Tag Archives: pilot

Welsh Secretary is whining because he read about UBI experiment online. But is that it, really?

Why so sad, Simon? The Tory Secretary of State for Wales is upset that Universal Basic Income might be tried out in Wales. What if – God forbid – it’s a success?

Simon Hart has made a big mistake, shouting about the Welsh Government’s Universal Basic Income experiment too soon.

He’s all upset because Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced that the Welsh Government will run a pilot scheme.

He reckons Drakeford jumped the gun by announcing it in a story he read online (this one?*) before talking to the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions, which runs state benefits.

In fact, it seems to This Writer, Hart is the one who’s jumping the gun.

Drakeford, a long-term supporter of UBI, realised before this year’s local elections that he could end up leading an Assembly in which a significant number of members also support it.

In the event, counting himself, 26 of the 60-strong Welsh Assembly want UBI trials.

So he has begun research into that possibility. It clearly hasn’t gone very far because when I ran the story he was seeking expressions of interest from unitary authorities and now he’s talking about giving it to people leaving care.

It is far too early to be talking with the Treasury, DWP or any other official organisations about this because it might not come to anything, despite the good intentions of all concerned.

But being premature isn’t the big mistake I think Simon Hart has made.

His big mistake was showing how much he hates the idea of UBI:

Mr Hart said he agreed with previous comments made by the Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething in 2018 – when he was health minister – that the idea was “out of touch”.

The UK government, which controls benefits, has said it did not think it would be an incentive to work.

The problem, for Tories, is that in many cases the only incentive to work at the moment is the avoidance of extreme poverty and the threat of death due to benefit deprivation according to – guess what? – Tory rules.

Universal Basic Income scheme would take away that threat, but would still leave people living at subsistence level.

The difference is that, rather than forcing the worst possible pay and conditions on possible employees and saying, “take it or leave it,” employers would have to start offering genuine incentives for people to take their jobs.

That is anathema to Tories. It means they and their business-oriented friends would end up taking a smaller cut of their firms’ profits, because employees would be able to demand what they’re actually worth.

That’s what Simon Hart revealed to us: he isn’t opposed to UBI because it’s “out of touch” or because of any inter-governmental lack of manners; he hates it because it offers dignity to working people.

And to those without jobs, come to think of it.

*I doubt it, although the tweet that I used came from a source that was new to me. Why can’t the BBC credit social/online media sources that published stories first? Is it some weird neurosis – worry that someone else is doing better news reporting?

Source: Universal basic income: UK government ‘not told’ about Welsh plans – BBC News

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One rule for them: Gove ‘pinged’ by Covid track&trace – but won’t have to self-isolate

Michael Gove: he didn’t have to self-isolate after coming into contact with Covid while watching Chelsea in the Champions League final – because he is an over-privileged Tory politician and considers himself to be above the rules that apply to the rest of us.

Once again, a Tory government minister is being allowed to ignore the rules that apply to the rest of us – because he can.

Michael Gove went to Portugal to watch the final of the Champions League – itself a thing that only people with a certain amount of money and the privilege that goes with it can do.

While he was there, he came into contact with someone who has (or at least had) Covid-19 – and was alerted to the fact by the Covid “track and trace” app on his mobile phone.

But not for him the inconvenience of having to self-isolate for weeks at a time! Oh no! He’s far too entitled for that!

Instead, he is taking part in a “pilot scheme” that nobody has ever heard of before now, in which he will instead undergo daily Covid tests.

Presumably he will still be in contact with his government and Cabinet colleagues – potentially exposing them to whichever variant of the virus he may have caught as well.

I’m partly inclined to say, good luck to the lot of them and they’ll only have themselves to blame if they all end up with the Delta variant (or whichever version is in vogue at the moment).

But he’ll probably get off scot free; it will be a false alarm and some Tory head-wagger will lecture us about what a wonderful step forward this “pilot scheme” is – for privilege people like him.

Richard Madeley put his finger on the heart of this matter when he asked that corrupt Tory liar Robert Jenrick about the incident on Good Morning Britain:

“One rule for you and one for us” indeed. And you’ll have noticed that Jenrick sees nothing wrong with that at all.

Source: Covid: Michael Gove alerted by NHS Test and Trace after Champions League trip – BBC News

Universal Basic Income pilot scheme to be launched in Wales. May I suggest Powys?

Money: a Universal Basic Income scheme guarantees that people receive enough money to support them, at all times. Some claim that this discourages them from working, but this is nonsense. Everyone wants more than the bare minimum, right? Or is the problem that employers only offer the bare minimum?

This is great news.

The Labour-run Welsh government was softly suggesting that it might support a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot scheme before the local elections.

But the election result has put 25 AMs in Cardiff Bay who signed a pledge promising to put pressure on governments and councils to launch trials.

That seems to have been enough to encourage Mark Drakeford to green-light projects in Wales, to be organised by new Social Justice minister Jane Hutt:

This Writer has had contact with Jane Hutt. I asked her for advice on a matter involving an acquaintance of mine and she took the time to provide a very full and helpful response. I think she is an effective and responsible public servant and that this project is in good hands with her.

The Guardian‘s article suggests that Rhondda Cynon Taff is among several Welsh councils that have expressed an interest in running a UBI pilot. I hope that my own home county – Powys – has also done so.

Powys is the biggest and most rural county in Wales, with many employment problems associated with having a sparse population. UBI could hugely help people here by removing the threat of sanction associated with the current benefit system and allowing people to concentrate on tackling local issues in a creative and adaptive way.

And it would be a real feather in Mr Drakeford’s cap to be able to say he’d managed to make UBI work across an entire quarter of Wales.

Source: Wales to launch pilot universal basic income scheme | Universal basic income | The Guardian

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General election 2019: Labour pledges to pilot Universal Basic Income

 

A Labour government may pilot a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme, possibly to replace the current benefit system, it has been claimed.

In an interview with The Independent, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he intended to include a pilot UBI scheme in Labour’s manifesto – adding that the it would be even more radical than the document that turned around the party’s fortunes in the 2017 election.

Mr McDonnell, a long-term supporter of UBI, said he was looking at including “at least one pilot” in Labour’s blueprint for government:

The concept generally involves overhauling the welfare state by scrapping means-tested benefits and replacing them with weekly or monthly payments to all citizens.

Pressed on whether it was going to be in Labour’s new manifesto [Mr McDonnell] replied: “… Sheffield have really made a big pitch for the UBI, a pilot, but there are a few other places as well. They are the ones really that are willing to look at how they can tackle poverty.”

A report presented to Mr McDonnell earlier this year by Professor Guy Standing, an economic adviser to the shadow Treasury team, highlighted various models a government could use in a pilot scheme of basic income. One included providing every adult in a selected community with £100, and a further £50 for each child per week. Additional benefits would be put in place for those with disabilities.

This could restore hope to the UK’s millions of benefit claimants.

Universal Credit has been nothing but an expensive disaster from the moment Iain Duncan Smith announced it, plunging people who have been forced to claim the new benefit into debt and despair.

Meanwhile, Tory policies on the administration of legacy benefits including – and especially – disability benefits like Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment have been deemed to have caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.

We don’t know how many people have died while trying to claim benefits under the Tory system because the Tories have refused to provide honest answers to our questions.

UBI would change all that.

Instead of being forced to go through the humiliation of a prejudicial benefit assessment system, people would automatically receive a payment to support their living costs.

Those with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities would get appropriate supplements.

And that’s it. No fuss, no humiliation, and hopefully no more despair, destitution and death.

The Conservative Party, which thrives on causing misery, will hate it.

But anybody who has had to endure the current system would be well-advised to vote Labour and bring it in.

Source: General election: McDonnell vows to present Labour’s most ‘radical’ manifesto with universal basic income pilot | The Independent

Psychiatrists try to defend failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ Universal Credit project

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has tried to explain its reasons for failing to object to a pilot project in Cornwall in which Job Centre advisors – with no training – decide whether claimants need mental health care.

This Site reported on the project in August:

The department… is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

The Tory government’s press release stated: “The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

I responded:

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The press release said: “The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.”

I responded:

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

Disability News Service is now reporting that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has responded to this insult against its practitioners – after being nudged to do so by no fewer than five disability groups.

RCP states, according to the article, that:

RCP’s social inclusion lead has “continued to raise concerns and provide expert advice about the impact of welfare reform on people with mental illness and those with learning disabilities”.

[It says] it is “clear that anyone undertaking a mental health assessment needs to be sufficiently qualified to do so and, as part of the assessment, should engage with clinicians involved in providing care to the person concerned”.

[It also says] RCP believes that a jobcentre would not be “a suitable therapeutic environment to assess and discuss an individual’s mental health”.

[It adds:] “Having to do so would likely increase the stress and pressure on people with a mental illness when seeking support, and the possibility of them seeing the receipt of benefits as being conditional on them agreeing to mental health treatment.

“In addition, there is a risk that being referred to the wrong type of treatment may reduce the likelihood of seeking help in the future, make their illness worse and increase the likelihood of experiencing a future crisis.”

The disability groups are not happy with this response – and rightly so.

Why the delay in responding? Were these psychiatrists hoping the issue would go away?

Is the RCP going to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions about its concerns? Or were its comments just a sop to the disabled people’s representatives?

And what about the people of Cornwall?

What have they experienced while the RCP stood by in silence?

Source: Dismay over psychiatrists’ failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ universal credit project – Disability News Service

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London NHS patients to have essential care rationed under new Tory plan to save cash

Not for sale: That’s unless you live in North West London, it seems.

More than two million Londoners are set to have their NHS services rationed in a scheme to save cash that may do little for their health.

The Tories are using North West London as a testing ground for the scheme that will deprive patients of essential NHS services in order to save £60 million.

That’s right – unlike previous schemes that targeted elective treatments, this round of cuts will take away services that patients need.

I recall reporting on the rationing of hip operations in 2017. At the time I stated that I foresaw huge extra costs: “Either you spend a fortune having your hip operation done by a private company, or you cost the NHS a fortune in unnecessary further costs from delayed treatment and pain management.”

I think many Londoners may be induced into forking out to have their care provided by a private company – and/or having to rely on the NHS for help to manage complications caused by the rationing.

The programme of cuts was announced on the same day Boris Johnson reinforced a commitment to NHS spending. But then, what are his promises worth?

Apparently the NHS in that part of London has racked up debts of more than £120 million. I wonder how much of that has been caused by spending on unnecessary profit-driven health “care” companies?

Services to be hit include:

 Patients currently receiving treatment from more than one consultant may no longer be able to access treatment from both or all of the specialists.

 “Repatriation” of some acute treatment from various specialist hospitals to local ones.

 New scrutiny – described as “demand management” – of GPs who refer patients for acute treatment, with GPs being asked to look at “alternative ways” of dealing with patients’ needs.

 Reduction in intravenous feeds through “better prescribing”.

According to The Guardian,

North-west London has previously been the testing ground for major NHS blueprints across the country, such as Shaping A Healthier Future, a failed hospital closure programme which wasted £76m on management consultants alone.

Health campaigners fear that the cuts to essential NHS acute services contained in the list could be rolled out nationwide to deal with budget shortfalls.

I wonder how the Tories plan to hide the adverse effect of their changes on NHS patients?

Will they pretend the problems they create have “many causes”, as they do with the deaths of benefit claimants?

Source: London GPs told to restrict specialist referrals under new NHS ‘rationing’ plan | Society | The Guardian

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Police state Britain: Failed facial recognition pilot leads to fine for disorderly conduct. WTF?

Surveillance: This is an unmarked police facial recognition van. If you passed it in the street, would you realise police officers were taking photographs of you in order to match your face with that of a known offender?

Would you want the police to be allowed to scan your face as you walk down the street, minding your own business?

I would not. These authorities are famously irresponsible.

Remember when people started finding out that they had criminal records falsely attributed to them? These crimes turned up when prospective employers carried out background checks and led to innocent people losing jobs for no good reason.

Or how about the DNA database scandal? Genetic material belonging to millions of innocent UK citizens was being kept by the police, and some of it was used in genetic research, without permission. This is an ongoing issue.

Now the police are testing out facial recognition software as a way of tracking down criminals – by taking photographs of innocent people as they walk down the street.

This has proved to be a disaster; instead of catching people who have already committed crimes, it has provoked angry altercations leading to the application of a fine against at least one man for disorderly behaviour.

The incident was recorded and broadcast on the BBC’s Politics Live:

I commented on it at the time the programme went out:

And don’t be convinced by the spokesman’s claim that the trial is intended to ensure that police can protect human rights and safeguard the public at the same time:

Facial recognition scans have wrongly identified members of the public as potentially being criminals in no less than 96 per cent of scans in London so far.

That’s according to figures compiled on eight trials in London between 2016 and 2018. Here‘s The Independent:

“Eight trials carried [out] in London between 2016 and 2018 resulted in a 96 per cent rate of ‘false positives’ – where software wrongly alerts police that a person passing through the scanning area matches a photo on the database.

“Two deployments outside [a] shopping centre in Stratford last year saw a 100 per cent failure rate and monitors said a 14-year-old black schoolboy was fingerprinted after being misidentified.

“Police allegedly stopped people for covering their faces or wearing hoods, and one man was fined for a public order offence after refusing to be scanned in Romford.

“Scotland Yard called the trials ‘overt’ but The Independent found shoppers unaware facial recognition was being used, and campaigners accused police of rolling out the technology ‘by stealth’.”

Despite the obvious failure of this technology, the police are determined to hold on to it – and so is your Conservative government, which is always looking for ways to keep the proles down.

Going back to the Independent article, we have a statement from policing minister Nick Hurd, who said facial recognition has “real opportunities”.

There’s more: “We are not a surveillance state and have no intention of becoming one,” Mr Hurd added. “That means that we must use new technologies in ways that are sensitive to their impact on privacy, and ensure that their use is proportionate.”

Fail. It’s not sensitive to privacy and its use isn’t proportionate. But the Tories – and the police – won’t withdraw it, so we can only conclude that we do – indeed – live in a police surveillance state.

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Now the Tories are trying to cover up the cost of stopping us from voting

The Conservative government is withholding the facts about the cost of its pointless “voter ID” checks.

The scheme puts barriers in the way to prevent ordinary people from voting – at huge cost to the public purse.

A pilot during the local government elections this year cost £1.7 million and resulted in an alleged 350 people being turned away from polling stations in five constituencies.

The result was entirely disproportionate to the problem. There were only 21 cases of alleged in-person voter fraud in 2014, 44 in 2016, and 28 in 2017 – 0.000063% per vote cast.

It gave rise to criticisms that the Conservatives are trying to disenfranchise huge numbers of voters – who are demographically more likely to support the Labour Party.

Now the Tories are withholding details of the cost of another pilot “voter ID” check, due to take place next year.

These Conservatives are constantly telling us there is no money for vital services, but they are happy to spray public cash up the wall when it suits them.

Remember the water cannons that Boris Johnson bought for £322,000 while he was Mayor of London? They have been sold for just £11,025 – for scrap – after never having been used.

Of particular note to those who think the Tories are the party of financial responsibility is the cost of fitting CD players – £1,000 per water cannon.

And we know that the Conservatives offered £1 billion of our money to the DUP, just to support them in Parliament, with a further £1 billion included in this year’s Budget. Of course, they only handed over a little more than £400 million of it, but think what a difference that could have made to people struggling to make ends meet on pared-to-the-bone benefits that no longer cover the necessities of life.

Now they think they can spend our own money on schemes to stop those of us who support Labour from doing so at a polling station.

The sooner they lose the “no confidence” vote that seems certain to happen in the next few weeks – and all their silly spending splurges are scrapped – the better.

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Voter ID pilot turned away too many people. Tories are bound to roll it out across the UK

It’s ridiculous – after 28 cases of possible voter fraud among 45 million votes in 2017, the Tory government turned away 3,981 people on Thursday, claiming they didn’t have the right identification.

People were turned away in more than one in five polling stations across Bromley, Woking, Gosport, Watford and Swindon, where the pilot was carried out.

The question now is, what will the Conservative government do with this information?

As a test of a system intended to ensure that everybody with a right to vote was allowed to vote, the trial was an utter, unmitigated disaster.

But some of us suspect that the Tories have an ulterior motive – to use a demand for forms of ID that many people don’t have as a way of cutting down the vote for other parties.

So Cat Smith, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, was right to say: “There was absolutely no case for introducing voter ID in the first place but after [Thursday’s] fiasco, it is impossible for the Government to justify rolling it out.

“After completely ignoring a number of serious warning signs, the Government decided to pilot discriminatory measures which denied people their right to vote.

“We cannot allow the Conservative Party to undermine our democracy, which is why Labour is calling on the Government to scrap their voter ID plans as a matter of urgency.”

If the Conservatives go ahead with this, based on the evidence we’ve seen, we’ll know they are trying to nobble democracy.

Over to you, Tories.


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Revealed: Labour did NOT pilot the Bedroom Tax

141230SNPbedroomtaxlie

The ‘infographic’ above is very popular among Scottish nationalists at the moment. In line with the wishes of the Scottish National Party (SNP), they are working hard to smear or discredit the Labour Party in order to undermine its support north of the border. There’s just one problem.

The claim is untrue.

The facts were revealed by a Labour councillor, Paul Bull, on Twitter today (December 30) after Yr Obdt Srvt spent yesterday evening arguing the matter with some particularly avid nationalists.

“I too was concerned by Malcolm Wicks’ comments in Hansard that seemed to suggest [a] Bedroom Tax pilot,” he tweeted. “So troubled that I decided to research what form that Bedroom Tax pilot took. That research … has even gone as far as the House of Commons Library.”

Then he wrote:

141230bedroomtaxfact

So this was a scheme that was announced by a Labour minister, certainly – but the Labour government of 2001 did not go through with it.

So much for the nationalists’ claims. “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive”, as someone once said. Or, more appropriately (perhaps), “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”.

Cllr Bull continued: “However, back then Labour did do something to encourage social tenants to downsize, where many local authorities offered cash incentives to encourage [it], and this scheme was available to ALL social housing tenants, so not just those on Housing Benefit.”

He provided information on Exeter City Council’s schemes, which are available to read here and here. The second link is to a PDF file which may not open in some browsers.

He concludes: “Elements of [the] Exeter Council scheme [are] still in place but incentives are not so generous. But Exeter Council now employ a Downsizing Officer to assist social housing tenants who do want to move.”

The reality, it seems, is a long way away from the harsh brutality of the Coalition’s Bedroom Tax, with which the SNP and its supporters hoped to tar the Labour Party.

Next time anyone tries to tell you Labour had anything to do with the Bedroom Tax, point them to this article.

How can people trust the SNP when it launches lying smear campaigns like this?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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