Tuesday, 19 February 2013

John Pring's Disability News round-up, week ending 15 February 2013

For the full stories, please click on the links:
• A disabled woman awaiting a second kidney transplant was “harassed” by her local jobcentre during an emergency blood transfusion, because they wanted to know when she would be well enough to attend a back-to-work interview.
• The government looks set to force tens of thousands more working-age disabled people to pay towards their long-term care and support than was recommended by an independent commission.
• A major new government report has painted the “most comprehensive overview” since 2005 of the disadvantage and barriers faced by disabled people in the UK.
• An insurance company set to make huge financial gains from incapacity benefit (IB) reform bragged about “driving” the government towards those reforms, evidence obtained by Disability News Service (DNS) has revealed.
• A minister has been accused of hypocrisy after pledging to break down thebarriers to disabled people’s access to public transport, only days after confirming lengthy delays to new European bus and coach access rules.
• One of the Metropolitan police’s own disabled advisers has warned that cases of discrimination and human rights abuse by the force’s own officerscould become more common because of government funding cuts.
• Two nurses who resigned from the government’s “fitness for work” contractor Atos Healthcare because it was “cut-throat” and “ruthless” have described how they were criticised by their managers for being “too nice”.
• A disabled peer has attacked a “mean-spirited”, “miserable” and “dishonest” government bill that will see disabled people in 3.4 million households across Britain facing further cuts to their income.
• Britain’s Paralympians have welcomed the news that Channel 4 has secured the UK television broadcast rights to both the Rio 2016 Paralympics and the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
• Transport staff who fail in their duty to provide an accessible service for their disabled passengers should face disciplinary action, a former Disability Rights Commission director has told a parliamentary meeting.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

As Empty as a ConDems Promise

In the summer of 2011 when the damning Sayce Report on 'Disability Employment Support for the Future' was published Sayce and Marie Miller (Minister for Disabled People) sounded the death knell of all Remploy factories, consigning thousands of disabled Remploy workers to a future without work, ultimately leading to poverty.

Last summer most of the remaining Remploy factories closed, leaving a rump, who learned their fate in December - that is the majority would close with the attendant loss of jobs.

Again promises were given by this government that all that could be done to secure work in mainstream employment would be done by the agencies set up by the DWP.

While not actually promising to place ex-Remploy workers into employment, Miller promised: "Any disabled member of [Remploy] staff who is made redundant will receive an offer of individualised support for up to 18 months to help with the transition from government-funded sheltered employment to mainstream employment." Indeed, the government stated they would put ringfence £8 million for specialist employment support for the group.

Well, as we all know, a Tory promise is only binding up until the next policy crisis they create for themselves. Of the 1,000 Remploy workers sacked last year 35 have found new jobs. For the number crunchers among you, that's 0.035% in work!

Yes Duncan Smith, Miller and McVey - we did tell you so; over and over again, we told you that a combination of discriminatory employers and lack of jobs, due to your austerity fuelled triple-dip recession, militates against disabled people in the field of employment.

Recently a group of Remploy workers met in Barking. To the horror of an ex-Remploy shop steward (currently on ESA) and a Unite organiser the overwhelming majority of those ex-Remploy workers were not only unemployed, but almost all were on JSA, and none was in receipt of the individualised support promised by the ConDems.

What makes this neglect so damning is this. When an unemployed person signs up to JSA they sign a contract stating they are prepared to work at least 40 hours per week and travel up to a radius of 90 minutes to and from work. Many disabled people can't manage these times. While most Remploy workers were contracted to a 35-hour week; some worked shorter weeks; and few would have had three hours per day added for travelling.

Given that this group has not been properly advised there is a risk that if a job becomes available that they are not able to take up due to length of week and distance to travel they would be in breach of JSA and liable to benefit sanction.

Being denied proper advice could also mean that many of this group are not receiving the correct levels of benefit  to which they are entitled. Thus, rather than receiving individualised help after being thrown out of their jobs; this group has been shafted from pretty much every direction possible.

High Court Finds Most Back-To-Work Schemes Unlawful

Well done Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson for your doggedness; for not letting this government off the hook with its unlawful back-to-work slave labour schemes.

Reilly was forced to work without wages, or lose benefits, at a Poundshop, even though the meaningful voluntary work she was carrying out in a museum was more relevant to her qualifications.

While Wilson, an unemployed lorry driver, had his benefits sanctioned for refusing to take on an unpaid cleaning job.  

Today a panel of High Court Judges found that that rules underpinning most back-to-work schemes to be unlawful and quashed them.

The sheer arrogance of this government reaches new heights on a daily basis. Today the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has, on hearing of a ruling against them on one of their back-to-work schemes, vowed it will not recompense anyone sanctioned by them who haven't been seriously seeking work. Indeed, it is examining 'options' to avoid compensating people unlawfully sanctioned.

The two halves of this government do not properly fit together. It is fundamentally a weak government full of unimaginative and lazy ministers who lurch from one 'quick-fix' solution to the next. We must be vigilant and continuously searching the fault lines in their policy; chipping away at their weaknesses - that is an inability to govern through fair measures.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Why focus on the obvious when the less obvious is your ideological goal?

The answer is so obvious. Employ more tax inspectors! If this shower of shites (the Tories) harassed and chased the tax dodgers of this country with a fraction  of the energy they pour into harrying benefits' 'cheats' (many of whom are 'cheating' to put food on their families tables and clothes on their kids backs).

Benefits' officers cost us money. The amounts they individually save the state by catching benefits' 'cheats' doesn't cover their salaries.

Conversely, tax inspectors actually make a return on their earnings; in reality they cost us nothing as they often claw back four, five or six times their salaries from tax cheats.

So, why is it in times of austerity this government sheds tax inspectors while taking on more benefits' officers?

Maybe, just a scintilla of a maybe, it is because this government is so ideologically driven that it ignores the obvious while blithely carrying out the perverse. After all, tax cheats are more likely to come from the same stable as most of our cabinet; and, I'd bet a piund to a pinch of shit they share the same trough!  

A Home

A roof over the heads
Of those you cherish;
A secure environment
In which to flourish,
Nurture and grow.

The sound of tears
Resound through the years
Tempered and drowned
By laughter
As kids
In their gaggles
Giggle away
Their fleeting youth.
A lifetime's memories
Adults fears
For future years.

You've no wealth
Except the health
And happiness
Of your own
Fills the family coffers.

But now, today,
They say
You must move
Give up your home
Your nest
So heavily invested
With blood, sweat, tears and love.

Yet, leave you must,
Or go bust,
Trying to pay the blood money
Demanded by the vampires
Who preside over
The country's fate
As though a giant jugular
For them to sate
Their greed
Thus, sealing and stealing our future.

Stir up Socialist Unity


I know many of you pop into Socialist Unity for a read and to debate some of the day's issues. For my part I find the site overly panders the SWP almost to the exclusion of any other serious debate - in the last month alone 20 threads were launched with over 3000 postings about the SWP.

In the same period threads associated with social issues such as the welfare state were barely taken up.

Come on United Left. Let's get onto Socialist Unity and drive the debate in the direction it should be going, that is with Universal Credit, bedroom tax, ATOS abuse, etc leading the way!

While people's lives are being smashed to bits by this government's relentless destruction of our welfare state; while millions of people in the UK will soon find themselves struggling to access benefit, money needed to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. While all this is happening the readers of Socialist Unity devote their time to debating on countless threads the plight of a moribund political organisation, a party that has run out of both time relevance - the SWP.

Just look at the excessive introspection of the SWP occurring on SU over the past month. In that time around 20 separate threads have opened discussing the former glories and current goings-on in this small, and in my view now fairly insignificant, group; and has excited over 3,000 postings.

Of course the Left should discuss what interests it; that which stimulates debate and furthers our political aims, objectives and class struggle. However, I don't currently see this being achieved when nearly all other issues are ignored to allow this excessive pandering to a bunch of yesterday's revolutionaries - and pretty poor ones at that.

The bedroom tax, along with the wider range of benefits' cuts and caps, is a burning issue for us on the Left. Universal credit along with measures such as scrapping Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in favour of a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are about to visit misery and poverty upon working, disabled and unemployed people alike; yet, Socialists and Lefties on this site largely ignore these topics when they present themselves - this thread alone has been live for a day and only attracted 13 responses.

Julia Jones' story, horrific as it is, will be repeated a thousand fold across the country in the coming months. Even after all she has undergone, Julia is willing to give these politicians the benefit of the doubt in that she doesn't believe Cameron to be evil, but rather he misunderstands the consequences of his policies. For my part, he understands exactly what he is doing and the consequences; but is indifferent.

Comrades, we need more Julia's to come on Socialist Unity; and, we must engage in serious debate around these issues. This government and its plans to destroy all that we hold dear in our welfare state and NHS is what where must concentrate our energies. The SWP should be part of that struggle, not the main feature, a distraction.