Tag Archives: mother

Is the lockdown an excuse for the Tories to force mothers out of work and into the home?

The headline says it all.

It needs more research, but…

Tory policies have hit women hardest since they got back into office in 2010.

They are institutionally sexist.

So I was not surprised to see this:

I wonder if we’ll ever see any outrage about it, though. It seems too easy to silence protest in the UK now.

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What will the DWP do if a coroner says this mum died because her benefits were cut?

Inquest: did Philippa Day take her own life in despair after benefit assessment provider Capita cut her benefits and demanded that she attend an assessment centre – which was impossible due to her disability?

We’ve been here before, I think. As I recall, coroners tend to back away from criticising the Department for Work and Pensions when disabled benefit claimants die.

But – again, as I recall – questions have been asked about the validity of such inquests after claims were made that some of the relevant evidence was omitted.

This time, it seems very thorough preparations are being made to prevent this from happening; several pre-inquest reviews have been held to discuss the case of Philippa Day.

The mother, from Mapperley, Nottingham, is believed to have taken her own life after a long struggle to have her benefits restored.

When her Disability Living Allowance was converted to the new Personal Independence Payment in January 2019, the government slashed the amount she received from £228 per week to £60.

The most recent pre-inquest hearing centred on discussions between Ms Day, the DWP and private assessment provider company Capita before her death, and the decisions about her benefits that followed.

It seems Capita had demanded that she must attend an assessment centre in person – an impossibility due to her ill-health.

Ms Day was admitted to hospital in August last year – in a coma, according to her family. She never revived and died in October 2019, aged just 27.

The full inquest is due to take place in January.

Let’s hope it makes more sense than some others we have heard recently.

Source: Coroner to examine death of Mapperley mum who died after her benefits were cut – Nottinghamshire Live

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Refugee woman found dead by malnourished baby after UK asylum system left her to starve

 

Would people be so keen to cross the channel to the UK in dinghies if they knew the Tory government is likely to leave them to starve?

It seems our asylum system’s problems are twofold: getting into the UK is one part and the other is the way people are treated once they are here.

Mercy Baguma, originally from Uganda, was discovered by police in a Glasgow flat on August 22, after friends said she had not been seen since the previous Tuesday.

Her malnourished baby boy was found next to her. He was rushed to hospital for treatment and is now with his father.

Ms Baguma, aged in her 30s, had lost her job after her leave to remain expired, meaning she was no longer allowed to work.

She had contacted the charity Positive Action in Housing after making an application for aid to MigrantHelp.

Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing said she would have been a high priority for a crisis payment – had she lived:

“The fact is there is no safety net if you’re a refugee or migrant. You are left destitute and without resources. And you’re left silenced by far right rhetoric for being forced to ask for help.

“Would this mother be alive if she was not forced out of her job by this cruel system that stops you from working and paying your way because a piece of paper says your leave to remain has expired? I’m sure Mercy’s son will want to ask this and other questions once he is old enough.”

Clearly there is more to this story. We don’t know why the government decided Ms Baguma should not have leave to remain in the UK any more or what was being done about it.

But the evidence we have is clear: she died, and her son nearly starved to death too, because our Tory asylum system said they should.

Source: Mum found dead beside malnourished baby in Glasgow flat – Glasgow Live

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Child benefit scandal: a million more children in poverty, 900 women forced to disclose rape

The Scottish National Party seems to have taken over what used to be Labour’s job as guardian of vulnerable benefit claimants.

(And it’s a good thing; Keir Starmer seems to think he is better-occupied persecuting innocent party members with trumped-up anti-Semitism accusations.)

So we have the SNP to thank for revealing the latest scandalous details of the Tory government’s decision to deprive parents of child benefit if they have more than two children – and to force mothers to relive details of rape as the price of having that benefit restored for additional children.

Here’s the headline:

New figures published by the UK government have revealed that 911,190 children have lost access to vital financial support since April 2017, while 900 women have been forced to disclose that their child was conceived of rape in order to access vital funds.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss first discovered the two-child cap and the so-called “rape clause” in George Osborne’s 2015 Budget and has been a vocal opponent of the policy since its inception.

The MP has challenged the Prime Minister to scrap the abhorrent policy, describing the figures as “a horrific legacy for any government”.

She said: “The UK Tory government’s own data reveals the devastating impact of their two-child limit on families across the UK. Approaching one million children are now suffering financial hardship, the majority of them in families where their parents are working.

“This is a horrific legacy for any government. It’s time for Boris Johnson to wake up to this reality, signal a change of direction on welfare and scrap this pernicious Tory policy.

“Most shocking of all, 900 women have been forced to go through the process of claiming for an exception due to a non-consensual conception. Every single one of these women has been put in a position where they’ve had to fill in a form to prove their child was conceived as a result of rape or coercion, just to make ends meet.

“The UK Government has no place to hide in the face of these damning statistics. Covid-19 has exposed the gaps in the social security safety net – I urge the new Prime Minister to do the right thing and scrap the two-child limit for everyone”.

But this is Boris Johnson she’s talking about. Do you honestly think he could care less?

Source: NEARLY 1 MILLION CHILDREN INTO POVERTY, 900 WOMEN FORCED TO DISCLOSE RAPE – Welfare Weekly

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Patel’s policies would deport her own mother. Why believe her when she says Johnson isn’t racist?

Priti Patel: there will be no aid in the UK for people of colour while she is Home Secretary, it seems – unless they’re rich.

Is Priti Patel a person of colour who hates her own race?

The evidence seems to indicate this.

Consider the reaction to rapper Dave’s decision to change the lyrics to his song Black at the Brit Awards. He sang – well, hear for yourself what he sang:

Some commentators – like those at Spiked – criticised the performance, but were shot down by others. Look at this from Twitter:

And some, like LBC’s James O’Brien, considered it to be a diversion from the debate about Dave’s subject matter – racism in the Tory government – because it gave people an opportunity to talk about Dave instead:

Fortunately Ms Patel was on hand to drag the discuss right back to the fact that her government – and indeed her own actions – are as racist as the prime minister himself.

The Home Secretary, who recently tried to deport 50 people (and succeeded in removing 17) based on spurious claims that they were criminals (all had already paid their debt to society; their only crime, it seemed, was that they are not white), defended Mr Johnson:

“I work with the prime minister, I know Boris Johnson very well, no way is he a racist, so I think that is a completely wrong comment and it’s the wrong assertion to make against our prime minister.”

But Ms Patel went on to unveil another racist policy on the same day.

The plan is to refuse entry to the UK for any EU immigrants who aren’t coming to a job that pays at least £25,600. This means so-called “low-skilled” people will no longer be allowed into the country.

Critics have already attacked that equation of low pay with low skill – and This Writer can certainly support them in that. I never had a job that paid £25,600 in all the time I was employed by various newspaper firms and I’m sure most reporters still don’t receive that much.

Worse still, for Ms Patel, is the fact that – under these proposals – her own parents would have been refused access to the UK and she would never have been able to join the Conservatives to become the Home Secretary proposing them.

She had to concede the point in an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari. As it happens, I have also been interviewed by Ferrari. He was attacking me over lies that had been printed about me, so I was able to point out that the claims were false.

Ms Patel was not in the same position and had to admit that he was right. And look how she justified it:

“The policies are changing. This is the point. We are changing our immigration policy to one that’s fit for purpose for our economy, based on skills.”

But she isn’t.

As already stated, there are plenty of high-skilled people on low wages. There also happen to be plenty of complete numbskulls on astronomically high pay – racist Ms Patel and her racist prime minister are two of them.

She tried to point out that her parents came to the UK because they were fleeing Idi Amin’s mass expulsion of Ugandan Asians in 1972, and said they would have been allowed entry as refugees.

But it seems she was lying: it seems her parents arrived in the UK in the 1960s. She herself was born in London in 1972, which suggests that her parents’ immigration into the UK was nothing to do with Amin’s persecution.

Also:

The UK’s current Tory government has also sent refugees back to their countries of origin, where some have faced persecution and even death.

So the evidence seems clear.

Who, then, will believe a word when a racist defends a racist?

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‘Toxic’ culture led to dozens of deaths – of mothers and babies – at NHS trust

Mothers and babies died due to a “toxic” culture at an English NHS trust – according to a leaked report on what is being described as the largest maternity scandal in NHS history.

It seems substandard care at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust not only led to deaths but also caused permanent disability for some children.

Clinical errors were compounded by substandard follow-up investigations that failed to ensure lessons were learnt, while bereaved families were treated with “a distinct lack of kindness and respect”.

The report details clinical malpractice over nearly 40 years that led to the deaths of at least 42 babies and three mothers.

More than 50 children also suffered permanent brain damage after being deprived of oxygen during birth, and the investigation also identifed 47 other cases of substandard care.

More than 600 cases of clinical malpractice are now being examined, involving repeated failings by doctors, midwives and hospital bosses.

As hundreds of cases have yet to be checked, the list of casualties is likely to grow.

The leaked report identifies:

  • A long-term lack of informed consent for mothers choosing to deliver their babies in midwifery-led units – where risks can be higher if problems occur – which “continues to the present day”
  • A long-term lack of transparency, honesty and communication with families when things go wrong. This supported a culture that was “disrespectful” to families who had been “damaged” as a result
  • Failure to recognise serious incidents. Many families who had undergone horrific experiences were told they were the only ones and lessons would be learnt. The report said: “It is clear this is not correct”
  • A long-term failure to involve families in investigations that were often poor and described as “extremely brief” and “overly defensive of staff”
  • A lack of kindness and respect to parents and families with multiple examples of deceased babies given the wrong names in writing or referred to as “it”
  • Not sharing learning, meaning “repeated mistakes that are often similar from case to case”. Failure to learn was present from the earliest case of a neonatal death in 1979 to cases occurring at the end of 2017
  • A lack of support for families who have “experienced significant loss and tragedy”
  • A long-standing culture at the trust “that is toxic to improvement effort”

The new report is not the result of action by the NHS or the government, though.

It seems the scandal would have remained secret if not for the actions of a family the trust had mistreated.

The Stanton-Davies family had lost a baby daughter in 2009 after midwives failed to monitor her condition – among myriad other failures.

They had to fight for an inquest. Once it proved their daughter’s fate had been avoidable, the family challenged the NHS to re-examine its investigation of the circumstances of the child’s death.

That review revealed systemic failings which enabled the family, with the parents of a second baby, to persuade then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to order an investigation in 2017.

The scale of this scandal is huge – and can only increase.

At this point, This Writer can only echo the words of mother Rhiannon Davies, whose determination to find out why her daughter died has taken matters this far:

“How has this been tolerated for so long? It is horrific.”

Source: NHS Trust’s ‘toxic’ culture led to mother and baby deaths | Central – ITV News

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Mother forced to rely on food banks because of DWP rule that denies reality

Have you ever heard of the minimum income floor calculation?

If you aren’t on Universal Credit – and considered to be self-employed by the Department for Work and Pensions – then it’s most likely that you haven’t.

The premise is that, if a person is self-employed, they earn a specific amount of money per week, and Universal Credit is provided to them on that basis.

In the case of Roxy Theobald, of Long Stratton, Norfolk, this meant that she was assumed to be earning £822 per month, working 25 hours per week as a courier, from the time she started claiming UC in October 2018.

In fact, being able to work only the hours she was given, Ms Theobald earned much less.

This was of no interest to anybody at the DWP.

As a result, she had to visit food banks and rely on friends and neighbours giving her leftover food in order to keep herself and her daughter Bella alive.

She appealed against the DWP’s decision that it could use the minimum income floor to dock money from her claim, and a judge has ruled in her favour, saying he was not satisfied that she was in gainful self-employment.

Ms Theobald, now a full-time carer, has said she hopes her case will set a precedent, leading to a change of DWP policy.

That would be welcome, as there are undoubtedly many, many people – not just couriers, who are adversely affected by this rule.

It’s also possible that the arrival in cinemas of Ken Loach’s new film Sorry We Missed You, which explores the plight of couriers, may also focus the minds of the powerful on this matter.

Don’t hold your breath waiting, though.

Source: Norfolk mother left relying on food banks while working as courier wins Universal Credit tribunal | Latest Norfolk and Suffolk News | Eastern Daily Press

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Stella Creasy is right: Nobody should be forced to choose between their career and motherhood

Facing discrimination: Stella Creasy.

At first it may seem very much a First World problem: Labour’s Stella Creasy has written a Guardian article apparently complaining that Parliamentary rules make it almost impossible for women to be both MPs and mothers.

Ms Creasy has a stake in this matter; she is expecting a baby and is currently having to deal with a deplorable lack of support from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

I was ready to be extremely unsympathetic. Think of all the women who have suffered unfair discrimination – for many reasons, not least because of pregnancy, especially since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

If you are a woman who has suffered such prejudice, please feel free to tell us all about it in the comment column.

But it seems Ms Creasy was prompted to put finger to keyboard by more than just her own situation.

She writes: “If we can’t get this right for MPs, how can we get this right for parents elsewhere?

“Britain still has a long way to go to ensure that fertility isn’t a barrier to equality. A third of employers think it’s acceptable to ask women about their plans for having a family at a job interview. Non-disclosure agreements are used frequently to cover up pregnancy discrimination, with the legal advice service Pregnant Then Screwed receiving on average 350 calls a year.”

And in fairness to her, Ms Creasy has also used her position to try to ensure that people who aren’t in work, or who do not earn very much, still have access to a reasonable standard of living – and I think we can include the means to bear children as part of that.

Her voting record shows that she has supported equality and human rights; voted to increase state benefits at least in line with inflation; opposed laws to cut housing benefit; and supported increased benefits over longer periods for people with illnesses and disabilities.

All these actions suggest that Ms Creasy believes people should have more life choices, including the choice of whether – and when – to have a child. She walks the walk, besides talking the talk, it seems.

My own opinion is clear: Your body – your choice. The only person with a right to dictate when – or whether – a woman has a child is the woman herself.

It’s nothing to do with employers. In fact, pregnancy discrimination is a hypocritical nonsense in a country where successive neoliberal governments have tried to make a virtual of workforce “flexibility” – meaning people don’t stay in the same job for long anyway.

It’s certainly nothing to do with lawmakers. The idea of legislating against a biological imperative is bizarre.

And, coming back to the reason Ms Creasy wrote her article, it’s certainly not a matter for the Parliamentary organisation concerned with standards.

Fair enough – MPs’ private lives should not interfere with their work representing their constituents.

But there are many ways that they can keep on top of the matters of the day – and have their say on them – while discharging their responsibilities as mothers.

The question for IPSA, as for employers across the country, is not how to prevent women from taking maternity leave; it is how to support them when they do – or, more damning, why they do not.

Source: I’m pregnant and forced to choose between being an MP and a mum | Stella Creasy | Opinion | The Guardian

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DWP response to Jodey Whiting petition is a ‘joke’ according to her mother

Jodey Whiting, 42, took her own life after her benefits were stopped [Image: Evening Gazette].

Remember when I said I wasn’t the best person to provide a commentary on the DWP’s response to the ‘Justice for Jodey Whiting’ petition?

Disability News Service has found someone much better: Her mother.

The petition demands an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the DWP, after the department ignored its own safeguarding policies no less than five times in the weeks leading up to her suicide in February 2017.

I poured scorn on the DWP’s response to the petition – which had earned more than 27,000 signatures at the time.

According to DNS, Joy Dove – Ms Whiting’s mother – said the DWP response to the petition was “a joke”, and that her message to DWP was: “You have put everything in your response to the petition that you did not do to safeguard Jodey.

“You killed my daughter by not safeguarding her.”

She added: “They should have practised what they are trying to preach now. They are responsible for Jodey’s death.”

She said she was appalled that the DWP response suggested that the £10,000 ICE ordered DWP to pay the family as a “consolatory payment” was “compensation” for her daughter’s death.

Dove said that £9,000 was given to Jodey’s nine children, while the other £1,000 was used to pay off some of the debts she had built up in paying for her daughter’s funeral.

She said: “It’s not about money. I will carry on. They can’t say it’s settled. I signed nothing. I want justice.”

Ms Dove has said she wants to take legal action against the DWP. I would like to see the department taken to court for all the deaths it caused.

Wouldn’t you like that too?

Source: Justice for Jodey Whiting: Mum brands DWP’s petition response ‘a joke’


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Immigration minister humiliated over information sharing blunder

Caroline Nokes: It seems she prefers horses to human beings.

Caroline Nokes – what a piece of work.

She tried to bluff Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper that she didn’t have the relevant information to deal with a case in which serious defects had been discovered in accommodation for seven asylum-seeking mothers with young children. The house was infested with vermin.

Here’s how the conversation unfolded:

“You didn’t need telepathy; all you needed was a telephone.” I’m no fan of Ms Cooper, but she was absolutely right there.

Ms Nokes’s response – that she “would be very pleased” to receive the information – was belied by her icy expression and body language.

And when Ms Cooper asked, “Might you not have wanted to make that call yourself rather than leaving it for us to do in this public way?” it was telling that Ms Nokes paused for a long time before adding: “I think that is a conversation I need to have with my officials.”

I think we can all tell what that conversation was going to be.

It wasn’t going to be about them failing to get the information she needed to help asylum-seeking mothers.

It was going to be about the fact that Ms Nokes had been made to look a fool in public.

She doesn’t care about those mothers, their children, or the rodent-infested house to which they have been banished.

She didn’t show the slightest interest in their plight, or in helping them out of it.

If she had been interested in such matters, then the problem would have been solved months ago (a damning report had been issued in July).

Remember: This is the Tory minister who defended a policy to accelerate the deportation of hunger-striking women at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.

This is the attitude typical of Conservative ministers in Theresa May’s government.

Their concern is for their own advancement – not for the provision of a service to the public.

They take after their leader in that respect.

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