Saturday, 30 September 2017

Disabled people are the collateral damage in the 'friendly fire' of Tory government austerity

This Tory government has no compunction about allowing disabled people to exist in social isolation and exclusion. The fact that disabled people are dying through suicide or enforced poverty means nothing to May's Conservative Party or its followers. Disabled people have become the collateral damage in the 'friendly fire' of Tory government austerity.

Friday, 29 September 2017

We need rent control now!

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Conference yesterday elicited a sharp reaction from capitalists when he branded capitalism as “broken”. “The same dogmatic mantra”, summed up Corbyn, only served to “deregulate, privatise, cut taxes for the wealthy, weaken rights at work, delivering profits for a few, and debt for the many”.

Responding speedily Ms May declared, “A free market economy, operating under the right rules and regulations, is the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created. It is unquestionably the best, and indeed the only sustainable, means of increasing the living standards of everyone in a country.”

Except Ms May, neoliberalist capitalism has forced masses of deregulation. Deregulation that is driving down the living standards of millions in our countries. Zero hour contracts, false self-employment and the lifting of rent controls to name a few.

Indeed, last year the Conservatives voted down a proposal that required private landlords to make their rented housing “fit for human habitation” by a vote of 312 to 219. But then 72 MPs on the Tory benches are private landlords, so why would they make vote to make their rented properties fit for human dwelling?

Yet, the Residential Landlords Association still bleated “Rent controls are an attack on landlords”. Yes, Mr hard-done-by Landlord, just as penicillin was an attack on syphilis.

The housing crisis in the UK, particularly in London, the South East and some of our bigger cities is out of control. In London house prices are being overinflated by non-domiciled people buying up properties, which are often unlived in, left empty. Cheap mortgages are encouraging buy-to-let landlords to hoover up properties.

These factors put a block on first-time-buyers getting onto the property ladder. Thus, we have a group of citizens who would ordinarily be predisposed to home ownership forced onto the private rented market, a market highly populated by buy-to-let landlords, the very group who are outpricing first-time-buyers. This is exactly how the unregulated free market economy impoverishes ordinary people.

Allowing private landlords the freedom to set rents at whatever level that they’re able to squeeze from renters cannot continue. Allowing private landlords to throw people out of their properties in order to jack up their rents must stop. Precarious tenure should be legislated against, and security of tenancy made a human right.

From 1915 to 1980 rent controls were in operation in the UK. Rent controls are employed in Canada, Germany and some American states, including New York City. The UK is in dire need to return to a fair and just rent control system.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

The fable that this government seriously wants to assist disabled people into work

Back in 2011 I began a new job and applied for Access to Work (AtW). After undergoing a relatively painless application process, AtW promptly awarded me a three-year grant. As I recall they contacted me once during the three-year period for a review. Great. This gave me a modicum of security at work.

In 2014, I was caught out by an administrative error by AtW. This meant I spent Christmas that year miserable and worried whether my AtW application would be successful. When I returned to work after New Year’s Day, I was around £3,300 out of pocket. That is, I had dipped into my own bank account to pay my support worker for the months of October, November and December.

On returning to work after a dismal Christmas and New Year’s period AtW contacted me to say I had a three-year renewal. Again, this at least allowed me to plan ahead.

This year my AtW grant is due to end on September 25; and with this in mind I began my AtW reapplication around six weeks ago. Therefore, by early this month, September, AtW had verbally interviewed me; and I’d completed the written section of the reapplication process.

The AtW officer who interviewed me was very nice. She was extremely reassuring telling me that she didn’t envisage any problems; but she was bound to carry out the assessment as the three-year grant was coming to an end. On receiving my written submission, the officer emailed me stating everything was in order, and I’d hear back from AtW shortly.

Last week I received a one-year AtW award. Though there were some slight changes to my work duties. None of the changes in any way changed the level of the support I need in the workplace. Indeed, AtW didn’t challenge the hours I was claiming. In fact, they acquiesced to the 5% rise in the hourly rate that I requested.

As you’d expect I contacted the AtW assessor and challenged the award. In the first instance, I argued that the award was inconsistent with past grants, these being paid for the maximum period. Initially the assessor argued that my previous applications has been annually. However, when I quoted from the ‘offer letters’, suggesting that I could scan and email the evidence, at this he apologised. Instead he pointed out that my AtW claim had been reviewed during these periods, which they had.

Despite the arguments that my support needs were the same and this assessment was inconsistent, the assessor refused to move. As a sop, he said he would put a note on my case to the effect that my 2018 reapplication would be automatically renewed. Except when the email arrived it said:

Good Morning Mr McGovern

Our earlier conversation refers. Awards can be made for up to 3 years and this has applied on your previous claims. Your present award will be considered for automatic renewal for remaining 2 years of this award to make the 3 years in total nearer the time it is due to end. Your records have been noted accordingly.


Access to Work”

So much for an automatic renewal.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Why waste an emotion like hatred on Tories?

A bloke on Facebook called Joe Gorham thinks that:

"The problem is the teachers are so massively unionised into hating Tories by their political masters and their is plenty of nasty rhetoric coming from them."
Well Joe Gorham, I think that themselves. I doubt many teachers hate Tories, for that would be a waste of emotional capital. Instead I've no doubt lots of teachers disagree with Conservative policies. 

They are very likely saddened and angered seeing their young charges arriving to school hungry. There's a strong likelihood that school teachers are unsupportive of enforced sanctions against the unemployed. And, as a stab in the dark I'd wager that any decent teacher would find the Tories treatment of disabled people disgusting.

But hate? Not at all. The Tories aren't worth the emotional energy that goes into hatred.

Friday, 15 September 2017

History Regurgitated

As we sit back watching and listening, our leaders are getting it monumentally wrong with their austerity programme. A game of 'chicken' is being played out between N Korea and the States. Then there's the horrors of wars in Syria and Iraq. It makes me wonder, couldn't they foresee the outcomes of all these events? Hasn't all this happened before, again, and again, and again?
I guess old George Santayana made a valid point when he said: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." However, he would have been nearer the mark had he said: "Those who do not remember the past condemn others to pay the price for their ignorance." 
Those others being poor and disabled people in the UK who are paying a very high price for the repeated stupidity, or ideology, of our government. 
Then of course, the USA and N Korea playing a very dicey game of dare on the world games board.
And finally, the poor bastards who by dint of geography happened to be born in a part of our planet that the world's powers decided to use as a fucking lethal chess board.
It isn't that they do not remember the past. No, it's because they know the past very well, but are hell bent on wasting the lives of others to make their point.