Tag Archives: refuse

‘Thicky’ Nicky Morgan spells it out: Tories denied poor children free school meals out of spite

‘We starve children’: Rishi Sunak’s slogan was a little different when he published it, but a member of the public has corrected it for him.

There’s a reason we call her “Thicky” Nicky. Tory High Command will be fuming this morning.

The reason? Former education secretary Nicky Morgan admitted on the BBC’s Question Time that she and her Conservative colleagues voted down a motion to give poverty-stricken children free school meals during the holidays – not for any practical reason, but because a Labour MP insulted one of them during the debate.

Angela Rayner has apologised for using that word during a speech by Christopher Clarkson. Considering the content of his speech, one is moved more to sympathy with her point of view than his.

So it is doubly hard to accept “Thicky” Nicky’s excuse as she peddled it out on Question Time – more so because she backpedalled in the face of criticism and tried to say the Labour Party was wrong to introduce the debate as an Opposition Day motion.

And she was still saying the Tories were reacting petulantly to the way the debate was being carried out, rather than to its content – the necessity of helping to feed children in England.

Those children are now set to starve, because Tories like Nicky Morgan made up excuses to be upset.

Here’s her outburst, as televised:

And here’s some of the outrage it sparked:

(There are more than 322 Tories but that’s the number of their MPs who voted down the motion to feed starving children.)

There are now moves to shame all the Tories who voted against this motion online, simply by pointing out what they did to their electorate.

This Writer notes that my own MP – Fay Jones – voted against it. She represents a Welsh constituency – and I don’t think it’s a good look for a Welsh Tory to be voting to starve English children.

Do you?

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DWP crashes to another court defeat over sickness benefits

The High Court – also known as the Royal Courts of Justice – in London.

The High Court has just ruled that a rule allowing the Department for Work and Pensions to force some benefit claimants to wait – unpaid – for a mandatory reconsideration before they can appeal against refusal is unlawful.

The system previously demanded that, if a claim for income-related Employment and Support Allowance was refused, claimants would have to wait for a “mandatory reconsideration” of their case to take place before they could appeal.

This could take weeks, and has often taken months, in which the claimant – who is claiming because of serious illness, remember – has no income on which to survive.

Mr Justice Swift ruled that the demand that a mandatory reconsideration must take place before a claimant can appeal is a “disproportionate interference with the right of access to court” – in some cases.

This case was brought by law graduate Michael Conner, with crowdfunded aid from the website Benefits and Work – and represents a considerable victory for the claimant, the website, and crowdfunded legal proceedings in general.

Mr Connor had been forced to wait 18 weeks while the DWP carried out a mandatory reconsideration of his ESA decision. During this time he had no right to claim ESA.

If he had been able to lodge an appeal, he would have been paid ESA on a probationary rate, dependent on the provision of medical evidence by his doctor.

The judge said that after his benefit was cancelled on October 18, 2018, Mr Connor applied for a mandatory reconsideration.

But, in an “error” of the kind that benefit claimants have come to expect from the DWP, he said “no action was taken in response… The request for revision was incorrectly entered onto the Secretary of State’s electronic document management system.

“The document was not recognised or recorded as a request for reconsideration, and instead was classified as ‘unstructured whitemail'” and “it was not until 6 March 2019 – 4 months after Mr Connor’s request had been received – that it was identified as a request for revision.”

Mr Connor had managed to claim Income Support and Carer’s Allowance in the meantime, so he decided not to appeal the decision. Instead, he informed the DWP that he intended to challenge the legality of the rule making him unable to appeal until a mandatory reconsideration had happened.

He pointed out that:

  • The rule creates an open-ended deferral of the right to appeal that could leave claimants without income for an unlimited period – as evidenced by his own case.
  • Its effect is anomalous as ESA is payable before a decision is made and while an appeal is taking place, but not while the DWP is going through the mandatory reconsideration process [or, more likely, forgetting about it – in the opinion of This Writer].
  • If an appeal is started, there is no provision for back payment of ESA to cover the period of the revision decision while an appeal is ongoing.
  • So the interference is disproportionate because “it places benefits claimants, such as him, who are vulnerable, in a position of ‘legal and financial limbo, distress and destitution’ for the duration of the revision process that must be pursued before an appeal can be commenced” – and there is “no limit on the time permitted to the Secretary of State to determine an application for revision.”

In his ruling, Mr Justice Swift said: “It is anomalous that the payment pending appeal arrangements for ESA … do not extend to ESA claimants who are required … to request the Secretary of State to revise a decision and await her decision on that request before initiating an appeal.

“At the hearing of this case I gave the Secretary of State the opportunity to … explain why no provision exists to pay ESA to claimants… None of this further information provides the answer.

“My conclusion is that [the regulation in question] is a disproportionate interference with the right of access to court, so far as it applies to claimants to ESA who, once an appeal is initiated, meet the conditions for payment pending appeal.

“The advantage permitted to the Secretary of State by [the] regulation … comes at a cost to ESA claimants. There is no explanation for that.

“There is no evidence to support a conclusion that the objective pursued by [the] regulation … would to any extent be compromised if payments like the payments pending appeal made to ESA claimants who are pursuing appeals to the Tribunal, were made to them while they waited on the Secretary of State’s revision decision.

“In the absence of payment equivalent to payment pending appeal, the application of [the] regulation … to ESA claimants does not strike the required fair balance, and for that reason is an unjustified impediment to the right of access to court guaranteed by ECHR Article 6.”

Benefits and Work has stated: “Sadly, the ruling does not apply to other benefits such as PIP or DLA.

Nonetheless, it is an important victory and it means that ESA claimants, who are often faced with the prospect of many weeks without funds if they wish to appeal, are now in a much better position when challenging a decision.”

It will be interesting to see what will happen now.

The ruling is that the current situation is unlawful but no further remedy has been put in place beyond a statement to that effect.

What will happen to ESA claimants who must go through the mandatory reconsideration process now? Will they be paid while their case is reviewed?

That seems the logical course.

But I fear the DWP may find a way to duck out of it.

Source: Connor, R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for Work And Pensions [2020] EWHC 1999 (Admin) (24 July 2020)

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Coffey shows ‘active contempt’ for rights over Disability Confident snub – Disability News Service

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants – so why would she take on disabled workers?

Work and pensions secretary Dr Therese Coffey has shown “active contempt for disability rights” by refusing to sign up to her own flagship disability employment scheme, information released by the government has confirmed.

Here’s Disability News Service:

A freedom of information (FoI) response from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that Coffey is refusing to join Disability Confident.

DNS asked the department in the FoI request whether Coffey and 11 other current and former ministers were members of the scheme.

In its FoI response on Friday (3 July), DWP said it did not need to provide the information because it was easily available online.

It pointed to its own website, and a list of Disability Confident members, which had been updated the same day.

That list showed that all four of the MPs who serve as ministers alongside Coffey – Justin Tomlinson, Mims Davies, Will Quince and Guy Opperman – have signed up, although Quince had only done so since DNS first raised concerns in March about current and former ministers turning their back on the scheme.

But Coffey, who has been work and pensions secretary since last September and has been an MP since 2010, is not on the list, even though – like all MPs – she employs staff to assist with her parliamentary duties.

A DWP spokesperson this week refused to comment when asked why Dr Coffey had not signed up to Disability Confident, and whether it showed that she did not value the scheme, and that she did not view the employment of disabled people as important.

I think this silence speaks volumes. Don’t you?

Source: Coffey shows ‘active contempt’ for rights over Disability Confident snub – Disability News Service

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You’d better prepare for a Covid-19 second wave disaster because the Tories aren’t going to

Rishi Sunak: he won’t give the NHS any more cash because the Tory story is that Covid-19 is over.

Is anybody surprised that Rishi Sunak is refusing to give the NHS £10 billion to prepare for an expected new wave of Covid-19 infections?

The Tory narrative is that Covid is over.

Their government is sending people back to work, despite the number of deaths per day still being higher than when lockdown started. Tory donors are tired of going without their huge daily profits so the rest of us are being forced back to work, whether it kills us or not.

The pubs reopening, and the beaches being open before them, are just a means for the Tories to excuse themselves. They’ll say that any deaths arise from people’s leisure experiences, not from being forced back to work too soon.

Of course, putting money towards the treatment of renewed infections runs against this story – so Sunak won’t do it.

It doesn’t matter how many plebs die as a result.

NHS bosses have accused the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, of breaking a pledge to give the health service “whatever it needs” after he refused to provide a £10bn cash injection needed to avoid it being crippled by a second wave of the coronavirus.

They have warned ministers that without the money the NHS will be left perilously unprepared for next winter and the second spike in infections which doctors believe is inevitable. Nor will they be able to restart non-Covid services or treat the growing backlog in patients needing surgery.

The row piles pressure on Sunak to find more money for the NHS ahead of his summer statement on Wednesday.

The NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, has told the Treasury that it needs at least £10bn in extra funding this year to cover the costs of fighting the virus and reopen normal services. The money would mean the NHS could create extra beds in hospitals, keep the Nightingale facilities on standby, send patients to private hospitals for surgery and provide protective equipment for frontline staff.

Source: NHS chiefs in standoff with Treasury over emergency £10bn | Society | The Guardian

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Tories refuses to abolish coronavirus law that has been wrongly used in every prosecution

When every single prosecution under new legislation is found to have been carried out unlawfully, that is poor law-making and should be repealed.

The Tory government is wasting the time of the police, the public and the courts with this silliness.

But it won’t repeal or change the Act of Parliament responsible for it.

Why not? Are these petty politicians taking delight in causing mischief for no good reason?

Who voted these clowns into a position where they could do this?

And do those voters now regret their hasty choice?

The government is refusing to repeal a “draconian” coronavirus law – despite it being used to wrongly prosecute scores of people.

The Coronavirus Act has not been used lawfully in a single criminal case since it came into force on 25 March, according to a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Human rights lawyers and campaigners have condemned the creation of “unnecessary” new offences, which have been used against children and vulnerable people.

They include a woman who was fined £660 for a crime she had not committed, five days after the Coronavirus Act became law. Charges have so far been withdrawn or overturned for 53 people and more cases are being reviewed.

Asked by The Independent whether it would abolish the Coronavirus Act in light of the changes and unlawful prosecutions, the Department of Health said it would not.

Source: Government refuses to abolish coronavirus law used unlawfully in every prosecution | The Independent

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Commission’s refusal to probe disability deaths proves that some are more equal than others

Read this and draw your own conclusions about the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and the views of its members on whether people with disabilities are either human, or have rights:

The equality watchdog has rejected calls for it to investigate deaths linked to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), more than a year after an MP asked it to launch an inquiry.

Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, a former shadow work and pensions secretary, first approached the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in April last year with her concerns about links between DWP and the deaths of benefit claimants, and the wider impact of DWP policies on disabled people.

Eight months ago, the commission said it was reviewing what “potential” work it could undertake to tackle “discriminatory decision-making in the social security system” and would respond to Abrahams “in due course”.

Now, 14 months after she first raised concerns with the commission, and following another “holding reply” in February, EHRC has finally decided that, “due to the pandemic”, it will not be able to carry out an inquiry into DWP this year.

It only produced this response after being approached again by Abrahams and Disability News Service (DNS).

Source: Watchdog snubs call for probe into DWP deaths, after delay of more than a year – Disability News Service

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Scotland joins Wales to ban Covid-19 support to firms based in tax havens

Registered in a tax haven? Then no tax-funded help for you: there’s no reason the UK should give tax-dodging firms a hand during the coronavirus crisis if they haven’t paid their full dues. Wales and Scotland have made this clear; let’s see Westminster do the same.

Quite right too. If you’ve opted out of paying tax when the going was easy, then you can’t try to get help from the taxpayer in hard times.

Has the Tory government in Westminster made this decision yet?

The Scottish parliament has voted to block companies based in tax havens from using millions of pounds in coronavirus relief funding, in emergency legislation.

MSPs approved measures on Wednesday night brokered by the Scottish Greens to prohibit firms or individuals who are registered in tax havens, or are a subsidiary of an offshore company, from getting support grants.

The vote follows similar decisions by the Welsh government last week and by other EU member states, including Denmark and France, but ministers have yet to say how much Scottish government spending will be affected or how it will be enforced.

It is thought it could prevent companies with offshore links from applying to a new £120m enterprise resilience fund that provides grants for small- and medium-sized firms, and a £30m creative, tourism and hospitality bailout fund for firms that cannot get business rates relief.

The Welsh government blocked companies with headquarters in a tax haven from accessing its £500m economic resilience fund on 15 May. Ministers in Cardiff said last week it would affect a small number of companies.

Source: Scotland bans Covid-19 support to firms based in tax havens | Politics | The Guardian

Equalities watchdog undermines itself by refusing to examine Tory Islamophobia

Boris Johnson’s comments about the clothes worn by Muslim women are only part of the huge volume of Islamophobia and racial hatred he has tried to stir up on his own – but the EHRC is happy to let the Tories investigate accusations against the party.

It won’t matter what the Equality and Human Rights Commission has to say about Labour and anti-Semitism now.

It is clear that the organisation is not fit for purpose as, despite having “equality” as part of its title, it is incapable even of treating the UK’s two main political parties equally.

Boris Johnson’s behaviour alone provides a prima facie case for investigating Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

If the EHRC can’t see that, then no decision it makes about the Labour Party can have any weight at all.

I recommend that it be disbanded and replaced by an organisation staffed by people who can do the job properly.

The Conservative Party will not face a probe by the equalities watchdog over Islamophobia in its ranks after launching its own independent investigation into discrimination.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said an investigation “would not be proportionate” after the Tories published the terms of reference for the party’s own inquiry, which included specific mentions of Islamophobia.

But the terms were described as a “facade” by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which argued the Tories’ investigation was too narrow even compared to Labour’s much-criticised Chakrabarti inquiry into anti-Semitism.

The inquiry would “hide the hundreds of incidences of Islamophobic bigotry” in the Tory party identified by the MCB, it said.

Source: Tories Will Not Face Islamophobia Probe By Equalities Watchdog | HuffPost UK

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Coronavirus deaths: ‘sorry’ is the hardest word for Hancock

Matt Hancock: he couldn’t even follow his own government advice against spreading the coronavirus and now he is refusing to apologise for failures in containing it.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is refusing to take responsibility for his mistakes – even after being confronted with the evidence.

When Intisar ​Chowdhury, the son of a consultant who died earlier this month, asked the health secretary live on LBC radio whether he regretted not taking his father’s warnings over vital medical kit seriously enough, Hancock repeatedly avoided making an apology.

He said he was saddened by the death of Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, who had warned Boris Johnson about the lack of protective gear for frontline NHS workers, and asked him to secure equipment “urgently” in a social media post.

Pressed to acknowledge that there have been mistakes in handling the virus, especially to Mr Chowdhury (junior) and other families that have lost loved ones as a result of this virus and probably as a result of the government not handling it seriously enough, he evaded.

He said: “I think that it is very important that we’re constantly learning about how to do these things better and I think listening to the voices on the front line is a very, very important part of how we improve.

“Of course this a very complicated logistical effort but I don’t want to play down the enormous efforts of many thousands of people who are working every hour that there is trying to solve the problem.”

Yesterday (April 28) Hancock refused to apologise to relatives of elderly residents who have died of coronavirus in care homes, after figures showed 5,000 such deaths in England alone.

He said during the daily Downing Street briefing that it was “unreasonable” to ask if he would apologise to the families of those who have died.

“Making sure that care homes have the support they need has been absolutely at front of mind right from the start,” he said.

“We’ve been testing in care homes right from the start and right through the crisis.”

If that were true, then why did it take the government until yesterday to provide daily tallies of deaths in care homes, alongside the statistics on hospital fatalities, rather than releasing them on a weekly basis, 10 or 11 days after the event?

If testing was taking place from the start, then the figures would have been available immediately.

It seems that – like the whole Tory government – Mr Hancock is simply trying to avoid responsibility for mistakes, omissions and policies that have caused thousands of needless death. Perhaps he fears the inquiry that must take place after the crisis is over.

Source: Coronavirus: Matt Hancock repeatedly refuses to accept PPE failures after being confronted by dead doctor’s son | The Independent

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Coronavirus discrimination: surgery asks chronically sick and disabled patients to refuse treatment

People with serious health conditions and disabilities who are registered with a GP surgery in Wales had a nasty surprise in the post.

The surgery sent them a letter saying if they caught the coronavirus, the best thing for them to do would be to reject treatment and wait for death – and it asked them to sign a form confirming it.

Llynfi Surgery, in Llynfi Road, Maesteg, sent the letter to patients with serious health conditions such as incurable cancer, motor neurone disease, and untreatable heart and lung conditions, on March 27.

It comes as further confirmation that people with disabilities will suffer adverse discrimination in the coronavirus crisis – that government guidance is to abandon them.

The letter states that people with these conditions are “unlikely to be offered hospital admission” if they become unwell with coronavirus and “certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”.

It continued: “We would therefore like to complete a DNACPR form for you which we can share with the OOH [out of hours] GP services and which will mean that in the event of a sudden deterioration in your condition because of a Covid-19 infection or disease progression the emergency services will not be called and resuscitation attempts to restart your heart or breathing will not be attempted.”

Going on, it suggested that the “best option” for patients is to stay at home to be cared for by their family with “ongoing support from ourselves and community nursing services”.

It listed “benefits” to signing the DNACPR form:

  • “Your GP and more importantly your friends and family will know not to call 999”;
  • “Scarce ambulance resources can be targeted to the young and fit who have chance of surviving the infection”, and;
  • “The risk of transmitting the virus to friends, family and emergency responders from CPR (even chest compression alone) is very high. By having a DNACPR form in place you protect your family and emergency responders from this additional risk”.

The final line reads: “We will not abandon you but we need to be frank and realistic about what the next few months holds for all of us.”

Wales Online reported on this scandalous correspondence, saying that the local health board had contacted patients who were upset by the letter, to apologise and “answer any concerns”.

And both the Welsh Assembly member and MP have issued a joint statement saying this was “not a standard letter” and the board is working with the surgery “to offer compassionate and sound advice in the very best traditions of our health service”.

You’ll notice that there isn’t a single line in these comments that contradicts the suggestions in the letter.

If anything, it seems the authorities have simply been embarrassed that it has stated the facts about government guidance on long-term sick and disabled patients who contract the coronavirus in a blunt way.

The affair seems to be confirmation that the government is indeed using the coronavirus to cull “useless eaters”, in line with the eugenics beliefs of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, and the Nazi-style persecution of people with long-term health issues that has been carried out by successive Conservative governments over the last decade.

Source: Surgery asks sickest patients to sign ‘do not attempt CPR’ form if they get Covid-19 – Wales Online

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