Archives For Michael Gove

1. Iain Duncan Smith used false statistics to justify benefit cuts



Following a complaint from the charity Parkinson’s UK, the official statistics watchdog has revealed that the DWP repeatedly used false disability statistics to justify welfare changes and cuts.

The DWP and it’s spokespeople repeatedly claimed that the majority of those on DLA (Disability Living Allowance) were give benefits for life without supporting medical evidence. But the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has revealed that only 10% of those passed for life support had no supporting medical evidence.

“The DWP also claimed that “under the current system of DLA, 71% of claimants get indefinite awards without systematic reassessments. However the UKSA found that in the last two years of the DLA, just 23% and 24% of claimants were given indefinite awards.

…..Last year Duncan Smith claimed that 8000 people who had been affected by the benefits cap had moved back into work. The UKSA found that this figure was “unsupported by the official statistics.”

Parkinson’s UK policy advisor Donna O’Brien said:

“The Department of Work and Pensions has a long track record of misusing statistics when it comes to the benefits system, and it’s clear this was a tactic to vindicate further welfare cuts.”

 Read more about this story here.

2. Farage’s excruciating LBC interview forces him and the public to face his hypocrisy, finally

Farage faced a difficult interview when he agreed to appear on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show which resulted in UKIP’s communications director intervening to stop the interview.

O’Brien questioned Farage on racism and discrimination, highlighting that Farage’s attitude and comments were discriminatory against his own wife and children who are German.

Well done James O’Brien. Just a shame it took so long for this sort of questioning on UKIP policies and rhetoric to happen.

Watch the full interview here.


3. Universal Credit could lead to increase in error and fraud, warns Work and Pensions Committee

The government has stated that the IT system IRIS (Integrated Risk and Intelligence Service) will be used to perform safeguards against fraud throughout Universal Credit, as it does with housing benefit now. However, there are now problems with how the system will run, and access the necessary data – which could mean the overhaul of the system and a design of a new one which could put the system back, and increase fraud and error in the meantime.

Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg MP, said:

“Through the use of RTI—real-time information on PAYE earnings—Universal Credit has the potential over the longer term to substantially reduce fraud and error in the benefits system. However, this could be seriously undermined because of the uncertainty about how DWP will administer the housing element of Universal Credit without increased risks of fraud and error.”

Read more about this story here.

4. Government quietly announces proposals to privatise child protection services

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, has a proposal to permit the outsourcing of child protection services to companies like G4S and Serco.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

This has alarmed experts, who say “profit-making companies should not be in charge of such sensitive family matters, and warn that the introduction of the profit motive into child protection may distort the decision-making process.”

Professor Ellen Munro, who was commissioned by Gove in 2011 to carry out a review into child protection services, said:

“……establishing a market in child protection would create perverse incentives for private companies to either take more children into care or leave too many languishing with dangerous families.

“It’s a bad idea,” she told the Guardian. “It’s the state’s responsibility to protect people from maltreatment. It should not be delegated to a profit-making organisation.”

Sign the petition to keep profit out of child protection here. 

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass


An excellent comic from Lucie Kinchin, a teaching assistant who writes on her experiences and wider political issues through comics and illustrations.

How come no-one likes Michael Gove?

1) Red Cross launches emergency food aid plan in Britain

For the first time since the end of the second world war, the Red Cross will collect food for hungry Britons this winter as the economic downturn and cuts to welfare push more people into poverty, forcing them to turn to food banks.

The Red Cross will send out volunteers into supermarkets at the end of November and ask shoppers to donate dry food. The food will then be distributed by FareShare, a charity already working with Britain’s largest food bank – the Trussell Trust.

Around 500,000 people now rely on food banks across the UK, a number increased from 40,000 last year. As austerity cuts deeper and winter approaches, families are expected to find it even more difficult to make their money stretch with increased heating bills. The Trussell Trust and other food banks worry that they may not be able to cope with demand, and asked for help and a plan for the coming months.



Some Tories seem to shrug off the link between the welfare cuts and increased use of food banks, with Michael Gove commenting that those struggling simply need to manage their finances better, and Lord Freud said that families were simply after a free meal.

Bekele Geleta, the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross, warned governments, saying “While we fully understand that governments need to save money, we strongly advise against indiscriminate cuts in public health and social welfare, as it may cost more in the long run.”

Read more about this story here.

2) New campaign speaks out for benefit claimants to ‘change the debate’

Over 70 charity organisations have joined to launch a campaign that aims to ‘change the debate’ on benefits and welfare because damaging media and government rhetoric is causing people to deny and feel shame about asking for help and what they are entitled to.

The campaign website says:

“We all need support sometimes. Yet too often those who have been helped by benefits get ignored, misrepresented or at worst blamed for their situation.

“But if the millions of us who have needed benefits share our stories – and those who haven’t express their support – then together we can change the debate.”

Image: Who Benefits?

Image: Who Benefits?

You can visit the website here.

3) Cabinet shake up receives mixed response from disability campaigners

Disability Minister Esther McVey has been replaced by  Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, a former spin doctor who worked for Iain Duncan Smith. McVey has been promoted to Employment Minister replacing Mark Hoban who was recently sacked, which means she will still have a large role to play in disability welfare and is also handling the department that runs the controversial Work Capability Assessments.

Labour’s Liam Byrne has also been replaced as shadow work and pensions secretary by Leeds MP, Rachel Reeves. The move was welcomed by many disability campaigners who believe that Byrne had followed the Tory Party hard line on social security spending and welfare reform.

“A DPAC spokeswoman said: “Byrne may latterly have started raising the devastating impact of so-called welfare reforms on disabled people, but it was too little too late.

“Byrne represented a New Labour approach barely distinguishable from the Tories in being tough on welfare when what we need is an opposition that defends social security and challenges rather than reinforces myths about shirkers and workers.”

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne Image: The Guardian

Ex-Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne Image: The Guardian

Read more about this story here. 

4) Government adviser says expensive Work Programme is failing disabled people

Liz Sayce, head of Disability Rights UK, has called on the government to re-think it’s expensive Work Programmes and plans to help disabled people find paid work, as the current systems are failing the most vulnerable in society.

According to data released last month, 93% of disabled people within the work programme failed to find work. Sayce, a government adviser said the Work Programme was “a non-work programme – at best it is heading for an 88% failure rate with people on out-of-work disability benefits. Some providers do very good work, but perverse incentives stop them spreading it. Disabled people want to play a more central role, working with employers, to secure job and career opportunities and use their talents, to the benefit of everyone.”

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) UN Special Rapporteur in housing calls for ‘bedroom tax’  spare room subsidy to be suspended in the name of human rights

Raquel Rolnik was invited here by government as part of their obligation with the UN, to investigate the availability of adequate housing, and its surrounding policies. Ahead of a report due to be released next year, Rolnik sent out a press release calling on the government to suspend the so-called ‘bedroom tax.’

What ensued was a harsh attack by Grant Shapps – the Conservative party chairman, attempting to denounce Rolnik’s findings as ‘biased.’Shapps called Rolnik a ‘woman from Brazil’ highlighting that the housing problems in Rolnik’s native land were far worse and therefore, she could not comment on housing in the UK. Shapps also wrote a strongly worded letter to the UN, claiming that Rolnik was not invited to the UK, and that her report should be investigated.



Rolnik hit back in an interview with Inside Housing, where she said that she not experienced such aggression from a government before, despite her previous missions including “Croatia, Algeria, Maldives, Argentina, United States, Israel, Rwanda, Palestine, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.” Rolnik also highlighted that the spare room subsidy was merely a part of the investigation and elsewhere she had been very positive about UK housing.

Rolnik is continuing her investigation, and for many campaigners, she is providing some hope in rectifying the problems caused by the ‘bedroom tax.’

Read more about this story here.

2) Woman with cerebral palsy told by ATOS she may be fit to work in six months, and her disability ‘expected to improve’

Amy Jones, 24, was can now expect re-assessments every six months and a possible loss of her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) after a fit to work test suggested that her incurable and debilitating condition – cerebral palsy, could improve.

Image: The Huffington Post

Image: The Huffington Post

Amy said:

“It even says in black and white in my medical reports from the hospital that my CP is becoming increasingly disabling.

“There is nothing in my reports to suggest that my CP is improving or becoming less painful or anything like that.”

Amy requested a copy of the ATOS report after being told she would need to be re-assessed for Income Support. The DWP said they could not comment on individual cases.

Read more about this story here.

3) Liberal Democrats will push for minimum wage rise

Business Secretary Vince Cable will approach the Low Pay Commission and ask them to restore the minimum wage to its real value, which is thought to have fallen 10-12% since 2008.

The plans come amid concerns that the economic recovery is not raising living standards, and will demonstrate a government focus on dealing with this in the run up to the election.

In an interview with the Guardian, Vince Cable said:

“We cannot go on for ever in a low pay and low productivity world in which all we can say to workers is ‘you have got to take a wage cut to keep your job’.”

Vince Cable Image: The Telegraph Photo credit should read: Carl Court/PA Wire

Vince Cable Image: The Telegraph Photo credit: Carl Court/PA Wire

Read more about this story here.

4) Michael Gove insulted food bank users, say Labour

Labour MPs branded Michael Gove as “insulting” and “out of touch” following his comments on food bank users.

The Education Secretary said that food bank users often had themselves to blame as “they are not best able to manage their finances,” before promising better support to deal with the rising number of food bank users.

Labour MP, Steve McCabe said:

“Families forced to go to food banks should not be stigmatised by secretaries of state. The spiralling number of food banks across Britain should be a mark of shame for this government.”

 by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
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