Tory/LibDem fuse smoulders towards 6th April explosion. Huge protests are led by the Labour Party, the Trade Unions, Charities, and now also Church leaders, across the UK

Updated 29th March 2013 to include link to practical ‘Direct Action’ proposals by Frank Field, MP

Here on Wirral our Labour Councillors’ Deputy Leader, Cllr George Davies, (below, right) has in the past few days met representatives of no fewer than 47 tenants’ groups, together with professional officers, to answer questions on the devastation they fear will follow in the wake of the government’s so called “Welfare Reforms”.

The Tory-led collaboration government is set to axe a further £18 billion from Britain’s overall welfare budget from April 6th.   This assault on the incomes of the most vulnerable in the UK takes place whilst the very rich receive insultingly fat increases in their own wealth – through the government’s huge reductions in their tax bills, on what are widely regarded as already obscenely high incomes.

Following George’s highly successful meeting residents are now advised to contact their local councillors or MP if they have outstanding queries.  Your Seacombe, Liscard, New Brighton, and Leasowe Councillors are heavily loaded with requests for help from a wide range of residents who already cannot cope.   It became very evident as George’s meeting progressed that the effects on our residents will be felt strongly by May or June as the effect of huge falls in benefits bite hard.

Seacombe’s Cllr Adrian Jones is presently helping a stream of tenants who are in real difficulties over the family-damaging Bedroom Tax.

THE TORY BEDROOM TAX.    This will have a devastating effect on thousands of residents all over the UK.  In our wards, where there is great financial deprivation, unemployment, and many with only the state pension to survive on, the effects will be especially cruelly felt.  Under the so called “reforms” 100,000 people will lose their right to sickness benefit and more than 50,000 disabled people will face losing payments.

BIRKENHEAD MP, FRANK FIELD,  WEIGHS IN WITH “DIRECT ACTION” PROPOSALS. In a debate on cuts in housing benefit for social tenants with unoccupied bedrooms the former welfare minister urged landlords to knock down walls.

He said: “I hope landlords will brick up the doors to spare bedrooms and, where appropriate, knock down walls so that the properties can safely fit the tenants. I have never before asked for direct action.  I do so now because I feel that the measures are grossly unfair. In more than three decades I have never debated such a vicious cut. Even if most people wished to do what the Government want them to do they would be unable to do it.”   For a full report on Frank Field’s statement follow the “Echo” link below:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2013/03/28/birkenhead-mp-frank-field-urges-landlords-to-knock-down-walls-in-row-over-bedroom-tax-100252-33074520/

THE OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE NORTHERN TUC:  In the north of England TUC sources warned that the region’s most vulnerable people are being driven into deeper poverty.  A north-east region TUC spokesperson said: “The only growth sector here is food banks and soup kitchens.”

Yorkshire TUC regional secretary Bill Adams said: “All across Yorkshire and Humberside people are worried sick about next month’s welfare changes and how they’ll cope.  Our region is taking a battering from this coalition’s damaging austerity measures while the richest earners in society, including the bankers who caused this crisis, are queuing up for their tax cuts from George Osborne.”

All of these comments, from across the North of England could apply with equal force here in our own Wards in Wallasey.

One newspaper columnist summs it up:“If the government’s aim was to make the poorest people and the poorest regions even poorer, then they are succeeding.”

Here in the North-West, which suffers some of Britain’s worst levels of unemployment, NORTH WEST TUC regional secretary Lynn Collins said: “This region has suffered more than most, but the stark reality is that the worst is yet to come.  We have only had only 20 per cent so far of the cuts planned by the coalition government.  The cuts to welfare on April 6th will make the poor pay for the mess the banks have created.”

North East TUC regional secretary Kevin Rowan said: “The impending cuts, on top of already severe reductions in welfare payments, will drive the most vulnerable people into even deeper poverty.  The government is to axe a further £18 billion from Britain’s overall welfare budget from April 6th.”

Meanwhile Church Leaders, who usually steer clear of politics, have felt obliged to join the “Crusade” as The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, slammed the Coalition’s £18 billion welfare cuts.

It is reported that in a letter to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Rev. Nichols wrote:

“As you know, some estimates that have already appeared in the media suggest 40,000 families may be rendered homeless. If this were indeed the case it would surely be a perverse result of policies aimed at reducing dependency of the ‘benefits culture’, since emergency support would immediately need to be put in place.

“In some areas of Westminster, it is being suggested that one in six children may have to move home (and probably move school), while in Maida Vale the effects may force up to 43 per cent of households to move. We fear that the cost of this may be felt most by vulnerable families, whose support networks may rapidly disappear in the process.”

Rowan Williams, the Church of England Arch Bishop of Canterbury at the time,  was quoted in the ‘Daily Telegraph, as long ago as 7th November 2010 as saying: 

People who are struggling to find work and struggling to find a secure future are, I think, driven further into a downwards spiral of uncertainty, even despair, when the pressure is on in that way.  It can make people who start feeling vulnerable feel more vulnerable.  People are often in this starting place not because they are wicked or stupid or lazy but because circumstances have been against them.  To drive that spiral deeper does seem a great problem.”

Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, responding to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report showing more than two million of the poorest households in England will pay more council tax from next week because of council tax benefit changes, said:
“Families are facing a double tax hit next week at the same time as millionaires get a tax cut. “The hated bedroom tax and this new poll tax, targeting those on the lowest incomes for an increase in council tax, are unfair and will hurt hundreds of thousands of families around the country, including many working families.”

Watch this space for more news on Wirral Labour’s opposition to the Tory attacks on low and middle-income people.

 

Nightmare for sick people according to “38 degrees”

The local Seacombe story that follows is necessarily anonymous, and confidential, but it is 100% true and shows why, according to the links below, around 38% of such cases, when they are challenged by the sufferers or their representatives, drive a coach and horses through government guidelines.  Adrian believes the way people in such medical conditions are being treated is unworthy of a so called ‘civilised’ society.

Adrian believes this, and cases like it, shows that the government’s attitude is totally out of tune with sick and disabled people’s
genuine needs

We recently had a request for advice from an “aggressive cancer” sufferer who was unable to get benefits without jumping through hoops under rules introduced by the Tory-led government.  It seems that because his wife has a (low paid) part time job of 25 hours a week this man, who cannot eat through his mouth, who can talk only with difficulty, who is fed by direct injection  through a tube into his stomach, who is receiving chemo-therapy and radio-therapy, and can get to hospital for his medical treatments only by ambulance, must “demonstrate” that he is unable to work! 

In his all but impossible condition he was required to fill in a form indicating, amongst other things, which of his limbs can still be used!

It seems this is so that his ability to work can be assessed.  

Does it matter one jot which ‘limbs’ can still work for anybody in that condition?

After paying their rent this couple calculate they will have about £30 left each week to cover food and all other costs.

What ‘temperate’ comment could possibly be made about a government policy that produced this sort of nightmare?

The organisation “38 Degrees” has issued the following appeal to people to resist this sort of approach by supporting its petition.  If you feel “38 Degrees” is correct in its approach you may wish to sign. 

This is the message from “38 degrees”.  Read on:

For months now, sick and disabled people have been made to go through lots of tests and interviews to qualify for the benefits they need to get by. [1] “Proving” you have a disability has become a long drawn-out process, that can make life harder, not easier, for disabled people.

To make matters worse, this week we’ve found out that the government’s new approach to “testing” people isn’t working. As many as 100,000 people could have been denied the money they needed, and put under pressure to work when they can’t. [2]

Atos, the multi-million pound private company that delivers these tests for the government, has been getting away with making big mistakes. [3] Their errors may mean around 100,000 people were deemed “fit to work”, when they weren’t. Yet despite this terrible performance, Atos have hardly paid a penny in fines. In fact, they’ve made enough profit to sponsor the Paralympics next week. [4]

So as politicians get ready to stand on the sidelines and applaud Britain’s Paralympians, let’s send them a powerful message: don’t forget your responsibility to the rest of the UK’s disabled people – start making Atos pay for its mistakes.

Sign the petition now to tell Iain Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions, to stand up to Atos and sort out disability benefit tests:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/sign-Atos-petition

The Paralympics are one reminder of the value that disabled people add to life in the UK. But for many disabled people, finding work is impossible. Sometimes that’s because of the nature of their disability, and sometimes its because workplaces don’t try hard enough to include them.

When someone has a disability that prevents them from working, they deserve proper support they can rely on. That support shouldn’t be taken away at a moment’s notice because of inaccurate tests. As politicians get ready to support Team GB’s Paralympians over the next fortnight, let’s make sure they start treating the rest of the disabled people living in the UK with the respect they deserve.

The government has the power to hit Atos where it hurts: financially. They can stop awarding contracts, set higher targets and fine them for poor performance. If enough of us sign the petition demanding this happens, then the government will be forced to hold them to account.

Sign the petition now to demand the government stands up to Atos and sorts out the disability benefits problems:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/sign-Atos-petition

Thanks for being involved,

Belinda, Marie, Hannah and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES
[1] Directgov: The Work Capability Assessment: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/Illorinjured/DG_172012
[2] A Guardian article, “NAO criticise Atos benefits contract” said “The company has conducted about 738,000 medical tests on benefit claimants in the past financial year. However, it has emerged that 40% of people appeal against the decisions – with 38% of those successful”. Read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/17/nao-criticises-atos-benefits-contract?newsfeed=true
[3] Atos company website: http://uk.atos.net/en-uk/about_us/company_profile/default.htm
[4] The Guardian, Paralympic Games organisers defend Atos sponsorship deal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/may/21/paralympic-games-organisers-defend-atos-sponsorship

NHS: We used to ask ‘Can you trust the Tories with the NHS?’ Now we ask ‘Do the Tories agree among themselves?’

8th February 2012

Not many Seacombe residents could afford to pay twice for health care – once through the state insurance deducted from their wages, and then again for private health insurance on top.  So it will come as no surprise that we have heard of nobody in our ward who looks favourably on Tory plans to introduce ever more privatisation to the NHS.

Is it any surprise that Tory Health Secretary Andrew Lansley came under more pressure today as a senior source from inside 10 Downing Street is reported to have accused him of “messing up” the ConDems’ disasterous plans to “reform” our well loved NHS?

Seacombe Cllr Chris Jones is a NHS Ward Manager with strong loyalty to the NHS

Reports say that some Lib Dem peers have come to their senses and are planning to revolt when the Health and Social Care Bill returns to the Lords today.  And what was being reported in the press?  Here are some links:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/andrew-lansley-labelled-a-disaster-over-677268

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/andrew-lansley-labelled-a-disaster-over-677268

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-cuts-leaked-document-reveals-675744

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/royal-college-of-gps-urges-prime-673979

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/andrew-lansley-u-turn-on-nhs-hidden-661075

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/scrapping-the-tories-nhs-bill-would-659180

The British Medical Association,the Royal College of Nursing, and the Royal College of GPs, are publicly campaigning against the Tory proposals.  But is this Tory-led government too arrogant to listen to the health professionals who run the NHS every day, and the ordinary people of this country?  Are they hearing only the rich?

Seacombe has an older than average population, and many families on low incomes – with much shorter life expectancy than in wealthy areas.  For Seacombe residents Labour’s National Health Service is of massive importance.

The Tories fought against Labour’s  creation of the NHS in the first place.  Now, it’s increasingly clear that ‘privatisation’ plans are causing conflict even in the ConDems’ Tory-led government.  So when are we going to hear the Wallasey Tories speaking up for people living around here, to oppose what their government is trying to inflict on the NHS?

It would be nice to hear from them.  We are not holding our breath.