tories have tried to cover the loss of employment income with a patchwork of policies that don’t cover everybody and are spectacularly complicated to administrate, rather than simply bringing in a Universal Basic Income that is simplicity itself?

According to the FT, researchers at the Food Foundation found that six per cent of surveyed adults – equivalent to three million people, said someone in their household had to go without food during the last three weeks because there wasn’t enough food.

The same survey found 16 per cent of respondents – equivalent to 8.1 million people, said they had faced food insecurity of some kind – but, again, I’m going to have to take issue with the survey (and the report), because where it says

as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

I would say it’s as a result of the measures brought in by the government in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, the sharp rise in food poverty is not

being driven by self-isolation and a lack of money as an unprecedented economic shutdown leaves millions of workers newly unemployed, furloughed or dependent on government support.

It is being driven by unworkable policies imposed by a government that is desperate to avoid giving everybody enough money to survive. What’s the thinking behind that?

The survey said three per cent of respondents – equivalent to 1.5 million people, had gone a whole day without eating since the lockdown came into effect.

Half of those who said they were facing food insecurity were struggling because of shortages related to the pandemic, and a quarter because they could not leave their homes to shop.

Those are both government failings; shortages from panic-buying and people unable to leave their homes also being unable to access government schemes that, we’re told, exist to help them.

Around 21 per cent were hungry because they simply did not have enough money, and more than two per cent of respondents, the equivalent of a million people, said they had lost all their income since the lockdown had begun.

The Food Foundation and other charities have called for the government to urgently set up a task force to provide food parcels for those who are self-isolating, and to address the lack of cash faced by those who have lost their jobs, the foundation and other campaigners have also called for an end to the five-week wait for universal credit, and to double child benefit.

Why not just bring in a Universal Basic Income? Then everyone will have the cash they need to buy food, and the government will have the time to set up deliveries for people whose health conditions mean they may not leave home.

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