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Tories tell DWP to strip families of tax credits if they make Universal Credit claim

It would have been nice to be told this in advance.

Apparently more than two million people have claimed Universal Credit after losing income because of the coronavirus crisis.

If any of them were claiming tax credits before applying for the benefit, they have been cancelled.

And the government has refused to give advice on whether a person is better-off claiming tax credits or Universal Credit.

Add it all up and if it looks like a trap, then that’s what it is.

The guide published by the DWP explains that “not all tax credit recipients will be eligible to receive universal credit. If you claim universal credit, your tax credit claim will be closed, even if you aren’t eligible to receive universal credit.”

The UK government has also refused to give guidance on which benefit people should be claiming, stating: “DWP and HMRC cannot advise whether claiming universal credit or tax credits will be better for you.”

SNP MSP Bob Doris said… “This guidance appears reckless and spiteful. Now, more than ever, we need a welfare system which is easy to use, so that people don’t fall foul of the complexities of applying for benefits and end up with no support whatsoever.”

There is a welfare system which is easy to use – they’re using it in Spain right now. It’s called Universal Basic Income.

The UK’s Tory government passed on that. It preferred the complicated way.

We see now that this is because it would cause the maximum harm to the greatest number of people.

And every day they tell you they’re doing their best to protect you. And every day millions of people believe them.

If you’re on lockdown and looking for something useful to do, here’s a thought:

Why don’t you tell people what’s really going on?

Source: ‘Reckless and spiteful’ DWP stripping families of tax credits after an unsuccesful universal credit claim – Welfare Weekly

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Commons exposure for climate change threat as protestors lay it all bare

Eye-opener: When you see what the Extinction Rebellion campaigners were doing, you’ll understand why Ed Miliband’s eyes were popping out of his head [This image from the Guardian‘s report, obviously].

Activists from Extinction Rebellion made the debate on Brexit “indicative” votes a lot more interesting when they stripped off to draw attention to the “elephant in the room” – climate change and the ecological crisis.

They made their way to the front of the public gallery and pressed their posteriors against the glass partition as Labour’s Peter Kyle opened the debate for his motion for any Brexit deal to be subjected to a confirmatory public vote before Parliament acts on it.

MPs got into the swing of things with references to “the naked truth” and “fleshing out the argument”.

But police later said they made 12 arrests after having to use soap spray to peel parts of some activists off the glass. It seems they weren’t prepared to turn the other cheek (sorry).

In a tweet after the event, Extinction Rebellion stated: “Some of the MPs in the Commons might have been able to avert their eyes tonight but as the climate and ecological crisis worsens this will become increasingly difficult for them to do.”


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Tory Brexit trade bill will rob disabled people of the few rights left to them

Looking guilty: But Liam Fox won’t lift a finger to make his trade bill acceptable to disability rights organisations.

If you think the Conservative Party – and in particular a minister who is a doctor by training – would not do everything in its power to harm people with disabilities, you simply have not been paying attention.

Tories are keen on “chequebook euthanasia” – pushing the unemployed and disabled into early graves with the excuse that supporting them is just too expensive.

That is why the concern raised in the Independent article quoted below is so convincing.

Robbing disabled people of transport by claiming it is necessary for the purposes of trade will isolate some of the UK’s most vulnerable citizens and deny them access to employment or meaningful lifestyles.

The examples of the last few years show what happens next: Malnutrition, depression, and eventual suicide.

And the Tories wash their hands of any responsibility, saying there are “many reasons” for a person to take their own life.

Perhaps the most foul aspect of this is that it would be collateral damage – a tangential consequence of Brexit on which none of the Tories in Parliament would waste a moment’s thought.

Of course the Department for International Trade insists that the continuity powers in the trade bill could not be used without Parliamentary scrutiny and says that it has held discussions with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission about the bill.

If so, why would signatories including Liberty, the Business Disability Forum, Disability Rights UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap, The National Aids Trust, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, Amnesty International UK, Ambitious About Autism and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations feel the need to write?

Once again, disabled people are to bear the brunt of Tory cruelty.

The irony is that even the Confederation of British Industry has made it clear that the Trade Bill will not help the UK deal with other countries at all; the only purpose will be to increase the suffering of our own population.

And – if you voted ‘Leave’ – you thought Brexit would make our lives better!

An inevitable consequence of a Brexit run by the Conservative Party is that the interests of society’s most vulnerable people are being trampled upon in an unprecedented manner

The latest example of that happening comes courtesy of the Trade Bill that will be debated on the floor of the House of Commons.

According to a letter sent to the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, the bill “lets ministers change a wide range of laws – including the Equality Act – without parliamentary scrutiny, in order to implement international trade agreements”.

It continues: “There are no safeguards to prevent ministers from using these new powers to remove rights granted by Parliament.”

It could [for example] be used to change those parts of the Equality Act that require public vehicles to be made accessible to disabled people. This is important because people with disabilities rely far more on public transport than non disabled people… for access to [work], leisure facilities, local services, shops and the like.

Source: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade bill set to crush disabled people | The Independent

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May and Rudd ‘stripped anti-extremism unit to focus on Brexit’ | The SKWAWKBOX

Amber Rudd and Theresa May.

Is this more irresponsibility from the least responsible UK government ever?

Theresa May stripped the UK’s police of their ability to handle terrorist attacks (as we saw in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing).

Now, it seems, we are finding that she stripped the country of its ability to anticipate attacks such as that at Manchester.

All because she didn’t have enough resources to handle Brexit properly – probably because of her own party’s cuts to the public sector.

And how’s Brexit going?

The Home Office has a department named the Extremism Analysis Unit responsible, as its name suggests, for identifying and analysing potential extremist groups and individuals in order to identify the most serious threats to the safety of UK citizens.

And a civil servant close to the unit alleges that Theresa May, along with her successor Amber Rudd, intentionally moved resources away from it in order to increase resources available to Brexit teams.

Source: Exclusive: May, Rudd ‘stripped anti-extremism unit to focus on #Brexit’ #GE17 | The SKWAWKBOX


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Sell-off means ‘Green Investment Bank’ is now mis-named

Perhaps a better name, now that it has been taken over by Australian money-grubbers Macquarie, would be ‘Bank of Asset-Stripping, Turpitude* And Recondite** Debt’.

Unfortunately the acronym spells out ‘Bastard’. Some may think that’s about right.

There certainly seems to be a certain lack of moral rectitude about the sale.

The minority Tory government’s press release states that “new owner Macquarie has committed to the GIB’s target of leading £3 billion of investment in green energy projects over next 3 years”.

Only £3 billion? The GIB ploughed more than £5 billion worth of investment into green projects in its first two years of existence. Isn’t it supposed to be increasing investment, rather than cutting it?

The press release continues: “The Climate Change and Industry Minister, Claire Perry, confirmed [on 18 August 2017] that the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to Macquarie Group Limited has now been completed”.

And how nice it is to see Macquarie confirmed as the buyer. Back in January, the Tories refused to admit that Macquarie was the preferred bidder, citing “commercial sensitivity”.

This was at a time when Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that “Macquarie not only has a dismal and terrible environmental record, it also has an appalling track record of asset-stripping… This selling off could lead to the bank being fatally undermined as an enduring institution”.

We were told at the time that the Green Investment Bank was set up with £3.8 billion of government (meaning our) money, but the Tory press release states: “The £2.3 billion deal ensures that all the taxpayer funding invested in GIBsince its creation, including set-up costs, has been returned with a gain of approximately £186 million.”

It continues: “The sale proceeds of £1.75 billion, which has [sic] now been received, sees all taxpayer funding invested in GIG returned with a gain of around £186 million. This, together with over £500 million of current outstanding commitments which will now be met by Macquarie and its partners rather than taxpayers, means that the transaction value is around £2.3 billion.”

Something can’t be right because the total is £1.5 billion short of the original investment.

The Tories seem to want us to believe that only £1.565 billion of our money was put into the Green Investment Bank. What about the rest of it?

And, even if the claim of £186 million profit is to be believed, that would account for less than half of the £447 million debt the UK racks up every day under Conservative economic mismanagement. That money has already gone.

It seems likely that the bank will be stripped of at least some of its assets by Macquarie – and the Tories knew about this. In January, former Energy minister Nick Hurd (son of Douglas; it must be nice to have your entry into Parliament ensured by your parentage) said he was unopposed to the sale of assets: “Let’s not get into a position where we say holding on to assets is good in itself.”

But selling them for the sake of selling them is just as bad, isn’t it?

These are probably just some of the reasons the Tories were keen to distract us all from the sale – by crying about the fact that Big Ben, the famous bell in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, has been taken out of action for four years, while restoration work takes place.

So what? It won’t be gone forever – which is more than can be said for the Conservative Party’s commitment to the environment.

*It means ‘corruption’.

**It means ‘concealed’.


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Has the Coalition set Labour an impossible task – to rescue politics from corruption?

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: "They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don't believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden."

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: “They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don’t believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden.”

Yesterday’s article, DWP denials: They would kill you and call it ‘help’ received an unprecedented reaction – considering it was only intended to prepare the way for a larger discussion.

In less than 12 hours the article went viral and galvanised many of you into vocal support, sharing your stories of government (and particularly DWP) ill-treatment and urging others to follow this blog – for which much gratitude is in order. Thanks to all concerned.

The aim was to show how low politics and politicians have fallen in public estimation. The general consensus is that our politicians aren’t interested in us. They make promise after promise before elections – and the party (or parties) in office often set up tax breaks for sections of society their focus groups have told them are needed to secure a win. After they’ve got what they want, they don’t give a damn.

Look at the Coalition. The consensus is that this is a failed government. That it has broken one promise after another. That its ministers are liars and its Prime Minister is the worst charlatan of the lot.

That its rallying-call, “We’re all in it together”, refers only to Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament and their close friends in the most lucrative (and therefore richest) industries, along with the bankers (of course), and that they have all dug their noses deep into the trough and are (to mix metaphors) sucking us dry. Look at the way Mark Hoban employed his former employers to rubber-stamp the DWP’s new plans for the Work Capability Assessment.

In short: That the Coalition government is the most incompetent and corrupt administration to blight the United Kingdom in living memory, and possibly the worst that this land has ever endured.

We fear that these tin-pot tyrants are carrying out a eugenics programme to kill off people who have become sick or disabled; we fear that their economic policies are designed to put anyone less than upper-middle-class into the kind of debt that current wages will never permit them to pay off – a debt that can then be sold between fat-cat corporations who will hold the masses in actual – if not admitted – slavery; that they will dismantle this country’s institutions, handing over everything that is worth anything to their buddies in business, who will make us pay through the nose for services that our taxes ought to cover.

And yet a recent poll suggests that we would prefer this corrupt gang of asset-stripping bandits to run the economy of the country (into the ground) rather than give Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Labour Party, an opportunity to restore the country’s fortunes.

Are we all going schizoid? Are we really saying that, while we don’t believe the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could organise a binge in a brewery without stealing the booze from us while we’re drinking it, we do believe them when they say the current economic nightmare was because Labour mismanaged the economy?

(In case anyone hasn’t really thought it through, the current lie is that the international credit crunch that has cost the world trillions of pounds was caused, not by bankers (who have never been punished for it) but by the UK Labour Party giving too much money away to scrounging benefit cheats. In fact, only 0.7 per cent of benefit claims are fraudulent and, while they cost the taxpayer £1.2 billion a year, that does not justify the £19 billion the Coalition has given to its private, for-profit friends to make a pretence of dealing with it.)

Are we really saying that even though we all now know that George Osborne’s economic policy is nonsense, based on a theory that has been comprehensively rubbished, we’re all happy to give him and his miserable boss David Cameron the credit for the slight improvement in the UK’s economic fortunes that we have seen in recent months? It was always going to improve at some point, and the current upturn is more likely to be part of that kind of cycle than anything Osborne has done.

If we really are saying that, then we all need to put in claims for Employment and Support Allowance, on grounds of mental instability!

That’s not what’s going on, though.

It seems far more likely that the general public is having a crisis of confidence. As a nation, we know what we’ve got is bad; we just don’t have confidence that we’ll get better if we put our support behind the Opposition.

This is the Coalition’s one great success: It has damaged the reputation of politics and politicians so badly that nobody involved in that occupation can escape being labelled as corrupt, or liars, or worse.

And Labour is doing far too little to fight that.

A BBC article on the problems facing Labour states that the Coalition has sharpened up its messages on, among other things, welfare and immigration. The message is still the usual hogwash; the problem is that Labour has made no meaningful response. Her Majesty’s Opposition appears to have given up Opposing.

Is this because the main political parties are now so similar that Labour is now supporting Coalition policies? That would make sense in the context of statements made before the summer recess by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, in which Labour appeared to capitulate over welfare and the economy, even though the Coalition had lost all the major arguments.

When they did that damned stupid thing in that damned stupid way, Vox Political was the first to say “watch their poll lead disappear” – and it has more than halved from 11 percentage points to five, according to The Guardian.

This lackadaisical attitude from the Labour leadership has not gone unnoticed among the backbenchers and the grass roots, and the last few weeks has been notable for the rising chorus of dissent against Ed Miliband’s leadership. Some have described the Labour front bench as “Plastic Tories”.

Even Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham took a pop, saying Labour needed to “shout louder” and produce attention-grabbing policies by next spring – or lose any chance of winning the 2015 election.

Miliband’s response to that was to claim that Burnham was really saying the Labour Party was “setting out how we would change the country”. This is nonsense. He was saying that was what Labour needed to do, and Miliband rendered himself untrustworthy by suggesting otherwise.

It is very hard to put your support – and your vote – behind somebody you don’t trust, who seems completely unable (or unwilling) to fight your oppressor on your behalf; in short, someone who seems just as corrupt as the government in power. At the moment, Ed Miliband doesn’t stand for anything – so there’s no reason you should stand up for him.

What, then, should Labour do?

Easy. The party needs a clear, simple message that everybody can understand and get behind; one that members can support because it reflects Labour beliefs rather than whatever Coalition policy currently seems popular, and above all, one that comes from verifiable truth.

He could take a leaf from Paul O’Grady’s book. In a clip on YouTube, the entertainer says: “We should be vocal in our fight against oppression. We should let them know that we are not taking these draconian cuts lightly!

“We should fight for the rights of the elderly! Of the poor! Of the sick! And of the children!”

Rapturous applause.

Labour needs more than that – but a commitment to protect those who have been most harmed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat doomsday spree would at least be a start.