Tag Archives: single

Coronavirus: Wales starts easing the lockdown – one rule at a time

The Welsh government has announced that it is easing lockdown restrictions – but only one part of them, and for a very good reason.

From Monday, people from two different households in the same local area will be able to meet up outdoors. They must continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

As a general rule, people will not be allowed to travel more than five miles for these meetings – which comes hard for those of us in rural areas who have friends more than five miles away that we haven’t seen in nearly three months.

There will be exceptions including travelling to work, shopping for essentials that aren’t available locally, and to seek care.

That last exception seems to be an attempt to legitimise behaviour like Dominic Cummings’s trip from London to Durham, which caused a hugely embarrassing scandal that the Tory government has been trying to silence for the last week.

The reason for lifting just one rule at a time is simple, as First Minister Mark Drakeford was told:

“Making more than one significant relaxation was too dangerous because if the infection rate went up, it would not be clear what had caused it.”

Contrast that with Boris Johnson’s idiotic rush to get everybody back to work as soon as possible, and damn the consequences!

Is it any wonder that this decision has been followed by another one – to stop showing the daily number of Covid-19-related deaths?

Source: Why the Welsh Government is only making one major lockdown change | Wales – ITV News

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Coronavirus-prompted policy change means single parents are losing child maintenance cash

How will they cope: the DWP’s decision to accept claimed losses of income at face value means single parents are losing maintenance payments that feed them and their children.

The Department for Work and Pensions is stripping thousands of single parents of child maintenance payments – on the basis of word-of-mouth.

Its Child Maintenance Service is allowing non-resident parents to stop or reduce the amount they pay towards the upkeep of their child, without any investigation or appeal.

In many cases, the parent only discovered their payments had been altered after the full amount failed to arrive in their bank account.

Single parent charity Gingerbread is now calling for the CMS at least to write to single parents, advising them of any changes to their payments.

The DWP has admitted it is accepting verbal evidence of reduction of income – without checking – but will revert to the previous standards when the crisis is over.

This means smaller payments for many struggling families in the interim. How can the government pretend this is fair?

Since the end of March, single parent charity Gingerbread has experienced a sharp rise in calls from parents over missing – or reduced – payments.

And it’s having devastating effects on single parent families – almost half of whom are already in poverty.

“The main issue is that the CMS is accepting verbal evidence over the phone,” explained Joe Richardson, Policy and Research Officer for Gingerbread.

“They’ll take the paying parent at face value, so they can reduce or stop the payment with no verification required. The system is quite simply to ring up and stop paying.”

Source: Single parents losing out on hundreds in child maintenance payments due to coronavirus – Mirror Online

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Sickening: Theresa May slashes benefits for children who have lost a parent and calls it ‘fair’

Do the Tories still think people are stupid enough to believe them when they lie that taking away the tax-funded benefits they need in order to subsidise the rich is “fair”?

Theresa May has used that line several times too often.

But I dare say she will continue to use it until we demonstrate to her what we consider to be fair.

That is, the removal of Mrs May and as many Conservatives as possible from Parliament, never again to blight our country with their deranged concept of ‘fairness’.

Besides…

We all know she’s lying. She doesn’t think it’s fair. She just wants the money for herself and the Tories.

Theresa May has defended the Tories’ latest round of cruel welfare cuts as “fair” to the thousands of families being hit.

Speaking on a trip to the Middle East, Mrs May said it was right to slash payments to bereaved children who have lost a parent.

A raft of welfare cuts are due to come into force this week including swingeing reduction in payments to many disabled people, and an end to extra child benefit payments to families which have a third child.

One of the most controversial cuts will see families lose bereavement payments 18 months after a parent has died.

Previously families would get money to support them until a child turned 18 years old.

Source: Theresa May defends slashing benefits for children who have lost a parent – Mirror Online


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“Hey, you! Don’t buy that Christmas single! Buy this!” Or why not buy ’em all?

The cover to Hobo’s Christmas, by Guy Calhoun.

It seems there’s a slight controversy about which political Christmas single we should all be buying.

Should it be the single in memory of Jo Cox – a cover of The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want?

The Stones themselves have waived their claim on royalties, meaning more money from each sale will go to the Jo Cox Foundation – and bookmaker William Hill has said it will donate money staked on the single being Christmas Number One to charity.

You can use this link to buy it, and here’s the video:

Or should it be the piece in support of Jeremy Corbyn, JC4PM4ME?

All profits from this one go to food bank charity The Trussell Trust, it is available here on CD/Vinyl, here on download, and there’s a video as well:

… and then this morning This Blog received a comment from ‘malsainsbury’ about another Christmas song, by her son Guy Calhoun.

It’s called Hobo’s Christmas. All proceeds will be donated to charities supporting the homeless, and This Writer has a soft spot for it because the video was shot in my original home city, Bristol.

You can buy it here, and – guess what? – there’s a video:

Whatever you think of these songs – and I’ve seen some fairly vitriolic remarks about the ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ single – they have all been created with good intent, to help charities and the people who rely on them.

Whether you buy one, all, or none of them is up to you.

If you do buy any of them – have a Merry Christmas! You’ll be helping others to do the same.

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Labour pledges new support for family carers

Suffering: If fibromyalgia displayed visible signs, this is how a sufferer would look. Imagine how such a person would feel - physically and emotionally - if they were left alone this Christmas. Too much trouble for family; no fair-weather friends left; and a government that won't even investigate if they were found dead after the holidays.

Suffering: Mrs Mike has fibromyalgia which – if it were visible – would look like this (according to the experts).

You don’t get this kind of offer from the Conservatives, Lib Dems or other right-wingers, you know.

The Labour Party is announcing a new package of support to help England’s 5.4 million unpaid family carers.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, today set out the party’s plans, if it is elected to government in May.

The package of measures includes:

  • A new duty on the NHS to identify family carers, so they can get the right help and support, and a new right for carers to ask for an annual health check – allowing problems to be identified earlier and prevent costs escalating.
  • A single point of contact with care services for families caring for people with the greatest needs, so they don’t have to battle different parts of the system.
  • Ensuring the funding currently identified for carers’ breaks is properly ring-fenced, to make sure all the money goes to family carers.
  • Consulting with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexible working for family carers, which could include measures such as a new period of ‘adjustment leave’ to help families cope with a short-term crisis.
  • Recognising the transport costs facing family carers, by including family carers in the groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions.
  • Abolishing the bedroom tax – which hits 60,000 carers and penalises them for the extra facilities they need.

Ms Kendall said: “Family life is changing and more and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. This can often be a real struggle and many families feel pushed to breaking point.

“Too often carers have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers who are in paid work have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right help to care or flexible working hours.

“Most unpaid carers don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own health, and many don’t come forward for help or get any breaks. Often people don’t even see themselves as being a carer – they’re just a son, daughter, husband, wife or partner trying to look after the person they love.

“It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. We need to improve support for families, and Labour’s package of measures will make a real and practical difference to their lives.”

Experienced Vox Political readers will know that this writer is a carer. Looking at what Ms Kendall said – yes, I had to give up my job to become a full-time carer (not a hardship as the pay and conditions were miserable); no, I don’t get any breaks – the last holiday I had was in 2002; no, I get very little in return – especially from the current government.

There is support already available via the local carers’ service, and it is to be hoped that these proposals – if implemented under a future Labour government, will supplement that service.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Why ‘Sam Cam’ has turned me off Comic Relief

Comic Relief should be about this - helping children across the world to have a better life through laughter-based events (these were with Ewan McGregor in Africa in 1999). It's not about giving more publicity to media-savvy politicians.

Comic Relief should be about this – helping children across the world to have a better life through laughter-based events (these were with Ewan McGregor in Africa in 1999). It’s not about giving more publicity to media-savvy politicians.

I hate to be a party pooper but the revelation that Samantha Cameron had donned a red wig and entered the Downing Street kitchen to raise cash for Comic Relief with a bit of baking filled this columnist with dismay.

It was a fake, cynical, publicity-minded set-up that deserved to be ridiculed rather than tolerated. It stank. And it did the comedy-based charity no credit whatsoever.

How many people rushed to their telephones to ask whether Mrs Cameron would get a segment in the telethon itself – so they would know when to switch off?

Did nobody stop to think that the sight of the Camerons’ fully-equipped contemporary kitchen, reported to have cost £25,000, might be offensive to those of us who can’t afford such luxuries as a Magimix blender (£299), a £130 toaster or a £895 dishwasher?

The real giveaway was the PR-speak that we’re supposed to believe came from the head of the Prime Minister’s appendage wife: “Baking is such a brilliant and easy way to raise money for Red Nose Day,” we are told she said, in exactly the formulaic way that PR people like to write such things. “I know the children are really looking forward to selling our cakes around the offices in Downing Street.”

To staff who had already been told they had to buy, one would imagine.

It’s bad enough that somebody thought David Cameron should be included in the video for this year’s charity single – entitled ‘One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks) and performed by One Direction. Admittedly, Cameron likes kicking teenagers, and always in only One Direction – down.

Not a good advert for the cause.

It never could have been. The hypocrisy of the situation is staggering. Here we have the Prime Minister who has done more to increase poverty in the UK than anyone since Thatcher, posing as somebody who cares about the plight of the destitute.

It’s despicable and I won’t be having it on my television.

When will these politicians – along with their spouses and, in this case, the bosses of Comic Relief – realise that appearing on charity events is a bad idea? First they alienate everybody who disagrees with their political stance – more than three-quarters of the country, in Cameron’s case. Then they alienate everybody who despises hypocrisy (as explained above).

It isn’t worth it.

For the sake of balance, allow me to add: I hated it when Tony Blair did a turn, and at least his sketch had a certain amount of wit about it.

Why is Iain Duncan Smith now demonising step-parents?

Together with the right-wing press, he has already persuaded the general public to turn on the sick, the disabled, and the unemployed. Now Iain Duncan Smith (or Insidious Dole-Snatcher, as he has been dubbed) is turning his sights onto so-called “broken” families.

Iain Duncan Smith is a strange, strange man. His latest speech is proof of this. In it, he tells us all why it is a bad thing for parents to break up with their partners and form new relationships.

Apparently it’s much better to stay locked into loveless marriages, creating myriad social and psychological problems for the children, than it is to accept that a relationship isn’t working and move on to something better.

The Crip-killer General turned his attention on so-called “broken” families last week, announcing a series of new “outcome measures” whose stated intention is to track whether his policies promote “lasting life change”.

(I think we can be sure that anyone who falls foul of Mr Smith’s odious standards will certainly endure “lasting life change” of some kind – like the average of 73 people per week who, during assessment for his Employment and Support Allowance, die. You can’t get a more lasting life change than death!)

The first of these new measures checks up on the proportion of children who live with the same parents from birth, and asks whether those parents have a good-quality relationship.

“We are driving home the message that social programmes should promote family stability and avert breakdown,” he said.

Let’s consider the implications of what he’s saying. He wants to keep families together – that’s a good thing, right?

Not always. Notice he’s not suggesting that he’ll do anything real to help families with problems. He’ll just check whether they’re happy or not.

I know a thing or three about families that break up. I’m a stepfather myself (well, my stepson and stepdaughter consider me that way, even though their mother and I never married). I got into the relationship after the father had left; mother and children were not a very happy family at the time. There were arguments and upsets – a lot of dysfunctionality.

This changed after I joined them. It took a while, I admit, but things started to change for the better. Some long-term issues haven’t fully healed but for the most part, things turned out all right. Nobody in the family is a criminal. The children – who are both now adults – have held down jobs, although my stepson’s time in a local theatre was cut short when the government cut its funding. Thanks for nothing, Mr Smith!

What I’m saying is, family break-up does not lead, inevitably, to social problems and crime, and Mr Smith does the people of the UK a huge disservice by implying this.

In fact, he’s attacking step-parents, single parents – anyone who does not fit into his narrow-minded opinion of what constitutes a proper family group. He sees us all as a problem that he needs to fix.

No thank you, Mr Smith! My family and I got along just fine without you!

And besides, what’s he going to do to help families with problems?

Is the Department for Work and Pensions going to come into family homes to measure whether children are growing up in “stable, loving families”? Or will private companies be paid to force couples to stay together, no matter what real-life problems this may cause? Is the government seriously suggesting abusive partners should be kept in family homes?

Are couples looking at benefit sanctions, if they decide to split up – in effect denying them the short-term help they would need to get back on their feet as individuals? This seems more likely.

In fact the only solid plan I could find was to hand over huge wodges of cash to private companies Prevista, Social Finance and 3SC – apparently to shoehorn youngsters into the state-sponsored slavery known as the “work programme”.

So it’s actually just a get-rich quick scheme for companies run by Mr Smith’s friends. Let’s all take a moment to remember how one company – I believe it was A4E but I sit ready to be corrected – took £400 per claimant, before handing them over to Job Centre Plus and a £300 work scheme. The £100 taken by the company – for doing nothing – was excused as an administration cost.

I suppose we could call it jobs for the boys (and girls).

… Just not our boys and girls.