Tag Archives: study

Universal Credit causes mental illness – but won’t get you a new job, study finds

A study of Universal Credit has found that it increases mental illness in claimants while failing to get them into new employment.

The finding should cause huge concern among the two million people who are said to have signed up for the benefit after the Conservative government imposed its coronavirus-prompted lockdown, forcing them to sign onto the benefit when their incomes disappeared.

The study of able-bodied people (those with disabilities have already been shown to suffer adverse effects due to changes in their benefits) found a 6.57 per cent increase in psychological distress.

This led the study’s authors to estimate that an extra 63,674 people suffered psychological distress between 2013 and 2018, as a result of being put on Universal Credit.

They estimated that 21,760 might reach the diagnostic threshold for depression.

They believe that, although the effect sizes identified are moderate, the potential for psychological impact is substantial owing to the widespread national policy implementation.

Levels of distress remained constant for people who were not put on the new benefit.

The study revealed that there was no increase in the transition into employment amongst those on Universal Credit, compared with those who were not – despite this being the key rationale given for its introduction.

The Tory government has commissioned its own evaluation of Universal Credit – but this will focus on labour market outcomes and not assess the effect on health and wellbeing.

Won’t it be interesting to see whether this study finds an improvement in employment?

Source: Universal Credit mental health problems, but not employment

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Is the Tory promise to reverse the Beeching railway cuts a test of our gullibility?

Look at the difference between the rail network in 1963 (before Beeching) and 1984 (after him). And the Tories reckon £500 million will restore all that? They’re stupid with money.

The Conservative government has announced that it intends to reopen historic railway lines that were closed in the 1960s after the infamous Beeching report.

But it has announced a pitifully small amount of funding for the plan – just £500 million.

To put that in perspective, that much money would reopen just 25 of the 5,000 miles of railway that Beeching axed – as Labour’s Andy McDonald pointed out:

In response, the Tories have said the money won’t repair any lines – it will be used only to fund feasibility studies to work out which routes can be restored.

In other words, not a single line will be restored as a result of this announcement – or with this funding.

It’s Boris Johnson’s 40 hospitals, all over again, only worse.

And on the subject of those phantom hospitals, if you have a Tory MP, maybe you’d like to wind them up by asking where – exactly – those hospitals are going to be?

And then watch them squirm.

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These hypocrites: Lib Dems took £9K from students. See what they want to do next

Hypocrisy: Vince Cable, who was a minister in the Coalition government and oversaw the disastrous privatisation of the Royal Mail as well as voting for the increase in tuition fees, is set to announce the new policy at the Liberal Democrat conference.

The Liberal Democrats are saying they want to give people £9,000 to fund learning, nine years after they reneged on their promise to end university tuition fees and increased them to £9,000 instead.

Does Jo Swinson think we have forgotten?

It was the fundamental betrayal that set the tone of the so-called ConDem coalition for the next five years.

Here’s the Mirror to explain the idea:

A motion at this weekend’s party conference will see Vince Cable push a £1.5 billion plan for a universal Education and Skills Account which would see the Government hand every person £3,000 when they turn 25, 40 and 55.

The amounts would be designed to “encourage workers to retrain into shortage occupations”.

It is hugely hypocritical of Swinson’s party.

This is the party that took away people’s ability to get the qualifications they needed for the career they wanted.

Now it says it would use the money from that policy to shoe-horn the same people into jobs a Liberal Democrat government would say are needed.

This is a policy to deny people the ability to choose their own careers; their own paths in life.

And they call themselves Liberals.

Shame on them.

Source: Lib Dems want to give adults £9k to learn – ten years after backing £9k uni fees – Mirror Online

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Poor-quality jobs are bad for your health. Why are they the only jobs our Tory government can find for us?

Department for Work and Pensions: Pushing people into jobs that are bad for their health?

You might think this research by the London School of Economics is only pointing out something we know already.

It’s true that jobs with poor working conditions and/or remuneration are known to be bad for our health, pushing stress levels up, meaning any likely benefits are lost.

Before I became a carer (and, later, an online journalist), This Writer worked for a newspaper that piled on the pressure while providing very few benefits. I – wisely – left after management made decisions that would have further harmed my standard of living.

I know poor work leads to ill-health. Many people become depressed as a result of pressure place on them by employers or work colleagues. That puts unnecessary pressure on the health service.

The research also makes it abundantly clear that people with a history of illness have less opportunity to obtain paid work than those who are more healthy.

This is something we already knew, and it has become a serious issue in recent years, as the Conservative government has imposed rules that allow civil servants to force people with long-term illnesses and disabilities off benefits.

The LSE research shows that around 800 of the 1,000 initially-unemployed people involved in the study were not on benefits at the start – they were living on other sources of income including handouts from friends and family members.

If that situation really is representative of the unemployed population, then it means 80 per cent of our unemployed people are being denied statutory benefits.

That’s a shocking figure!

Yet they are less stressed than people who have been shoehorned into low-quality work – the only work that seems to be on offer under race-to-the-bottom Conservatism.

People working in poor quality jobs have higher levels of chronic stress than those who are unemployed.

We followed up a cohort of over 1000 unemployed adults who were representative of the population of unemployed adults living in the UK in 2009-10 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. We then compared what happened to the health and stress levels of those who remained unemployed and those who got jobs of both good and poor quality.

Unsurprisingly, those who found work in good quality jobs had a big improvement in their mental health. Moreover, those with any job, whether it is a good or bad job, had a bigger increase in their household incomes than those who remained unemployed.

However, contrary to the “any job is better than no job” assumption, we found that the improvements in the mental health of formerly unemployed adults who became reemployed in poor quality work (with two or more adverse job measures) were not any different from their peers who remained unemployed.

More significantly… those who were working in poor quality work actually had higher levels of allostatic load (chronic stress-related biomarkers) than their peers who remained unemployed.

We also examined the possibility that the unemployed adults who subsequently were employed in poor quality jobs had worse health and more stress at the start compared to their peers who remained unemployed. But this was actually not true. As many others have found, there are strong selection pressures into employment, and healthier people are much more likely to find work (any type of work, whether good or bad) than unhealthier people.

Source: Is any job really better than no job at all?


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Green Party MEP launches new legal challenge for release of Brexit studies

The Department for Exiting the EU is resisting calls to publish findings on the predicted damage of leaving the EU [Image: Reuters].

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, writes:

There have been letters, Freedom of Information requests, Parliamentary questions and, earlier this week, a letter signed by 120 cross-party MPs – all demanding that the government release studies they are sitting on about the economic impacts of Brexit.

But David Davis has remained bullish, refusing to publish the findings.

So, I have teamed up with Jolyon Maugham QC, a barrister and director of the The Good Law Project, to demand the Government release these studies within 14 days or face legal action. If the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the Treasury fail to do so, we will issue judicial review proceedings before the High Court, which would seek to compel the Government to release them.

The form this challenge takes has been recognised by the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. While the outcome cannot be predicted with certainty, we have the benefit of advice and representation from experts in the field of information law.

We are after two classes of study. First, those mentioned by David Davis MP to the Commons Committee on Exiting the EU on 14 December last year, when he acknowledged that there were 57 studies covering 85 per cent of the economy: everything except sectors not affected by international trade. DExEU has repeatedly promised to publish the list of studies “shortly” – but has never done so.

Secondly, we want details of a report prepared by the Treasury comparing the predicted economic damage of Brexit with the potential economic benefits of alternative free-trade agreements.

But will it work?

The Conservatives, since 2010, seem the most reluctant government in the history of the UK. It seems someone is having to take the Tories to court every five minutes because they won’t release information that, it is self-evident, we need to see.

But they still go through with their plans, no matter what the result.

So why not just cut out the costly business of going to court and assume the logical?

If the Brexit studies being hidden by David Davis, Theresa May and the rest of that chamber of horrors we call the Conservative government said anything optimistic, they would have plastered the findings all over the front pages of the Daly MailThe Sun, The Times, The Torygraph, The Express and any other mainstream media outlet they could persuade.

They haven’t.

So the Brexit studies show leaving the EU will harm the UK’s economy – possibly cripplingly.

Let’s just go with that, and if the Tories want to dispute it, they’ll have to publish – won’t they?


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How can we trust PM Theresa May when she lied about immigration and stirred up racism?

Immigration fail: When Theresa May tried to get illegal immigrants to “go home” with an ad campaign on vans driving through London, it caused national protest – and this response from the campaigning group Liberty.

We have a prime minister who lied to the public in order to build racial tensions between UK citizens and EU migrant workers. Does anybody – at all – think that is acceptable?

This Writer does not.

Nine studies passed across Theresa May’s desk while she was Home Secretary – showing that migrant workers are good for the economy, that they do not push wages down, and that they bring in much-needed skills that (apparently) are no longer taught in the UK.

And what did she do?

She launched a campaign in which vans were dispatched around London bearing advertising slogans suggesting migrant workers were in the UK illegally and should “go home”.

This silly and dangerous idea encouraged racism and created a huge waste of time for officials because members of the public started reporting anybody who looked as though they may have come from a foreign country.

And now she is prime minister and in charge of the process via which the UK will leave the EU. Can anybody doubt that she will put us at a huge disadvantage, internationally, because of her own prejudices?

Theresa May suppressed up to nine studies that found immigration does not hit the wages or jobs of UK workers, Vince Cable has alleged.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly defended plans to impose tough curbs on EU workers after Brexit by arguing they are needed to protect Britons in lower-paid jobs.

But, the Liberal Democrat leader said: “When I was Business Secretary, there were up to nine studies that we looked at that took in all the academic evidence.

“It showed that immigration had very little impact on wages or employment. But this was suppressed by the Home Office under Theresa May, because the results were inconvenient.”

Last year, Ms May told the Conservative party conference: “I know a lot of people don’t like to admit this. For someone who finds themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration, life simply doesn’t seem fair.”

But the claim was rejected by experts including at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which argued immigrants also create jobs, expanding the opportunities for British workers.

Read more: Theresa May suppressed up to nine studies that found immigration does not hit UK wages, claims Vince Cable


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Found: The book that helps the government smear the sick as ‘malingerers’

 

Denied benefit: This is the late Karen Sherlock. Her illnesses included chronic kidney disease, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, asthma, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, gastropaeresis, and diabetic retinopathy. She died on June 8, 2012, of a suspected heart attack, after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her Employment and Support Allowance. John LoCascio would describe her as a malingerer. Considering the list of her illnesses, how would you describe him?

Denied benefit: This is the late Karen Sherlock. Her illnesses included chronic kidney disease, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, asthma, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, gastropaeresis, and diabetic retinopathy. She died on June 8, 2012, of a suspected heart attack, after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her Employment and Support Allowance.
John LoCascio would describe her as a malingerer. Considering the list of her illnesses, how would you describe him?

Some of our least favourite people contributed to a book entitled Malingering and Illness Deception in 2003, that seems to provide much of the ammunition used by the current government to demonise claimants of disability and incapacity benefits.

One of the relevant chapters is ‘Malingering, insurance medicine and medicalization of fraud’ by John LoCascio of the criminal American insurance giant Unum, that has been heavily involved in British social security work since the 1990s.

The other is ‘Origins, practice and limitations of Disability Assessment Medicine’ by Mansel Aylward, the Unum puppet who was formerly chief medical officer at the Department for Work and Pensions.

These are the two charmers who put forward a perversion of Professor George Engels’ biopsychosocial theory that calls an individual’s illness into question, rather than treating it, to the then-Department of Social Security back in the 1990s.

The assertion that it was a tool to reduce claimant numbers can be proved by the fact that Mr Aylward was asked to change the test used to determine whether a claimant deserved benefit, in order to reduce the flow of claimants with mental health problems. When politicians ask for specific results, you know impartiality has gone out the window!

Look at the title of the book: It labels incapacity and disability claimants as “malingerers”, defined in the book’s first chapter as those who engage in “the intentional production of false or exaggerated symptoms motivated by external incentives” – in this case, the desire to receive state benefits.

This fits with what we know of the Unum-influenced benefit system already – that claimants are to be treated as if they are trying to cheat the system, unless they can prove to a state-provided official (not necessarily medically-trained) – who has been briefed to find ways to prevent them receiving the benefit – that they are unwell. Their own doctor’s reports are ignored.

Let’s look at LoCascio’s chapter. He starts by suggesting that “disability-related programmes in both the public and private sectors are faced with increasing numbers of disability claims despite improved health care and job design (the disability paradox).”

Already we are in the realm of fantasy as he fails to mention the logical reasons for these increases, which include poor implementation of health and safety measures in the workplace under ‘light touch’ regulation, and the discovery of new medical conditions whose causes are unknown and which require protracted study before they are understood – all made possible by the “improved health care” to which Mr LoCascio refers.

Amusingly, LoCascio also claims that the commercial insurance industry “is neither medically nor legally driven. It is driven by societal imperatives”. What a whopper! Commercial insurance is driven by the desire for money. That is why his company has a criminal conviction to its name – it changed its medical procedures to make it almost impossible for anyone to claim successfully that their Unum health insurance policy had matured.

Much of the remainder of his chapter attempts to convince the reader that the lack of data available – to support claims that a medical patient is “malingering” – should not be used as evidence that they really are ill. He asks the reader to believe that three questions should be asked: Did the patient understand the medical issues? Are the patient’s reported and actual behaviours consistent through time and across observers? And are the functional capacities in question (the patient’s abilities) well-defined?

What a cheat.

It seems perfectly likely that any patient will understand the medical issues informing their condition. However, in a Work Capability Assessment it is common for the assessor to have a completely different opinion of what those issues are. This discrepancy allows the assessor to find fault with the benefit claim.

The second question supports evidence of those who have read assessment reports claiming that patients did not display the behaviours expected of a person with their condition – one famous example was that the patient was not “rocking back and forth”. The simple reason for this was that their condition did not display in that manner but the assessor – who was not an expert in this field of medicine – did not know that because the only advice available was a biased screed from the Unum-influenced DWP.

The final question – are the functional capacities in question well-defined? – can be defeated with a simple, two-word counter-question: By whom?

Also of interest is the concept of ‘Functional Capacity’ (FC). LoCascio argues that a person should not be expected to be incapable of any type of work, just because they are incapable of one. His example is that a person limited to typing for 20 minutes due to forearm pain may be able to play piano for an hour. This is entirely possible but contradicts one of the quotations Mr LoCascio uses four pages previously: “The question of disease—that and nothing more—is the one for the physician to determine” (Drewy 1896). It is not the assessor’s job to dream up functions a claimant might be able to carry out and then discount a claim for benefits on the basis of that possibility. That is not evidence; it is fantasy.

All of the above questions are also rendered pointless by the simple fact that a claimant’s condition may be variable. LoCascio acknowledges this! However, he then goes right off the rails: “I favour a series of three questions: ‘Please describe a bad day. Please describe a good day. Please tell me how many good days and bad days you have in an average week.’ Armed with this knowledge about any particular symptom and the corresponding reduction in an FC, the medical resource can proceed to analyse the consistency of the history against the medical or observational data.”

That is an inaccurate assumption. When you are ill with (for example) fibromyalgia, there can be a huge range of difference between days. Sometimes Mrs Mike has seemed able to function almost normally (she can never walk far without suffering a huge amount of pain in the following days, as an example of why she only seems more able); other times she has been confined to the sofa for days on end in terrible pain for which medical science currently has no alleviation. At other times her condition may be anywhere between those extremes. Asking for a description of a good or bad day, or how many of these take place in an average week, is not only pointless – it hinders understanding of the condition.

“In conclusion,” LoCascio writes, “the most important product of the medical consultant is clear, credible, and defensible
documentation.” It seems strange, then, that the most clear, credible and defensible documents – those written by the patient’s doctor – are the first to be ignored in any Work Capability Assessment.

What we have here is a propaganda screed, riddled with inconsistencies and running against reason, that has been used to support the government’s position on sickness and disability benefits. As an argument in favour of current policy, it is worse than useless. In fact, it should be a tool for campaigners to use against that policy.

It tells us why a claimant who lives in agony every day should be outraged when assessors use LoCascio’s nonsense to explain away their pain.

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My Bedroom Tax protest speech

Standing in the shadow of a giant: Vox Political's Mike Sivier (front) at 'Cooper Corner', with Caerphilly Castle in the background.

Standing in the shadow of a giant: Vox Political’s Mike Sivier (front) at ‘Cooper Corner’, with Caerphilly Castle in the background.

Vox Political was relatively quiet yesterday; although I reblogged plenty of articles from other sources, there was no new piece from the site itself because I was in Caerphilly, delivering a speech at a Bedroom Tax protest there.

Caerphilly is the birthplace of the late, great comic Tommy Cooper, and it was in the shadow of his statue that the demonstration took place. I instantly (and privately) named the location ‘Cooper Corner’.

I took the opportunity to lighten proceedings at the start by suggesting that Mr Cooper (albeit in petrified effigy) would be providing the jokes. I held the microphone up towards the statue. “Anything? No? No. I didn’t think so.” Turning back to the crowd I added: “The Bedroom Tax is no laughing matter.” Then I got into the body of the speech:

“I write a small blog called Vox Political. I started it a couple of years ago as an attempt to put in writing what a reasonable, thinking person might have to say about government policies in these years of forced austerity, and politics in general.

“As you can probably imagine, this means I knew about the Bedroom Tax, several months before it was actually imposed on us all. I was writing articles warning people against it from October 2012. The trouble was, Vox Political is a small blog that even now has only a few thousand readers a day – and the mainstream media has been almost entirely bought by a political machine with far more funding than I have.

“It is a tax, by the way. You may have heard a lot of nonsense that it isn’t, but consider it this way: a tax is defined as a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government against a citizen’s person, property or activity, to support government policies.

“It is not a ‘spare-room subsidy’. If anyone in authority tries to tell you you’re having your ‘spare-room subsidy’ removed (or more likely, imposed, they’re so confused about this), just tell them to go and find the Act of Parliament that introduced the ‘spare room subsidy’, using those words. Tell them if they can find it, you’ll pay it – but if they can’t, they must not take any money away from you. They won’t be able to find it because it doesn’t exist.

“It is more accurately described as the ‘State Underoccupation Charge’ – SUC! And it really does suck.

“It sucks money that social housing tenants need for food, heat, water and other necessities out of their pockets and forces them to send it to their landlord instead – either the local council or a social landlord like a housing association. The reasoning behind it has always been that this would encourage people to move, but in fact we know that there is no social accommodation for them to move into. When the Bedroom Tax became law, there was only enough smaller housing to accommodate around 15 per cent of the affected households. It is clearly a trap, designed to make poor people poorer.

“This is why the first advice I put on my blog was for anyone affected by the Bedroom Tax to appeal against it – and I was criticised quite harshly for it, because some people decided such action would mark tenants out as troublemakers and create more problems for them. At the time, I thought it was right to give some of the aggravation back to the people who were foisting this additional burden onto lower-income families; make them work for it, if they want it so badly. As it turns out, I was right to do so, because there are so many loopholes in the legislation that it seems almost anybody could avoid paying!

“Do you think Stephanie Bottrill would have died if she had known that she could successfully appeal against her Bedroom Tax, on the grounds that she had been a social housing tenant since before January 1996 and was therefore exempt? The government spitefully closed that particular loophole earlier this month, but that lady is already dead, due to a lie. Had she been properly informed, she could have successfully fought it off and then taken advice on how to cope with it after the government amendment was brought in.

“There is a case for corporate manslaughter against the Department for Work and Pensions, right there. If tested in court, it seems likely that the way its activities have been managed and organised by senior management – the fact that it foisted the Bedroom Tax, wrongly, on this lady – will be found to have led to her death, in gross breach of its duty of care to those who claim state benefits (in this case, Housing Benefit).

“David Cameron has wasted a great deal of oxygen telling us all that disabled people are not affected by the tax. Perhaps he could explain why a disabled gentleman in my home town was forced to move out of his specially-adapted home, incurring not only the cost of moving but an extra £5,000 for removing the adaptations and installing them into new accommodation? He appealed against Bedroom Tax decision but the result came back after the date when he had to be out of his home. Can you guess what it was? That’s right – he won. I have been trying to get him to take legal action against the council and the government about this as it would be an important test case.

“There are other grounds for appealing against the Bedroom Tax. Just because your council wants to claim every room that could be a bedroom is a bedroom, that doesn’t make it so. A fellow blogger, Joe Halewood, has published a list of other room designations that you are allowed to have.

“It includes a study, a utility room, a play room, even an Iain Duncan Smith voodoo doll-making room, if that takes your fancy!

“I was particularly happy to hear that you can have a study as I’ve been writing my blog from the broom cupboard – oh! That’s another room you can have!

“Check the DWP’s online forms. They ask about bedrooms, and then they ask about other rooms. The distinction is clear.”

Then I closed the speech. In retrospect, I should have finished with a few words about the fact that this was the first bit of public speaking I had ever done. I could have given them something along these lines: “I am aware that speech-making is a lucrative sideline for many people, including comedians (although I’m not aware that Mr Cooper ever made any) and also politicians. Perhaps I should use this platform to suggest that, if you know anybody who is considering booking a speaker for a special occasion – society dinner, rugby club social, wedding or party, why not ask them to get in touch with me – instead of Iain Duncan Smith!”

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How the hated bedroom tax could help us tackle the hated offshore tax-avoiders

Hugely unpopular: Thousands of people have demonstrated against the bedroom tax on the poor since it was first announced by our government of millionaires - this one was in Glasgow.

Hugely unpopular: Thousands of people have demonstrated against the bedroom tax on the poor since it was first announced by our government of millionaires – this one was in Glasgow.

Has your council or housing association re-designated any so-called “spare bedrooms” into box rooms, studies or non-specific rooms yet, to help you avoid paying the bedroom tax?

If not, you have to ask yourself, why not?

It’s only around two months since the so-called ‘state under-occupation charge’ became the law of the land, forcing social housing tenants to lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit if they have one ‘spare’ room, and a quarter of their benefit if they have two or more rooms going ‘spare’ – according to the Coalition government’s definitions, which are, of course, unjust.

Already, thousands of people are sinking into debt, according to a Daily Mirror report today (June 4).

The report states that 1,120 of New Charter Housing’s 1,600 households affected by the bedroom tax – 70 per cent – are in arrears, with tenants losing up to £88 in benefits every month.

Brighton councillors have chosen not to evict tenants who fall into arrears because of the bedroom tax, although some other councils have said this is unrealistic.

And some district judges have stated they would refuse to grant possession orders, if bedroom tax cases came to their courts, citing the Human Rights Act

The Department for Work and Pensions claims that the tax is far (it would, wouldn’t it?) and will either “encourage” or “persuade” families it claims are “over-occupying” to move out, freeing space for others on the housing waiting list, which the Tory-led Coalition has allowed to become hugely over-subscribed due to its failure to invest in building new social housing stock.

The reality is that these families have nowhere to go – for precisely the same reason (lack of social housing stock). They could move into private rented accommodation, but that is more expensive, even for smaller properties, so they would, again, face going into arrears and eventually losing their homes.

A homeless family is, of course, far more expensive for a local authority, as it must then pay to put them up in temporary accommodation – usually a bed and breakfast establishment – at much greater cost then letting them live in council or housing association homes. This is just one reason why the bedroom tax is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

But it doesn’t have to get that far.

Councils in Leeds, Nottingham and North Lanarkshire have been re-classifying spaces in their housing stock as box rooms, studies or non-specific rooms, to help tenants avoid paying the tax. Edinburgh, Birmingham and York councils have been considering the same action.

An e-petition has been launched to get Sheffield Council to re-classify bedrooms as non-specific rooms, and may be signed here.

And what’s to stop councils and housing associations from simply cutting their rents by the 14 or 25 per cent necessary to let people continuing paying the same amount? It’ll be cheaper in the long term!

Some might say that this behaviour is cheating – that it is, in essence, tax avoidance.

Tax avoidance is perfectly legal, of course – and the government has been dragging its heels about changing the law ever since it came into office back in 2010. Could this because they and their rich friends are among the worst tax avoiders, and their money is a major part of the £21 TRILLION currently sitting in offshore bank accounts, helping to ensure the economy stays stagnant and justify the government’s pointless austerity scheme?

Let’s have some uniformity: Rather than have a patchwork of re-classifications across the UK, turning the bedroom tax into a postcode lottery, let’s call on EVERY council to take this step.

When the government complains, the response should be that councils will reverse the step, after the government puts an end to all the income tax avoidance it has been allowing and collects all the money that we, as a nation, are owed.

After that, there won’t be a need for the bedroom tax and so that law can be repealed.

Postscript: There will be naysayers who’ll respond to this by saying it’ll never happen and it can never work. Their principle purpose in doing so is to discourage people from trying.

There is a response to this, as follows: Why not? IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET!

Conservatives want to stop you seeing your doctor

doctorlimit

We always knew that the Tories don’t give a damn about the fundamental principles of our National Health Service – for example, the one that says access to healthcare should be based on clinical need.

The papers today are reporting on a Conservative Party document which proposes a cap on the number of GP consultations you will be allowed to have every year.

The attitude seems to be that allowing people to see their doctor as many times as are needed is a luxury that the UK cannot afford. From this, we can conclude that money is more important than health to them.

This is contradictory, though – didn’t the Conservatives push through an unnecessary top-down reorganisation of the health service in England at a cost of £3 billion? And aren’t they busily opening up opportunities for their chums in private health companies to make a profit out of the NHS, meaning billions more will be siphoned off into their bank accounts as profit, rather than being used to benefit patients?

The paper asks readers to respond with their opinions on what a GP’s “core” or “essential” services should be, and asks if they should be better-defined so that patients know what they can expect. Significantly, it provides ‘case studies’ from Switzerland and the Netherlands, concentrating on health insurance schemes in use within those countries.

This is the direction of travel, then: We can see that the Tories definitely intend to push us all into buying health insurance schemes, rather than enjoying the current service which is free at the point of use.

Now join the dots:

Health insurance means we would only get what we pay for. If this consultation provides the blueprint, then the rest of the country would get a basic package that is defined by only a few Tory adherents and optimised to make the most profit for the companies running the schemes.

There is already an insurance company working with the UK government – Unum, the company with a criminal record in its home country, the USA, for selling schemes designed to make it close to impossible for anyone to receive a payout.

Do any of you seriously believe, if these plans go through, that you would receive any healthcare worth having?

I don’t.

I read about this on the day I also read about double-heart and lung transplant patient Linda Wootton, who died just nine days after being told her entitlement for Employment and Support Allowance had been stopped because she was fit for work (she was, in fact, dying on a hospital bed at the time).

My first impression was, therefore, that this was an attempt by the Conservatives to stop people from compiling the medical evidence needed to contest ESA entitlement decisions.

But then I remembered: The work capability assessment is not a medical test and does not rely on medical evidence from anyone who is qualified to have an opinion about it. So it can’t be that.

Right?

If this gets passed into law, you should expect your health, and that of everyone you know, to worsen exponentially as time goes by. It’s as the U2 lyric from the 1980s put it: “The rich stay healthy while the sick stay poor”. There will be many, many deaths due to preventable causes.

The New World Order conspiracy theorists are probably salivating at the thought of this – they’ll believe it proves what they’ve been saying all along, that there is a cadre of ‘elite’ manipulators who intend to thin out the world population and this is part of that agenda.

There is only one thing to do: Protest. The ‘discussion brief’ entitled ‘Local Health’ was buried on the Conservative Policy Forum website when the papers reported on it, but now it has magically found its way to the top of the homepage. So why not visit www.conservativepolicyforum.com, read the document for yourself and make your opinions known in no uncertain terms:

Hands off our NHS!

Ask yourself how many of the people who wrote the paper actually use the NHS. If they don’t play the game, why are they so determined to make up the rules?