Tag Archives: statutory

Coffey’s not your mate! Watch her dodge duty of care to vulnerable benefit claimants

Therese Coffey: she’ll dodge any implication that she has a duty of care to vulnerable benefit claimants – remember, she couldn’t care less about a human being who starved to death because of the decisions of her Tory colleagues.

This is very revealing.

Questioned on whether the Tory government has a duty of care towards vulnerable benefit claimants – think “people with disabilities”, “people with mental health issues”, “people with long-term illnesses” – Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey could only say that no such duty has been written into the statute books.

She avoided giving an opinion on whether she had a moral duty to look after the interests of people claiming state benefits:

Well she would, wouldn’t she?

Since 2010, the Conservatives have presided over – no, they’ve precipitated – the deaths of uncounted numbers of people: with disabilities, with long-term illnesses, with mental health problems, in care homes, in their old age, and I’m sure I’m missing a few categories.

They have deliberately avoided any effort to count the dead, saying once people have been pushed off benefits, the government has no responsibility for them.

But that isn’t true.

There’s a question of whether the government is right to deny benefits to people, or to make them so low that people starve, or fall into despair, and die.

That’s where the moral question is useful.

Is there a likelihood that a person’s health will suffer as a result of benefit denial?

If so, shouldn’t the government monitor their progress?

If not – how does the government know, and shouldn’t it monitor them anyway, to make sure they have other means of support – both financial and mental?

That’s the question Ms Abrahams was asking.

Ms Coffey’s response tells you everything you need to know about her, and the Tory government she represents.

They say they aren’t killing anybody, but it’s only because they aren’t actually stabbing or shooting people. The effect is the same.

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Commons Speaker refuses bid to debate government diktats – but it may IMPROVE democracy

Speaking up: Lindsay Hoyle wasn’t quite this active in his speech, but his words were strong.

What was the point of Lindsay Hoyle’s intervention about Boris Johnson treating Parliament with contempt?

He spoke up to say the way the government has used secondary legislation – statutory instruments – to exercise power in the Covid-19 crisis has been “totally unsatisfactory”.

But then he said he’s blocking an amendment of the temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 – that allows Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to use those powers!

See for yourself:

He did say that he’ll be extremely sympathetic to motions that call for the government to send ministers to the Commons to defend undemocratic moves to restrict citizens’ freedoms in the future.

And it seems likely that Tory backbenchers will take advantage of this; all is not well between Downing Street and the Tory backbenches.

It raises a crucial question:

Could Tory rebels bring Johnson down – in the middle of a national health crisis – in the name of democracy?

Amazingly, because of Keir Starmer’s assurances of support, it seems the government is more likely to be defeated by members of its own party than by Her Majesty’s Opposition – and that’s an unhealthy position for a Labour leader.

The public will see that Starmer is not doing the job for which he was elected and will turn further against him.

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Will the first Parliamentary row of the autumn be over this obscure committee?

By the back door: Theresa May wants to inflict hundreds of “corrections” (read: perversions) on EU laws before allowing them onto the UK statute book.

This Writer had never before heard of the obscure Committee of Selection – but its members will decide whether the minority Conservative government will be able to pervert thousands of EU laws, without a single vote in Parliament.

The Tories want to pass a huge number of Statutory Instruments (SIs) – legislation that does not require a vote in Parliament as it does not change the broad framework of an Act, but only the details of its operation.

For the Tories, the Repeal Bill represents an opportunity to steal rights from UK citizens – and already the alarm has been raised over workers’ and consumers’ rights, environmental standards and devolved powers.

In the last Parliament, the Conservatives claimed five of the nine MPs on the committee, but officials have advised they are entitled to four only, after their Commons majority was destroyed. Nevertheless, they are insisting on keeping their five representatives.

Tough.

They have lost their Parliamentary majority; they do not have the right to try to bully anybody – especially as they are trying corruptly to strip us of our hard-earned rights.

And, without domination of the committee, will the Tories press ahead with their underhand plan?

Theresa May is accused of trying to break parliamentary rules in order to ram through controversial law changes after Brexit.

The Conservatives are demanding to pack a crucial decision-making committee with their own MPs, despite losing their Commons majority at the election, The Independent can reveal.

Now Opposition parties plan to join forces to derail the attempted fix, in what threatens to be the first autumn Parliamentary clash over leaving the EU.

Read more: Tories attempt to hijack powerful decision-making committee to ram through new post-Brexit laws


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Coalition policy success: 80,000 children homeless for Christmas

shame

Tory politicians don’t care and Liberal Democrats don’t have any power – that’s why 80,000 children are being housed in temporary accommodation, alongside drug users and enduring threats of violence, as reported by Shelter today.

The government’s own figures show 2,090 families living in bed and breakfasts – an increase of eight per cent on 2012 and the largest number in 10 years, according to The Guardian. Of these, 760 have been living in B&Bs longer than the legal six-week limit – a 10 per cent increase on last year.

More than 43,000 other homeless households with children are in other emergency accommodation – usually privately-rented short-term flats, which are expensive. This is an increase of nine per cent on last year.

To put this into context, a Labour government commitment to halve the number of families in this kind of emergency accommodation meant the total fell between 2005 and 2010 – but it has been rising again since June 2011.

This is a human disaster created by the Coalition government.

Most families interviewed by the charity said they felt unsafe, with one child directly threatened by a man after an argument over a shared bathroom. Almost half said their children had witnessed incidents such as sexual offences, drug use and dealing.

One mother of three said: “One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine.”

Most of the 25 families Shelter interviewed lived in one room; half said the children were sharing beds with parents or siblings and the family was sharing kitchen facilities with others. All but three said it was hard to find a safe place for their children to play. Three families had no cooking facilities and one reported sharing a cooker and fridge with 22 other people.

More than half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, with 10 families sharing with seven or more other people; two-thirds had no table to eat on, and schoolchildren were finding it hard to do homework.

And their health is suffering: “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here, let alone a Christmas dinner. He’s getting really pale and is so tired all the time. He gets so scared but it’s difficult when I’m scared myself. This is no place for a child to live,” said a mother in a Hounslow B&B.

“This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, who described the charity’s findings as “shocking” and the conditions forced on families as “shameful”.

He said: “No child should be homeless, let alone 80,000. But tragically, with more people struggling to make ends meet and homelessness on the rise, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.”

Housing minister Kris Hopkins couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed.

“I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”

Let us be very clear on this: the problem is not that Tories like Hopkins don’t understand. This is exactly the result that they wanted; they just won’t acknowledge it because it is electorally damaging.

Look at the policies that created this problem: The bedroom tax; the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’, otherwise known as the Council Tax reduction scheme; the benefit cap that so many people in this country seem to support without understanding any of its implications.

Vox Political reported back in January what they would mean: “There will be a rise in rent and mortgage arrears… affordable housing will be less available and landlords less able or willing to rent to tenants on benefits… Private sector rental may become less attractive to landlords if tenants aren’t paying the rent. This will lead to a growth in homelessness. Councils have statutory duties and may see an increasing burden.”

But increases to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund have been entirely insignificant compared with the extra burden councils have faced. They received £150 million between them; Durham County Council had £883,000 and spent it all within eight weeks.

We have seen the start of the social cleansing predicted by this blog back in August 2012, when we noted that at least one council would use these measures to “clear out the poor and set up shop as a desirable residence for the rich”.

The housing bubble created by George Osborne with his ‘Help To Buy’ scheme will accelerate this process.

So don’t let a Tory tell you it’s nothing to do with them. They wanted this. In fact, 80,000 homeless children at Christmas is probably not enough for them.

Another Tory ‘bait-and-switch’ scam – shares-for-rights scheme is employers’ tax dodge

shares-rights-tax

“This government is taking action domestically on [tax] avoidance and evasion,” wrote George Osborne in an article for The Observer, back in February. How right he was.

The Tory-led Coalition has done everything in its power to facilitate tax avoidance and ignore evasion, it seems, including the latest wheeze, which is to link it with a feeble attempt to get working people to throw away their rights in exchange for a few shares.

The BBC has reported that the new status of “employee shareholder” has come into force, allowing working people to claim shares in the company that employs them, if they give up the rights to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay, the right to request flexible working (except in the case of two weeks’ parental leave), and some rights to request time off for training.

Nobody in their right mind would do this and expert opinion is that take-up will be small. So why do it?

Well, it’s not about the workers at all. It’s about helping company bosses avoid paying their taxes. Even the right-wing-leaning BBC was unable to cover up the facts (although it left them until the end of the article):

“Companies can also claim some corporation tax deductions on the issuance of shares to employees.”

Yes – it’s a tax dodge!

Here’s how it works, according to the Mirror: “New analysis show[s] it could also allow executives to avoid paying revenue on company shares. Tax experts commissioned by the TUC believe ruthless bosses could classify themselves as ’employee owners’ to escape Capital Gains Tax. And the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the scheme could cost up to £1 billion, mainly due to tax avoidance.”

This will, of course, involve a drop in tax income to the Treasury, meaning increases in the national debt and deficit, which the Tories will no doubt use to justify further cuts to public service budgets as part of their ‘Starve The Beast’ agenda. Remember, this country has a chancellor who, for ideological purposes, actually wants to harm the British economy.

Meanwhile, as our friend at Another Angry Voice has put it: “If you’re thick enough to cash in your labour rights for a few grand worth of shares in the company you work for, then in a couple of years time when people are calling you ‘feckless’ for being unemployed, you’ll be one of the minority that actually deserve it (and your shares might well be worth only pennies in the pound compared to the value they had when you scrapped your labour rights to get them).”