Archive for December, 2012

PMQs 19_12_12 _ Pat’s Petition and Victorian Britain in the 21st Century….

PMQs 19_12_12 _ Pat’s Petition and Victorian Britain in the 21st Century…

Commons Hansard for PMQ’s 19/12/12

PMQ‘s regarding Pat’s Petition

Q4. [134213] Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) (Lab): I have in my hand a genuine suicide note from a constituent of mine who, sadly, took his own life after he was informed that he was no longer entitled to employment and support allowance and disability benefits. Across the UK, more than 1,000 people have died only months after being told to find work. This is 2012—we are supposed to be a civilised society. We should be looking after disabled citizens in the UK. Will the Prime Minister listen to the 62,000 people who have signed Pat’s petition and please finally order an assessment of all changes hitting disabled people in this country?

The Prime Minister: I will look very carefully at the very tragic case that the hon. Gentleman has brought to the House. Everyone’s thoughts will go out to that person’s family because of what has happened to them.

What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is that the actual money that we are putting into disability benefits over the coming years is going up, not down. I think that everybody knows and accepts that we need to have a review of disability benefits. Some people have been stuck on these benefits and not been reviewed for year after year after year. That is the view of the disability charities and it is the view of the Government as well.

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With respect to the issue introduced by Ian Lavery MP; I too am sorry for the tragic loss of that family’s loved one, and all other families affected by these types of tragedies. So, Mr Cameron is going to look very carefully at the very tragic case that the hon. Gentleman has brought to the house; that’s very ‘nice’ of him, however, that’s just one case; what about the other 1,000 people that have all died, only months after being told to find work.

Stuck on these benefits,… stuck on these benefits…..we have been stuck with our disabilities our whole life, Cameron clearly hasn’t got a clue!

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PMQ’s regarding Unemployment has dropped another 60,000 people….BUT???

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con): As we approach Christmas, will the Prime Minister join me in celebrating the fact that there are more people in employment this Christmas than ever before in this nation’s great history?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes an important point. After all, the Leader of the Opposition said back in January that unemployment would go up. That was his prediction—he stood at the Dispatch Box and said that. The fact is that unemployment has come down, employment has gone up and we have seen a record fall in youth unemployment in the last quarter. All of those things are welcome, particularly as we are seeing growth

19 Dec 2012 : Column 846

in the private sector, because everyone knows that we have to have a rebalancing of our economy whereby we shed some jobs in the public sector but grow the private sector, and that is what is happening.

PMQ’s regarding Victorian Britain in the 21st Century

Q5. [134214] Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab): Merry Christmas, Mr Speaker. [ Interruption . ] People realise, now, that the Prime Minister has a Dickensian vision for the UK: grandeur for the few, workhouse for the many. Why is he limiting welfare benefits for parents caring for adults with disabilities? Could we have an explanation from Ebenezer?

The Prime Minister: I say to the hon. Gentleman that it is probably a case of merry Christmas and happy speaking opportunities in the new year.

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FM

The Prime Minister David Cameron said during PMQ‘s on Wed 19/12/12 that, unemployment has dropped by another 60,000 people…….BUT???

“What happens if a claimant’s JSA is stopped?

If the claimant’s JSA is stopped because they have failed to meet their responsibilities, they must still attend the Jobcentre for their fortnightly jobsearch review, and attend any appointments to avoid losing benefit for a longer period.”

Copied from  http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/changes-to-contribution/#stop

 

However, I was wondering whether or not, those that are having their benefits sanctioned are counted in the numbers used for the statistics quoted by David Cameron. If their benefits are being sanctioned then they are not in receipt of any benefit payment, therefore, not in receipt of benefit, thus adding to the number of those no longer claiming benefit. Therefore, it would look like more people are in work as benefit claimant numbers have gone down.

He may well be cooking the books, so to speak, with regards to the unemployment statistics!

FM

She came into our lives, and touched our hearts,

Maybe that’s why, I’m falling apart,

She came like an angel, and showed us the way,

Maybe that’s why, I’m here today.

She gave so much pride, to all that she met,

I’m sure she would have, no regrets,

To do it again, she probably would,

Do even more, than she possibly could,

If a lesson be learned, then let it be,

Compassion to man, for eternity.

Victorian Britain in the 21st Century……

                                                          Social Housing

Scotland

In Scotland, the term “tenement” lacks the pejorative connotations it carries elsewhere, and refers simply to any block of flats sharing a common central staircase and lacking an elevator, particularly those constructed before 1919. Tenements were, and continue to be, inhabited by a wide range of social classes and income groups.

In Glasgow, where Scotland’s highest concentration of tenement dwellings can be found, the urban renewal projects of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s brought an end to the city’s slums, which had primarily consisted of older tenements built in the early 19th century in which large extended families would live together in cramped conditions. They were replaced by high-rise blocks that, within a couple of decades, became notorious for crime and poverty. The Glasgow Corporation made many efforts to improve the situation, most successfully with the City Improvement Trust, which cleared the slums of the old town, replacing them with what they thought of as a traditional high street, which remains an imposing townscape. (The City Halls and the Cleland Testimonial were part of this scheme). National government help was given following World War I when Housing Acts sought to provide “homes fit for heroes”. Garden suburb areas, based on English models, such asKnightswood were set up. These proved too expensive, so a modern tenement, three stories high, slate roofed and built of reconstituted stone, was re-introduced and a slum clearance programme initiated to clear areas such as the Calton and the Garngad.

Image          Image         Image

Tenement in EdinburghScotland      Tenement in Marchmont, Edinburgh,      Council houses in Chatteris,

(1893)                                                     built in 1882                                                     Cambridgeshire

Philanthropists

The pressure for decent housing was increased by overcrowding in the large cities during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century; many social commentators (such as Octavia Hill) reported on the squalor, sickness and immorality that arose. Some philanthropists had begun to provide housing in tenement blocks, while some factory owners built entire villages for their workers, such as Saltaire (1853), Bournville (1879),Port Sunlight (1888), Stewartby, and Silver End as late as 1925.

Tax funding

It was not until 1885, when a Royal Commission was held, that the state took an interest. This led to the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, which encouraged local authorities to improve the housing in their areas. As a consequence, the London County Council opened theBoundary Estate in 1900, and many localmen councils began building flats and houses in the early twentieth century. The War indirectly provided a new impetus, when the poor physical health and condition of many urban recruits to the army was noted with alarm. This led to a campaign known as Homes fit for heroes and in 1919 the Government first required councils to provide housing, helping them to do so through the provision of subsidies, under the Housing Act 1919.

Many houses were built over the next few years in cottage estates. Examples of these were built at the Downham Estate in LondonKates Hill in DudleyLow Hill in Wolverhampton, Weoley Castle in Birmingham and Norris Green in Liverpool.

Blocks of flats were also built.

While new council housing had been built, little had been done to resolve the problem of inner city slums. This was to change with the Housing Act 1930, which required councils to prepare slum clearance plans, and some progress was made before the Second World War intervened.

Heyday

200px-Quarry_Hill_Flats1

Built in the 1930s, the Quarry Hill Flats,Quarry Hill, Leeds are a notable former example of council houses

200px-LondonBombedWWII_full

Some of the million-plus bombed homes in London during WWII

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Council housing in Rastrick, Calderdale, West Yorkshire

During the Second World War almost four million British homes were destroyed or damaged, and afterwards there was a major boom in council house construction.[8] The bomb damage of the Second World War only worsened the condition of Britain’s housing stock, which was in poor condition before the outbreak of war. Before the war many social housing projects, such as the Quarry Hill Flats (pictured) were built. However, the bomb damage meant that much greater progress had to be made with slum clearance projects. In cities like London, Coventry and Kingston upon Hull, which received particularly heavy bombing, the redevelopment schemes were often larger and more radical.

In the immediate post-war years, and well into the 1950s, council house provision was shaped by the New Towns Act 1946 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 of the 1945–51 Labour government. At the same time this government introduced housing legislation that removed explicit references to housing for the working class and introduced the concept of ‘general needs’ construction (i.e., that council housing should aim to fill needs for a wide range of society). In particular, Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health and Housing, promoted a vision of new estates where “the working man, the doctor and the clergyman will live in close proximity to each other”.

National Health Service

NHS

In February 1941 the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health recorded privately areas of agreement on post-war health policy which included “a complete health service to be available to every member of the community” and on 9 October 1941, the Minister of Health Ernest Brown announced that the Government proposed to ensure that there was a comprehensive hospital service available to everyone in need of it, and that local authorities would be responsible for providing it. The Medical Planning Commission set up by the professional bodies went one stage further in May 1942 recommending (in an interim report) a National Health Service with General Practitioners working through health centres and hospitals run by regional administrations. The Beveridge Report of December 1942 included this same idea.

Developing the idea into firm policy proved difficult. Although the BMA had been part of the Medical Planning Commission, at their conference in September 1943 the association changed policy to oppose local authority control of hospitals and to favour extension of health insurance instead of GPs working for state health centres. When Health Minister Henry Willink prepared a white paper endorsing a National Health Service, it was attacked by Brendan Bracken and Lord Beaverbrook and resignations were threatened on both sides. However, the Cabinet endorsed the White Paper , which was published in 1944. This White Paper includes the founding principles of the NHS: it was to be funded out of general taxation and not through national insurance, and services would be provided by the same doctors and the same hospitals, but:

  • services were provided free at the point of use;
  • services were financed from central taxation;
  • everyone was eligible for care (even people temporarily resident or visiting the country).

Willink then set about trying to assuage the doctors, a job taken over by Aneurin Bevan in Clement Attlee‘s Labour government after the war ended. Bevan quickly came to the decision that the 1944 white paper’s proposal for local authority control of voluntary hospitals was not workable, as the local authorities were too poor and too small to manage hospitals. He decided that “the only thing to do was to create an entirely new hospital service, to take over the voluntary hospitals, and to take over the local government hospitals and to organise them as a single hospital service”. This structure of the NHS in England and Wales was established by the National Health Service Act 1946 , which received Royal Assent on 6 November 1946. Bevan encountered considerable debate and resistance from the BMA who voted in May 1948 not to join the new service, but brought them on board by the time the new arrangements launched on 5 July 1948.

                                                            The Welfare State

DWP

The Beveridge Report of 1942, (which identified five “Giant Evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease) essentially recommended a national, compulsory, flat rateinsurance scheme which would combine health care, unemployment and retirement benefits. Beveridge himself was careful to emphasize that unemployment benefits should be held to a subsistence level, and after six months would be conditional on work or training, so as not to encourage abuse of the system. After its victory in the United Kingdom general election, 1945 the Labour Party pledged to eradicate the Giant Evils, and undertook policy measures to provide for the people of the United Kingdom “from the cradle to the grave.”

Results

This policy resulted in massive expenditure and a great widening of what was considered to be the state’s responsibility. In addition to the central services of education, health, unemployment and sickness allowances, the welfare state also included the idea of increasing redistributive taxation, increasing regulation of industry food and housing (better safety regulations, weights and measures controls, etc.)

However, the initial foundation of the National Health Service (NHS) did not involve building new hospitals but merely the nationalisation of existing municipal and charitable foundations. The aim was not to substantially increase provision but to standardise care across the country; indeed Beveridge believed that the overall cost of medical care would decrease, as people became healthier and so needed less treatment. Instead, the cost rose dramatically, from £9 billion in 1948 (accounting for inflation) to £106 billion in 2011, and charges (for dentures, spectacles and prescriptions) were introduced in 1951 (by the same Labour government that had founded the NHS three years earlier). Despite this, the principle of health care “free at the point of use” became a central idea of the welfare state, which later governments, critical of the Welfare State, were unable to reverse. The classic Welfare State period lasted from approximately 1945 to the late-1970s, when policies under Thatcherism began to privatise public institutions, although many features remain today, including compulsory National Insurance contributions, and the provision of old age pensions.

The Labour Party, standing in 1945 on a programme of establishing a Welfare State, won a clear victory. However, since the 1980s the British government has begun to reduce some provisions in England: for example, free eye tests for all have now been stopped and prescription charges for drugs have constantly risen since they were first introduced in 1951. Policies differ in different countries of the United Kingdom, but the provision of a welfare state is still a basic principle of government policy in the United Kingdom today.

Please note: All of the above has been extracted from Wikipedia.

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If the current Tory government get their way there will be, no more social housing, no more national health service and no more welfare state which were all created by Labour governments. All of these were created or at least set in stone and made more solid, after WW2. After most British men had been trained to fight and to stick up for themselves during WW2 and the then Labour government didn’t want the general populace to start a revolt in England. Yet now if you fight for your country, to keep your homes safe for you and for me, our soldiers are more likely to end up homeless. ‘Homes fit for heroes’ – where are they now?

The peace that has now been enjoyed in England for so long since the end of WW2 has made people soft; we are now just mere sheep. We are slowly but surely being turned back into a Victorian Britain in the 21st Century by our Tory government, austerity measures are just a way of the rich taking control of the poor because we outnumber them by soooo many.

Each time that the Tories have been in power they have slowly eaten away at everything that make Britain great for their own self serving greed and that of their supporters, e.g. bankers, big private sector companies and the like; Cameron even admitted this in last weeks (12/12/12) PMQ’s “We are making more money for the rich!” need I say more?

Food for thought!

FM

Pat’s Debate – your support needed more than ever

After a year of very hard work and wonderful encouragement from all of our friends and supporters Pat’s Petition  closed with over 62,600 signatures. We then sent an open letter to Liam Byrne.

We are delighted to announce that all the effort succeeded

and we have a result.

Liam Byrne has been in touch and the Labour Party are giving us an Opposition Day Debate in the Commons based around Pat’s Petition. This means the debate will take place in the Chamber at the House of Commons with Ministers and front benchers as well as back benchers.

So fantastic news – Pat’s Petition is moving to Pat’s Debate. Tell everyone – shout, sing, tweet using hashtag #PatsDebate. Let’s shake this government into listening to us at last.

The debate will probably take place some time in January and we will only have a weeks notice so the important thing now is to get ready for the debate and make sure all the issues we have been campaigning on get attention.


The theme of the motion for the debate will be the Pat’s Petition demand that the government – Stopand review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families and a demand for a Cumulative Impact Assessment. It’s a very wide brief so if you want to focus on a particular issue that’s fine.

We will need lots of help from you all to make sure that after all your effort this debate gets real results.

We are hoping that many of you will put up blog posts in support of Pat’s Debate and that we can collect the links together here.

We will also need your help to ask MPs from all Parties to speak in this debate and if we can direct them to your blog posts it will show them the kind of messages we want to put across.

Contact your MP details via this link

Watch this space to see how the plans for the debate are progressing.

Time is running out.

Please get behind this debate and make it a game changer.

Pat x

for further details contact  –  patspetition@gmail.com

If you have any suggestions/comments, please add them below.

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For the original article and more information please see http://carerwatch.com/reform/

Many Thanks

FM  🙂

video-gamer-copyright3

YouTubers are destroying the gaming world and gaming fans brains by uploading video gaming walkthroughs sometimes referred to as let’s plays or Lp’s.

Once a fan has watched said video on YouTube then they either lose interest in wanting to play it  and then don’t bother to buy the game or if they do buy and play the game that they just watched, then they don’t need to use their brains as much, as they already know exactly what to do. It takes the puzzle solving and strategy aspect of the game, out of it, thereby rendering the game unchallenging.

The by-product of this is that there is no point (from a parents point of view) in buying the game as it will be completed in next-to no time at all. So where’s the value for money there….

Children’s brains are being reduced to mush by watching these video as they then don’t need to work out the games for themselves….They’re getting lazy brains!

Just ban YouTube you say! Then the parent is the baddie for banning the watching of these videos. I am soooo peeved of with these so called game gurus who mostly look to be in their late teens – early twenties and still live with their parents, sat in their bedrooms playing computer games and probably never held down a real job!

At end of the day, the children get lazy, the parents are baddies and the games companies are not selling as many games as they could do, so really these type of YouTube videos are anti-advertising, or even negative advertising.

Image

We are raising more money for the rich

            Edward Miliband:
I must say, I have heard everything when the boy from the Bullingdon club lectures people on bullying. Absolutely extraordinary. Have you wrecked a restaurant recently?The Prime Minister does not want to talk about the facts, but let us give him another one. He is hitting working families, and the richest people in our society will get a massive tax cut next April—an average of £107,000 each for people earning over £1 million. Is he the only person left in the country who cannot see the fundamental injustice of giving huge tax cuts to the richest while punishing those in work on the lowest pay?
            The Prime Minister:
The tax take for the richest under this Government will be higher in every year than it was for any year when the right hon. Gentleman was in government. He has obviously got a short memory, because I explained to him last week that under his plans for the 50p tax rate, millionaires paid £7 billion less in tax than they did previously. The point of raising taxes is to pay for public services. We are raising more money for the rich, but where he is really so profoundly wrong is in the choice that he has decided to make. The facts are these: over the last five years, people in work have seen their incomes go up by 10%, and people out of work have seen their incomes go up by 20%. At a time when people accept a pay freeze we should not be massively increasing benefits massively, yet that is what he wants to do. A party that is not serious about controlling welfare is not serious about controlling the deficit either.
            Edward Miliband:
From the first part of his answer, it seems the Prime Minister is claiming to be Robin Hood; I really do not think that is going to work. He is not taking from the richest and giving to everybody else. Didn’t the Business Secretary give it away in what he said about the autumn statement? He said:“what happened was some of their donors,”—we know who he is talking about—“very wealthy people, stamped their feet”,so the Conservatives scrapped the mansion tax and went ahead with the 50p tax cut. They look after their friends—the people on their Christmas card list.Meanwhile, they hit people they never meet, and whose lives they will never understand.
            For the full article please got to Commons Hansard at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121212/debtext/121212-0001.htm#12121240000011

Or watch it here, at approx 38mins in:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pfs6b/Daily_Politics_12_12_2012/

It seems to me that no one, including the news, picked up on that sentence that Mr Cameron said…..

Thanks for reading!

FM

Charity adds to fears that ill and

disabled people

are being forced into work in order to retain benefits

Michelle Mitchell, head of Age UK

Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK, which has stopped providing mandatory work activity placements. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

A high street charity has stopped providing mandatory work placements because of concerns that jobseekers are forced to work in its stores as a condition of their benefits.

Age UK has become the third large charity in three weeks to pull out of the multimillion-pound Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) scheme.

It said it would also pull out of other government-run schemes in order to ensure its volunteers were making the “appropriate choice” to work for the organisation.

The charity said that although it did not have a policy to provide four-week mandatory work activity placements, some of its 450 nationally run stores had developed local links with private companies administering such schemes. It added that a further 169 independent Age UK stores would still make their own decisions on the policy.

Following last month’s decisions by the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research to drop out of the scheme, Age UK said it was now advising its stores to wind up their association with government employment programmes.

The latest charity departure comes days after the DWP handed new powers to job centre managers and back-to-work providers to force sick and disabled benefit claimants into unpaid work placements.

Former Labour communications director Alastair Campbell said the new regulations, which mean the 340,000 people on employment support allowance who’d been placed into the work-related activity group (WRAG) could have 70% of their allowance withheld if they fail to work, were “beyond any sense of decency”.

Campbell, who has written about his own issues with depression, said, “It is frankly beyond belief, and beyond any sense of decency, that patients with severe mental health problems, and serious physical illnesses, are being told they can work and that their benefits will be affected if they don’t.”

“I am all in favour of people who are ill being given hope of getting back into the labour market, but this is not about work for those who can, it is about work for those who can’t so that the government can cut the costs and try to help Osborne’s sums add up.”

Paul Farmer, the chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said that within the disability and mental health sector there was confusion as to why the government had introduced the policy of mandating sick and disabled people into work when there was “very little evidence” that it worked.

He said: “I think there is a growing sense of anger and frustration that across the disability sector that this is heading in the wrong direction and it does bemuse people because I think we all know that there are [other] ways of enabling people of getting into work.”

Farmer said people in the WRAG weren’t “scroungers”, adding: “These are people who have been through the work capability assessment and that’s clearly [found] these people aren’t fit for work.

“That doesn’t mean you should be forgetting about them and leaving them on the scrapheap, but it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to be forcing people into activities when there’s very little evidence that it works.”

The DWP said only a small number of claimants were expected to be mandated into work placements. Where “appropriate”, most would be offered voluntary placements, it said, adding that such placements would be flexible, with full consideration given to a claimant’s health problem or disability.

A spokesperson from the DWP said: “For people on ESA who are expected to go back to work when they’re well enough, a period of work experience is an excellent way to increase skills and confidence. Work experience is completely voluntary. In some circumstances, only where people refuse to take reasonable steps to address a barrier to work, it may be that a short, appropriate mandatory work placement – which must take the claimant’s health into account – would be helpful.

“Mandatory work activity placements benefit local communities while giving jobseekers valuable skills. We are grateful for the continued support of the wider charitable sector in helping unemployed people re-engage with the system and move closer to work.

“Age UK’s decision is entirely a matter for them.”

One claimant, who only wanted to be named as Annie, said the thought she could be forced into work was “terrifying”.

The 34-year-old, who has a teenage daughter, said she had previously worked in administration but now suffered from fibromyalgia, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and depression.

“I was working until April 2010, but after getting increasingly ill and even after my employer reduced my hours, and simplified my role as much as possible, I just wasn’t well enough to keep going in, even just getting to work was exhausting and painful.”

“My main symptom of fibromyalgia is constant, severe fatigue and exhaustion. I am currently finding it hard to get out of the house to go to the supermarket and having a lot of trouble doing basic things like cooking, bathing etcetera.

“I am not well enough to do work that would actually pay me real money and potentially improve my situation; I’m certainly not well enough to do unpaid work,” she said.

Age UK’s director of people and performance, Caroline Bendelow, said it was a large organisation with 7,000 volunteers: “We are committed to giving all individuals who volunteer with us an enjoyable and fruitful experience, with some finding it a useful way to move closer to the labour market,” she said.

Asked why Age UK was leaving the government scheme, Bendelow said: “Age UK strives to give all its volunteers the best experience possible and we want volunteering with us to be the appropriate choice for each individual’s circumstances.”

She said there was no head office involvement in government schemes and Age UK was now “working with our shops to end any local links that previously existed to such programmes in isolated areas”.

However, she added that this national policy would not apply to independently run stores using the Age UK name as they made their own decisions.

“There are also 169 local Age UKs across the country who are independent charities making their own decisions based on the needs of their local communities.”

The following blog was written by columnist John Cassidy for the column ‘daily comment’ at The New Yorker.

 

It’s a great read!

http://m.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/austerity-economics-doesnt-work.html

FM