Karen Martin – Nurse – A Response To The Nurse Who Cried Foodbank

 

 

Right well the Leaders Debate same old same old SNP bad, no getting a referendum, SNP bad but as hard as Ruth Davidson, Kezia and co tired they couldn’t land a blow on Nicola Sturgeon then it changed. You see in the audience waiting like a tiger prowling it’s pray was Claire Austin a nurse with a question, it was her second appearance on BBC in weeks after being on Question Time but at the time didn’t get to ask her question so she had been invited back to ask it this time fair enough no problem.

This was a passionate question one which she delivered with great vigour and one that she would demanded a answer, deserved an answer More Pay For Nurses. Fair point I thought our NHS staff deserve all the money we can give them then the she delivered the Kicker she has to get her food from a foodbank.

What wow no way foodbanks wow I never realised our NHS was that seriously in trouble , I knew about the cuts , I knew about the threat of privatisation but our nurses starving now I might be an Indy supporter and have a soft spot for the SNP ( ok a huge soft spot) but nurses starving that’s not on, these are the people who save our lives it’s just not on. I spent the rest of the show wondering how could we live in a society where our nurses are having to visit foodbanks wow.

Now as anyone reading this must know by now the following morning social media was awash with stories Claire Austin was a councillors wife then daughter visits to New York and the list went on BBC plant, Tory Plant, egg plant the list went on. To be honest it made me turn off my phone and social media to let it sink in when a sudden thought crossed my mind its doesn’t matter who that woman is related too or what she eats for dinner do our Nurses really need to use foodbanks because of what we pay them. I had heard we pay them more than England but there Jnr Doctors have been striking could this woman be telling the truth. This is when I came across Nurse Karen Martin.

Now who is Karen Martin to talk about this subject well Karen has worked as a Nurse for 38 years and is a Band 7 nursing sister in a kids hospital and is in charge of a huge theatre/ recovery department with staff of all grades and remember a band 5 nurse in Dundee will get paid the same as a Band 5 in Paisley, as will a Band 7 in Glasgow  will get paid the same as a Band 7 in Edinburgh ok. So at this point I will pass you over to the words of Karen Martin who with the breaking of this story feels and wants to put the public straight on this subject.

This is what Karen had to say
“Just to dispel the rapidly growing myths around this nurse and her salary I’d like to spell out exactly what she lied about in terms of that salary and why so many nurses are up in arms about it!
She works for the NHS as a staff nurse, (although she herself claims to be a charge nurse in a busy A&E), however for the sake of this exercise I’ll place her on the lowest band for staff nurses in Scotland. That’s the whole of Scotland because no matter where you work in the NHS the salary structure is identical. The least a newly qualified staff nurse would earn on a Band 5 is just shy of £22, 000. This rises year on year incrimentally for 6yrs to the Band maximum of £28,180.

She herself states that she has been working for many years so she cannot be stuck on the starting scale, it doesn’t work that way. Anyone working for 6yrs will have reached their Band max. If indeed she is a charge nurse as she claims on her LinkedIn then that would be Band 6 which starts at £26,041 and again incrimentally rises to £34,876. So you see there’s no way for a qualified registered nurse to be stuck at £22,000 as she claims. Furthermore she also works with RMR an agency I myself have done shifts for in the past and the pay is very lucrative compared to NHS payscales, so much so that most hospitals are now forbidden to use this agency.

So no matter how you look at this then that woman is not as skint as she claims to be! She blatantly lied about her pay and anything else that followed also has to be suspect. She lied knowing full well that nurses salaries are published and in the public domain, and also knowing there were bound to be nurses watching who would know instantly she was lying, clearly she didn’t care about that either. That I find both particularly perplexing and shameful.


The fact this attack on the Scottish government was allowed to take place during a debate for the GE is beyond the pale and highly questionable especially given the Scottish government have honoured the Pay Review Body recommendations, whilst Westminster has not is even more disgusting. It means that we in Scotland are paid more than our colleagues in England and Wales, albeit only by 1% per annum, but over the past few years that has mounted to a fairly sizeable gap.


Can I also say I agree with those who have said that the SNP government need to stop being so mealy mouthed and polite, and start being more aggressively assertive. They need to start attacking more, as this should be about highlighting their successes but more importantly Westminsters failings. This is not about the Scottish government and should never have been allowed to happen during a debate about a Westminster election, but then again it is the BBC so they will take any opportunity to divert attention away from where it’s supposed to be…..on the failings of Westminster!”

So there you go the nice lady on the leaders debate might not be related to a councillor and all her trips might have been paid by her friends and family but her statement about Nurses having to feed themselves at foodbanks is a blatant lie unless they are terrible with her money.

I would like to thank Karen Martin for coming forward and telling us like it is and giving us the truth on the subject, why Claire Austin spun it the way she did you would have to ask her and chances are we will never know so thanks again to Karen for letting me print this, I tip my hat to you and all who work in our NHS.

image NHS Scotland  foodbank donations  Nurses  featured image  food cans

 

Protest: Say No To Sanctions

R2W poster.jpgHuman Rights group ‘PPR’ are to protest against benefit sanctions at noon on Monday 8th May at the Andersonstown Jobs and Benefits Office.

You can get a lift to the protest from outside the PPR offices as long as you’re there for 11am.  Everyone else is asked to be at Andersonstown Jobs and Benefits Office for 12pm.

If you are afraid of being sanctioned for attending the protest, the R2W group will be giving out I Daniel Blake masks.

To confirm your attendance, click here

Right to Work: Right to Welfare (R2W) Group are a group of unemployed people who have been campaigning since 2012 for the creation of real jobs and for protections in the social security system.

Read more

205 Social Security Decision Makers have the power to make potentially devastating decisions over 364,000 local social security claims.

Last year alone over 11,230 decisions were made to cut Employment Support Allowance from vulnerable people. Half of all Employment Support Allowance claimants have a mental health condition.

The United Nations has said that the Work Capability Assessment for Employment Support Allowance causes people’s mental health ‘to severely deteriorate’.

Sanctions stop every penny.

In a 3 month period last year an average of 942 sanctions a month were imposed on JSA claimants.

Over 5000 sanctions have been imposed on Steps 2 Success participants since October 2014.

Over 70% of these were for failure to attend an interview.

In 2016/17 32,780 people including 13,717 children had to rely on food banks, an increase of over 7000 on the previous year.

The National Audit Office has found no evidence that benefit sanctions work. The Peoples Proposal for basic due process and mandatory impact assessments can change that.

You can follow ÁINE at her twitter page at @AineCarson1 and at her webpage Áine Carson

Woman sanctioned after miscarriage was left in poverty and suicidal

A woman was left with just £24 each week of her social security to live on after suffering a miscarriage and being sanctioned. She has told the Daily Record how she considered suicide after being left with barely anything to buy food and pay bills.

Lyndsey Turnbull told of her ordeal as the Scottish Government formally launched their new welfare-to-work programmes.

Lyndsey from Midlothian, said: “I wanted to get into work but the whole thing seemed geared up to punish those who wanted to get off benefits.”

She was on approximately £140 a fortnight Employment and Support Allowance when she missed an appointment after having a miscarriage around nine weeks into a pregnancy.

She said: “I was in a bad place and couldn’t talk to anyone about it.”

Lyndsey was sanctioned because was too distressed to disclose the reason for missing the appointment, which is absolutely understandable. However, the punitive sanctions framework does not accommodate people’s circumstances and situations when they may be very vulnerable.

Having to face a stern and unsupportive bureaucrat, whose role is to discipline and punish people who cannot comply with rigid welfare conditionality, to discuss deeply personal and distressing circumstances – and such a traumatic event as miscarriage – is the very last thing anyone needs.

She added: “I went down to £24. I had no food, nothing to pay bills. It was awful.

“I really thought suicide might be the only option – and I wondered how many people would be just like me.”

Fortunately, Lyndsey eventually found someone to talk to at welfare service group Working Links, who helped her to get a second sanction reduced.

She later found a job at a petrol station and she said the new system’s voluntary focus will make it easier for people to get off benefits.

Lyndsey courageously contributed to a group meeting with Scottish National Party (SNP) Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn, to explain the problems she faced with the UK Department for Work and Pension sanctions regime.

Holyrood has no control over major benefits policy. However the new Scottish programmes will be voluntary – with no financial penalties attached – in a bid to get better results.

In other words, they will be genuinely supportive, rather than punitive and mandatory.

Around 4,800 people with disabilities and health conditions will get some help into work, the Daily Record reports.

Employment support is one of the first powers devolved through the Scotland Act 2016, made possible by the Vow of more powers before the independence vote.

Work First Scotland will help 3300 disabled people while Work Able Scotland will focus on 1500 people with long-term health conditions.

The Record revealed last year that the SNP would block any bid by Westminster to impose a sanctions system on the new programmes.

images

Batul Hassan, 49, who also met Hepburn yesterday, was made redundant after 11 years at a local authority and was helped into work by Remploy.

She has dyslexia, dyspraxia and hearing problems and said her previous employer struggled to understand her needs.

Batul, from Edinburgh, added: “The new system has the potential to be a good thing.

“Two contracts mean people can move at the right pace, not lumped together.”

Hepburn said: “The devolved services will have fairness, dignity and respect at their core.

“We believe people will see them as an opportunity to gain new skills through supportive training and coaching.”

The Conservatives have clearly changed the meaning of words such as “fairness”, “support” and “respect”, in order to persuade the public that their punitive policies are somehow acceptable, and to deny the negative consequences they have on people who need the most support.

They are not acceptable.

 

Truth Is Good

What an interesting morning, yesterday, with a lot of political content!

Watching the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC was definitely different, for a start.  We do not get to hear a lot around what and how debates are going in England in respect of the General Election, so yesterday morning was really just to catch up.

The main reason for carrying out this research, actually, was because of the Question Time programme on Thursday 11 May, broadcast from Edinburgh which did not really reflect the arguments I thought were being debated on the ground in Scotland and that disturbed me quite a bit.

I am disturbed because it would appear that realities facing the country are not being debated in any great depth.  There appears to be some real confusion, especially among young people, about the whole political system, the different colours and outlooks of each party, misconception and misunderstanding about what historically happened and a general lack of understanding around why voting for what you believe is right is essential if you wish to get the best out of the governance of the country you live in.

Why do I mention governance?  I have found myself on the largest learning curve of my life over the last ten years and a lot of what I have had to learn has been about structure and governance of everything from community groups, charities, social enterprises, educational structures, the list goes on.

The simple truth is although we all should have our say and take part in the running of our countries, the most effective and constructive way of ensuring the job gets done properly is to have a committee that will apply their management skills to taking what is being said and delegate action on behalf of everyone.  Debates in parliament are meant to decide the best way forward for each action giving equal opportunity to as many points of view that are shared as possible.

That is what our government is supposed to do.  They are not there to act independent of those voting for action etc., but to carry out what the majority decision is.

It is a serious bit of mis-communication that puts individuals, families, communities, living within a country at a lesser level and insists that action is being taken on behalf of everyone without consultation of everyone.

My intention, therefore, during the coming days, is to put forward what is actually being stated by each party’s manifesto in a way, hopefully, that will be plain speech to everyone.  I will not only put forward the manifesto points (not the whole manifesto – too long),  but I will also record what has been achieved by each party to date in terms of benefit, or non-benefit to the people of the UK as a whole from recent (2010 onwards), previous manifesto promises.  Please note that I cannot eliminate my viewpoint totally from what I write, however, I will put both sides of the argument as clearly as I can.

The reason I am doing this is not to benefit any particular party but to inform the younger generation properly because they need to make their minds up on real facts, not disinformation or un-clear communication.

I would urge anyone who has a question to comment or get in touch if they think I can answer or someone else reading can answer.  I also welcome all feedback because, it keeps everything real, up-front, accountable and honest.

To start with, some points that came up during my research yesterday:

There was a lot of discussion around the Conservative sound-bite about preserving worker’s rights, in fact making them stronger, one point put across several times was the fact that the Conservative Government are introducing a right for carers to take unpaid leave to care for family members etc.

I have to say, from my own personal viewpoint, this is a sound-bite because:

  • In 2010 the Conservatives wanted to re-write the Human Rights Act from a UK perspective, partly because they did not understand the European Convention on Human Rights. This party is now planning to make sure the European Convention is complied with fully, which shows that they did not originally understand the European Convention.
  • Why would a Conservative Government seek to scrap paternity leave because, in their words, it was not required, then decide that unpaid leave would be given to those caring for a family member. Is there any sense there?
  • Why unpaid leave?  Are family members worth less? What is the difference between caring for a child and caring for an older family member.  You get child benefit for caring for a child.  This job is to be unpaid, need I say more?
  • If the Conservatives truly believe in strong workers’ rights, why have they been working against this as a party since 2010?
  • The Conservative Government have, I have been told, been advised that their Government has actually breached the UN Convention on Human Rights, never mind the EU Convention on Human Rights which came after the UN Convention, with their actions in this country.

I  have found, throughout my 33 years’ voting experience, that political parties of every persuasion will create sound-bites in order to get votes.  The sad thing is that politicians don’t realise that not everybody follows politics, and this type of electioneering  tradition can cause total confusion. At a time where it is essential that as many as possible vote, it is probably extremely unhelpful to any political case to enter into this type of electioneering.

One more point, every government, since I was a young girl, have kept salaries and budgets in public services including police, education and health service low compared with their spending on war and weapons!!

Lastly, one thing we all do from time to time we and our governments blame others for the course we choose. That is not going to solve anything is it!

Don’t we all have to take responsibility for making our communities, the places we live in the best they can be responsibly?

AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE ARE THE GOVERNMENT!!

You can follow Sandra Marshall on twitter at @leithunique and at her webpage leithunique.wordpress

Terminally ill woman lost her ESA, home and all her belongings after being told she was fit for work

Claire Hardwicke

Claire Hardwicke has stage four thyroid cancer. This means that it has spread to other parts of her body, and sadly, Claire was told that her cancer is terminal. She also has chronic osteoarthritis. Despite taking 80mg of morphine a day to cope, she still experiences considerable pain.

Additionally, Claire already had a life-threatening, acute allergy to latex. This means that she has to carry an EpiPen at all times, which is an epinephrine (adrenaline) injection to treat life-threatening anaphylaxis. Developing a severe allergy to latex unfortunately meant that Claire could no longer continue working as a mental health nurse.

Claire first became ill 9 years ago with uterine/ovarian cancer, but it was the allergy that made her unemployable and ended her career as a mental-health nurse, her partner, Alan King, told me

Claire’s first bout of cancer was treated and she made a recovery, which lasted only 7 years. Sadly, the diagnosis of her more recent thyroid cancer and metastases wasn’t diagnosed until it was incurable. The tumours had spread throughout her thyroid gland, neck, lymph system and adrenal glands.

All Claire can hope for now is palliative care, which is alleviatory only, as a cure isn’t possible.

Unbelievably, Claire was assessed as “fit for work” by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year. Her Employment and Support Allowance was stopped. All of her financial support ended. This was despite being told by the Capita assessor (for Personal Independence Payments) that the report to the DWP would state that Claire was in need of more support, not less.

Overnight the couple lost every bit of financial support they had previously been entitled to, so Alan decided to use what little financial resources he had left to help Claire to fulfill some of  her”Bucket List.”

The couple were forced to say goodbye to their rented bungalow and 99% of their possessions because their housing benefit was stopped. They had no income, as Claire’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was stopped, and the Carer’s Allowance also ended.

Claire explained to me that when she lost her lifeline support, the wait for appeal hearings was over 18 months. The couple couldn’t afford to wait that long, as they had no income. They also didn’t know if Claire would survive the wait.

Claire and Alan went to visit family members around the UK before setting off, in October 2016, on a Mediterranean cruise for a month, which Alan paid for, using his credit cards. They already owed a lot of money on their credit cards, but with no income at all, the couple were facing destitution.  The incredible distress the couple suffered took its toll on Claire’s already poor health, too.

On the return journey, both of them realised that coming all the way back to the UK – where they were homeless, with no income, and they no longer even qualified for free prescriptions – would be pointless. So the couple left the cruise when they got to Portugal, where it’s significantly warmer than the UK (and therefore less painful for Claire) – and they’ve been there ever since, living in a very basic, rented room.

Alan told me: “Claire’s cancer hasn’t claimed her life as quickly as we both had imagined, (which is good), but with medications, food and board, we’re now out of funds and out of options unless we can somehow fundraise for some subsistence.”

The couple have paid money in advance for their single room in Portugal, which covers rent until 14th March, after which time they will have absolutely nowhere to go.

Claire says: “There are new trial therapies for extreme cases of thyroid cancer like mine.

 I wish I had a pot of gold to pay for the experimental cancer therapy.
I don’t want to die, but choices and chances aren’t given to the poor people. We need a miracle, a winning lotto ticket. There should be equal opportunities for all patients.”

The treatment would possibly extend Claire’s life and improve the quality of the time she has left. She says: “I could have a chance of a longer, fuller life…. but I don’t have that option open to me….”

Tiffany Williams, a friend of Claire’s in the UK, has set up a crowdfunding page on JustGiving to raise £800 to help pay for her treatment. So far, 53% of the sum has been raised.

It’s such a modest amount for a treatment that will make a huge difference to Claire and Alan, who have lost their home and everything else they had in the UK. Now they are at risk of losing their room in Portugal, too.

You can make a donation at:  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tiffany-williams

Update

Claire informs me that the gofundme collection has now closed. But for those wishing to help in some way, there is a beautiful painting of Claire by Jason Pearce, which is up for auction with funds going to her medical fees.  

She says many thanks. 

Jason Pearce is an administrator for a very popular political group, and like me, he was originally contacted and asked if a member (Alan) could post a gofundme page to raise money for treatment costs to the group, as his wife, Claire, is seriously ill. Jason agreed, and offered to help. As Jason is an artist, it was suggested that he could paint a portrait of Claire and it could then be auctioned online to help raise some more money towards Claire’s ongoing treatment.

This is Jason’s lovely painting of Claire.

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“Claire”

20″ x 16″ Mixed media on canvas.

You can follow Kitty S Jones at her webpage Politics and Insights

 

23 Days to Build an Anti-Tory Alliance and Save the Welfare State – vote SNP in Scotland and Labour in England

Now that we actually have the Labour manifesto, we can see a wide and unquestionable band of clear blue water between Labour and the Tories, but when it comes to social security there is nothing but the proverbial cigarette paper between Labour and the SNP.

However, Salmond’s suggestion that Labour has copied SNP policies is more rhetorical than serious. Both the SNP and Labour are essentially social democratic parties.

We do not, as a matter principle, support any one party, but have called for tactical votes for the SNP in both last General Election and this, as the best, indeed only, vehicle for advancing working class interests. Whilst the SNP Government is far from perfect, they have protected us in Scotland from some of the very worst excesses of the Tory Welfare cuts. They have already mitigated and promised to scrap the bedroom tax, mitigated housing benefit cuts for under 21s, and promised that the Scottish disability benefit that replaces PIP will take account of doctors’ reports of people’s needs and not depend on assessments carried out by private companies. They have promised that the training schemes that they will run will be voluntary and unsanctionable, and they have provided vital short-term help through the Scottish Welfare Fund. Only a small portion of the benefit system is being devolved, but the Scottish Government has promised that Scottish Social Security will have a completely different culture from the current punitive UK regime. At the same time, the SNP has consistently campaigned in parliament against sanctions and benefit cuts, including leading the campaign against the two children (rape clause) policy.

Of course there are some Labour plans that the SNP could do well to copy, especially a stronger focus on public ownership – but Labour’s continued commitment to Trident cannot be hidden behind the novelty of a Labour manifesto with some left-leaning policies.

bairns not bombs

And then there’s Independence, where the manifesto writers appear to have handed the pen to Kezia Dugdale’s Scottish Labour Party. Perhaps this is their return for backing a manifesto that is considerably further to the left than the Scottish leadership and most of the Scottish party is comfortable with. But since when did Unionism become the touchstone of Labour policy, and how can they justify not only campaigning actively against Independence, but even opposing letting us decide our own fate in a second referendum?

Blair McDougall

The Labour manifesto, despite its Trident-sized problems, has caused a flurry of interest among the Scottish left, but when it comes to choosing who to vote for, that shouldn’t cause us any problems. The only way that manifesto has a hope of becoming UK policy is by maximising the anti-Tory vote.

Here in Scotland, especially if polls are correct about former Labour voters moving over to the Tories, any significant shift of votes from the SNP to Labour risks letting in Tory MPs. If you want to avoid letting the Tories in by the back door, you should vote SNP.  If the seemingly impossible occurs, and Labour support rallies and grows in England and Wales, the very possibility of a minority labour government might be jeopardised by voting for Scottish Labour. And, despite Labour’s pre-election protestations, we can be sure that if SNP support was needed for a minority Labour government, it would not be turned away. This would pave the way to negotiations for a second Independence referendum; and the process of any future separation would be more constructive. For such a development to occur, the zombie Scottish Labour Party, with their bitter Britnat stance, has to be seen to die conclusively and make room for new beginnings. They have fallen far, but they must be seen to fall even further on June 8th if we are to see any chance of a radical reformed Scottish Labour Party that can provide a socialist, pro-Indy force, and can, again, seek to represent Scottish working-class interests.

You can follow the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network on facebook and on there webpage click here

 

WATCH: THE MOMENT A Disabled Person Finally Confronts Cold-Hearted May: ‘They Chucked ME Out The MIND’— Pleading with PM: ‘I Want My Disability Living Allowance to Come Back…They Took It All Away From Me’

 

Theresa May has finally been confronted by an ACTUAL disabled person — a woman who has been directly impacted by brutal Tory austerity cuts — during one of May’s rare ventures into public as she continued her election “campaign” in Abingdon-on-Thames today.

The woman who said she suffers from mental illness and learning disabilities confronted a startled May, saying: Are you going to help people with learning disabilities and mental health? Because, I stick up for the mental health AND for the learning disability

She then said that they “chucked me out of the Mind” (referring to the mental health charity).

 

The woman pleaded with May:

I want my Disability Living Allowance to come back — not have PIPs and get nothing

Adding:

I can’t live on a £100 a month — they took it all away from me

As May tried to deflect — the woman stood her ground. She continued saying:

The fat cats keep the money — and us lot get nothing!

She continued to plead with the PM:

who’s going to help me?

May tried to deflect away from the broader issues. May responded:

I’m sure…we’ll find a way — what you’re talking about — for YOUR case..

Before being shut down by the woman who said:

No! For everybody! Not just for me! I’m sticking up for them, because I go to a club for disabled people…I’m sticking up.

 

WATCH FULL CLIP: This is an unedited version of the clip. The mainstream media has shown varous versions all of which contains edits.

 

May showed that she is completely unable to handle the situation — or provide the woman with any actual help, or help for the disabled community whom the woman was bravely representing.

May responded by spouting about helping disabled people — and how she wants to: “focus on those who are most in need”.

The woman finished by saying:

I’m vulnerable to everything (so I been told) and I don’t get nothing — so you better help me — please!

The woman then walked off saying:

thank you

May was left looking flustered and bemused — her usual reaction when confronted by a member of the public.

She was also confronted by a man during the same visit who grilled her on the Tories appalling record of house building and ownership.

 

This is precisely why May generally does her best to stay away from the public — because whenever members of the public speak to her — they simply aren’t buying her shit — and they aren’t very impressed by May’s much touted “record”.

 

The disabled woman spoke — not as an isolated person — for whom the system had gone wrong. But as somebody who wanted to represent the very real chaos destruction and misery inflicted on the disabled by May and the Tories.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is gradually being replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIP) as the main non-means tested benefit for disabled people. So far the system has been a complete disaster. Over 60% of disabled people are wrongly assessesed under PIP — with many being found (incorrectly) to be unentitled to the benefit —  and having to wait months to go to appeal (sometimes this can be as long as a year) before they have the decision overturned, and given the correct award.

Meaning that they can be — essentially left  — without anything to live off for up to a year, (often ) severe disabilities.

Further to this nearly half of disabled people subjected to “planned reviews” of PIP have their existing award cut, or removed completely according to figures obtained by the Disability News Service (DNS).

After the government lost a court case a few months ago – which found in favor of awarding people with certain mental illness the higher rate of PIP — the Tories decided to ignore the ruling.

Meaning that around 160,000 disabled people are simply punished by the government for having a mental illness. The Tories said that the higher rate of PIP was never intended to be extended to certain mental illnesses, yet the courts disagreed with them, finding in favor of disabled people with mental illness.

Further to this, of course, is the fact that hundreds of disabled people have killed themselves because of the DWP’s brutal (and frankly insane) decisions since the Tories came into power in 2010. Furthermore, we know of at least 2,000 cases where people have died shortly after being declared fit for work by the DWP (the numbers for both, could be much higher — the government is intensely secretive about all of this.)

 

Our Benefit system has been condemned by the United Nations (UN) and subject to 3 investigations by them. One of the reports found that The Tories are guilty of “grave or systematic violations” of disabled people.

The brutal Tory assault on the disabled has all happened under the guise of austerity — saving money — the fact that it hasn’t saved money – it has probably cost more, and in the process caused so much fear and misery should be enough to abandon this madness. This cruelty.

 

The woman who confronted May today shows us exactly who the Tories are — behind the facade of “helping” the “right” people. And May’s own recent pledge to help those suffering from mental illness.

When the Tories — when May — is confronted by one of their victims they have nothing to say — nothing to offer — and simply don’t care.

Well done to the woman today — I personally thank you for your bravery – and for standing up against the Tory scum.

No doubt, May will increasingly be confined to her safe space — so as to avoid these kinds of reality checks which break her carefully crafted and stage managed persona.

Most popular politician in the country?

NO — she – and her Tory pals are some of the most HATED people in the country. And almost everytime May meets the public they tell her why. And May shows that she couldn’t care less about them, us, or anything other than her rich pals.

Featured image Red Raiph

You can follow Chris Turnbull on twitter at @EnemyOfTheState or at his webpage Enemy of the state

The Conservative Causality

Our political choices have real social and economic consequences. When we support parties responsible for inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on innocent people we share in their guilt. Think before you vote.


As the many government cost-saving social and economic policies – known collectively as ‘austerity’ – hit and as the effects of this austerity deepen across society there are predictable consequences. Cuts in the healthcare budget result in a decreased quality of care, a lowering of the level of general health, and an increase in the number of unnecessary deaths. Reductions in the social welfare bill make it increasingly more difficult for people relying on state welfare to make ends meet, making it more difficult to cover the basic costs of housing and food – driving up homelessness and food poverty. Sanctions on social welfare – primarily designed as a cost-saving strategy – have a devastating impact on people’s lives, worsening the effects of other cuts to the social safety net.

None of this is rocket science. It is a simple case of cause and effect. Cuts hurt people. Worse than this, the government’s austerity programme is killing people. While it is near impossible to examine every death across the UK in order to assess the true scale of this problem, one indicator is particularly useful – the suicide rate. Not every death by suicide is related to the economy and austerity, but the statistics – published annually by the Samaritans – do show a direct and positive correlation between austerity cuts and incidences of suicide; as the government cuts and sanctions, the rate of suicide per every 100,000 people rises.

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The Samaritans’ Suicide Report

From 2010 the overall suicide rate across the UK has risen, year on year, until the present – with rates higher in areas hit the hardest by austerity. The exception to this trend is in Scotland, where, since 2007, this rate has been falling steadily; thanks largely to the SNP government’s mitigation of Westminster’s austerity measures. Between 2012 and 2013 the suicide rate in Wales rose by a staggering 23 per cent, with the rate now standing at 21.0 per 100,000 for men and 5.5 for women. In England – as a whole – that rate is 15.4 for men and 5.0 for women, but in towns like Preston and Blackpool in the north those rates are doubled. In Northern Ireland, between 2015 and 2016, the suicide rate rose by 17.5 per cent – making it the highest in the UK at 26.9 for men and 7.7 for women.

Always, the simple facts are that the rate of suicide is lower in affluent areas and higher in poorer areas. Overall the rate rises as austerity deepens. In 1934, when the German Confessing Church spoke out against the tyranny of the National Socialists, the theologian Karl Barth spelt out that we are all responsible for the consequences of the political choices we make. Here in the United Kingdom austerity stands or falls on the support of the Conservative Party, the party responsible for this truly horrific austerity regime. Votes for the Tory party empower the British government to continue with and intensify this offensive programme, and therefore those who lend their vote to this party are complicit in the misery it is inflicting on hundreds of thousands of people.

There is no kinder way to put this. Stating this fact is not about recrimination; in a liberal democratic society people will always vote for the party with the policies that best serve their individual priorities. We all understand this, but our democratic choices – especially in this case – have ethical and moral implications. Austerity in all its forms, resulting as it does in such harm to innocent people, is objectively, morally wrong. For as long as this Conservative government in Westminster pursues these policies it is quite simply immoral to support it at the ballot. Each of us has a choice to make and, no matter how we have voted in the past, we have to make a choice directed by our conscience. There is nothing good or conscionable about supporting austerity.

 


Mark Blyth on Austerity

You can follow Jason Michael at his twitter page @Jeggit or at his webpage The Random Public Journal
Jason Michael is a  Scottish journalist and blogger based in Dublin. Writing on politics and society. Columnist for iScot Magazine and author of the Random Public Journal.

 

So you thought you could improve yourself!

The jobcentre regime is built around the myth that those who are unemployed just haven’t tried hard enough; so you might expect that they would help people to go to university and improve their qualifications. That might be logical, but it is not what happens. Most students have to support themselves with part-time work, but if you are not managing to find work, you generally can’t claim benefits – at least not if your course is considered to be full time. If it is part time (and there are strict rules about what counts) then you have to demonstrate that you are available for and looking for full-time work. You can specify on your claimant commitment which hours you will be available for work, but only up to a point as you also have to show that this doesn’t significantly reduce your chances of finding a job. For the DWP it is always the short-term prospects of getting a job – any job – that count.

At this week’s stall we came across two people who had been forced to give up their degrees in order to be able to claim the benefits they needed to survive. Anna had gone to the jobcentre hoping that she could sort something out, but emerged in tears having been surrounded by three jobcentre workers all shouting at her. John was less visibly upset, but his situation was more severely worrying. He had been aware of the problems with claiming benefits as a student and had discussed his particular situation with the DWP. They were not certain whether or not he qualified, but signed him up for Universal Credit anyway meanwhile. It was only after he had received benefits for several months that they told him that they had decided he was not actually eligible to receive anything – and that he would have to pay it all back. (Universal Credit overpayments have to be repaid regardless of who was at fault.) Now, not only has he had to give up being a student in order to get Universal Credit, he also has unmanageable debts. These have got so bad that he is facing imminent eviction for unpaid rent. We urged him to see a money advisor as soon as possible and gave him the list of the different welfare-rights sessions in his area.

CPAG has made it’s student welfare advice handbook freely available on line, and most universities can provide some help navigating the system, but this can’t alter the basic problems within the rules themselves – especially when the DWP doesn’t know its own rule book. Even with this government’s limited vision of education, regarding it merely as training for work, these rules are damaging to individuals, and put a hurdle in the way of any plans to develop a better trained workforce.

(The picture shows the student in Puccini’s opera, La Boheme, burning his manuscript to keep warm.)

Thanks for help at this week’s stall to Norma, Tony, Gary, Gordon, Chris and Duncan

Choosing Jail Over Life On The Outside

With budget cuts in place and jails getting fuller by the day, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would rather be behind bars than live life on the outside, but sadly that is what is happening on a global scale.

Adults who have committed crimes and been released from prison are making conscious decisions to go back behind bars rather than to live their life in freedom. To these people, a life locked up is safer than being alone and out on the streets.

Life outside prison can be turbulent to those without the correct support system in place. This can cause confusion, fear and ultimately lead some back on the path towards crime just so they find safety once again.

You may ask how someone can consider life in jail to be the better option in comparison to being out and living a life of freedom? Regrettably there are many reasons for this consideration.

Stability – Life in jail offers a secure lifestyle to those within. All inmates are provided with a routine and some are even offered work duty. This lifestyle gives them stability, it makes them feel safe. Going from having a daily routine to having no purpose can be a major disruption which causes confusion and panic. Many enjoy the work they are provided and upon release find it difficult to obtain jobs due to criminal records. This lack of stability can have a serious effect on physical and mental well-being.

Safety – Those in prison do not need to constantly fear for their welfare whether that be due to abusive spouses, other gang members, or anyone on the outside who could pose a threat to them. Ex prisoners understand that on the inside there will always be an officer looking out for them, making sure they come to no harm. Life alone on the outside can be nasty and potentially dangerous, jail provides some people with a sense of protection.

Housing – A roof over their head and warm blankets are provided as a basic human right to all inmates. Someone who leaves jail without the correct support system in place may find themselves without guaranteed accommodation. Some find themselves back on the streets and sleeping rough, others find themselves in shelters or halfway houses. These options are temporary and leave people wondering what will happen next.

Food – In Jail, cellmates are provided with three hot, square meals a day. There is never a fear of going hungry and no need to ever have to scavenge for food. On the outside, there is no guarantee that food will be readily available. Food costs money and for some that is just not affordable or obtainable.

Effort – Some criminals have spent many years locked up and when it is time for them to be released they cannot ease back in to society. These people have become accustomed to life inside prison and to go back to the general public would take a lot of effort. Some find the difficulty of going back to normality too much of a challenge and therefore they would rather be back to what they are familiar with.

Unfortunately, criminal recidivism is quite a common issue. Men and women around the world are being released from prison, only to go forward and commit petty crimes just so they can find their way back. There are not enough resources due to the budget cuts to help them reform and circulate comfortably back into society. Lack of financing means we are leaving people afraid of life on the outside.

People are left to sleep on the streets, left to go cold and hungry and left to fend for themselves because we cannot afford to continue programmes that help ex convicts make a new life for themselves on the outside.With prisons lacking the space, staff and capability to look after those already in their care something has to be done to offer a life worth living to those who are released otherwise we may find ourselves overrun and dealing with an epidemic.

Everyone deserves to lead a life where they feel safe, a life where they do not go hungry or have to sleep rough. These people may have committed crimes within society but does that make them any less human or any less deserving than the rest of us?

featured image Jail Cell

You can follow Dionne Melissa Newman on twitter @DionneMNewman or at her blog page dionnemelissanewman.wordpress.com