Tag Archives: Scotland

Hated disability ‘benefit’ to be replaced in Scotland – with no dreaded face-to-face assessments

Meanwhile, in England and Wales: it’s not quite this bad but the death toll suggests it might as well be.

It’s easy to understand why the Scottish National Party is so popular north of the border – it actually fulfils its promises.

For example: it is replacing the hated Tory Personal Independence Payment for people living with disabilities.

The new Adult Disability Payment will be phased in next year, providing financial support to cover the extra costs faced by people with disabilities.

The SNP-run Scottish government has announced that the benefit will take a new approach, to ensure dignity, fairness and respect.

According to the Daily Record:

Social Security Scotland will make decisions about entitlement for ADP using the applicant’s account of their circumstances and existing supporting information, where possible.

The number of face-to-face assessments will be significantly reduced and will only be necessary when it is the only practicable way to make a decision.

Most consultations will be carried out over the phone, but can be face-to-face in a GP surgery or even at home – whatever works best for the person applying.

And claimants will no longer be asked to carry out tasks to demonstrate how their disability, long-term illness or mental health condition affects them as part of the application process.

This promises to be a huge improvement. Also helpful will be the provision of supporting material which may include a social care needs assessment, a report from a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and information from a carer.

As a carer myself, This Writer would have loved to be able to submit information to support Mrs Mike’s PIP (and ESA) claims.

But anything can seem good before it has actually been tested.

I would like to hear from claimants of the new benefit, once it starts coming in. Let’s hope they say good things about it.

Source: PIP to be replaced by new disability payment which includes no face-to-face assessments – Daily Record

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The Tories are running scared into the local elections – and scared Tories are DANGEROUS Tories

Face of fear: Boris Johnson’s time is running out. The local elections will show him just how short that time may be. How far is he prepared to go to hold on to power?

Enjoy this video by Richard Murphy (I did):

Yes – Tory policies are going very badly, and the propaganda machine won’t be able to hide that from the majority of us when those failures hit our quality of life.

Brexit has screwed our businesses.

Covid-19 isn’t over – there could be another wave by July (possibly fuelled by variant strains that have bred in the gap between vaccination doses).

The Conservative government is rife with corruption.

And nationalism is on the rise in Wales and Scotland, while Northern Ireland is on fire because Unionists have realised that they have been sold out by the Westminster government and their own DUP politicians who supported the Tories during Theresa May’s ministry.

What’s Boris Johnson’s response?

He’s provoking people. He’s trying to blame those who oppose as if they are the provocateurs.

Through his ‘identity politics’ process of calling out those he describes as “woke”, who he is therefore chastising for their commitment to equality on a range of grounds… he is trying to provoke [them] to attack him.

That is standard right-wing … fascist policy.

Murphy’s conclusion is accurate, too, I think:

They know that their policies are failing so all they can do is use blunt force to try to maintain their position in office.

… Like the fascists they are.

Hence the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that proposes draconian new powers for the police, who are to be used as political tools, putting down any opposition to Tory dictatorship. And to ensure that these powers are exercised, what do the Tories do?

They are provoking crowds; they are seeking riots.

Because then they can point at the rioters, and at the peaceful people who agree with the reasons for rioting, and claim that they are the enemy.

Toryism is about “othering”. It is about dividing us and setting us against each other, so we fail to act against our real enemy: them.

It is encapsulated in the story about the Tory, the worker and the immigrant:

A Tory, a worker, and an immigrant are sitting at a table with 20 biscuits. The banker takes 19 biscuits, turns to the worker and says: “Watch out, that immigrant is going to take your cookie away.”

Murphy’s last point is chilling:

They’re not sure they want to go without a fight and we don’t know how tough that fight is going to be.

This Writer reckons it will be very tough.

Tories don’t mind spilling the blood of poor people. In fact, they delight in it. When they send the police to break up protest demonstrations, they see it as poor people fighting among themselves. It’s a huge jolly for them.

In the past, Tories have always known when to give up. They’ve recognised the signs and withdrawn before events escalated too far. That’s why the UK has never had a popular uprising or revolution like those in France, Russia, or China, to name a few other countries.

But the current Tory leadership isn’t like those old statespeople. Boris Johnson wants to hold on to power and will do anything to keep it.

I wonder what we’ll be prepared to do when the time comes to take it away from him.

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Why are devolved governments accused of failure after the Tories couldn’t roll out Covid vaccine properly?

Tory mouthpiece news media seem keen to blame the UK’s devolved governments for failing to roll out Covid-19 vaccines fast enough – but in fact the blame lies with the Conservative-led Westminster government.

Distribution of the vaccines is being carried out centrally from Westminster but has been hampered by delays in obtaining supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.

It seems that, as a result, the Tories have been restricting supplies to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and then blaming the devolved governments in those other countries (none of which have Conservative-run administrations) for providing a smaller proportion of injections.

According to Nation.Cymru,

In the run up to Christmas Frontline NHS staff in Wales complained they were struggling to get access to the recently launched Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and Len Richards, the chief executive of Cardiff and Vale University health board, warned of “an indisputable supply and demand constraint” in an email and said access to the jab was being rationed because “the supply is so low”.

What do you think of this?

Should the Tories get away with restricting vaccine supplies and then blaming their counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for failing to protect as many people?

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BBC’s Munchetty calls out Williamson for forcing BAME English children to sit exams. Gammons are furious

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was put on the back foot over his plan to force disadvantaged black and minority ethnic children in England to sit exams, despite the disruption of Covid-19 – and racists across the UK supported him.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Naga Munchetty, he gave an incoherent performance in which he tried to say that disadvantaged children always fare better in exams than when their results depend on teacher assessments.

Was he basing his claim on the fiasco that he himself caused last summer – when a Tory government-created computer algorithm automatically assigned higher grades to pupils at public schools and artificially lowered those of pupils considered to be disadvantaged, without any reference to the grades that had been predicted for them, if they had been able to take exams as normal?

I think he was.

Look at this:

” Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and children from Black and ethnic minorities communities are given the best advantage by sitting examinations and having that test.”

Because it means they won’t fall foul of Williamson’s brutally biased algorithm?

Munchetty interrupted, setting him up for a fall: “I understand from that point then that those disadvantaged children in Wales and Scotland are going to be more disadvantaged because they’re not having exams.”

This should put an obvious further question in viewers’ minds: What if, when it happens, they’re not? What if the Welsh and Scottish systems provide accurate assessments of these pupils’ abilities?

Won’t Williamson – and the government he represents – then appear to be attacking children who are trying to work their way out of the disadvantages that their social positions have forced on them, simply because he can?

Sadly, our thickie Education Secretary didn’t even realise he was walking into a trap, and carried on blithely: “Every study that has been carried out that’s looked at this has shown that predicted grades most disadvantage children from the poorest backgrounds.

“Predicted grades and teacher assessments disadvantage children from Black and ethnic minorities so we do believe exam assessment is the best form.”

His predicted grades, maybe. Teacher assessments were overridden by his predictions, as the huge scandal over school exams last summer made clear.

This Writer thinks we’re going to see a shocking contrast between exam scores for disadvantaged and BAME children in England and those in the rest of the UK next summer.

The kids in England – whether they sit exams or not – or likely to fall far behind those in the other countries, where their abilities will be assessed using a fair system that has nothing to do with Tory algorithms that falsely weight results in favour of kids who are already absurdly privileged.

And Williamson – along with his corrupt Tory pals – will be exposed again.

Of course the gammons in the BBC Breakfast News audience were incensed at Munchetty for daring to hint that their Tory minister might possibly discriminate against people of minority racial backgrounds and the poor (as they have throughout history):

If you check the critics’ bios, you’ll see that most of them are anonymous, with few followers – classic signs of trolls or paid bots.

And it seems they flooded Twitter after the interview in the hope that they could fool you into thinking Munchetty was in the wrong.

She wasn’t. I trust Vox Political readers can think for themselves, rather than be guided by people who are paid to lie to you.

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#Lockdown2 highlights the Tory way: lie in haste – deny at leisure

Robert Jenrick: every time he turns up he’s telling a different story.

The Johnson government’s promises about its November lockdown in England – and the effect it will have on the other UK countries – are falling apart. Quelle surprise.

It should be clear to even the most casual spectator that it is now the Tory way to make wild promises alongside a major announcement of this kind, in order to put people off their guard.

They then renege on those promises in the days following the announcement – if they aren’t called out on the falsehoods first.

So here we see Boris Johnson telling the House of Commons that there will be funding to keep employees in furlough – across the UK, even in countries where lockdown does not coincide exactly with that in England…

… and Robert Jenrick, not 24 hours later, confirming that it won’t.

Kay Burley’s response to Jenrick is well worth preserving here:

“Don’t worry about repeating yourself, it’s very important to the people of Scotland. It might make the difference between being able to feed their families and not.”

That also applies to Wales; it applies to Northern Ireland.

Water off a duck’s back to Jenrick, though. He genuinely couldn’t care less if your kids starve.

The lie was told by Boris Johnson to the leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross – but people all over Scotland will be harmed because of it:

Perhaps less critically-important is the ability to play tennis and golf.

Michael Gove said on Sunday that tennis courts and golf courses would be open during the lockdown. Jenrick then merrily told BBC Breakfast News that they wouldn’t:

Worst of it all is that we can’t trust a word that Jenrick said – and I’m not referring to the fact that, in terms of corruption, he’s as bent as a nine-pound note.

Consider the knot into which he tied himself when talking about the new plan to test everybody in Liverpool for Covid-19:

Oh, really?

So how many tests are available to Liverpool, then?

He didn’t know.

It’s another test, track and trace disaster-in-the-making – and another Tory lie.

I don’t think any UK country will get furlough cash after December 2; Johnson just said that to keep us all quiet.

I don’t particularly care about tennis courts and golf courses but I’m sure those who do will be upset that they must close. In fact, all sporting facilities, including local gyms (for example) perform a vital function for not just physical but also mental health, and there is a strong argument for keeping them open that the Johnson government won’t hear, because it isn’t actually interested in our health at all.

And I certainly don’t think a Labour city like Liverpool is going to get the benefit of a decent Covid-19 testing system when the Tories haven’t managed it anywhere else in the UK!

The tactic is clear: say what people want to hear – because the line can always be changed tomorrow.

Next week the Tories and their Twitter trolls will be denying that they ever misled us – and that will be another lie to add to the list.

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Thuggish attack on wheelchair user shows anti-disability prejudice is alive and thriving

It says everything about the UK under Conservative rule that people feel empowered to physically abuse the most vulnerable in society.

It’s bad enough that racism is running rampant but disablism is at a high – all thanks to attitudes carefully nurtured by the Tories and their lackey media.

Thugs are following the example of the Tories, whose attitude is that they can do whatever they want to whoever they want.

The Tories have spent years denying the existence of disabled people’s impairments, starving them of benefits until many of them have died – just as they have denied black and minority ethnic people’s right even to live in the UK.

Is it any wonder, then, that incidents like this happen?

Police are hunting a violent thug who attacked a disabled wheelchair user by smacking him in the face.

An investigation into the alleged incident has been launched after a man reported being verbally abused on Florence Place, Perth, on Wednesday June 17.

The victim, who was using an electric wheelchair, was verbally abused with a disgusting comment about his disability before being approached by two males.

He was then left with a facial injury after being whacked by one of the men.

Source: Disabled man in wheelchair smacked in the face by violent thug on Scots street as cops launch probe – Daily Record

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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

BBC editor’s TWITTER clarification after ‘attack’ on Sturgeon in TELEVISION report. Where’s the TV apology?

Nicola Sturgeon: “Never in my entire political career have I ‘enjoyed’ anything less than this.”

Sarah Smith should not be allowed to get away with a mere attempt at clarification of this on Twitter alone, where her words will be seen by a tiny few, compared with those who saw her report.

Scottish viewers of BBC news were left fuming after Ms Smith gave a report in which she clearly stated that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was “enjoying” setting her own rules for the Covid-19 lockdown. Ms Sturgeon denied the claim:

Responses on Twitter have been uniformly along these lines:

Ms Smith has tweeted a claim that she meant Ms Sturgeon was “embracing” the opportunity to make law on Covid-19 – and has received equally short shrift from the object of her comment:

It isn’t an apology, is it?

That’s why I’m saying Ms Smith should return to Scottish screens and broadcast a full and frank apology for this astonishing piece of editorialising.

It was never her place to suggest that Ms Sturgeon was enjoying an inappropriate emotional response to the responsibility of setting policy on what is a life-and-death matter for millions of people.

And it seems clear that, for allowing this, the BBC as a whole must change its ways (and explain how it will achieve this).

 

Coronavirus: the Tories are trying to blackmail other UK countries into lifting lockdown early

Rishi Sunak: he seems to be denying the facts of the coronavirus crisis, in order to force an early end to the lockdown.

Never underestimate a Tory minister who apparently has mass murder in mind:

It seems Rishi Sunak is upset that the Scottish Parliament is more concerned with saving people’s lives than getting the economy back up and running for the benefit of a cadre of lazy billionaires, and has threatened to withdraw funding for the “furlough” scheme that pays for workers to stay at home if Holyrood extends the lockdown longer than Westminster.

The UK-wide furlough scheme has been extended until October, but when Scottish ministers called for clarity about the future, they received a discouraging response:

Scottish economy ministers Kate Forbes and Fiona Hyslop … appealed to the Treausry for assurances that workers will continue to access support even if Scottish firms are not reopened at the same time as English ones.

In a letter to the Chancellor, they wrote: “We understand that the support will need to be scaled back over time, but it is imperative that is done in a carefully considered way, and reflects the economic priorities of each of the four nations and the different sectors of our economies.

“The ability to stagger the closure of the scheme may be beneficial in considering how we safely exit the restrictions currently in place.”

But [a] Downing Street source said that furlough payments are now likely to be distributed by the Treasury on a “sector-by-sector” rather than geographical basis.

The Conservative government has made it clear that it intends to lift the lockdown as soon as it considers this to be possible – but has given no reassurances at all that it will carry out any tests to prove that it is safe to do so.

Indeed, the plan to force schools to reopen at the beginning of June has become a raging controversy, with fears that teachers, parents and friends could fall victim to Covid-19, and children themselves (who seem likely to suffer only light symptoms of that disease) may succumb to a follow-on infection that bears similarities to Kawasaki disease.

Conservatives have shown no concern about these issues at all.

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Scottish boosts for carers make those in the rest of the UK look second-class 

Care: the Tories don’t.

The Scottish Parliament has announced another boost for carers – this time those who work unpaid apart from receiving the government allowance.

It’s only a fortnight since the UK government refused to give people employed as carers the real living wage – as opposed to the fake ‘national’ living wage the Conservatives mocked up a few years ago.

Carers employed in Scotland already receive the real living wage and are therefore £1.09 per hour better-off than those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Now, the SNP-run Scottish Parliament has announced a one-off Carers’ Allowance top-up of £230.10 in June, to be paid in recognition of the extra pressures unpaid carers are facing because of the coronavirus crisis and lockdown.

And Scottish carers already receive a supplement of £230.10, twice a year.

The top-up announcement means they will receive £690.30 more than their counterparts in the other UK countries this year.

It establishes a two-tier pay pattern for carers in the UK, with those in Scotland automatically better-off than the others, who are therefore now second-class.

Carers in the rest of the UK are already agitating for the national government in London to even up the balance:

Chief Executive of Carers UK Helen Walker said: “The UK Government needs to do its part to ensure the rest of the UK’s unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance – and providing upwards of 35 hours of care a week – also receive a coronavirus supplement.

“This is imperative to show carers that the Government recognises the additional financial costs that they are facing at this time.

“Caring Behind Closed Doors, our research into carers’ experiences during lockdown, showed 81 per cent of unpaid carers had extra financial costs as a result of the crisis.

“At the same time, unpaid carers are under extra pressure, providing more care and not getting breaks.”

This Writer used to be a carer, of course. I received Carers’ Allowance for many years and only gave it up because my earnings from Vox Political meant I was no longer eligible for it.

I still do the work, of course – and if I was still receiving the allowance, I would be furious that the UK government is saying – even if only by default – that my work is less valuable because I don’t live in Scotland; that caring is as much a postcode lottery as the Tories have made healthcare.

Some might argue that it is unfair for Scotland to put the UK’s Tory government in this position – and it’s a reasonable argument.

But if Scotland can afford it, then there’s no reason the much richer, national government can’t. It’s just a matter of priorities.

Source: Coronavirus: Scottish unpaid carers set to receive £230 one-off Carer’s Allowance top-up – Welfare Weekly

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