The Paralympics Demonstration Against Atos Healthcare in London, a set on Flickr.
Yesterday, Friday August 31, was the last day of the Atos Games, a week of events organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and UK Uncut against the jaw-dropping hypocrisy involved in Atos Healthcare, the French IT giant, being allowed to sponsor the Paralympic Games, while the company is also in charge of running the government’s Work Capability Assessments, a review process that is designed to find disabled people fit for work.
As a result, huge numbers of disabled people, who are not fit for work by any genuinely objective measure, are being driven into poverty — a wretched and cruel policy for a government that claims to have Christian values — and the results are leading directly to suicides, or other deaths through the stress involved. Undeterred, however, the government recently renewed Atos’ contract, to the tune of £400 million, and ministers are permanently involved in ignoring the inconvenient truth that, on appeal, tens of thousands of decisions made by Atos’ representatives are being overturned. The average is 40 percent, but in Scotland campaigners discovered that, when claimants were helped by representatives of Citizens Advice Bureaux, 70 percent of decisions were overturned on appeal. Read the rest of this entry »
With all 181 councils having declared their results, Labour had taken over 32, to control 75 in total, while the Tories were down to 42, having lost 12. With 4863 council seats declared, Labour had gained 824, and had 2159 in total, the Tories had lost 403 and had 1006 in total, and the Lib Dems had lost 329, and had 438 in total.
The only good news, from a Tory point of view, was that Boris Johnson narrowly held onto London for a second term as Mayor, beating Ken Livingstone, but it is also clear that, to win, Johnson had to stand apart from his colleagues in central government, and his success can only make David Cameron look worse rather than better. Personally, I find that disappointing, as Ken offered to help hard-working Londoners by cutting fares, whereas Boris offered nothing more than his usual stand-up routine, but whether through his own failings, or through a media that was extraordinarily biased against him, Ken appeared to have no chance of winning whatsoever, and he should, therefore, take comfort from the fact that so many people actually voted decisively against the Tories and almost brought him victory. It was also significant that Jenny Jones, for the Green party, beat the Lib Dems and the hapless Brian Paddick into fourth place.
Excepting the London Mayoral victory, the elections have been a disaster for the Tories, and the results countrywide have been a disaster for the Lib Dems, but across the UK there is no real sense of triumph as far as I can tell (outside of Labour political circles), and the most depressing statistic to take from the elections is the sad truth that only a third of those who were eligible to vote actually bothered to do so. Read the rest of this entry »
Britain’s incompetent coalition government has just hit a new low. In a leaked letter to David Cameron from the office of Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the ruinous impact of the government’s decision to cap benefits at £500 a week per family (essentially capping housing benefit at £400 a week) is exposed. Pickles, via his private secretary Nico Heslop, told the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms that 40,000 families will be made homeless by the government’s savage welfare reforms, and that the estimated £270m saving from the benefits cap “will be wiped out by the need to divert resources to help the newly homeless and is likely to ‘generate a net cost,’” as the Guardian explained.
The limit on housing benefit was a key plank of Cameron’s manipulation of the electorate last year, with the unemployed portrayed as workshy scroungers, and housing benefit portrayed as something that is a result of their greed, rather than of landlords setting rents that are either unnecessarily high or an unfortunate response to an overheated property market. The proposals alarmed those involved in housing and welfare, although in polls the public decided to support Cameron and his vile politics of envy, in which he pushed the notion that it was unacceptable for the unemployed to live in houses that those in work were unable to afford.
I lamented all of these developments in my articles last year, Critics Attack UK Government’s Cruel and Ill-Conceived Assault on Welfare and On Housing Benefit Cuts, British Public Reveals Shocking Lack of Empathy and Compassion, in which I also noted that, according to independent research commissioned by Shelter from the Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research at the University of Cambridge, an estimated 134,000 households “will either be evicted or forced to move when the cuts come in next year as they will be unable to negotiate cheaper rents.” Read the rest of this entry »
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