Disabled people wait 118,000 years longer than IDS intended

900,000 disabled people are waiting a combined 118,000 years longer than intended for assessments and decisions on crucial support

IDS no copyrightjIDS has come to stand for Incompetence, Delay and Stigma at DWP. Cameron missed the last chance to reshuffle him in this government, leaving disabled people to continue bearing the brunt of his shambolic oversight of welfare reform.

Today, a debate on IDS’ new Personal Independence Payments (PIP) takes place. PIP was introduced from April 2013, replacing Disability Living Allowance for disabled people of working age. Through this change, the government planned to cut expenditure by over a billion in this parliament – mostly by reducing the number of people claiming.

But DWP’s latest statistical release shows PIP is way behind schedule, just like IDS’ Universal Credit. The DWP figures show 529,000 applications for PIP but only 206,000 DWP decisions on eligibility. 323,000 disabled people left in limbo. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Responses

The greed of energy corporations results in thousands of deaths each year

Fuel poverty will end only when we bring our energy supply back under democratic control

Big-six-energy-companiesWhile politicians are pointing their guns at Russia as the big threat to our energy security, the UK energy system has been hijacked by a cartel of energy companies.

The ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers are holding the UK hostage with threats of blackouts while reaping billions of pounds in profits and leaving millions unable to afford energy.

If we want to ensure a sustainable energy production and tackle fuel poverty, we must hand our energy supply back to democratic control.

The sad state of our energy system became abundantly clear last year when Labour proposed a price freeze on energy. The Big Six responded by threatening that blackouts would hit the country if anything were done to loosen their tight grip of on UK energy. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Responses

Free speech is a right, but a platform is not

The OSFL debate is not about censorship, but about our right to express dissatisfaction with an event happening at our university

oxford ccLast week, students at Oxford University objected to a ‘debate’ hosted by a pro-life group entitled ‘This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All.’

We’ve since been called Nazis and/or Stalinists, politically correct fascists, but most commonly, enemies of free speech.

This indicates a misunderstanding of what free speech actually entails. Some twitter users might be surprised to hear that actually, we understand that in a liberal society free speech is of course a fundamental right – but we also believe that this right can be dramatically misinterpreted.

If we accept the definition of freedom as the ability to perform an action without external constraint, then free speech is the ability to express opinions without government censorship. Free speech gives every individual the political right to speak without the state intervening. Read More »

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Rochester’s concerns about immigration are bound up with failing public services

For the residents of Rochester, addressing their concerns about living standards, schools and healthcare would go a long way to dampening their worries about immigrationbritishfuture

I drove down to Rochester this weekend to undertake some in-depth interviews of voters in last week’s by-election.

Unsurprisingly, immigration was near the top of their list of worries.

But I don’t think proposals to limit out-of-work and in-work benefits to EU migrants will address residents’ concerns.

Rather the national narratives about benefits – being advanced by both Labour and the Conservatives – will only reinforce the migration hysteria that has gripped the country.

Rochester is an attractive market town, one of the five conurbations that make up Medway local authority. On the south banks of the Thames Estuary, the town’s population includes many families who have moved from London. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Responses

With the right support, community-led efforts to tackle extremism can succeed

Many communities have already become active in addressing Ofsted’s concerns about far right and Islamist extremism

Islamic extremism schoolsLast week, the media divulged a string of new Ofsted statements. They flagged up a number of secondary schools and sixth form colleges that are said to be vulnerable to radicalisation, or that have been reported as not adequately preparing children for ‘life in modern Britain’.

England’s Chief Inspector of Schools and head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said that he is ‘concerned that pupils in these schools may be vulnerable to extremist influences.’

These reports force the public to question how extremism can permeate the education system as well as wider society. Read More »

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The problem in Britain isn’t a ‘Westminster elite’, it’s poor social mobility all round

Politics is merely one of a number of professions that are increasingly dominated by the upper crust of British society

InequalityjOn the back of Emily Thornberry’s ill-judged tweet last week which cost her her job, we’ve seen yet another round of navel-gazing about a supposedly cosseted ‘Westminster elite’.

The Rochester by-election ‘put the focus on Labour as the party of the metropolitan elite’, wrote Anne Perkins in the Guardian last Thursday. Meanwhile the editor of the New Statesman, Jason Cowley, wrote a piece in the Daily Mail over the weekend worrying about when Labour became ‘the party of vested interests and snooty metropolitans’.

Journalists now regularly talk in derogatory tones of a ‘political class’, the ‘metropolitan elite’ and the ‘London establishment’. The implication is that politics is the preserve of wealthy and detached liberals who spend a great deal of time pontificating in wine bars. They don’t, in short, understand the travails of the common man. Read More »

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New report on UK poverty finds housing market is moving the goalposts

Changes in the labour and housing markets mean there has been a rise in the number of working people who live in poverty

Jobseekers allowanceToday the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released their annual report on progress in tackling poverty and disadvantage in the UK.

Written by the New Policy Institute, the report is designed to provide a comprehensive guide to the nation’s economic recovery and how it affects those living in poverty.

The findings show that there have been dramatic changes in the labour market, meaning that in the last ten years there has been a major shift in who is most at risk of poverty in the UK. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Responses

All NHS workers are asking for is fair pay

It is unacceptable that one in five health workers needs a second job to make ends meet

UnisonjNHS workers are on strike for the second time in as many months. This is not a decision that was taken lightly by UNISON members.

Last month’s strike was a first for many, and today even more workers are taking action.

Workers represented by eleven health trade unions are taking part in some form of industrial action this week; almost the whole workforce.

Anger is spreading and so is public support for our health workers’ cause. The strength of feeling is far from fading and the dispute is far from going away. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response

Boris plans to hit the most vulnerable young people with his cuts

The magnitude of the mayor’s proposed cuts is even more of an outrage than his tantrum at being exposed

Boris jjLast week we saw Boris Johnson’s mask slip. It was ugly, dismissive and totally unbefitting of the role of mayor of London – but it was nowhere near as offensive as his planned 90 per cent cuts to youth and education services.

Boris has made a big deal about his initiatives to help vulnerable Londoners.

Yet when leaked documents revealed his plans to cut the budgets for many of these programmes by 90 per cent over the next two years, his reaction was as aggressive as the cuts he is considering; he first denied all knowledge before exploding ‘stick it up your…’

Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Responses

DUP resort to insults

DUP Leader and Northern Ireland’s first minister Peter Robinson has sought to defend one of his MPs who launched a tirade against Sinn Fein over the weekend.

Gregory CampbellAddressing the DUP’s annual conference in County Down East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell told delegates that the DUP would be treating Sinn Fein’s wishlist over an Irish Language Act as “no more than toilet paper”.

Earlier this month, Campbell, who also sits at Stormont, was barred from speaking in the chamber for a day after causing offense to Irish speakers. Read More »

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