Tag Archives: postcode lottery

Universal Credit is another Tory postcode lottery making poorer people even worse-off

Thanks should go to the Resolution Foundation for exposing the Tory government again.

Universal Credit is a poor excuse for a benefit, in comparison to its forerunners.

On average, it might make 39 per cent of people better-off – but 46 per cent lose out. How is that helping?

And Resolution Foundation research has shown that it favours people living in more affluent areas, where working families pay higher rents.

Single parents, out-of-work single people and disabled people (of course) all fare badly under the new system.

So places like Liverpool, which has a relatively high proportion of all three kinds of people, also fare badly.

In Liverpool, only 32 per cent of families are seeing an increase in benefit payments; a massive 52 per cent are worse-off.

Is it a coincidence that Liverpool is also a strongly Labour-supporting area?

Source: Universal Credit’s regional divide exposed as 52% of Liverpool families worse off – Mirror Online

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Are PIP assessments being botched because they are being rushed by government contractors?

[With apologies to Matt Groening.]

Both Atos and its employer the Department for Work and Pensions say there is no pressure on employees to carry out Personal Independence Payment assessments quickly.

But the average time taken on assessments, which varies widely across the whole of the UK, not just in the southeast of England (the example below), suggests a ‘postcode lottery’ in which a claimant’s chance of getting a good assessment depends on where they live.

We know that large numbers of these assessments are flawed – consider this court case in which Atos had to pay £5,000 after botching one, or this one in which Capita (which also carries out PIP assessments) had to pay out £10,000 for maladministration in a case involving a death.

Until botched results that may lead to the early deaths of claimants are eliminated, it ill-fits Atos, Capita or the DWP to make light of the issue.

The amount of time that nurses and physiotherapists spend carrying out face-to-face disability benefit assessments can vary hugely, depending on where the test takes place, according to analysis of new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures.

The figures show that the average time spent on face-to-face PIP assessments in one part of the south-east of England in August 2018 was just 43.5 minutes.

In the same month, the average time spent on face-to-face assessments in another part of the south-east region was 62.6 minutes, more than 40 per cent higher.

And Atos insisted yesterday (Wednesday) that there was “no pressure on staff to complete assessments quickly” and that any variation shown in the figures was not “untoward”.

Data released through a parliamentary question later revealed that the proportion of assessment reports completed by Atos that were found to be significantly flawed reached more than 36 per cent last year.

Source: New figures raise fresh questions over Atos PIP assessments – Disability News Service

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‘Get a grip’, Corbyn tells May as her social care con-trick crashes

[Image: The Labour Party.]

Jeremy Corbyn has won one of his strongest victories over Theresa May in the last Prime Minister’s Questions of 2016 – on the battleground of social care.

Mrs May had lost an exchange on social care only a few weeks ago on November 23, so we would have been within our rights to expect a better showing this time. But she had nothing but the same lame answers, along with proof that she had not done her homework since last time.

Mr Corbyn said:

Social care is crucial. It provides support for people to live with dignity, yet Age UK research has found that 1.2 million older people are currently not receiving the care they need. Will the Prime Minister accept that there is a crisis in social care?

No, she didn’t – Mrs May is a Conservative; social care is not her forte.

So she produced the first of the lame answers we had previously heard – that the Conservative Government is investing in social care through the Better Care Fund.

The Better Care Fund is a pooled budget, initially £5.3 billion, announced in the June 2013 Spending Round and intended to save £1 billion by keeping patients out of hospital. As This Blog pointed out on November 23, the number of patients who could not be transferred from hospital due to inadequate social care has increased by one-third in the last four years, so it is clear that the Better Care Fund has failed.

The next lame answer was her mention of the Social Care Precept. This allows local authorities to increase council tax by up to two per cent in order to fund adult social care, meaning that this service has now become a postcode lottery.

Oh, and the Social Care Precept was announced at the same time the Conservative Government said the local government central grant is to be cut by more than half, from £11.5bn in 2015/16 to £5.4bn in 2019/20, a drop of 56 per cent. Meanwhile, councils were expected to increase self-financed expenditure (from revenue and business rates) by 13.1 per cent over the same period, making council services another postcode lottery.

Her comment about delivery, “The integration of health and social care across the country”, is of course an attempt to steal Labour’s thunder, as Labour has been promising an integrated health and social care system for several years but has yet to return to government and carry it out.

Mr Corbyn quoted more research:

The Care Quality Commission warned as recently as October that evidence suggests we have approached a tipping point. Instead of passing the buck on to local government, should not the Government take responsibility for the crisis themselves? Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to inform the House exactly how much was cut from the social care budget in the last Parliament?

No – she tried to claim the Tories “have been putting more money into social care and health”, and then a lot of flannel: “It is about delivery; it is about reform; it is about the social care system working with the health system” – so it is about stealing a Labour policy and ruining it, then.

Mr Corbyn simply came back with another fact – the one that proved Mrs May had not done her homework:

The Prime Minister does not seem to be aware that £4.6 billion was cut from the social care budget in the last Parliament.

His next comment referred to the Social Care Precept, although this could have been more clearly-presented:

Her talk about putting this on to local government ought to be taken for what it is—a con. Two per cent of council tax is clearly a nonsense; 95% of councils used the social care precept, and it raised less than 3% of the money they planned to spend on adult social care.

And he reiterated a point he made on November 23:

Billions seem to be available for tax give-aways to corporations—not mentioned in the autumn statement—and underfunding has left many elderly people isolated and in crisis because of the lack of Government funding for social care.

Mrs May tried to counter by claiming – evidenceless – that Labour-run councils could have benefited hugely by using the Social Care Precept.

This played right into Mr Corbyn’s hands, giving him a chance to emphasize the “postcode lottery” aspect of this Tory policy:

Raising council tax has different outcomes in different parts of the country. If you raise the council tax precept in Windsor and Maidenhead, you get quite a lot of money. If you raise the council tax precept in Liverpool or Newcastle, you get a lot less. Is the Prime Minister saying that frail, elderly, vulnerable people in our big cities are less valuable than those in wealthier parts of the country?

Attempting to respond, Mrs May suggested that Newcastle City Council had no problem because it saw “virtually no delayed discharges in September”. That’s nice – what about July, August, October? She then said councils like Ealing, that are not using the Social Care Precept, were performing badly (but did not provide evidence).

The claim had to be that the extra money provided by the Social Care Precept made all the difference – but then Mrs May destroyed her own argument by saying “That is not about the difference in funding; it is about the difference in delivery.”

Oops!

It was time for the knockout. Mr Corbyn said-

Actually, you can watch him say it yourself.

Mrs May had nothing to say, other than to rehash a lame response – again from November 23 – claiming that Labour’s 13 years of government had produced no social care solution.

Mr Corbyn’s answer on that day was that health spending trebled under the last Labour government – and the levels of satisfaction with the National Health Service were at their highest ever in 2010. Mrs May didn’t have a response then and she didn’t have one today, either.

It was a performance with which the Labour leader ended a spectacular year with a bang – and from which the Conservative prime minister probably slunk away with a whimper.

Adding insult to injury, the chair of the Health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, undermined Mrs May even further when she asked her own question: “Is it not time that, rather than having confrontational dialogues about social care funding, all parties work together – across this House – to look for a sustainable long-term solution for the funding of both integrated health and social care?”

When you can persuade your enemy’s supporters to take your side, you have won a convincing victory indeed.

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Independent Living Fund is closed but disabled people vow to battle on

140427paulapetersILF

Despite all the protests over the last five years, the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closed yesterday (June 30).

The Conservative Government has claimed that disabled people will still be able to access funds to help them live independently, but these will be available from local councils now, rather than from central government.

They do not mention the fact that they have been cutting funding to local councils ever since they regained office as part of the Coalition Government in 2010, meaning that some may not have any money to give.

The Welsh Government has created a £20 million fund for disabled people west of the border, but what about the disabled of Newcastle – where welfare funds have been “plundered”, according to the BBC, to pay for other services?

The Tories have turned disability into a postcode lottery – as they have with the health service in England.

Disabled people have vowed to battle on – as this video from Kate Belgrave shows:

We can hope that nobody encounters serious suffering as a result of this change – but that hope may well be forlorn.

Vox Political readers are encouraged to notify This Blog of any news stories in your local area, covering the effects of the change – whether positive or adverse.

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When is Labour going to get its act together?

Harriet Harman: Temporary leader; totally inert?

Harriet Harman: Temporary leader; totally inert?

Here’s a short message for members of the Parliamentary Labour Party:

W A K E  U P!

The general election happened nearly three weeks ago. All the other political organisations are getting busy and you lot are all faffing around, staring up each other’s rear ends and mumbling about who you think will be the next leader and deputy leader.

And you know what really hurts? It’s when we see headlines like this:

Nicola Sturgeon attacks UK government’s spending cuts

and this:

Nicola Sturgeon: SNP will work across party lines to keep Human Rights Act

She’s stealing Labour’s thunder and you’re all so dim-witted that you’re letting it happen.

What’s the matter with you?

Don’t try telling me you can’t move forward until you’ve got the new leader because that’s not true. The Labour Party has particular values that it should always keep, no matter who’s in the driving seat (or asleep at the wheel, as is the case at the moment).

Look at this blog’s own article about Labour’s values. The message was that Labour should be the enabling party – offering the best possible choices for the largest possible proportion of the UK’s population. Anything less than that is a betrayal of the party’s ethos.

That’s why Liz Kendall should never be Labour leader, by the way – and why Chuka Umunna couldn’t. She wants private companies in the National Health Service, meaning she supports the postcode lottery that this creates. “Oh, so sorry, sir (or madam)! You want a service that is not provided in your part of the country! Have you considered moving somewhere hugely more expensive?”

That’s just ridiculous, isn’t it?

Look at the headlines quoted above: Sturgeon attacks spending cuts; Sturgeon will work across party lines to keep Human Rights Act.

The Tory spending cuts and the repeal of the Human Rights Act are completely unproblematic as far as the grassroots Labour Party is concerned: We’re against them both.

We want our Parliamentary party to broadcast that opposition loudly and continuously while these matters are up for debate and the vote.

Labour should have attacked Tory spending cuts first; Labour should have been appealing across party lines to maintain the Human Rights Act – that, incidentally, Labour passed into law.

So where are you?

Don’t tell me you’re scared Peter Mandelson or Alan Milburn will come out and berate you, because that’s pathetic. They’re yesterday’s men – more plastic Tories who caused many of the problems with Labour’s appeal today.

Look at all the plans in the Tory manifesto and the Queen’s Speech tomorrow. Labour should oppose most, if not all of them.

So where is the opposition?

Oh, I forgot.

It’s being voiced by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

That’s not good enough.

Labour must get its act together and it needs to happen now. Yesterday would be better.

And for those of you in the PLP who feel this blog is being unfair on Tory policies…

You do not represent Labour values; you are there under false pretences and you should sling your bleedin’ hook.

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Disabled Man Taking Health Secretary And NHS To Court Over Closures – Same Difference

130705hunt

Jeremy Hunt is facing an unprecedented High Court challenge over the potential closure of dozens of GP surgeries in inner-city areas, as the Government comes under increasing criticism for failing to bring down GP waiting times, according to the Same Difference blog.

The lawsuit, brought by a disabled Londoner whose surgery has warned patients it could close by April next year because of cuts to its government funding, claims that the NHS in England and the Health Secretary have acted unlawfully, by failing to take into account the impact of potential practice closures on deprived areas and on patients with disabilities.

You can read the rest of the article on Same Difference but one thing occurs to Yr Obdt Srvt, over here on Vox Political:

The Health and Social Care Act abolished the Health Secretary’s duty to provide a comprehensive service covering the whole of the country. If he gets out of this charge using that as an excuse, it will be an opportunity for campaigners to pinpoint the ‘postcode lottery’ aspect of the new Tory Private Health System in the run-up to next year’s General Election.

In other words, if he wins in the short term, let’s make sure he loses in the long run.

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Crimewave threat as police austerity means the innocent will suffer

Repression: Scenes like this could become commonplace in the UK as austerity forces police to stop investigating crime and people who try to protest are put down.

Repression: Scenes like this could become commonplace in the UK as austerity forces police to stop investigating crime and people who try to protest are put down.

How free do you feel today?

Whatever your answer, enjoy it while you can because new evidence has shown that funding cuts for the police are likely to result in public repression on a massive scale.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has revealed that austerity is crippling the police service across England and Wales, meaning crime victims are being told to do their own detective work.

According to the BBC, “criminal damage and car crime were ‘on the verge of being decriminalised’ because forces had ‘almost given up'”.

Roger Baker, the inspector who led the review, tried to justify the failure by saying: “It’s not the fault of the individual staff; it’s a mindset thing that’s crept in to policing to say ‘We’ve almost given up’.”

In fairness, the report does say: “HMIC finds this expectation by these forces that the victim should investigate his own crime both surprising and a matter of material concern.

“The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable.”

The report also found:

  • People received a different response from the police for the same kind of incident, depending on where they lived – so policing is now a postcode lottery.
  • Attendance rates at crime scenes varied from 39% in Warwickshire to 100% in Cleveland – postcode lottery again.
  • About a third of forces were failing to identify vulnerable and repeat victims – a gift to criminals.
  • There was “inadequate” use of technology by the police.
  • Some forces were losing track of named suspects because they did not have effective systems in place.

Enter ACPO, the sinister Home Office-funded Association of Chief Police Officers, to justify the withdrawal of law and order under the Coalition government’s austerity programme.

“The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers’ time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls,” said Sir Hugh Orde, ACPO’s president.

ACPO has already anticipated that the effects of austerity may give rise to widespread public protest – which is why it lobbied the government for permission to use water cannons on the streets of the UK.

Vox Political stated in January: “This would be of no use at all in quelling violent criminal activities like the riots in 2011 – the police chiefs have already admitted that water cannons would have been ineffective in halting the “fast, agile disorder” and “dynamic looting” that took place during August 2011.

“ACPO is an organisation that has tried to put ‘agent provocateurs’ into legitimate protest groups and promoted ‘kettling’ to stop peaceful protests (as used in the student protests early in the current Parliament), among many other reprehensible activities.

“Considering its track record, it seems clear that ACPO wants to use water cannons against legitimate political protests, on the assumption that the increasing imposition of ideologically-imposed austerity on the country by the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives will lead to more political protests, as people across the UK finally realise that the Tories and their corporate lobbyist friends are actually working against the wider population.

“ACPO’s report on water cannons makes it clear that “it would be fair to assume that the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest” and “the mere presence of water cannon can have a deterrent effect”.

“The Home Office response? ‘We are keen to ensure forces have the tools and powers they need to maintain order on our streets. We are currently providing advice to the police on the authorisation process as they build the case for the use of water cannon.’”

What we are seeing is – as mentioned in another VP article published today – when austerity is imposed on a service provided for everybody, that service degenerates.

In the case of policing, this means crimes go unpunished as our political leaders force constabularies to focus increasingly on keeping us under control.

We have already seen police officers checking bus tickets rather than investigating crime. Note that the VP article on this subject provoked a flurry of justificatory comments on our Facebook page, from readers who exhibited a concern that we should not let the evidence convince us that anything was amiss.

ACPO has stated that austerity – such as that which is preventing the police from investigating crime – is likely to stir up public protest.

And ACPO – which, let us remind ourselves, is Home Office-funded – has, in a clear conflict of interest, advised the Home Office to allow the use of water cannon on British streets to put down any such protests, whether they are justified or not. Has it been paid by the Home Office to tell the Home Office what the Home Office wants to hear?

Innocent people exercising their right to protest against injustice will be arrested – while criminals will remain free to vandalise their property and steal from their cars, possibly at the same time.

That’s Tory-run Britain for you: The criminals run amok while the innocent are imprisoned.

Now how free do you feel?

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