Tag Archives: women

#DWP bungled #Waspi women’s #pension-age rise. How long must they wait for #compensation?

WASPI protesters: this image is from 2016 and women born in the 1950s had already spent years protesting against the way the Department for Work and Pensions mistreated them.

The so-called Waspi women have finally won recognition that they were mistreated by the government, after an ombudsman found maladministration by the Department for Work and Pensions.

But they won’t get any compensation for it – at least, not yet – because the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has no power to order it.

The PHSO found that the DWP failed to act quickly enough, once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware that the age at which they would qualify for the state pension was going up.

It should have written to the women affected by the change, at least 28 months – more than two years – earlier than it did.

The ombudsman’s report said

Between 1995 and 2004, accurate information about changes to State Pension age was publicly available in leaflets, through DWP’s pensions education campaigns, through DWP’s agencies and on its website.

[But the DWP} failed to give due weight to relevant considerations, including what research showed about the need for ‘appropriately targeted’ information, what was known about the need for individually tailored information, or how likely it was doing the same thing would achieve different results. Despite having identified more it could do, DWP failed to provide the public with as full information as possible. DWP failed to make a reasonable decision about next steps in August 2005.

It did not ‘get it right’. And its failure to use feedback to improve service delivery meant it did not ‘seek continuous improvement’. That was maladministration.

DWP then failed to act promptly on its 2006 proposal to write directly to affected women, or to give due weight to how much time had already been lost since the 1995 Pensions Act.

It did not ‘get it right’ because it did not meet the requirements of the Civil Service Code, and it did not take all relevant considerations into account. And it failed again to use feedback to improve service delivery and ‘seek continuous improvement’. That was also maladministration.

The maladministration led to a delay in DWP writing directly to women
about changes in State Pension age. If the maladministration had not happened, DWP would have begun writing to affected women by December 2006 at the latest, 28 months earlier than it did (in April 2009).

It follows that affected women should have had at least 28 months’ more individual notice of the changes. For women who were not aware of the changes, the opportunity that additional notice would have given them to adjust their retirement plans was lost.

The investigation is not over; its next stage will consider the impact that the injustice had on the women it affected.

The co-chairs of the All-party parliamentary group on State Pension Inequality for Women, Andrew Gwynne (Labour) and Peter Aldous (Conservative) have both welcomed the findings.

“The DWP must urgently address these findings, and advise 1950s women what actions they will take to right the wrongs committed by successive Governments. For too long 1950s women have been ignored, and this must change,” said Mr Gwynne.

And Mr Aldous added: “We now must see a cross-party effort to sort this problem out. This issue is bigger than any administration and has been raised repeatedly over the last 25 years. The PHSO findings must now be scrutinised by the DWP and parliament, and then we must set out about compensating women for this injustice.”

It seems the DWP itself isn’t ready to comment yet:

Waspi women have already waited many years for an admission that they were mistreated by the government, and that they have suffered loss as a result.

It seems they may not have to wait even longer before getting any compensation for the loss they have suffered and the huge amount of distress it has caused.

Source: Women’s state pension: Compensation closer for Waspi campaigners – BBC News

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Tories and Labour in war of… infographics… over dictatorial anti-protest Bill

What the Police Bill means: political protesters will be arrested and women will be harmed under Boris Johnson’s Tory government.

Did we all blink and miss the mainstream news coverage of Boris Johnson and Priti Patel’s new Bill to kill political protest in the UK – and harass minorities – passing its final stages in the House of Commons?

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill sailed through its Third Reading on July 5, meaning it will now go to the House of Lords for consideration before being passed into law.

When it is passed into law, it will seriously harm our freedoms in the following ways (as detailed previously on This Site):

The Conservatives are ending your right to protest.

The new law allows police to arrest anybody for putting on a political demonstration that is noticed by anybody else.

There’s no point in protesting if you’re not allowed to make enough noise for other people to notice it, of course.

The move has been interpreted – correctly – as an attempt to head off protests against the Conservatives’ planned political changes that will alter the UK from being a democracy (albeit a not-very-progressive one) into a full-blown dictatorship.

The Tories are giving the police huge new powers of oppression

The example I used was the new power to arrest travellers – not for committing a crime, but on suspicion that they might do so in the future. This comes with a power to confiscate their homes.

Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is full of similar increases of oppression, against people in all parts of the UK’s society, we’re told.

The Conservatives are continuing to turn a blind eye to crimes against women – especially if they are committed by the police

Hate crime is the trademark of Conservative governments in the UK since 2010. They have stirred up hatred against migrant workers; they’ve stirred it up against people with long-term illnesses and disabilities. Their new Police Bill will stir up more hate against minorities, while failing to protect more than half the population from crime.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill sets the penalty for attacking a statue at 10 years imprisonment. That is twice as long a term as the starting-point sentence for rape.

The strategy for getting the Bill passed is simple, childish, and therefore oft-repeated; the offensive measures are mixed in with measures that would create a genuine improvement*.

It is a strategy that the Tories plan to repeat with their forthcoming Bill to increase NHS privatisation.

The premise is simple: anybody opposing the Bill because it attacks our freedoms is accused of opposing the useful measures instead.

Want to see it in action?

The Tories launched a series of infographics into the social media on July 5, after Labour voted against the Police anti-protest Bill. Here’s how they describe Labour’s behaviour:

They also used this:

Labour hit back with this:

I wonder how many people even noticed.

Your legal rights were voted away behind a smokescreen of reasonable policies and it wasn’t reported at all by the mainstream press.

And this is all the Labour Party produced to attack what happened.

Don’t get me wrong; the failure to increase minimum sentences for rapists is important (although possible less important than the failure to secure any sentences at all for most of them?) but the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill contains much more material that is just as evil.

But nobody could be bothered to explain it to the public beyond a couple of infographics that didn’t even touch all the main issues.

*Of course a reasonable and responsible approach would be to separate out the measures that would win Parliament-wide approval and discuss the offensive material separately. But that would require our elected members to behave like adults – and that is well beyond Boris Johnson’s capabilities.

Source: Labour votes against “draconian” anti-protest bill but it passes by majority of 100 – LabourList

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Don’t be fooled: the Tories are stealing your right to protest

Clapham Common: police weren’t actually stamping on Patsy Stevenson’s face, but they might as well have been.

Pretty words from Tory minister Victoria Atkins yesterday could not hide the ugly truth that the Conservative Government is stealing your right to protest in a way best described as fascist.

Atkins, on Andrew Marr’s TV show yesterday (March 14), expressed concern over the way policemen attacked women at a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard, who was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by a policeman.

But she went on to defend the new Police Bill that will allow constables to carry out further attacks on any public protest, demonstration, or rally – no matter how big or small – if even one person complains about noise.

Judge the Tories on what they do, not what they say.

Commentators are starting to realise that this is an attack on our right to protest against oppression – not just by means of male violence, or policing, but by the government itself. Comparisons are being made with Orgreave in the 1980s.

The suggestion that nothing would have happened without police intervention could also be made about the battle of Orgreave during the 1984 miners’ strike, where 6,000 police, including mounted officers, brutally attacked pickets – at one point taking part in a mounted charge on people who were sunbathing.

Current police priorities were demonstrated very clearly when more than 1,000 people took part in a protest in Parliament Square yesterday, against the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil.

Uniformed officers took a much less hostile attitude and stayed away from the crowd – but were criticised for forming a protective ring around a statue of Winston Churchill.

The message was clear:

(TFW = That Feeling When…)

You can tell that the government supports heavy-handed policing. Met Commissioner Cressida Dick faced calls to resign over the attacks in Clapham Common on Saturday – but won’t.

Sadly, Labour leader Keir Starmer has stood with the government and against the people on this matter:

Dick’s own attitude to Clapham Common seems to change depending on which aspect she’s discussing.

The organisation Reclaim These Streets had tried to organise a vigil but failed because Dick’s Met Police refused to co-operate. It happened anyway because people still went on an unofficial basis to make their feelings known.

One of the attendees was Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge – who was praised for her participation.

But consider Dick’s comments, not long afterwards:

It’s a glaring double-standard. Police would never have pinned the wife of the Prince to the ground, kneeling on her back. Why did they then consider it perfectly reasonable to do it to other women?

Why did Cressida Dick consider it perfectly reasonable for police to do that? And how can anyone justify her remaining in her job with that attitude?

Another protest is set to take place today (March 15) in Parliament Square, while MPs discuss the plan to clamp down on protests just like it.

If you can go, do. Boris Johnson’s government is dragging the UK into fascism and it needs to be countered.

Oh, you think it couldn’t happen here?

Well, George Orwell once described a fascist state as being like a boot stamping on a citizen’s face.

On Saturday night the police were very nearly doing just that. How much closer do they have to make it before you realise what is happening to you?

Source: Minister defends Priti Patel’s bid to hand Police more power to crack down on protests – Mirror Online

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The Tories are cheating us out of our pensions – and our retirements

Arguments used by the Conservative government to justify increasing the age at which we may draw our pensions are increasingly false, it seems.

Fellow social media journalist David Hencke has all the information on his website.

He says the Tory claim is that as life expectancies continue to rise, it will be impossible for the pension fund to pay out for everybody unless the pensionable age rises too.

There’s just one problem:

Ministers always quote figures up to 2011… [the] last year of any big rise in longevity which had risen for decades.

Since then the rise has flattened – in one year it actually fell – and last year was the first in five years that showed a small rise. Next year the ONS is warning will be the first year they will have figures of the effects of Covid-19 – and the hint is that longevity will fall because of the disproportionate deaths among pensioners.

Worse still:

When you compare the UK to many other developed countries both men and women have lost out big time in the longevity stakes. The countries that make up the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) are all near the bottom of the table.

So while we all are being expected to wait longer for our pension in the UK, our extra weeks of life expectancy fall well below many comparable developed countries. We are being cheated – or at least not given the full facts – by our political leaders. So don’t believe any facile claims we have a world beating system for pensioners. Far from it.

The increased longevity argument was used strongly by the Department for Work and Pensions in its court battle to avoid paying compensation to 3.8 million women whose pension age rose from 60 to 66 – but who were not given enough warning to make proper preparations for it.

But our people aren’t living as much longer as people in other countries. What are those nations doing about pensions? And how are they doing it?

It seems clear that Mr Hencke is right and we are being cheated.

I wonder what we can do about it, if DWP representatives are prepared to perjure themselves in court to preserve a lie.

Source: The chances of living longer are getting shorter – new Office of National Statistics figures show only small rise in longevity | Westminster Confidential

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One in eight childcare workers in England earns much less than the minimum wage

We thought this window-writing was by a child in care. It seems it might have been by a carer instead.

This research shows all the hallmarks of Tory employment policy: early years workers – predominantly female – are considered to be of low worth and paid less than the minimum wage, and have few career options – and the Covid crisis is likely to make matters worse.

It’s Conservative policy, remember: they have victimised women since they got back into office in 2010, with the so-called austerity policies attacking women far more than men.

One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour, according to new research which warns that low pay, high workload and a lack of career development are having an adverse effect on the sector.

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) report says… as many as 13% of childcare workers are paid under £5 an hour.

The workforce included apprentices, students on placement, volunteers as well as childminders, hence the low hourly rates.

Staff turnover is high at 13%, with one in six leaving their posts within a year, and 37% quitting within two years.

The report also highlights a lack of training opportunities for those who enter the workforce, which is 96% female, with just 17% of early years workers in receipt of job-related training.

Workload is high and the job carries considerable responsibility – more than one in 10 (11%) full-time early years workers reported working more than 42 hours per week, compared to 3% of retail workers.

It’s cognitive dissonance; the job is clearly highly-responsible and stressful, yet the remuneration is pitiful and there are no associated benefits.

Does this not indicate a political decision by the Tories?

That party’s notorious “nudge unit” has long been tasked with pushing people into particular decisions by making the alternative unacceptable.

Apparently they don’t want children to have professional care while we go to work.

Clearly we’ll all have to stay at home instead – or stop having children so we can go to work.

But if we stay home, what will happen to the economy?

And if we stop having children, well, there aren’t enough people working in the economy to support the current number of senior citizens, and that will only get worse if the working population diminishes – as it must in that eventuality.

So it seems that, by allowing childcare workers to be treated so badly, the Tories are deliberately trying to trash the UK economy.

And some of us voted them into office with a landslide in order to do that.

Were these voters ill, or insane, or suffering mass hysteria?

Source: One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour | Childcare | The Guardian

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The Tories have used the Coronavirus crisis to attack disabled women

Actor Rory Kinnear’s disabled sister Karina died of Covid-19 recently: writing about it, he tried not to criticise the government too harshly. Would many other women with disabilities agree with that choice?

How miserable, how underhanded can a country’s government be in attacking its most vulnerable citizens?

This Writer would suggest that the UK’s Conservative government is writing the book on how to betray the people who need state help the most.

Women have been disproportionately attacked by Tory cuts since they first slithered back into office in 2010, along with people who have disabilities. It doesn’t take genius to work out that women with disabilities are doubly endangered by a Conservative government.

But now we have the evidence, courtesy of gender equality charities the Fawcett Society and Women’s Budget Group. It shows that:

  • Six in 10 disabled women are struggling to buy necessities from the shop during lockdown. A third have run out of money altogether.
  • A fifth of disabled women said they had lost support from the government during lockdown, while almost half reported having lost help from other people.
  • Six in 10 disabled women are fearful of not being able to access medicine.
  • 38 per cent of disabled women who have children said they were finding it difficult to ensure their children have food to eat during the coronavirus emergency.
  • Disabled women were found to be suffering from social isolation and loneliness more than others — with a quarter saying they had not ventured out of the house once in the last week, in comparison to 17 per cent of all those polled.

But it seems worse is to come with the easing of lockdown, including problems with face coverings – who should wear them, the impossibility of lip-reading – to wider isolation, more cuts and restricted access to services.

And you know what the government spokesperson will do, if challenged? They’ll shrug.

Source: Disabled women in ‘very bleak’ situation as almost a third running out of money in lockdown, study finds | The Independent

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Will Johnson really have the guts to resign? It could land him with a criminal record…

Racist and sexist: Boris Johnson.

Current speculation that Boris Johnson may resign as prime minister could be more than a little premature as his position as prime minister may be all that’s keeping him from a criminal conviction.

BoJob was rightly pulled up short during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, when Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi took him to task over his 2018 Daily Telegraph column comparing Muslim women with “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.

He said: “For those of us who from a young age have had to endure and face up to being called names such as towel-head, or Taliban, or coming from bongo-bongo land, we can fully appreciate the hurt and pain of already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes.

“Rather than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks?”

BoJob dodged the issue, of course.

But there is a case to answer.

According to the Public Order Act 1986, “A person who … displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if … having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.”

Anybody found guilty of such a crime could face up to seven years in prison.

I mention this because we know from monitoring group Tell Mama that anti-Muslim hate crime increased by 375 per cent in the week after Boris Johnson’s article was published.

It was a rise from eight incidents the previous week to 38. Of the 38 anti-Muslim hate incidents, 22 were directed at Muslim women who wore the niqab, or face veil.

The group recorded a total of 57 incidents in the three weeks following the publication of the column by the former foreign secretary and current prime minister, 32 of which were directed at Muslim women.

It said that between August 5 and 29, 2018, 42 per cent of the street-based incidents reported to Tell Mama directly referenced Johnson and the language used in his column.

I’m no lawyer but that evidence seems conclusive to me!

I look forward to the day BoJob comes out of the cabinet to face prosecution on that basis.

Source: Boris Johnson urged to apologise for ‘derogatory and racist’ letterboxes article | Politics | The Guardian

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Boris Johnson prompted a surge in racist and sexist attacks. He has to go

Racist and sexist: Boris Johnson.

Evidence from the monitoring group Tell Mama shows that Boris Johnson is a sexist and a racist who promotes sectarian violence against people of other religions.

This is the man who is trying to take the UK out of the European Union in such a way that he will be able to strip rights from particular sections of society and persecute as he pleases.

We know he is capable of it because we have witnessed the persecution of the sick and disabled, with thousands of people having their benefits withdrawn for no good reason, driving them to poverty and death.

Who knows what Dictator Johnson would do to other minority groups, given the chance?

He has to go. The sooner, the better.

Hopefully events in Westminster over the next few days will eject him.

If not, then we must find ways to push him out.

Boris Johnson’s comments on women wearing the veil led to a surge in anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse, the monitoring group Tell Mama has said.

In its annual report, the group said [a] significant spike occurred in August [2018] after Johnson wrote a column referring to veiled Muslim women as “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

In the week following that article, Tell Mama said anti-Muslim incidents increased by 375% – from eight incidents the previous week, to 38 in the following.

Of the 38 anti-Muslim hate incidents, 22 were directed at Muslim women who wore the niqab, or face veil.

The group recorded a total of 57 incidents in the three weeks following the publication of the column by the former foreign secretary and current prime minister, 32 of which were directed at Muslim women. It said that between 5 and 29 August, 42% of the street-based incidents reported to Tell Mama directly referenced Johnson and the language used in his column.

Source: Boris Johnson’s burqa comments ‘led to surge in anti-Muslim attacks’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Court fight over pension age exposes Tory government’s habitual sexism to women

Court battle: Anne Taylor (left) and Patsy Franklin from the campaign BackTo60 outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

The court bid for a judicial review into the way the government raised the retirement age for women should be welcomed by all those who oppose discrimination.

The case highlights the way women born in the 1950s were told they would have to wait an extra six years before receiving their pensions.

For many, the announcement came out of the blue. The legislation to carry out the change was passed quietly, many years ago, and none of them received any formal notification at the time.

This meant they were financially unprepared for the impact of the delay when the Conservative government finally told them about it.

The issue highlights the sexism of the current Conservative government. Women were hardest-hit by the Tory cuts to state benefits and services, brought in under the banner of austerity.

According to barrister Michael Mansfield QC, the pension changes put women at a significant disadvantage in comparison with men.

He said the fact that many women born in the 1950s were not told about the changes until shortly before the time when they expected to retire caused many of them “significant detriments”.

And he pointed out that women born in the 1950s had already suffered “considerable inequalities in the workplace”, which he said were the result of “historical factors and social expectations”.

The Tories don’t care, of course. They saw the increase in the female pension age as an opportunity to make a significant saving on one of the largest budgets on the government’s books.

And they will no doubt argue that it is right for the retirement age to be equalised.

But it will be for the court to decide whether they way they went about that equalisation was in any way reasonable.

Women born in the 1950s whose retirement age was increased from 60 to 65 have gone to court seeking a judicial review of how the government raised the retirement age and to try to force the government to repay their lost pensions.

Nearly 4 million women have been forced to wait up to an extra six years to get their pensions after changes to bring women’s retirement age into line with men’s.

Two claimants have now taken the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to court, arguing that raising their pension age “unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age, sex, and age and sex combined”.

Source: Women born in 1950s take fight against rising pension age to court | UK news | The Guardian

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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Theresa May: The female prime minister who set the cause of women back by DECADES

NOT YOU: On International Women’s Day we think of people who have improved the lives of women generally. There are men who have done more for women than Theresa May. There may even be animals who have done more [Feel free to disagree with some of the other choices if you like; I didn’t make this image].

It takes a special kind of ignorance to be Theresa May.

And it takes a worse kind of ignorance to treat it as a cause of celebration, as the Conservatives have.

Tory policies have hit women hardest – politics.co.uk

Don’t confuse the Conservatives’ embrace of female leaders with feminism – The Guardian

Women bearing 86% of austerity burden, Commons figures reveal – The Guardian

Get the message?

Theresa and her Tories don’t.

On International Women’s Day, after she lied to us all about workers’ rights in her speech on Brexit in Grimsby, Theresa May answered only one question from a female member of the press.

ITV’s political correspondent Libby Wiener took issue with her about it as she was leaving the podium. Perhaps her team thought Mrs May’s answer was witty and appropriate; it wasn’t – in fact the only thing that would have been worse than the comment itself would have been publicising it to the world.

Inevitably:

It’s only a few days since a member of the public told me it seems women leave their feminism behind the instant they become prime minister. Now that person is joined by a multitude of others. See for yourself:

https://twitter.com/8inkcartridges/status/1104301578528440320

https://twitter.com/LauraStans/status/1104074205749002240

Perhaps that’s the real answer.

Theresa May knows she has made the lives of women – in general – much worse, but she doesn’t care. So on International Women’s Day, all she can say is, “I’m all right, Jackie*.”

*I know it should be “I’m all right, Libby,” but I’m drawing a comparison with the classic British expression used to describe those who only act in their own best interests, even if helping someone else will cost them a minimal effort – so cut me some slack, please?


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