Tag Archives: Government

‘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 There was very little left to eat in the flat – six tea bags, an out-of-date tin of sardines and a can of tomato soup.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 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.

Government Wastage Revisited

Hello, you haven’t heard from us for a while, but that’s not because we don’t care any more, we care just as passionately as before if not more so, we’ve both been a little busy lately, that’s all.

Two things have come to our notice this week that made us sit up and take notice again, and we feel that we should let you know as well, just in case you didn’t.

Firstly our old friend Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work and Pensions.  It seems that they are quite likely to have to scrap their entire IT system for Universal Credit and start again from scratch.

£300 Million wasted. #Austerity? Not in Whitehall apparently.

A review by Universal Credit director general Howard Shiplee will apparently recommend two options for the future of the IT developed so far, which go even further than previous reports have suggested.

Option one would mean scrapping all the work done so far, thereby admitting it is not fit for purpose, and bringing most of the development of new IT systems in-house under the control of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Option two would involve continuing to use some of the existing IT to support the current Pathfinder pilot projects, but developing new systems for the full roll-out – effectively delaying any decision to throw away all the work completed so far.

Option 1? Option 2?  Both of them seem to involve scrapping everything at some point, whatever.  The Cabinet Office, which controls GDS, is understood to favour the first option, while the DWP prefers to continue with the current IT for as long as possible. Two branches of the same government with opposing views, where have I heard that before?

The final decision will probably be made later this month by the Ministerial Oversight Group for the troubled welfare reform programme, led by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,  Iain Duncan Smith.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a highly critical report on Universal Credit in September that £303m had been spent so far on IT. Of that amount, the DWP has already admitted to writing off £34m of IT work, although that figure is likely to end up even higher whatever happens.

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Rachel Reeves wrote to the Prime Minister last week, urging him to “start taking responsibility for this fiasco”. She added: “David Cameron has serious questions to answer about how he has allowed things to get to this stage and how his complacent, incompetent and out-of-touch government has wasted scandalous amounts of money on a half-baked plan IT now can’t deliver.”

Don’t sit on the fence Rachel, what do you really mean?

But if all of the IT were to be scrapped, the NAO report suggests that the final figure for the write-off would be in excess of £300m.

Most of that money has been spent with the four key IT suppliers for the project – HP, IBM, Accenture and BT.

The other piece of disastrous news that caught my eye this week was in relation to my old favourite – Aircraft Carriers.

The cost of two new aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy is expected to be almost twice the original estimate, the government is expected to confirm this week.

In the latest budget, the Ministry of Defence is set to estimate the cost of the two ships at £6.2bn.

£6.2 BILLION. What on earth are they doing? How many hospitals, schools, police officers etc etc could be funded by just the difference in cost between that and the original. Six years ago, when the contract was approved, costs were put at £3.65bn

The shadow defence secretary, Labour’s Vernon Coaker, said: “This is the latest in a series of financial fiascos in the MoD under David Cameron.  It’s that word fiasco again (see above).

This government seem to be very good at cut cut cut in just about every public sector. We must all pull together, this is a national crisis, a time of severe austerity, and all of these cuts have to be in place before 2015 because we know we don’t stand a snowball’s chance of being re-elected.

Whilst, at the the very same time, they are increasing their salaries, increasing their pensions, and their expenses have almost returned to the excesses of the bad old days.  Only a few days ago was there news about how they were claiming for gas and electricity in their second homes, and as one of my Twitter colleagues put it “Why do they need to do that, because if they’re heating their second home they’re not heating their main home, or cooking etc?”

So nothing has really changed since we spoke last. We are most definitely NOT All In It Together and the ConDem government that NOBODY voted for has shown just how arrogant and uncaring they can be.

Trouble is, it’s left me the dilemma, Who the hell do I vote for in 2015?

Answers on a Postcard please, assuming that Royal Mail still exists when you read this.

News – Coastguard SOS

The fight to save UK Coastguard rescue coordination centres is not over. We are urgently seeking volunteers who would be interested in becoming a local liaison officer or supporters to campaign as an extension of the National Coastguard SOS Campaign in local areas. If you are interested in learning more please email your contact details and information to info@coastguardsos.com

The truth about under staffing at stations.

The Government and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been forced under FOI (Freedom of Information) requests to reveal the number of HM Coastguard staff on shift at Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC’s) around the UK.

The truth is that the figures are truly alarming.

Find the truth here;

News – Coastguard SOS.

Social Investigations: NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests.

Social Investigations: NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests..

 

This list represents the dire state of our democracy. The financial and vested interests of our MPs and Lords in private healthcare.

Over 200 parliamentarians have recent past or present financial links to companies involved in healthcare and all were allowed to vote on the Health and Social Care bill, turning it into an Act.

Who cares that they have put it in the register of interests. This doesn’t excuse their interests, it merely highlights clearly why they should have no part in voting for what is fast becoming the dismantling of the NHS. It is privatisation, despite the media’s continued use of the word ‘reforms’. The question must be asked. Are they public servants or corporate servants?

 

If you care about the NHS et al, please read the full blog at the above link

I’m So Furious I Can’t Even Think of a Title

I wasn’t going to write a blog today.

Got too much plumbing and gardening that need seeing to.

Then I was going to have a rest.

Then I saw this headline in the on-line Daily Mirror (at least it wasn’t the #Fail)

Iain Duncan Bloody Smith has excelled himself AGAIN.

‘He’ paid his staff bonuses totalling more than £44million last year while slashing benefits for countless needy and vulnerable people.

The top Tory’s department is in chaos with delays to flagship benefit reforms, a huge benefit tests backlog, botched work capability assessments and an IT crisis.

But senior civil service fatcats based in Whitehall were still paid bonuses of up to £17,500, based on performance the previous year.

In all, just 62 of them shared £671,000 on top of hefty salaries that often run to six figures.

And more junior Department for Work and Pensions staff were paid bonuses of up to £2,710 to top up their wages.

The average payment to rank-and-file employees was £515.

In all, 97,701 of the department’s 99,739 staff – a staggering 98% – shared more than £43.8million.

Quite apart from the fact that this is morally bankrupt, what on earth is the Bonus System doing in the Public Sector anyway?  This means that we, Mr and Mrs Taxpayer, have paid these bonuses.
Did you want to pay DWP bullies a bonus?  I didn’t.  When I worked in the Public Sector I didn’t get paid a bonus, nor did I even expect one or think that I SHOULD be paid one.
Where does this bonus money originate from? Savings from the ATOS Experience?  What, exactly does one have to achieve in DWP to qualify for a bonus?
I feel an #FOI coming on.
Have a good weekend
Rant over.