Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Personal Independence Payment

A friend of mine living with HIV recently failed the PIP 'assessment' as well as the mandatory reconsideration. Fortunately, he is in a stronger position than most who are failed by this flawed system as he has the assistance of a friend who has worked as a benefits' advisor.

As justice becomes harder and harder to access, so more of us will find ourselves denied the means to exist. Being turned down for PIP may have far-reaching consequences; and it's not simply a matter of us tightening our belts and getting on with things.

Losing out on PIP could have an impact on employment. Without their Motability car, a person's job could be at risk. Not qualifying for PIP could threaten Access to work, if a person needed a support worker. Councils are cutting care and support packages to ribbons already. Imagine how failure to receive PIP could impact on this resource.

Blue Badge, TaxiCard, Freedom Pass, Free Prescriptions, disability premiums attached to benefits, etc, can all depend on a gateway benefit such as PIP. Turning people down for PIP really does have far-reaching consequences; and I haven't even addressed the impact on mental and physical health, nor the very real prospects of social exclusion and social isolation.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Use of False Dichotomy Weakens Your Argument

Listening to a discussion on knife crime a caller to the radio station stated that poverty was a factor in and around the incidence of knife crime. The radio presenter jumped straight in with: "So everyone in poverty is involved in knife crime?"

This use of false dichotomy by media presenters is annoying. This disingenuous line of argument is prevalent amongst shock-jocks with a reactionary right-wing agenda to promote. It is employed to skew a debate in an attempt to invalidate an opponent's case.

In this instance, the guest speaker made it clear that his thesis did not mean that all people living in poverty were disposed to knife crime; but instead that research had found that poverty was a factor in this area of criminality.

The use of false dichotomy is lazy journalism. Rather than countering another’s views with well-structured argument some journalists and commentators resort to this construct demonstrating a bankruptcy of balanced opinions.     

Monday, 7 August 2017

Strange Sleep Actions

Do an of my FB friends or Blog readers experience their body falling to sleep while the brain remains awake?

For a few years I've experienced this weird phenomenon. This is what happens. During the night, I get up to pee a lot. Between every 50-70 minutes my bladder drags me from the arms of Morpheus to release water. After peeing I sit on the edge of my bed to psych myself up to lie down – as lying down is a very painful action.

At some point as I sit, delaying the inevitable, I nod off. Most times I'm rudely awakened just as I nod off – often dropping my Kindle. At other times I'm asleep, but my mind is functioning in its awakened mode. My thoughts are sluggish, yet I am conscious.

Though conscious, my body refuses to obey instructions from the brain; I’m unable to perform voluntary body movements. At this point I know that I will keel over. In order to secure a soft landing, anywhere on the bed, I attempt aversive action by reaching for, and holding onto the grab at the side of the bed.

Nothing. My arm stubbornly refuses to budge. Panic ensues. As my upper body begins to sway, I attempt to influence its direction of movement.

Nothing. My upper body continues to sway.



The fall can result in either a fairly painful landing on the soft bed; or, an extremely painful floor landing.

By this time, I'm fully awake, though maybe stunned.

Have any of you experienced the body sleeping while the brain, or mind, is completely conscious?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Authorities create greater barriers for disabled wheelchair users

Lilford Road is a nearby backstreet. A few minutes from my home it runs through to Coldharbour Lane and for me it's a shortcut to Kings College Hospital and to Myatts Field Park, places I regularly attend.

Lilford Road isn't particularly accessible for wheelchair users. But then there are access problems on most street surfaces and pedestrian spaces in Lambeth, and London. Yet despite this I was able to access Lilford for its entire length in my electric wheelchair.

Not so now. No, during recent pavement and kerb maintenance by Lambeth Council or the Highways Dpt. it was decided to dispense with properly graded dropped kerbs. Replacing these they've decided to follow the School of Brutal Pavement Design by chucking a few shovelfuls of 'Tar' McAdam's best mix up against the kerb.

These tarmaced short steep inclines make it hazardous for wheelchair users as they create a tipping point  Therefore, I am now forced to use the road itself, not a safe way for me to travel.  

Friday, 4 August 2017

Prince Philip, rude racist royal

Prince Philip is said to put his foot in his mouth with his comments. They are held up as tactless. I disagree. Being tactless suggests to me lacking tact or sensitivity, as though through difficulty.

Prince Philip was never tactless. No, he has simply never given a fuck what he says and to whom the remarks are levelled. He's an arrogant man who has used his position to talk down to people for decades. His behaviour is a form of bullying, as he knows full well he can say what he wants, while those he abuses, racially or otherwise, don't have the right to reply.

Is it then surprising when we hear the sychophant Boris Johnson toadying up to and extolling this exponent of royal racism and rudeness as: "One of the last great impregnable bastions of political incorrectness.”

Prince Philip exemplifies all that is wrong with royalty. His privileged life has endowed upon him a sense of entitlement that has allowed him to say what he wants, to whom he wants, and when he wants, regardless of the feelings, social standing or cultural sensitivities of those he insults.

Philip is a relic from an age that demanded and received deference as the right of royals. Sadly, this anachronistic institution will continue, as it is necessary in order to perpetuate our class system; and for this reason it needs the likes of Boris Johnson for support.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

No bed to rest my head

A word of caution to anyone in the Lambeth area using a one-man-and-a-van service. About a month ago I needed to store a bed in storage unit for a few weeks. On being given a couple of phone contacts to deal with the removal from home to unit I chose Quin Removals, for no other reason than it was the first name on a short list given to me by the storage company.
Moving my bed into storage went fine. A few weeks later I called the same company and arranged a pick-up date, basically asking them to carry out the task in reverse - from storage back to my home. Fine, Quin Removals agreed to take on the job on a given date at the appointed time. 
At the time I was careful to stress the importance of the timing; that it was crucial that the task be carried out on the appointed day as I needed a bed to sleep on. No problems, consider it done was the response I received from the removal guy.
On Monday the bariatric bed was removed, at around midday, after which I emailed Quin Removals to confirm their side of the operation. A few minutes later, this was around 12.30pm, the owner of the company emailed me that he was in Switzerland, there was a problem with his truck, he might be able to fit me in on Friday...oh yes, and that he was stressed out.
Great. There I was facing a large space on which a bed of some description once filled which was now occupied by... nothing. It was only as I stared into the vast void of emptiness that a scary realisation dawned upon me. I was officially bedless. 
Of course that's not the end of the world, I can hear you say. You've still got a roof over your head; and a locked door to ward off external evils. Points I cannot in all honesty deny.
The floor as a bed is not an alien experience to me. Over a varied and multi-faceted life I've found myself in worse sleeping predicaments. Indeed, during my wild licentious youth and early manhood I've woken on and in places that make me blush today. And I'd sooner forget the somebodies I've woken up next to - feelings doubtlessly reciprocated by my erstwhile sleeping partners.
Anyway, before I go wandering too far down my dark and murky yesteryears, disturbing memories best left interred, a word of warning to anyone out there looking to use a small removals company in South London, don't use Quin Removals. They'll let you down, and before you know it you'll be baring your threadbare soul on social media and thus disturbing ghosts best left sleeping in the dusty vaults and seldom visited recesses memories past.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fuck Frankenstein Foods

The nasty reactionary broadcaster Ian Collins tells us that people in the UK won’t be concerned about chlorine cleaned chickens, meat inflated by hormones, animals pumped with antibiotic, genetically modified food, etc. No, they’ll be led by price.

As I stated Collin’s views are mostly reactionary. He promotes his views in a matter-of-fact way attempting to pursued the listener that his views are reasonable and that his opinions chime with the common man. He leans dangerously to the right selling radio listeners a line parallel to that of the neoliberal movement.

He suggests that if a trade deal with the USA means us allowing chlorine cleaned chickens, meat inflated by hormones, animals pumped with antibiotics, genetically modified food, etc, so be it. According to Collins Americans eat this food all the time, bla blah blah.

Further he insists that if sealing a trade deal with the States means taking on their eating habits, and that in doing so we are doing so for Queen and country.

First of all, Ian, I would like to counter your claim that all Americans eat this kind of food. Rubbish. Sure, most poor Americans are forced to buy this kind of food because they lack the means of choice. You can bet that those with money will be buying better quality food, just as wealthy people in the UK eat better.

I’ll go along with Collins’s view if he can guarantee that the Queen and the wealthy will also subject themselves to eating this food from the USA. People, don’t be fooled by the likes of Ian Collins who are merely mouth-pieces for the neoliberal companies. If you get the chance to go to the States look in their supermarkets, meat and food that isn’t sold by Frankenstein Food Ltd attracts premium prices. Similarly, in restaurants steaks from grass-fed cows are a lot more expensive to their hormone-inflated cousins.

Unemployment down, except for disabled people

According to Papworth Trust January 2016 figures the UK employment rate among working age disabled people was 46.5% (4.1 million), this compared to 84% of non-disabled people.

Despite these dismal figures, and with unemployment down to 4.5%, unemployed people in the UK are still punished. We live with an outrageous situation in this country. When we work we are compelled to pay taxes and insurance at source. A system I fully support. Yet, we are then forced to accept a one-sided social compact. An agreement that sees us funding a welfare state while being denied a safety-net when we seek welfare.

However, low unemployment does not seem to have benefited disabled job seekers. Inordinate numbers of disabled people who can work are denied employment due to discriminatory practices in employment procedures. Difficulties are encountered when disabled people apply for Access to Work. The government now funds fewer items under the scheme; there is an imposed ceiling on the scheme giving some categories of claimant less opportunity to buy in the full support they require; and the scheme creates more red-tape, especially for self-employed disabled workers. The end results? Fewer disabled people in work.

Even with all these influences militating against disabled people gaining employment we’re still facing vicious sanctions when we fail to find work in an ever-shrinking jobs market. Often the only type of jobs on offer are of a precarious nature. They are zero hours contracts, jobs that offer too few hours, short-term contracts and self-employment.

Successive governments have failed to assist disabled workers into meaningful employment. Schemes such as Work Choice have dismally failed disabled job seekers, yet disabled people are continuously punished for failing to secure jobs. Failing to gain jobs that either aren’t there or where they are available, they’re put out of reach to disabled people by discriminatory means, including difficulties in acquiring Access to Work.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Mencap, pay the going rate

Mencap claims that organisations like theirs who provide overnight support and assistance to clients with complex learning disabilities will face a bill of £400m if a six-year backpay is imposed. HMRC has stated that support workers who sleep over at their workplace are entitled to the minimum wage for all hours worked. 

Many charities, including Mencap, have been paying their workers a flat rate below minimum wage for overnight shifts; the money topped-up if the worker is woken to carry out support during the shift.

Some 5,500 people work in this sector and it has been calculated that there has been an underpay of £400m over the past six-years. Mencap states that:  "For many smaller care providers across the country the financial impact will be devastating."

Yes, the government’s failure to adequately fund social care and support has impacted greatly on the sector, and doubtlessly has some bearing on this situation. However, as a Unison official points out: 

"Charities and care companies have known for a long time they must pay sleep-in staff at least the minimum wage. But it's only now HM Revenue & Customs is in pursuit that many are pleading poverty and asking for an exemption from the law.”
I have little sympathy with Mencap and the other providers of these services. This is a long-standing issue. The trade unions have been fighting for this group of workers for many years. Indeed, Unite carried out some work amongst its housing workers who carry out sleepovers as part of their work duties.
Mencap and other major charities have been quite silent over the past seven-years. I don't recall Mencap joining in with disabled people in our fight against cuts to social care and support. While we have been out on the streets and actively campaigning through the courts against the closure of the ILF  and the right to decent care packages these large charities have kept their heads below the parapet.