Tag Archives: Iain Duncan-Smith

Thou shalt not grow old – IF says so!

I was just about to settle down with a nice cup of tea to watch a bunch of old codgers wend their way, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, section by section, through the Health & Social Care Bill.  It’s Day One of the Committee Stage in the House of Lords.  But I arrived at Parliament TV too early, so with time on my hands, I thought I’d have a blog about.

Before the kettle had boiled, I came across Outside Left’s cheeky little piece about another bunch of old codgers, this time those on the receiving end of the doubtful wisdom of the Intergenerational Foundation.    (Whoever thought up that name needs help!)  ‘The Intergenerational Foundation (IF) is a newly established non-party-­political charity that seeks to promote the rights of younger and future generations in British policy-making.’ (It’s not often you see the words ‘political’ and ‘charity’ come together in one sentence.  Very strange bedfellows – or perhaps that should be spare-bedroom fellows.)

‘The ability of groups in their late twenties and early thirties to ‘settle down’ and have children is running into the physical obstacle of the lack of housing space.’ according to IF.  ‘There are now over 25 million empty bedrooms in under-occupied homes in England – rooms that are surplus to need based on the English Housing Standard. Very many of these are in the homes of the
retired, and by 2026 empty bedrooms in the homes of the retired will exceed 10 million.’

Well, you could knock me down with a feather!  It’s all the fault of the retired older generation with a spare bedroom or two.  Henceforth should they be known as ‘house hoarders’.

‘The rights of younger and future generations.’  Sod the rights of the current older generation!  That section of the Great British public who will remember WWII, ration books, make-do-and-mend, hand-me-downs, cutting up a cardboard box to make  inner soles to fit in shoes with holes in their soles, the outside toilet, a bath once-a-week, no showers, no central heating, no fridges, corporal punishment, toys and presents at birthdays and the midwinter festival only, life before the washing machine and the supermarket, and life with 15% mortgage interest rates or higher.   ….. …… And yet, they’d never had it so good!

Harold Macmillan, PM:  “What we need is restraint and commonsense – restraint in the demands we make and commonsense on how we spend our income.”  So along came the wage freeze, tower blocks to solve the housing shortage created by that damned war and the increasing population, a man was sent into orbit in space, and later men walked on the moon.  A collection of geeks invented things like video tape recorders and computers. Along came the Beetles, Mods and Rockers, drainpipes, winkle pickers.  More men walked on the moon!

It’s estimated that it took 3 hours of work time in the mid-1950s to pay for a weekly basket of basic food items such as milk, butter and bread.  Fifty years later, when all the emerging house-hoarders were showing signs of clinging onto their spare bedrooms, it took a mere 40 minutes work time to buy a similar weekly basket of food.

(The old codgers in the House of Lords have long since begun their deliberations, and I’m using it as radio. They’re not that photogenic, but they do sound good.  They use a few good words to describe the Bill – ‘unspeakably awful’ and ‘wilful disregard’ might sum it up.  If only they’d thrown it out!!)

Meanwhile, back at the Intergenerational Foundation:  ‘The British ‘family home’ is increasingly not owned by families, but by older, post-reproductive couples and single people.’   The reason given for the lifecycle of housing breakdown is the ‘behaviour of older groups’.

Post-reproductive!!  Just let the IF try to use the word post-productive – they really will meet the full g-force of the ‘behaviour of older groups’.

Tut-tut!  Their behaviour gets worse – it’s even been known for older people to move into larger houses well after their chicks have flown off to their own nests.  They are also to be found guilty of  ‘over-consumption’.

A sideways glance brought my tea-deprived self back to yesterday’s revelation that the people charged following the riots in August in various parts of the country were in fact ‘poorer, younger and of lower educational achievement than average’ rather than the thugs, scum and vermin that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, in particular, would have us believe.  IDS and his fellow MPs used many more foul words to describe these ‘poor, young people of lower educational achievement than average’ – and not many of the words used by our Representatives in the House of Commons were acceptable.

Of the young people involved, 42% were in receipt of free school meals compared to an average of 16%, and two-thirds of young people involved in the riots were found to have had a special educational need (SEN), compared to 21% for the national average

£300 daily allowance is paid to each unsalaried Lord who turns up and sits in the House of Lords.  Our Noble Lords  spent nearly two hours discussing the first amendment, before they voted.  A total of 456 Lords voted on that first amendment.

456 x £300 = £136,800.00.

One amendment down – 399 or more to come!!

The IF may soon write the next Ten Commandments.

Thou shalt not misbehave.

Thou shalt not retire.

Thou shalt not want a spare room so that family and friends might visit
you.

Thou shalt not house-hoard.

Thou shalt not over-consume.

Thou shalt not bedroom-block.

Thou shalt not expect governments to provide sufficient
housing for all.

Thou shalt not expect the younger generation to care about
you.

Thou shalt not develop dementia.

Thou shalt not grow old.

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Two more Ps added to the Con Dem Dictionary

They’ve been and gone and done it again!!  First they came up with Seven Ps for  the Vision for Adult Social Care.  Now, they’ve added two more Ps to the Con Dem Coalition Dictionary.

They are to give us the PIP!

Oxford English Dictionary (OED):

to have (also get) the pip: to be (or become) depressed, despondent, or unwell.

to give a person the pip: to annoy or irritate; to make angry, bad-tempered, or dispirited.

The proposed PIP has already achieved its purpose with me!

The proposed PIP is the Personal Independence Payment, a 21st century replacement for the DLA (Disability Living Allowance).  The Consultation Document arrived yesterday. 

“We are committed to a sustainable and fair system that allows people to work when they can and provides unconditional support to those who are unable to work.”  Allowing people to work when they ‘can’ will require the creation of jobs; denying or even giving people the PIP will not create those work opportunities.  Unconditional support?  That may be a first from the Coalition.  It’s hard to see where that unconditional support will come from, when you read some of the inflammatory language used to describe people in receipt of benefits, words that should never have entered the Coalition Dictionary.

“…. work is the best form of welfare for those who are able to do so” provides a new Coalition Dictionary definition of welfare.  Or is Maria Miller meaning the kind of happiness that David Cameron was talking about measuring, with £2m to be spent on a ‘happiness index’.   In my own family, the ‘welfare’ of working at a certain Remploy establishment never provided much happiness for our person with a disability, nor did it provide a decent salary; it provided an exceedingly boring, unbelievably repetitive and demeaning job that nobody would have chosen to do, had it not been forced onto a disabled person as the only ‘option’, and with very little in the way of financial reward.

“The rising caseload and expenditure is unsustainable” – but disability does not discriminate; disability arrives without warning and without counting the financial cost that a caring society should be able to manage.  Soon our discriminatory Con Dem Coalition – that arrived without warning and without giving us all the chance to count the cost – will make disability vanish altogether.  Now that really would be progressive, and if they can manage to achieve that one, I’m sure many disabled people will be enormously grateful.  But a caring government cannot turn a blind eye to disability.  Unless, of course, we don’t have a caring government.  Or unless we have at present a government with a disability.

“Instead, each case will be looked at individually, considering the impact of the impairment or health condition, rather than basing the decision on the health condition or impairment itself.” – I wonder if they’ve counted the cost of that plan, because that surely will be unsustainable.

“The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life.” These sound so much like the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that are preventing so many vulnerable elderly people with dementia from receiving the healthcare and support they need.  According to the fuzzy thinking of some local authority bean counters (a.k.a. the finance department) ADLs only require ‘social care’, but not healthcare.   Is that where we are now heading?  Towards a world where disability is no longer to be considered anything to do with health, but only a function of being a person  in the (small) society?  Requiring the need to carry out only the basic ADLs of life?  Apart from the special equipment that a disabled person may need to perform the ADLs “necessary to everyday life”, are we now about to prescribe life?  Or should that be proscribe?  Who is to judge and dictate?

“this will involve a face-to-face meeting with an independent healthcare professional, allowing an in-depth analysis of an individual’s circumstances.” – Another unsustainable cost.  Transforming itself from cost to gain – to a sustainable gain for the independent healthcare professional fraternity that will no doubt emerge via a for-profit Provider of Independent Professionals (see below!).

“We know that some people’s needs may change over time, and sometimes so gradually that the customer themselves won’t notice.” The customer?  The customer????  What an unwelcome and insensitive word to use to describe someone with a disability.  But it may be a revealing word – revealing the way in which people with a disability are seen by our Con Dem Coalition.  You’re just a customer – so if you don’t like what we have ‘on offer’ go elsewhere.  But there is no ‘elsewhere’.  Sad!

“in line with the Government’s new strategy on fraud and error, there will be penalties if an individual knowingly fails to report a change that would have resulted in a reduction in benefit” How sad to see mention of ‘fraud’ so early in a request for consultation.  What is the total cost of DLA fraud?  Where is the evidence for that claim?  Please publish proof – 3 more Ps to add to the Coalition Dictionary!

“We must ensure that our resources are focused on those with the greatest need.” There is an unspoken message here, the implication being that there will be a severe scaling of disability and the exclusion of those disabled people who are not deemed to be in greatest need.  Critical needs only?  Severe needs maybe but not guaranteed?  Moderate needs possibly but unlikely?  All the normal needs associated with a disability – probably not a cat’s chance in hell of the focus being on those needs.

“The definitions currently used are subjective and reflect views of disability from the 1990s, not the modern day. For example, ‘mobility’ as currently defined concentrates on an individual’s ability to walk, not their ability to get around more generally.” Are we to receive a definition of mobility according to the Coalition Dictionary?

“One will be awarded on the basis of the individual’s ability to get around (the mobility component), the other on their ability to carry out other key activities necessary to be able to participate in daily life (the daily living component).” “Eligibility – The individual must have a long-term disability” – HELP!!!  That’s a Coalition Dictionary definition of disability.

“Personal Independence Payment will only be available to those with a long-term health condition or impairment.” as above!

“Our initial proposal is that the assessment should consider activities related to an individual’s ability to get around, interact with others, manage personal care and treatment needs, and access food and drink.”

“This might mean, for example, considering an individual’s ability to get about in a wheelchair, rather than ignoring the wheelchair, as we do currently.” What will be the consequences for a person with cerebral palsy, say, who is not able to stand and walk without the support of two walking sticks, and who cannot take one single unassisted step before falling to the ground, but who has made the personal choice not to use a wheelchair whilst preferring to use two walking sticks to aid mobility from chair to table, from table to bathroom, from bathroom to bed, from front door to car (with hand-controls, and all paid for by the person), from car to place of work, from  …. etc etc etc?  Is that person to be categorised as ‘fully mobile’ or ‘could be fully mobile if we force her/him to use a wheelchair or else we remove his/her PIP?’  This plan is beginning to scare me.

Or will a person with exactly the same disability as another be entitled to PIP because she/he makes the personal choice of walking with sticks rather than using a wheelchair as an aid to mobility?  Whereas a person with exactly the same disability and the same manifestations of that disability is to be denied PIP because she/he makes the personal choice of using a wheelchair?  Yes, I am confused by this one.

“What aids and adaptations should be included? Should the assessment only take into account aids and adaptations where the person already has them or should we consider those that the person might be eligible for and can easily obtain?” And would those aids and adaptations be chosen by the person?  Or merely the ones the PIP decision-makers decide can be afforded by this onslaught on people with a disability?

“What would be the implications for disabled people and service providers if it was not possible for Personal Independence Payment to be used as a passport to other benefits and services?” Surely that question does not need to be asked – it’s obvious.

“The social model of disability says that disability is created by barriers in society.  We remain committed to the social model of disability. The new assessment will not be based solely on the medical model of disability and focused entirely on an individual’s impairment, but will instead focus on the ability of an individual to carry out a range of key activities necessary for everyday life.” This obsession with the ‘activities necessary for everyday life’ must surely go against everything the Disability Discrimination Act has ever stood for.

“Many people think that disability is caused by an individual’s health condition or impairment. This approach is called the medical model of disability.” The fact remains that some disability is indeed caused by an individual’s health condition or impairment, and that cannot be ignored.  You cannot change the focus of disability from medical to social needs.  Disability is not created by barriers in society – however, the barriers in society often increase the disability.  Chicken and egg!  The Con Dem Coalition has no mandate to scramble eggs, for the convenience of – and in the best interests of – the Con Dem Coalition’s sustainability.

“measuring each individual’s expenditure would be administratively complex and expensive” – and yet the plan is to assess and review each and every single application and applicant?  How will we be able to afford the one, but not the other?  The costs will be enormously expensive but will come via the creation of a new pot of gold for a new breed of independent Providers of Independent Professionals (a different kind of PIP!!) – a new bandwagon for the ‘for-profit health and care providers’ to pounce on.

In the recent past, Tory MP Rory Stuart described some of his constituents as “primitive people, holding up their trousers with bits of twine”.

The Government decided to get tough – on benefit scroungers by bringing in Experian to assist with bounty-hunting of the poor

The magnificent IDS (Iain Duncan Smith) decided to talk of sin, when referring to people who were without work.

Then along came Howard Flight, Tory peer, with his preposterous claim that changes to the child benefit system would encourage the poor to “breed”.

Where next?  Perhaps those who are unfortunate enough to be in receipt of a disability will all be required to PIP off to a Dickensian workhouse.  Or why not swap places with the House of Commons’ scroungers?

The Con Dem Coalition members are unlikely to be on the receiving end of many of the decisions they are now making.  I just hope there will be a system in place to pick up the pieces of their decision-making.

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Iain Duncan Smith and the benefits system overhaul

Iain Duncan Smith said  here on this BBC report ” ….. thus making work pay more than being in benefits …. “.  At least  I think that’s what I heard IDS say.

Suggestions to IDS:

1.  Show us your Job Creation plan first, so that we can perhaps understand where the ‘work’ is.

2. Then make pay work more than being in/on benefits.

3.  Recreate the apprenticeships that served many people so well.  There’s not much point in this strange ‘work experience’ you’re thinking up unless there’s more than a basic element of sensible training, leading to …. … … a job!

It’s the rate of pay that’s not working.

Look closely at the minimum wage – and tell us all whether you, IDS,  could survive, comfortably, on that minimum hourly rate of pay.  How many strikes would it take for you to chuck in your ‘over-the-minimum wage’ for the  job that you no doubt are doing so enormously well?  When were you last required to survive, uncomfortably, on the minimum hourly wage for a job?  Never?  Thought so.

Where is the work?  Where are the jobs?  Where is the training for those jobs?

Vacuous talk at present.

And chubby David Cameron’s putting on a lot of weight at the moment – so he must be living well.

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We’re all in this together, are we?

So, we’re all in this together, David Cameron, are we?

That phrase must be on page 1 of the Conservative dictionary – Cameron used it in 2008, then to his party faithful.

Fast forward, to the 2009 Tory Conference, and the then shadow chancellor George Osborne clings to the same phrase:

“The shadow chancellor also outlined plans to target Whitehall costs and axe child trust funds for the better off.  He told the Tory conference “we’re all in this together” and said that the measures would save £7bn a year.”

And Cameron’s doing likewise, at the same Tory Conference.

Since 2008, things have moved on, changes to the welfare state are now falling like leaves in Autumn.  Seems that some of us really have been more in it than others:

“More than 150 peers have been claiming a £174 tax-free overnight allowance for staying in London, despite owning a property there, a report says.”

The detail is published in a report on implementing changes to the Lords expenses system.  It says 326 members who replied to a survey claim the “overnight subsistence allowance”.  Of those 167 own accommodation in London and 113 own their properties outright – making them mortgage-free.

None of the peers were breaking the rules, which until recently did not specify which property was a “main home”.

The findings come as the government has outlined plans to pay peers a flat rate of £300 a day to attend the House of Lords.

The regime, due to take effect in October, compares with a current maximum daily limit of £334.

And ‘we’ have somehow or other given permission to our brand new Coalition Government to spend £18,000 on topping up the wine cellar since the election.  Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham revealed that Government Hospitality, which manages the cellar, had spent £17,698 on new stock since May 6 – bringing the total value to £864,000 – though he insisted the standard practice of buying wines young saved money for the taxpayer.

That’s all right then!  We’re saving money after all.

Iain Duncan Smith is now doing a Norman Tebbitt, twenty years after he first came out with his abusive phrase ‘On Yer Bike’.   Perhaps it’s something to do with being the MP for Chingford!  I am finding it very difficult to understand what kind of mentality you need to be able to consider forcing longterm unemployed people from their secure tenancies to another part of the country, in order to create a more flexible workforce.   It’s only people living in council housing, though, that will be ‘encouraged’ to be flexible.  Not the unemployed living in mortgaged property, of course.  The proposed scheme would allow them to go to the top of the housing list in another area rather than lose their right to a home if they moved.  That will be enormously welcomed by the people who are already on the housing waiting list in the area they are moved to!

Call me a cynic, but if there’s already a housing waiting list in the ‘new area’, that waiting list is going to get longer, so how long is that list likely to keep the new arrivals waiting?  It’s a non-starter.  Or am I missing something?

And IDS mentioned people living in East London who couldn’t at present work in West London.  It would be too much of a risk for them.  What planet do you live on, IDS?  I used to live in East London, and while living there,  I worked in West London.  I didn’t need to get on my bike either.  I got on the bus and tube!  There and back each day.  Since then, transport in London has changed dramatically – for the better.  It shows how out of  touch you are, IDS, with the world.  Why not provide those needing to travel from East London to West London in the interests of gainful employment with a little bit of ‘transport-support-funding’?  Better than uprooting them, from their family, friends and their existing support network.  But you would possibly know little of the consequences of that vicious uprooting.  It wouldn’t need to happen to you, would it, Ian Duncan Smith?  You are protected and secure.

If ‘sink estates’ exist, Iain Duncan Smith would do better to create employment by improving those sink estates, and the life chances of the people living in them.  Are ‘tons of elderly people’ (!! where did that one come from??) only allowed to live in a house with a spare bedroom if they live in a mortgaged property?

That reminds me: which of our esteemed political parties was responsible for the abolition, in effect, of much council housing in the first place?  Which political party was in power when the Right-To-Buy scheme was introduced, thus depleting the existing stock even further?  Which political party did Shirley Porter represent, when she used council funds to rig the vote, and moved council tenants out of marginal wards in Westminster to make space for owner-occupiers, presumed to be Tory voters.  Did she ever pay back the £37million she owed to Westminster Council?

Social cleansing and/or engineering is unacceptable.  Or has Shirley Porter smuggled her way back into the country, with the promise of a new job?

Count me out, Coalition Government.  I’m not in this with you at all.

I can’t resist editing this to add Outside Left’s  Wonky wheels on Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘bike-lite’.

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