Tag Archives: Austerity

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 www.adviceguide.org.uk 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.

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.

The Crucifixion Cycle

And so it has started.

In truth it probably started a year or two ago, but various distractions have kept our blinkers in place.

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation…..the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing coalition government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon says so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

Cynical? Me?

Now I’m a cynical, sceptical old soul, but there are things going on (some may say many) in the world of government that I don’t understand.

Police Service – As much as possible seems to be in the process of being identified by privatising, probably to G4S. Budgets slashed by 20% and thousands of Police posts have to go across England and Wales.

Armed Forces – Too many Strategic Defence Reviews, servicemen being laid off, Armed Forces now at their lowest strength for decades.

NHS – Again, ripe for privatisation. Just look to see who the directors are of the companies in line to benefit.

Who is destroying our NHS

Who is destroying our NHS

And I don’t understand why, at a time when demand on Accident and Emergency Units has never been greater, A&Es across the country are being closed down. Does that make any kind of sense?

Target time to be seen in A&E is apparently now 4 hours. Nobody should have to wait 4 hours to be seen in A&E.

Probation Services – Being Privatised, again to G4S amongst others, and a Social Media Gagging Order imposed upon Probation Officers by Chris Grayling just in case they’re upset by what’s going and might want to Tweet about it, so I’ll do it for them, he hasn’t managed to gag me.

Coastguard Service – Coastguard Stations being closed down, service streamlined, Search and Rescue operations Privatised to an American Company.

Fire and Rescue Service – Fire Stations closed down, Fire Engines sold off or mothballed, jobs at risk or been lost.

Education – Schools turned into Academies, judged by complex League Tables. We nearly had to ditch GCSEs and create an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC), but Gove backed down on that one.  The National Union of Teachers has also warned that 2015 will bring an “unmanageable level of change which could lead to a collapse of the system.”

G4S are now teaching and looking after our children. Are we all mad?  A Blog by Tom Pride, read the full article Here

Banks – Apparently responsible for a lot of the mess this country now finds itself in, making huge losses still, some of them, but still manage to pay out millions in bonuses. How does it work that you get paid a bonus for making a loss?  And still they are not lending enough to ordinary folk to kick-start the economy and get the housing market moving again.

My first question is ‘Are they changing too much, all at the same time?’ This is a government that seems hell-bent on reforming everything in sight before the next election and its inevitable result. Naive? Arrogant? Greedy? Self-Serving? All of the above?

My second question is this; Why, in times of austerity when ‘We’re All In This Together’ are we laying folk off, privatising public services that have served us well for generations, closing down public buildings, letting foreign companies come in and run certain aspects of the service, all because the country cannot afford to maintain these services at their existing levels, why then do the government then reduce Income Tax for the richest people. Those who earn the most now pay less Income Tax, 45p in the pound instead of 50p.

This might not sound much, but is it going to provide an incentive for the richest folk to spend more? I don’t think so. Is it going to give you and I the incentive to go out and spend more? I don’t think so.

Why not consider having a two tier VAT system like certain European countries do; 20% for most things, but 5.5% for Restaurants, Bars, Home Improvements etc etc, giving folk the incentive to eat out more, employ builders more because the VAT bill is nothing like so big, and that’s just the beginning.

Raising Taxes is never going to be a Vote Winner, never has been, but we’re seldom in the pickle we are now.  Once these services are Privatised they are very unlikely to be unpicked and put back into National ownership again.  As long as it was fair I think I personally would prefer to pay a modest sum more each year in taxes and keep British Public Services in Public, British, ownership. There is nothing wrong with making these services as efficient as they can possibly be, but Police, Fire, NHS, Teachers, Armed Forces etc etc are NOT BUSINESSES. They cannot be run like businesses, they should not be treated like businesses. They are not for profit, but if G4S, amongst others, come in, make no mistake their first priority will be to make a profit for their shareholders, anything else will be secondary, less important.

Lobby your MP, sign all the petitions you can find, demonstrate peacefully when the opportunity arises, make your voice heard. The government are getting away with this massacre because not enough people are standing up to them. they are behaving like playground bullies, and we don’t like bullies do we?

If we don’t these services will be irrevocably changed and some may disappear forever.

April Fool – The Nightmare Continues

Many thanks to @OldRolyBirkinQC for letting me nick the following list (although he doesn’t actually know I’ve done it yet, but he soon will);

Here are some of our millionaire cabinet ministers who just gave themselves a tax cut, while we pay more for being poorer…..which is nice.

Lord Strathclyde worth £10m
Philip Hammond worth £7.5m
George Osborne worth £4.6m
Jeremy Hunt worth £4.5m
David Cameron worth £4m
Dominic Grieve worth £3m
Francis Maude worth £3m
William Hague worth £2.5m
David Laws worth £1m-2m
Nick Clegg worth £1.9m
David Willetts worth £1.9m
Theresa May worth £1.6m
Oliver Letwin worth £1.6m
Owen Paterson worth £1.5m
Kenneth Clarke worth £1m+
Sir George Young £1m+
Iain Duncan Smith worth £1m+
Michael Gove worth £1m+
Grant Schapps is under his other name of Andrew Green.

So, on top of Bedroom Tax, loss of Legal Aid for many, reduction of all kinds of Benefits, the rich just carry on getting richer.  David Camoron and George Osborne have, between them, cooked up a scheme to reduce the rate of tax for people on the top rate from 50p in the £ to 45 pence.  This does not sound very much, 5 p in the pound but it has been estimated that 13,000 people earning more than £1,000,000 per year will be at least £50,000 per year BETTER OFF.

In times of austerity this does not sound morally or ethically justifiable to me.  The poor are going to get poorer, and the rich will get richer by almost £1,000 PER WEEK for doing nothing.

And this is just the beginning;

On April 6, working-age benefits and tax credits will be cut in real terms with the first of three years of maximum 1% rises – well below the present rate of inflation.  The poor are beginning to get poorer.

On April 8, disability living allowance begins to be replaced by the personal independence payment (Pip), which charities say will remove support from many in real need.  Now the disabled are beginning to get poorer.

From 15 April 2013 a limit will be put on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called a ‘benefit cap’. Local councils will be introducing this between 15 April and 30 September 2013.

From 15 April 2013, the benefit cap will affect people in 4 council areas:

  • Bromley
  • Croydon
  • Enfield
  • Haringey

The benefit cap will be introduced in all other council areas between 15 July and and 30 September 2013.

I guess the poor are going to get a bit poorer yet.

What’s included in the Benefit Cap?

The cap will apply to the total amount that the people in your household get from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the support component)
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widows Pension you started getting before 9 April 2001)

How much is the benefit cap?

The level of the cap will be:

  • £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
  • £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them
  • £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Osborne and Mr Duncan Smith said: “Our changes will ensure that the welfare state offers the right help to those who need it, and is fair to those who pay for it.”  The three-year, real-terms cut was a hard but “necessary” decision to save the taxpayer £2bn a year as part of austerity deficit-reduction measures, they wrote.

37 authorities across Britain revealed 96,041 households faced losing benefit but there were only 3,688 smaller homes available.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “These shocking new figures reveal the big lie behind this Government’s cruel bedroom tax.

“They say it’s not a tax but 96% of people have nowhere to move to. In the same week that millionaires get a huge tax cut, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people will be hit by a vicious tax they can’t escape.

“This wicked bedroom tax is going to rip neighbour from neighbour, force vulnerable people to food banks and loan sharks, and end up costing Britain more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private rented sector.”

One of our illustrious banks, RBS,  sheepishly announced £5 BILLION of losses at the end of February, but still felt they could afford to pay out nearly £700 MILLION in bonuses.  My first question would be “why are they paying bonuses for making a loss?”, and secondly, doesn’t the UK taxpayer own 82% of RBS now?  Did we sanction this?  Wouldn’t we rather that they repaid what they could to the taxpayer a.s.a.p.?

In the meantime Iain Duncan Smith’s claims that he could live on £53 per week if he had to seem to have backfired somewhat.  An on-line petition calling for him to put his money where his mouth is attracted 100,000 signatures overnight, and currently stands at 150,000 signatures. Demonstrators gathered to voice their displeasure

Protesters-against-Iain-Duncan-Smith-outside-the-Edinburgh-Hotel-1789231

And said Mr Duncan Smith was pictured driving a sports car that would cost considerably more than £53 per week to run.

Iain-Duncan-Smith-1797485

All in this together? My arse.

If Borrowing is Up, But Services Are Being Cut….Where is Our Money Going?

I don’t always agree with everything Scriptonite says, but on this issue I have no argument. Just where IS our money going to, and why aren’t we being told the full truth?

Scriptonite Daily

BU1

UK Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget yesterday informed the nation that by 2018 national debt will have doubled since 2010, whilst the welfare state and living standards have been crushed.  If debt is going up, and services are being cut, where is the money actually going?

 Short History of UK National Debt

 BU2

National Debt was a facility created by the development of bills and bonds on the 17th century.  It provided a way for governments to finance wars. It is recorded in £’s but it is also important to see it as a percentage of GDP.  This is important because debt is not significant without understanding how it relates to our income.

Funding World War I meant the debt shooting up to £7.4bn (127% of GDP) between 1914 and 1919. The following two decades saw the Wall Street crash in the 20’s, followed by the recession…

View original post 1,665 more words

SNAFU or FUBAR?

I’m undecided.  I can’t make up my mind whether this wonderful coalition government that we seem to have inherited is FUBAR or simply SNAFU.

If my ageing grey cells serve me well, we have been suffering austerity measures for 3 years now.  I’m no economist so I don’t know whether that’s a reasonable length of time or not, but looking at the rest of the world I guess it’s there or thereabouts.

What I do expect though, is that after 3 years of austerity, 3 years of real, tangible pain to a lot of good, honest working folk, the government is STILL wasting our money.

I have made of government wastage previously, hereherehereherehere,   and here

Now, after 3 years I have to read that Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, admitting that HMG are STILL wasting money. In relation to the latest Spending Review under way in Whitehall he said that the objective is “removing waste in Whitehall and the wider public sector, of which there is still a considerable amount,”

All the public sector budgets have been slashed to the bone (and beyond, amputation in some cases) so I have a degree of difficulty imagining to what it is he refers.  Whitehall is another matter.  The Whitehall mandarins seem to think that they are immune to austerity and its consequences. They obviously feel that wasting a bit more of our money is OK.

That’s candid stuff from a Treasury minister: after almost three years of Coalition cost-cutting, the Government is still wasting your money.

How very dare they?

In other news, the same Danny Alexander, being interviewed by the same newspaper, states that the Armed Forces and police are to face further spending cuts.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said that the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office would share the pain of the £11.5 billion of cuts due in 2015-16

Asked whether the Home Office and Ministry of Defence would be protected from further cuts, he [Danny Alexander] said only that the NHS, schools and international development would be ring-fenced, adding: “We will work through the details, but every department, including the ones you mention, will have to make savings.”

Now, it was only a few days ago when Gorgeous George Osborne told the world that there would be no changes to existing arrangements for policing budgets in the next financial year. I presume by that he means 2001-14, but watch out cos Danny’s got his eye on your purse.

How on earth can policing budgets withstand any more cuts? Is this what Danny Alexander really meant? Do the different government departments actually talk to each other? Is the coalition as inept as it appears to be?

My take on it is that Gideon tried to score few brownie points by saying that there would no further cuts next year, and Danny ‘The Boy’ Alexander let the cat out of the bag as to the government’s intentions for 2015-16, although in a just world they’ll no longer be in power by then, either of them.