Tag Archives: Reform

Why is the Transport Secretary trying to force ‘reforms’ on unions that want better pay?

Mick Lynch: he’s frustrated because the rail companies and Network Rail say they don’t have the power to negotiate meaningfully with him over pay and safety conditions for RMT Union members.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper reckons rail unions need to accept “reforms” that would free up money for pay rises.

Why?

On the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show, he said: “It is the reforms that free up the savings that then unlock the ability for the companies to make an offer to the trade unions on pay.”

But that is to assume no more money could be brought in – and that is a political choice by the Tory government.

He also said: “I do not have a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money to throw at this problem.”

And he doesn’t, because taxpayers’ money doesn’t pay for any public services at all. Public money – created by the government – does. It’s time our politicians stopped trying to hoodwink us with this lazy lie.

The government can very easily create as much money as is needed to provide a “proper seven-day rail network” – also Harper’s words, and why doesn’t the UK have that network any more since privatisation anyway?

Taxation relieves inflationary pressures that may be created by investing money into public services – and may be used by progressive governments to re-balance the gap between the richest and the poorest citizens in the country, by taking money from those who can most easily bear it. Of course the UK’s Tory government is as far from progressive as one can get.

And Harper said any money saved through reforms would have to be split “fairly between the taxpayer and the people who work in the industry”. Why give savings back to taxpayers when so much needs to be done to improve the rail service? Is he looking for another tax cut for the rich?

The whole spiel strikes This Writer as self-serving claptrap.

If Harper really wanted to do some good, wouldn’t it be better for him to offer to give the private rail operators and Network Rail the mandate for meaningful negotiations with the RMT union that its general secretary, Mick Lynch, has been told they don’t have?

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Renters ‘Refund’ Bill: there has to be a catch. Can anybody see what it is?

Rent: are the Tories really going to reverse the hated changes imposed by Margaret Thatcher, that made tenants practically powerless to stop landlords walking all over them?

The instant This Writer saw that the Conservative government is planning to allow tenants to reclaim their rent from “dodgy” landlords, I questioned it.

There has to be a catch, right? This is the Tory Party – the party that puts landlords over tenants and would return us to Rackmanism and rack-renting at the flip of a coin.

Maybe Michael Gove is trying to make himself look good ahead of the now-inevitable Conservative leadership contest…

Whatever the reasons, I remain staggered to be able to relay to you a decent policy from the Conservative government:

Tenants will be given new powers to claim refunds on their rent from landlords if their homes fall below standard in the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector since the 1990s.

The Government published it’s long-awaited ‘Fairer Private Rented Sector’ White Paper with reforms which are set to be brought into law under the Renters Reform Bill.

If they become law, experts say the White Paper’s proposals will directly improve the lives of millions of people and become the most radical thing to happen to the private rented sector since Thatcher’s deregulation and the introduction of Buy to Let mortgages in the early 1990s.

Measures include:

Abolishing “no fault” Section 21 evictions: S.21 allows a landlord to evict their tenant with just two months’ notice without having to give them a reason. In recent years this sort of eviction has become a leading cause of homelessness and there have been reports of renters being evicted when they ask for basic repairs.

Overhauling tenancy agreements: The Government is proposing a shift from assured shorthold tenancy agreements (ASTs) that generally run for six or 12 months to open-ended tenancies.

No more rent hike clauses: The Government wants to end arbitrary rent review clauses which allow landlords to hike up rents without justifying them.

Improving basic standards of rented homes: According to the government, 21 per cent of private renters are living in “unfit” homes which means they are damp, mouldy and contain electrical hazards. The White paper proposes to make the Decent Homes standard law in the private rented sector, which means homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair, so renters have clean, appropriate and useable facilities. But how will cash-strapped local authorities enforce this?

New housing ombudsman to make landlords accountable: the aim is to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court, with powers to compel landlords to issue an apology, take remedial action, and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000 in the form of refunds on rent.

Ban on landlords refusing to rent to benefit claimants: Landlords are not supposed to discriminate against people receiving benefits (known as No DSS) or families but they do. The white paper promises to make it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to these people.

The right to keep pets: Private renters the right to have a pet and say that landlords cannot “unreasonably deny” them this.

The big irony of all these reforms is that landlords (or alleged landlords) like Philip Davies and Christopher Chope have filibustered (talked out) attempts at rent reform in Private Members’ Bills – but will probably support this.

Source: Renters Reform Bill: Tenants’ rent to be refunded by dodgy landlords as Michael Gove reverses Thatcher reforms

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Let’s not accuse Gove of Housing corruption prematurely

Michael Gove: he has taken a lot of money from property developers and now he is Housing Secretary. But we should not shout “corruption” until there is actual evidence of it.

This Site is all in favour of accusing Tory ministers of corruption when they do something wrong.

But we need to give them a chance to actually commit an offence before we start criticising them.

Michael Gove is a deeply dodgy character for many reasons – some of which have been discussed in detail on This Site.

And it is true that in the run-up to the announcement that he would become the new Housing Secretary in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle, he took £120,000 in donations from property developers. That amounts to 87 per cent of the donations he has taken in 2021 so far.

Some people have claimed that this creates a conflict of interest, and it certainly does make it possible.

However:

Gove’s first act in his new job has been to suspend work on controversial planning reforms that were accused of giving “too much power to developers”.

Try as I might, I can’t fit that into any narrative that puts him at their beck and call.

Of course, suspension is not rejection, and if he reinstates the scheme, or comes up with one that offers more opportunities for the businesspeople to make cash, then he will deserve all the brickbats we can throw at him.

So let’s reserve judgement for now.

And hope that Gove gets the message.

It is this: we’re watching you, Michael.

Source: Michael Gove: UK Housing Secretary Took £120k From Property Developers

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Iain Duncan Smith is to give his ignorance to post-Brexit government reform

The pick of the Tories: Iain Duncan Smith is a creature of odious habits and even worse politics.

The former Tory leader whose ‘reforms’ of social security have led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people has been appointed to lend his ignorance to the government again.

Iain Duncan Smith will chair the new Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform.

The title of the organisation creates the acronym TIGRR – tiger, get it? But Duncan Smith is no kind of tiger. As benefit claimants know from his time as Work and Pensions Secretary, he’s a little bitch.

This Site has its own acronym for him – RTU. It stands for “Returned To Unit”, the message of shame on the record of armed forces personnel who fail training for promotion up the officers’ ranks – as he is said to have done.

The government has claimed that the TIGRR will “identify and develop proposals across a range of areas that will drive innovation and competitiveness, reduce barriers to start-ups and scale-ups, create opportunities for innovation to make the most of cutting-edge technologies, and support growth and dynamism right across the UK economy”.

But with RTU at the helm it is more likely to reduce competitiveness with new schemes that will be massively expensive while helping nobody (like Universal Credit), create barriers that stop people getting what they need (as he did with all benefits, particularly those for the sick and disabled), and abandon cutting-edge technologies for paper and ink (as DWP workers were forced to do when his plan for Universal Credit to be fully computerised fell on its ass).

He didn’t even help his own government! All his so-called “reforms” created more expense and none of them saved any money at all.

Labour has said it is ready to fight over any reforms that could be harmful – particularly to employment rights.

While This Writer has nothing personal against Andy McDonald, I remember when the party under Ed Miliband, in the dying days of its previous right-wing, neoliberal incarnation, voted in support of RTU to harm benefit claimants and I have a doubt.

The simple fact is that the appointment of this death machine should tell us everything we need to know about what his organisation will do. And it won’t help anybody.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith appointed post-Brexit government adviser | The New European

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The Tories promised to reform benefits long ago so why do 10 terminally ill people die every day, waiting for their first payment?

Christine McCluskey: when she died, after your Tory government cut her benefits, she weighed just three stone.

The life expectancy of people with terminal illnesses has plummeted because they are being denied end-of-life state benefits.

The system is supposed to support people who are expected to live less than six months – but doesn’t.

The Tories demand that doctors provide a note predicting when their patient is likely to die.

But many physicians have been reluctant to make such predictions, or feared their patients’ health could deteriorate more rapidly if they learned they were not expected to survive very long.

The Tory government of the day promised to change the system in 2019, saying it would bring in modifications that would make it easier for people with terminal illnesses to claim their due.

And nothing has happened.

DWP minister Justin Tomlinson has apologised for the delay – which is a fat lot of good for people who could starve to death before their health condition kills them.

He blamed the delay on the Covid-19 crisis – and warned that it is likely to run on for many more months yet.

Let’s just remember what this means:

The image at the top of this article depicts Christine McCluskey, who died in a humiliating way, weighing just three stone, after Tomlinson’s department wrongly ended her benefit claim.

The 61-year-old grandmother had suffered long-term health problems most of her adult life including Crohn’s disease – which left her with a colostomy bag – osteoporosis, arthritis, a stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This housebound lady had a feeding tube and a painful fistula that leaked through her abdominal wall, she was severely malnourished and was being investigated for a worrying cough at the time the Department for Work and Pensions assessed her for Personal Independence Payment.

The decision: her payments of £117.85 per week were removed and her mobility car was taken away from her.

Weeks later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer but her payments were not restored. She died four months after her benefits were stopped, weighing just three stone.

She was unable to receive fast-track access to PIP that is available for people with terminal illnesses who have less than six months to live, because she was unable to show when she was likely to die.

Recent estimates obtained by Labour MP Jessica Morden have revealed that 7,260 people died as they were waiting for a verdict on their claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or 10 people per day.

Yes, these people were going to die soon anyway.

But the manner of their death tells us whether the United Kingdom under the Conservatives is a civilised country or primitive and barbaric.

And the UK under the Conservatives clearly falls into the latter category: primitive and barbaric.

Source: DWP shamed as 10 terminally ill people die every day waiting on a benefits decision | Welfare Journal

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Johnson government admits Cameron’s NHS ‘reforms’ were wrong. But what will replace them?

Andrew Lansley spent years planning ways to take healthcare away from people who need it, and David Cameron allowed him to put those plans into practise. But is Boris Johnson really going to put a stop to the damage?

Isn’t it nice to know that the current Conservative government has admitted the austerity administration of David Cameron was wrong to impose privatisation on the NHS!

Except… is that really what Johnson – and his minister for death, Matt Hancock, are saying?

Here’s what the BBC story tells us:

The changes would aim to tackle bureaucracy and encourage health services from hospitals to GP surgeries and social care to work more closely.

The draft policy paper also says the health secretary would take more direct control over NHS England.

Instead of a system that requires competitive tendering for contracts – sometimes involving private companies, the NHS and local authorities will be left to run services and told to collaborate with each other, says the draft White Paper, designed to set out proposed legislation.

It doesn’t say private companies will no longer be allowed to take NHS contracts; nor does it say that the billions of pounds worth of NHS contracts that were awarded to private companies will revert back to the public sector.

In fact, it says

‘there will continue to be an important role for voluntary and independent sector providers’.

It just doesn’t say what that role will be.

And that should make us all nervous.

One of the reasons given for the need to change is that

the Covid pandemic “demonstrated plainly that this broader approach to health and care is not only desirable, but essential”.

But we know that the Covid pandemic has been a catastrophe for private-sector health firms.

Private contractors failed to provide vital ventilators and PPE (personal protective equipment) when they were needed.

The privatised test-and-trace system has done nothing but haemorrhage money; it has been worse than useless in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

And of course the Tory government itself abused the emergency system for awarding contracts, giving them to organisations run by party donors or with links to ministers rather than to those that could actually carry out the work.

To This Writer, it suggests that the private sector is irresponsible and should be removed from the provision of public health care, in all our best interests, as soon as possible.

But that is not what is being suggested.

Until we find out exactly what Johnson and Hancock are proposing, it seems much too early to get out the bunting and celebrate the salvation of the NHS.

Source: NHS: Government plans to reverse Cameron-era reforms – BBC News

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WATCH: ‘Vile, unconscionable and despicable’ – MPs respond to targeting of Stella Creasy by anti-abortionists

Abuse:’ This poster was put up in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow constituency in what is seen as an attempt to intimidate her.

An anti-abortion group that targeted pregnant Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy has been labelled “vile, unconscionable and despicable” by Commons speaker John Bercow as MPs vowed to help her take action.

Ms Creasy raised the issue after an organisation called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) put a poster of her alongside a picture of what it claimed was “a 24-week-old aborted baby girl”, with the claim “Your MP is working hard … to make this a human right” and the address of a website established against the MP.

The abuse targeted at Ms Creasy follows the approval from MPs of her amendment to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK where it is illegal. The vote passed by 332 to 99.

She has reported the matter to the Metropolitan Police – only to be rebuffed by officers who say this is a “free speech” issue.

A clearly-emotional Ms Creasy raised the issue with a point of order in the House of Commons, after Prime Minister’s Questions today (October 2).

I managed to capture most of the exchange with Speaker John Bercow on video (I happened to have a camera handy and grabbed it up as soon as I realised what was happening). Apologies for the shaky picture and possible poor sound quality – the camera was hand-held. You may hear voices over the top – they belong to This Writer and Mrs Mike:

The point of order prompted the appropriate Tory government minister to promise action.

Abortion is a sensitive and complicated issue, and I don’t propose to go over all the arguments here.

But I do believe that there are many possible reasons for a woman (or a couple) to consider abortion and if that option is available to them, it is not for anybody else to tell them what to do. It is a matter for their conscience and it should be a human right.

The action of the so-called charity (as you will have heard, it has been refused charity status in the UK) – against a woman who is herself pregnant – is as Mr Bercow described it: vile, unconscionable and despicable. I’m sure many readers could add a few choice words themselves.

It is the sort of behaviour that could affect the health of an unborn baby, contrary to that organisation’s stated aims. Do these people even care about that double-standard?

It has no place in UK society.

Our charities exist to campaign for measures that improve the quality of life – not to victimise people who have done nothing wrong (the fake charity Campaign Against Antisemitism should also take note of this).

The advertising company that hosted the offending posters has agreed to take them down.

Let us hope that the organisation behind it faces legal action (this behaviour is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act) and is chased out of the UK for good.

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Would-be MP ‘motivated to oust Duncan Smith by late mother’s benefits ordeal’ – Disability News Service

A politician aiming to oust Iain Duncan Smith at the next general election has described being motivated by the need to expose the “heartless” reforms he introduced as work and pensions secretary, and their impact on her late mother.

Labour’s Dr Faiza Shaheen said she wanted to win the Chingford and Woodford Green seat at the next general election in part because of the impact on disabled people of the government’s austerity cuts and reforms over the last decade.

Many of these were introduced by Duncan Smith when leading the Department for Work and Pensions between 2010 and 2016.

Read more: Would-be MP ‘motivated to oust Duncan Smith by late mother’s benefits ordeal’ – Disability News Service

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UKIP appoints jailbird who nearly ruined a rape trial as adviser on prison reform and rape gangs

Grinning idiots: UKIP leader Gerard Batten shakes all credibility away as he shakes hands with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) and gives him a position of responsibility in his inner circle.

No wonder Brexit is such a godawful mess when the political organisation that campaigned to achieve it for decades appoints a far-right extremist who was sent to prison after he nearly ruined the trial of a major rape gang as its special adviser on prison reform and rape gangs.

Not only has UKIP leader Gerard Batten allowed Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (also known as Tommy Robinson) into his party; he has also given him a job that can only be seen as an insult to the public.

And the reaction has been exactly what we should expect:

https://twitter.com/DickCoughlan/status/1065676244338057217

Andy King’s opinion is particularly sharp:

https://twitter.com/AndyMoboboKing/status/1065672803322658816

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Gagging clauses: Chris Grayling silenced justice charities to stop them revealing what a fool he is

Grayling: What does a fool do to prevent his stupidity becoming public knowledge? He gags everybody in the know.

The Times‘ investigation into the Tory government’s use of non-disclosure agreements (gagging clauses) to prevent outside organisations from saying anything that would damage their reputation continues.

Today the focus is on current Transport Secretary Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling and the disastrous changes to the probation service that he demanded when he was in charge of Justice.

We all know that his ideas were stupid, short-sighted and dangerous because we have seen their result – but it seems we could have found this out much earlier, if he had not silenced every organisation that could have told us at the time.

Here‘s the report:

Chris Grayling’s changes to the probation service were deemed to be a failure, but charities dealing with the fallout were prevented from saying anything that would damage his reputation

After Chris Grayling oversaw a £3 billion overhaul of the probation system in 2015, his reforms were condemned as a failure.

Prison inspectors found that changes introduced when he was justice secretary resulted in criminals being released without anywhere to live and without staff assessing “significant risks” to their partners and children.

Dame Glenys Stacey, chief inspector of probation, said the overhaul meant there was “no real prospect” of preventing prisoners from returning to crime.

The findings prompted criticism from campaigners, politicians and probation staff. Some of the key charities working with former prisoners, however, have appeared to be unconcerned.

The rest is hidden by the paywall but you get the idea.

Labour’s Richard Burgon commented on Twitter…

That’s putting it mildly!

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