Tag Archives: unpaid

Will glue company come unstuck over ‘two weeks without pay’ offer to Universal Credit claimants?


Why is the Tory government allowing this?

A glue company called Bond It has advertised jobs via Universal Credit work coaches – which may sound great in these recession-ridden times.

There’s only one catch:

The firm is asking UC claimants to do the work without pay for two weeks.

Not only that, but the job does not appear on Bond It’s own site, nor is its two-week unpaid “trial” mentioned on any other site that advertises jobs.

As Ben Claimant points out below, it is specifically for Universal Credit claimants.

And your Tory government supports this behaviour.

Your Tory government considers anybody on Universal Credit to be available to companies to work for nothing –

That’s slave labour, by the way!

– simply because they have to claim a so-called benefit that pushes them into poverty as a condition of claiming (that’s the intention of the five-week wait before payments begin), that punishes them if they are paid at irregular times of the month for the work they do, and that punishes them if they are unable to secure better-paid work.

Strangely, Labour has managed to actually ask the government what’s going on…

… although it is doubtful anything will come of this.

The story in the New Statesman article refers to a person who was already claiming UC, so is familiar with its injustices already.

But millions of people have signed on as a consequence of Covid-19.

I hope they get job offers like this.

It will show many of them what they’ve been supporting all these years.

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Coronavirus tests lost, unpaid volunteers hired to work on them – and the Tories STILL miss targets!

The UK’s Tory government has lost control of the coronavirus testing process.

First, the Tories lost thousands of tests that they had handed over to private companies. Here’s the Health Service Journal:

Data on the outcome of tens of thousands of tests carried out outside the NHS is ‘disappearing into a data black hole’, making it harder for local organisations to respond to the spread of coronavirus in their area.

An internal NHS update email seen by HSJ, which is meant to tell local organisations how many residents and staff in their areas have tested positive, states that full information is “increasingly becoming unavailable” and cannot be reported “until further notice”.

Instead the reporting is based only on NHS lab tests, which make up less than half of total tests now being carried out, a proportion which is still shrinking further.

Why would any government hand over vital work to a private firm that simply isn’t up to the job?

Oh yes – they’re Tories.

They are ideologically inclined to give work to privateers, which is why Boots – we’re told – is now recruiting volunteers to carry out this work for no pay, as The Independent reports:

An army of unpaid volunteers is being recruited to carry out coronavirus tests across the country as ministers try to hit their target of 200,000 a day.

They are being asked to sign up to work at least 32 hours a week, swabbing the noses and throats of people who may be infected, for no pay.

The high-street chemist Boots is advertising the roles across the country, with the support of ministers.

And the upshot?

The Tories haven’t hit their 100,000-a-day test target, let alone the intended 200,000-a-day by the end of May.

Worse: as the information from the tests is being lost, local areas will be handicapped in their attempts to treat people with the disease because they simply won’t know who those people are or where to concentrate their efforts.

And Tory dogma means this situation can only get worse.

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As an unpaid carer, I had to think about these shock statistics about us before realising they’re true 

Unpaid carers save the public purse £132bn a year but get little in return.

At first, I thought I must be one of the lucky eight per cent.

New statistics from Carers UK show that only eight per cent of unpaid carers – those of us who don’t do it as a career but because we have to – have been able to take a break from caring sufficient to, for example, visit the doctor.

Yes, but then I tried to remember the last time I saw a doctor – at an appointment that wasn’t for Mrs Mike.

I can’t remember when that was.

I don’t actually need to see a doctor, mind. That might have a lot to do with it. And I wonder about statistics that say one-third of unpaid carers would use time off to see a doctor.

If the UK is using people with illnesses to care for people with illnesses – and/or disabilities – that should be ample evidence that the system is broken and must change.

Evidence that 44 per cent of those who managed to get time off then used it to see a doctor suggests that the situation is even worse.

So now I was counting myself lucky for a different reason.

Then I saw the statistic showing that fully half of unpaid carers would use time off caring to catch up on much-needed sleep.

I understand that one all too well.

You see, as a carer, you never know when you will be needed. I was awakened in the early hours of the morning because Mrs Mike was in a lot of pain.

It makes for an unpredictable, interrupted schedule. And ruins sleep patterns.

It hasn’t ruined my health – so far. Maybe I’m extra-lucky.

But it seems clear that many, many people aren’t.

Replacement care may be expensive – and poor-quality. And if I want it, I may find myself subject to a postcode lottery.

NHS spending on support for carers varies hugely, depending on where people live.

And the simple fact is that there is no co-ordinated social care system throughout the UK – despite the fact that social care was included in the remit of the Department of Health (and its title) a considerable while ago.

We hear that plans are due to be unveiled every now and then… and then we hear that they’ve been delayed.

Has anybody written a single line of such a plan?

Selfishly, I’m concerned about this. While I’m in good nick at the moment, I can’t be sure that will last forever.

The Carers UK report paints a picture of not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands of people burning out – putting their own health at serious risk – just to improve a loved one’s quality of life for a while longer.

Carers UK wants the Government to double the Better Care Fund, which supports carers’ breaks, from £130 million to £260 million and ensure this money is ring-fenced so that carers around the country can get the breaks they need.

But I think this is just applying a sticking plaster to a wound that is getting deeper and deeper.

The answer is a co-ordinated strategy – not a random and rare chance at an all-too-short break.

Report warns of health and earnings risk to unpaid family carers


It’s about time the spotlight swung round to illuminate the plight of unpaid family carers.

I’m one, and I can confirm that life for carers like me is a never-ending, thankless struggle to make ends meet, combat government attempts to terminate my partner’s sickness and disability benefits (and my own Carer’s Allowance), cope with my partner’s mood swings that can make me feel entirely unappreciated, and avoid knock-on effects on my physical and mental health as well.

I am fortunate enough to be able to earn a little extra cash by writing This Site (although it has attracted enmity from certain vested interests who are determined to deprive me of this valuable income stream by disparaging my articles and my character – click on the link to my JustGiving site for further information on that).

Others have to rely on government funding that is dwindling in value every year.

It is an agonising struggle to avoid being crushed between the rock of my partner’s needs and the hard place of increasing financial pressures.

The report mentioned below makes recommendations – but these relate only to carers who are also employees.

Much more help is required.

Nearly eight million family carers in the UK are “propping up the care system” by providing unpaid care for relatives and other loved-ones, whilst also paying a significant personal and financial price for the care they provide, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

Research has calculated that around 7.6 million adults are giving up their time to provide unpaid care for relatives, up 1 million since 2005 and equal to almost 15% of adults living in the UK.

In [a] report published on Monday, the SMF says the proportion of family carers providing 20 or more hours of unpaid care each week has increased from 24% in 2005 to reach 28% in 2015, with family carers providing an average 19.5 hours of unpaid care each week.

In total, family carers are sacrificing 149 million hours to care for loved-ones every week, equal to 4 million paid care-givers working full-time hours.

However, this level of unselfishness can have a devastating impact on the carers’ health and work prospects, with family carers less likely to be in employment than non-carers and more likely to earn far less.

Source: Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system

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Voting with the Tories on ‘welfare’ will end any credibility Labour has left

George Osborne is a liar, from a party of liars - one only has to consider the UK's secret bombing of Syria - after Parliament voted against it - to see the truth in that.

George Osborne is a liar, from a party of liars – one only has to consider the UK’s secret bombing of Syria – after Parliament voted against it – to see the truth in that.

What an amazing piece in The Guardian about George Osborne’s call for “progressive” Labour MPs to support his entirely regressive changes to social security (the only people who call it “welfare” are Tories)!

Will people believe this pack of lies?

The article starts by saying he has urged “progressive” MPs in the Labour party to back his cuts in a major Commons vote today (Monday) on the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

He wants Labour MPs – but more importantly, the electorate, to think that the plan to cut child tax credits (among other measures) is what the public wants, and also builds on “mainstream Labour thinking”.

This is moonshine.

Labour believes that the profits of all our work should be shared out to ensure a decent standard of living for everybody, including those who cannot work but contribute to society in other ways. For example, if you have children, then you get child tax credits because their contribution to society has yet to be made.

Removing the tax credits and lowering the standard of living – as the Conservative chancellor’s plans would do to many people – is therefore the opposite of “mainstream Labour thinking”.

Osborne also calls on Labour to “stop blaming the public for its defeat”. This is typical Tory gaslighting. As a party, Labour has not blamed the public. The prevailing mood in the party is that Labour needs to draw the correct conclusions from the election result and create policies that acknowledge what the public wants, while fitting Labour values.

That’s real Labour values – not George Osborne’s fantasy.

You can tell that Labour isn’t doing as Osborne claims. Nowhere in the Guardian article is any factual evidence provided to show Labour has blamed the electorate for its defeat. Harriet Harman is paraphrased as having said the party needed to recognise that the electorate had sent Labour a message – which is quite the opposite.

Osborne also fails to support his claim that the majority of the electorate support his cuts. The majority of the electorate voted against the Conservative Party on May 7, with the Tories managing to gain only a 24.3 per cent share of the possible vote and a tiny 12-seat advantage in Parliament. That does not indicate majority support for the cuts programme.

The article states: “Osborne sprung a surprise in the budget by proposing cuts to the level of tax credits, but balanced these in part by a rise in the minimum wage to more than £9 an hour by 2020 for those over 25.” Notice that the tax credit cut is immediate, but the minimum wage will only rise to more than £9 per hour in five years’ time. How are people supposed to survive in the years between?

Also, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the cut in tax credits, along with the other cuts that ‘Slasher’ Osborne wants to make, will remove £12 billion from the economy – but the minimum wage rise – when it finally happens – will only add £4 billion.

So the Conservatives want Labour to support an £8 billion cut in living standards for the people who can least accommodate it.

Osborne’s argument that the responsibility for ensuring decent living standards should be rebalanced, from the state handing out subsidies towards employers providing decent wages, falls because he has no intention of making employers pay decent wages.

Osborne also writes: “Three in four people – and a majority of Labour voters – think that Britain spends too much on welfare.”

Are these the same people who think 41 per cent of the entire social security budget goes on unemployment benefits, when the actual proportion is just three per cent?

Are these the same people who think 27 per cent of the entire social security budget is claimed fraudulently, when the actual proportion is just 0.7 per cent?

Are these the people who believe George Osborne’s lies, and the lies of the Conservative Government?

In case anybody is wondering, the figures quoted above are from a TUC poll that was carried out a couple of years ago. It seems that, with the help of compliant media (such as The Guardian?) the Conservatives have succeeded in continuing to mislead the general public.

Osborne continued: “For our social contract to work, we need to retain the consent of the taxpayer, not just the welfare recipient.”

People receiving social security payments are also taxpayers; indirect taxation accounts for around three-quarters of the taxes received by the UK Treasury from the 20 per cent of people in the lowest income group.

The lies keep coming: “For those that can work, I believe it is better to earn a higher income from your work than receive a higher income from welfare.” If this was true, then he would have forced the minimum wage up to a point at which people would no longer need to claim tax credits in order to receive the same amount. He didn’t; he lied.

Osborne goes on to praise interim Labour leader Harriet Harman for capitulating to the Conservatives over child tax credits. There is only one reason he would do this – to undermine support for the Labour Party by suggesting that it really is ‘Tory-Lite’. Shame on Ms Harman for allowing this to happen!

His claim, “She recognised that oppositions only advance when they … recognise that some of the arguments made by political opponents should be listened to,” would be reasonable if the argument for cutting tax credits was sound, but it isn’t – people will be worse-off in this instance. If people were to become better-off afterwards, he might have a point. As it is, it is drivel.

His very next point confirms this: “A previous Conservative opposition realised [this] 15 years ago when it accepted the case for a minimum wage.” The Conservative Party only accepted this case in 2008, under David Cameron – a Tory leader who, when campaigning unsuccessfully for the Stafford constituency seat in 1996, had said it would “send unemployment straight back up” (The Chronicle (Stafford), February 21 1996). Even now, many Tory supporters despise the minimum wage.

Osborne ended with an appeal for “moderate” Labour MPs to vote with his party.

That would be the end of any credibility Labour has remaining, as a party of Opposition.

According to The Guardian, Osborne said: “The proposals are part of a common endeavour by Labour and the Conservatives to implement difficult welfare reforms.” Again, he is trying to make the public think Labour and the Tories are the same. Labour MPs would have to be complete idiots to help him.

Some of the complete idiots in Labour who have already helped him are, according to Osborne, “New Labour work and pensions secretaries such as John Hutton, David Blunkett and James Purnell [who] all tried to reform the welfare system… Alistair Darling [who] says tax credits are ‘subsidising lower wages in a way that was never intended’ [and] Frank Field… [who] agrees the system as it stands is simply ‘not sustainable’ and the budget represents a ‘game-changer’.”

Wouldn’t social security be a little more sustainable if George Osborne spent less time obsessing about wringing more money from those who can least afford to lose it, and more time getting his extremely rich corporate friend to pay up more of the £120 billion a year they are believed to owe in unpaid taxes?

Why isn’t Labour making this point, whenever Tories like Osborne start bleating that anything is “unsustainable”?

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Will direct payment cost social landlords £1.27 BILLION PER YEAR? – SPeye Joe

housingbenefit

Here’s a piece that builds on the warning that social housing tenants are likely to default on their rent if they believe their landlords are failing to carry out important maintenance work. Yr Obdt Srvt has experience of this but we’ll let Joe Halewood’s article speak for itself first:

This week Moodys, the ratings agency, getting very twitchy and saying that Universal Credit with its monthly payment of benefit to tenants and its direct payment of housing benefit to tenants rather than to social landlords as now, will see costs increase by 6.6%.  In a piece in Inside Housing it said that Moodys…

“…warned that the payment of benefit for housing costs to tenants ‘is likely to increase the risk of non-payment or underpayment of rent’. It pointed to an average 6.6% fall in rent payments recorded under Department for Work and Pensions demonstration projects trialling the payment of direct benefit.”

6.6%?

Inside Housing didn’t comment on this (now there’s a surprise!!) but they should and everyone involved in social housing should sit up and take notice. The national rent roll, the sum of all social housing rents is about £19.5 billion per year (4.1m rents at circa £90pw) so 6.6% of that is £1.27 BILLION PER YEAR

Welfare reform (sic) policy will directly lead to £1.27 BILLION less paid in rent to social landlords each year!!

If, as is widely reported, the bedroom tax has seen about £140 million or so increase in arrears to landlords then direct payments risk at £1.27 Billion is more than EIGHT times a greater financial risk.

An officer from the Welsh Assembly’s fair rent tribunal, with lawyer in tow, visited Vox Political Towers earlier this week (Mrs Mike having appealed against a bid to increase the amount of rent considered ‘fair’ on the building).

As the grounds of the complaint were mainly to do with the landlords’ failure to uphold their side of the contract (by not carrying out repairs, and with work such as grounds maintenance (grass cutting) taking place far less frequently than agreed), this was a perfect opportunity to point out, not only that awarding an undeserved ‘fair rent’ will merely add a burden to the taxpayer in housing benefit, but also that Universal Credit payments to tenants will mean a huge loss of income for social landlords as tenants withhold the money while they wait for the repairs they deserve.

There was no response other than acknowledgement of the comment but when this bomb drops – and it will – at least the authorities will not be able to say they weren’t warned.

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‘Unpaid taxes’ retrieval power – good or bad?

tax

Don’t you hate it when people avoid telling you things you ought to know?

George Osborne’s budget speech never mentioned the new power granted to HM Revenue and Customs, allowing it “to delve into Britons’ bank accounts for money that officials think is owed in unpaid taxes, in a move which critics have warned leave officials ‘a law unto themselves’,” according to the Huffington Post.

The trouble is, I’m not sure whether this is really a bad thing, or a useful tool in the battle against corporate and mega-rich tax avoiders/evaders.

Here’s what the HuffPost had to say:

“The Chancellor slipped details of the move out in the Budget’s Red Book, which stated that HMRC will be able to take money from people who owe officials over £1,000 in tax.

“Officials will only be able to use the power for Britons who have been asked ‘multiple times’ by debt collection officials to pay, and must leave at least £5,000 in the account.

“‘This brings the UK in line with many other tax authorities which already have the power to recover debts directly from an individual’s account, such as France and the US,’ the Budget reads.

“Once HMRC takes the money, the taxpayer will have 14 days to get in touch and set up a payment plan, otherwise officials will keep what they have taken.

“Osborne’s Budget also gave HMRC the power to take money from those they suspect of unfairly avoiding tax, with money only handed back – with interest – if the taxpayer wins a legal challenge in the courts.”

What do you think?

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Goodbye to Britain’s National Health Service, Hello Tory Dystopia

140113THAP!

Here’s an article from US website Global Comment on what America clearly understood to be the privatisation of the National Health Service in England. It was published in March 2012, about a month after the Health and Social Care Act was passed – and seems much more perceptive in its evaluation than – for example – the BBC!

The article states: “The level of health care privatization being implemented by the British government via the Health and Social Care Bill (and experts agree it amounts to privatization and will lead to more, even as ministers known to love the private sector deny it) is seen by many as essentially the end of the National Health Service (NHS). The editor of the respected medical journal The Lancet has described the impact of this “coming disaster” very bluntly: ‘People will die thanks to the government’s decision to focus on competition rather than quality in healthcare.'”

It continues: “A hatchet is being taken to the NHS without a mandate, which explains the lack of transparency and authoritarianism of the process. The government doesn’t want a risk assessment for their “reforms” published, and meanwhile protests that have been held with the aim of quite literally conserving a beloved British institution, a pillar of the welfare state, have been policed as if they were radical demonstrations aiming to smash the state.

“The Conservatives very explicitly lied about their intentions: a famous and frequently parodied campaign poster featured Tory leader and now Prime Minister David Cameron promising that he wouldn’t cut the NHS.”

Moving on to other policies, it states: “In place of free healthcare for UK citizens, the government is providing free labor for corporations: “Jobseekers have been made to do compulsory unpaid work for up to four weeks after refusing to take part in the voluntary work experience scheme,” reports The Guardian.

“And there are all kinds of other nasty Tory plans in motion to make Britain a more grim, awful place. They plan to kick out immigrants from outside the European Union who earn less than £35,000, which is to say almost half the country’s nurses. Cameron’s cuts to disability benefits are so severe as to have even prompted the departure of long-term members of his party – appalled by the “endless attacks on disabled people and their right to independence and full equality” – and fierce opposition from columnists for The Daily Mail, usually a bastion of right-wing meanness.

“How did things get so bad, so fast?”

Well worth reading.

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