Tag Archives: phone

Cynical: Tories pilot 30-minute phone appointments for ‘claimant commitment’ interviews – to impose sanctions quicker?

Isn’t it amazing how the Tories can go straight into action on some plans, while others take forever?

So we see them testing fast-track phone interviews lasting a brief 30 minutes to get up-to-date claimant commitments for Universal Credit claimants.

This is because the Tories promised not to sanction anybody’s Universal Credit payments until up-to-date claimant commitments were established.

They had suspended conditions attached to receipt of Universal Credit during March, meaning that the millions who have claimed the so-called benefit since then have never been subjected to the sanctions that have so badly harmed the finances of so many poverty-lashed claimants.

Well, they’re about to find out what it’s like!

You can tell that the haste with which this measure has been imposed means the Tories are just itching to start taking food out of the mouths of needy people who they can label as undeserving.

In its Coronavirus Touchbase Special, the Department for Work and Pensions promised that nobody would be asked to do anything “unreasonable”, particularly “claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc.” – so you know that these people will definitely be asked to do unreasonable things.

Times may have changed but the Tory-run DWP remains the same.

Source: DWP confirms that it is testing 30 minute telephone appointments for claimant commitment interviews – Rightsnet

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Humiliation for Hancock as Apple denies talking with Tories over contact tracing app

Matt Hancock: he has a lot of bare-faced cheek.

How did Matt Hancock think he would get away with this one?

It seems he has tried to hide the failure of the Tory government’s attempt to create a Covid-19 contact tracing app for mobile phones by saying the government was merging its app with one already created by Apple and Google.

Apple has said it is unaware of any such agreement and the government has not held any discussions with the firm.

In other words: Hancock was lying.

That’s the only logical conclusion. Right?

Apple says it did not know the UK was working on a “hybrid” version of the NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app using tech it developed with Google.

The firm took the unusual step of saying it was also unaware of an issue regarding distance-measuring, which was flagged by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Thursday’s daily briefing.

“We’ve agreed to join forces with Google and Apple, to bring the best bits of both systems together,” Mr Hancock said.

However, Apple said: “We don’t know what they mean by this hybrid model. They haven’t spoken to us about it.”

Apple said it was “difficult to understand” the claims.

Downing Street said the government had “worked closely with Apple and Google”.

In tests carried out in the UK, there were occasions when software tools developed by Apple and Google could not differentiate between a phone in a user’s pocket 1m (3.3ft) away and a phone in a user’s hand 3m (9.8ft) away.

During the briefing, Mr Hancock said: “Measuring distance is clearly mission critical to any contact-tracing app.”

However, speaking to the Times, Apple said: “It is difficult to understand what these claims are as they haven’t spoken to us.”

It gets worse. The government doubled down on its claim, with disastrous consequences:

On Friday, the Department of Health said the NHS’s digital innovation unit had indeed discussed its ambitions with Apple.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government continued to work closely with both Apple and Google on the app, and had done so since development began.

“We’ve agreed with them to take forward our work on estimating distance through the app that we’ve developed and work to incorporate that into their app,” he said.

Apple and Google have not created an app.

It’s not irredeemable for the Tories.

Apple is a commercial firm and will undoubtedly be happy to enter a commercial agreement with the UK government to create the track-and-trace system the Tories want.

The big question is whether this new system will have the facility to download people’s private information and make it available to other commercial operators, in the way the Tories’ – failed – app did.

Source: Apple ‘not told’ about UK’s latest app plans – BBC News

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Conservative contact tracer app may be a front for covert surveillance

Is this yet another conspiracy theory? Maybe not – it seems to have the ring of truth about it.

The Tories are using the Isle of Wight to test a new contact tracing app – ostensibly to help the treatment of coronavirus, but possibly as a means of quietly watching everything users do.

Conservative governments have form with regard to covert surveillance. David Cameron’s Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 granted the government huge powers to watch your communications – albeit with safeguards demanded by MPs who were concerned about the erosion of civil liberties.

Now, concerns have been raised that the Tory app will infringe people’s civil liberties by gathering data on their movements and uploading their contact lists.

It seems Tories like Matt Hancock want everybody in the UK to download and use the app, providing the government with an enormous amount of data on their personal lives.

The demand is meeting resistance:

In the Commons, Marcus Fysh warned “widespread surveillance” was “not acceptable” in Britain, and it was essential the system was voluntary.

“We’re not a people who take well to surveillance and it’s a little ironic that the country that has probably been surveilling its population more than any other appears to have been the source of this virus,” he said, referring to China.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said… “We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects,” she said.

Tory officials insist the app is designed with privacy and security “front of mind” with the data stored on an individual’s phone until the point they contact the NHS to report symptoms and request a test.

But Tory officials also supported Hancock when he lied to us all that he had reached his target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day. He should have been forced to resign over that but he hasn’t even apologised.

On Twitter, matters seem straightforward:

Source: Trial of coronavirus contact-tracing app begins on Isle of Wight – ITV News

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Coronavirus: have the Tories told a big lie? Do they expect HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of DEATHS?

Did I make that headline big enough for you?

According to Byline Times, the people there have gained access to a Home Office conference call that shows the facts about Tory government policy on the coronavirus: heartless and two-faced.

It seems the government does not expect a vaccine to appear before most of the population has caught the virus – and expects around 264,000 of us to die in the long term.

This is the scientific advice behind the government’s policy on coronavirus; remember that when Dominic Raab or Boris Johnson come out to a press conference and say they’re “following scientific advice”.

So it seems the Tories want to downplay the dangers of going to work. As we’re all going to catch Covid-19 anyway, they want us to get back to servicing their economy.

We already know that Tory policy is to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infections – ensure that the rate of infection slows to one that the NHS can manage, after years in which that party, in government, has starved it of investment in favour of giving money to profit-making firms.

But it turns out that a more accurate description is that Tory policy is simply to slow down “the rate at which we get this virus [which] has direct impact on the NHS”.

So sending us home might have more to do with preventing the NHS from having to deal with it – even if it means people die in their homes (or care homes); and it explains why vulnerable people received letters saying they would be denied treatment if they caught the disease.

The whole strategy suggests that the Tories have never shifted from the “herd immunity” nonsense spouted by Boris Johnson in early March; they want us to “take it on the chin” and if we die in a quiet corner as a result, that’s just too bad.

And it seems that, while we wait for a vaccine that may be a long time coming, we will experience several peaks in infections, each increasing the aggregate number of deaths.

These assumptions are supported by a lot of bad science.

First, it was claimed that the coronavirus cannot survive more than 48 hours on hard surfaces and clothing; in fact survive on hard, shiny surfaces like plastic and steel for up to 72 hours, up to four days on glass and paper money, and as much as seven days on the outside of a surgical mask. Suggestions of a shorter lifespan are begging for people to be infected.

It was also suggested that the coronavirus is uniformly spread across the country, and that this is the reason it is not possible to stop it spreading – but without mass community testing it is impossible to make that claim.

Statements in support of people going to work are contradictory in the extreme.

People who go to work while a vulnerable person is at home are said to be protecting that person because they don’t have to leave the house – but then if the worker catches Covid-19 their housemate is likely to die of it.

So a person going out to work must put a vulnerable person in their household at higher risk!

Going to work is justified because it would keep the economy moving – and said to be equivalent in risk to staying at home or shopping, again on the grounds that we are all doomed to get the virus.

“It’s perfectly okay to carry on in your business” is the claim – made only, it seems, to support the economy rather than to support workers’ safety.

In other words, it seems to be Tory policy for people to put themselves at risk of contracting Covid-19, in order to keep money flowing into the hands of the already-rich. If true: despicable.

Source: COVID-19 SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Leaked Home Office Call Reveals Government wants Economy to ‘Continue Running’ as ‘We Will All Get’ COVID-19 Anyway – Byline Times

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Suspend benefit cap to protect disabled people in coronavirus crisis? It’ll never happen under Tories!

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants.

It’s a good, solid, practical suggestion: with disabled people most at risk of financial loss during the coronavirus crisis, the government should suspend the penalties it has imposed on them in the last 10 years.

These include the benefit cap and the “two-child policy” for benefits relating to children.

Also suggested by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is conversion of the Universal Credit advance loan into a non-repayable grant.

In fact, the DBC requests the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC.

And the organisation calls on the government to suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits.

Other proposals include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital and non-digital claim for UC. This is practical as the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with claims after the coronavirus lockdown began.

And there is absolutely no hope that the government will grant – or even seriously consider – any of these requests.

The Tories have turned the benefit system into a very efficient device with which to persecute people with disabilities.

They seem to see the coronavirus as a handy aid to this cause, with hospitals already being told to ration ventilators to those with a better chance of surviving – which is prejudicial against the disabled.

In fact it would be easy to see the crisis as providing the Tories with an opportunity simply to continue their hate campaign by other means.

When the final figures are summed up, it will be interesting to see what proportion of the dead happen to be disabled.

Source: Coronavirus: Suspend the benefit cap during crisis to protect disabled people, charities ask – Mirror Online

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Tories use coronavirus to put barrier between patients and NHS care

Future predicted: The 1980s drama Max Headroom featured a TV doctor who examined patients by video link. In the pilot we were treated to the sight of a patient dropping his trousers in readiness to show off his anal pustule. This seems to be the future that Matt Hancock is planning for the NHS – especially after he gave Amazon free access to all your medical information (I’m not sure if this is the patient from that show but it’s as close to that scene as I’m going! Note the “does not vote” label at the bottom).

The Conservatives have been trying to stop people actually going to see a doctor for years and now they’re using coronavirus to force it on us.

They want us to hold all our appointments by telephone or over the internet.

What an absolutely moronic idea. Only an imbecile would suggest that it was an improvement.

Matt Hancock said a current “digital-first” rollout will be extended across the country wherever “clinically and practically possible”.

He told MPs: “We’re taking steps of course to improve access by making sure people can access primary care in the best possible way.”

Draw your own conclusions about Mr Hancock!

This Writer is reminded of the pilot of Max Headroom (the SF drama, not the comedy video-jockey show) in which people use home video cameras to show their symptoms to a TV doctor.

In the show we’re treated to the sight of a man starting to drop his trousers in order to show the world his “anal pustule”. Charming.

But we live in a country that has aired Embarrassing Bodies, so one imagines that this is the sort of thing that has emboldened Mr Hancock.

As far as I’m concerned, we might as well look up our symptoms on Google. The result will be about as reliable.

In other words, I reckon this policy is a plan for preventable deaths (only affecting poor people, of course) and possibly even for the eruption of another epidemic; remote GPs aren’t going to recognise all the symptoms in the course of a brief call.

And how much are these calls going to cost the patient? The NHS is supposed to be free at the point of use!

Ultimately, we can see this as a transparent attempt to push the NHS closer to privatisation.

It will only take a few tragedies for the Tories to claim that the public health system isn’t working and commercial interests could carry out the duty much more responsibly (even though that has proved not to be the case in every single privatisation ever carried out by a Tory government).

Contemptible.

Source: Coronavirus: GP appointments to be held digitally where possible ‘with immediate effect’ – Mirror Online

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DWP lies are proved AGAIN as ‘deflection script’ allegations are proved correct

This has been a week in which allegations made by news organisations have been proved accurate in spite of claims that they weren’t – but this time it isn’t Vox Political being vindicated but Sky News.

This Site followed up a report by the Murdoch organisation in October, in which former Grimsby DWP call centre manager Bayard Tarplay claimed employees had been told to use a “deflection script” to shift benefit claimants from the phone to an online service, whether they were capable of using the computer-based system or not.

At the time, the Department for Work and Pensions has said claims of a “deflection script” were “completely false” but added that when handling a query, call agents may use “aides” to help effectively process cases, including directing claimants online in relation to their claim.

It seems clear that this was a lie, with Sky‘s claim that it has now obtained a copy of the “deflection script” from Labour MP Danielle Rowley.

According to the new report, “Five call centres took place in a two-week pilot last year – including in Blackpool, Canterbury, Middlesbrough, Belfast and Bristol. A call centre hub in Grimsby, where Mr Tarpley worked as a case manager, used the deflection scripts for a longer period of time.

“Managers listened in on calls between handlers and claimants to see if the scripts were effective in ‘encouraging claimants to use their online account’.

“The document adds: ‘Encourage staff to ask what the claimant is calling for at the beginning of the call rather than moving straight to security questions this may open up the opportunity to deflect the caller online.'”

Amazingly, the DWP is sticking to its li(n)e that the “deflection script” does not exist – despite the fact that it has now been produced: “There has never been a policy to hurry callers off the phone and accusations that this is the case are completely false. Call handlers are encouraged to spend as much time as necessary on the phone and remind claimants that they are able to complete certain activities online where appropriate.”

Perhaps it’s time someone challenged Amber Rudd over this. You never know – she might resign again.

Somebody at Loose Women is a genius. Here’s the reason

Think about it:

Pertinent question: Piers Morgan.

For information, from Wikipedia:

During Morgan’s tenure as editor, the Daily Mirror was advised by Steven Nott that voicemail interception was possible by means of a standard PIN code. Despite staff initially expressing enthusiasm for the story it did not appear in the paper, although it did subsequently feature in a South Wales Argus article and on BBC Radio 5 Live in October 1999. On 18 July 2011 Nott was visited by officers of Operation Weeting.[97]

He came under criticism for his “boasting” about phone hacking from Conservative MP Louise Mensch, who has since apologised for these accusations.[98]

In July 2011, in a sequence of articles, the political blogger Paul Staines alleged that while editor of the Daily Mirror in 2002 Morgan published a story concerning the affair of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ulrika Jonsson while knowing it to have been obtained by phone hacking.[99]

On 20 December 2011, Morgan was a witness by satellite link from the United States at the Leveson Inquiry.[100] While he said he had no reason to believe that phone hacking had occurred at the Mirror while he was in charge there, he admitted to hearing a recording of an answerphone message left by Paul McCartney for Heather Mills, but refused to “discuss where that tape was played or who made [it] – it would compromise a source.”[100] Appearing as a witness at the same Inquiry on 9 February 2012, Mills was asked under oath if she had ever made a recording of Paul McCartney’s phone call or had played it to Piers Morgan; she replied: “Never”.[101][102] She said that she had never authorised Morgan, or anybody, to access or listen to her voicemails.[101] Mills told the inquiry that Morgan, “a man that has written nothing but awful things about me for years”, would have relished telling the inquiry if she had played a personal voicemail message to him.[102]

On 23 May 2012, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman was a witness at the Leveson Inquiry. He recalled a lunch with the Mirror editor in September 2002 at which Morgan outlined the means of hacking into a mobile phone.[103]

On 28 November 2012, the Channel 4 documentary Taking on the Tabloids, fronted by actor and phone hacking victim Hugh Grant, showed footage from a 2003 interview with Morgan by the singer and phone hacking victim Charlotte Church, during which he explained to her how to avoid answerphone messages being listened to by journalists. He said: “You can access … voicemails by typing in a number. Now, are you really telling me that journalists aren’t going to do that?”[104][105]

On 29 November 2012, the official findings of the Leveson Inquiry were released, in which Lord Justice Leveson said that Morgan’s testimony under oath on phone hacking was “utterly unpersuasive”. He stated: “[The] evidence does not establish that [Morgan] authorised the hacking of voicemails or that journalists employed by TMG [Trinity Mirror Group] were indulging in this practice … What it does, however, clearly prove is that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it.”[3][106]

On 6 December 2013, Morgan was interviewed, under caution, by police officers from Operation Weeting investigating phone hacking allegations at Mirror Group Newspapers during his tenure as editor.[107]

On 24 September 2014, the Trinity Mirror publishing group admitted for the first time that some of its journalists had been involved in phone hacking and agreed to pay compensation to four people who sued for the alleged hacking of voicemails.[108][109] Six other phone-hacking claims had already been settled. The BBC reported that it had seen legal papers showing that although the alleged hacking could have taken place as early as 1998, the bulk of the alleged wrongdoing took place in the early 2000s when Morgan was the Daily Mirroreditor.[110] The admissions by Trinity Mirror came whilst the London Metropolitan Police investigation into the phone hacking allegations was ongoing. Morgan has always denied any involvement in the practice.[110]


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Theresa May and the 55p-per-minute miscalculation


The biggest cock-up committed by Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday has to have been over Universal Credit – and the cost of phoning in a claim.

First, let’s have a quick summary of the problem, courtesy of the Labour Party:

Mrs May doesn’t see it that way, of course – and defended the benefit when Jeremy Corbyn challenged her about it.

So Mr Corbyn made the following point:

See, to Mrs May and her fellow Tories, 55p per minute is hardly worth considering. But £5.50 for a 10-minute call is a fortune if you’re unemployed and need to claim a benefit.

Tories avoid thinking about these things because they show up the flaws in Conservative thinking.

The rest of us don’t avoid thinking about these things, and Mrs May’s stuttered response (always a sign that they’re lying or don’t have anything good to say) provided plenty of opportunity for criticism:

The situation was worsened – if that’s possible – by Tory minister for Cheese, Liz Truss, who was sent to the BBC’s Daily Politics and The World at One programmes to justify her boss’s gaffe:

https://twitter.com/Barkercartoons/status/918143047174586368

Yes it was. You can see the moment she realised she was in trouble – her face drops around 40 seconds into the clip.

But she went on to make matters worse:

There was only one conclusion to reach, and here it is:

And here’s the clincher – it was left to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg (possibly after a phone call from her friends in the Tory government) to point out that people can ask the DWP to call them back:

Knowing the DWP, though, is there any guarantee that the call would be returned?


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Hour of the dodgy headline: ‘Kitten-gate’ purrs on

abuse

Juxtaposition is a terrible thing if you’re a newspaper sub-editor – as the front page of this week’s Powys County Times demonstrates.

In the week when David Cameron was pilloried for saying the Queen “purred down the line” at him when he told her Scotland had rejected independence, the County Times ran a photograph of him (relating to another story) over the headline: “‘Sickening and vile abuse’ over phone”.

Oops!

What’s even worse is the lead paragraph of the story itself: “A woman was subjected to a vile campaign of sickening and anonymous abuse from a man she had considered a friend.”

Juxtaposition – putting one story next to another in a way that means it is possible to associate an image from one with a headline from another – is a terrible, and often unintentionally hilarious thing. Reporters (and editors) are warned to beware of it because of the possibility of libel litigation and it behooves Vox Political to point out that no disrespect is intended to the real victim of the abuse detailed in the actual story.

purred

Open mouth, insert foot: How Vox Political reported Cameron’s faux pas (or perhaps that should be faux paw).

Cameron himself is being made to apologise for his gaff, to Her Majesty.

While he’s at it, he should use the opportunity to apologise for the last four and a half years of his misrule.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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