Exciting moment: is Liz Truss reacting to a tense piece of action on an Amazon Prime drama, funded from public money by her expenses claim?
Let’s have a couple more reactions to Liz Truss being propelled to the highest office in the land.
Here’s a serious one from The Mirror:
And a less serious on from Jonathan Pie… with a sting in the tale:
Standout comment from either of them is the claim that Truss – who insists that she won’t give “handouts” to the millions who will suffer because of her party’s policies in government – demanded that public money should pay for her subscription to Amazon Prime.
Is it true?
Is she demanding that we subsidise her viewing of orc attacks in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – and doesn’t she have a less expensive way of seeing her relatives?
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.
Thomas Mair killed Jo Cox in what her husband Brendan described as “an incompetent and self-defeating act of terrorism” and the Judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said was “carried out to advance a political cause of violent white supremacism, associated with Nazism”.
But The Sun and The Mirror want you to believe it was because his mother married a black man, and the Daily Mail would rather blame the phantom threat of immigrants taking his home.
What utter drivel.
There is no evidence that Mair’s family history contributed to his crime.
There is no evidence that his landlord – the local council – wanted to evict him. In fact, under the terms of his tenancy, it seems this was impossible.
It seems all three periodicals have become apologists for terrorism.
The Mail‘s dubious stance was compounded by the fact that it buried its report of the court’s verdict on page 30 of that day’s edition of the paper – an act that drew justified attention from LBC radio’s James O’Brien.
Speaking on his show, he said: “The Daily Mail has chosen to put the murder by a neo-Nazi of a serving British MP – and by her own husband’s account, a mother who put her children ahead of anything career-wise – on page 30.
“I don’t really understand why. Unless a murder by a neo-Nazi is less offensive to the sensibilities of the editor of this newspaper than a murder by a radical Islamist.
“Surely any fully-functioning moral compass would be equally disgusted by both.
“For people to use terror and death to pursue a political or an ideological goal in a civilised, peaceful society, it doesn’t matter what colour the killer is, does it?
“Or what religion they are? Or what ludicrous, violent ideology they are trying to pump. The point is it is violent. It’s ideological. White supremacy, radical Islam, they are both equally vile, equally repugnant.
“And yet, if this woman had been murdered by a Muslim? Page 30? You think?”
The Public Order Act 1986 is still in effect, is it not?
According to that Act, “A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred or, having regard to all the circumstances, racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.”
The articles discussed above were certainly likely to stir up racial hatred because of their abusive or insulting attitude towards people of colour and/or immigrants.
So when will the owners, editors and writers of these pieces be prosecuted?
Even Bart Simpson thinks #CameronMustGo, according to this satirical cartoon by the Facebook page ‘David Cameron is killing Britain’.
The Twitter hashtag that caught the imagination of the nation has been unceremoniously retired – despite the fact that it is still being used by thousands of British citizens who have had enough of the man it names, and his government.
That’s right – #CameronMustGo has gone.
It disappeared from Twitter‘s United Kingdom trends an astonishing 16 days after it was launched and – suspiciously – while it was still being tweeted at least once every three seconds [accurate at time of writing].
Users instantly smelled a rat – has Twitter been hacked? Or has it been corrupted by Cameron’s cronies?
In order to test whether the hashtag really is being prevented from appearing on people’s screens, they launched a ‘Tweetstorm’ – a co-ordinated barrage of tweets using the hashtag – at 7pm this evening (Monday).
No reappearance of the hashtag in these circumstances clearly suggests someone has taken action against it.
The hashtag has come under criticism – almost from Day One – from the mainstream media. The BBC, the Mirror and even TheGuardian are among those who have said #CameronMustGo must go.
The Guardian’s article, headlined ‘#CameronWontGo: why a Twitter campaign alone can’t bring about change’, attracted a less-than-140-character rebuke from ‘Jen’.
She tweeted: “If it means nothing…why is it no longer showing?! It is not because people have stopped tweeting #CameronMustGo”
At 7.48pm (19:48 GMT) #CameronMustGo had still failed to reappear, despite being tweeted more than 20,000 times in the previous 60 minutes, according to one bemused user.
This story is not over, but we’ll leave the last word to that man – David Crossweller. His tweet?
Breaking: Thanks are due to Stephen Dolan for the following information. He writes: “Regarding Twitter trends. https://support.twitter.com/articles/101125-faqs-about-twitter-s-trends#
“‘The new algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world. (We had previously built in this ‘emergent’ algorithm for all local trends, described below.) We think that trending topics which capture the hottest emerging trends and topics of discussion on Twitter are the most interesting.'”
“So by definition you can’t trend for a long time.”
Remember when the Transparency of Lobbying, Third-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act (otherwise known as the Gagging Act) was passed, in January this year? Vox Political warned that it marked the end of free speech and free protest in the UK.
The article showed that the new law means you may no longer link up with others to protest government actions in any meaningful way – as such action may breach Liberal Democrat and Tory government-imposed spending limits. Your personal complaints will be deemed unrepresentative of the people.
In that article, this blog asked why the government has launched its attack on free speech and free protest, and suggested the following: Perhaps it wants to control the information you receive, on which you base your voting intentions?
This week we received confirmation of that theory – or at least, some of us did.
The ‘tax statements’ being sent out to Income Taxpayers by the Treasury – on the orders of George Osborne – are nothing less than party political electioneering, being carried out using those taxpayers’ own money rather than the Tory Party’s funds. The leaflet is worded in a very carefully-chosen way that betrays a clear intention to mislead readers – most particularly about the amount of our Income Tax that is spent on ‘welfare’.
To illustrate the extent of the problem: We cannot say this is the same as social security, as – according to the terms of the leaflet – it isn’t. Apparently a quarter of our money is spent on ‘welfare’, which is then broken down into bizarre categories like ‘social protection’ – including, alongside social security, personal care services which nobody has defined as ‘welfare’ until know, and the pensions of retired mandarins, colonels and lowlier public servants who will be appalled to hear their hard-earned retirement provision re-labelled as ‘welfare’, according to The Guardian‘s editorial on the subject. David Cameron’s pension would be defined as ‘welfare’, according to this categorisation.
Meanwhile, state pensions have been defined as being paid from an entirely different source (they aren’t), in order to safeguard the Grey vote from the indignation that – clearly – this piece of politically-prompted propaganda is intended to stoke.
The fact is that – as the Mirror points out – Income Taxpayers put a lot more than 12p in every pound towards pensions, and a lot less than 24p in every pound towards working-age benefits.
Here are another couple of tricks – possibly the nastiest of the lot: Firstly, the leaflet does not make it clear that ‘welfare’ payments are made to people who have a right to them “because of family or medical circumstance, or indeed a record of national insurance contributions”. The impression foisted on the reader is of “unearned handouts to the poor”, according to the Guardian editorial.
Secondly, the leaflet as a whole does not mention the contribution of VAT payments to the national purse. This is because the government has cut Income Tax (irrationally – it has a huge deficit and debt to pay off but has reduced its own income). The thinking behind this is that people will think they have been allowed to keep more of the money they have earned. But the same government has increased VAT, meaning that – in fact – people are being taxed more heavily!
What is the intended result of all this deception? It is as Vox Political described, back in January:
“You would be led to believe that the governments policies are working, exactly the way the government says they are working.
“You would not have any reason to believe that the government is lying to you on a daily basis.
“You would be tranquillised.
What a relief that nobody believes that filthy liar Osborne – even his own backbenchers!
This is how they see him – offering empty promises as a ‘carrot’ to encourage voters to support the Tories.
Osborne’s behaviour is so appalling that this blog has started a petition, calling on the government to withdraw these propaganda sheets that pretend to be official government information – and apologise for ever releasing them in the first place.
Not even this many: This Economist cartoon paints a false picture of the situation. The magazine has stated: “In Britain, which had to bail out three of its biggest banks, not one senior banker has gone on trial over the failure of a bank.”
Here’s a word that should be in all our dictionaries but probably isn’t: ‘MAXWELLISATION’.
It refers to a procedure in British governance where individuals who are due to be criticised in an official report are sent details in advance and permitted to respond before publication. The process takes its name from the late newspaper owner Robert Maxwell, who fell off a yacht after stealing the Mirror Group’s pension fund.
Maxwellisation is how the irresponsible bankers who caused the economic recession, out of which some of us have just climbed according to the latest figures, are likely to get away Scot (and the word is used most definitely in reference to the land north of England) free.
Current folk wisdom has it that most of us are still unhappy about the banking crisis. We want to see heads roll.
This is a serious headache for the Coalition government, according to Private Eye (issue 1371, p33: ‘Call to inaction’) – because almost nobody involved in that fiasco is likely to suffer the slightest inconvenience.
They really are going to get away with it because the government of the day really is going to let them.
It seems that Andrew Green QC has been hired to find out whether action could and should be taken against those who bankrupted HBOS, beyond corporate lending chief Peter Cummings, who has already been banned for life from the industry and was fined half a million pounds in 2012.
That might seem a lot of money but the HBOS crash, along with that of the Royal Bank of Scotland, cost the taxpayer £60 billion (along with who-knows-how-much in interest payments).
Mr Green has also been asked why HBOS chief executives James Crosby and Andy Hornby were untouched, along with chairman Lord Stevenson.
For the facts, he need look no further than what happened with RBS, the Eye reckons.
In 2010, the Financial Services Authority – discredited forerunner to the FCA – allowed (allowed!) RBS’s top investment banker Johnny Cameron to ban himself from another senior banking job. The following year it pronounced chief executive Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin and chairman Sir Tom McKillop effectively blameless. Mr ‘The Shred’ was stripped of his knighthood, however.
This whitewash appears to have been an embarrassment for business secretary Vince Cable, who announced in December 2011 that he wanted to prosecute, disqualify as directors or ban from the financial sector those responsible at RBS and passed his request for disqualification up to the Scottish law officers in early 2012.
He is still awaiting an answer, it seems.
Back to HBOS, where Cable has made “similar disqualification noises”, according to the Eye, after a “highly critical” report from the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards last year.
Unfortunately for him, not only is HBOS also based in Scotland, so any proceedings may have to follow a similar path to those involving RBS, but also the FCA’s report into the bank’s failure is currently “unfinished”.
This is because it is being “Maxwellised” – according to the Eye, “whereby lawyers for those in the frame (if allowed) remove anything critical of their clients”.
The report continues; “With RBS, ‘Maxwellisation’ took several months and resulted in the whitewash that made any future action against those found not guilty difficult, if not impossible.
But the public wants heads to roll! Will anybody get what’s coming to them?
According to the Eye, the answer is a qualified “yes”.
Only one boss of HBOS still has links with any organisation regulated by the FCA – James Crosby is a director of the Moneybarn sub-prime car finance group and its parent, the Duncton Group. The FCA took over regulation of the consumer loan industry in April and has until December 2015 to provide full approval to the Moneybarn operation. The Eye states: “By then chairman Crosby would have to pass its ‘fit and proper’ test. He is completely unauthorised. So, a low-hanging scalp.”
Beyond that, expect “a wringing and washing of Coalition political hands, blaming legal loopholes, failures of others and it-was-all-a-long-time-ago”.
It is possible that other directors could be offered the Johnny Cameron deal – agree not to be a director for a few years “and this will all go away quickly and cheaply with no public hearings”.
Lest we forget: We know that, on average, 73 people died every week between January and November 2011 – after undergoing the DWP work capability assessment administered by Atos. Who knows how many are dying now?
Interestingly, the DWP story differs from that published by the BBC, even though the corporation must have used a version of the press release provided to it in advance.
In the BBC story, released on Saturday, “More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews” – but the DWP press notice, released today, claims “More than a million others withdrew their claims before reaching a face-to-face assessment”.
In addition, the DWP release features a long section on its Disability Confident roadshow, and there is another statistic which claims that the proportion of disabled people in work has reached 45 per cent.
Disability Confident, designed “to encourage more employers to hire disabled people”, “to showcase the talents of disabled people and highlight their tremendous value to the British economy” is, on the face of it, a good idea.
But I wonder if it isn’t a smokescreen to hide how the DWP is pushing thousands of disabled people into saying they are self-employed and taking tax credits rather than ESA, in order to fudge the figures and make it seem as though good work is being done.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive…
Of course, the best source of ESA-related statistics is on the iLegal site where the figures behind the press release have been picked apart by an expert who doesn’t have a vested interest in saving ministerial face.
They show that an average of 83 per cent of the 1,078,200 Incapacity claimants who were assessed qualified for ESA between October 2012 and May last year, while 88 per cent of the 1,332,300 ‘repeatedly assessed’ were re-qualifying.
While the DWP and the BBC have claimed 1.8 million people have magically disappeared from the Incapacity/ESA claimant count, the DWP’s own figures confirm that overall numbers have reduced by only 156,630 since May 2010.
The iLegal article makes it clear that “the claimant count is far from a static number; each month thousands of claimants come on and off all benefits”. But it seems clear that the BBC/DWP figure is a conflated total, simply adding up all new claims – rather than claimants – from 2008 onwards.
This is exactly why UK Statistics Authority chief Andrew Dilnot chastised the government after the Conservative Party released an almost-identical press release last year, using then-current (but still inaccurate) figures and not mentioning Disability Confident.
Let’s go back to the number of people found ‘fit for work’ after assessment. Has everybody forgotten the hammering that the government took during a debate on Atos’ handling of the Work Capability Assessment, exactly a year and a week ago today? If you have, don’t worry – you can read all about it here.
The debate demonstrated time after time that the work capability assessment, as devised by the DWP’s Conservative ministerial team and run by its employees at Atos, was not fit for purpose; that the overwhelming majority of those who had been found ‘fit for work’ were nothing of the sort; and that “this is a government that is perfectly happy with a system that is throwing thousands of sick and disabled people to the wolves”.
The government refused to listen. Then-Employment minister Mark Hoban (standing in, conspicuously, for Esther McVey, who was minister for the disabled at the time) said the independent reviews conducted by Professor Malcolm Harrington had identified areas of improvement and appropriate steps were being taken.
This claim was false. Out of 25 recommendations made by Professor Harrington in his year one review alone, almost two thirds were not fully and successfully implemented.
The government also claimed, repeatedly, that Prof Harrington had supported the migration of Incapacity Benefit claimants to ESA. When fellow blogger Sue Marsh contacted him for confirmation, he responded: “I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that, the political die had been cast. I then said that i would review progress of that during my reviews. The decision was political. I could not influence it. IS THAT CRYSTAL CLEAR?”
I’d say so – to everybody but the Coalition government.
A good reporter at the BBC would have had all this information to hand. They would have known that the work capability assessment was extremely controversial and had been shown, many times, to be unfit for purpose. They would have known that the government had been slapped down by the UK Statistics Authority after releasing an almost-identical press release last year. They absolutely should have known that other reporters in the same organisation had revealed that the DWP had been pushing disabled people into claiming they were self-employed in an effort to cook the books.
With all that information to hand, it begs the question: Why did they then go ahead with the propagandised misrepresentation of the facts that appeared on the BBC News website on Saturday?
“This government is taking action domestically on [tax] avoidance and evasion,” wrote George Osborne in an article for The Observer, back in February. How right he was.
The Tory-led Coalition has done everything in its power to facilitate tax avoidance and ignore evasion, it seems, including the latest wheeze, which is to link it with a feeble attempt to get working people to throw away their rights in exchange for a few shares.
The BBC has reported that the new status of “employee shareholder” has come into force, allowing working people to claim shares in the company that employs them, if they give up the rights to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay, the right to request flexible working (except in the case of two weeks’ parental leave), and some rights to request time off for training.
Nobody in their right mind would do this and expert opinion is that take-up will be small. So why do it?
Well, it’s not about the workers at all. It’s about helping company bosses avoid paying their taxes. Even the right-wing-leaning BBC was unable to cover up the facts (although it left them until the end of the article):
“Companies can also claim some corporation tax deductions on the issuance of shares to employees.”
Yes – it’s a tax dodge!
Here’s how it works, according to the Mirror: “New analysis show[s] it could also allow executives to avoid paying revenue on company shares. Tax experts commissioned by the TUC believe ruthless bosses could classify themselves as ’employee owners’ to escape Capital Gains Tax. And the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the scheme could cost up to £1 billion, mainly due to tax avoidance.”
This will, of course, involve a drop in tax income to the Treasury, meaning increases in the national debt and deficit, which the Tories will no doubt use to justify further cuts to public service budgets as part of their ‘Starve The Beast’ agenda. Remember, this country has a chancellor who, for ideological purposes, actually wants to harm the British economy.
Meanwhile, as our friend at Another Angry Voice has put it: “If you’re thick enough to cash in your labour rights for a few grand worth of shares in the company you work for, then in a couple of years time when people are calling you ‘feckless’ for being unemployed, you’ll be one of the minority that actually deserve it (and your shares might well be worth only pennies in the pound compared to the value they had when you scrapped your labour rights to get them).”
It’s a whopper: How big do you think Iain Duncan Smith’s next Parliamentary exaggeration of the truth will be?
Why is Iain Duncan Smith still a member of Parliament?
Apparently there is an offence, here in the UK, known as Contempt of Parliament. An MP is guilty of this if he or she deliberately misleads Parliament, and any MP accused of the offence may be suspended or expelled.
Our odious Work and Pensions secretary is a repeat offender. It is one thing to be “economical with the truth”, as the euphemism goes; it is entirely different to present known falsehoods to the House of Commons as though they were accurate.
Smith’s latest wheeze involves a press release released by his Department of Work and Pensions last month, in which he is quoted as follows: “Already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the [benefits] cap move into jobs. This clearly demonstrates that the cap is having the desired impact.”
There is no evidence to support the claim. This has been made clear by Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, who said in an open letter yesterday (Thursday) that it was “unsupported by the official statistics published by the department”.
He added that an explicit caution had made it clear that the statistics used by Smith to support his claim were “not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact”.
In addition, figures released alongside the statement do not comply with the UK’s codes and practices on statistical releases, and concerns have been raised about the methodology and sourcing, along with possible advance sharing of the data with some – sympathetic? – media outlets.
As an aside, it seems unlikely that Mr Dilnot realised, when he accepted his role at the statistics authority, that it would be such a high-profile role. How many people had even heard of it before the Tory-led Coalition government came into power? Precious few, one suspects.
Yet it has now become a household name, due to the Tories’ continued and persistent use of faked statistics.
They claimed the NHS budget was rising when it had fallen – and only yesterday we saw one consequence of this; the critical strain facing accident and emergency units. Remember, many hospitals are having their A&E units closed, adding to the strain on those that are left. Why is this happening, if not to save money?
They also claimed – in a party political broadcast, no less – that the national debt was falling when in fact it has risen massively over the course of this Parliament.
And now this.
Smith is, as mentioned above, a repeat offender: He also stated recently that around a million people have been stuck on benefits for at least three of the last four years, “despite being judged capable of preparing or looking for work”. These figures were, of course, inaccurate – they included single mothers, the seriously ill, and people awaiting testing.
Oxfam’s Katherine Trebeck, policy and advocacy manager for its UK poverty programme, said in The Mirror that this was “beyond the pale”.
She said: “The vast majority of people who are out of work would jump at the chance to take a job that paid them a wage they can afford to live on.”
And the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said in The Guardian: “Only people with weak arguments need to make up statistics.
“The secretary of state needs to apologise – not just to Parliament, but to the many who cannot find jobs, for misusing his department’s statistics in this way.”
The DWP has issued a statement supporting Smith, but its argument is extremely weak. It said anecdotal responses of staff and claimants supported what he had said: “DWP staff and claimants are telling us the cap is impacting behaviour and leading to those affected finally entering the world of work.”
Anecdotal evidence is not fact and cannot be presented as such. Our good friend Wikipedia describes it in these terms: “Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases.Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a claim; it is accepted only in lieu of more solid evidence. This is true regardless of the veracity of individual claims.“
Manipulation of statistics by the DWP and its secretary of state prompted Debbie Sayers and fellow blogger Jayne Linney – who has supported Vox Political articles many times – to launch a petition on the change.org website, calling on Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee to hold Smith to account for his habitual offences against government statistics.
The petition is here, and at the time of writing has more than 76,500 signatures. Please sign it if you haven’t already done so.
It’s time for Iain Duncan Smith – who remains, let’s all remember, Vox Political‘s Monster of the Year for 2012 – to put up or shut up. He must either admit that he lied to Parliament and to the people in order to justify his despicable treatment of the most vulnerable people in the country…
… or he must be expelled from Parliament like the disgrace that he is.
Shady: Why will the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards NOT investigate the new evidence that has come to light about George Osborne’s expenses?
It seems the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is reluctant to examine the case of George Osborne, who paid mortgage interest on his paddock with taxpayers’ money before selling it off with a neighbouring farmhouse for around £1 million and pocketing the cash.
Mr Osborne, as is now well-documented, claimed mortgage interest on both properties as an allowable expense, stating that he needed the house to perform his duties as an MP. The paddock was registered separately with the Land Registry and was not mentioned in his expenses claim, but thanks to newspaper reports earlier this month, the nation understands that the money he received was used to pay for it.
Apparently this is not good enough for the Standards Commissioner. After I requested an inquiry, I received an email from Heather Wood, registrar of members’ financial interests. She wrote: “The Commissioner is able to inquire into complaints of a breach of both the Code and the rules of the House only if they are supported by sufficient evidence to justify an inquiry.
“Since the Commissioner has already inquired into Mr Osborne’s claims for his second home over the relevant period, there would need to be evidence of a breach of the Code of Conduct and the Rules of the House, other than that he had already investigated, before he could consider this matter further. That evidence would need to be sufficient to justify an inquiry.”
She went on to provide a link to the result of the previous inquiry. I read it very thoroughly but could find no mention whatsoever of the paddock at Harrop Fold Farm.
From the evidence provided by the commissioner’s office, I can only conclude that Mr Osborne did not tell the authorities that the money he claimed – in order, let’s remember, to discharge his Parliamentary responsibilities – would also partly pay for an empty field that he planned to sell for an exorbitant profit, years later.
To me, this is clearly accounting fraud, which is a criminal offence under the Fraud Act 2006.
The only reason I can find for the reluctance shown by the Commissioner is that my evidence comes from newspaper reports, and the guidance on submitting complaints does make it clear that such evidence may not be enough.
However, it seems clear that there is substance behind the allegations. Firstly, the evidence was transmitted in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on TV; then the Telegraph, Guardian, Mirror and the Independent all came out with corroborating reports. They would not do this without being able to back up what they were saying; if the details were false, then they would all have been guilty of libel, which is itself an offence – and I am sure Mr Osborne would be quick to pursue them through the courts in such circumstances.
He has not done so. What does this suggest to you?
My next step will be to write to the reporters concerned. I’ll need to ask them if the evidence to support their stories is publicly available and, if so, where I can find it. Then I’ll have another crack at the Commissioner. If any of the reporters concerned are reading this, please get in touch and provide any illumination you can – I think we would all be genuinely delighted to see your contribution.
Oh – there is one last line from the registrar, as follows: “Your e-mail also suggests that criminal conduct may have occurred. Any such allegations would be a matter for the police, not for the Commissioner, and I note that you have already raised this matter with them.”
That’s right – they said they couldn’t investigate because an inquiry was already taking place, and I’m still awaiting a response from my MP on that subject. Isn’t it interesting that the responses I’m getting are starting to go around in circles?
Some of us saw this coming, weeks in advance. We knew that, once the chance for profile-boosting photo opportunities were over – whether or not they backfired, Mr Osborne – the disability pogrom would be extended to paralympians.
And that’s what is happening, according to today’s Sunday Mirror.
Team GB footballer Keryn Seal is blind and relies on his £70 per week Disability Living Allowance to get to training. He fears for what will happen to himself and hundreds of thousands of other disabled people when DLA is replaced by the more restrictive Personal Independence Payment as part of a plan to cut £2.2 billion from benefit costs.
“I can’t understand why the Government would dream of taking this money away from us. It shows a complete lack of empathy,” he told the Mirror.
“Disillusioned, disenchanted and disappointed are all words I would use to describe how I feel about the Government.”
Double-amputee Derek Derenalagi, who came 11th in the discus, said the changes would have a “devastating” effect: “Not every Paralympian is sponsored and we would hugely struggle without it. We do not get paid like footballers and it really helps us.”
And wheelchair dancer Laura Jones, a star of the Paralympics opening ceremony, said she was worried her £50-a-week payment is under threat.
She told the Mirror: “If people miss out on leisure activities and sports, they end up stuck at home and that will obviously be worse for their health.”
Another thing that looks as though it will be worse for people’s health is the Universal Credit, which the government is touting as “the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen”, adding that it will ensure that it pays people to work rather than claim benefits.
Honestly… Do they think we’re not paying attention?
It seems there are problems with a plan to pay the new credit only once a month, meaning it will make a mess of people’s budgeting plans and they may be unable to make ends meet.
Also, the plan to make it payable to only one member of a household is likely to cause friction and upset the family dynamic – possibly destabilising family groups and leading to splits.
Bear in mind also that this is another continuation of the attack against disabled people, as the new credit will replace, among other things, Employment and Support Allowance. I wonder if Atos will be interviewing all its disabled ‘clients’ yet again, to find out if their missing limbs have grown back yet?
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