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Showing posts from August, 2013

They Call Him Gaunty

Jon Gaunt (an ironic surname given his appearance) appears yet again on the current incarnation of BBC’s Sunday morning anaemic hot air balloon, Sunday Morning Live (the only three words with any veracity involved). This man angers me to a level beyond any of his ghastly contemporaries. These people (it was David Vance last week) seem to occupy a special place in the BBC booking team’s little black book.
Somehow they managed to squeeze him into a chair, but that never stops him leaking out to bear down on whoever has the misfortune of sitting next to him. It’s like watching a loaf of bread rise in an oven, except instead of dough you have ignorance and hate. The reason he angers me most is his boorish discussion tactic of shouting down anyone who dares to disagree with him, while claiming to represent the ‘ordinary working people’, and of huffing and sighing under anyone else if they do manage to get more than a couple of words in.
Every single interview or debate in which he parti…

Unemployment and the Work Ethic

A few weeks ago BBC Bristol reported the latest regional unemployment figures. Just under 18,000 people were recorded as claiming JSA with a drop of just under 400 people. The difference in the two figures is quite staggering and clearly shows that, despite the propaganda, unemployment is still massive.

If 16,000 people in the Bristol area are still out of work what chance does any one of them have – and that’s only the people registered as claiming JSA. The figures went no further into detail: no breakdown of what those 400 people are now doing, or even if they are in sustained work. They could be on some training scheme (workfare, for example), they could be signed off altogether, they could be sick/claiming ESA, they could well be in work – but that too raises questions. What type of work? Is it zero hours? Are they underemployed? Are they even still there?

Yet this is hailed, predictably and lamentably, as good news. The complete lack of any real explanation or evidence of the nu…

Edinburgh City Council vs The Poor

I read in the ‘I’ newspaper, yesterday, that Edinburgh City Council plans not to allow discretionary housing payments on the grounds of lifestyle choice. Essentially people who, on their application, say they smoke/drink or watch Sky TV (all the usual red flags) will be refused. DHP’s are the government’s sop to people adversely affected by the bedroom tax.
Now quite why people would choose to admit to these things (though they aren’t illegal so why shouldn’t they, you might think) is another matter. Let us assume that somehow the council have the means to find out and that the forms you have to fill in warn that withholding information or lying is a crime (the usual thought police bollocks).
Obviously this is a ridiculous standard to set, particularly coming from a Labour council. They see fit to whine they have no choice and play the card Labour has been playing for the last year or two; when faced with tough choices they come down on the side of the policy and then claim their h…

The CAB, You Seek the CAB!

Yesterday (all my troubles…) was my appointment with a specialist at the local CAB to get help appealing my ESA claim. She was very helpful and, if other advisers are like this, I recommend everyone in this situation get themselves down to the CAB. This is a real eye opener into the bullshit involved in this entire process.
I had already been contacted by the DWP about the initial stage of the appeal, which, predictably, I failed. This was last week, and it sent me into a spin – how do I proceed? Is my money stopped? I’ve been told that isn’t the case (we shall find out tomorrow) and simply the appeal then gets automatically sent to the tribunal department for the final hearing. You can choose not to have them decide your case in person, though doing so is a mistake since you are all but guaranteed to fail.
The adviser commented that it was extremely unusual for this first stage of the appeal to have been resolved so quickly. What is happening, I’m told, is that because the office is…

Today on Dr Phil…Peverley

One of the major problems for mental illness sufferers today is how GP’s simply don’t understand the benefit process. Unfortunately there are some that are not just ignorant, but wilfully so. Dr Phil Peverley is one such person.
It appears the good doctor finds it a bit of a hassle to deal with what he calls the ‘unworking well’, a rather clumsy and deeply inaccurate statement. His issue seems to be that processing such people through the benefit system via ill health is too much work. But that isn’t our fault, Dr Phil; it’s the fault of the government. We didn’t ask for the Work Capability Assessment and we certainly didn’t call for it to be administered by untrained incompetent and ignorant profiteers like ATOS. In fact the BMA has joined the chorus of common sense calling for an end to this. Perhaps you should consider some solidarity, Dr Phil.
He doesn’t strike me as the sort though. Sadly I’m catching a whiff of the libertarian here. He is the sort that believes wellness is achi…

Return of the Work Psychologist

A couple of weeks ago I had written back to the Work Psychology department to see if they could help me in cementing my claim for the ESA WRAG now that I have to appeal. In all fairness, probably something I should have done ages ago (like many things), but what’s done is done. Yesterday the psychologist I spoke to before got back in touch with me.

The Work Psychology department exists to help people with ‘psychology’ issues in dealing with unemployment, particularly (and fortunately) with the Jobcentre. In my case, and hopefully others though I suspect it depends entirely on who you see, the Psychologist is able to make or at least recommend adjustments to the frontline staff to make life easier for people dealing with JC+. I don’t know how much authority they have over frontline staff and JC+ personnel – i.e. managers – but as they are colleagues it should count for something. I’m not taking this as gospel; that is I’m not relying on it. I don’t think anyone should, but it’s help…

Stop Helping Me, Iain

He’s proud of his welfare reforms because they are helping people.
He’s proud of his policies because previous government(s) left the sick and the feeble to fester and rot.
He’s Iain Duncan Smith, and he’s changing all that.
So he says; I don’t feel terribly helped.
I attended his Work Programme, but not solely through choice. There was choice, to be sure – the choice between that, Work Choices (the same thing but only for 6 months and then onto the Work Programme, or…) or a sanction. So I chose his scheme but the choice of provider and the availability of different provisions, perhaps specialising in particular issues needs or aspects, was not mine to make. There were two providers, both carbon copies of the same model; different names, different faces, same service – or lack thereof. At no point was I offered any kind of prospectus, and at no point was I offered any say in how my future was to be built. I was not consulted and my best interests were not, and are not being discus…

ESA Appeal Stage Two

Big letter today, in the post (and not the second hand DVD I ordered either). That’s right it’s the appeal. They have decided, while I wait until I can see the CAB benefit appeal specialist (that’s next Wednesday), that the original decision still stands: in lieu of evidence that might cause them to change their mind (if such evidence exists) the original decision still stands. Naturally I am shocked at this unexpected turn of events.
Apparently this now goes to the tribunal stage. The information is passed to them as the next stage of this inscrutable and frankly nonsensical process. In a panic I range the CAB to tell them I had received this letter and that I’m still waiting for my appointment with them – should I change my trousers? Not yet, at least. It seems – at least according to them – my benefit won’t get stopped at this point.
I say apparnelty because at no point, in this entire process, is anything actually explained to you. At best you have to ask people, you have to ri…

In All Fairness...

In response to IDS's free propaganda piece in the Guardian of all places. At the heart of his warped philosophy is a supposed notion of fairness.

"There is no doubt that changes to the welfare state are desperately needed."  By whom? It is entirely a fabrication of the right that social security is some monster, growing in size and threatening inevitably to one day stomp down the nation; a public funded Gojiro set to consume the lives of the British in their own homes. This is totally spurious; not only is it evident that we can afford welfare - as a whole (which, by the way, includes pensions) - but we can also happily waste money on things we don't need as well, apparently. Things like Trident, foreign misadventures, or high speed rail networks through the back gardens of less important Tories.

"Our reforms will put an end to people being left on sickness benefits year after year; they will eradicate the trap that has left so many better off on benefits than…