1) NHS staff strike today – show your support
Following a block to pay of 1%, NHS staff and union representatives will strike today against pay freezes. The strike is underway.
2) UN to investigate ‘grave concern’ over abuses of disability rights in UK
The United Nations may begin an investigation into ‘grave’ and ‘systemic’ violations of disability rights in the UK. The investigation would make Britain the first to face such a high level of inquiry into this area.
“The UN committee that would investigate Britain would have the power to launch the inquiry if it had sufficient and “reliable” information that such violations had been committed by a country under the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNRPD).”
The government has been repeatedly criticised and questioned over policy and treatment of the disabled by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. The UK Stats Authority has also reprimanded Work and Pensions Minister, Iain Duncan Smith several times for mis-use of statistics to push through and justify cuts in welfare. Disabled people made up two thirds of those affected by the bedroom tax, and there has been a rise in disability hate crime as a result of damaging rhetoric.
“Of the £63.4bn of public expenditure cuts by 2015, 29% affect disabled people who make up only 8% of the population”
Ian Mearns MP, WOW debate Feb 27 2014
Yet, this has not deterred IDS from continuing with plan, as he recently announced new plans to tax disability welfare payments.
In June, PAC described the welfare reforms and introductions of new payment schemes ‘a fiasco’
“This resulted in significant delays, a backlog of claims and unnecessary distress for claimants who have been unable to access the support they need to live, and in some cases work, independently,” said PAC chair Margaret Hodge.
“The personal stories we heard were shocking. We heard evidence of a claimant requiring hospital intervention as a result of the stress caused by the delays suffered, and another claimant who was unable to afford the specific diet required for diabetes and gastric problems while waiting for a decision.”
Government has declined to comment on the UN investigation.
3) Sun newspaper applauds the removal of Human Rights laws, only to use them four days later to protect journalists
The Sun newspaper applauded Conservative leader, David Cameron for ‘adopting’ it’s manifesto, which included axing the Human Rights bill. But the Sun was to walk with it’s tail between it’s legs as four days later, the newspaper, owned by News UK, used the bill to defend it’s own journalists.
“Next to the headline, “Here Cams The Sun,” the paper applauded a list of Mr Cameron’s party promises, which included the intention to axe the “hated Human Rights Act,” it said.”
However, the Metropolitan police used new snooping powers under the Regulation for Investigatory Powers Act to investigate who leaked the pleb-gate story, accessing telephone records of journalists at the paper.
“The Sun has since called for a public hearing at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal into the way the Met accessed its journalists’ records, and has confirmed that it will use the HRA in its case.”
Still, this confused and ridiculous paper insists they remain for the abolishment of the Human Rights Act.
4) Benefit pre-payment card trial cancelled in North Tyneside
An attempt to trial pre-paid benefit cards in North Tyneside has been cancelled after only two people volunteered for the scheme.
A great outcome for a trial of the latest attack on welfare claimants, though North Tyneside council claim that the low sign-up was due to ‘inaccurate accusations’ that the cards would be used to target those with drug and alcohol problems.
Bruce Pickard, Deputy Councillor Bruce Pickard, said the council had used pre-paid cards successfully for some residents, and said the cards could help those who struggle to access better prices online as they do not have a full bank account.
“The council said it had no plans to restrict how the card could be used and would not have shared information with the DWP on individual spending. The council needed 250 volunteers to make the project viable.”
5) Website releases information for claimants to combat harassment from DWP
The Sanctioned Jobseeker has released an excellent article detailing how to legally combat harassment and mistreatment by jobcentre advisers and managers.
“The Sanctioned Jobseeker the article featuring helpful tips for those who have felt threatened or distressed by their experiences with the organisations, under the Protection of Harassment Act 1997. According to the government legislation, “A person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another, and which knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other”. If a person is found guilty of such acts, they can be sentenced to up to six months imprisonment, a fine, or both.
“Darren Harper, a writer at the Sanctioned Jobseeker, details examples of such acts including: “Jobcentre Plus advisers behaving in a manner which causes you to feel distressed, humiliated or threatened” whether it is the way you are spoken to, specific actions or threatening to stop benefits without reason; “being forced to attend a Work Programme”; and repeatedly called for interviews or even having false accusations made against you.
“In order to file a complaint under the law, evidence must be presented showing that two incidents occurred by the same individual or group, that the offence was conducted against an individual (i.e. yourself) and that the offences were intended to cause distress, oppression and were unreasonable.”
6) Largest property fair to take place in London this week – Let’s Block Boris
Radical Housing Network are staging some protests and demonstrations against the property fair MIPIM where much needed property and land will be sold off to rich investors as more are forced out of their home or face eviction in the UK.
“The world’s largest property fair, known as MIPIM, is coming to London for the first time in its 25-year history. Hundreds of property developers, financiers and politicians – will be welcomed by the Mayor of London – when they converge on Olympia to do deals that allow them to profit from our land and our neighbourhoods.
Join us in our action to Block Boris and other events.