Proof, If You Needed Any, That The Government Are Lost Up Their Own Backsides, At Least IDS Is

In a week that saw that nice man Iain Duncan Smith bully through his cuts to some benefits by up to £30 per week he has come under attack from an erstwhile ally.

The Social Market Foundation Thinktank have published a report claiming that the current disability benefits system is “broken” and must be comprehensively overhauled.  I’m sure nobody here would argue with that and it represents a significant government failure and yet more government wastage.

The (surely unwelcome) report recommends scrapping entirely the work capability assessment which is the somewhat discredited test used by the Department for Work and Pensions  to determine who is eligible for out-of-work sickness benefits and who should be classed as “fit for work”.

The report recommends tha the government should devise a properly funded system which would identify those disabled people closest to being able to get a job, while those too ill or disabled to work should have a “level of benefit provided … sufficient to allow them to live comfortably and engage fully in society”.

Also recommended in the report is the proposal that the government should abandon the failing, and hugely unpopular, benefit sanction system for people with chronic illness or a disability – instead putting an emphasis on support meetings and financial incentives through a “steps to work wage” on top of their unemployment benefit.

The bit that amuses me no end is the identity of the author. The report was written by Matthew Oakley – a former Treasury adviser who until 2013 was head of economics at the right-of-centre Policy Exchange thinktank. He’s on Iain Duncan Smith’s own social security advisory committee.

This shambolic Tory government has been responsible for what are the most disastrous social policy reforms in living memory.

There is some evidence that government policies will actually reduce disabled people’s chance of finding work and that many on the current rate are already struggling to afford to eat, typical of the current government approach: a disdain for both facts and people’s lives.

When even the government’s own advisers can no longer pretend this system is anything but rotten and their own side is turning against them it might just be time to listen, not that their track record on listening is terribly good.


Whyfor No Ambulances?

I’ve asked this or similar questions before, here, here  and here.

If you’re a patient these delays are clearly intolerable.

If you’re a Taxpayer they’re not much better either because they are wasting your money for you.

Let me be clear, I am most definitely NOT a knocker of the NHS, I am a fervent supporter of the NHS and the principle of a cradle-to-grave, free-at-point-of-delivery Health Service.  It’s what we pay a fortune in National Insurance contributions for, after all.

Yet again, however, Ambulance delays are making the headlines, well maybe not the headlines, but the news is buried there somewhere.

At the end of last year an article in the Daily Mirror revealed that hospitals were having to pay £44 MILLION  in ‘fines’ for keeping ambulances waiting.

This money could have funded 1,000 new nurses on the wards, but was instead used to pay penalties which were introduced by the Government last April.

Ambulance trusts recorded 120,884 delays of 30 minutes and 14,721 of more than an hour between April and October.

Separate figures released by the NHS also showed 28,067 delays of 30 minutes between November 4 and December 18.

Hospitals are now ‘fined’  £200 for a delay of more than half an hour and £1,000 for waiting more than 60 minutes.

So, has it got any better?  Are we still doling out the money, left hand paying the right, moving it from one budget to another, with, ultimately, the Taxpayers and the Patients being the biggest victims here.

The latest set of figures provided to a request by the Labour Party under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that, at best, the situation is stagnant, or at worst, deteriorating.

Nearly 300,000 ambulances were left queuing outside hospitals last year.

The longest recorded delay was more than eight hours, despite the 15-minute nationally agreed standard.

279,207 Ambulances were kept waiting for more than half an hour, and 30,601 for more than 1 hour.  So that’s £55,841,400 of fines for Ambulances kept waiting for 30 minutes and £30,601,000 providing a total for 2013 of £86,442,400.



As I said just now, I’m not knocking the NHS or the Ambulance Service, to me the answer is simple, more resources.  The coalition are running the NHS into the ground, I blame the millionaire politicians with various assorted vested interests.

Let it stop NOW.  This is why there are no Ambulances when you need one, and it’s (in theory at  least) a problem that can be fixed.

Make it so.

‘No one should die penniless and alone’: the victims of Britain’s harsh welfare sanctions

I’m not going to say a huge amount about this, this awful, tragic story speaks for itself.


David Clapson was found dead last year after his benefits were stopped on the grounds that he wasn’t taking the search for work seriously. He had an empty stomach, and just £3.44 to his name.

We know that David Clapson was actively searching for work when he died because a pile of CVs he had just printed out was found a few metres from his body.

But officials at the Jobcentre believed he was not taking his search for work seriously enough, and early last July, they sanctioned him – cutting off his benefit payments entirely, as a punishment for his failure to attend two appointments.

Clapson, 59, who had diabetes, died in his flat in Stevenage on 20 July 2013, from diabetic ketoacidosis (caused by an acute lack of insulin). When Gill Thompson, his younger sister, discovered his body, she found his electricity had been cut off (meaning that the fridge where he kept his insulin was no longer working). There was very little left to eat in the flat – six tea bags, an out-of-date tin of sardines and a can of tomato soup. His pay-as-you-go mobile phone had just 5p credit left on it and he had only £3.44 in his bank account

Thank you very much to the Guardian, their full story on this tragedy can be found here.

I don’t think I can possibly comment further, and keep my temper, but what I do want to know is this

  • Iain Duncan Smith – do you really think that was a Proportionate response by DWP to a failure to attend two meetings?
  • Does Her Majesty’s Government truly have so little regard for life that they can allow this to happen in their name?
  • David Cameron – What sanctions do you envisage against the Civil Servant  who stopped this poor man’s benefits TOTALLY, and with so little regard for his life?
  • Can Her Majesty’s Government assure us that this will NEVER be allowed to happen again?

If you are as appalled as I was about this story (and let’s be honest, even if only some of it is 100% accurate, it’s still appalling) please consider signing Mr Clapson’s sister’s petition here

Finally, is this really the sort of Government Policy that Great Britain wants or deserves?  I’m not in favour of Benefits Scroungers in any way, shape or form, but I AM totally opposed to the State acting in such a high-handed manner as to lead to the death of anyone, let alone an ex-serviceman.

What Exactly Is The Point Of Trading Standards Any More?

I recently had occasion to contact Trading Standards due to an unsatisfactory transaction.  Naively I thought they dealt with things like that.  Indeed, DeadBadgerShire Council has a Public Protection Department, which seems to have taken over from Trading Standards.  So I emailed them and asked them for some advice and whether or not they were interested in pursuing the offending company, who seem to excel in ignoring their customers.

Today I got the following response back from Public Protection;

“Thank you for contacting DeadBAdgerShire Council with regard to your purchase of …………. from the internet.

Initial consumer advice and information in DeadBadgerShire is now provided by the Citizens Advice consumer service.  This service provides free, confidential and impartial consumer advice on consumer issues.

To access the advice service, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 (Welsh language service – 08454 04 05 05).  Opening hours are 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.  Textphone users should dial 18001 then the full consumer helpline number.

Call charges for the national 0845 number are around 6p per minute from a BT landline (depending on your package).  Charges from other networks may vary and mobiles may cost considerably more.  Consequently, you may wish to use 0208 1850 710 (Welsh language service – 0208 1850 717), which is charged at your local rate.  Charges for calls to this number may be lower, depending on your supplier.

Alternatively visit where you will find a wide range of self-help advice and information, which is available all day every day.

Local Authorities, including DeadBadgerShire Council, are working and developing partnerships with the Citizens Advice consumer service to deliver effective consumer advice and enforcement both locally, in DeadBadgerShire, and across the UK.

Please note that your message has not been forwarded to the Citizens Advice consumer service.”

So I can only assume that Camoron’s Cuts have cut deep, I know Councils have had their funding cut back by Central Government, and now they have to rely on a charity to fulfil their obligations.  What an utterly disgraceful state of affairs, I hope you’re proud of yourself Dave, no votes here, don’t come knocking.

Thank you

This proves that Boris and co just don’t listen to the public, or indeed Common Sense, and are just hell-bent on toeing the party line at all costs

Thoughts of a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Guest blog by @savesouthwark:


With the assistance of our good friend Jules (@julieanneda), now seemed the right time to put down in words our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who has supported our campaign to try and keep Southwark and nine other London fire stations open. 140 characters on Twitter would never have allowed us to do justice in adequately conveying such thanks to you all. To thank each and every one of you individually would be a massive task and whilst we would happily do so, we would be equally concerned that we had left somebody out in error.

Why we have ended up where we are is well documented. Our starting point right from the very beginning was that if the station was to close, we would leave knowing that we had done everything possible to prevent such a thing from happening.

On many…

View original post 469 more words

Fire Service

Some new thoughts on an old, old problem

Thoughts of a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Another excellent guest post via  @Artemiska999

Thank you!

Added on 23/11/2010

Dear Friends,

Over 9,200 of us have signed!  Thank you for signing the petition, “Save our fire stations”.  Please can you continue to the word by forwarding the link below to your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues?

Save London Fire Stations 10 (SLFS10) will be holding another Red Balloon Event at the London High Court on 26 November to coincide with the judicial review of the decision to close these stations.  Please contact them for more

These closures will affect us all and make us vulnerable at home, at work, at school, at university, on the bus, on the underground, on the train, on our bikes, in a restaurant, in the cinema.  Mr Cleverly, Chair of LFEPA and appointed by the Mayor to that position, describes LSP5, the plan which on 9…

View original post 792 more words

Universal credit: What went wrong?

Universal credit – the government’s flagship welfare reform – is in trouble, (some may say tatters) according to the National Audit Office.  Our old friend Iain Duncan Smith, says he has fixed most of the problems, but others disagree.

It was only a couple of days ago we told you that the IT was crap and was almost certain to be scrapped, now we find the whole of Universal Credit is probably Not Fit For Purpose, just like the entire ConDem coalition.

The main problems with the scheme have been identified as

  • The timetable was too ambitious
  • There was no detailed plan
  • A bunker mentality developed
  • Poor financial management
  • High staff turnover
  • Inadequate control over suppliers
  • Ignoring recommendations

So what does Iain Duncan Smith have to say for himself?

The work and pensions secretary says he was already aware of the problems raised by the NAO and they have all been fixed.

He told BBC News: “I lost faith in the ability of civil servants to manage this and so I brought in people from the outside.”

He insists universal credit will be delivered “in time and on budget,” and says the NAO report is dealing with “historic” issues.

So IDS is a fan of outsourcing/privatisation as well it seems.

Even the bullet points without the detail behind them are enough to make my blood boil.  It smacks of everything that is bad about this government;-   Arrogance, Indecent Haste, Poor Preparation, Poor Execution, Insufficient (if any) Consultation.

Any member of staff responsible for a plan like that deserves to be disciplined and probably sacked, really. But because it’s the Dave Club they’ll get away with it, DWP staff are already on bonuses of AT LEAST £500, so they must be doing something right, just can’t think what

There you have the nub of the problem in one sentence. A government department (there may be more) who have entered into the Bonus Culture, presumably envious of the bankers, and look where they got us.

A Govt. department paying themselves bonuses in times of Austerity. #AllInThisTogether? No bloody way

Universal Credit went wrong when a bunch of self-serving posh gits came up with a hurried plan, executed it in a rush, without having the proper foundations. Just like every other plan this government has dreamt up. “Must be in by 2015 cos we won’t be around after that. This is our heritage.”

How many other government departments award themselves bonuses I wonder?  And when did bonuses become part of the Civil Service? Do the Fire & Rescue Service, Teachers, Nurses, Doctors, Police Officers, Coastguards et al get paid bonuses.  Nick a burglar and get a pony? I don’t think so. I definitely don’t think it’s right in the public sector either. Not jealous, not envious, just plain WRONG.

Rant over, enjoy your day.