Tag Archives: scheme

Sunak announces furlough scheme replacement. Is it any good?

After he served up this little howler – and pushed up Covid-19 infections massively, Rishi Sunak needs to make a good impression with his plan to replace the furlough scheme for jobs affected by Covid-19. Has he managed it?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new “job support scheme” to replace the “furlough” programme he has been running since lockdown began in March.

This new scheme will run for another six months until the end of April 2021.

What is it?

A six-month scheme starting on November 1.

To be eligible, employees must work a minimum of 33 per cent of their normal hours.

For the remaining hours not worked, the government and employer pay one-third of the wages each.

So employees working 33 per cent of their hours will receive at least 77 per cent of their pay.

Where will employers get the extra money?

According to BBC News:

Sunak announced a “pay as you grow” scheme for businesses which took government guaranteed loans during the crisis.

“Loans can now be extended from six to ten years nearly halving the average monthly repayment,” he said.

They can also move to interest only payments or suspend payments if they are “in real trouble” for up to six months.

He said no credit rating will be affected.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also be extended for up to 10 years.

There will also be a new loan scheme in January, the chancellor says.

He is also extending the scheme for self-employment on “similar terms” to the existing job support scheme.

The scheme is mainly for small and medium-sized firms. Only large firms that can prove they have been harmed by Covid will be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.

What about VAT?

Sunak is also cancelling the planned increase of VAT from five per cent to 20 per cent, which was due to come into effect in January.

Instead, the lower rate of five per cent will remain until 31 March next year.

Viable jobs?

Sunak said the new scheme is intended to support “viable” jobs only – and that should ring alarm bells:

Of course – Tories being Tories – certain extremely rich people are enjoying the continuation of their own subsidies at the same level:

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Did ‘activist lawyers’ tell Home Office its Windrush compensation scheme was a disaster, too?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

How unfortunate for the Home Office that it should fall foul of the lawyers twice in one day.

Or is it perhaps a sign of the Johnson government’s disregard for the law?

The Tory government’s much-maligned Windrush Compensation Scheme has been trashed by – one would expect – activist lawyers from no fewer than nine separate firms.

They say it is failing to provide access to justice – a claim that can only have gained validity after it was revealed that the HO tried to rush-deport 23 people illegally, because it had not allowed them their right to appeal.

The – activist – lawyers also said that while the Windrush scandal traumatised its victims, the compensation scheme is only worsening the trauma.

The HO has already confirmed that at least five people who applied for compensation died before receiving it.

Lawyers say they have experienced significant delays and difficulties filing claims for clients who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants and lost their jobs, housing or pensions as a result.

The letter says many applications appear to be “appear to be lost in a kind of bureaucratic limbo”, with some people forced to wait more than a year for decisions.

Look at this:

The decision to put the Home Office in charge of processing of claims was particularly problematic, they write, given the criticisms of the department made in Wendy Williams’ official inquiry into the scandal. Williams’ report identified a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” within the Home Office and “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

And now let’s all remember that the Home Office is carrying out its own inquiry into the death of refugee Mercy Baguma. What chance does justice have in a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” with “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”?

Coincidentally (or is it?) yesterday HO permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft announced:

Perhaps inevitably, this was one of the responses:

Source: Windrush payout scheme not fit for purpose, say lawyers | Windrush scandal | The Guardian

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Tories cave in to Rashford’s school meals campaign with scheme for holidays

Marcus Rashford: his campaign has won. But would it have succeeded if a member of the pubic had been making the call?

This is a victory – but you must remember that Boris Johnson wanted your children to starve.

It is only the fact that this was a public relations disaster that has changed his mind. If Marcus Rashford had not launched a popular campaign, the Tories would have withdrawn the cash and given it to their fat corporate friends instead.

Remember that while you read that 1.3 million children will now benefit from funding that Johnson had previously claimed was not available. What about the other 1.7 million? Will they still go hungry?

Almost 1.3 million school children in England – accounting for 15.4% of state-educated pupils – were eligible for and claiming free school meals according to the latest available data.

That’s interesting. It was three million in the stories about Mr Rashford’s campaign before he won.

He tweeted:

It is indeed.

England in 2020 is a place where the government deliberately tries to harm its citizens…

… and where it only gives anything back in fear of harmful publicity from a campaign by a highly-visible public figure. If Joe Bloggs from a small village had run this campaign, your children would be skin and bone by September.

Source: Marcus Rashford: School scheme extended after footballer’s campaign – BBC News

Ghoul Johnson spits on footballer’s school meals plea – he wants millions of children to STARVE

Marcus Rashford: he knows the value of government-provided meals for school-age children; Boris Johnson doesn’t.

Boris Johnson has announced a plan to force around three million school-age children to starve over the summer holidays.

He didn’t say it in quite those words when he rejected footballer Marcus Rashford’s plea to extend the free school meals scheme into the summer holidays – of course he didn’t – but that is what he meant.

Mr Rashford had written to Johnson, pleading for a change of heart from the prime minister who had decided to end the food voucher scheme, in an open letter telling of his own experiences of relying on free school meals. But his plea fell on deaf ears. Johnson doesn’t care about poor people’s children.

Instead, the prime minister’s spokesman said the government was making £63 million available for local authorities to help families struggling to afford food and other basic essentials – a fraction of the £115 million needed to feed school-age children alone.

Mr Rashford, who used food banks and received free meals as a child, has raised £20 million to boost food distribution with the charity FareShare – and may therefore be said to have done more to help feed school-age children than Johnson.

It seems the government – ever conscious of its image – has belatedly realised that this is a public relations disaster and tried to mitigate the effect by sending a minister on a round of the media to say Johnson’s gang will be putting £9 million into a holiday activities and food programme that will feed 50,000 children – just 1.67 per cent of the total number going hungry thanks to Johnson’s cruelty.

Fortunately, Mr Rashford has found allies beyond the government. Here’s the Co-op:

And of course the general public is behind him:

But Keir Starmer’s new New Labour party is notably silent:

And of course there’s always a Tory minister around to put their feet in their mouth and make matters worse. In this case – of all people – it had to be the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey:

In a plea to MPs he tweeted: “When you wake up this morning and run your shower, take a second to think about parents who have had their water turned off during lockdown”.

But Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey replied: “Water cannot be disconnected though.”

Ms Coffey is right that the law stops water firms disconnecting the supply to people’s homes. But the law doesn’t stop gas or electricity firms disconnecting their supplies, used for heating. That means while water can’t be switched off entirely, “hot water” can.

Marcus Rashford then stepped in – telling her: “I’m concerned this is the only tweet of mine you acknowledged. Please, put rivalries aside for a second, and make a difference #maketheuturn.”

Two hours later, after the backlash, Ms Coffey posted follow-up tweets addressed at the footballer.

She wrote: “I welcome your passion for supporting children and the most vulnerable in society – a passion we share.

“We are working to the same aim. I & this Govt will continue to actively help and support families and businesses through this emergency and beyond.

“We supported people renting and ensure they cannot be evicted & intervened with electricity suppliers on bills.

“We have kept schools open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. We will continue to support the economy and help all of us get through this.”

Weasel words. We have already seen that the government is withdrawing help and support from families. And it seems the people are not convinced:

It seems they are right to be sceptical, too. Senior Tory Robert Halfon has broken ranks to warn that even the meagre cash promised instead of free school meals will never reach the children who need it.

He said:

“The problem with these kinds of programmes is it’s very bureaucratic.

“People have to apply to the council, whereas the free school meal programme is very simple, families understand it and it goes to those who need it most.”

Asked if he supported Mr Rashford’s campaign, Mr Halfon told BBC Breakfast: “Yes I do. He is an inspiration, he is a hero of our time.”

He earned of a looming “ice age for vulnerable children”, with 2.5 million not learning, 4 million having no contact with their teachers and food insecurity nearly doubling.

“Families face not just health worries, but enormous financial anxiety and enormous stress,” Mr Halfon said.

Contrast this attitude with the hundreds of billions in corporate welfare that Johnson pulls out of the government’s back pocket whenever big business needs it:

That’s right – apparently Johnson can give big businesses (whose fat bosses are already hugely rich) £150 billion, but can’t scrape up 0.08 per cent of that to help feed starving kids. And people voted for this, by a landslide.

POSTSCRIPT: This Writer has been a long-term critic of Liberal Democrat AM Kirsty Williams, but she’s on the right side over this issue. As the Labour-run Welsh government’s education minister, she has announced that children here will continue to receive support throughout the summer holidays.

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Is rough sleeping set to rocket amid claim Tories are quietly withdrawing hotel room funding scheme

Back to the streets: do the Tories think the coronavirus crisis is over so they can dump homeless people back on the streets?

Homeless people are set to be forced back onto the streets after it was claimed the Tory government is quietly scrapping a scheme to house them in hotels during the coronavirus crisis.

According to the Manchester Evening News,

Civil servants have told Greater Manchester officials that the scheme – known as ‘Everyone In’ – is no longer being funded by central government and that March’s original Covid guidance to local authorities has been scrapped.

So far 1,600 homeless people with nowhere to self-isolate have been put up in emergency accommodation here during the crisis, including hundreds in hotels, as authorities were directed to protect them from the spread of the virus.

But a leaked report to the region’s combined authority reveals the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government has now ‘drawn a line’ under its programme and has told councils it will no longer be funded, although no ministerial statement has been made to that effect.

The government denies reneging on its commitments.

Indeed. Here‘s RightsNet:

The government has said that it does not recognise clams that it is winding up its support for rough sleepers helped off the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government press office has said:

“We do not recognise the claims made by Greater Manchester Combined Authority in one of their internal reports which was leaked to the media.

“Any suggestion that the government is reneging on the commitment set out at the start of this national emergency is entirely wrong. We have been clear councils should continue to provide safe accommodation for those who need it, and any suggestion that funding is being withdrawn or people asked to leave hotels by central government is entirely incorrect. This misleading information causes unneeded anxiety and confusion for vulnerable people at an already difficult time.”

Others see the matter differently:

https://twitter.com/CorbynistaTeen/status/1261392134118076416

Who’s right?

Well, we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?

All we have to do is check whether we see more people sleeping on the streets.

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School meal vouchers for poorest families ‘delayed’ – yet another Tory coronavirus fail

School meal: this image is from before the coronavirus lockdown. These kids are probably starving to death right now, waiting for their mythical Tory meal vouchers.

Oh, they’ve been delayed, have they? Funny, that…

Funny that the claim comes after This Site ran a poll asking whether anybody had received their vouchers – and two-thirds of the respondents said no.

Funny that the Tory government seems unable to supply anything that it has promised in the coronavirus crisis.

They promised plenty of personal protective equipment for NHS staff dealing with people who have the disease – and didn’t supply it. Medical professionals are dying, who should be helping to treat the virus, because of this failure.

They promised ventilators to stop people with the disease from dying of the pneumonia that kills them – and didn’t. This meant GP surgeries ended up asking some of the most vulnerable people in the UK to sign forms saying the did not want ventilators if they caught the disease – effectively signing their lives away.

They promised 100,000 tests per day to find carriers of the disease – and ended up turning away offers to supply test kits.

They promised to help victims of domestic abuse who have been shut in their homes with their abusers. No such help has been forthcoming.

They promised all kinds of financial packages to help businesses and employees hit by the pandemic – leaving gaping holes in the provision, through which many people are in danger of falling (if they haven’t already done so).

These Tories have promised the world, and delivered very little indeed – apart from at least 7,097 deaths so far.

So ask yourself: are they evil, or just monumentally stupid?

Many families whose children are eligible for free school meals have not received supermarket vouchers as promised by the government because of delays in the supply system, school leaders say.

Headteachers and school business managers in England said the problem was widespread, and many took to social media to complain about difficulties accessing the scheme and delays in delivering vouchers to the families who need them.

Until now there has been support for the government’s announcement of a national voucher scheme to ensure that children from the poorest families continue to receive free meals while schools are closed during the Covid-19 crisis.

Source: UK’s poorest families suffering as free school meal vouchers delayed | Education | The Guardian

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Don’t blame Tory ventilator failure on Brexit – it was simple incompetence

Sorry if it’s off-message but This Writer is entirely willing to believe the Tory government’s reason for failing to join a European Union scheme to provide ventilators during the coronavirus crisis.

Some have claimed that the failure to join an EU scheme was a result of Brexit-related prejudice, but this doesn’t ring true.

The announcement that the government had decided to pursue its own scheme smacks of an organisation trying to save face after making a serious mistake – and this is borne out by the later admission that emails from the EU about the scheme had been lost in the government’s system.

(I don’t believe the government didn’t get those emails; it’s far more likely that they simply weren’t redirected to the right people.)

A blunder like that would be entirely in line with Tory behaviour with regard to the coronavirus. I’ve spent most of March 27 writing about failures relating to the various schemes dreamed up by the Tories to cope with the virus and its effects on UK society, which has been almost entirely locked down.

But it didn’t help that they tried to save face with rubbish excuses. Consider this:

Pathetic.

A UK government spokesperson later clarified: “Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive an invitation in time to join in four joint procurements in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

And he was then put straight on Twitter:

So, once again, this is a tale of Tory ineptitude and failed attempts to hide it. We had to eliminate the lies to arrive at the fact.

And once again, the fact is that the Tories have stupidly thrown away a chance to get badly-needed ventilators into the UK, quickly. Once again, their stupidity has put lives at risk.

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‘Help to Buy’ hijacked by the rich – or do Tories really think £100,000 earners are struggling?

Tories really have strange priorities, don’t they?

They seem to think people earning more than 80,000 a year – those in the top five per cent of earners in the entire UK – are more likely to need help getting onto the housing ladder than the other 95 per cent.

Can you understand that?

At the time of writing – less than an hour into the New Year and several bevvies the worse for wear – all I can suggest is that the Tories have been desperately trying to shore up the finances of this endangered minority of extremely rich people, in case Labour won the election on December 12.

But Labour didn’t win the election. And it’s the rest of us who are endangered.

So my guess is that in reality, the Tories were just pretending to be helping struggling first-time buyers.

They were previously criticised for handing money over to help pay for second homes, remember.

And I predict that many more policies will be presented as helping the poor… and then turn out to be excuses to give cash to people who don’t need it.

Meanwhile the rest of us will go to the dogs.

If you hear any Tory voters complaining, kindly remind them that it’s what they wanted. No – it’s what they demanded. And tell them: Own it.

Government loans to help families onto the housing ladder have been hijacked by rich buyers, new figures reveal.

The loans, part of the Help To Buy programme launched by former Tory chancellor George Osborne, see the government lend up to 20% of the cost of a newly built home to buyers.

But more than 10,000 of the loans have been taken out by households earning more than £100,000 a year, according to figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

And almost 16,000 have been taken out by households with an income between £80,000 and £100,000.

Source: Help to Buy hijacked by rich as 10,000 loans handed to £100,000 earners – Mirror Online

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General election 2019: Labour pledges to pilot Universal Basic Income

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UBI would change all that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Services to be hit include:

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

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

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

 Reduction in intravenous feeds through “better prescribing”.

According to The Guardian,

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

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

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

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

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

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