Archive for April, 2013

The Death of a Lonely Bewildered Widow

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Like the biggest tragedies throughout the history of Great Britain, the loss of our industry and the discouragement of social responsibility through the lives of an entire generation is something that continues to cause pain to the people of this country, it is an open wound, unfinished business, an unrepented sin against the working people.

The death of Margaret Thatcher is not something that should be celebrated, in my view, it is sad. It is sad that the irony of her death is not realised by her home county buddies. That her children barely saw her as she lost her grip on reality, that her so-called friends thought the best thing for this frail, demented, elderly widow was to put her in a hotel, thereby fulfilling their responsibilities toward their ‘friend’ in the twilight of her day. She died, like many old people in today’s society – alone, not really cared about, dealt with; those who were meant to be there had consciences clear. Why did this happen? It happened because in three terms as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher may well have led the country with authority but she did so by pushing down the poor, encouraging selfishness and greed in those who wanted a better life and made them believe that by putting themselves first and trying to attain more wealth they could achieve that better life. She did very well, and her buddies in power today continue to do this well. So she died in a manner befitting, with no one considering her, no one caring, all too busy making their own money and using it to put her where they didn’t have to think about her. That is what she considered was the right way to live and so it must be the right way to die, for her. It’s very sad though, as a human being I feel sorry for her in death and the way she was left to decay, regardless of her unforgivable behaviour in life.

I won’t be celebrating Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, I think my time is better spent thinking about the families and communities who were torn apart by the loss of the coal and steel industry and the people who lost an important part of their souls along the way to their success. The behaviour of the bankers who caused this new tragedy of global financial despair lived exactly by the words of Margaret Thatcher and they continue to rake it in while the poor really do continue to reach breaking point (that’s the point that’s so far under the breadline that most of us can’t comprehend it). My Nan, in the final days of her life, with all those she loves around her, told me that the important things in life were the ones you need to take the most care of and she also told me that there are no pockets in a shroud. At the end of your life, all that wealth she encouraged people to accumulate, that stays here and you leave. You are no better off in the ground a rich man than a poor man. I’m sad for Margaret because she didn’t have my Nan’s wisdom.

April Fools Day Plebs!

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Today Britain will wake up to the greatest changes in modern times.

Bedroom Tax will come in, anyone making a new claim for Disability Living Allowance will be put through the lower paid PIP test (this, apparently this lesser amount of money to support their medical care and mobility needs will give them greater personal independence). Let’s not forget there are still test cases being considered in court for the most profoundly disabled of us (and they are among us, they are not just ‘them’, they could very well be you or I tomorrow), as the Independent Living Fund is being taken away and councils will be expected to help these people themselves but the money for the funding of complex care will not be ring-fenced – ultimately human beings will end up being hostage in their own bodies as councils opt to use nappies for disabled people who are NOT incontinent so that they can leave them alone all day, put currently dignified adults to bed at 5pm so that we can pay carers less and people who are currently working, studying, contributing to society will be confined to their homes or IN HOMES as councils may find this the only way they can ‘manage the problem’ of the severely disabled, yet the fund is working well as it is and is very cheap in comparison to putting human beings into ‘homes’ that couldn’t be further from homes.

Let’s also not forget that ESA is already under deep scrutiny by everyone except those how prefer not to know the facts and those who are implementing it. The assessments, in a bid to make them fit everyone, fit no one. People are actually dying because of the assessments and NOBODY THAT CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT IS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

BUT, back to today From today, Councils across the country will ask the lowest earners to start contributing to their council tax (on top of them potentially losing up to a quarter of their housing benefit through the Bedroom Tax). Let’s not forget that these people, many on minimum wage, in part time jobs, TRYING, are kept below an acceptable standard of living by a subsistent benefit system.

FROM TODAY, The NHS WILL NO LONGER BE, at least not the way you know it, all decisions will now be made by GPs, not NHS trusts, but not really by GPs cos they don’t have time (who gets to see their gp when they need them?) , instead it will be done by PRIVATE management companies who will put all works and supply opportunities out to tender, what where it goes from there, but don’t worry about neck ache, standards won’t be going up!

From today, thousands of ordinary people will lose access to Legal Aid. That’s it, if you need legal help, screw you, you should earn more and then you can have justice.

Universal Credit rolls out, only in one area, and why is that? because it’s so badly designed and the system has so many bugs that thousands of people are likely to be left high and dry while system errors are resolved. It’s a social disaster waiting to happen.

Welfare Benefit Cap will start. Let’s hope none of us need more than the national average to live on. Which sounds ok, if you’re an average family, in a part of the country where you need the average income, I’ve yet to meet a family like this.

Benefit Uprating will start, this is bringing benefits in line with inflation, which is a good thing because so many people in social housing, under most councils will be an average of £900 a year worse off due to the rest of the cuts. Imagine trying to cut your monthly budget by £75 when you’re already only able to spend £50 a week to feed your family of four.

On the plus side the 50p tax for high earners is being scrapped, good eh! We’re all in it together.

You might think that nothing except the NHS changes affects you (as if that’s not enough for you to grab your pots and pans and make some bloody noise!), but you’re wrong, if your neighbours are suffering, then your community suffers, domestic abuse will rise, child neglect will rise, illness (depression, suicide, self harm) will all rise, obesity will rise (it’s STILL cheaper to eat processed food than eat fresh wholesome food), homelessness will rise, crime will inevitably rise. All this affects you. You, me, everybody. We’re all in this together, us, the 99%.
Things were not even this bad under the last draconian Tory government (and let’s not kid ourselves about who in this coalition is in charge, shame on your leaders libdems) Write to your MP, whoever they are and whoever they represent politically because regardless of their politics they are paid to represent you and if you don’t tell them what you want from them they will assume you don’t mind what they do. Write to your council, protest, tell your friends (it’s amazing how many people don’t know what’s happening). Be peaceful, PLEASE BE PEACEFUL but be heard, make a BIG NOISE. Tell the opposition what you expect from them if they get into power, make people responsible for the promises they make. Stand up for what you believe in. Love your fellow man, oh and please stop reading the Daily Mail.

More Information

Things you can do:

  • Write to your MP here
  • Write to your council by googling your council , eg search for Birmingham Council, a council website usually ends in and following the ‘contact us’ links. 
  • Write to your favourite newspaper by sending letters to the editor.
  • Organise or take part in peaceful demonstrations by searching for them on social networks like facebook or twitter, just search the thing you want to protest against along with your area, eg ‘chester’ ‘nhs cuts’ and see if there is an activist group in your area. Remember you have the right to peacefully protest, please do not ever use violence, we aim to make the world a better place. 
  • tell your friends and neighbours, start conversations, inform people and read more, inform yourself. knowledge is power!
  • Join twitter, search for the subject you are angry about, you will often find a hashtag has been created (a hashtag is like a subject heading, it helps you join the conversation about the things that you want to talk about) eg #bedroomtax and read the tweets, answer them, write your own. Do not underestimate the power of your own words and beliefs
  • sign a petition – be thoughtful about this, sign a petition that you believe closely represents your views, again this helps you be heard.
  • join in in your local community. Many of us live in a small bubble, never reaching out to those we live among. Say hello to neighbours, check on the old and infirm. Can you do more? Probably, most of us can. Why should you? Because your life and the lives of others will be improved.
  • all the other stuff I haven’t thought of. I am just one person, I can’t think of it all, but together we can come up with more ideas, more ways of making ourselves heard, giving ourselves a voice, making our lives better.#

What are all these benefits you’re talking about?

Who’s losing Legal Aid?

Universal Credit – a proposed system of benefit payments where most benefits will be made in one single monthly payment, this benefit will be given at some level to all people who are either out of work, in work or unable to work if their household income does not come up to the required minimum without assistance. It is not just an out of work benefit. You can find out more about it from Shelter here

ESA – ESA is not disability benefit. It is similar to the old Sickness Benefit, in that it is given to people of a working age who are unable to work for reasons of health. Some of these people will recover, like when you break your leg and need 7 months off recouperating, or if you have a continuous and debilitating illness such as severe depression, cancer, mental health issues, fibromyalgia, arthritis, epilepsy etc. The difference in the new benefit (ESA stands for Employment Support Allowance) is that ESA requires the applicant to have an assessment, currently managed by ATOS. This assessment is meant to determine if the sick person may be able to return to work (not immediately but at some point in the future, with support). However it does not offer support it directs them to complete unpaid work or if they can’t do that (possibly because the assessment is wrong) then they can either appeal (currently 40% of those who appeal win, more when professional help is given) or come off the ESA altogether and go on Jobseekers Allowance. There have been problems with this when the person is clearly too ill to be seeking a job they have been directed to reapply for ESA and the process starts again. The people assessed as being able to work in some way are placed in the WRAG (work related activities group) the others are placed in the support group before being reassessed at some point in the future.  Government info about ESA here and the controversy about it here

Disability Living Allowance – this is not an unemployment benefit,  a person who is disabled may or may not be working and in many cases may only be able to work due to the support given to them through the DLA. A person who is sufficiently disabled can be assessed and receive Disability Living Allowance for either a set period or for life if it is clear they will not get better. There are two components: Mobility and Care, each of those components can be given at a low, medium or high rate. A person may receive both components if their health requires that much support to help them maintain a degree of ‘normality’ in their lives.  – From 1st April 2013 any new applicants or current recipients who need their care reviewed will be put on to PIP (personal independence payments) .  You can find out the government facts about DLA here and about PIP here

Housing Benefit is for low income households, a portion of the housing costs are met through housing benefit. If the family’s income increases the housing benefit will be removed or stopped.  From 1st April 2013 families can lose up to 25% of their housing benefit if they live in social housing which is assessed as having too many bedrooms. It is believed that two-thirds of those who are in this position are disabled or have disabled children. You can read and get advice about Bedroom Tax here

Independent Living Fund – a government fund for those of us with the most complex care needs, which is about to be decentralised to councils who have no obligation to use the funding for its current purpose, leaving councils to decide what standard of ‘life’ is acceptable to the most vulnerable in their community. You can read about the fight to stop this here