Tag Archives: struggle

Tory ‘benefit denial’ policy means tribunal service can’t cope with rise in appeals

Discrimination: The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has been asked to investigate discrimination by the Tory government against disabled benefit claimants.

The Conservative government’s policy of denying Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits to people who qualify for it is causing a meltdown at the tribunal service.

The ‘Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report’ has revealed that “the rapid rise in appeal numbers has outstripped our ability to recruit and train sufficient numbers of panel members to keep pace”.

Despite a cynical attempt by the Tories to stop appeals by introducing a “mandatory re-assessment” phase in 2014, numbers have risen steadily – to 238,000 in 2018.

In that year, 46 per cent of PIP claimants transferring from DLA saw their payments either downgraded or cancelled – that’s around 435,620 claimants.

So a significant number of genuine claimants have indeed been discouraged by the draconian system the Tories have imposed – benefit fraud is negligible.

But that number is falling, year-on-year as appeals rise and HM Courts and Tribunals Service struggles to cope.

The Tribunals Service has been recruiting more panel members to try to cope with the increase in demand, with 130 new judges, 225 medically qualified members and 125 disability qualified members appointed in the last year.

And a pilot for a new online resolution system is due to begin soon.

The logical solution would be to reform the system in order to give the benefit to people who need it, rather than attempting to deny it by pretending that people don’t have disabilities when they clearly do.

Consider this case.

And this one.

Pensioners are still being targeted for pointless reassessments, with a view to cancelling their payments.

There are many more examples.

Nearly 8,000 people are known to have died within six months of being denied the benefit.

And that’s the point. The expense and inconvenience to the Tribunals Service is of no interest to the Conservative government.

This is a programme of elimination. The Tories are getting rid of people they consider to be “useless eaters” (as the Nazis in Germany used to describe people with disabilities).

Denying them the financial resources to support themselves means they are more likely to die.

And the more disabled people die, the happier the Tories will be.

Source: Tribunals Service unable to keep up with rise in appeals

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More working people than ever are struggling to survive

Sinking, not swimming: Under the Conservatives, more and more people are failing to pay their way.

Terrifying new information from the Trade Union Congress has shown that millions of working people are struggling to survive due to poverty.

The TUC poll suggests 20 per cent of working people – one-fifth of the more-than-30-million-strong working population – skip meals because they can’t afford the food.

One in five workers go without heating during cold weather.

One in 10 fall into rent or mortgage arrears because they can’t pay on time.

And one in five have pawned or sold belongings because they needed the money.

Asked how they would deal with an unexpected £500 bill, 30 per cent said they would be unable to pay – up from 24 per cent in 2017. Of those who said they would pay, 24 per cent said they would have to go into debt or sell something.

A quarter said they were out of cash before the end of most months, and 16 per cent said they had to cut back their spending – or stop it altogether – many times a year.

And 41 per cent said one of their biggest concerns at work was the fact that their pay was not keeping up with the cost of living.

This is damning information that knocks the stuffing out of claims that wage rises are increasing faster than the rate of inflation. Is that still true after the top 10 per cent – or even one per cent – of earners are removed from the figures? For some reason, I couldn’t find that information when I looked for it.

I remember having arguments, years ago, with people who claimed heatedly that business bosses in the UK had to keep wages depressed because otherwise they would be forced to stop trading. I wonder how many of them live in luxury mansions while their employees struggle in bed-sits, converted shipping containers or office blocks, or are forced to sleep on the streets?

None of this will change for the better under a Conservative government – especially not under one run by Boris Johnson.

I wonder how many people realise this as they plough through their daily drudgery, their only source of information coming from BBC-approved propaganda that tells them Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is unelectable?

Do any of them even realise they are being played for fools?

Source: Millions of working people struggle to put food on the table, poll shows

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Gove is desperate to avoid fallout over free schools

Underqualified: This Labour Party campaign meme highlights the drawbacks of Michael Gove's foolish and expensive 'free school' experiment.

Underqualified: This Labour Party campaign meme highlights the drawbacks of Michael Gove’s foolish and expensive ‘free school’ experiment.

The country has been concentrating on government sleaze for the past week or so – and this is a mistake. We should also monitor government incompetence and thankfully Michael Gove is around to provide plenty of it.

He wants organisations that are part of his struggling ‘free schools’ pet project to receive special fast-track attention – to avoid the political embarrassment that would be caused by their failure.

Last year the project was rocked by the failure of the Al-Madinah Free School in Derby, and the resignations of unqualified head teachers at Pimlico Free School in London and Discovery School in Crawley. Vox Political discussed all three at the time.

The Discovery School was one of four that were declared inadequate by Ofsted and closed down at the end of March.

Last week, The Observer revealed that Gove wants to hush up any further damaging revelations by ensuring that problems are tackled before Ofsted can publicise them.

The article stated: “It suggests that party political considerations are now driving education policy a year ahead of the general election.”

Quite. It is also a sharp reminder of how far the Coalition government has deviated from its original claim, to be uniting “in the public interest”.

The plan adds extra pressure to the Education department, where morale has already plummetted due to Gove’s determination to employ his own advisors, to overrule the expert advice provided by civil servants in favour of ideologically-motivated dogma.

It also shows that Gove is giving preferential treatment to his pet project. State schools go into special measures after receiving a ruling from Ofsted that they are inadequate – and can remain there for more than a year.

More damaging still is the fact that many of the problems with free schools have nothing to do with education, but are organisational in origin. According to the article, these include: “Operating in temporary sites without a clear permanent home; new, inexperienced and often isolated trusts needing to upskill themselves to run a school for the first time; instability in principal appointments and senior leadership teams.”

So when you hear that your child’s school has been under-performing because it has been deprived of resources and support from the Department for Education, just remember that this has happened because we have an Education Secretary who is more concerned with hiding his own inadequacies – problems that could have been avoided if he had concentrated a little more on the details.

On the basis of this term work, Mr Gove, we’ll have to give you an ‘F’ – for ‘Fail’.

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Britain’s young strivers have no hope for the future

No future: This is how young people feel about the nation of their birth. Image by Banksy (at long last, I get a Banksy onto Vox Political!)

No future: This is how young people feel about the nation of their birth. Image by Banksy (at long last, I get a Banksy onto Vox Political!)

Young people in the UK have never had it so bad, according to a BBC report.

The young men from families of skilled or semi-skilled workers – the “strivers” with whom we have all become familiar over the last few weeks of political crossfire in the House of Commons – are described as “deeply pessimistic” about their future chances in life.

I’m not surprised; in fact, I have every sympathy for them.

When I was a nipper, back in the 1970s, life was for the living. A person could be relatively secure in the knowledge that they would be able to take their education as far as their abilities allowed, before finding employment according to their skills in a relatively supportive job market. This would allow them the financial freedom, in time, to buy a house and enjoy relative security in life.

It’s a long time since I was a child. By the time I was an adult, many of those securities had been taken away by a Conservative government that was only a shadow of the vicious, Conservative-led government we have today.

Education was eroded by the introduction of loans instead of student grants; the job market started to shrink because Tories like to keep us all insecure – it helps them cut wages; and as for getting a mortgage, well… I have never owned my own home.

And I belong to the generation before the young people of today!

Is it any wonder that more than two-thirds of them expect never to own their own home, if the last people in their families to own a house – professional families, let’s remember – were their grandparents?

Of course they’re going to feel trapped, and of course they’re going to feel more negative than people from poorer backgrounds; they realise that, in this country, the opportunities are not there for people with ability. No, the only people with a chance to rise in Coalition Britain are those with connections. It isn’t what you know – it’s who you know, as the old saying goes.

And here’s another thing The suicide rate in my generation is skyrocketing. I live in a town of less than 5,000 people and I can think of two people who ended their own lives recently – due to depression – with a third threatening to do so.

What does that tell the next generation about the country where they live and the life they’re going to have here?

Worst of all is this: I don’t think any of them have the get-up-and-go to do anything about it.

I don’t mean the same as Norman Tebbit did when he said, “Get on your bike”, exhorting our strivers to go out and look for work. The jobs aren’t there (oh no they’re not, Tory reader, no matter how much your ministers try to tell us they are).

I mean this: The only way the downtrodden classes ever won any freedom or privilege in this country was by struggle. They got off their backsides and demanded it. Some of them died for it.

But now a ruling elite, that bears no resemblance to you or me, is turning back the clock – removing those hard-won freedoms and ignoring the protests of those they affect.

Because they know: You don’t vote.

So you won’t vote them out.

And if you don’t vote, you won’t take the next logical step, which is to organise – join a political party that promises to restore your freedoms and privileges, or form one, if none of the current crop are to your taste.

You don’t have the motivation; you can’t see the point. But that’s how the Labour Party got started and that organisation is now the main opposition party in Parliament, after having been in power for 13 consecutive years.

Times have changed lately, and for the worse, I’ll grant that.

They can change back again.

All that’s needed is the will to make a difference.

… Or do you have something better to do?