Tag Archives: three

Locked-down Merseyside pub rebrands as The Three Bellends – after Johnson, Hancock and Cummings

A pub in New Brighton, Merseyside, has re-branded itself after new ‘Tier 3’ rules forced it to close again.

For the time being, the pub formerly known as the James Atherton, after the founder of New Brighton, is now The Three Bellends – after the architects of the area’s misery: Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings.

Anyone who is familiar with vulgar slang will understand exactly how appropriate the title is, as attached to those individuals.

According to the Huffington Post,

Daniel Davies, chief executive of pub owners Rockpoint Leisure, said the new name “really reflects the mood of the nation” and was chosen on Tuesday when he was forced to tell his staff the pub would have to close.

“It really tears the heart up,” he told HuffPost UK. “It just really, really infuriated us and made us think: why are they doing this? All the evidence points against shutting down places like public houses.

“They’re bellends because Boris and co said they would invest a lot in the north when he got in – but they’ve done nothing for the north. They’re not being affected by this lockdown.”

The change has been rung in with huge support:

And it has launched a rallying cry for pubs across the country to rebrand in similar ways – as visual demonstrations of their disgust at Johnson, his government, and their daft policies:

Could this be the only successful initiative to result from the Johnson government and its actions?

Source: Pub Renames Itself ‘The Three Bellends’ In Protest Against Liverpool Lockdown | HuffPost UK

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Disability benefits extended by six months if due reassessment within three months

The coronavirus crisis isn’t all bad news, it seems:

The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP (pictured below), has today confirmed that disability benefit awards have been automatically extended by six months for claimants due to be reassessed within the next three months.

PIP (Personal Independence Payment) reassessments are notoriously harsh on claimants because these are people with serious conditions who find the demands of the assessments extremely difficult.

So this is good – if it’s true.

Tory government promises haven’t been wonderfully reliable so far.

Source: Disability benefits extended by six months if due reassessment within three months – Welfare Weekly

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Coronavirus: Three million people go hungry because the Tories won’t introduce Universal Basic Income

 

Radical solution: It’s unlikely that the government would really want us to adopt the methods of Hannibal Lecter, but its current policies are little better.

The Financial Times almost got it right.

The bit that says

More than 3m people in Britain are going hungry

I think we can all agree with. But

because of the coronavirus crisis

isn’t quite right.

The research the FT quotes says that many families have been pushed into poverty because the lockdown means they have suffered “stark drops in income” – but isn’t this because the Tories have tried to cover the loss of employment income with a patchwork of policies that don’t cover everybody and are spectacularly complicated to administrate, rather than simply bringing in a Universal Basic Income that is simplicity itself?

According to the FT, researchers at the Food Foundation found that six per cent of surveyed adults – equivalent to three million people, said someone in their household had to go without food during the last three weeks because there wasn’t enough food.

The same survey found 16 per cent of respondents – equivalent to 8.1 million people, said they had faced food insecurity of some kind – but, again, I’m going to have to take issue with the survey (and the report), because where it says

as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

I would say it’s as a result of the measures brought in by the government in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, the sharp rise in food poverty is not

being driven by self-isolation and a lack of money as an unprecedented economic shutdown leaves millions of workers newly unemployed, furloughed or dependent on government support.

It is being driven by unworkable policies imposed by a government that is desperate to avoid giving everybody enough money to survive. What’s the thinking behind that?

The survey said three per cent of respondents – equivalent to 1.5 million people, had gone a whole day without eating since the lockdown came into effect.

Half of those who said they were facing food insecurity were struggling because of shortages related to the pandemic, and a quarter because they could not leave their homes to shop.

Those are both government failings; shortages from panic-buying and people unable to leave their homes also being unable to access government schemes that, we’re told, exist to help them.

Around 21 per cent were hungry because they simply did not have enough money, and more than two per cent of respondents, the equivalent of a million people, said they had lost all their income since the lockdown had begun.

The Food Foundation and other charities have called for the government to urgently set up a task force to provide food parcels for those who are self-isolating, and to address the lack of cash faced by those who have lost their jobs, the foundation and other campaigners have also called for an end to the five-week wait for universal credit, and to double child benefit.

Why not just bring in a Universal Basic Income? Then everyone will have the cash they need to buy food, and the government will have the time to set up deliveries for people whose health conditions mean they may not leave home.

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Disability deaths scandal: Tories admit thousands of deaths, months after PIP refusals. How do they know?

This is an oddity.

Some of you may remember that, back in 2015, I managed to force the Conservative government into admitting the number of people who had died within two weeks of being refused sickness or disability benefits of one kind or another.

The statistics were kept within that tiny time frame because the spokespeople for the Department for Work and Pensions said it did not monitor what happened to people after it kicked them off its books.

So how does Sarah Newton know that 7,990 people died within six months of having their claim for Personal Independence Payment rejected?

The figure itseslf is bad enough but the possibility of a cover-up lasting many years would be a massive scandal.

We’ve had no report of any change in DWP monitoring policy.

Yet Alex Tiffin, on his blog Universal Credit Sufferer, reported that Labour MP Madeline Moon had received a response to a written question, saying: “Of the 3.1 million people who claimed PIP between April 2013 and April 2018, 7,990 died within 6 months of having their claim REJECTED.

“‘3,680 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants died within three months of their initial application being disallowed.'”

It has also been revealed that “5,290 claimants who’d applied under the Special Rules for Terminally Ill people (SRTI), (those [who have] a terminal disease with less than 6 months to live), died before the DWP made a decision on their claim”.

If the figures on PIP claimants who died three months and six months after their claims were rejected are known to the DWP now, it seems likely that the figures on other sickness and disability claimants were known when my Freedom of Information request was slowly working its way past the obstacles the Tories kept putting in its way – and they lied about it.

There’s only one way to find out. I’ll have to write and find out.

But will we be able to trust the answer?


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Whipped Tories ensure Theresa May’s role in the Windrush scandal remains a secret – for now


It seems that every single Conservative MP has slavishly followed Theresa May through the ‘No’ lobby at the House of Commons, ensuring the success of her desperate bid to keep her own role in the racist victimisation of the so-called Windrush generation secret.

The vote was won by 316 votes to 221 in favour of the motion, which would have ensured that all papers relating to the Windrush scandal between 2010 and 2018 would be released.

But in ordering her MPs to hide the facts, Mrs May has admitted that there are facts about her involvement that she does not want the public to know.

She has admitted that she has not told the truth – or at least, not the whole truth.

That is the message that should be put to voters before they cast their ballots in the local elections tomorrow (May 3):

Does anybody seriously want to support the woman who imposed the most racist policy ever to blight the UK’s citizens – and then tried to deny her role in it?


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Desperate Theresa May whips MPs to hide her involvement in Windrush scandal

Secret smirk: Theresa May thinks she has got away with imposing the racist ‘hostile environment’ policy that deported UK citizens, by letting Amber Rudd take the blame. Shouldn’t she resign too?

She’s between a rock and a hard place.

Tories have been abstaining from voting on Opposition Day debates since the general election last year, so we may conclude from today’s three-line whip to block Labour’s ‘humble address’ that the information being requested is hugely damaging to Mrs May.

Of course, if the Tories continued to abstain – as I stated in a previous article – we would know what that information is.

Either way, the current prime minister’s guilt, her collusion in the targeting of the so-called Windrush Generation and their families, and her determination to continue attacking these people even after being told UK citizens were suffering as a result of her policies, seems clear.

If the Tories succeed in blocking Labour’s motion, do we – the public – accept it?

If not, there’s an obvious answer.

There are local and mayoral elections tomorrow (May 3). If people aren’t satisfied with Mrs May’s behaviour, they can make it clear by voting against Conservative candidates.

A large anti-Conservative vote cannot be seen as anything other than a response to Mrs May and her government. They may try to spin it as something else, but they won’t succeed.

This is an opportunity to rid ourselves of the worst prime minister in living memory. Let’s not throw it away.

Conservative MPs are under a three-line whip to vote against the so-called humble address motion, the same procedure used last year by Labour to force ministers to hand over their Brexit economic impact assessments.

In an opposition day debate later on Wednesday, Labour is to use the motion to ask for all papers, correspondence and advice on between ministers, senior officials and advisers from May 2010 until now.

This would be handed to the Commons home affairs committee and would include information about any detentions or deportations, the setting of deportation targets, and how the policies were seen as affecting people’s lives.

If successful, the tactic could undermine the government’s attempts to insulate May from the crisis over how some citizens of Caribbean origin who arrived in the UK from the 1950s onwards were wrongly targeted amid the “hostile environment” immigration policy, which placed the onus on individuals to actively prove their status.

Source: Windrush row: Theresa May promises ‘full review’ of decisions | UK news | The Guardian


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Cameron’s crackdown on immigrant benefits is just another grubby con

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog - http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ - which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK's real problems.]

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog – http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ – which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK’s real problems.]

The UK is to cut the amount of time EU migrants without realistic job prospects can claim benefits from six to three months, according to David Cameron – who seems desperate to take attention away from Andy Burnham’s speech today on the Coalition’s unwanted privatisation of the National Health Service.

According to the BBC, Cameron said the “magnetic pull” of UK benefits needed addressing to attract people for the right reasons.

But the announcement seems to be deliberately confusing.

It seems this restriction will only apply to people born abroad who have had a job in this country and then lost it. They are the only migrant group currently allowed to claim JSA for six months before the benefit is cut off “unless they [have] very clear job prospects”, as Cameron put it in the BBC article.

EU migrants who were claiming benefits in their own countries must fill in an E303 form in order to receive benefits at the destination country – which are issued at the same rates as in their country of origin for a total of three months only. Failure to find employment in that time means the loss of the benefit or a return to the country of origin.

The BBC article is vague about this; it’s as if Auntie – and Cameron – are trying to hoodwink you (shurely shome mishtake? – Ed) into thinking he is restricting benefits for people who come here looking for work, which is something he cannot do.

Perhaps Cameron is trying to avoid the embarrassment created by his last attempt to claim he was doing something about immigration; he announced five proposals, one of which related to all employers (quadrupling fines for those that do not pay the minimum wage), while the other four were already part of the law of this land.

That little Con was exposed very quickly, on this blog and others.

Note also that he is still trying to say people are coming here from abroad in order to claim our benefits.

That is a lie.

From Vox Political‘s article last year: “UK citizens are a greater drain on the state than immigrants from Europe. Between 1995 and 2011 EEA immigrants paid in 4 per cent more than they took out, whereas native-born Brits only paid in 93 per cent of what they received. Between 2001 and 2011 recent EEA immigrants contributed 34 per cent more than they took out, a net contribution of £22bn.”

Considering the timing of this announcement, it seems likely that Cameron wanted something to take attention away from Andy Burnham’s speech on the Coalition’s dirty little backroom deals to privatise more of the NHS, reported on this blog earlier today.

He must be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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DWP brings in ‘hit squad’ as benefit sanctions rocket

Mark Hoban: He talks a lot of nonsense about work schemes.

Mark Hoban: He talks a lot of nonsense about work schemes.

The government has announced that people who come off the Work Programme will be “targeted” by a “hit squad”.

A press release from the Department for Work and Pensions says up to five “specialist advisers” will be based in individual Job Centres, and will be dedicated to “working with” people who haven’t found sustained work after two years on the Work Programme.

In other words, these people will be overworked because the government’s own figures show that the Work Programme achieves worse results than if the DWP had done nothing and let people find jobs on their own!

But don’t worry – in order to remedy the failure of its own system, the government is already punishing far more jobseekers than every before with the most extreme benefit sanctions possible! Yes indeed – in the year to October 2012, the total number of sanctions applied increased by more than 47 per cent, to a record 778,000!

That’s right. The DWP has punished more than three-quarters of a million jobseekers for its own failure to deliver a decent system to get them into work. Does that seem fair to you?

Those are the most recent (official) figures available from the DWP. It seems new figures were due last month but have been delayed indefinitely by the department. One has to wonder whether the total for the year to May 2013 has actually topped the one million mark – that would mean one-sixtieth of the population were deprived of the funds they need to live, and we already know that sanctions do not only harm individual jobseekers but also people who have had nothing to do with the benefits being suspended.

They force people to rely on family and friends for their survival; they damage family relationships and harm the well-being of low-income families who have to stretch their resources to help a sanctioned person, including younger brothers or sisters who have to rely on the money earned by their elders for their own sustainance.

I love the quotes from Mark Hoban on the government press release. Try this one: “The Work Programme is getting some of the hardest to help claimants into work despite a tough economic climate.” A lie. Parliament’s Work and Pensions committee reported less than two weeks ago that “the hardest to help jobseekers remain at risk of being ‘parked’—given little or no support by providers who assess them as being unlikely to find sustained work”.

Or this: “We’ll be stepping up the pressure on claimants, who will be expected to attend the Jobcentre more frequently, with rigorous monitoring to ensure that they are doing everything they can to find work.” In other words, Job Centre staff will do everything they can to get in the way. It’s only a few days since another fellow blogger reported on her own experience of being sanctioned by her local Job Centre, after she found work.

The dialogue in that article is so hilarious it bears repeating here:

“Why did you fail to sign in on Monday?”

“Because I was at training for my job.”

“Well why didn’t you sign in on Tuesday?”

“Because I was at work.”

“Why did you fail to look for jobs in the last two weeks?”

“I didn’t. I applied for around 20 jobs in the last two weeks.”

“But why did you fail to apply for any jobs since last week?”

“Because I got a job.”

Anyone failing to comply with the – I suppose it amounts to – harassment announced in the press release will face sanctions, including a three-year benefit ban for the worst offenders – anybody who repeatedly fails to comply. In practice, this could mean not applying for a particular job, or arriving at the Job Centre a few minutes late.

It’s only towards the end of the government press release that we find the real reason for all this fanfare: “An extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work.”

Riiiiight. It’s another bung for the ministers’ friends in the Work Programme Provider companies.

That explains it.

Waiting for the ‘snail media’ to catch up

'Snail' media: The BBC News website was nearly two months behind the political blogs in its reporting of a major story.

‘Snail’ media: The BBC News website was nearly two months behind the political blogs in its reporting of a major story.

“On Tuesday, this was a serious Conservative Party policy proposal, being reported in national newspapers. Now, it’s ‘never’ going to happen,” trumpeted web campaigners 38 Degrees in an email last night.

They were, of course, referring to the Tory idea that it would be all right to restrict consultations with an NHS doctor to three per year per person – presumably the Rupert who dreamed it up thought everybody who mattered would have private health insurance instead, and this seems to be borne out by the material in the rest of the policy document.

I’m perfectly happy with this result. In fact, I think it is blogs like Vox Political that helped make it happen because – as you’ll know, o loyal reader – Vox reported on this particular scandal on Sunday, two days before.

I’ll admit, the material in the article was sourced from the newspapers, but what’s interesting is that it took a further two days for the mass – or as I intend to call it from now on, the ‘snail’ – media to cotton on that the whole idea is utterly ludicrous and the public won’t fall for it.

During that time, the Vox article went viral, and Vox readers have never really been known for keeping their opinions to themselves.

A ‘snowball’ effect then ensued, leading to reports in the papers of the public reaction and the 38 Degrees petition, which resulted in Jeremy Hunt’s grumpy tweet: “In case being misled by ‘neutral’ 38Degrees e-petition, it IS NOT and WAS NEVER going to be Conservative policy to limit GP appointments.”

He’s only upset because we spoiled his fun, I expect.

Vox Political was not the only blog covering this story, as far as I’m aware, and I certainly don’t want to suggest that it was any more instrumental in this little victory than anyone else. What I’m saying is it demonstrates that bloggers are starting to drive the political agenda.

The problem is the length of time it takes the mass – sorry, ‘snail’ – media to catch up.

Consider this story on the BBC News website (powered by Atos, in case anybody forgets) yesterday:

Under the headline ‘Incapacity benefit test claims ‘conflated figures’ – watchdog’, it states: “Suggestions that 878,300 benefit claimants dropped their claims rather than take a medical test have been challenged by the statistics watchdog.

“Tory chairman Grant Shapps was quoted saying that nearly a million people had “taken themselves off” incapacity benefit instead of sitting the test.”

Again, it’s great that this nonsense has been challenged, and the challenge has been reported. What’s not so great is the timescale.

Because the Skwawkbox blog, run by Steve Walker, challenged this nonsense almost two months ago.

The comment in the BBC story – by Andrew Dilnot, the now famous head of the UK Statistics Authority – was that “research by the Department for Work and Pensions suggested that one important reason for those cases being closed was because the person ‘recovered and either returned to work or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their situation’ instead.”

That is uncannily close to Steve Walker’s comment that “this represents nothing more than ‘churn’ – a turnover of claims withdrawn because of perfectly normal things like people getting better, or finding a job they can do even if they’re ill” – published on April 2!

I’ll accept some people may dispute the blogs’ influence on the outcome of the ‘NHS consultation’ issue, but on this one it seems unlikely there can be any doubt. Mr Dilnot’s letter followed an inquiry from Sheila Gilmore MP, who follows Vox Political and is certainly likely to have read my report on this matter. It seems likely that she also follows Skwawkbox. The amount of time between those articles’ appearance and the piece on the BBC website is the time it took for her to receive a response to her inquiry on the matter from Mr Dilnot.

Isn’t it a shame that the BBC didn’t do any fact-checking for itself?

So there you have it: If you want proper political news – and proper analysis of events – forget the ‘snail’ media and go to the blogs. We’re faster and more accurate, and what’s more, we make things change.

For the better (in case Iain ‘We’re changing their lives’ Smith was wondering).