Tag Archives: support

Do you have a Tory MP? Do they have confidence in Liz Truss?

Knife: Liz Truss just plunged one of these into Kwasi Kwarteng’s back. Is she about to get the same treatment from her own MPs?

Here’s a bit of fun.

It seems Liz Truss is likely to face some kind of confidence vote in the near future – either prompted by the Labour Party or her own Tories.

In the light of this, it seems reasonable to ask Tory MPs now whether they have confidence in Truss’s leadership.

Whatever they say may then be used to determine whether they themselves are trustworthy enough to keep their Parliamentary seat in any future election (if they say they have confidence in her but vote against her, they’ll be lying).

I’ve already asked mine:

At the time of writing, there has been no response. Do you think she’s scared?

I wonder how many other Tories will run away from this simple question.

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Is Liz Truss schmoozing her MPs with meals and drinks subsidised by you and me?

Liz Truss: is the evil Queen of Cheese even capable of charm?

Liz Truss is apparently going on a “charm offensive” (the “offensive” part I can believe, but I have trouble with the “charm” element), wining and dining her backbenchers to win support for her lunatic policies.

But is she charging these meals to the public purse?

Let’s go into that public subsidy element of the scheme in a little more detail, shall we?

It seems to This Writer that the cost of any schmoozing by Liz Truss should be met by Liz Truss. I don’t want Tory backbenchers supporting her madness so I don’t see why I should have to pay for it. And it seems I’m not alone…

It’s clear that the expenses system in Westminster is broken, and has been used to bleed money from the public to our elected representatives for a considerable amount of time. Oh, and also to our unelected representatives, it seems:

No, it isn’t hard to see where we are going wrong.

But how can we put it right when the people taking the cash have such a tight group on how it is controlled?

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Rees-Mogg talks about business support – on a street of boarded-up business failures

Don’t you just love Maximilien Robespierre‘s Fool of the Week feature?

Here, he highlights Jacob Rees-Mogg, who made a video about support for businesses that is too little, too late – while trying to avoid showing us the reality of the situation. Needless to say, others were on hand to reveal the truth of the situation.

Here’s the clip:

And here’s another perspective on it from Phil Moorhouse of A Different Bias:

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DWP won’t contact over 100,000 ESA claimants owed millions in compensation

This comes courtesy of Benefits and Work; This Site is just passing it on:

The DWP has refused to follow a recommendation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to contact over 100,000 ESA claimants who are owed compensation totalling many millions for DWP errors. However, one claimant has been awarded £7,500 in compensation and we explain below how you can begin a claim if you were affected.

The issue relates to mistakes made by the DWP which began over a decade ago.

In 2011 the DWP began transferring claimants from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance (ESA). However, in many thousands of cases the DWP only assessed claimants for contribution based ESA and failed to check whether they should also have been awarded income-based ESA.

Eventually, after many complaints and awards to claimants who had missed out, the DWP reluctantly launched a LEAP exercise to identify claimants who had been victims of their error.

This resulted in 118,000 claimants getting backdated awards of ESA, in many cases amounting to thousands of pounds. Others also got awards outside of the LEAP scheme.

However, these claimants were not told that they might also be entitled to special payments because they had missed out on other benefits or undergone hardship as a result of the DWP’s maladministration.

Indeed, the DWP specifically told claimants that they could not complain to the Independent Case Examiner and did not tell them about the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

However, one claimant – known as Ms U – had advice from a welfare rights worker. As a result, she did complain the PHSO after the DWP refused to pay her compensation in addition to £19, 832 in backdated ESA.

The PHSO found that Ms U had suffered considerable hardship and her health had suffered as a result of the DWP’s failures. She had also missed out on free prescriptions, warm home discount payments and other help such as paying for a washing machine.

The PHSO recommended that the DWP pay Ms U £7,500 as compensation and also pay interest on the back payment of ESA.

The DWP paid Ms U, but refused to follow another recommendation of the PHSO.

This was that they contact claimants both within the LEAP exercise and outside it who had been given ESA arrears due to their maladministration, look into their circumstances and award them any appropriate compensation.

Instead the DWP argued that: “should a claimant feel that they should receive compensation due to their individual circumstances, they can contact the Department and set out their reasons. All requests received will be considered on a case by case basis.”

The DWP know very well that almost none of the affected claimants will ever discover that they might be entitled to compensation and thus they will never know to ask for it.

In a recently released letter dated 10 May 2022, the PHSO said that they were “extremely disappointed” with the DWP’s decision not to follow their recommendations.

Unfortunately the PHSO has no power to force the DWP to do so.

We know that only a small proportion of Benefits and Work readers will have been affected by this issue.

But if you are one of them, we have a downloadable letter, complete with instructions, that you can use to begin the process of applying for compensation.

It comes with no guarantees that it will work, but waiting for the DWP to act seems to guarantee that you will not get a penny of what you may be owed.

If you are not personally affected but know someone who may be, please send them a link to this article.

And if you regularly post in a forum or belong to a group that might include affected people, again please give them a link to this page.

Who is affected

Affected claimants are those who were transferred from incapacity benefit to ESA, a process that began as far back as 2011, and who later received a lump sum payment of arrears because the DWP had failed to award you income-based ESA as well as contribution-based ESA.

Many claimants who received such a lump sum will have missed out on passporting to other benefits, such as free prescriptions and warm home discount payments.

What you can do

If you think you were affected you can write to the office which administers, or used to administer, your claim for ESA to ask for compensation.

We have created a simple, downloadable letter which you can use as the basis for your own.

We have kept this letter as simple as possible, with instructions for you in italics. If you know the dates of any award of back-dated ESA or the amounts that you may have missed out on then by all means add them. But, at this point, the most important thing is to begin your claim.

If you don’t receive a reply, do as the letter says and make a formal complaint as well as contacting your MP’s office and asking them to pursue the matter

Download the letter in rich text format

Download the letter as a .pdf

You can read the PHSO’s original findings on the case of Ms U here

You can read the correspondence between the PHSO and the DWP here

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Why didn’t the government act on energy price cap increase earlier? It’s what we expected!

Martin Lewis: he’s been saying the government has been able to predict the rise in the energy price cap for months – so why hasn’t it acted to protect vulnerable people yet?

Here’s a good question, posed by a Facebook friend of This Writer:

“Why [announce the inflation-dictated energy price cap rise in] October? Is that because the inflation rate, by which pensions are increased the following April, is set in September?

“Whether its intended that way or not (and I’m a cynic, I’d say it is), pensioners won’t get the inflation rise caused by October’s and April’s energy price rises – until April 2024 – having to go a whole year with insufficient money.

“It might apply to other benefits too.”

Can you see anything wrong with the reasoning here – especially when we knew the rise was coming and could predict exactly what it would be.

That’s what Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis says, anyway (along with very many other pertinent points) in this clip:

So there’s no reason for the government to deprive pensioners (and possibly benefit recipients) of inflation-linked pensions and benefits – or, indeed, to have delayed mitigating measures until after a new prime minister is sworn in.

And now we know that – possibly at least in part because of this failure – the number of people in fuel poverty, spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy bills, is likely to almost double, from 4.3 million to 8.9 million within 12 months.

The price cap is now set to rise from £1,971 per year to £3,549 per year on October 1, and is projected to rise to an excruciating peak of £6,616 – almost double again what it is rising to reach in October.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said options for further household support packages are being drawn up – but we are also expected to cut our electricity use by between 15 and 30 per cent, according to our means.

To me, this suggests that the Tories are preparing to blame members of the public if they die of cold this winter, by pretending that they didn’t cut their energy use enough.

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Wes Streeting admits he didn’t support Jeremy Corbyn

Wes Streeting: did he betray the Labour Party by failing to support Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 UK general election? And if so, why hasn’t he been expelled from the Labour Party?

“That’s news to Jeremy Corbyn!” says Wes Streeting on being told he supported the former Labour leader in the UK’s 2019 general election.

But aren’t ALL Labour members required to support the party and its leader in elections?

Haven’t members been expelled for failing to do so, or for speaking out that they would not/did not?

Shouldn’t Streeting receive the same treatment?

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Toyah Wilcox’s Song of Support for Ukraine | Beastrabban\’s Weblog


This Writer asked for musical commentaries on the Russia-Ukraine situation and it didn’t take long for one to turn up!

I found this on the blog of my brother the Beast:

Mighty punk princess Toyah Wilcox and her husband Robert Fripp have been entertaining their legions of fans on YouTube over the past couple of years with their Sunday lunch performances.

Ten days ago they posted this song, ‘Ukraine We Hear You’. It’s obviously rather more serious, a musical gesture of support following the Russian invasion. Well, we in Britain and the West have heard Ukraine, and we hear Toyah and Robert’s song of support.

I hope the forces of peace and justice win, and that the war will shortly come to an end.

Source: Toyah Wilcox’s Song of Support for Ukraine | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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Russians rise to condemn #Ukraine war; #KeirStarmer puts down Labour MPs who do the same

Keir Starmer: Putin down his people (sorry – I couldn’t resist the pun).

People across Russia who have stood up in protest against their country’s invasion of Ukraine are winning praise from politicians in the UK and across the world.

What a stark contrast with the reaction of – for example – UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, who has forced 11 of his MPs to withdraw their protest against the war under threat of losing the party whip!

Here is video evidence of some of the protests in Russia, as citizens there exercised their right to free speech:

All of these protests if they took place in the UK, would soon be illegal under the Tory government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts legislation that is currently working its way through Parliament.

And it seems Labour’s current leadership tacitly supports such suppression; here’s how Starmer reacted to his MPs’ exercise of their right to free speech:

Yes, it seems he demanded that they withdraw their signatures from a statement by the Stop the War Coalition, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The statement itself is straightforward:

“This dispute could and should be resolved peacefully, and that remains the only basis for a lasting settlement, rather than the imposition of military solutions. That it has not been resolved is not, however, the responsibility of the Russian or Ukrainian governments alone.

“The conflict is the product of thirty years of failed policies, including the expansion of NATO and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other NATO powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations.

“The British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.

“If there is to be a return to diplomacy, as there should be, the British government should pledge to oppose any further eastward expansion of NATO and should encourage a return to the Minsk-2 agreement, already signed by both sides, by all parties as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.

“Beyond that, there now needs to be a unified effort to develop pan-European security arrangements which meet the needs of all states, something that should have been done when the Warsaw Pact was wound up at the end of the Cold War. The alternative is endless great power conflict with all the attendant waste of resources and danger of bloodshed and destruction.

“We send our solidarity to all those campaigning for an end to the war, often under very difficult conditions, in Russia and Ukraine. Stop the War can best support them by demanding a change in Britain’s own policy, which can be seen to have failed.”

Stop the War expanded on this in a message to followers:

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine overnight is a massive escalation in the conflict there. Stop the War is calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for an immediate ceasefire. Our statement is here and our resolution for union branches/CLPs here.

“The danger of war involving nuclear weapons is more real than previously and must be opposed. The real losers will be the ordinary people of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of Europe.

“We should, however, take no lessons in peacemaking from our own government and its allies. They have brought us decades of escalating wars, each of which has been a failure. They have encouraged a growing arms race internationally. And they have set on a path of Nato expansion which has brought the military alliance to the borders of Russia, in contravention of agreements made at the end of the Cold War.

“Nato is not a defensive alliance but an aggressive one, centrally involved in wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Yugoslavia, and engaged in more and more ‘out of area operations’ including in the Indo-Pacific.

“Our government wants to hide its domestic problems behind its belligerent statements, and we can be certain that this will continue, at the same time that it will provide unlimited money for war but increase student loan repayments and cut the NHS.

“There is a surge or argument in favour of greater sanctions, including from those who purport to be anti war. But sanctions are not an alternative to war – they are economic warfare and therefore a prelude to war. We have seen this in Iraq where all they did was bring war closer, at the same time as bringing real suffering to the people of Iraq.

“As an anti-war and peace movement, our first priority is to stop war. This conflict has not developed in the last few weeks alone, but reflects a society where war is being turned to increasingly to solve other problems. However, we are also aware that this is a different situation from previous wars where our government has been directly involved in military action, and we need to do as much as we can to explain and discuss the issues with those around us.

“We are asking our members, supporters, groups and affiliates to do the following:

  1. Make sure our statement and resolution are disseminated as widely as possible.
  2.  Do everything to publicise and support our international meeting on Saturday 26th February and our in person rally on Wednesday 2nd March in Conway Hall, London.
  3. Hold urgent meetings in all localities – in person where possible – calling for withdrawal of Russian troops, ceasefire now and against Nato expansion.
  4. Attend the demos and actions in support of the NHS with placards linking cuts in public spending with money for war- you can download and print our new placard design from our website.
  5. Prepare for a day of action (tba) where we hold protests and vigils against the war.

“Please contact the office for materials and more information, and for speakers.

“Due to the high volume of traffic we are currently experiencing, we apologise for any difficulties you may encounter whilst trying to access our website today; please keep refreshing or try again later.”

This Writer leans toward the belief that Starmer – who only recently and loudly announced his support for Nato as Labour’s current policy (not that it ever changed from that) – has been incensed by the support of opposition to the organisation by Labour backbenchers.

So he did what bullies do – he threatened them with reprisals.

And to their shame, they caved in:

At a time of blatant hypocrisy by many western leaders, this is extraordinary – for reasons that seem clear:

And he drew comparisons between himself and Russian president Vladimir Putin in an ironic but entirely appropriate unintended consequence:

Damo expands on this in a well-argued ‘rant’ that critics of the Stop the War 11 should consider with care:

And what of Starmer himself? Having signalled a direction of travel, will he follow it through?

And how will this play out in the United Kingdom at large?

Well, with a by-election set to take place in Erdington, Birmingham on March 3, we shouldn’t have long to wait. And people are already making their wishes clear:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Secret DWP benefits survey cherry-picks respondents – so it can lay blame on claimants?

Too much Coffey: the Work and Pensions Secretary (right) seems to have commissioned a survey of benefit claimants in order to say their failure to budget properly has put them into hardship – not her insistence on providing starvation-level payments and using the slightest excuse to cut them off. Meanwhile, she parties.

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a secret survey – sent only to specially cherry-picked claimants.

The reason seems to be to blame benefit recipients for any hardship they suffer, claiming that poor budgeting skills are the root of the problem rather than the political decision to fix payments at starvation levels – and then to use the flimsiest excuses to stop them.

The survey asks about debts claimants may have, what effect the debts have had on them and what support they need. It is the last question that has raised concerns, as Benefits and Work, which hoisted the red flag on this apparent scam, pointed out:

The full question and list of options is as follows:

What types of help or support, if any, would be most useful in helping you manage your finances?

  • Help with working out what money I have left to spend each/day/week/month.
  • Advice on how to spread my spending so I don’t run out of money
  • Advice on how to reduce my spending
  • Advice on how to reduce my debt
  • Advice on how to increase my income
  • Help with setting up a direct debit/standing order
  • Help with opening a bank account
  • Other (specify)

In this context, advice to increase my income is most likely to relate to those in employment.  In general claimants cannot increase their income unless there is a benefit they could be claiming that they are not aware of.

What is entirely missing from these options are the ones that would actually make a difference to claimants, such as:

  • Pay benefits at a rate that is enough to live on
  • Remove the 5 week waiting time for UC
  • End the long delays for PIP assessments and WCAs

Because there are no such options, this survey will produce results that say that, of claimants who are in debt:

X% say they need advice on working out what money they have left to spend

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their spending

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their debt

Whilst some people may indeed say in the ‘Other’ box that the help they need is a higher rate of benefits, this will not be listed as a percentage in outcomes as everyone’s answers will be worded differently.

In other words, all the support needs will be around claimants not understanding how to manage their money, rather than it being impossible to manage on the money they receive.

See how it works?

Benefits and Work has made Freedom of Information requests to ask how the claimants taking part in this survey are selected, how many are taking part and whether the results of the report are going to be published.

The logical conclusion to be drawn is that the DWP has been stung by having to reveal the findings of its secret report on how people on sickness and disability benefits are struggling with unmet needs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey had repeatedly refused to publish the DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee ordered its authors to provide a copy to Parliament. It has now been published.

The report, received by the government in September 2020, stated that many people are using disability benefits such as PIP, which is intended to meet the additional costs of disability, for very basic needs such as food, rent and paying debts:

“The participant had kidney failure, arthritis in his back, legs and arms, depression and bulimia which caused chronic stomach pains. He lived alone in a flat rented from a Housing Association, using Housing Benefit. He was in the ESA Support Group and received PIP. He made monthly repayments for utility bill arrears and had a £5,000 bank loan which he could not afford to repay. His debt repayments meant he could not afford essential day-to-day living needs and used a foodbank. He found it difficult to wash independently due to his arthritis and needed a walk-in shower but could not afford one and seemed unaware that he may be eligible for support through the local authority. He also needed support with cooking and cleaning and received help from a cousin. His cousin would like to claim Carer’s Allowance but neither of them knew how to make an application. He had no other support networks close by.”

It said claimants with invisible disabilities such as mental health conditions often struggle even more than those with physical conditions to meet their basic needs:

“Participants with mental health conditions tended to report a wide variety of basic needs, health and care needs and social needs that were unmet. In comparison, those with profound learning disabilities and severe physical disabilities were typically in the group that identified having fewer unmet needs. While the latter group experienced a high level of need across a range of areas, these were usually being met through a combination of local authority support and informal support networks, usually parents who provided a high level of care.”

And the wellbeing of disabled claimants often depends primarily on being in a household in which another member has a well-paid job:

“The participant has recently moved in with her mother and sister, she had previously lived alone in a council-rented flat but had begun to feel isolated and found paying the rent and bills difficult so decided to move in with her mother. She has a range of health conditions and disabilities including Asperger syndrome, anxiety, ADHD, joint stiffness and IBS. She works 28 hours a week and receives PIP. Before moving to live with her mother she was concerned about how her income would cover essential day-to-day living costs. She also struggled with maintaining her personal hygiene and found it difficult to leave the house as she did not like going out alone. Moving in with her mother has helped her to meet all of her health-related needs.”

The reason Coffey and the DWP kept the report secret seems clear when one notes that last October – more than a year after receiving it – the Work and Pensions Secretary was lying to the public about the system it damns.

As Benefits and Work (again) details:

Coffey was telling the Conservative party conference that:

“PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

“. . . people can think the benefit system is fair.

“And I think by being able to target that even more so to people who really need that support, may improve that prospect of public perception.”

Having been forced to release a report that shows – even in its watered-down form – that the benefit system is forcing hardship and related physical and psychological torture on claimants, including those who already have significant mental health problems (leading to a threat to life itself?), it seems Coffey has commissioned this new survey in order to manufacture a false justification for herself.

I think I’ll write her a letter. Let’s see how she justifies this web of deceit.

Source: DWP secret survey set to blame claimants for going cold and hungry

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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