Archives For Nigel Farage

1) ‘The Sun’s free copy sees backlash and a potential fine, and Ed Miliband apologises for endorsement

‘The Sun’ circulated 22 million free copies of it’s paper last week with the front page headline ‘This Is Our England,’ as a commemorative  World Cup edition.

But it was not a war reception from the public with thousands of people burning the paper, sending it back, or putting up posters to tell Royal Mail not to deliver the tabloid to their address.

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Further, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband posed with the paper as an endorsement, which saw fierce criticism from the public against the tabloid’s history, proprietorship and bias.

Miliband later apologised, though he was the only one. Having said previously, that he would ‘stand up to Murdoch,’ this PR faux pas may have cost him.

Also, the paper forgot to print some legally required details on the paper, which could see them paying up to £50 per copy, or £1.1bn in total for this mistake. It would take 3.5 years for the paper to claw the money back in sales.

Read more about this story here.

 

ATOS fined £30m for Work Capability Assessment errors

In an exclusive report, The Londoner was told that ATOS, the French healthcare company on government contract to supply fit-to-work testing, has been fined £30million for errors in it’s delivery of the assessments.

The company has already announced that they are exiting the contract early, due to huge failures exposed by thousands of people attending theassessments, but details of this pay off were kept secret up until now to avoid further embarrassment for the company.

Read more about this story here.

2) Boris’ water cannons are being phased out in Germany amid safety concerns

The water cannons secured by Boris Johnson, are being phased out in Germany (where Boris is buying them from), amid concerns over their safety.

“The “WaWe 9” vehicle, produced by Ziegler Group and colloquially known as “Mammoth” or “Goliath” among German police, was first, introduced in 1982. It is named after the 9,000 litres it can hold in its tank, which it can spray as far as 65 metres at 18 litres a second – though some reports claim the machines can easily be adjusted to double the water pressure.”

Image: Revolution News

Image: Revolution News

The water cannons are two decades old, and first raised concerns in 1985, when activist Günter Sare died after being stunned and run over by a WaWe 9.

An investigation into Sare’s death revealed several flaws in the design of WaWe 9, which contributed to the death.

Germany is seeking to replace the cannons with newer models, explaining why Boris Johnson was able to bag three of them for around £30,000 each – much cheaper than the £1m it costs for new cannon models.

Kerry-anne Mendoza, author of the brilliant ScriptoniteDaily has begun a crowdfund for a People’s Cannon, which you can donate to here.

Read more about this story here.

3) Focus E15 mothers target abandoned houses in protest for decent homes

The excellent Focus E15 mothers targeted local abandoned housing, covering them in posters and photos which said “This family needs a home, this home needs a family.”

Focus E15 mothers will march on July 5th for decent homes for all.

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All photos from Focus E15 mothers facebook page.

4) Farage could face jail for undeclared donations of £205,000

Action is being considered against UKIP leader Nigel Farage after it was found that donations worth £205,000 were undeclared to the electoral commission, breaking electoral law.

The donations, dating back from 2001, made by party supporter John Longhurst were declared to the European Parliamentary register but Farage failed to tell the British Electoral Commission. Donations should be declared within 30 days.

A UKIP spokesperson said “Mr Farage was surprised to learn that the Electoral Commission thought it should be informed as well, as this did not accord with the professional advice he had received at the time.”

Read more about this story here.

5) Salma Yaqoob confronts Iain Duncan Smith on Question Time

Despite the presence of the Minister for Work and Pensions on BBC Question Time last week, welfare and employment played a small role in the discussion. However, Salma Yaqoob, from Birmingham’s Stop The War campaign, did confront Iain Duncan Smith and the ‘scrounger’ rhetoric he has previously relied on.

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

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

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.”

Politics.co.uk

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

1) Jobseekers must now take on zero hour contracts or face sanction

Jobseekers will face sanctions for three months or more if they do not take on zero hour contracts, according to a leaked letter from Employment Minister Esther McVey last week.

For the first time, claimants could be sanctioned for not applying or accepting certain zero hour contract jobs, despite growing concern that these contracts lead to insecure employment and an undue upper hand to the employer. The ONS revealed last week that 1.4 million Brits were now on zero hour contracts, a number that has more than doubled in the last year.

“The senior Tory confirmed that, under the new system, Jobcentre “coaches” would be able to “mandate to zero-hours contracts“, although they would have discretion about considering whether a role was suitable.”

Government insists the change is possible because Universal Credit will be able to track what hours were worked each week and adjust payments to suit. However, the Universal Credit system has been awash with problems and delays, and critics say this could hamper claimant chances of finding more secure work or training.

Image: The Liverpool Echo - Employment Minister Esther McVey

Image: The Liverpool Echo – Employment Minister Esther McVey

Read more about this story here.

2) In-work Housing benefit claimants rise by 60% since coalition

The number of people in-work claiming housing benefits has risen by 60% since the coalition took power in 2010.

The figures were revealed by the House of Commons Library after a request from the Labour Party, and showed “the number of Housing Benefit claimants who are in-work and struggling to keep up with their rent payments increased from 650,561 in May 2010 to 1.03 million by the end of 2013, and is continuing to rise.”

This will cost the taxpayer an extra £4.8 billion by May 2015 and demonstrates that falls in working conditions and pay are also contributing to rises in poverty, and that claimants are not restricted to the unemployed.

The rise also demonstrates the spread of extortionate rents, which people are struggling to keep up with. Yet, the rate of house building remains at it’s lowest for decades, despite the prospect of creating jobs, housing stock and affordable rent prices.

Photo: www.theguardian.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

3) Tory led company made £8m profit from Royal Mail fire sale

An investment bank which made profits of £8m in one week following the sale of the Royal Mail, was led by former Tory Chairman, Archie Norman.

Lazard, a bank which was invited to advise on the Royal Mail deal whilst also given preferential terms in the sale of under-priced Royal Mail shares, was promoted by Vince Cable as one of the firms that would form “a core of high quality investors.” Yet, one of the divisions put their shares up for sale within a few days, taking advantage of the predictable rise in price and trousering £8m in one week.

Financial News reported back in July 2013:

“Lazard, the independent investment bank, has appointed former Conservative minister and ex-Asda chief executive Archie Norman as its London chairman, as the firm works on the privatisation of the Royal Mail.”

“Norman, 59, who has been a senior adviser to Lazard since 2003, will strengthen his ties with the investment bank at a time when a string of UK Government mandates are up for grabs.”

 

Read more about this story here.

4) Britain’s rich now have more than pre-recession wealth

The Sunday Times Rich List has revealed that there are more than 100 billionaires now living in Britain, with a combined wealth of £301 billion.

This has more than tripled from a decade ago, when £700m was required to enter Britain’s top 50 wealthiest people. The entry rate is £1.7 billion now.

The UK has the highest rate of billionaires per head anywhere in the world, and London has the highest rate of any city.

Read more about this story here.

5) “I have no time for you, sir” – BBC Question Time audience member tells Farage.

 by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) 1.4 million Britons now on zero hour contracts

Official statistics released on Wednesday revealed there are now 1.4 million people on zero hour contracts in the UK. More than one in ten employers use these casual employment contracts, and they are mostly found in the retail, care and service sectors.The figure has increased rapidly since 2010 and has more than doubled in the last year.

Zero-Hours-Contracts

Zero hour contracts do not provide a minimum number of hours, and no holiday or sick pay which is leaving an ever growing number of people without job and financial security week to week. Defenders of the contracts say that they can be used well and work for certain jobs, however, the increase in their use is normalising these contracts in further sectors and can be used as a way of disempowering the employee and keeping wages low. We spoke to Giselle Cory from the Resolution Foundation a little while back about the issues surrounding increased use of zero hour contracts:

“Labour market flexibility is on the one hand a very good thing, and for some people zero hour contracts will be perfect, but for a lot of people we know they’re not. So for people who perhaps have responsibilities at home, young children for example, and are on zero hour contracts where they need to be available for work all the time, but don’t know what hours they’re going to get that week, it’s very difficult to manage their lives – both manage their budget but also manage their childcare and make sure they can get to work if they’re needed. For those families, when they have no option but to take these zero hour contracts, they’re left in a quite miserable and precarious position because they have no security day-to-day or week-to-week.

“[Some employers are] in effect, using these contracts as a management tool, when that’s not what they’re intended for and that’s a great imbalance of power between the employer and the employee.”

Read the full interview here.

Pressure now mounts on Vince Cable to act on providing better job security during the ‘recovery.’ Cable has also commissioned his own study into the contracts, the findings of which will be published shortly.

Read more about this story here.

2) Sanctions are ‘damaging’ and have ‘no positive impact’ say Jobcentre advisers

The coalition government introduced a new benefit sanctions regime in 2012 as they believed the old system was too soft. However, 70% of Jobcentre staff that responded to a PCS survey said that sanctions “had ‘no positive impact’ in influencing jobseeker behaviour” and “three quarters had noticed an increase in the number of claimants being referred to food banks as a result of their benefits being cut.”

Image: powerinaunion.co.uk

Image: powerinaunion.co.uk

Sanctions have increased dramatically in the last two years. In statistics released a couple of weeks ago, 5 times as many people were sanctioned as found jobs, raising questions on the legitimacy of the sanctions where there are no opportunities or jobs for people.

The news also supports what was said by the 2 Jobcentre advisers we interviewed last week. You can read their accounts here.

Read more about this story here.

3) Green Party push Lib Dems into 5th place in Euro election polls

“Green Party of England and Wales ahead of the Lib Dems in the Euro election polls, and David Cameron has confirmed he will have a live TV debate with Nigel Farage and Natalie Bennett – Green Party Leader. That’ll be the first time a woman has appeared in these election debates.”

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4) UKIP have to cancel freepost address after receiving bricks and faeces

UKIP have had to cancel their freepost address after they were sent unwanted and unpleasant packages at their own expense.

After the freepost address was circled online, many took to sending bricks to the political party in order to charge them with hefty postage fees. Others sent leaflets and phone books, but after receiving blood and faeces the party decided to cancel the address.

Polls suggest that UKIP may do well in the European elections on 22nd May. To find out all you need to know about the party – check our lowdown.

In other UKIP news, Farage will once again appear on Question Time this week, prompting a petition calling on the BBC to stop giving the leader of the UKIP party disproportionate airtime. The petition says:

“Despite leading a party with no elected Members of Parliament, Nigel Farage has appeared on the BBC’s foremost political discussion programme more often than any other British politician: 14 times since 2009. This utterly disproportionate airtime runs contrary to the BBC’s duty as a public service broadcaster to provide balanced coverage.”

You can sign here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1)  Council Tax Support cut sees over 600,000 now living in fear of bailiffs and court summons

Following a cut in council tax support, 600,000 people have now been summonsed to court and 87,000 are being pursued by debt collectors, because they cannot find the extra £127 on top of rising living costs and other cuts to benefits.

Those affected are some of the poorest people in the country and only gained the council tax support following means-testing which proved they could not afford it.

Among those suffering most are 394,000 disabled people and 3,000 war widows,” say the Mirror. 

Council tax benefit was slashed last year by £500m by Eric Pickles and has been dubbed the new poll tax.

Read more about this story here.

2) Nigel Farage squirms when challenged on £2m expenses claims, on ‘Have I Got News For You’

UKIP leader, Nigel Farage appeared on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You last week and was rightly challenged on his previous boastings of £2m worth of expenses claims. Farage replied “And who was it that brought up the issue of £2m and me and taxpayer’s money? Denis Macshane,” to which Ian Hislop pointed out “Yeah, he’s in jail, but you’re not.”

Watch the video here.

Image: The Mirror

Image: The Mirror

3) Iain Duncan Smith’s speech “Getting Britain Working” branded out of touch, and not a reflection of the true conditions 

Iain Duncan Smith’s speech last week was banging the same drum, once again suggesting there is a culture of welfare dependency that needs to be tackled and avoiding facts such as most people on benefits are in work. Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, responded to the Work and Pensions Minister’s speech in the Huffington Post, and called out Iain Duncan Smith’s lack of understanding and false reflection of what is really happening. Read the full post here.

“The picture he painted is one hugely at odds with the lives of the millions of ordinary people who are supported by benefits in the UK – many of whom are in work, but on low pay, caring for others, need care themselves or have lost their jobs.”

 

4) Sue Townsend dies aged 68

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

The author of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend, died last week after suffering a stroke at home.

Townsend had tackled and written on the welfare state and it’s effects on the people it is meant to help, including the below extract from a piece she wrote for the Observer in 1989, on her own experiences and how she was left destitute.

Read the full article here.

“The DSS offices are not given enough funding, their staff are poorly paid and are driven to distraction by the amount of work they have to do. There is frequent turnover of staff. Morale is extremely low. Working with desperate people all day is very dispiriting; their unhappiness rubs off on you. For the sake of self-preservation you develop a thicker skin, you come to regard the claimants as the enemy. Because they are inarticulate in the presence of articulate officialdom, you do not respect them and habitually talk to them as though they are of lower intelligence than yourself. You are frightened of them, and all your communication takes place behind a glass screen. The furniture they sit on is screwed down because, in the past, this furniture has been thrown at you.

“They offend you in their poverty, you despise their clothes and their shoes. Some of them smell and have disgusting personal habits. That is why it is impossible to allow them free access to the lavatory; why they must queue up and ask for the key.

“Nobody goes to a DSS office to ask for state benefits if they are well and happy and employed. Nobody needs to. There is no need to have vile surroundings and seemingly uncaring staff as a disincentive.

“People down on their luck deserve the best: beautiful surroundings and well-paid professional staff to help them out of their difficulties. Why not train thousands more social workers and let them sit in on claimants’ interviews? Most social problems could be helped or prevented if people had more money and practical advice. The present benefits system is unfair, inefficient, and totally unprofessional; which is why millions of people do not claim the benefits to which they are legally entitled.”

 

5) Worldwide Wave Of Action continues

Join in. Do something – big or small. Be part of the change.

Find out more here

“Dear future generations….I will do everything I can, with all my heart, body and mind, to help create a world that works for everyone and all life. The time is now!#WaveOfAction

Image: Worldwide Wave Of Action Facebook

Image: Worldwide Wave Of Action Facebook

 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass