Tag Archives: Royal

DWP tries to blame Royal Mail for PIP delays but do we believe it?

It’s a sad consequence of having to fight a court case that I don’t have as much time for some of the subjects that made This Site’s name – such as the persecution of benefit claimants by the DWP.

This particular issue is one on which I have personal experience, though – as, I dare say, has anybody who has had to deal with DWP letters.

My case differs from that outlined by Disability News Service, though – in that the DWP contacted Mrs Mike to tell her that her PIP review was due, and could she return the form within a month of the date of the letter?

The letter arrived no less than 10 days after the date on it. That left three weeks to get the review done.

It is not enough time. Not only do PIP claimants have to navigate the form, which is worded in an open way but which is marked according to very specific requirements, but they must also seek corroborating evidence from carers, community helpers and healthcare professionals.

All of this takes considerable time.

As her carer, I knew that we needed to seek expert help in writing the form, so I contacted Citizens Advice and was immediately told that I would have an appointment to talk to someone in a few days’ time – and that I should seek an extension on the deadline at once.

I can’t say that conditions are the same across the UK – I live in Wales – but once I managed to get through to DWP (there was an inevitable wait of more than an hour) the department could not have been happier to extend the deadline.

I think I was given a couple of extra weeks.

I therefore advise everybody to do this – especially if receiving a letter with a deadline that appears to have been delayed in the post. It makes the argument between DWP and the Royal Mail irrelevant.

And I needed the extra time. Mrs Mike has a condition that can only get worse, but it wasn’t until I spoke to somebody else about it that I realised the extent to which her condition had degenerated.

Help I had provided as a favour when she was feeling particularly bad had become a habit – meaning that he condition has worsened – and the very shape of our days had changed as these accumulated.

The changes had been so gradual that I had not taken them into account – but they mean a great deal when dealing with the DWP.

I therefore advise everybody going through a benefit review to seek expert help from Citizens Advice or an organisation that is similarly qualified.

Finally there was the question of corroborating evidence. I provided a letter, as Mrs Mike’s carer, describing the obstacles she faces getting through the day, and the ways I have to help her.

We sought letters from community organisations and some professionals but received no interest in return.

And we contacted Mrs Mike’s doctor, too. This seemed likely to be problematic. “Oh, you’ll get no help there,” people said. “Doctors have been discouraged and disincentivised by the DWP! If you do get a letter, they’ll charge you a fat wad of cash!”

Not a bit of it was true.

We received a letter in due course, containing a printout of Mrs Mike’s medical history and a medical opinion that was adamantly in favour of her receiving the highest degree of benefit available to her.

Finally, when it was time to post the completed form, I took it to the post office and paid extra to ensure that the DWP would have to sign for it, to confirm receipt.]

This is very important. I know from personal experience and the experience of others that the DWP finds it easy to claim non-receipt – as it did in the case of the claimant in the DNS story.

This cannot happen if you have evidence that somebody signed for it. It bypasses any concerns about whether delays were caused by the Royal Mail or the DWP because it provides proof of delivery within the time stated.

The decision took about a month to come back. It confirmed Mrs Mike’s benefit would continue at the highest rates possible.

So that is my advice for anybody going through the benefit review process:

  1. Seek expert advice on filling out the form because they must provide specific information that the DWP must see before it awards any points.
  2. Contact the DWP and ask for an extension on the deadline if its letter arrived late.
  3. Seek evidence from anybody who has experience of the claimant’s disability. The worst that can happen is they decline to provide it. Don’t be put off asking your doctor.
  4. When you post the form back, make sure the DWP has to sign for it to confirm that it has been received.

These are measures that work.

They deprive the DWP of any excuse to blame another organisation for delays in processing a claim.

And they ensure that your benefit payments are disrupted by any nonsense if the DWP claims that you haven’t returned your form.

Source: DWP and Royal Mail dispute cause of PIP delays – Disability News Service

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RNLI donations INCREASE in the face of negative comments by racists

Everything before the ‘but’ is meaningless: Nigel Farage has been foiled in his attack on the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, as has some far-right kid on Twitter.

Congratulations to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which has enjoyed a massive increase in donations after racists in the media criticised it for rescuing refugees.

Don’t believe the BBC’s coverage, that claimed the £200,000 it received in donations in 24 hours (it usually gets £7K in that period) was because it posted “rescue footage” on social media.

This was a reaction against loudmouths like Nigel Farage (are you happy now your Brexit has emptied our supermarket shelves, Nigel?) who said on far-right propaganda purveyor GB News that the lifeboats were now a “migrant taxi service”.

And it was a reaction against swivel-eyed boy-fascist Darren Grimes, who was schooled by Julia Hartley-Brewer, of all people, over his daft claims about the legendary life-saving organisation:

“I find lifeboat charity RNLI’s rescue missions in the Channel to be deeply irresponsible,” tweeted the callow youth.

“If you’re sure that getting into an unseaworthy vessel will see you carried across the Channel by trained professionals, why wouldn’t you?”

Even Hartley-Doodah thought this was too much – and corrected him like the errant child he is: “No, Darren, the RNLI are there to save lives – of anyone and everyone in need. It doesn’t matter who they are or why they are there.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and call these negative comments by Farage and Grimes out as racism.

They would rather see people – of colour – escaping violence and persecution in their home countries drown than give them a moment’s safe haven in a safe country. That screams “racism” to me and it is an attitude of which anybody should be ashamed.

I mean all the rest of us as well – we shame ourselves that these attitudes are even tolerated in the UK, let alone putting them on our media in an attempt to whip up support.

Thank goodness it backfired. It turned out to be one of the rare occasions when right-wing aggression leads to a positive outcome.

The Farages and Grimeses of this country have been foiled and the RNLI is much better-off as a result of their ignorant interference.

What a great result!

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Tories justify Royal Yacht price hike by saying UK can ‘show off’. What is there to show? Their LIES?

Spaffer: in this image we see a delighted Boris Johnson signifying his joy at being able to throw money belonging to the people of the UK at any damnfool plot that lands in his empty head.

When is Boris Johnson going to stop spending our money on tat?

His latest vanity project – a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia that nobody who works for a living has ever missed – has just been launched with an announcement that it could cost one-fifth more, even, than the hugely inflated £200 million bill that’s already been pushed at us.

Someone realised that this might not be popular after the Tories spaffed the GDP of half the world on hastily-made-up fake firms run by their cronies for Covid-19-related equipment that they failed to supply so they got a reassuring comment from a top minister.

Unfortunately, the minister who commented was notorious liar and part-time prime minister Boris Johnson.

According to The Independent, Johnson “denied his plan to spend up to £250m on a new royal yacht is a waste of money” – so now we know for sure that it is a colossal waste of money.

And he said it would allow the UK to “show off” to the world. But what do we have to crow about? The monumental number of our own population that Johnson has managed to kill by cocking up his Covid-19 response? The spectacular economic incompetence of Brexit that has left our supermarkets with more empty shelves than infamous Soviet store GUM? The astonishing waste of money on Johnson’s vanity projects?

Yes, that last one seems likely.

Here’s a short list of some of Johnson’s other vanity projects:

If this silly boat gets launched – beyond the project launch that just happened, I mean – at least our foreign friends will be able to see Johnson coming – and run away.

As for those of us who can’t get away from the lying parasite… Well, according to Will Thorpe, above, he has already – by himself – cost the public purse very nearly £580 million.

From now on, every time he appears in public, let’s ask him to pay that money back, from his own personal bank account(s).

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Show yourselves, thugs who verbally abused LIFEBOAT personnel on their way to work

Priti Patel: stoking dislike of the foreigner – and anybody who helps them – is a NAZI trait.

Ultimate responsibility for this lies with Priti Patel, of course.

Patel set herself up for a confrontation with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution after launching legislation saying anybody rescuing illegal immigrants from the sea could be jailed for life.

The RNLI do nothing but rescue people from the sea, and they don’t care about the immigration status of the people they pick up.

Furthermore, the service will keep rescuing people under those conditions, no matter what Patel says, because they have a Royal Charter – the Queen supports what they do.

Sadly, the publicity given to our brave lifeboat people has attracted the attention of the kind of people who support Patel. You know the type – thugs and headbangers who take any opportunity to attack others.

So we’re starting to see incidents like this:

Take note: these personnel were verbally attacked “due to their role” – because they rescue people from drowning in UK waters.

The incident happened in central London – Tower RNLI operates from Lifeboat Pier just under Waterloo Bridge and serves the Thames in central London 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Suppose one of the dimwits who thought it was clever to abuse these volunteers perhaps got drunk and fell into the river. How would they feel, as they went down for the third time, if there was no lifeboat service there because the people running it had been put off by their own violence?

Pretty stupid, I expect – which is what they are, of course.

But ultimately the blame lies with Patel and all the goose-stepping morons like her who get a perverse kick out of feeding hate for no reason.

She isn’t only attacking a Great British institution – she is attacking the humanitarianism and fairness that is in the fabric of Britishness itself.

Source: Police called after lifeboat volunteers at Tower Bridge verbally abused while reporting for duty – MyLondon

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Will Priti Patel’s new immigration Bill put her in conflict with the Queen?

The Queen: she has given the RNLI a Royal Charter to rescue anybody at all whose life is in danger on the sea near the UK. If Priti Patel wants to criminalise this activity, it seems likely that she will come to grief.

It’s a thought that would make a normal UK minister pause – but Priti Patel is not normal, and I mean that in the most unkind way possible, so This Writer is keen to see how events unfold.

Patel’s draft Nationality and Borders Bill, clause 38, potentially criminalises rescuers of asylum seekers if they are deemed to be “facilitating” their arrival in the UK.

Clause 38 amends the 1971 Immigration Act offence of assisting an asylum seeker, increasing the maximum sentence to life imprisonment, from 14 years, and removing the words “for gain”, which previously limited prosecutions to paid people smugglers.

This is potentially very bad news for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which has vowed to continue rescuing anybody its crews find to be in danger at sea off the UK’s coast – no matter what their legal status may be.

This is in line with International Maritime Law and with the United Nations’ Safety Of Life At Sea (Solas) convention.

Crews could face imprisonment for life, according to the legislation.

The Home Office has said the Bill is intended to target “ruthless people smugglers” and organisations like the RNLI – and individuals – would be allowed to continue humanitarian rescue work.

But if that is the case, why amend the law to criminalise all rescues rather than merely those carried out “for gain”?

So, as George Peretz QC states, “Mere assertion doesn’t cut it.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting, though: The RNLI is mandated to carry out its rescues by a Royal Charter issued by its patron – The Queen.

That’s why it has the word “Royal” in its title.

The charter means the RNLI is permitted to rescue anybody whose life is in danger on the sea off the UK’s coast – by order of the Queen.

Does legislation by the Commons have authority to override that?

I don’t know. I think Patel needs to re-write her bad law to avoid finding out.

I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes if she tried to force the issue.

Source: RNLI vows to continue sea rescues despite prison fears for picking up migrants | Financial Times

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After 10 years, the Tories are finally launching their ‘Royal Yacht’ vanity project. They’ll make US pay

Artists impression: this is what someone thought a new Royal Yacht might look like last year, when the cost was going to be £100 million. This year the cost has magically doubled for no reason at all. What do you think we’ll get for that – an extra flagpole?

I’ve been busy over the bank holiday weekend, working on material for the new version of my defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim. So I thought it was a joke when I saw this:

But it’s not a joke:

A new national flagship is to be commissioned by the government in a bid to boost British trade and industry globally, the prime minister has said.

The vessel will be the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was retired in 1997.

The government plans to build the ship in the UK, at a reported cost of £200m.

Tories have been trying to build themselves a new luxury yacht – at our expense – since at least 2012, when Michael Gove suggested spending £60 million on it to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee:

This boat would cost £60 million, apparently – a million for every year she’s been on the throne. It would be a pointless present because, at Her Majesty’s age, she’s hardly going to be able to steer it.

By 2016, the projected cost had nearly doubled:

Now we learn that Conservative MPs want to give the Queen another yacht – at a cost of £100 million that could be better-used elsewhere, perhaps on benefit payments for a further £16,666 sick people for a year.

When [Gove] suggested it, back in January 2012, the cost was said to be £60 million. Why has it nearly doubled in the years since?

At least we have an answer to my question of the time – whether Tories try to spend our money on such unnecessary lavishments habitually.

Yes. Yes they do.

Amazingly, that price had remained static when the possibility was floated yet again in 2020:

The twist this time is a proposal to split funding three ways between businesses, the public and the National Lottery (so the public pays twice).

The idea of boosting trade has been there since Gove, and I addressed it last year:

The point about trade deals is interesting at a time when the Tory government is desperately trying to re-establish the UK as a trading nation after severing ties with the European Union.

But who benefits from such deals?

Rich businesspeople, perhaps – but would they pay their taxes or send the cash to tax havens?

If the latter, then why should the public pay for something that will not help us in the slightest?

And that brings me back to RD Hale’s tweet, pointing out that the government could fund nearly 90 million school meals.

Others have made their point too:

I think it will actually be built this time.

And we’ll end up paying for it while Johnson and his layabouts get to traipse around the world in it and their fat Tory donors profit (with the money going into tax havens, as I mentioned above).

Because Boris Johnson has no shame at all.

POSTSCRIPT: There was another tweet, from a guy who said he donated £20 to the Tory Party and was rewarded with a contract to build the new Royal Yacht for £200 million. I laughed because it was funny and I laughed because, in someone’s case, it’s probably true.

Source: Plans for new national flagship to promote ‘best of British’ – BBC News

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Royal baby expected – just as Royal Family falls into controversy. Funny, that…

The Queen (left): when she announces the legislative programme at the start of every Parliamentary term, how much of it has already been influenced by her? And how heavily?

Considering the apparent enmity between Prince Harry/Meghan and the rest of the Royal Family, I can only imagine that this announcement is a timing malfunction.

Others may take it as an indication that the split wasn’t as big as we were all led to believe.

Either way, it will take some of the heat off the Queen and anyone in line for the throne, who have been the focus of politically-charged criticism lately. So I think this line from the BBC may well be accurate:

The Queen and Royal Family are “delighted”, as the Sussexes say “Archie is going to be a big brother”.

See, it seems the Queen has a lot more influence on the way laws are enacted than we previously thought – especially if they affect her or the other Royals in any big way.

So, for example, she successfully lobbied the Heath government of the 1970s to exclude Heads of State from financial transparency laws.

Other alterations made to benefit the crown or her private interests, or to reflect her opinions, include:

In 1982, she withheld Queen’s Consent for debate on a plan to create a new commission to preserve ancient monuments and historic buildings in England, taking over from an existing royal commission. This meant Parliament was denied permission to discuss the plan.

The Queen ultimately consented to the bill six months later. However, the royal commission would survive for another 17 years. It was merged with English Heritage in 1999.

In 1968, she used the consent procedure to extract a commitment from Harold Wilson’s government that a new law – to apply the same road safety rules to all roads accessed by the public – would not apply to her private estates.

And in 1975 a Bill demanding that those intending to lease land for development would do so through local authorities – in an attempt to secure reasonable rates – was opposed because the Crown Estates believed there was a “financial advantage” to be made from direct dealing.

These are only instances that have become public because the relevant documents were not included – possibly by mistake – in an absolute exemption from release to the public.

This exemption lasts until at least five years after the death of the relevant member of the royal family.

So we don’t know how much influence the Queen has wielded – or continues to wield – and we won’t until five years after she passes away.

And now that Meghan has announced that she has a baby on the way, it seems unlikely many people will care about it for the foreseeable future, either.

Source: Meghan and Prince Harry expecting second child – BBC News

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Support nurses’ campaign for fair pay!

A nurse: doesn’t this person deserve fair pay, after working to keep us all safe from Covid-19 for the last six months – and facing what could be a much worse period in the immediate future?

Yes, that means you!

The Royal College of Nursing has launched a campaign to pressure the government into paying nursing staff what they’re worth. Here’s what’s happening and how you can get involved:

The RCN wants nursing professionals to be valued for their high level of knowledge, expertise and skills with pay that reflects the complexity of their roles and the impact of their work.

This means campaigning for an early and significant pay rise for NHS staff and influencing independent health and social care employers, so they recognise and reward nursing staff properly.

That would involve a fully funded 12.5 per cent pay increase for all NHS nursing staff covered by Agenda for Change, as part of a one-year deal that applies equally to all bands.

That’s right – an increase of one-eighth of wages for all nurses. When the Tories recently mentioned large-sounding pay rises, they only applied to a tiny proportion of staff; most nurses got around one per cent – less than inflation.

The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is about recognising the complexity of skill, responsibility and expertise demonstrated every day by nursing support workers, nursing associates, registered nurses and all members of the profession. It is about making sure that a safety critical profession can reach safe staffing levels and fill tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs. Ultimately, it is about providing safe and effective care for all people of the UK.

And you can help.

1. Find out more about the pay campaign and what it seeks to do.

2. Spread the word about it on social media using #FairPayForNursing, sharing your thoughts on why nursing staff deserve a fair pay rise.

3. Speak to family, friends, patients and colleagues about why you believe nursing staff deserve an early and significant pay rise.

Source: Demanding fair pay for nursing now | Bulletin | Royal College of Nursing

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Bread and circuses: why should we be uplifted if £100 million of our cash is spent on a new royal yacht?

Typical Tories: faced with a choice between helping people who need it and spaffing a fortune on a boat for a super-rich toff’s jollies, they will always make the wrong decision.

This is the third time a Tory has tried to foist a new Royal Yacht on us; the twist this time is a proposal to split funding three ways between businesses, the public and the National Lottery (so the public pays twice).

This time the idea is being suggested by Lord Jones of Birmingham, formerly Digby Jones, who ran the Confederation of British Industry for six years between 2000 and 2006. He also served as a minister in Gordon Brown’s Labour government, which tends to ruin any left-wing credentials New Labour might have claimed.

The cost – this time – is £100 million. That’s the same as it was in 2016 and £40 million more than in 2012, when Michael Gove was the one putting it forward.

In 2012, This Site treated the idea as comedy. We were in the grip of the Tories’ pointless austerity drive that caused a huge amount of harm – we may never know how many UK citizens died as a result of the cuts inflicted on them by David Cameron and his cutthroat cronies, because they simply didn’t bother to keep a record of the fatalities.

I wrote: “Would he [Michael Gove] spend his own money on such lavishments? Perhaps he’s trying to tell us that his Department for Education and Science is bucking the national trend by making money hand over fist. This would be strange behaviour for an organisation that is supposed to spend money in the most cost-effective way possible.”

In 2016, I concentrated on other uses for the cash: “We learn that Conservative MPs want to give the Queen another yacht – at a cost of £100 million that could be better-used elsewhere, perhaps on benefit payments for a further £16,666 sick people for a year.

“Ah, but the last Royal Yacht secured trade deals worth billions between 1991 and 1995, they argue.

“Sure – but times have changed hugely since then. With no guarantees, this is the equivalent of burning £50 notes in the faces of the poor.

“Perhaps Conservative MPs should be searched for matches and cigarette lighters before being allowed into the Treasury.”

The point about trade deals is interesting at a time when the Tory government is desperately trying to re-establish the UK as a trading nation after severing ties with the European Union.

But who benefits from such deals?

Rich businesspeople, perhaps – but would they pay their taxes or send the cash to tax havens?

If the latter, then why should the public pay for something that will not help us in the slightest?

And why should we ever be expected to be happy about it?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Harry and Meghan step down as senior Royals – because of bad press?

Bye bye: Prince Harry and his wife Meghan wave farewell to the corporate mass media hacks who they have accused of “misreporting” and spreading “false impressions”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – that’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (still) to most of us – have announced their intention to step back as senior members of the UK Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while still fully supporting the Queen.

It seems they are unhappy with certain aspects of the job – one of which appears to be the way their activities are reported in the press.

In that respect, This Writer thinks they’re right up with the rest of us.

Complaints and criticism of the way the general election has been reported are rife. And it seems these Royals are equally unhappy with the way they have been treated by the Fourth Estate.

In a statement on the Sussex Instagram page, they ripped into the Royal correspondents working for the UK’s mass media organisations [boldings mine]:

“Britain’s Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of the Royal Family as well as of their private lives. This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting.

“Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.”

The statement also announced a new publicity plan that takes them off the Royal Rota system, in which only a limited number of mainstream media organisations are allowed to attend Royal engagements – so they are obliged to share material that they gather there.

Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they will be adopting a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work:

“This updated approach aims to:

“Engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists;

“Invite specialist media to specific events/engagements to give greater access to their cause-driven activities, widening the spectrum of news coverage;

“Provide access to credible media outlets focused on objective news reporting to cover key moments and events.”

They will continue to share information directly to the wider public via their official communication channels.

This could really shake up the way Royal events are covered in the news.

Being somewhat long-in-the-tooth, This Writer doesn’t expect to benefit from the engagement with young, up-and-coming journalists – but I look forward to find out who these may be, and what grassroots organisations they Sussexes choose to carry their stories.

The idea of “widening the spectrum” of those who cover Royal news could really shake up a stagnant system, and if it jolts some of our more complacent reporters and corporations out of their smug security, I’m all for it.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the Sussexes want to go to the grassroots because they think less-established media organisations may be easier to manipulate.

I’ll be watching for that, too.

But at a time when the so-called media Establishment may have thought they had news coverage sewn up as propaganda for their chosen (right-wing, let’s face it) causes, this should come as a body blow.

Members of the UK’s fundamental institution don’t trust the Tory media – and they’re telling us not to trust them either.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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