Private company given contract to harass the long-term sick

Mike Sivier's blog

The Department for Work and Pensions is setting up a new “service” offering “advice” to people who are off work with an illness for more than four weeks.

No reference is made to improving people’s health.

It should also be noted that sickness absence in the UK is among the lowest in Europe, and has halved over the past decade.

The announcement was made on the BBC News website shortly after midnight. Nothing has appeared on the Government’s own website so it seems the Corporation has gone back to being Westminster’s poodle again – breaking news for the government in order to give spin doctors time to assess the reaction and then write a press release that is more acceptable to the public.

The Health and Work Service will be a privately-run operation covering England, Wales and Scotland, offering “non-compulsory” medical assessments and “treatment plans”. This is reminiscent of the…

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Defining features of Fascism and Authoritarianism

Politics and Insights

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Max Weber’s principle of Verstehen is a fundamentally critical approach in all social sciences, including politics, and we can see the consequences of its absence in the cold, pseudo-positivist approach of the Coalition in the UK. Their policies clearly demonstrate that they lack the capacity to understand, or meaningfully “walk a mile in the shoes of another”. The Coalition treat the population of the UK as objects of their policies and not as equal, subjective human beings. Policies are designed by the government, for the government, and reflect nothing of public interests.  Whenever the government are challenged and confronted with evidence from citizens that their policies are causing harm, they simply deny the accounts and experiences of those raising legitimate concerns.

The Conservatives do not serve us or meet our needs, they think that we, the public, are here to serve political needs and to fulfil politically defined…

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Murdoch and Media Power: Déjà Vu All Over Again? – Steven Barnett

Inforrm's Blog

Sky_Believe_in_better_logoThis week saw the announcement of half-year results from BSkyB. There was a slight dent in its relentless profitability following recent competition from BT for Premier League rights, but very little deviation from the last full-year results: annual revenues of £7.2 billion with an annual operating profit of £1.3 billion. One and a third billion is an awful lot of spare cash to be generating each year.

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No protection from Bedroom Tax for the vulnerable as it would cause ‘political embarrassment’

Mike Sivier's blog

vulnerable

Vulnerable children and adults with disabilities or high support needs may be forced to pay the Bedroom Tax, despite protestations to the contrary by Lord Freud, after it was revealed that creating more protections would cause ‘political embarrassment’.

Current rules mean some supported housing is protected from the Bedroom Tax, benefit cap and the effects of Universal Credit (if a working version ever arrives) – but this accommodation is not exempted if the landlord is not the care provider or when the landlord is a local authority.

This means that, for example, supported housing provider Habinteg has 1,200 wheelchair-accessible properties for the disabled – but only 516 of them are exempt from the benefit changes.

Lord Freud, who is minister for social security reform, said last April that the DWP was working to ensure all supported accommodation would be protected from what he called the “unintended consequences” of the government’s…

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Should Cameron Get their Order of Stalin?

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

Stalin medal

Russian Medal celebrating Stalin’s 130th anniversary

If I was an Englishman, I would be a Conservative!

– Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev, angry at being given a rough reception by the Labour party over the Soviet imprisonment of Socialist dissidents.

I found this Russian joke in Alex de Jonge’s biography of Stalin. The Soviet dictator’s regime was notorious for the mass starvation caused through the collectivisation of agriculture. This was used by the government to smash popular opposition, particularly that of the kulaks, the peasants Lenin and the Bolsheviks saw as the enemy of Communism and the organised working class. This led to the witticism below

No bread in the villages: left deviation.
No bread in the towns: right deviation.
No bread anywhere: general line.

To which we could add: Unemployed people forced to scavenge in bins because of mass starvation: Excellent policies aimed at smashing anti-Soviet hooliganism and…

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Why should we endure this disrespect from a public servant?

Mike Sivier's blog

“I can say with the strongest feeling my concern about the hubris you have demonstrated and your tone to this committee. You haven’t explained – certainly to my own satisfaction, and I am sure anybody that has been watching will draw their own conclusions – you have not made any satisfactory explanation about how you have informed, and kept this committee informed, about the difficulties that the Department was experiencing. There has been obfuscation, smoke-and-mirrors, even up to a few weeks before the report from the National Audit Office. The memorandum that was released in August was clearly saying that everything was fine and dandy. It is, clearly, not. I’ll give you one more opportunity to answer, so you can explain to this committee why there is such poor information provided by your Department.”

These were the words of Commons Work and Pensions committee member Debbie Abrahams to Secretary of…

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