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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Is Reform.uk think tank a charity abiding by the rules, or a non-executive arm of privatising government?

Reform.uk home page rolling billboard messaging presents very mixed messaging!

The above 'screen capture' image is taken from the 'rolling top and bottom billboards' presentations that make up the bulk of the current home page of the 'think tank' Reform.uk.(1) I would argue that the messaging presented by the upper and lower 'billboards' shown in the above 'screen capture' image presents so much contrast as to be hypocritical.

I am reminded of what I recall an American singer-songwriter of the 'topical' or 'protest singer' gendre saying/writiting once of those whose standpoints he opposed: "You don't have to satirise them; you merely have to quote them."

Clashing billboard messaging

As indicated by the red dot at the bottom right of the 'upper billboard' in the above screen capture image, the 'upper billboard' message is the third of three. (The first and second of those 'upper billboard' screen captures are recruiting adverts for the organisation.) The upper billboard message shown reads:
As a charity, Reform will not be publishing or tweeting anything until after the general election.
Yet the lower billboard would seem to present this 'charity' as a non-executive arm of a privatising government:
I think Reform has made some very, very important arguments, which have really helped us as Ministers, who are trying to enact those very reforms.
Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

Global Corporate Private Sector involvement in a UK 'charity'

Priding itself as a 'charity abiding by charity status rules' regarding involvement in a UK General Election, Reform.uk still prides itself as being exactly in harmony with the 2015/17 government's agenda. Indeed, all the lower billboard statements on offer are sourced from Tory Government Ministers.(2) I further observe that the changes in the messages from government ministers shown has changed since I did screen captures of that home page on 27 April for Kwug Blog has functioned as providing more than a static-in-time home page.(3) Looking further into to the Reform.uk content, there is an item on The future of public services: digital jobcentres, as presented by Accenture, a global corporation.(4) Accenture's branding 'strap line' is 'High Performance. Delivered'.

Screen capture of the cover page of Accenture's report for Reform.uk
'The future of public services: digital jobcentres


So, what have Accenture previously delivered to us or their clients? To answer that question, I refer my readers to the previous Kwug Blog post, Terms and conditions in 'too commercially sensitive for public access' contracts between government and corporations.(5)

That earlier Kwug Blog post reveals that in late 2011, a 'Con-Dem' government awarded the primary contractor in building the 'customer facing systems' for Universal Credit [sic] to Accenture! "High performance. Delivered"? What were they contracted to do? Discourage claiming?(6)

Conclusion: If Reform.uk is a charity, what is Charity?

So, to sum up, given
if Reform.uk is a charity, what has Charity got to do with it? Maybe it's more to do with tax breaks and a love-in between corporate privatisers of public services and right wing government?

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://www.reform.uk/
  2. http://www.reform.uk/ browsed on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/revisiting-kwug-blogs-2015-uk-general-election-posting-pollsters-vision-excludes-those-offline.html
  4. http://www.reform.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-future-of-public-services-digital-jobcentres.pdf
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/terms-and-conditions-in-too-commercially-sensitive-for-public-access-contracts-between-government-departments-and-corporations.html
  6. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/us-workfare-monger-laurence-meads-work-makes-you-free-impact-on-uk-welfare-reform.html (Sorry for the accidental misspelling of Lawrence Mead's forename in that page address)
  7. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/let-us-not-help-theresa-may-bury-bad-news-about-universal-credit-rollout-suicides-and-homelessness-under-a-brexit-general-election.html
  8. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Top 10 Kwug Blog Posts for the past month

Entry
Pageviews
24 Apr 2017

339
19 Jan 2017

304
17 Apr 2017, 1 comment

265
18 Apr 2017

237
27 Apr 2017
236
29 Apr 2017

206
6 May 2017

194
20 Dec 2016

191
7 May 2017

171
4 May 2017
157

Multi-millionaire to give money to pro-Brexit Tories. What's in it for him?

Jeremy Hosking, a London asset manager and Conservative Party donor, spent £1.7m ($2.19m) on the Vote Leave campaign and has vowed to funnel cash to Tory candidates who will not oppose Brexit.

He told the Observer that he wanted to give Prime Minister Theresa May "an army" of pro-Brexit MPs that was "fully equipped and as big as possible".

He will target constituencies where most voters backed Brexit, but which are currently represented by an MP that favoured Remain, offering upto £5,000 per candidate. With nearly 140 such constituencies, Hosking could end up spending close to £700,000 on the campaign.
 As an 'asset manager', he would consider it an investment to help make him and his clients much more wealthy.

But does he give a shit about public service workers at the front line of public service delivery such as paramedics on 1% pay increases who put their lives on the line for £12.35/hr in saving lives?(2)

Some 'give' more money than others make in a lifetime to make themselves and their clients more wealthy. Others give their lives to public service.

Link references

  1. https://uk.yahoo.com/news/millionaire-brexiteer-launches-bid-oust-113103244.html
  2. https://tompride.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/desperately-underpaid-paramedic-tells-theresa-may-ive-seen-things-no-one-should-have-to-witness/

Sunday, 14 May 2017

US evangelist Lawrence Mead's 'work makes you free' impact on UK welfare reform policies

Lawrence M Mead
“In my interviews with state officials [in the US] they did not blink about putting men in prison to enforce a work requirement,” says Lawrence M Mead. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
(Kwug Blog editor apologises for accidental misspelling of Mead's forename in the address for this Web page.)

In a recent Kwug Blog post I referred to my attendance on Monday 8 May at the book launch for Prof. Guy Standing's book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen.(1) I now turn briefly to flagging up a reference Guy made to the influence of Lawrence Mead on the ideas and strategies of now former Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron from as far back as 2007.(2)

Mead's overriding message: "Make it harder for people to claim," reported Guy Standing.

This blog post is intended more as a reference source than an 'article'. I shall close it with reference to a blog post I wrote from dire personal experience that the British Broadcasting Corporation never properly reported on but that was far more widespread than the 2007 Blairite Government would have liked to have flagged up: Benefit claimants require firmer safeguards, not tougher sanctions.(3)

Since then, we have had introduction of food stamps as decreed by Lawrence Mead the evangelist of a 'despise thy claimant' theology.(4)

Laurence Mead: "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate."

I close this blog post with the closing paragraphs of the Guardian Society article Does getting tough on the unemployed work?(5)
The key intellectual insight for Mead when he began his assault on the American welfare state was that what changed behaviour was not economic incentives but tough government talking. "It was authoritative statements from people in authority that mattered. We should not [incentivise people] to work. We hope [they will]. We say it because you are supposed to do it, we expect you to do it."

Such sentiments have a whiff of 1930s Germany, something the Twittersphere buzzed with when welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Work makes you free" – the same words hung over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "I have faced this accusation," says Mead. "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate. There is something wrong when because of fascism we have to solve every problem with freedom and benefits."
In the wake of another Tory victory, would Theresa May claim a 'popular mandate' for the Gospel according to Lawrence Mead?


"Arbeit macht frei" — the German for
"work makes you free"

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/universal-credit-application-processes-bleed-claimants-dry-simplicity-of-basic-income-application-processes-revives.html
  2. https://uk.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A7x9Ukn3cRhZaEoAKjeP3olQ;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTIxMjY4NwRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1tb3ppbGxhLTEwMARncHJpZAM4al95U19YelFyV3FyWU1tS0ZqV0ZBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMwBG9yaWdpbgN1ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMwBHBxc3RyAwRwcXN0cmwDBHFzdHJsAzUxBHF1ZXJ5AyUyMmxhdXJlbmNlJTIwbWVhZCUyMiUyMCUyMmlhaW4lMjBkdW5jYW4lMjBzbWl0aCUyMgR0X3N0bXADMTQ5NDc3NTIwOQ--?p=%22laurence+mead%22+%22iain+duncan+smith%22&fr2=sb-top-uk.search&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-100&type=newtab
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/benefit-claimants-require-firmer-safegards-not-tougher-sanctions.html 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  6. https://tse3.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.TXIkYO_C3vKprrqbIq501QEsDB&pid=15.1&P=0&w=241&h=157

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ask well-informed questions of candidates while government bodies still gather the statistics!

Richard Osley of Camden New Journal and Islington Tribune writes in the Islington Tribune:

No mistakes: Justice Secretary Liz Truss can’t think of a single error made by Tory government (1)


JUSTICE Secretary Liz Truss was stumped today when the New Journal asked her if the Conservatives had made any mistakes at all in government since the last general election.

With cabinet members arriving in the target constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn at a rate of one every four days since Theresa May called a snap election, Ms Truss was in West Hampstead this afternoon (Thursday) to help with the local Conservative campaign aiming to unseat Labour’s Tulip Siddiq.

After rolling off a list of achievements and insisting that, despite her role in the Remain campaign, that her party had been right to call a national referendum on EU membership, the New Journal asked the simple question as to whether she could think of any mistake the government had made over the last two years.

She paused, looked surprised by the question, and then replied: “Well, I think given where we were as a country, given what we inherited in 2010, which was a country with serious financial problems, I think we’ve done a very good job in getting us back into a better position. We have record levels of employment, we’ve got more children in good and outstanding schools, we are putting more money into the NHS and that’s what people want to see....”

Perhaps that phrase ".... and that's what people want to see...." is the most telling piece of her speel, given the new policy of the Department for Work & Pensions closing jobcentres without a consultation of service users, and saying that closing jobcentres will 'improve the service'?(2) Her Party does not want the people who are not in regular 'nine-to-five' employment to be seen to expose the lies and statistical manipulations involved in her 'record levels of employment' vision that masks the misery of zero hours contracts and sanctions.

As William Davies writes of Tory leader yet to be mandated as Prime Minister, Theresa May: Theresa May's Vapid Vision for a One-Party State: (3)
.... The prime minister’s rhetoric since calling the general election has implied that the best outcome for “the national interest” would be to eradicate opposition altogether, whether that be in the news media, Parliament or the judiciary....
Elsewhere, the non-party-political Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty writes:

Questions for all Parliamentary Candidates;
Each question should be prefaced with

IS IT FAIR…

The NHS has reported that over 7300 people were admitted to hospital with malnutrition in 2014/15. Up 50% in the four years since 2010? http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/food-bank-britain-amid

That the Office for National Statistics has revealed an unprecedented increase in deaths in 2015 after decades of improvement? http://www.theactuary.com/news/2017/03/an-unprecedented-rise-in-uk-deaths-will-see-life-expectancy-fall/

That the regressive impact of the market and austerity has damaged the health and wellbeing of millions of citizens since 1979 and in particular since 2010?http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/tap-health-equality-campaign-of-9-blogs-against-a-national-disgrace-we-publ

That because rents are rising faster than incomes The Resolution Foundation has forecast ​ever ​lower incomes after housing costs reducing by 16% for the poorest citizens over the next four years while the highest incomes rise 4%? http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2017/01/Audit-2017.pdf

That Income Support, Employment Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance all at £73.10pw and Universal Credit of £317pm are too low live on AND have to pay rent due to the bedroom tax and council tax http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/the-great-injustice-in-cutting-esa-by-30-a-wee

That given what we know about the physical and emotional costs of moving house, the vulnerability of children’s education to frequent moves and the disruption to schooling and social networks, that councils are demolishing council estates rather than maintaining them?  http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/25331/412554-Housing-as-a-Platform-for-Improving-Education-Outcomes-among-Low-Income-Children.PDF

​To allow the UK to sleepwalk into a proliferation of insecure work which is short sighted, damages health and costs the taxpayers? http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/allowing-uk-to-sleepwalk

In 2010 it was estimated that inequalities in health accounted for productivity losses of £31-£33 billion per year, and £20-£32 billion a year in lost taxes and higher welfare payments.  Additional NHS healthcare costs associated with inequality were estimated to be in excess of £5.5 billion a year?  http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/health-inequalities-004
Rev Paul Nicolson
Those questions are based on official statistics that no doubt Justice Secretary Theresa May, Prime Minister Theresa May etc would rather have the public not see. So I would say, grab every opportunity you can! Ask those questions of candidates and highlight those statistical realities.

Otherwise, those who have landed Britain in such a mess in the name of 'austerity' and the reality of making economically vulnerable people subject to the bankers' debt, will abolish the requirement and budgeting for official bodies to gather the relevant statistics.


Successful legal challenges embarrass the abusers of vulnerable people in a very unequal and divided Britain, and so do the statistics resulting from a legal system designed and equipped to challenge injustice rather than perpetuate injustice.

Link References


  1. http://islingtontribune.com/article/no-mistakes-justice-secretary-liz-truss-cant-think-of-a-single-error-made-by-tory-government
  2. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html 
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/opinion/theresa-mays-vapid-vision-for-a-one-party-state.html
  4. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/question-candidate-mps-more-deaths
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Ministry+of+Justice

Friday, 12 May 2017

Universal Credit application processes bleed claimants dry. Simplicity of basic income application processes revives

I attended a book launch on Monday night (8 May) at London School of Economics, for the latest book by Professor Guy Standing of School of Oriental and African Studies.(1) His book Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen is being published by Pelican.(2)

Though I bought the book, I shall not be reviewing it here in this blog post as I am a very slow reader and have personally pressing priorities that get in the way of my reading it just now. I shall, however, refer a little to his presentation speech content and a film that was shown outlining a pilot scheme for an unconditional basic income that was trialed in India and has excited the Indian government.

Professor Guy Standing's new book Basic Income:And How We Can Make It Happen is published by Pelican

In his introductory talk, Standing referred back to his works on the precariat as a new socio-economic class that is particularly vulnerable to change in an environment in which the global wealthy seem to be pulling all the strings.(3) The means-testing embedded in the UK's welfare state over the past several decades has been ever more firmly embedded into the new Universal Credit, and that makes work far less rewarding especially for those in precarious employment he argued.

The idea of a basic income has been around for centuries, he pointed out, and included in the writings of Thomas Paine in the 18th century, for example.(4) More recently, Norway nationalised its share of North Sea Oil and distributed the wealth among its own nationals. (UK government privatised its North Sea Oil.) He also pointed out that since the industrial revolution that happened in North-East England on account of local mineral resources, Middlesborough is one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

Standing observed that critics of an unconditional basic income have argued that it would breed laziness. Advocates of basic income, by contrast, state that an unconditional basic income, by fostering a more socio-economically stable and equal society promotes goodwill between state and citizens, and increases people's intelligence.

He presented a film of a basic income pilot scheme that was recorded in India with English subtitles. The overriding image for me from that film was of claimants congregating to receive their payments, and applying their thumb print as identification on a piece of paper. (Well, fingerprinting originated largely on the Indian sub-continent, and not as a means of tracking down criminals, as I recall reading years ago.)

Contrast that with the Department for Work & Pensions' (DWP) obsession with closure of face-to-face benefits outlets that has been going on for decades now in the UK.(5) Claimants are kept on hold for a long time at pay-as-you-go mobile phone call charge rates of £33/hr while the claimant has to wait for the 'adviser' they are speaking to to refer back to their supervisor. Claimants do this in isolation from one another, adding to their sense of alienation and isolation. And the DWP has a bullying insistance that jobcentres are no longer so necessary, because 75% of Jobseekers Allowance claims and 99% of Universal Credit claims are made online.(6) Whose choice is that?

In place of Guy's wording 'reciprocity' for the goodwill effect of a basic income, I believe people in the precariat would describe the liberation that an unconditional basic income would bring as "being freed from being bled dry." And I would also add that the 'conditionality' embedded in Universal Credit and Claimant Commitment procedures in alienation from what is represented of 'life' in the mainstream mass media puts people into a 'headless chicken' state of panic.

So, yes, Basic Income makes people more intelligent and frees society from the problems of low birth weight that Revd Paul Nicolson has helped to highlight;(7) but what gets in the way of people manifesting their intelligence?

I will close this post with a further referencing to means-tested benefits that Guy gave in, as I recall, the question and answer session. He pointed out that under means-tested systems, more benefits go to immigrants because they have experienced the most deprivation. Thus that creates more hostility between the indigenous poor people.

Link references

  1. http://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/2017/05/20170508t1830vOT/Basic-Income
  2. https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/304706/basic-income/
  3. http://www.bloomsbury.com/author/guy-standing/
  4. http://www.guystanding.com/files/documents/CDHE_Standing.pdf 
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html
  6. ibid.  
  7. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/rev-paul-nicolson-to-appeal

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Information, advice and guidance workshop for UK resident EU nationals at Swiss Cottage Library, Fri 12 May, 1:30pm to 3:30pm

The following appeared first in last Thursday's Camden New Journal print edition as a reader's letter.

Residents face uncertainty – there’s a workshop for EU nationals on May 12

04 May, 2017
• I AM deeply concerned by the uncertainty facing local residents following the vote to leave the European Union.

This uncertainty is a real issue for people making employment, housing, and family decisions for the years ahead. The Conservatives’ refusal to guarantee their right to remain, as Labour proposed, insults their profound contribution to life in the UK and was an entirely avoidable decision.


I will therefore be running a workshop for EU nationals who are anxious over their future residential status. The event will enable residents better to understand their rights and the possible options available to them, as they attempt to secure permanent residency in the UK.

The meeting will be on Friday May 12 at Swiss Cottage Library [88 Avenue Road, NW3 3HA] and people are free to drop in at any time between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. I look forward to welcoming all those unsure of their futures in the UK to this important workshop.

[Location map and how to get there]

TULIP SIDDIQ
Labour candidate,
Hampstead & Kilburn

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Free short art film screening 'KUWG LIFE' on Thursday 11 May at 2:30pm at Kingsgate CC, NW6 2JH


Please come along and support a group that supports local people!
11/05/17 @ 2:30pm @ Kingsgate CC, NW6 2JH

Transcript of flyer:

Free Short Art Film Screening: KUWG LIFE

Are you local to NW6? Are you concerned about local people who need support?

What is the film about? Filmed over 2 years, this is a hidden and obscured camera view of life and interactions of the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group.

Created by embedded member and local socially engaged artist Helen Mandley.

The screening is part of the continued dialogue within the community. KUWG members support people that face:
  • Jobcentre Plus 'benefit sanctions'
  • ATOS assessments
  • evictions, and 
  • disabled person's needs. 
We also show solidarity with other local and national groups as austerity measures are cutting across the country. KUWG also leaflet and advise outside local jobcentres, housing offices and ATOS assessment centres.

KUWG organises local protests such as against the planned closure of Kilburn Jobcentre and organised vigils for local benefit claimants that have died due to stress placed upon them by jobcentres.  KUWG also advises anyone affected by imposed jobcentre regulations  amongst many other issues that arise as austerity measures hit an all time high in this country.

Helen Mandley feels that discussion, interaction and acts of translation are invaluable to her socially engaged art practice; and KUWG are a group doing just that!

PLEASE COME ALONG AND SUPPORT A GROUP THAT SUPPORTS LOCAL PEOPLE

11 May 2017 @ 2:30pm @ Kingsgate Community Centre
Kingsgate Road, NW6 2JH

https://helenmandleyartist.wixsite.com/website





Sunday, 7 May 2017

Abusive bullies avoid embarrassing questions

The scale of right wing 'welfare reformist' government abuses is now more mainstream than it was when David Cameron gave a speech in 2007 stating that tougher benefit sanctions were required.(1) The tactics and strategies of the abusive bullies are still very much the same, however.


Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson asks, “Is Jeremy Corbyn going to be the one who is going to stand up and get the best for Britain [in Brexit negotiations] or is Theresa May?” (Tories determined to follow 'get Corbyn' strategy, CNJ, May 4, 2017.(2))

Perhaps a lot depends on what he means by 'Britain'. Among the billionaires domiciled in the UK according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2017. there is "a record number of British billionaires - 134 - with 14 new ones emerging over the last year."(3) 
Yet Britain is very unequal socio-economically. In 2015, according to NHS figures, 7300 people were admitted to hospital with malnutrition — an increase of 50% since 2010. Homelessness is up 54% since 2010.(4)

Moreover, in negotiations bullies think that the bullying tactics used at home against those with no real bargaining power is 'strong leadership'. Among the tactics successive UK governments have used to deflect and pre-empt criticism of deteriorating services for benefit claimants have been the besmirching of the reputation and hence public goodwill toward those who have been abused by woefully inadequate and exploitative 'benefits helplines' as remote control has replaced face-to-face contact with decision-makers. In the mid-noughties while 21m calls to Jobcentre Plus helplines in 2004/5 went unanswered,(5) a Blairite government was running its Tory-lite 'Targeting BenefitThieves' campaign.(6)

Now, furthering the isolation and invisibility of benefit claimants while'benefits helpline' calls cost pay-as-you-go mobile phone users £33/hr, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) has decided to close a number of jobcentres used by Camden New Journal readers, including Kilburn andHighgate (near Archway) to 'improve the service' without consulting service users.(7)

The EU's Chief Negotiator has more bargaining power than a DWP 'customer'.(8)

Now at this General Election time, the Tory chief whip's tactic of changing the agenda when faced with embarrassing questions gives rise to new meaning for a cartoon by Crippen the Disabled Cartoonist's 'Welfare Warfare' series.(9) The cartoon depicts a group of disabled people at a meeting presided over by the then Tory Prime Minister and Disability Minister who state: 
“Don't worry — when we want your opinion, we'll tell you what it is.”

Link references

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/benefit-claimants-require-firmer-safegards-not-tougher-sanctions.html
  2. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/corbyn-wont-save-people-from-food-banks-warns-tory-chief-whip-gavin-williamson
  3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39830087 title: "UK's super-rich carry on making billions" 
  4. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/civil-disobedience-fully-justified
  5. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2006/11/16/jobcentre-plus-poor-service-continues/
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw0zno5G3hw
  7. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html
  8. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-brexit-negotiating-draft-european-council-president-donald-tusk-union-latest-a7659316.html
  9. http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk/wp-content/archive/cartoons/welfarewarfare/welfarewarfare12.shtml

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Placard designs to help tackle and question the dominance of the pollsters

The placard designs below were inspired by a recent Kwug Blog post,(1) and further contemplation done for Kwug's leaflet that will be unveiled outside Kilburn Jobcentre on Monday 8 May from 11am till 12 Noon, in a limited edition batch of 100.

They have also been influenced by Kitty S Jones' blog post Political polls and propaganda: the writing on the wall.(2)

Don't let the pollsters grind you down!

Mercenary pollsters manipulate mindsets
Mercenary pollsters play mind games
A: "Five more years." Q: Who pays pollsters?
A: "Five more years." Q: Who does your thinking?
Does closing face-to-face-outlets-improve-service?
See also the Crippen the Disabled Cartoonist cartoon Welfare Warfare Series Number 12: Opinion.

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link addresses

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/revisiting-kwug-blogs-2015-uk-general-election-posting-pollsters-vision-excludes-those-offline.html
  2. https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/political-polls-and-propaganda-the-writing-on-the-wall/
  3. http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk/wp-content/archive/cartoons/welfarewarfare/welfarewarfare12.shtml 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Lowest-bidder-wins contract systems for vulnerable people's services degrade the skills involved and the service users

Most of the Kwug Blog blog posts are carefully worded and logged with keyword 'labels' to help seekers of the information contained in those posts reach their goal. that can improve the number of 'page viewings' even when the Kwug Blog editor does not engage in Twitter himself.

Just as important in Google search ratings, if not more so, can be the combination of keyword 'labels' and 'permalink' for a given blog post.

An image of the latest 'All time page viewing statistics for blog posts published on Kwug Blog' appears here.
Page viewing statistics for Kwug Blog posts, May 2010-to-May 2017
One Kwug Blog blog post has long stood out as having received more page viewings than any other on this platform, and that is from early 2014:

KUWG with Simon of Occupy Highlight What Goes on at Atos' Tresco House, Lisson Grove Medical Examination Centre

Anti-Atos Day 2, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group style

Perhaps, embarrassingly, that could be because the 'permalink' given to it does not reflect the words in the title, but the very generic heading 'blog-post'!
http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/blog-post.html


Much dearer to the Kwug Blog editor's heart is the number 2 ranking given to

British Sign Language Interpreters ripped off by NHS contractor

From NUBSLI via Linda Burnip of Disabled People Against Cuts
No doubt the 'permalink' http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/british-sign-language-interpreters-ripped-off-by-nhs-contractor.html

The underlying message of wider application in that blog post is perhaps:

Lowest-bidder-wins contract systems for vulnerable people's services degrade the skills involved and the service users

The 'search labels' given to this Kwug Blog blog post can be viewed below the blog post.

 By Dude Swheatie of Kwug



Saturday, 29 April 2017

Commenting on Kwug Blog contents

The Kwug Blog publisher feels obliged to publish the below as a Kwug Blog blog post in itself. That is because very few comments have turned up in response to Kwug Blog contents, despite a daily readership in the hundreds.

The non-appearance of readers' comments may seem suspicious to unfamiliar readers faced with hundreds or thousands of comments on, say, news items posted to the Guardian website or that of someone such as Kate Belgrave or Martin Francis. The only comments received on this blog that I have not uploaded have been inappropriate, such as an advert for a 'man and van' type business appearing in relation to a blog post about people being forced to move out of their existing accommodation.

It is also frustrating to the publisher. I have been advised that I need to get involved in Twitter to attract a much wider audience, as very few blog readers do leave comments directly and I need to increase the readership in order to increase the chances of receiving comments.

Yet I have such a slow reading pace resulting from very slow 'mental processing speed' that getting personally involved in such social media platforms as Twitter would require me to be active in social media to the exclusion of having a real life outside blogging, such as looking after my developing musicianship. (I also admit here to not looking into the e-mail account related to the blog, because of time and motion matters.)

Anyhow, the below has long been displayed on the right hand side bar of this blog for some years now, to little effect.

Commenting on Blog Contents

Comments are approved unless abusive, obscene, completely off the subject, disguised advertising or libellous. Publication of a comment does not imply that the blog administrator or KUWG agree with it.

Please note if I respond to comments it is in my Google log in — never 'Anonymous'

Commenters cause less confusion when they use their own names or pen names. A host of 'Anons' can give very mixed messages. Even if you use the technically easier 'Anonymous' button to make a comment you can still put your name at the end.

National Society for Prevention of Cruely to Children and 'Crown Immunity' over Department for Work & Pensions neglect

This blog post is currently a 'work-in-progress'


KUWG members heard a talk this week about the complexities of the Conservative Government's 'Universal Credit' (UC) that is scheduled to sweep over the nation by 2022, taking in Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit recipients as 'sanctions fodder' along the way. (Under UC, if you are deemed, say, to have not tried hard enough to increase your income sufficiently to the point that you don't have to receive components of UC, you may be sanctioned.[1]) So I asked our guest speaker: 
"If housing providers, say, can be obliged to pay legal compensation for letting down service users regarding nelects of duty, how about UC claimants being compensated by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) over UC performance failures such as the infamous payment delays?"(2)
Our guest speaker replied that the DWP would be covered against having to pay such compensation, thanks to something called 'Crown Immunity'.

And that got me to thinking along the lines of a theme that is currently developing on this blog now that a 2017 UK General Election has been declared, the theme of the role of registered charities regarding formulation and criticism of government policy.(3) Does the concept of 'Crown Immunity' dictate that the 'leading children's charity' not criticise implementation of Universal Credit, etc while apparently colluding with government to snatch children away from poor parents so that more affluent couples/families in a very economically unequal society can adopt them, in the American fashion?

NSPCC turning a 'blind eye' to welfare reformist 'neglect' and blaming the parents?

The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is a registered charity.(4)
NSPCC: "Without help, the scars of abuse can last a lifetime"
Neglect is a form of abuse, and there are several types of neglect, including emotional neglect. Community Care magazine reported in May 2014:(5)
Sector split on 'Cinderella Law' as emotional neglect referrals to social services rise

Number of cases children’s charity NSPCC referred to social services rose by 47% in 12 months

The number of emotional abuse and neglect cases referred by the NSPCC to social services for investigation rose by 47% last year, figures have revealed.

Staff at the NSPCC’s anonymous helpline referred 5,354 cases of potential emotional neglect and abuse to local authorities for further investigation in 2013-14, up 47% from the 3,629 cases referred to councils in 2012-13.

The government is considering making emotional neglect and abuse a criminal offence. The so-called ‘Cinderella Law’ would see the 1933 criminal offence of child cruelty updated to include emotional abuse as well as physical abuse....
 But in Kwug Blog's view, that is a case of government ignoring its own sins and disregarding links between its policies and the trials and tribulations it is putting poor parents through with its 'welfare reforms' that are excused by the 'austerity' that it colluded with the instigation of for terms of the post-2012 banks collapse.

See also

Meacher Housing Bill public health amendment gets off to a flying start TAP lobbying Peers to pass it in March(6)

and

http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=schools+breakfast(7)

and
http://www.socialworkfuture.org/articles-resources/uk-articles/296-michael-gove-wrong-social-work-reform (8)

and
https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/mar/16/tax-credit-clause-becomes-law-without-parliament-vote

and consider how, when parents are neglected by more affluent 'decision makers' who take away the parent's incomes, the parents can have the emotional energy to spare for the children given all the demands the abusive state puts upon the poor parents?

Reference links

  1. https://scottishunemployedworkers.net/2016/07/15/sharing-knowledge-in-the-face-of-further-attacks/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/18/flaws-universal-credit-system-vulnerable-people-penniless-citizens-advice-study
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/revisiting-kwug-blogs-2015-uk-general-election-posting-pollsters-vision-excludes-those-offline.html
  4. https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/  
  5. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2014/05/29/sector-split-cinderella-law-amid-rise-emotional-neglect-referrals-social-services/
  6. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/meacher-housing-bill-public-health-amendment-gets-off-to-a-flying-start-tap 
  7. http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=schools+breakfast  
  8. http://www.socialworkfuture.org/articles-resources/uk-articles/296-michael-gove-wrong-social-work-reform

The 2017 UK General Election and Voter Registration

The General Election and Voter Registration

To vote in the General Election on 8 June 2017 you must be on the Electoral Register by 22 May 2017

By Megan Dobney of the Trades Union Congress

You don’t need to register again if you’ve already registered, but you might wish to check that you are on the Register. To do this your need to contact your local Electoral Registration Office. You can find contact details for it using the ‘postcode search facility’ on the front page of the Your Vote Matters website https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/

You should register to vote if you are:
  • 16 or over in England, (but you cannot vote until you are 18)
  • A UK citizen
  • A qualifying Commonwealth citizen; qualifying Commonwealth citizens are those who have ‘leave’ to enter or remain in the UK, or do not require such ‘leave’
·        A citizen of a European Union country living in the UK should register, but most cannot vote in UK Parliamentary elections
·        A citizen of the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, or Malta, who is resident in the UK, can vote in UK Parliamentary elections. The definition of ‘resident’ is complex and it is largely at the discretion of the person responsible for the local Electoral Registration Office. If you think you might be eligible to register and to vote in UK Parliamentary elections, attempt to register and make the local Electoral Registration Office make a decision
  • A citizen of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory living in the UK. Gibraltarians resident  in the UK may not vote in UK Parliamentary elections
  • You may register if you are a student or a British citizen living overseas, you are one of the above and serving in the UK armed forces
  • You may register even if you have no fixed address
Please note that a non-UK citizen who is resident in the UK and is married to a UK citizen, is not automatically eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. And not all people born in the UK are automatically UK citizens, children born in the UK after 1 January 1983 are only British citizens if either their father or their mother is also British or, and if both parents are foreign nationals, they are legally ‘settled’ in the UK.
More details about who is eligible to register and vote in different UK based elections is available at: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/43954/Part-B-Entitlement-to-register-March-2010.pdf
By the way, it is too late to register for the 4 May 2017 local elections.

·       register to vote
·       update your details; change of name or address etc
·       apply for a postal vote
·       ask for your name to be removed from the open register, if you are worried about your personal security
 
To register to vote using the online facility should only take 5 minutes. You will need your National Insurance Number and perhaps your Passport Number, if you have one.
 
You can also join the Electoral Register by post. The form that you need to complete can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/607718/Register_to_vote_living_in_england_and_wales.pdf

There are strong personal and political reasons for joining the Register. If your name is on the Register you can choose to vote, or indeed, choose not to vote, but if your name is not on the Register, you lose that choice. Citizens casting their vote in elections is a central part of our democracy. And it is not glib to say that men, and especially women, campaigned, fought and died to win the right to vote. In some parts of the world people are still fighting for democratic elections, so we should not take the right to vote lightly, or take it for granted.

Elections are your opportunity to determine the path of politics in your community and in the UK.

And if that is not enough to convince you, your local Electoral Registration Office could fine you £80 if you fail to join the register.

If you are resident in more than one place, you can register in multiple locations, but you may only vote in one at each election.

Everything you need to know about voting in the UK can be found at the Your Vote Matters website https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/ including the address and contact information of your local Electoral Registration Office.

Useful websites:

Your Vote Matters:                 https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/
Electoral Commission:            http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/
Operation Black Vote:            http://www.obv.org.uk/

Megan Dobney
SERTUC Regional Secretary
TUC in London, the South East and the East of England
@mdobney

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Revisiting Kwug Blog's 2015 UK General Election post 'Pollsters' vision excludes those offline ?'

While republishing the below 2015 UK General Election posting from Kwug Blog archives, its author and editor notes that it is perhaps more clearly relevant today than it was in the 2015 UK General Election.

As stated below, opinion pollsters such as YouGov disenfranchise the digitally dispossessed from their reckoning, and digitally dispossessed folk are the most disadvantaged by Universal Credit claiming procedures.(1) The Department for Work & Pensions' premium rate tariff Universal Credit helpline exacerbates the poverty of those waiting at least six weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit; in the digital age, the phrase 'hand to mouth' has become "pay-as-you-go premium rate tariff helpline with 'I'll put you on hold while I speak to my line manager'" messaging.

Further, the now resigned from government and apparently not replaced Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud's attitude from the time that he was Labour's 'welfare reform guru' has always been that claimant error must be severely punished.(2) Global corporations with 'checkered pasts', however, have been recruited by UK Government to drive forward the implementation of Universal Credit.(3)

'Charitable status' and political bias

Clarity is further distorted by definitions of what is 'a charity' that can receive tax deductable funding and be subjected to the oversight of Charity Commissioners. In the run up to 2015 UK General Election period, the Charity Oxfam was severely censured for 'political bias' over its 'Perfect Storm' Twitter campaign.(4)
Oxfam 'perfect storm' poster attacked as 'shameful' by Conservative ...
The Perfect Storm — Starring: zero hour contracts; high prices; benefit cuts; unemployment; childcare costs

Emerging in the wake of that controversy, 'think tank' Reform UK currently announces as an alternating message on its home page: "As a charity, Reform will not be publishing or tweeting anything until after the general election."(5)
Reform: "As a charity, Reform will not be publishing or tweeting anything until after the general election."
 Alternating plaudits at the foot of its home page include:
"The country's leading think tank on public service reform."
— Rt Hon. Theresa May MP, Prime Minister (6)
Prime Minister Theresa May's plaudit for Reform UK
 "It is a pleasure to speak ... at Reform's conference on welfare, especially as Reform has produced so much innovative thinking on welfare over the years."
— Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (7)
Work & Pensions Secretary Damian Green's plaudit for Reform UK

Is not Reform UK too close to the Government from which those two plaudits come? Where is its public accountability, as what Damian Green refers to as "so much innovative thinking on welfare over the years" and its key ideas contributors include Accenture, the main contractor for the Information Technology implementation for Universal Credit?

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group is not 'a charity' with access to tax deductable funds, and is made up of benefit claimants 'on the bread line'; but it has been greatly aided by meeting weekly on the premises of a charity, the Kingsgate Community Centre in Kilburn.(8) Thus our wellbeing as a group is very much tied up with that of our hosts.

Benefit claimants have been told — falsely — "you will be better off doing paid work and your big problem for too long has been a 'dependency culture' and lack of incentive to work." The same Conservative Government — in line with its cuts in public funding — has cut off community centres' purse strings and unrented access to space and resources from local government; this is designed to make community centres "think more like businesses and less like dependents." As a consequence, Kingsgate is being obliged to research the needs of its surrounding community and its current users, gathering data with which to make bids for funding from the Big Lottery Fund.(9) Such reliance on competitive, short-termist funding applications effectively puts community centres and their staff more firmly into a 'precariat position', just while jobcentres are being cut to add to the isolation of those that this Government would clearly like to 'disappear'

On that 'current state of play' note, I close this foreword to revisiting the Kwug Blog's 2015 UK General Election post, 'Pollsters' vision excludes those offline?'

Pollsters' vision excludes those offline?

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Pollsters exclude offline folk

Can canvassing methods used by opinion pollsters such as YouGov be linked to increasing disengagement of disadvantaged voters? I think so, especially after having attended over three years of weekly meetings of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group and read a recent New Statesman article that actually argues tha pollsters are not too powerful, Living by Numbers: YouGov and the Power of the Pollsters.(10)

Before online communication became more the norm than the exception, the opinion pollster companies in the UK used the landline telephone as their main interface with the electorate. That methodology excluded people for whom the landline telephone was not really financially viable and people whose security of tenure was also a major problem.(11)

Then came online canvassing of pollsters. That creates problems for something between 1/10 and 1/20 of people who come through the doors of a Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meeting who cannot access a computer because of, say, epilepsy.

Leading pollster company YouGov's modern canvassing methods are now exclusively online and government funding for charities and public libraries has plummeted. Thus accessing the interactive world has become increasingly more difficult for such offline voters.

YouGov's strapline is, "What the world thinks." (11) Its Mission Statement reads:
“It is our ambition to supply a live stream of continuous, accurate data and insight into what people are thinking and doing all over the world, all of the time, so that companies, governments and institutions can better serve the people that sustain them”
The proposed Universal Credit registration method not only cuts DWP staff, but also cuts off folk who cannot access the online only registration method that includes having to sit at a computer for however long it takes the claimant to complete the application to register for Universal Credit.(12)

So how inclusive is YouGov's vision of 'the world'? And what is their attitude toward people who cannot access Universal Credit online?

And will such blinkered vision and an obsession toward government cost-cutting lead ultimately to online-only voting, that excludes those who cannot access the online world?

How can we best mobilise the offline voters in the 2015 UK General Election to help create a less exclusive world?

2017 Post Script

For what users of soon-to-disappear-into-digital-oblivion-if-the-current-government-is-not-stopped-in-its-tracks jobcentres really think, Kwug Blog editor highly recommends Kate Belgrave | Talking with people dealing with public service cuts.(13)

And a charity that helps people pick up the pieces of their lives that have been adversely affected by the rollout of Universal Credit is food banks charity Trussel Trust.(14)
"The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank network, announced that it provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis in 2016-17, up 6.4% on the previous year's total of 1,109,000.

"In areas where the full universal credit rollout has taken place, food bank referral rates were running at more than double the national average.

"The trust said the standard six-week-plus waiting time for a first benefit payment faced by new universal credit claimants was behind the rise in demand for charity food. As well as reliance on food banks, benefit delays had also led to common adverse effects such as debt, mental illness, rent arrears and eviction, the trust said.

"The trust called for an immediate reduction in the minimum six-week wait for a first payment, saying debt and uncertainty caused by being without income was a source of stress and anxiety for many clients, and had led some to lose their homes...."

What will the Charity Commissioners make of that report, published only this past week — i.e., shortly after the General Election announcement was made? What will Damian Green and the charity Reform UK make of it?

Notes

  1. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/universal-credit-claimants-stealing-food-to-eat-due-to-benefit-delays 
  2. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/04/living-numbers-yougov-and-power-pollsters
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/terms-and-conditions-in-too-commercially-sensitive-for-public-access-contracts-between-government-departments-and-corporations.html
  4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11304223/Oxfam-rapped-for-appearing-to-be-politically-biassed-in-Twitter-campaign-by-charity-watchdog.html 
  5. http://www.reform.uk/ 
  6. http://www.reform.uk/
  7. http://www.reform.uk/ 
  8. http://www.kingsgatecommunitycentre.org.uk/
  9. Information given by Charles E Small, Kingsgate's new CEO to a recent KUWG meeting at the Centre. 
  10. Input from a business banker to a Business Enterprise Training course I attended as jobseeker around 1991 emphasised the importance of a loan applicant having a landline telephone when they evaluated a loan application. Their acronym for assessing the credit-worthiness of the applicant was 'PAPERS':
    P
    erson
    Amount
    Period
    Experience
    Rate (of interest) and
    Security
    Possession of a landline suggested that the applicant intended to remain at the address serviced by that landline for some time, he argued, and that the applicant was thus less likely to be a 'fly by night' customer.
  11. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/04/living-numbers-yougov-and-power-pollsters
  12. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/10/universal-credit-benefits-disaster
  13. http://www.katebelgrave.com/
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/25/food-banks-report-record-demand-amid-universal-credit-chaos 
  15. https://www.trusselltrust.org/2017/04/25/uk-foodbank-use-continues-rise/