DWP will pay £150 million in arrears… but your prescription charges? No chance!!

18/07/2018
Esther-McVey

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said that the poor could eat cake.  The last woman in a position of authority to make a comment like that got her head chopped off.  An act that I in no way endorse!

The British Department of Work and Pensions has given in to pressure from anti-poverty charities and will pay arrears owed to sick and disabled benefit claimants who were cheated out of thousands of pounds after what is described as “a series of bureaucratic errors.”

The under-payments, some of which date back to 2011, happened when claimants of contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance were not told they would be better off if they claimed income-based ESA.  This “mistake” resulted in at least 70,000 claimants missing out on up to £20,000 each.

Child Poverty Action Group challenged the under-payments in a judicial review, but the DWP has accepted that it was in the wrong and will not contest the review.  A CPAG lawyer welcomed the DWP’s change of heart but added it “shouldn’t be necessary to take a government department to court to achieve justice for people who have been failed by officials making errors.”

The decision quickly followed the publication of a report by cross-bench public accounts committee.  The report said there was a “culture of indifference” at the DWP, and criticised its failure to obtain legal advice when transferring claimants to ESA, failed to make basic checks and ignored evidence and complaints that the process was flawed.

Committee chair, Meg Hillier MP, welcomed the U-turn, saying she had been appalled by the DWP’s failure to correct its errors.

But the DWP still refuses to pay compensation to claimants who were wrongly denied related benefits such free prescriptions as a result of the “error”.  Big surprise!

 
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Freepost address for the Conservative Party

10/02/2016

If you want to contact the Conservative Party about anything, but didn’t want to buy a stamp for the letter (maybe because you don’t earn a living wage, or your benefits have been sanctioned…), fear not!  On Facebook I found a Freepost address so you can send mail to the Tories without worrying about the cost of postage.  You still have to provide writing paper and envelope yourself… but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?

The address is:

Freepost RTHS-TLXL-XKXK
The Conservative Party
4 Matthew Parker Street
LONDON
SW1H 9HQ

I haven’t actually tried it myself, as I only just discovered it.  I think it would be great if anyone who writes to the address reports the success or failure of their attempt; so if the Freepost no longer works I can edit this blog post accordingly.  Similarly, if anyone knows of other Freepost addresses, or 0800 phone numbers so we can call them for free, I’ll gladly add them to this post.  Information sets us free.  And there’s something extra satisfying about sending an actual letter through the post rather than emails, don’t you think?

Please don’t use this address to send the government any offensive or hate mail.  That would possibly be a crime, and in no way do I encourage you to do so!  Thanks.

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Send the prime minister a letter today!  I’m sure Dave is looking forward to a robust conversation with the British electorate!


Parliament still stinks of corruption and probably will forever

05/04/2014

The way culture minister Maria Miller has been let off charges of fiddling her expenses and threatening the parliamentary standards commissioner in an attempt to stop her investigation shows that the British Parliament is as corrupt as ever.  And the corruption goes right to the top: the prime minister is supporting Miller despite the evidence of her foulness.

When Kathryn Hudson, the standards commissioner, was investigating the complaint against Miller, the culture minister told her that her investigation was illegal, saying she was acting in a way that was “unwarranted, unfair and contrary to all standards of due process and legality”, and Miller threatened to report Hudson to a House of Commons committee that would punish her.  Miller’s threats didn’t stop Hudson from doing her job, and the commissioner reported that Miller had fraudulently claimed £45,000 expenses as well as threatening the commissioner and doing everything she could to pervert the course of the investigation.  But the House of Commons standards committee ruled that Miller should repay just £5,800 – the committee was going to order an even lower amount of money, and it was Miller herself who suggested the sum of £5,800! ; It also said Miller should apologize to the parliamentary standards commissioner for her conduct – an “apology” that Miller made in a Commons statement that took 30 seconds to read and which she clearly didn’t mean.

Labour MP John Mann, whose complaint caused the inquiry into Miller, said on Friday night that politicians should no longer act in judgement over themselves.  But that’s not going to happen, is it?  The prime minister David Cameron has repeatedly supported Miller, and it has emerged that he lied during the investigation, stating that independent members of the Commons standards committee had the “casting vote” in deciding whether to censure Miller.  The committee consists of three lay members and 10 MPs.  The prime minister’s office is now saying that Cameron “made a mistake”; they’re hardly going to admit that he lied  to parliament!

Thomas Docherty, the Dunfermline and West Fife MP, has written to the Metropolitan police calling for an investigation into Miller’s expenses. Docherty wrote: “Given the widely differing conclusions of the commission and the committee regarding the serious allegations made about Mrs Miller and the fact that both the commission and committee feel that Mrs Miller did not co-operate with the inquiry, I believe this matter warrants further investigation and I believe the Metropolitan police are the appropriate body to carry out such an investigation.”  So will the police investigate Miller?  Hah!  Of course they won’t.  The Metropolitan Police Commissioner wants the government to give him water cannons, and he won’t get them if he investigates Cameron’s new girlfriend will he?

Even if the growing pressure does force Cameron to sack her, Miller won’t face any more disciplinary action.  It’s disgusting how these politicians are able to set themselves above the law.  And just as disgusting how they feel entitled to claim such large amounts of expenses while simultaneously cutting benefits, forcing disabled people to work when their doctors say they shouldn’t, and imposing a bedroom tax that has driven people to suicide.  Governments are often greedy and cruel, Conservative governments especially: but the current government is openly evil.  And the system that allows it to be evil will never change as it is the evil ones who run the system!  Unless, of course, we change the system for them.  Not that I would ever advocate violent revolution!  😉

 
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“Plebgate” cop admits lying… but aren’t we all missing the point here?

10/01/2014

So, the police officer who claimed to have witnessed former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell calling cops “plebs” has pleaded guilty to committing misconduct in public office between 19 September and 16 December 2012.  So, Andrew Mitchell has been vindicated.  Or has he?

Mitchell denied calling the police “plebs”, but he admitted swearing at the officers, saying “I thought you were supposed to fucking help us,” or similar.  Now, we might expect to hear such language down town on a Saturday night – but is this the kind of behaviour we should accept from a government minister?

I say no.  If a member of the general public talked to a cop like that, he’d be given a stern warning if not reported or arrested.  And I think a government minister should be held to a higher standard.  Mitchell should have been sacked for swearing at the police.  But so much has been made of the alleged use of the term “pleb”, everyone is forgetting that he used obscene language remonstrating police officers just because they wouldn’t open the main Downing Street gates for him and his bicycle.

So okay, PC Keith Wallis misrepresented himself as a member of the public in a letter to his MP and blatantly lied about witnessing Mitchell using the word “pleb”.  Wallis is now going to be punished – probably sent to prison – for the serious offence of misconduct in public office.  But I say that Mitchell is also guilty of misconduct in public office by swearing at police officers in the street.  Some commentators are now saying that Mitchell should be reinstated to a ministerial position.  But really he should join Wallis in a jail cell.  Government members like to pretend they’re somehow better than the rest of us, lording over us and telling us what’s best for us; so when one of them is found to be a foul-mouthed yob with no respect for common decency he should be punished more than one of us mere mortals would be.

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Why is the UK government making khat illegal?

05/10/2013

Khat is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a “drug of abuse” that can produce “mild to moderate psychological addiction” but less so than alcohol or tobacco. Khat chewing is a social custom that has gone on for thousands of years in the regions where it is grown, and no problems were ever identified. But because it can cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria, it has become a “problem drug” that is being made illegal in the so-called “developed” world. The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations such as the DEA and is already a controlled substance in some countries, such as the United States, Canada and Germany.

Because khat was being looked at so hardly, the British government commissioned an investigation by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. After a review of the evidence, the expert committee recommended in January 2006 that khat should remain legal. But the Conservatives weren’t happy with that. On 3 July 2013, the British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that khat was to be banned, designating it a Class C substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Accordingly, the Frank drug advice site says:

Khat and the law
Khat will shortly become a Class C drug which means it will be illegal. If you are caught with the drug (possession) you could go to prison for two years and get an unlimited fine. If you are caught dealing or supplying (and that could just mean giving some to your mates) you could get 14 years in jail. It will also be an offence to bring Khat in and/or out of the country, so if you’ve been abroad you cannot bring it back to the UK with you.

Khat is an illegal substance in many other countries like the US and taking khat into the US could attract a heavy prison sentence.

So, Khat is pretty harmless, its use has gone on for thousands of years… and the UK government is banning it anyway. Why?

Because its use is fun! British (and many other) governments love to ban drugs that have a side-effect of euphoria. Look here for the proof! The British government (amongst many others) hate the idea of us enjoying ourselves. Alcohol, tobacco, refined sugar, and caffeine would be illegal if they didn’t have such a long tradition.

Unfortunately, voting for a different party won’t make much difference. The Lib Dems claim to want drugs to be decriminalised and the market regulated, but I think we all know by now that they are a bunch of liars. Maybe the Pirate Party UK would do something positive if they ever got the chance… but I can’t see them getting into government any time soon.

I hate hate. The government hates fun. So I hate the government. If you like fun, maybe you should start hating the government too?

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JK Rowling tells the government: “Stop picking on the poor!”

18/09/2013

JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels and President of the single parent group Gingerbread, has written on the group’s website that she is “prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life.”

She is sick of the “skiver vs striver” oratory from the government. She remembers her own experience of being a single parent on benefits as one when she experienced patronisation and stigmatisation. She writes:

My overriding memory of that time is the slowly evaporating sense of self-esteem, not because I was filing or typing – there was dignity in earning money, however I was doing it – but because it was slowly dawning on me that I was now defined, in the eyes of many, by something I had never chosen. I was a Single Parent, and a Single Parent On Benefits to boot. Patronage was almost as hard to bear as stigmatisation. I remember the woman who visited the church one day when I was working there who kept referring to me, in my hearing, as The Unmarried Mother. I was half annoyed, half amused: unmarried mother? Ought I to be allowed in a church at all? Did she see me in terms of some Victorian painting: The Fallen Woman, Filing, perhaps?

Single parents were not popular in certain sectors of the establishment or media in the mid-nineties. I could not raise a smile over the government minister of the time singing a merry ditty about ‘young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue.’ Newspaper articles discussed single mothers in terms of broken families and anti-social teenagers. However defiant I might feel about the jobs I was doing round the clock (full-time mother, part-time worker, secret novelist), constant bombardment with words like ‘scrounger’ has a deeply corrosive effect. Assumptions made about your morals, your motives for bringing your child into the world or your fitness to raise that child cut to the core of who you are.

Then came the literary success – and the stigmatisation still remained.

I became Single Parent Writes Award-Winning Children’s Book/Earns Record American Advance/Gets Film Deal. One of the first journalists to interview me asked me whether I hadn’t felt I ought to be out looking for a job rather than ‘sitting at home writing a novel.’ By some miracle I resisted the almost overwhelming temptation to punch him and subsequently decided to channel my frustration a little more positively by becoming a Patron of what was then called the National Council for One Parent Families (now Gingerbread).

A Gingerbread survey in 2011 found that 87% of single parents think there is a stigma around single parenthood that needs to be challenged and one in three say that they have personally experienced it. Rowling finds the “skivers vs strivers” rhetoric particularly offensive when it comes to single parents, who are already working around the clock to care for their children. Such rhetoric drains confidence and self-esteem from those who desperately want to get back into the job market.

Unfortunately, the stigmatisation and the “skivers vs skivers” rhetoric isn’t going away any time soon – it seems to underpin most of the government’s public spending plans. At the moment, a single woman’s benefit is affected if she has children; but soon, when the government’s Universal Benefit comes into effect, a single mother will get the same benefit as a single woman with no children. And this is just one aspect of the government’s way of thinking. As Rowling puts it:

A statement by a government minister late last year that ‘people who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks – they’ve got least to lose’ speaks to a profound disconnect with people struggling to keep their heads above water. In some cases – and I was once one of those cases – what you might lose is enough food to eat, a roof over your head: the fundamentals of life and existence, magnified a million-fold when it is your child’s health and security you stand to lose.

Go check out Rowling’s piece, here. And you can join the Gingerbread campaign to Make it work for single parents and help push for realistic policy changes that will help single parents find decent jobs that provide for their families.

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If it walks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi, smells like a Nazi… it must be David Cameron

30/07/2013

Ol’ Cameron’s so desperate to win the next election, he’s trying to steal back Ukip supporters with his “Immigrants go home” mobile billboards. But it looks like he’s shot himself in the foot: Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip, has described the campaign as Big Brother-like and “nasty”. The BBC report says:

Speaking on Daybreak, Mr Farage – whose party campaigns for the UK’s exit from the European Union and includes curbing immigration in its wider policies, said the campaign was really a reaction to his party’s success in English local elections.

“What the billboard should say is: Please don’t vote UKIP, we are doing something. That’s what it’s all about.

“I think the actual tone of the billboards, it really is Big Brother, nasty, it’s unpleasant. I don’t think using messaging like this makes any difference, what would make a difference is enforcing our borders properly.”

The BBC also quoted Former Children’s Minister Ms Teather, MP for Brent Central, one of the boroughs targeted by the campaign as saying the “cost” would be community relations.

“It’s really unpleasant and we don’t need it here,” she said.

“If the Home Office want to deal with problems, frankly they should be looking at themselves and their own practice.”

And it seems pretty clear that this campaign is a Tory initiative rather than something dreamt up by the Coalition. The Guardian reports that Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg “launched a strong attack on the government’s ‘go home” campaign against illegal immigrants, suggesting it was out of step with the ‘decent’ centre-ground tradition in British politics.

In a phone-in on Radio 5 Live on Tuesday, the deputy prime minister said he did not condone people breaking immigration laws but that he objected to the tone of the campaign launched by the Home Office.

He also said it would be hard for his ministerial colleagues in the coalition to persuade him that the campaign should be extended.

Problem is, Clegg and his buddies have already revealed how low they can go in order to keep their illusion in power. Also, I have no links, but I seem to remember the LibDems using racist language in local authority elections in the past.

It’s kinda funny: Ukip’s Farage accusing the Tories of racism. What next? The BNP gonna promise more lax immigration policies to win marginal Tory seats?

Hitler was a charismatic guy operating in a time of economic crisis to gain power. Similar circumstances to now: except Cameron’s got the charisma of a cauliflower. And don’t forget: Cameron has some despicable ideas in the pipeline. Why should sick and disabled people totally unfit to work get benefits? Why should low-paid central London workers like cleaners be able to live close to work when they can commute and spend their paltry wages on travel? Why shouldn’t MPs (public servants paid by us, the taxpayers) have free central London homes as well as constituency homes, all paid for by us, the saps who are suffering austerity pay cuts when the MPs vote themselves massive pay rises?

Foreigners, poor people, the sick and disabled, unemployed people who can’t get a job with a living wage cos none exist: they are the enemy. You want more of the same? Of course you do, you’re the British electorate who are only happy when you’re being butt-fucked by deformed Tory penises. So Vote Conservative As Often As You Can. FFS.

Oh, and before you think voting Labour might save us: don’t be so stupid. Miliband bad-mouths Cameron in public, but in private they’re probably very good friends. Think about it: what kind of person wants a career that allows them to control us? Apart from crazy power freaks that is.  And even crazy power freaks have an off-duty switch, otherwise they’d go round disembowelling everyone who disobeyed them (ie everyone).

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