Tag Archives: penalise

If the Tories are keen to preserve lives, why are they threatening people who are shielding from Covid?

Jacob Rees-Mogg: he reckons the role of the House of Commons “can only properly be fulfilled when members are here in person”, and says his decision is “completely in accordance” with the “equalities considerations” of the government and parliament. Phew, what a loony!

People who are vulnerable to Covid-19 are very much second-class citizens to the Conservative government, aren’t they?

Consider teachers who have been ordered back into work even though their physical health means they must shield against the virus – that is, they need to stay in their homes, away from anybody who might possibly pass it onto them:

Teachers with underlying medical conditions have been threatened with pay cuts or disciplinary action if they do not come into school.

Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union – which opposed the reopening plan – [said]his union had received “lots of worries” from members this week.

“We’ve had a lot of traffic in relation to teachers with underlying health conditions,” he said.

“We’re now seeing some schools insisting that shielding is over and that those individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be back in the workforce,” he said.

“We’ve come across one or two examples of schools threatening to deduct pay or put people on disciplinary procedures if they don’t come into the workplace.

“Of course we’ll continue – and have done – pushing back with those employees with some success, but nevertheless this shouldn’t be happening out there.”

Conversely, MPs are being deprived of the ability to carry out their responsibilities, even though they could do it from home if they were permitted to:

The shadow minister for disabled people has taken legal advice over the government’s “outrageous” decision to prevent MPs at serious risk from coronavirus from continuing to vote and take part in debates from their own home.

Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft, who has a long-term health condition, was unable to vote on Tuesday [June 2] because of the government’s decision.

She [said] she and other MPs at particular risk from COVID-19 had been discriminated against.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has also criticised the government this week over its stance, after refusing to do so last week.

There is no consistency in this behaviour by the Tory government; one group is penalised because their health forbids them from working while the other is penalised because its members want to.

It seems the Johnson government is happy to contradict itself, simply to inflict harm on the vulnerable.

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Tories will cut teachers’ pay if they don’t go back to school when they’re told to

This is typical Tory: if people refuse to do the damn stupid thing they want, they threaten to take things away from us.

In this case, it seems Oliver Dowden – he’s the Tories’ current unCultured Secretary – wants to take their pay away from teachers if they don’t reopen schools on June 1.

Here‘s the Mirror:

The row over schools is escalating after a top Tory refused to rule out punishing teachers or councils who keep classrooms shut.

Oliver Dowden was grilled repeatedly today on whether teachers, heads or council leaders will be “penalised” for defying advice to open from June 1.

“It’s in the children interests to get them back to school and I hope we can address the concerns they have. Of course there are legitimate concerns and we’re looking to address those.”

Asked if it would be “acceptable to you” for teachers who refuse to go back to receive full pay, Mr Dowden added: “Er, no.”

Schools are being told to halve classes into 15-strong groups that have no contact with the rest of the school to limit infection.

Toys will be removed, break times staggered, corridors made one-way, full assemblies scrapped and pick-up and drop-off times altered.

How can it be in any child’s interest to be put into an environment where they may catch Covid-19 and pass it on to teachers, their friends and their parents – all of whom will pass it on to their respective social circles?

In France, 70 cases sprang up almost immediately after just one-third of that country’s schools were reopened, and 50 schools were closed again – according to the most recent reports This Writer has seen.

And that country was in a better position than the UK, too.

So we have to ask: are the Tories trying to reopen schools because they have children’s best interests at heart? The loss of a term’s work won’t affect them a jot.

Or are the Tories simply trying to force parents back to work – to get the economy ticking over again? If so, don’t they realise that they’ll only kick-start a second wave of Covid-19 deaths?

Or – worse – do the Tories want thousands upon thousands of UK citizens to die? That’s how it looks at the moment!

Source: Top Tory refuses to rule out ‘penalising’ teachers or councils who keep schools shut – Mirror Online

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Evictions begin as government starts grabbing your homes

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It is easy to get caught up in headlines and forget that the Coalition’s benefit reforms mean people you know will lose their homes.

You know what happens then? PEOPLE YOU KNOW START LOSING THEIR HOMES.

Vox Political was warning the world about this back in 2012 – nearly two years ago – saying the bedroom tax would put people on the streets while homes go empty and warning about the ‘Poll Tax revival plan to take away your home’. It gives me no pleasure at all to report that I was right.

This week I heard about two cases in my Mid Wales town. You may think that isn’t many, but this is a town with a population of less than 5,000 – and I haven’t heard about every case.

The first involves a family that has been living in the same council house for more than 30 years. Sadly the head of the household recently had a stroke and has been forced to move into a care home. In the past, the tenancy would have been handed down to the next generation of the family – two sons, one of whom has a family of his own. The other is a friend of mine, of excellent character. By day he works very hard at his job; after hours, he is a member of a popular local band (along with his brother, as it happens). They are what this government would call “strivers”.

But they are being penalised because they have been told to vacate the only home they have had. Not only that, they are being asked to stump up a small fortune in backdated rent (as their father has been paying for his care, not the house) and another small fortune to dispose of carpets they cannot take with them, which the council does not want.

When I spoke to my friend yesterday, he told me that the council simply does not want him or his brother as tenants because “it is easier to process a large family who are on benefits”. I queried this, and it seems likely that this is to do with the forthcoming Universal Credit system, and with the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (also known as the Pickles Poll Tax); it is easier to handle Universal Credit and council tax claims if the authorities have foreknowledge of a household’s income.

We both agreed that there is a serious drawback to this thinking.

Large families do not want to move into vacant social accommodation because they fear what the government – national and local – will do to them if their circumstances change. Children grow up; adults move out – and that will make them vulnerable to the Bedroom Tax. Suddenly their benefits won’t be enough to pay the rent and they, in turn, will be turfed out onto the streets. They know it is a trap; they will try to avoid it.

My friend agreed. “That house is going to stay empty for a very long time,” he said.

This is madness. Here are two people who are perfectly willing and able to pay the council’s rent, on time, for as long as they need the property but, because of the Welfare Reform Act and the Localism Act, the council is treating them abominably and the house will end up providing no income at all.

If you think that’s bad, though, just wait until you learn about my other friend!

He is an older gentleman who has been disabled for many years. He had been living in a small, two-bedroomed house that had been adapted to accommodate his needs. We know precisely how much these adaptations cost to install at current rates: £5,000.

I believe he needed the extra bedroom to accommodate carer needs but I could be mistaken.

Along came the Bedroom Tax and suddenly he did not have enough income to cover the cost of living there. The council (or social landlord, I have to admit I’m not sure) sent him an eviction notice. He appealed.

Guess what? His appeal was set to be decided after the date he was ordered to be out of his home.

So he had to go. He was lucky enough to find another place to live, and all the equipment he needs to accommodate his disability moved along with him – at a cost of £5,000.

Then he received the judgement on his appeal: He was exempt from paying the Bedroom Tax; he should never have been forced to move.

Is this British justice?

This country was once the envy of the world because we were far more enlightened than any other nation in our policies of social justice and inclusion. Not any more! Now we are regressing into a new dark age in which the squalid Shylocks infesting Westminster manipulate local authorities into performing grubby property grabs for them.

Is the ‘Bulldog Spirit’ that made us famous for standing our ground during the Blitz now being turned to hounding the poor out of their homes?

Are you willing to put up with this?

In Iceland, they marched to their Parliament and set up camp outside until the government gave up and agreed to the demands of the people. Here, an unmandated government rides roughshod over democracy while you sit at home watching The X Factor, Coronation Street and the Winter Olympics.

Nothing will change until you change it – but you know this already. The simple fact is that, if you are reading this article, you probably sympathise with the sentiments it is expressing and are already active in opposing the heinous crimes being committed against our people.

There are not enough of you. People who need to read these words are being allowed to live in ignorance, lulled into inactivity by the right-wing mass media.

It’s time to put an end to that. There can be no excuse for ignorance and inaction while people are being made homeless. Think of someone you know who needs to be shown the truth and make them read this article. Ask them what they think of it and explain the facts of what is happening around them.

Then tell them to pass it on to someone they know.

Spread the word – don’t keep it to yourself. And don’t sit on your thumbs and expect somebody else to do your bit for you. If you don’t act, why should anybody else? What’s the point of me writing these articles if you can’t be bothered to do anything about it? Are you going to wait until someone tells you they want your home?

Then it will be too late.

I’ll know if you succeed because it will be reflected in the number of times this article is viewed. I’ll report the results of this experiment next week.

Don’t let yourself down.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Will the government really penalise GPs whose patients opt out of data sharing?

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It seems the government has found a way to dissuade GPs from letting patients opt out of having their medical records sold to private firms – the threat of penalties or even an investigation into the way they run their practice.

Vox Political revealed earlier this month that the government is planning to make a profit from selling the private records of NHS patients in England to healthcare and pharmaceutical firms.

The records are said to be ‘anonymised’, but in fact anyone buying your details will be able to identify you.

The system, originally called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES), now the Health and Social Care Information Centre, may also be described as the care.data scheme. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants you to think the information will be used for medical research and screening for common diseases, but in fact it could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National Health Service, and could help them undercut NHS bids to continue running those services – accelerating the privatisation that nobody wanted.

Patients have the right to withhold their data, but they must specifically inform their medical practice of their wishes. This is why medConfidential created a web page containing a special opt-out form, along with a form letter in various formats, allowing patients to opt out themselves, their children and any adults for whom they are responsible.

Now GPs are living in fear of reprisals if they don’t deliver enough details to the new system.

According to GPonline.com, Health minister Dr Daniel Poulter failed to rule out penalising GP practices with a higher-than-average proportion of patients opting out of new NHS data sharing arrangements.

In a written answer to Labour MP and health select committee member Rosie Cooper, Dr Poulter also refused to say what level of patient opt-out from the scheme would trigger an investigation.

Asked whether practices would be penalised, who would investigate practices with a high opt-out rate, and at what threshold this would apply, Mr Poulter said: “NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre will work with the BMA, the RCGP, the Information Commissioner’s Office and with the Care Quality Commission to review and work with GP practices that have a high proportion of objections on a case-by-case basis.”

Ms Cooper took this as an admission that GPs were “being threatened and bullied into ensuring patients don’t choose to opt-out”.

Reacting on Twitter, NHS national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey ruled out fines for practices where large numbers of patients opt not to share data. He wrote: “Nobody is going to get fined if patients opt out.”

None of this offers a good reason for you to leave your medical records unprotected – in fact, it gives you more reasons to opt out than before, and might provide GPs with the excuse they need to retaliate.

Doctors have been pushed further and further by the Conservative-led government’s changes to the NHS. For example, they were told they would have a greater say in where the money went, as members of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), but that was not true – they don’t have the time to take part in such decisions so they have been handed over to firms that are often part of the private companies now offering services to the NHS (for a price).

Now they are being told they may face reprisals if they do not betray the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality.

But you can only push a person a certain distance before they push back.

How will NHS doctors in England respond?

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