Tag Archives: Tories

Torygraph politics: paper praises Tories for saving money because senior citizens have died of Covid-19

Some institutions have twisted priorities:

That’s the Daily Telegraph for you.

But doesn’t it make you question whether the Tory intention really was for Covid-19 to kill as many pensioners as possible, in order to cut the National Insurance bill?

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Conservative Covid-19 contracts cronyism: professionals suffer as cash goes to Tory chums

One more time: we can hope the PPE provided by Platform 14 was better than what we see here – but the fact that this Tory-run company beat firms that may be considered better-qualified remains a scandal.

This is an outrage.

A Merseyside company specialising in medical wear from its establishment half a century ago was ignored and passed over by the Tory government’s “emergency” tendering process for PPE contracts.

Meanwhile a former Tory councillor was given £276 million worth of PPE contracts for a company that was dissolved in April 2019 after making a loss of around half a million pounds.

The Merseyside firm – Florence Roby – is having to lay off staff – while the owner of the revived Platform 14 has apparently skimmed £1.5 million off the top of his contract and used it to buy a 17th-century Cotswolds mansion with 100 acres of land.

This is Tory cronyism – and profiteering – at its worst.

If Florence Roby – which has five decades of experience – had won some of these valuable contracts, it would have produced excellent PPE. Moreover, the investment in this well-established firm would have provided employment and security to experts in their field.

You can draw your own conclusions about Platform 14 (est. 2012) from the fact that it managed to run up huge losses in seven years, and from what its owner has done with your money.

These are the decisions the Tories have been making regularly since they started using the so-called “emergency” system to avoid going through a proper tendering process for Covid-19-related contracts.

As a result, the effort to control the disease has been hampered by substandard products – where they have been supplied at all – and amateur manufacturers.

And Boris Johnson has run up a borrowing bill that is expected to total more than 316 billion more than this year’s national deficit, when the financial year ends in April 2021.

He’ll expect you to pay for Steve Dechan’s £1.5 million mansion. How do you feel about it?

Source: Mersey company forced to lay off staff as PPE contracts go to Tory connected firms buying from abroad – Liverpool Echo

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Web of lies around Priti Patel bullying report: why is she protected if she pushes people to suicide?

I don’t like it when people in my government lie to me.

I have a feeling I share that opinion with many people.

Priti Patel seized on the part of Alex Allan’s report into bullying allegations against her, that said she had not been warned that her behaviour towards civil service employees exceeded the bounds of acceptability.

But it seems that this was because Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, who is suing the government for constructive dismissal.

According to The Guardian,

sources say Allan was informed he could not interview Rutnam because of the legal action. Allan, however, felt that his inquiry was being denied potentially crucial evidence.

Rutnam… said she was clearly advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect “on further occasions”.

The indication that Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip suggests that his claim is correct. Priti Patel – as the person who was given the advice – would therefore have known she had it.

So it seems she lied, in order to make herself look better. That in itself is despicable.

Worse still, we hear that the prime minister – Boris Johnson – himself asked for the report on Patel to be “palatable”. Doesn’t this suggest that he didn’t want the facts – just something he could use to deflect criticism?

Is it any wonder that Sir Alex resigned after Johnson ignored even the findings of his report as it eventually appeared?

Finally, there is the odious spectacle of Tory MPs and ministers rallying to support Patel – a colleague whose loathsome behaviour appears to have pushed one employee into attempting suicide:

Mr Khan attempted to endorse it because his boss told him to help “form a square around the Prittster”.

So now we have an increasing number of Conservative MPs – and, presumably, other Tories – trying to deceive us all into accepting that there’s no reason for Priti Patel to be removed from office.

It seems one bad apple really can spoil the whole barrel. Or were they already spoiled and this episode just showed us the extent of it?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘asked for Patel report to be palatable’, source claims – BBC News

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Thousands of disabled students could get Universal Credit after woman wins legal fight

Tactical cruelty: perhaps DWP bosses realised they were going to lose a court case so they changed the law in order to ensure that disabled students would continue to be unable to claim Universal Credit.

This is good news for many – but not for everybody:

Tens of thousands of disabled students could qualify for Universal Credit after 22-year-old mostly-blind Sidra Kauser won a legal victory over a loophole saying she could not claim Universal Credit.

To receive the benefit, she would have had to take a work capability assessment – but the DWP’s rules contained a bizarre ‘Catch-22’ that she could not take the test, because she is a student.

As a result, she could not be found to have limited capability for work, and therefore couldn’t receive the benefit.

The High Court has quashed the DWP’s decision, saying it breaches the Tory-run government department’s own regulations, dating back to 2013 – and ordered it to pay Ms Kauser’s legal fees.

But this fight is not over because the Tory government changed the law on August 5, ensuring that disabled students claiming Universal Credit after that date would not be invited to a work capability assessment and therefore would not be eligible for the benefit at all.

That will have to be challenged in a future court case.

But this is another victory for crusading lawyers Leigh Day, who explained the case:

Sidra Kauser, aged 22, from Halifax, is visually impaired and is currently studying for a masters degree at York University.

She received Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but that, combined with a student loan, was not enough to provide her with an acceptable standard of living. After payment of her rent, she had £120 a month to live on.

She applied for universal credit, but because she was a student, she was refused a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which meant she was effectively disentitled from claiming universal credit.

Sidra applied for a judicial review of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) policy (which stated that disabled students shouldn’t be invited to a WCA), arguing that the law required the DWP to conduct a WCA to determine whether she had limited capability for work, in which case she would be entitled to universal credit.

Now, after the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, told the court in July, 2020 that she would not be defending Sidra’s claim, a high court judge has ruled that the SSWP had acted unlawfully and has quashed the decision to refuse Sidra’s claim for universal credit.

Sidra will now be given a WCA, and if she is deemed to be unable to work, she will be entitled to make a claim for universal credit.

The court ruling also has an impact on those disabled students whose applications for universal credit had previously been unsuccessful because they had been refused a WCA.

However, on 5 August the DWP changed the law so that other disabled students who made a claim for universal credit after that date would not be invited  to a WCA and would not therefore be able to establish their limited capability for work.

Ms Kauser said: “I am glad I decided to take a stand and pursue my claim for judicial review of the DWP decision to refuse me a WCA. Hopefully other students will benefit from the court ruling.”

Leigh Day solicitor Lucy Cadd added: “Sidra made a brave stand against the decision to refuse her a WCA and it has proved successful. It has been estimated by the charity Disability Rights UK that the Secretary of State’s unlawful policy, which has been in operation since 2013, could have adversely affected 30,000 disabled students. Other disabled students who were refused a WCA prior to 5 August 2020 and therefore lost out on their claim for universal credit, should ask the Secretary of State to revise her decision.

“Although the DWP has callously changed the regulations to prevent more disabled students being entitled to a WCA, there may be scope for legal challenge to the new regulations.”

Source: Disabled student wins right to be considered for universal credit

The Tories have used Covid to abandon children with disabilities and their parents

Money, money, money: Boris Johnson’s government says it is spending billions to help children with special educational needs and disabilities weather the Covid crisis – but they aren’t seeing it. So where is it going?

It may be hard to accept, but Boris Johnson and his cronies have been weaponising Covid-19, using the crisis as an excuse to take support away from vulnerable children.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly hard-hit, as Metro‘s report shows:

An Ofsted report into the impact of the first lockdown published this week found that some children lost basic skills and learning as a result of school closures and restrictions on movement.

Turning to SEND children, it found the pandemic has presented ‘serious and far-reaching’ challenges for families, with some feeling ‘isolated’ from existing services.

One parent who spoke to Metro branded the situation a ‘national disgrace’ and said her three-year-old son had received no physio or occupational therapy for nine months.

Another told of a ‘pressure cooker’ environment and the ‘terror’ parents face with no end in sight, as they struggle without services they had previously relied upon in their day-to-day lives.

The response from the Tories’ Department for Education spokesperson gives great emphasis to the amounts of money that have been allocated to help parents and children in this situation.

It mentions “£37million this year to help thousands of low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children with the challenge they face staying at home”, a “£1billion Covid catch-up fund”, and “increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year”.

But who actually receives the cash and what does it actually pay for?

This year we have seen the Tories waste no less than £12 billion on a Covid-19 test, track and trace system that not only doesn’t work but is actually a contamination risk.

So quoting amounts of money allocated to particular projects means nothing.

It is clear from the stories here that these parents and children are not receiving the support they need.

And I, for one, would like to know what the Tories are really doing with that cash.

Source: Exhausted parents of disabled children feel ‘abandoned’ in lockdown | Metro News

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Cummings is out of Downing Street – but what does it actually mean?

Cummings and Boris Johnson: I never really bothered to do another image of him and now I’m glad I didn’t; he’s gone. But how far has he gone?

Many will be saying Boris Johnson will have to take responsibility for his own cock-ups from now on – but will he?

Johnson has had the benefit of a lot of media belief that he’s the monkey to Dominic Cummings’s organ grinder, ever since he moved into Downing Street in July 2019.

Now, with Cummings moving out of Downing Street “to clear the air”, he won’t have that excuse – even if it is still applicable.

You see, Cummings may have left his official role but this just means we don’t know what he will be doing, who he’ll be doing it with, or how much influence he may continue to wield.

And it is entirely possible, of course, that the whole story about Cummings being the secret mastermind was just a blind, and the Johnson government will continue self-combusting, as it has been ever since that fateful July 2019 day.

Time will tell.

But it seems clear that the future under Johnson’s Tories holds just two possibilities:

  • Life in the UK will stay as bad as it is now.
  • Life in the UK will get much, much worse.

For now I think it is okay to sympathise with all those who are celebrating with a few choruses of “The witch is dead”…

But I think we have to temper that sympathy with a clear understanding that the UK is not out of the woods yet – by a very long way.

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Dido Harding’s evidence to MPs shows why Tories shouldn’t give jobs to their cronies

The head of Serco – not NHS – Test and Trace demonstrated the failures, not only of her fake Covid-19 response organisation, but of the system that allows Conservative ministers to appoint their buddies to important jobs – just by turning up to talk about it.

Dido Harding – whose qualifications to run a business charged with contact tracing people who may have Covid-19 include having been a jockey and failing to run a telecoms/internet supplier – duly made a fool of herself before a joint meeting of Parliament’s health and social care committee and science and technology committee.

This Writer didn’t see the session so I’m relying on information from Twitter sources – and it isn’t flattering:

It’s a good point to make because the private firms do not come up to the standard of service we expect from the NHS – and that the NHS would provide.

So now we see not only that private companies are being paid a hell of a lot of money to provide very little, but also that the public authorities that have had to take up the slack and actually do something are not receiving any of this funding to do it. What a bare-faced charlatan Ms Harding was showing herself to be.

Worse was to follow:

The conclusion? Some commenters resorted to satire:

But many drew the obvious conclusion – as epitomised here:

That’s right – and Boris Johnson, together with his colleagues in the Conservative government that he heads, is responsible for employing them, using a system that bypasses competitive tendering by claiming it’s an emergency and time is of the essence.

It is now a year since Boris Johnson was first made aware of Covid-19. He wasted four months pretending it wasn’t any reason for concern and then used that system to appoint personal friends of his who achieved nothing.

It’s time the madness was stopped and competitive tendering was reintroduced so we can clear out the cowboys and bring back the professionals.

And it’s time Johnson and his cronies were brought to book for their cavalier spaffing of our cash on know-nothing amateurs.

Strangely enough, it seems that’s exactly what is going to happen…

Source: Typhoid Dido proves fluent in management bollocks and contradiction | John Crace | Politics | The Guardian

The stupidity of Liz Truss: who elected these Tories, and are they brave enough to admit it?

Liz Truss: as a trade negotiator she is a blithering imbecile with no redeeming features whatsoever. And that is being charitable!

Back in December 2019, enough people in the UK thought the Conservatives should be trusted to run the country that they gained a Parliamentary majority of 80 seats.

Since then, it seems everything Boris Johnson’s government has done has proved those Conservative voters wrong.

The latest revelation about International Trade Secretary Liz Truss only hammers this point further home – and it relates to Brexit, the subject on which Johnson won his election.

More people voted Conservative because they wanted the UK to leave the European Union and forge its own future by striking advantageous trade deals with other countries. Right?

Truss cut the first such deal with Japan in September, trumpeting “strong tariff reductions on key agricultural products like pork, beef and salmon [that] will benefit farmers and food exporters”.

However, a study by the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) at the University of Sussex has found that just 10 of 9,444 products will enjoy lower taxes.

They include birds’ eggs, raw hides, fur skins, handbags and ultra-strong spirits of at least 90 per cent alcohol – none of which are exported to Japan by the UK, meaning the study found the gain to UK exporters is zero.

Other changes trumpeted by Truss include “cutting-edge digital and data provisions” that are nothing of the sort.

And she claimed a boost to trade with Japan that would be worth £15.7bn over the next 15 years – but that is in comparison with no deal, not with the EU deal that the UK is giving up, due to Brexit.

And 83 per cent of the gains go to Japanese exporters, with the UK’s getting just 17 per cent.

In fairness, the negotiators have managed to avoid the large increases in tariffs that would have been suffered if the UK had gone back to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

But that is not what Johnson and all the other rabid Brexiters promised us when we voted on leaving the EU, back in 2016.

They promised us vast improvements in the prices we would get for our goods – and that’s what Truss tried to claim she had got for us.

They all lied. They failed. They are stupid – possibly the stupidest gang of dimwits ever to infest Whitehall.

And they think we’re stupid enough to let them carry on inflicting their stupidities on us into the future.

Let’s hope they get that wrong, too.

Source: Brexit: Liz Truss secures tariff wins with her Japan trade deal – for products UK doesn’t export | The Independent

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Tribunal highlights corruption of disability benefit assessments as DWP tries to rely on disgraced assessor’s lies

 

The Department for Work and Pensions tried to use the lies of a disgraced and dismissed assessor as a reason to deny disability benefits to a claimant.

The corrupt and cruel Tory-run DWP tried to prolong a seriously-disabled claimant’s four-year fight for benefits by saying an upper-tier tribunal should accept an assessment by Alan Barham.

Barham was discredited after an undercover investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches in 2016.

Private assessment firm Capita dismissed Barham and he was found guilty of misconduct by a professional standards tribunal in 2017.

But the DWP still argued that a hearing by the upper tribunal should rely on his evidence – this month.

The claimant, previously on the higher rate of both components of DLA, was refused PIP based on an assessment by Barham.

On appeal to the first tier tribunal the claimant was awarded the standard rate daily living only. So the claimant appealed to the upper tribunal.

The DWP then produced a new assessment report dated 2017, which was still based in part on the original report by Barham.

The DWP argued that, if the upper tribunal sent the case back, it would be a up to a new tribunal to decide what weight to attach to the report.

Fortunately, our legal system is staffed by intelligent people, and the judge dismissed that DWP’s demand, saying it was

not good enough, because the criticisms of Mr Barham meant that his purported observations and purported examination could not be relied upon.

The judge ended up telling the DWP there was “a wealth of evidence” already in the papers from other health professionals and if that wasn’t enough for the DWP they could order a new assessment.

There was no reason for the case to go back to a new tribunal, the judge said, so either the DWP should come to an agreement with the claimant or the judge would decide on an award.

The DWP climbed down, and the claimant was awarded 11 points for the daily living component, giving them the standard rate, and 12 points for the mobility component, giving them the enhanced rate. The award runs for 10 years from the date of the original decision.

The problem is that the DWP will have absolutely no qualms about trying the same dodge, using material by the same discredited assessor, next time it has the opportunity.

There is no penalty applied to the DWP when it tries this dodge to get out of paying people the benefits they deserve, so there is no disincentive to stop it being used.

And the difference in the stakes is enormous. For a benefit claimant, the difference between no benefit award and an enhanced rate of PIP is often the difference between life and death; for the DWP it is just another day at the office.

This case ended well; the claimant got what they deserved. What happens if the next claimant doesn’t? And when will the DWP take responsibility for the injuries its decisions cause?

Source: DWP slammed by judge for trying to rely on evidence of disgraced Capita assessor

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New lockdown guidance for care home visits is likened to ‘prison systems’

Worse than a prison visit: new guidance for visiting relatives in care homes could put them behind glass, in order to conform with social distancing rules.

What was This Writer saying yesterday about the current UK government’s similarity to the fascist state in V for Vendetta – providing “security but not freedom”?

Here’s proof of it:

New guidance for visits to care homes demands the following:

  • Residents should each be limited to only a “single constant visitor” or an absolute maximum of two, with appropriate PPE used at all times.
  • Care homes should designate “visiting pods” – rooms directly accessible from outdoors, so that visits can take place at windows. It seems the idea is to have the visitors outside the building and the residents within. A bit chilly in the winter!
  • Worse still, the guidance says visits should happen in the open air – outdoors – whenever possible, possibly under an awning, gazebo, open-sided marquee. It recognises that this will not be appropriate for many residents and visitors in the winter.
  • Social distancing rules must be followed at all times.
  • Spaces designated for visits may be used by only one visiting family member and one resident at any time.
  • All visits must be booked in advance.

In the event of an outbreak at a residence, all visits must be stopped until infection is brought under control – except in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life visits.

The guidelines have been condemned by charities and care home providers.

Erica Lockhart, the CEO of Surrey Care Association, said

The guidance, which outlines measures likened to prison visitation systems, suggests floor to ceiling screens, and whilst I can understand the government’s suggestion they haven’t fully understood the impact this will have on residents and loved ones.

Kate Lee, the chief executive officer at Alzheimer’s Society, expanded on this:

Some of the suggested options… have the potential to cause distress to people with dementia, particularly those in the later stages.

During the four months of the first lockdown, we saw an unexpected rise in dementia deaths in care homes that were not coronavirus related – we believe these 5,000 additional deaths could be as a result of disruptions to a threadbare social care system, and prolonged social isolation, causing dementia symptoms to rapidly deteriorate.

Source: Coronavirus: New lockdown care home visit guidance in England likened to ‘prison systems’ | The Independent

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