Tag Archives: warning

United Nations warns UK could be breaking international law over cladding

The cladding at Grenfell Tower explained: The materials used were flammable – not flame-resistant.

What do you think the Conservative government will do about this, considering it is now three years since the Grenfell disaster and the Tories haven’t lifted a finger to replace flammable cladding on thousands of other tower blocks?

This Writer is willing to bet we’ll hear a load of flannel about the UN not doing its job properly – or misinterpreting its role in some way, and some minister – probably Robert Jenrick – will make some sabre-rattling suggestion that it should keep its foreign nose out.

You know how it would be – like the Tories did when the UN accused this country of institutional abuse of people with disabilities.

The last thing the Tories want to do is spend money on poor people who are living in firetraps.

The UN has warned Britain that its failure to strip combustible cladding from high-rise buildings containing tens of thousands homes may be a breach of international law.

The global body is demanding answers about the UK government’s delayed programme to fix hundreds of blocks wrapped in flammable panels and with other fire safety problems.

Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, wrote to the government to express “serious concern about allegations of multiple violations of the human right to adequate housing, of which safety is a key component – contrary to international human rights law”.

Source: UK could be breaking international law over cladding, says UN | Society | The Guardian

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General Election 2019: Beware of ‘tactical voting’ websites that are really party propagandists

A timely warning from Another Angry Voice.

As we go into general election campaigning, this is vital information from Another Angry Voice:

Since the announcement of the December General Election there has already been a proliferation of different tactical voting websites, but you have to be extremely careful with them.

One of the major problems is that some of them, especially the supposedly Remain-focused “Best For Britain” Get Voting site, are clearly hyper-partisan party political propaganda outfits disguising themselves as ‘useful advice’.

In several marginal Tory/Labour constituencies this dreadfully partisan site is advising people to vote for the Lib-Dems, despite the fact they got less than 5% of the vote last time around.

This outrageous Get Voting site is recommending the Lib-Dems in a whopping 99 seats where they trailed the incumbent by over 25,000 at the last election!

To put this absolute insanity in perspective the biggest swing of the 2017 was a swing of just over 15,000 in Gordon, north East Scotland.

What this “Best For Britain” Lib-Dem front operation is advocating is trying to achieve 99 record-breaking mega swings simultaneously.

After years of contemptuously dismissing Leave voters as total idiots who believe in unicorns, these Lib-Dem Remain Ultras are actively advising people to waste away their votes on an absolutely ludicrous unicorn hunt!

The site mentioned above is only one of several; until you know otherwise, I think you should consider all of them to be suspicious.

The best advice This Writer can give is to use your own intelligence.

Source: Beware of dodgy tactical voting sites

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In the crap-ita: Government contractor responsible for benefit assessments is in deep financial doo-doo

Capita runs London’s congestion charge scheme [Image: Reuters].

Of course we shouldn’t gloat about financial troubles that will affect thousands of people’s jobs.

But Capita is responsible for assessing the fitness for work of thousands upon thousands of benefit claimants, with targets (hidden by the government) to knock a huge proportion of people off the books, so maybe we can be forgiven in this instance.

At mandatory reconsideration, we know that the Tory government set an 80 per cent target for refusal of benefits.

That means thousands of innocent people have suffered for no reason – many of them to their deaths. If the current situation means the assessors who inflicted that suffering get to experience some of it, who can call that anything other than poetic justice?

The company has announced plans to add £700 million to its bank balance. Is this to make up for the now-axed dividend scheme that gave £500 million to shareholders?

What were company execs thinking, when they devised that scheme in the first place? That the government’s magic money tree would keep producing the cash they were funnelling to their rich shareholders?

And was Capita carrying out the same wheeze as Carillion – under-bidding for new government contracts and using the money it received to pay for the old ones?

And what about the firm’s pension fund?

Here‘s Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions committee:

“Another day, another outsourcing firm with massive debt, a huge pension deficit, a KPMG audit and the Big Four popping up at every turn in the company’s chequered history.

“Sadly, Capita goes on the growing list of firms we are investigating to see if their conduct has endangered current and future pensioners’ rights.”

So: First Carillion collapsed. Now both Interserve (remember them?) and Capita are in trouble.

Who’s next? And what will happen to public services while the Tories dither over this crisis?

More than £1bn was wiped off the stock market value of the government contractor Capita on Wednesday, sparking fears of job losses.

Capita, whose major contracts range from collecting the BBC licence fee to electronic tagging of prisoners, saw its share price nearly halve in a day following a grim financial update that reignited concerns over the outsourcing industry and the stability of public services.

Capita’s shares plunged 47.5%, cutting its stock market value by £1.1bn, after new chief executive Jonathan Lewis stunned markets by admitting the company’s finances were in a dire state and announcing drastic measures to repair them.

Lewis, appointed in October last year, downgraded Capita’s profit forecasts and announced plans to raise £700m to shore up its balance sheet. He also axed a dividend that had been worth more than £500m to investors over the past three years.

A cost-cutting programme is expected to result in job losses among Capita’s 67,000 employees, 50,000 of whom are in the UK, while parts of the business will be sold to raise cash.

Source: Capita: almost £1bn wiped off value of UK government contractor | Business | The Guardian


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Tories’ ‘tails’ are ‘tweaked’ over non-response to benefit sanctions review

Tail in the telling: Speaker John Bercow said Labour's Owen Smith was trying to "tweak the government's tail" over its "shoddy" response to a report on benefit sanctions.

Tail in the telling: Speaker John Bercow said Labour’s Owen Smith was trying to “tweak the government’s tail” over its “shoddy” response to a report on benefit sanctions.

The Conservative Government released its response to a major review of its policy on benefit sanctions today – so quietly it almost qualifies as silence.

Fortunately for those affected, there is a vocal Opposition Party sitting in the House of Commons once more, and even Speaker John Bercow agreed that the way the matter had been handled offered a “prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail”.

The government was responding to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report, Benefit sanctions beyond the Oakley Review, which set out more than two dozen recommendations for changes to benefit sanctions and the policies behind them. None have been implemented.

This Writer has joined with campaigner Maggie Zolobajluk and Gill Thompson – whose brother died after his benefits were sanctioned – to petition the government to implement just two of these recommendations – to offer hardship payments from the first day of a benefit sanction, and to launch a broad, independent review of the sanctions regime. You can sign the petition here.

In a written response, DWP minister of state Lord Freud managed to avoid addressing any of the recommendations made in the report.

Instead, he took the opportunity to announce that the government intends to test a system of warning before any sanction is imposed.

“At present people are notified of a sanction and it is imposed immediately afterwards. In some cases, claimants go on to challenge the decision and the sanction may be overturned. We will trial arrangements whereby claimants are given a warning of our intention to sanction and a 14 day period to provide evidence of good reason before the decision to sanction is made. During this time, claimants will have another opportunity to provide further evidence to explain their non-compliance. We will then review this information before deciding whether a sanction remains appropriate,” he stated.

He added that the government would consider – mark that word; only consider – extending the definition of “at risk” groups used for hardship purposes to include those with mental health conditions and those who are homeless. This would mean that they could seek access to hardship from day one of a sanction being applied – but only if the government goes beyond consideration and actually implements the change.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith raised the issue in the House of Commons today (October 22). He said to the Speaker, John Bercow [boldings mine]: “May I ask for your guidance on how we might secure an opportunity for the House to question the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the desperately inadequate response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee report on the extraordinarily important issue of benefit sanctions?

“The response has been snuck out this morning in a written statement; it is four months late; and it does not appear to address any of the principal recommendations.

“In particular, it does not address the recommendation on an independent review into the matter of those people who have died while subject to benefit sanctions. That is an extraordinarily shoddy way for the Government to behave.

“May I also ask for guidance on whether the Select Committee might, under the new Back-Bench business procedures, seek time to debate the issue and question the Secretary of State on why he has snuck out this response and why it is so poor?”

Mr Bercow’s response was that he believed Mr Smith knew exactly how to go about obtaining a debate: “I have a hunch that he simply wanted a prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail.”

Mission accomplished, then!

One does wonder how much inconvenience the government would suffer by having its tail tweaked. Considering the release, yesterday, of a DWP advert featuring a bizarre horned creature representing the government, talk of it having a tail would suggest that the Conservative Party is trying to depict itself as the devil incarnate – a pointless exercise, as we already know this to be true.

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